Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas everybody.

I'd like to thank everyone for all their support over the past few months as this blog has gotten off the ground. It's been fun and a great learning experience.

My first week at Erdman has given me some insight into the challenges of implementing Revit into a fairly large Design Build/Integrated Project Delivery firm. I'd have to say that they are not few and far between, however, they are definitely on their way. In the upcoming year,I hope to post some of the challenges that we face and the solutions we achieve. But for now, I just need to get home for Christmas through the wind and snow. Not looking forward to that 5 hr drive.

I hope the upcoming New Year treats you all well. Keep the faith. Let's make this a BIM-tastic Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Life in a Snow Globe

Well, loyal reader ( I assume there must be one or two) it has been a busy month. As is evidenced my lack of Blogging. I feel like I live in a snow globe that an excited 3yr old has just discovered.

In the first half of the month I was SWAMPED at work. Training for me, me training others, implementing Revit at a couple of clients offices.

The REAL Snowstorm started right before Thanksgiving. In short, the Autodesk Retailer that I was working for had to close it's doors forever due to the current economy. I know... WOW!

Luckily I was offered a job with a progressive Healthcare facility design/build firm. What a blessing. To go from employed, to unemployed, to employed again in the span of a week doesn't happen very often. And to have a career upgrade in the process ... Whoo Hoo!

So, yesterday was my first official day as a Engineering BIM Coordinator for Erdman (formerly Marshall Erdman and Associates.) From their website.

" Erdman (a Cogdell Spencer Company) is a fully integrated, single source provider of planning and programming, architectural design, engineering and construction, and development services. One firm, one vision."

Given that Erdman has recently moved it's corporate office to a new facility... and that they recently merged with another company... you would think that their plate was full. However, they (hmmmmm, we) are aggressively implementing BIM into their integrated process. I am excited to be a part of the process.

So along with the new position comes selling our house (the position is in Madison, WI) and moving the family (wife and 10 month old daughter)...

Ironically, as I sit here snow is falling outside my window. There is about 5 inches of snow on the ground and more seems to be coming. More exciting things to come...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sketch in 3D

Man, talk about working the way we think... I waaaaannnttt this. Of course I want it to work directly with Revit.

Thanks to Harlan over at the Revit Clinic for bringing this to our attention.

ILoveSketch from Seok-Hyung Bae on Vimeo.

Machiavelli was an early adopter?

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the
old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries … and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.
Niccolo Machiavelli

Doesn't this ring true to those of us involved in implementing the use of BIM, VDC, and IPD. No worries though, we are well on the way to "The Tipping Point."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Save that View for later!

A lot of Revit users know that they can save Drafting views to a New File. This is a super useful way to build your library of Revit typical details.

The other day I found that same option available when you right click a MODEL View. Hmmmmm. What happens if I click that?


Well here's what happens:


You get a new file (oh is that what they mean by Save as New File?) that only includes the view you saved. What is that view useful for? Well drafting views can be imported into a project, but NOT this. So, I really don't know what you could use this for? Maybe use it as a lightweight file you can email to allow a consultant/owner to view a specific condition. But I think I'll stick with a jpeg screen capture or a DWF.

What is included in this new file? It is a file that contains the parts of the model that are within the extents of the view element. The only views that are saved to the Project file are those that are referenced by our saved view. No Plan or Ceiling views, etc, etc. Just the Callout of the Section and the Section. You DO get the 3D view with a scope box defined by the saved view element.



This is where most people would stop.

But... what happens if we stretch that scope box?


Hmmmmmmmm, What's happening here?

Lets look at the Section view that is referenced by the callout.


Notice that the Crop Region extends well past the the section of wall that was captured. However the wall itself stops at the level above and below the callout. What if we turn the scope box off? What else is in this thing?


Wow! The whole site? Really? There has to be a reason though.


There it is. The view extents of the referenced section touch the site.

What can we do to exclude some of this extra geometry from the file?

What if we don't use a "child" view like a callout? Crop down the extents of the Section and ... well you can't select the the option UNLESS there is some kind of 2D detail in the view. In this case I place a random detail component I'm sure you could use a detail line.

Lets see the result.



Nope, that's not it. Let's "Don't Crop" the resulting section.


OK one more try in a post that has grown totally out of control.


Maybe the fact that the wall extends to the level and the level intersects the topography.

Adding a level to the original project didn't fix it. And it didn't matter whether the level was within the extents of the the view to be saved or not.

Even moving the base constraint of the wall to the new level didn't help. Darn toposurface...

Eureka!!! Turn the Toposurface category OFF in the original view!!! Duh! The final product in all of its glory.


