Monday, December 5, 2011



So long to AU 2011! I had a great time, took some great classes, and had the privilege of leading two myself. It was a good year all in all, though we were a man down this year. AU was not and never will be the same without my friend Scott Womack, who passed away in September. Scott was a passionate advocate of Revit, and was known for his strong opinions and convictions as well as an untiring willingness to help anyone find the right path. He left an indelible mark on the Revit community, and is sorely missed. So, raise a glass to Scott if you had the pleasure of knowing him.

I also have to thank Larry Kleinkemper for dragging my vest around with him for two days after I left it at an after hours event. You da man.

I learned some great tidbits. Beau Turner gave a demo of Clarity, their new Revit Server wrapper that actually makes it usable and manageable. Great job to his team! I also really enjoyed the Innovation Forums this year, and while the "cage match" might  have been a little too cheesy even for me, the other parts were intriguing and exciting. As usual, I am leaving exhausted, inspired, and dried out from the desert air.

AU wasn't without some hiccups though. The AU speaker site this year was, to quote Aaron, a bag of disaster. Uploads of speaking materials didn't work, or once they did users downloading files got 404 errors or file errors. Yuck! Anyway, since nothing up there appears to be accessible still, all my class materials are going to be linked (you guessed it) in this post...

AB5602 - Laser Scanning...

To my attendees, again I apologize for the difference between the class I taught and the description. That description was for a lab, and I was given a lecture that initially had identical content to three other scanning classes. I tried to do the best I could with the cards I was dealt! I totally understand and agree with much of your feedback about the class being basic - I only wish I had been allowed to update the title and description once it was clear what I would actually need to teach.

Here are all the links to the various class materials:

Handout & Scanning Brief
Sample Spec - coming soon -

AB5552U - Revit Futures : Collaboration...

I was thrilled with the outcome from this class. I want to thank Anthony Hauck, Scott Davis, Tobias Hauthorn, and Robert Aish for coming and representing Autodesk. I felt like it really made the class to have them there. The point of the class is to get them thinking about what we (as a community) really want, and some of the great conversation about continuous save in particular was just what I had hoped to have. Thanks to everyone who spoke up and shared their opinion! Naturally, the mind map I had (new software) got corrupted. I'm in process of re-building it and hope to have it up here in a few days. I'll update this post once I do. (The joys of constantly trying new tools...)

So long AU2011, here we come AU2012...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sparking your interest?

While Autodesk Labs is one of my favorite places to visit, sometimes they have a project that just makes me go: "Wha....?" Spark is one of those projects from my perspective. It certainly caught my interest when I read about it. The tag line is quite catchy:

"Project Spark is a technology preview of a simplified 3D building information modeling (BIM) solution. Using Project Spark, building professionals can create designs efficiently with real world building objects, produce more reliable documentation faster, and share files with consultants using Revit or AutoCAD based products."

Naturally, I downloaded it and spent a couple of days fiddling with it. Unfortunately, I was largely disappointed with the implementation of the idea. Spark is really a pared down version of Revit. While I appreciate the idea, taking Revit and removing some core functionality isn't a way to make a "simplified" 3D BIM solution. It is a way to make a less functional BIM solution. But, the devil is in the details.  So, what exactly did get removed?

That's the short list. I've got my analysis of each item below if you're interested, but the core problem I see is that the foundation of the project seems to be summed up by this equation: Revit - Features = Simplified, and Simplified = Better. The math geek in me doth protest. The problem with Revit generally isn't that it has too many features, it is that the features it has are too hard to learn and use consistently. If Autodesk really wants Spark to succeed they need to look at this differently: Revit - Inconsistency + Ease of Use + Ease of Training = Better. That's the key to making Spark really catch fire. Also, I question what  success is in this context. Creating a new software offering or providing a tested to make the Revit platform easier to use? Either way it is an interesting concept, although I certainly prefer the latter from an end user perspective.

