Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Greening of Architectural Production: Using Revit like Revit

Using Revit like Revit? WTF? What a concept.

It's actually a bigger issue than many imagine. Additionally this concept seems
not to be so obvious to everyone using Revit (maybe misusing?), or possibly worse yet, it may not be obvious to those implementing or considering implementing Revit.

I try to follow these guidelines when using Revit:
Use Revit Like Revit.
Do what I Know how to do.
Learn what I don't know that I don't know.

Revit As Revit
There are actually 2 main concepts here:

1) "
Using Revit like Revit". This one's in our personal & Professional scope.
Modeling what's appropriate, When appropriate, not trying to force CAD strategies on a BIM solution. Just because it seems to be a comfortable or viable position to use CAD strategies often it's not. Even if Autodesk says (or intimates) it works really well (such as using...even exploding (YIKES) AutoCAD files in Revit)...What are your AutoCAD angular tolerances set to??? -We'll talk about this later...


2) "Revit
working like Revit".
This one's in Autodesk's Professional scope.

Although it sometimes requires our guiding, nudging, pleading, ____ing of Autodesk to more fully develop Revit so that it
works like Revit; -Or at least so it works like their sales force & Marketing Materials & fAQ's say it does.

In regards to #1: It has been my experience that trying to use Revit in ways similar to whateverCAD, or using Revit with or based on whateverCAD processes usually leads to a great deal of pain that in most cases can be avoided by just using Revit like Revit. Even if you have to learn how to use Revit more fully and even if there are new pains using Revit...The fascist UI for instance.

Want an example? Well, it seems to be logical for some users to think that linking (or worse Importing) all of their AutoCAD base files, or details (etc.) into their Revit Project(s) is a useful approach... especially since this work flow is actually spoken about as being viable by agents of or around Autodesk. I say Yikes!!! (Yes we may in the short-term need to leverage SOME cad files) but it should be known that using a lot of .dwg files, both when Linked and even more so when Imported, will cause undue file bloating & slow-down, plus all those 'slightly off axis' line errors...OOOHHH they're a lot of fun...

I'm (tongue in cheek) guessing some this CAD compatible work flow came from ADSK being gun-shy after they freaked a lot of Architects out by releasing & pushing ADT well before it was (in my opinion) able to deliver anything near it's promise. If you want to Detail in Revit and you're considering using WhateverCAD then click me first!!! It was a good idea to build in these .dwg integrations (obviously, since everyone isn't using Revit yet) and since .dwg is the current Industry standard. Well I will ask again -where are those hand drafters anymore?" along with the dinosaurs, all CAD will go away one day and BIM will replace it, and so on...Right now at least it's time to get over CAD as fast as possible so our expertice in producing our Artform doesn't go through undue pain and's kind of like The Greening of Architectural

I submit (and have seen) that an over-leveraging of linked and/or imported (yuck) CAD files is an approach that, in most every case is avoidable and has lead users down a rabbit hole that has lead to Revit-Hell.

In relation to the Detailing example: if you have 1-10 details then OK, fine, I won't argue with anyone in using CAD files there (well, yes I will) but if you have 25 or 50 or 100 or more details in your set, or more importantly if you will ever want to use those (or similar) details again, in future Revit projects, then I would not recommend linking CAD details whatsoever. Just Recreate them.

If you already have cad files that you want to turn into a Revit Model and you think that the lines that 'say' they are 180.00 degrees are actually that; well try changing the Angular Units Precision, in your CAD software, out to 8 decimal places (Just humor me on this and try it)...It is a very good chance (I'd say an overwhelming chance the more production people you work with) that there are some (or Many) lines nowhere near correct. Not a big deal if a line is out .0004989 from being truly straight??? If you are out a fraction of a degree and you are drawing far from 0,0,0 in cad, maybe due to required setups and you need to Rotate True North once in Revit, you can (or will) be creating coordination nightmares for yourself and others: AND isn't this why we use Revit, to lessen those errors and coordination gaps and lack of correct geometry? It is for me. I always hated the dimension override, I found it proved to
mostly be just an excuse to be lazy or sloppy.

In regards to #2: How can it be, you ask, that Revit doesn't work like Revit? After all, things simply work how they work. OK, I'll give you that point on semantics: but what I mean (to mean) is that it's not so much that Revit doesn't work like Revit works; it's more that Revit doesn't (always) work like Autodesk professes or intimates that it works. Ahhhh, That's more to the point.

A portion of the response to FAQ 1, on Autodesk's own site states:
"...Revit® Architecture software is a complete, discipline-specific building design and documentation system supporting all phases of design and construction documentation..."

Complete? That may be stretching more than the truth...more like pulling my leg. If Revit was complete (even in and of itself) Autodesk would stop developing it and we'd stop asking for more. And the modeling would be tolerable (Nice Loft tool). And the UI wouldn't be so fucking Fascist. And the dialogs (when you are say 7 boxes deep) would allow an 'accept & close all' type of action. And. And. And.

We are at a place where we seem to have to help Autodesk to
"get it's mind right" so to speak, in regards to the development of Revit. I quote that because I find there are areas and methods designed into Revit that make it 'Not Revit Like' at all; you know? Things that seem incomplete, illogical or inappropriate and frankly antithetical to how a real "Complete BIM Solution" would work. Now I know that nothing can be perfect (and yet everything is perfect, just how it is and isn't)... but I'd like to see a new, more perfect perfect Revit.

So, now we can get back onto the business of ourselves: of Using Revit Like Revit. It may seem like we can use protocols from other modeling softwares in Revit, but we can't always do that. Don't use Masses for Components. Don't use cad files if you can at all help it. Work smart, take ownership and most of all think before you act. This last point is no joke; many times taking a few minutes and talking with several people about a possible approach or task may (and usually does) reveal hidden or even unknown possibilities. At worst it'll prove your methods sound.

I was going to start to compile a list of things I'd like to see incorporated into Revit but I have already sent them directly to Autodesk so I'll end with a simple (simple for me) request:

Come on Autodesk: you know what you need to do. After all, even you tried to get Sketch Up (allegedly). I am not saying that Revit modeling should be like Sketch Up's modeling (am I? No, it should be better.) but would it be so bad to make modeling any shape that Architects can imagine at least possible without a degree in Astral Physics? Can't it be at least as complete as the new 3D in AutoCAD or better yet Rhino? OOOH he said the R word. I know we can link these programs' 3D .DWG's into Revit, but the problem is they don't work predictably or completely like Revit Masses and the translation out to/from .dwg can break things and...what??? Nurbs? What?

You get the point. (s)


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