So what was the point of all this? Well, I think it's an interesting fact that you can save a model view (oh, but don't forget the 2D details component (yes, a line works)) to a separate file.

Interesting aside, I just can't leave well enough alone. I love to dig down and figure this Revit thing out. Sure I could have just gone through the process on my own and posted the results. Warning you that the view had to contain a 2D component and to turn off the topography (Still not sure why other categories that weren't within the extents of the original view didn't save as well.) But this way you were along for the ride and MAYBE it will inspire you to investigate that idea you have been thinking about in Revit.

This is basically what I do as an Application Specialist. Usually it is a little more focused on a clients specific problem and not always Revit based, but digging into the WHY is what I do... Give it a try, its NIFTY!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

First Snow Fall

It's snowing! I don't mean flurries, or little tiny flakes. It's not freezing rain or "sneet." It's BIG, WET flakes.
Forecast said chance of flurries this morning. We have a dusting on the BBQ cover.
Welcome to Minnesota. :)
Oh, and did I mention that its the weekend BEFORE halloween!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Upside Down Revit Lights FIXED

Back in July, I posted a thread about lights hosting to reference planes UPSIDEDOWN here and here. I have wanted to post this fix for awhile. Reference planes have a top and a bottom. Light fixtures (and other objects) host to that "normal" surface. When you draw a plane from right to left, fixtures host correctly. When you draw them from left to right, the "normal" surface is up and the light hosts upside down... I guess in actuality the plane is upside down and the light is normal to it. Why host to a plane in the first place... well read the above links for more, but you could lose all of your work if the ceiling in a linked model is deleted and your hosted to it. However, it seems that has been fixed recently.

Anyway, enjoy my first JING video that tries to explain what happens.

Note: One of the issues in those past posts was that the System Family "Basic Ceiling: Generic" behaves like a reference plane. Unfortunately you don't get the chose how the ceiling gets placed in the model.

It seems that JING videos don't scale so I can't embed it. Follow the link.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Revit Rooms, Roofs, and the Penthouse Suite

Steve, over at RevitOpEd, posted a Stump-the-Chump question about a user not being able to place a room in the penthouse. Check out his post for the particulars then come back here for my explanation of what's happening...

Back? Good. So here's what I found:

The main roof seemed to be keeping the room from placing. If I raised the base of the Penthouse walls to be even with the top of the roof I could place the room.

If I offset the roof to be below the level I can place the room. If you could access the room’s “base offset” I think that you could raise that to the upper surface of the roof and you would be able to place the room, but I couldn't figure out how to access that parameter till after the room was placed, and if I changed it then, it didn't seem to matter.

So set the “base offset” of one wall (that’s all it took) to equal the roof thickness. This allowed me to place a room in the penthouse and outside the penthouse as well. Hmmmmmmm……

Now for the weirdness; I wanted to play with the rooms a little. I reset the “base offset” of the wall to 0’-0” and the room disappears. I figured that in AR (Actual Reality) you would never place a penthouse over the roof, you would have a floor there.

So I cut a hole in the roof and the room inside the penthouse appeared, but the one outside, did not. IF you look closely you will see that the second room is actually bound by the upper and lower surface of the roof.

I guess, since the room originates on the level... and roof is on the level... the room is “trapped” inside. I know the feeling… Sometimes I feel trapped in Revit. :)

I clearly spent WAAAY to much time on this. But, I can't help it... I LOOOOVVVVEEE Revit problems. It's kind of a stimulant that the logical mind just eats up. BTW, if you make the Main Roof not "bounding" the level acts as the base bounding plane for the room and the Upper Limit is what you set in the room parameters so the room displays correctly. That's what I would suggest as a fix for this particular problem, but that won't work if the room on the floor below is relying on the roof to be a bounding element. Cheers!

New Sustainable (Green) Design Forum at AUGI

AUGI has launched a new forum. It's tag line is:
Discuss this emerging focus on Design with the environment in mind.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

64-Bit Revit

I hate to just link to other's Blogs, but since I brought it up yesterday, and since there doesn't seem to be an easy to find press release or announcement by ADSK, ... and since Scott does such a good job of explaining things... well... HERE.

Monday, September 29, 2008


I was on the Subscription site and I saw this:

When did this happen? Are they going to announce this? Hmmmmmmmm.....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

AIA releases New Contract Docs for BIM and IPD

From a Press Release:

Washington, D.C., September 24, 2008 — The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today announced the upcoming release of six new AIA Contract Documents on October 17, 2008, including a new Building Information Modeling (BIM) exhibit, as well as two new Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) agreements, two new Design-Build agreements and a Scope of Services document. These new documents, collectively called the 3.5 Release, build on AIA Contract Documents’ 120 years of experience in defining the contractual relationships in the design and construction industry.