  • No Worksharing – Makes perfect sense. I get removing this for a “simple” program and this does actually simplify things a bit. It works like sketchup, FormZ, Bonsai, Rhino, Etc...
  • No Photorealistic Rendering – I wouldn't call the rendering in Revit “complicated” by any means, so it seems odd this was removed. Rendering is a basic function of most competing “simple” BIM tools as well. Since all the rendering related information is still in the materials dialog to support textured viewing, I really don't see the payoff.
  • No View Filters – This is an overly complicated part of Revit, so I get removing it as is. However, the functionality represented in filters is absolutely necessary to get decent visual graphics out of Revit in an efficient manner. So, I really think the Labs team should spend some time “innovating” how that core functionality of selection sets and visual overrides are accomplished in a BIM environment. This would have a huge positive impact flowing back into Revit as well.
  • No Groups – What? Again, grouping is a core “feature” for modeling in almost any application. Sketchup has a corollary, FormZ and Bonsai have a corollary, Rhino has a corollary. They aren't that hard to use outside of having to enter the group edit mode. Again, this is an area that feels necessary and just needs a little tweaking to be simplified and still available.
  • No In-Place Families – who do I have to pay off to get this removed from Revit as well? Hehe. Happy to see this gone, we just need to be able to edit family content with the project context in the background. That's the only real benefit to In-Place Families.
  • No Massing – I sort of get this, and sort of don’t. Massing can be complex, and this isn't targeted as a conceptual design tool since that's Vasari’s realm. However, it leaves Spark without the ability to create so many basic forms that are just necessary in today’s design/construction environment. Opportunity wise, this is another area where innovations in Spark to support "complex" forms like slanted walls without needing massing would benefit the core platform.
  • No Analysis – I can see this as extraneous to those I see as the targeted end users of Spark, plus the analysis features are generally more easy to use than a lot of the core features are thanks to Vasari so they need less attention to make simpler.
  • No Trusses – Personally I think trusses are the most important structural element to have in any design or production software as they are the element least likely to be hidden behind ceilings and most likely to be incorporated into the design direction. However, the truss tool in Revit needs some work to make it more usable and is quite complicated at the moment so the factory is probably better off removing it. Long term, this would be a good thing to simplify and include.
  • No Shared Coordinates – I get that shared coordinates are complicated. However, by removing this Spark models are basically UNUSABLE in any downstream process. I want you to know that  because I think it is an inexcusable omission. This is one place where the Revit platform could really use some UX level thought in making multiple coordinate systems less confusing to the average user. It is an absolutely necessary evil to be able to define multiple coordinate systems so you guys ought to be Labbing it up in my book.
  • No Point Clouds – What? Why? Ok, it makes sense. But I love me some point clouds…
  • No Sunpath – Makes some sense along with the analysis, although this is arguably one of the easiest things to use in the whole platform.
  • No API - I don’t really understand the benefit to removing this other than it probably makes it simpler for the factory to work with. Unfortunately, it prevents us from using plugins that might make Spark even simpler than it already is..
  • No Parts / Assemblies – I kind of get this one, although as the confusion about parts/assemblies/groups/etc… gets worked out in the main platform I would expect to see either assemblies or groups in something like Spark.
  • No Design Options – Removing one of the most complicated and difficult features in the platform makes a lot of sense. With worksharing removed so it makes sense to run multiple sequential files from a workflow perspective anyway. However, I’d really like to see the factory take a look at this and make Design Options much much better long term. Spark may not be the project for it, perhaps Vasari is a better home for that project. One of those two projects ought to take a close look at the intent of DO and actually deliver upon it one of these days…
  • No Adaptive Components - This makes sense in the light of massing and general conceptual design features being removed across the board, although as more of the main platform transitions to adaptive components as core content and not just design-centric content I might begin to question this decision sooner than later. AC’s are arguably simpler to build and more flexible content wise.
  • Simplified Export – Makes sense in general, although again the no API thing means no exporting to things like NWC, and leaving IFC out is just inexcusable all over again. The implementation here once again really limits the use of anything created in Spark downstream.
  • Simplified Links – I shockingly have no issues with this, though perhaps the factory didn't go far enough. I mean, what is that CAD stuff for? That's SO 1990's.
  • Simplified Content – I'm not entirely sure what this references. I haven’t noticed a substantive difference yet outside of less categories being available. I’d love to know more if there are some changes I just haven’t noticed yet. I don't think removing categories should count as making the process of creating content "simplified", so I hope that something else is there.
  • Simplified Phasing – Again, I didn't notice anything on the surface that was in any way simpler. Phasing is already pretty simple as is. Again, I think phasing could use a UX eye to make better, but it isn’t a high priority compared to some other features.
  • Simplified Materials – Not really much simpler actually, it’s still pretty complex and since textured display is still supported the whole rendering backend which makes the materials dialog so complicated is still basically there. So, I question this being “simpler” outside of a missing tab and button or two that are outside of the core materials workflow anyway. There is a lot of opportunity here to make the materials dialog more like selecting a material in a material library in real life.
Long story short, I really like the idea of Spark I just don't think the path it is on right now is the right path. It seems like "limited" is a far better descriptor for Spark than "Simple" in the current incarnation. This doesn't change the need for a truly easy to use, interoperable, and inexpensive BIM solution. So, I'm hopeful that Autodesk can get on the right path to delivering such a solution. Otherwise I'm going to have to keep fighting the Sketchup battle for another 10 years. Sigh...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Future...

After all, that is the whole point of this blog right??? (Yes, it is.)

So, I had the privilege of flying up to Denver two weeks ago to present on technology and process trends in "our" industry for the next 10 years. Aside from running a little long, I felt the presentation went really well. It was my first time using a mind map as my presentation tool instead of just as a planning tool. So, I was a little nervous but more excited. It was nice to finally have a presentation topic again that lent itself to a less linear presentation technique... I thought I'd share the presentation map, and a few tidbits along with it on the blog.

So, the presentation itself is on Mindomo, which is a web hosted mind mapping tool that I prefer to some of the more "traditional" mind mappers out there. However, it has a ways to go to really be perfect (who doesn't?).
Here's the link if you want to follow along: DBIA Regional Presentation

So, at a glance, five topics:
  1. My own little soapbox about BIM, Integration, and Sustainability (Or "SustainaBIMegration" as I like to call it when my boss isn't around - sorry Peter!). 
  2. Some pertinent trends in the AEC world that relate to the real focus of the presentation (not an exhaustive list by any means!).
  3. Now - which is what it sounds like, things we are doing now in this industry that you'd better be on board with or risk falling behind.
  4. Soon - things that are three to five years out in my estimation, just held back a bit by technology or our slow to change industry.
  5. Not Soon Enough - things that are in the ten year time frame, but I wish would get here sooner.

What I love about these maps is that I can embed a TON of detail in them:

Here are the two into topics expanded one level deep. Each of those sub-topics have four or five notes under them, and some may even go deeper. The sky is the limit, and what is great is that you only have to go as deep as time (and the audience) permits. Plus, you can embed videos, audio, or hyperlinks into any one of these topics or sub-topics for a really rich presentation (even if you're not around to give it).

Here's the blow up of the 10 year discussion points:

Anyway, LOTS of information, though it can certainly get better! The last image is the full map:


Monday, October 3, 2011

To Cloud, or not to Cloud, that is the question...

if Shakespeare were alive today, perhaps he'd be asking that very question (to himself) about publishing and writing his works in the wonderful mess of data centers and switches we call the cloud. Despite being a technophile; I'm not a tweeter nor am I a rabid fan of the cloud. But why???
  • Ownership of content is still fishy. Depending on which cloud service you're working with, ownership of the materials you place on the cloud may or may not reside with the hosting service. So, if you write that sequel to Hamlet you've been thinking about (or not) then Google might just own your book. "Not Cool" says Willie S.
  • Access to content is also a little fuzzy in my book. To make an example a little closer to home, what happens when you've got 15 people across 4 offices working on one project and POOF there goes the cloud? If your host goes into bankruptcy how do you and your project team access the files you need to continue doing your job? What happens if they have a colossal failure at multiple data centers (for any reason) and you can't send out those CDs on a project with penalties for later submittals? Good luck convincing the owner that the cloud ate your homework.
Now, that said, the cloud offers some amazing potential. To throw a shout out at Autodesk, their new "Autodesk Cloud" and the features that come bundled with it make the first hint of a compelling reasons to have all our employees use the single sign on. (Bluestreak was not enough, sorry). Hosting DWFs on the cloud that can be accessed and marked up simultaneously on multiple platforms (from iPads to Win7 Tablets to my brick of a laptop) is a huge benefit. Cloud based rendering (ala project Neon) is also interesting, although Neon never got to the point where it provided compelling results for me. But, as it progresses further I can see where the "Unlimited Computing" the Carl Bass likes to talk about can come into play. Now, Autodesk Cloud still has some issues to deal with...