See the whole announcement here.

"Hidden" Revit Treasures

Apparently, fewer people know about this than I thought. When you open Revit 2009 (all "Flavors") in the right-hand pane of the welcome screen is a link to the Revit Web content library (or you can follow this link.)
First, if you haven't been here before, GO THERE! Stop wasting your time creating content when what you need may be right here. Granted, most people know about this resource.
Second, what most people overlook is the "Revit Instruction and Help Samples" page.
Look at BOTH the metric and imperial folders. I know you might not use metric content, but it will inspire you and give you a starting point. And, if you download the "Roof Forms" project, the SHEETS are instructional and tell you how to create the forms (taken from 2005 AU class.)
See examples below

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New face to Autodesk Subscription

OK, OK, last post of the night (sorry to those who subscribe to my RSS feed) Autodesk has put a new face on it's subscription site. Check it out.

Autodesk aquires license to Ambercore "point cloud technology"

From a press release:
OTTAWA, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Autodesk, Inc. has signed an agreement with Ambercore Software to license its point cloud technology and incorporate it into future releases of Autodesk software.

Isn't it funny how, when you're talking about an issue/technology/etc. it pops up everywhere? I have been to two industry meetings where laser scanning and Revit were discussed, now this.

AIA Minnesota Bim Breakfast Club

The BIM Breakfast Club (BBC) meets once a month to discuss BIM, IPD, and the effect that they are having on the industry. Yesterday morning, (09/23/08) at 7:30 in the morning, this group of forward thinking Architects, Contractors, and other members of the construction industry got together to share what they had been doing over the summer and plan future meetings. Some of the topics discussed were:

A BIM Conference in Arizona this summer; There is talk that Arizona is putting language in it's public contracts that deal with BIM. The focus of the conference morphed from last year's "This is what BIM is" to "This is what we are doing."

The CIFE conference; Investigations in to metrics that quantify the benefits of BIM and IPD

The downstream use of models created in the design process; are current designer produced models (created to show design intent) useful for contractors (who use models to investigate constructability.)

My favorite fact from the meeting (from Mcgraw Hill I believe;) of the $2 trillion of business the US construction industry does, 54% is waste.

My favorite question of the meeting (in regard to Automated Code Compliance:) Do "Smart" resources make for "less smart" designers? How do intelligent BIM objects effect the design?
This reminds me of a Kurt Vonnegut book (Player Piano I believe) that speaks about automated design and it's effects on designers. Hmmmmm...

The plan for the next meeting is to discuss either legal issues and BIM or laser scanning. I encourage anyone who is interested in attending to contact one of the Co-Chairs;

David A. Jordani, FAIA
Jordani Consulting Group


Karie L. Johnson, AIA
Adolfson & Peterson Construction

Tools4Revit Roof Truss Generator

I've known about Tools4Revit for awhile, but I had a chance to go to there website and learn a little more today. I saw a thread on the AUGI forum that peaked my interest. If you get a chance, take a look at some of the Demo videos that show Truss+ in action.
This program not only generates the truss system, you can then break the trusses into individual members. As we all know, if it exsists in the Revit model, it can be schduled.
What about details of connections?... Well it does that too. From looking at the videos it seems that program produces a drafting view that documents connections as well as the indiviual elements themselves.
I imagine a truss manuafacturer looking at the construction market today and the direction we seem to be going could make good use of this.
Oh, BTW, it works with Revit Structural and Architectural as well. :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

MNRUG, Laser Scanning, and MEP Part 1

Last night (09/17/08) I attended a meeting of of the Minnesota Revit User's Group (MNRUG) held at the Field Operations Office (I think that's what the sign said, it was dark) of McGough Construction just north of St. Paul, MN.

Heather Kossila, with McGough, gave a talk about bringing laser scan point clouds into Revit. Unfortunately I came in a few minutes late and I missed what project she had been working on. I believe it is a remodel or restoration of Shubert Theater in Minneapolis (for those that were there, please correct me if I am wrong.) My understanding of the portion of the project she was talking about is that there was a desire to preserve the existing balconies in the theater and they wanted to use Revit to explore sight lines and make certain that they worked for the new programming. The conception of the workflow was to create a point cloud file (click here to see how that's done) convert to DWG, then import to Revit and apply walls, etc with the "building maker" feature in Revit.

One of the issues with the process is that the point cloud file was converted to a DWG that was composed of polymeshes. When that object was imported into Revit its was unreadable when cut into plan views and sections. After some research Ms. Kossila discovered that if she brought the DWG into an in-place mass family that she was able to view the information as intended in plan and section. The other issue was that the "wall by face" command didn't work as expected with the mass created from a polymesh object. The speed and accuracy of laser scanning along with conceptual presentation capabilities of Revit seem to make a great tool for exploring design options in existing spaces. While I don't think the technology is "quite there" yet, I do see the possibilities for recording as-builts and existing conditions.

Next post I will discuss a presentation about Revit MEP adoption, including challenges meeting office standards, workflow, and the ever present "model ownership."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

HMC Architects Selects e-SPECS as Integrated BIM Specification Solution

From an e-SPECS Press Release:
Portland, Maine – September 16, 2008 – InterSpec Inc. today announced that its patented e-SPECS solutions have been selected as the BIM Specification Solution by HMC Architects, one of the largest planning and design firms headquartered in California, with offices strategically located throughout California and Nevada.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Seriously Creative Design Visualization

I wish that people would attach more information to their YouTube videos so that we could know more about them and how and why they do what they do. It's not BIM, but it's a great example of 3D design visualization (with a film maker's flare.)

Jeff Han's Multitouch Interface

This is an awesome computer-human interface. This is the kind of technology that speeds design, makes accessing data more intuitive, and therefore makes high powered computing more accessible by all. Notice the date this was filmed is 2006. I wonder how far this technology has come since then. Go here to see this video and others like it.

Autodesk Completes Acquisition of 3D Geo

Bim on a large scale, think Citywide planning, can be very system intense. In an effort extend the capabilities of their current offerings, Autodesk has completed the aquisition of 3D Geo, a company based in Germany.

Lisa Campbell, vice president, Autodesk Geospatial says,"This acquisition extends Autodesk's ability to help customers visualize urban and infrastructure designs on a city-wide scale. We are looking forward to working with 3D Geo's customers, partners and employees."

Read more here and here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Remembrance- 9/11

Never Forget...

All gave some, and Some gave all.

In Remembrance of the 2700+...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

BIG BIM, little bim - a book review

BIG BIM, little bim by Finith E. Jernigan, AIA. The tag line states " The practical approach to building information modeling. Integrated Practice done the right way!"

A glance at the Table of Contents shows a logical list of chapters that layout a plan to implement BIM and Integrated Practice, such as Are you ready to Change?, Framework for Success,and The Process Day to Day. I thought that the chapter that touched on what the author calls "The four phases of integration" namely the Initiation, Design, Construction and Management Phases, explains very well how BIM can support Integrated Practice and the full life cycle management of the built environment.
Jernigan's references to the Toyota Production System a.k.a TPS (and NO it' s NOT the TPS referred to in Office Space's TPS reports, although they do exist) opened my eyes to this almost painfully logical system of managing the supply of a product (in our case the product is information.) TPS says that you don't create a part for a product until the next process down the line calls for it. That way you never have a surplus of parts lying around and you haven't expended resources on something that may or may not be used. This concept extends all the way out to the end user.

Cars aren't assembled till they are ordered (I don't know if that's ordered by dealers, customers or distributors, let's just leave it at "ordered" for now.) Assemblies aren't made till they are called for by the assembly line. Parts aren't made till new ones are needed to create assemblies to replace the ones just used on the assembly line. I'm not sure that I am doing the process justice by explaining it here. You should go straight to the creators for more info.
Anyway, for our purposes, replace "part" with "information." Deliver the right information to the right person at the right time, no more, no less. Easier said than done, sure, but something to shoot for.

All that being said, I was lost at points when the acronyms started to come out. DRM (Data Repository Model), CVM (Concept Visualization Model), DPM (Design Prototype Model) which, admitedly, are all names that he uses in his practice for models at different stages in the process. I also get lost at one point when the numbers start to come out. The 80/20 principle (got it,) The Power of Sixteen Concept (Umm, ok), and the 400% rule (hmmm, uhhh... ?)
I think that one of the strongest concepts I came away with is "fail-quickly." When you are trying something new and it doesn't work, recognize it, analyze what went wrong and move on. Words to live by.
Anyway, all in all I think it is packed with useful information, diagrams and some interesting analogies used to explain BIM and IP. However, it might fall slightly short in being a step by step plan for implementing BIM and IP in your office.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Minneapolis-St. Paul CSI and the Minnesota Twins New Ballpark

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institutes's (CSI) monthly meeting featured a presentation by members of the MN Twins' new ball park build team from Mortenson Construction (I hope they will forgive me if they read this, I'm REALLY bad at names.)
Their presentation was on how they are using BIM to coordinate structural concrete and steel, MEP and Fast Track Construction. Along with that, the site for this ballpark presents some extraordinary challenges. The stadium cantilevers over an active railroad line to one side, a major highway to another, two existing parking garages and then... there is the underground stream that lives in an existing box culvert that flows through the middle of the ballpark. With 3000+ driven pipe piles be sure you don't hit THAT. I wish that we had more time with them to really dig into what and how they are doing on this project.