  • Everything is still managed through single file interactions, so sharing 725 DWF sheets with 14 people is a complete waste of time if they're packaged as individual files. Same thing for uploading new versions. Actually, they need a desktop sync system like or Dropbox.
  • Storage on the cloud is parsed out by user (???) instead of by firm/project/etc... I can't even finish uploading all 725 DWFs with my 3 Gigs of apportioned storage as a subscription user. They really need some solution for project level storage, as well as firm level storage; that is in addition to user level storage of course.
  • What about network licenses? We have roughly 55 Revit licenses at last check. We have roughly 75 full time Revit users. I'm not clear if we can only have 55 subscription sign ins with 3 gigs and the rest will have only 1 gig of storage, or if all of our employees can have 3 gigs.
  • How about viewing Revit files natively? I'm only exporting to DWF to get them on the cloud, I'd love to be able to upload the Revit file and be done with it.
  • DWFs are good for markups if they're separated. No one wants to mark up 725 sheets as one DWF. However, all the associative linking in DWFs across multiple sheets is lost when you export individual DWFs. It would sure be nice if the Cloud was smart enough to recognize links across multiple DWF files and let you still hop around between them without the restriction of one uber DWF set for the whole project. 

  • The cloud is great and all, but the apps really need to support local storage. If I don't want to use the cloud for some crazy reason like security requirements, I should still be able to use the design review app to view my own files by synching them to my iPad in iTunes.
  • And, to add to that, we should be able to specify our own "cloud" and pull files from it. If we have our own net-accessible file server, why can't I point to that and pull files down???
Issues aside, the Superintendents on the project I'm working on LOVE being able to access up to date DWFs on their iPads, including the 3D models. So, it's a big hit in that regard. A few tweaks and I think Autodesk could have something really useful on their hands. It is a great first try! Good job factory. Now, I just need to actually read that darn EULA...

My two cents on the cloud for today...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Revit Futures AU2011

AU is just around the corner, and I'm going to give this Revit Futures format another shot.

Last year we had some great feedback about categories, and some of that information made it up to the right people at Autodesk. The joys of NDAs prevent me from spilling the beans about what, when, where, why, and who - but the class and the people involved did result in some additional weigh behind the words.

So, with that in mind, I'm trying to pull some people from Autodesk into this year's discussion from the get-go. I've solicited some topics from our friends at the factory, and here are what I've come up with for possibilities for this year's class:
  • Modeling and Massing in Revit - what can't you model (or model easily) and what are the major workflow challenges you face modeling (designing) in Revit?
  • Energy Analysis in Revit - what are the primary analyses you feel need to be included in the platform (as opposed to in separate programs)?
  • Collaboration in Revit - how can the platform (including Revit Server) change to improve collaboration on projects?
  • User Productivity - BIM managers are constantly challenged to increase the productivity of the workforce they support, and Revit has gone leaps and bounds to improve productivity over CAD platforms. However, what major improvements can we make to the platform to increase productivity further?
I'm game for tackling any of these topics, although the last may take some narrowing down. If you've got an opinion on which we should do, post a comment. If there's a strong trend we'll go with that item. If it is a mixed bag, I'll do my best to pick one. Regardless, whomever from Autodesk brought up the subject has signed in blood to be present for the class (even if they don't remember it!). 

So with that, let it begin. Hope to see you all at AU again this year!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Revit Technology Conference NA2011

Well, RTC has come and gone, and what a whirlwind it was...

I have to say, this was the best Revit-related conference I've been to in years, maybe ever. The caliber of the other presenters was fantastic, and the caliber of the attendees was as well. It was a real who's who of Revit users, and I felt lucky to be in attendance, much less speaking!