Check out a one year time lapse of the construction so far.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tablet Computers and Schematic Sketches

Man, this is Awesome. I can't wait till someone makes this happen for an application that I use.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Web 2.0, BIM, and Proprietary Property

Social websites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, photo sharing websites like Picasa, music sharing sites like LimeWire, the user written reference site Wikipedia, even the host of this blog Blogger, allow people from all over the world to keep-in-touch and share ideas and content. They also allow strangers to learn more about you and views (for better or worse.)

It seems that there is a whole group of people using the Internet for the free and unfettered sharing of information. I used to think that this group of people all fit into a specific generational constraint, however, this group is populated by folks of all ages and backgrounds (much to the chagrin of the recent college grads who finds their boss has a Facebook page and has invited them to be their friend.) One thing that they do seem to have in common is either a belief that there is no such thing as proprietary property (Hey Man, how can someone OWN an IDEA?) or they have a true desire to share what they know and produce (I think that it's more of the later.)

What does this have to do with BIM? Everything! Getting the right information to the right people at the right time is KEY to using BIM in integrated practice. And applications similar to the popular Web 2.o apps listed above will help get that information where it needs to be. As integrated practice matures we will see more and more web based authoring, sharing, markup and archiving of BIM. (I posted about Project Freewheel not long ago.) One that has been around awhile and at first glance has a WHOLE LOT to offer is Onuma Planning System (OPS.) I hope to write more about Onuma, their philosophy, and their products in a future post.

As the concepts of BIM, VDC and IPD mature and take hold in the AEC/O business a major stumbling block has been how to share information while retaining rights to intellectual property and all the while not increasing your liability. I know that the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has put language in some of their contracts to help with these concerns, but if they are like most AIA documents they probably favor the Architect when there are contractual issues. Admittedly, I haven't read them yet, but I have high hopes for C195™–2008 Standard Form of Single Purpose Entity Agreement for Integrated Project Delivery.

Currently a lot of mainstream folks are already sharing their BIM ideas, processes and content on Community Forums like AUGI, Revit City and Bim Forum. I know that they have been a huge help to ME in my BIM pursuits. But, I think that in the near future we will see some major changes in the way that information is shared in the AEC/O business. While their isn't one generation who has a monopoly on using the Internet, their IS a generation that hasn't known a world WITHOUT an Internet and their are even young people who have never cracked an encyclopedia to write a report. They are used to the idea that free information is all around them and all they have to do is filter out the garbage (Caveat Emptor when it comes to free Revit content that's for sure. But that would make a long post even longer.) As this generation matures and takes positions of responsibility in the AEC/O business, I foresee a time when ideas and information are FREELY shared across disciplines without thought for who will make money on the idea or who will claim full liability. I know this isn't the way that we function today. I know that current practices don't support this. But I also know that there will be a day when Owners EXPECT that everyone on their team will be working in their best interest to design, build, and maintain their properties. And in exchange for the team keeping this objective in mind the Owner will share risks AND rewards with whole team. That's BIM. That's Integrated Practice. That's Integrated Project Delivery. That's the future.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

AutoCAD Architecture: The Unsung BIM application?

The "I" in BIM is the defining factor of what makes a software a true BIM application. Any software that allows you to attach, store, and extract information from a model (whether 2D or 3D), and allows you to present design intent and investigate constructability, goes a long way towards implementing BIM and Integrated Project Delivery. (Notice, I'm not saying that a software is BIM. I'm just saying that it is a tool to help you create BIM and integrate your processes with the processes of other. OK, rant over.)

Given that, I wonder why Autodesk chooses to market its products the way that they do. Revit Architecture (RAC) is the flagship BIM platform in Autodesk's armada of software. AutoCAD Acrhitecture (ACA) is billed as a tool designed to increase the productivity of "Architects who know AutoCAD." No mention is given in the advertising literature about ACA's use for BIM.

Alot is said about Revit's ability to attach parameters (information) to elements in the model and schedule them out. ACA has similar ability. ACA let's you use a ubiquitous file format (.dwg)(remember, interoperability is KEY in Integrated Practice) to produce a 3d model that uses "smart objects" to represent and document the built environment. These objects "know" what they are and how they should interact with objects around them. Doors "know" that they go in walls, as do windows. Roofs are modeled based on complex rules running behind the scenes with limited input from the user. These objects also have information attached to them (manufacturer, material, etc, etc.) and they can communicate that information to schedules created within the program.

I DON'T think that ACA is as robust as RAC in some functions. Sections and elevations aren't "live" you can't select objects in them and modify those objects. When you make changes to plan views, you must update the section or elevation that is produced from them (which could lead to uncoordinated documents.) You can't select objects in schedules and make changes to them that effect the model.

However, all said, ACA is a pretty darn powerful modeling, drafting and information organizing software. Wow, sounds like BIM to me. It is especially useful in leveraging the training and skills of users who are experienced in AutoCAD.

I'd love to hear the opinions of anyone who has used ACA or by its former moniker ADT Architectural Desktop (either in a BIM capacity or not) on real life projects.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Vista's Snipping Tool

No, it's not a veterinary tool for digital pets. It's a decent screen capture tool that comes with Windows Vista.
To find it; Click the Start button>Select "All Programs">and navigate to the "Accesesories" folder.
If you have ever used the Print Screen funtion to show someone (through email or otherwise) what's happening on your screen you should really give this a try. The Snipping Tool goes beyond Print Screen in s couple of ways. First you get to see what you just captured. I don't know how many times I have said "Just press the button Labeled PRT SCR... No, don't worry that it doesn't seem like it did anything... No, you have to paste it into a document or an email first... Yes, I think they should call it "Screen Copy" instead of Print Screen too."
That aside, You also don't have to settle for a full screen capture that you crop in Word or Paint altough it does that as well.

You can also choose any open window to capture and you can annotate (with pens and highlighter, no text though.)

You can even crop a rectangle or use a free form tool.

So if you don't want to spring for SnagIt or some other screen capture program maybe you should reconsider that Vista upgrade you have been putting off... Well at least Revit runs fine on Vista despite our fears to the contary.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

e-SPECS for Revit

e-SPECS for Revit is a software program that interfaces with the Revit model, extracts assembly information from families in the project, imports spec sections based on that information and produces a Project Manual manual specific to the assemblies in that project. As changes are made in the project the Project Manual updates based on those changes.

Other neat-o features are; the ability to do mark-ups of the specs from Revit, and a project specific Keynote File (again, based on the specs, which are based on the project.)

Keen! See a recorded online Demo here.

Now that's creative use of information in models.

Friday, August 15, 2008

REVIT Dimension weirdness

The "whole wall" option that is available with the dimension tool in REVIT can be a great time saver. However I discovered something kinda weird today. I dimensioned a wall and received this dimension string.

What's with the 0'-0" dims? And, you may have noticed, that the cursor is over the grip you would use to edit what the extension line is snapped to (which is also the way that you would delete that dimension form the string.) You can tell by the dialog that says "Drag to set the gap between..." So I have 0'-0" dimension that I can't get rid of. Hmmmmmmm.

If you look a little closer you will see that there is an underlay visible in the view (Thanks to Andre Carvalho over at AUGI for seeing that.) So, setting the underlay to "none" we get.
Nice fix, but... why does REVIT reference a "whole wall" dimension to a wall other than the one you select?

Navisworks 2009.1

Autodesk has also come out with a point release of NavisWorks. Unlike the point release of AutoCAD REVIT Suite the NavisWorks point release comes with new funtionality. NavisWorks now provides:

-Support for Revit assembly codes for "symbol" element types
-Properties support for new style DWF files (as exported from Revit)
-Asta Powerproject V10 support
-AutoCAD Mechanical 2008 64-bit support
-64-bit exporters now included in the main installer
-Vico Constructor 2008 support
-Enhancements to application programming interface

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

BIM Forum meeting

Quoted from an email from the AGC's BIMForum;

"The BIMForum will meet October 2 & 3 at The Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church, Virginia. Meetings will be held all day Thursday and Friday. The theme of this meeting is how interface points are established to help Building Information Models to evolve. This meeting will be loaded with presentations on the interfaces between project teams, the current status and future of software interoperability, risk management, as well as a showcase of new and innovative technology. "

Check them out here.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

AutoCAD REVIT Architecture Suite 2009.1

Autodesk announced to it's Reseller's sales staff that they are coming out with a point release for REVIT Architectural Suite. Currently that suite includes REVIT Architectural 2009 and Autocad 2009.