I have to give some shout outs to my favorite presentations:

  • Lee Miller - As usual, a fantastic presentation, this time on urban planning in Revit. There were some absolutely stunning shots in this presentation both in terms of graphics and information. 
  • Jason Grant - JG pulled a one-two punch, first stunning the audience with a good jab in super families, where we learned there is good AND evil in the super families world; and then landed the uppercut for a TKO with the presentation graphics in Revit. Extra Kudos for being my favorite class and giving out the related content. Rock Star material here.
  • Aaron Maller - My compatriot in the workplace put together a great presentation late in the game to fill a slot vacated by another speaker. The presentation was on putting together a high quality template, not just the basic stuff you learn at AU and from Resellers. I literally saw one BIM manager smack their forehead when Aaron mentioned a little trick about embedding links in advance so you could pre-define filters and VG settings for links. Brilliant.
  • Jay Zallan - The best class I've seen to date on space programming in Revit, with some great tips on using masses in conjunction with locked room or area separation lines to really push what the program can do.

Unnamed Autodesk emplopyee who couldn't use just one iDevice
Every presentation I attended was excellent, and I can't say that about any other conference I've attended in years. Congratulations to the organizers and Aussies for a great first year, and I'm looking forward to the next - although I'll never forgive them for removing my one last excuse to get Beck to pay for a trip to Australia...

It was (THIS BIG)...
As for my presentation, I think it went well - although I'm not 100% sure how I ended up telling a fish story. It was probably also my last presentation of the SaRang project - First AU, then MARA, then a few RUGs, then Autodesk, and finally RTC. I think it has had its 15 minutes of fame. (Of course, now I have to do something new...yikes!). If you attended and want to access the materials, videos, etc... There's a solid 700MB of stuff on for you to mine to your heart's content: Conceptual Massing on a REAL Project

See you at next year's conference!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Revit 2012

So, David Light has done a fantastic job writing up all the major new features for 2012 (link above). So, rather than re-iterate I'm going to dive into some of the features I'm passionate about and give a more in-depth editorial on them...

Point Clouds:
Obviously, I'm on the point cloud bandwagon full bore. So not surprisingly, I'm a big fan of the new point cloud interface in 2012. If you remember from last year, Beck was a beta tester for Avatech's Scan to BIM which brought point clouds to Revit for the first time via the analysis framework. This implementation is much faster and far more flexible as it brings point clouds in "natively". Ultimately, the strategy isn't all that different. What is different is the SPEED! This thing is way faster thanks to the native implementation.
Mmmm... Pointy goodness in Revit - Yes, that is my house. No, you don't want to know how many beers I used to bribe a scanning crew to swing by one afternoon...
Here is a Revit model of my house made by tracing over the point cloud in Revit 2012. I can spin this around, zoom in, and do what I'd normally do in Revit and the lag is only a few seconds despite the several million point visible in the section box. Cut this down to a plan section and trim out some of the points on the sides and it isn't even noticeable. This is a huge step forward in making point clouds usable in Revit.
In plan this works perfectly to trace over, and in section it just looks cool. Matching roof slopes can be a pain, but the trees look so cool I don't care, and the pool makes it look like a beach house in this section - it isn't...

Now, there aren't a lot of object creation from point cloud options in Revit. We can snap to them as we use existing tools and that is about it. I would assume that the next iteration of Scan to BIM will utilize the points in Revit and leverage their existing code to create walls/duct/etc.. from those points as they do now using the analysis framework. (Full disclosure - we're not part of any current alpha or beta testing on Scan to BIM so this is purely speculation on my part!) What the future will hold for tools in Revit remains to be seen, although I have my hopes and dreams to be covered in a later post... All in all, this feature gets an "It's ALL Good!"