The 2009.1 Suite will include those applications as well as AutoCAD Architecture.This decision was made to allow those thinking of migrating to a true BIM product can make that move and still keep their old platform for current projects and future projects using existing files.

Ask your VAR for details. More information will be available on the Autodesk website as of Aug 22. Salespeople are being encouraged to market this point release starting now.

The above is my opinion of information given to me by an AutoDesk Value Added Retailer and is not implied to be a release by AutoDesk.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Alternative Energy (Off topic)

Check out this ad and then visit the website. I am excited by the fact that a private businessman has a an energy plan for the country. I am excited by the fact that said businessman has no aspirations (visibly at least) to politics. Will he make money on this venture? Who the hell cares? Make money AND reduce dependency on foreign oil? My God, what a concept.

Find more videos like this on PickensPlan

I'm a member of the Pickens Plan Army, and I encourage everyone who reads this to at least investigate the plan and see if it makes sense to you.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Project Freewheel

For those of you who haven't seen this yet, you should check out Autodesk Freewheel.
Freewheel is a web-based service that allows you to share 2D and 3D designs quickly and easily.
You can zoom in and out, pan, orbit (in 3D.) You can even email links to specific views within the viewer. The project below is a sample set of documents from Autodesk. I invite you to play with the tools. There are 29 pages browse, better get to it.

I think that applications that provide sharing like this are going to be essential in the adoption of BIM.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

2ND Class no More! (well soon anyway)

Autodesk support recognizes that there is an issue with the system family "basic ceiling-generic." It seems that this family was created early in the development of REVIT and that the "normal" face of this family is the upper surface. The "normal" face is the surface that a "face hosted" object hosts too. This issue has been logged for change. Recommended workarounds were;

1. Mirror the fixtures using the ceiling as the mirror line. (Which is exactly the fix we used. With over 600 fixtures in the project we are grateful for the "select all instances" command.)
2. Create a family, type, or even instance parameter to deal with the situation.

I worked with the family a little yesterday afternoon and after fooling around with the constraints I was able to create a fixture that behaves properly when loaded into a project. It hosts and renders correctly, however it remains to be seen how it connects to an electrical system.

I have attached screen captures to show the issue more clearly. The recessed can and pendant light most clearly illustrate the condition. The rectangular fixtures are recessed and surface mount fixtures.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Are generic REVIT components 2nd Class Citizens?

Often we use generic components as place holders in the early stages of design development. In most cases they have at least some of the same parameters as more defined objects. However, this seems to not be the case with generic ceilings in REVIT.

A client using REVIT MEP to do electrical design ran into an issue where the light fixtures that he was placing in a project were hosting upside down.
Some background into light fixtures and REVIT might be appropriate. There is an issue with REVIT MEP in that light fixtures and other object hosted components will disappear if the host was deleted. Imagine the frustration if you were involved in Electrical design and the Architectural department deleted the ceiling and modeled new without telling you. So, often, families are used that host by face instead. Now the fixture will just hang out in 3D space where the face was located if the ceiling or wall is deleted. Hosting components to ceilings in REVIT can be tricky as it is, due to the way that REVIT handles RCP (reflected ceiling plans.) In short, REVIT treats RCP the way we were taught to draft them; The view you are seeing is as if you are looking at a mirror below the ceiling and what you see is the reflection of the ceiling. That is subtly different than a view that you would see laying on you back looking directly at a ceiling. In this instance it doesn't matter which we are looking at, only that we are looking at the bottom face of the ceiling (for a more in depth and very clear explanation of REVIT RCP click here.) REVIT knows that you are looking at the bottom face of the ceiling so that is where the object is hosted. That solves the disappearing light fixture problem, but creates a new one.

After some investigation it came to light (pun totally intended) that our client was placing their fixtures "by workplane." Which means that instead of selecting the face of a ceiling he selected a named plane (either a refrence plane created just for this or a level within the project) and hosted the fixtures that way. The problem comes from the fact that you don't "see" the reference plane and host the fixture, you select it before hand and place the fixture in space on that plane. REVIT assumes that the "face" of the plane is the upper face. That's why his lights were upside down.

To complicated matters, when I explained this behavior to him and told him he should host to the face of the ceiling in the linked in Architectural model, he had the same problem. The lights were STILL upside down. I'm sure he was thinking; "Way to go, REVIT support!"

So what was causing this problem? Come to find out, the ceilings in the project are "basic-generic." The only parameters they have are what level they are associated with, what the offset from the level is and whether they are room bounding or not. Since their appears to be no geometry other than a plane associated to this type ceiling, it makes sense that they behave the same as a reference plane. And that is exactly what they do.

So after all of this my client has two choices that I can think of (short of placing lights upside down and then flipping them.)

1.) He can get the architectural designer to use ceilings that have "substance."
2.) He can place his own ceiling in the model, host his lights to it and hide it. The only problem with that is; He will have to hide it in each view or create a view template where it is hidden and apply it to each view.

It seems like a problem that Autodesk should look into. It would seem to me that any ceiling in REVIT should host lights in the correct orientation. Generic ceilings have rights too!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

BIM; What it is.

So this Blog begs the question; "What the Heck is BIM (Building Information Modeling) and why is it important to me?" In this post I will try to answer the first part of the question and leave the latter for a later post.

So, BIM is... well... BIM is... hmmmmmmm...well, like a certain Supreme Court Justice in 1964...."I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." In reality, I could define BIM but others have already done a great job there.

The National Building Information Model Standard Project Committee succinctly defines BIM as:

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to

A great, in depth article about what BIM is and why to use it can be found here.

A conversation that I have more often is about what BIM is NOT.


3D Modeling
While 3D modeling is a far cry from lines on paper when it comes to investigating and presenting designs, it doesn't contain enough information (the I in BIM) to be considered BIM. It can help a designer or client visualize a project. It can even help to visually detect "clashes" (when some components interfere with others.) However, once the project is past construction stage (or the conceptual stage if the software doesn't easily support creating construction document) the model becomes obsolete. It goes from being a virtual representation of something doesn't yet exist (useful to explain design intent) to a virtual representation of something does exist (more useful, IMO, as a conversation piece or memento than anything else.)

No software on the market is BIM. A lot of people that I talk with are confused about this. There is software on the market that allows you to produce very powerful, information packed BIMs (Building Information Model in this case.) Software such as these are awesome tools and through their parametric design features (which will be a good subject for an upcoming post) allow the models to be quickly modified to accommodate changes and queried to extract information stored in the model. However, it is the information (coming from many sources) that transforms the model to a BIM.

So it would seem that the INFORMATION component BIM is the defining factor. In that case, what kind of information can be attached to a BIM? Join us next time...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Paperspace, Layouts, and Viewports... Oh my!

Since paperspace was added to AutoCAD (in R12) users have been trying to wrap their minds around the concept. Long time users were of the opinion that they didn't need it and wouldn't use it (there seems to be a direct correlation between how long you've been using a product and how willing you are to accept new features.) Well paperspace is obviously here to stay. However, it still confuses its fair share of users. While brushing up on my AutoCAD skills through the AUGI Training Program I came across this explanation of the concept in the courseware for a class titled; AutoCAD 103-From Surviving to Excelling at AutoCAD (by Kenneth Leary):

"Paperspace can be explained like this. Imagine you have a blank wall, not a spectacular view is it? You would love to see your new Hybrid car outside so you cut a window in the wall. Now you can see the car, but you can’t see all of it. Cutting a bigger window would work but it’s a lot of effort so you go outside and back the car further away from the window. Now you can see the all of the car and all is good and right with the universe."

I want to take this opportunity to thank the folks who volunteer there time with AUGI. Whether it's moderating their forums or putting together courseware they are an invaluable resource for those of us using Autodesk Software on a daily basis. Thank you AUGI, Thank You.

Is this BIM? Ah, who cares.

(BTW, I have even resorted to cutting a hole in a piece of paper and placing it over a drawing to demonstrate paperspace. It explained panning in the viewport, but even this "visual aid" couldn't explain zooming.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

First Post

Welcome to my blog. This blog will be a place for me to share my ideas and vision about the Building Industry and the changes that are happening as the ideas of BIM (Building Information Modeling) and VDC (Virtual Design and Construction) are being explored and implemented.

A little about myself: From the time I left High School (that was quite a while ago) till now, I have done a lot of things. I was a restoration carpenter, a tree climber, a tallship rigger, I even worked on a lobsterboat in Maine for a while. But the majority of that time I spent working in Residential Construction. Recently I had the opportunity to stop using my back and start using my head more. I enrolled in a technical college to learn Architectural Drafting and Estimating and that is where I was introduced to BIM.

Currently I am working as an Application Specialist for an AutoDesk Retailer. So you can expect a bias towards AutoDesk products when I am discussing software, but I am certainly open to others opinions.

In response to the title of this Blog, Who's afraid of the Big Bad BIM? Not me! And I hope you won't be either. Stay tuned for a post about what BIM is and why we should use it.