Parts & Assemblies:
The other new feature that is "construction oriented" does not get such a glowing review from me. I do want to start by saying that I'm thrilled that Autodesk is considering construction workflows in Revit, and their focus on supporting integrated project delivery in their software is the right way to go. However, the parts and assemblies in 2012 just fall very very short in my book. I'm also not convinced that the construction focus of these tools belong in Revit at all. To me these tools would be awesome in Navisworks, QTO, Innovaya, Synchro, and all the other construction tools we use. On our third party jobs using design team's BIMs we just aren't in the position to open their model and mess with it making these tools useless in a third party construction scenario. Once some of the core issues below are resolved, we'll use the heck out of these on our integrated projects. I'm just not sure how these address the needs of the majority of construction work in the market. Really, these give contractors even more reason to build their own BIMs and ignore the design BIMs, and that is the wrong direction to head.

I'm also really disappointed that these tools were not considered in the light of architectural documentation. Both the parts and assemblies tools have huge potential to improve documentation workflows if used correctly, and there are some seemingly trivial decisions that were made that have effectively prevented their use in this fashion. To be clear, I don't mean that executing any of this was trivial, quite the opposite I know a lot of good people put a lot of hard work into these tools. But, what might seem like a trivial decision such as where do parts fall in the program - their own category or as subcategories under their host object - can have a huge impact on the actual use of the tool. In this case, a seemingly simple decision has basically doomed parts to being unusable for design documentation.
  • Parts - The whole concept of parts is that system families that are made up of layers (walls, roofs, ceilings, floors, etc...) can now be broken into their constituent layers or into separate chunks in Revit and modified individually. The workflows I hear the most from the factory are breaking up slabs into pours, and breaking walls into individual layers for construction scheduling and quantity takeoff. But, there are some BIG gotchas in this system.

    For starters, it creates duplicate geometry that now overlaps. You still have the original wall and now have additional part elements for all the layers. There is a nifty view control to manage this mess, but it hardly makes it go away. It just hides it in Revit. In other tools this has to be done manually right now - though I would expect them to update their export options accordingly in the near future. Fundamentally, I don't like this workflow. We aren't creating duplicate objects - they are the same objects! The software need to recognize this not ignore it!!! Parameters from the host elements (a wall that is fire rated) need to apply to the parts (this is CRITICAL!). Right now, for construction usage, this is a purely modeling centric solution as it actually complicates and degrades the "I" in BIM. Also, there are restrictions in what you can turn into parts.
    So, notice the "N"s. Anything point edited is out of bounds. The real killer is roofs though. I could not find a single way to slope a roof that didn't prevent me from creating parts. Can anyone tell me how many roofs are actually perfectly flat? None? So, for all intents and purposes parts don't work for roofs at all because roofs are never flat. Parts for construction are an unfortunate case of great intentions that result in an epic fail...

    How these parts are organized also causes big problems. The factory chose to break out ALL parts into a "Parts" category. So, wall parts, floor parts, roof parts, ceiling parts, any parts all are in the same lump of a category. What does this mean for us? Well, you know all those view templates, VG Filters, Object Style settings, and other visibility controls you use to make your documentation look great? They won't work on parts. Parts are parts are parts. So, all my hopes and dreams of cleaning up tricky wall join conditions correctly (instead of the edit cut profile tool) in plan and in section, gone. I can't have the parts show up like the wall should. It would take hundreds of man hours in training and implementation to get this to work now. If, instead, parts came in as subcategories of the host element they were created from then all this would have just worked. This was a total face meet palm moment for me as a user when I saw how it was done. So, this is a case of parts never being considered as a documentation tool, and therefore not working as a documentation tool despite all the potential.

  • Assemblies - On the whole, these get a much better reception from me than parts do. This tool was thought out in some sense in terms of documentation possibilities, and addresses a number of issues I've had with groups for a long time. Basically, these allow you to select objects (including things that are parts of a host element like curtain wall mullions and panels) and call them an assembly. Then, the cool part kicks in. It searches all existing assemblies for matching geometry and information properties and if it finds a match the assembly is automatically turned into an instance of the existing type. If there is no match, then it makes a new type. No duplication allowed. Nifty!
    There are really a limited number of things needed to make this an awesome tool. However, there is a potential for confusion. Assemblies are similar in nature to groups, and we as end users have to keep an eye out for where each of these should be used. Why do I say that? Well, assemblies are like groups with documentation in mind, but minus some productivity features. Here is a simple chart:
    As a construction tool, everything but the lack of propagation is acceptable. That makes the workflow of managing a large project with many assemblies very difficult, and since the solution for this exists (let us include them in groups!) I'm hopeful it gets resolved quickly (as in a mid year release). Assemblies fall into the almost there category.

    There are two limitations that really hurt design usage of assemblies. The first is that the assembly views can only be placed on their own special sheet. If we could make assemblies out of all our storefront in a project, set assembly views of those, and drop them on sheets together along with other model views we have just replaced one time consuming workflow for documenting storefront types with one that is far more intelligent and much faster to boot. The second is that assemblies don't work in design options. This little oversight is a disaster for use in design workflows. You can only effectively use assemblies on things you're pretty much sure of. It is so close, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Once again, almost there...
I do want to thank the factory for all the hard work they put into these features, and all the others that are in the 2012 release. I think this is another home run release to follow up 2011, so overall great job to all! My criticism of the construction features is not meant to knock all that hard work, but to hopefully make the tools that much better next year. So, here's looking to 2013.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Dallas Revit User's Group

Thanks to DCCADD for the opportunity to present at last night's DRUG, and thanks to all who attended for the excellent questions!

I mentioned materials online during the class and several people have asked for better directions. The material originally presented was for the AU class titled Fuzzy Math. All the posted materials from that class are available here.

The new material not posted for AU will become available in May when the next version of Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture is published. Eddy Krygiel kindly asked me to contribute a chapter to the book, and this presentation was a very fast fly through of all the material in that chapter.

Anyway, thanks again, and let me know if there are any other questions!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Vasari 1.1

So, for those Vasari fans out there. The team has posted a new video on youtube that shows some of the new features. (Click on the post title for the link.) They go by fast, but there are some great images of wind rose visualization, wind impact studies, and some gravity simulation (there is a labs product for that too).

I've now had a day to play around with it, and it is quite neat! However, I made a mistake. I assumed the plan simulation was a wind impact analysis. It isn't. It is solar radiation studies on a planar surface. So, it is an extension of the solar analysis studies already in Vasari 1.0. So, the wind rose is the only wind feature.

Also, they fixed the issue with Vasari not respecting workshared files correctly. Thanks factory!


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Revit Server

So, as a company with both Construction and Architecture, we are struggling with the infrastructure needed to support two very different network diagrams. Most Architecture firms have a few main offices, and this is the environment Revit Server was designed to help out with. It is working great for us too, so no complaints on that front! Our Architecture network diagram looks much like any other firm with five offices:
So, we set up our Central Server in Dallas, and local servers in the other offices. That's that! But, our construction work makes this a LOT more complicated:
Add in a few more offices (teal-ish) and then all the jobsites (red-ish). Most of the connections between those jobs and their home office is Cable or DSL quality. When was the last time you tried saving to central over cable or DSL? I have Fios at home and that still takes 15-30 minutes depending on file size. So, you're thinking: Why not have a local server at every jobsite? Well, tons of reasons. Some jobsites have no permanent home for our people. About 1/3 of our work is small projects with one guy running two or three projects simultaneously. What job do you put the server on? Also, a lot of smaller jobs don't have the budget for a dedicated server at all. On over 60% of our work people are using their computers with no jobsite server. Two or three people don't need their own server when they can connect back to the office over VPN.  It "requires" Server2008, and no one wants that running on their own machine. It is only suitable for a server environment, not a mobile workstation or laptop. If only we could run RevitServer on Windows7...

Fortunately, there's a hack for that. Proof of concept screen shots below:
If you look REAL closely, you can see Revit is connected to the same "server name" as the workstation the screenshot is being taken from. The application pools are running correctly, and the Revit Server admin page is also working correctly. I'm testing the fool out of this as it is unsupported (and not recommended!). But, considering anyone on a jobsite is already loosing and hour plus every day saving to central, if I can cut that in half and they crash once a week they're still coming out ahead. So, here's to crossed fingers! I'll let you know how all the tests come out...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Revit Gunslingers

So, Aaron and I are off to Revit Gunslingers in Massachusetts after next week, and I'm gearing up to take all the feedback I've received in the class and after up to development and see what they say. I'll let everyone know how it turns out! Wish us luck!