Thursday, July 26, 2007

Name, Rename & More from a Revit Schedule

First, I want to get something out of the way: distinguishing the differences between "simple" and "easy".

Using Revit is
easy (especially when we 'Use Revit like Revit'
Using Revit is not

Anyone who says Revit is simple is either full of shit or has no grasp of the words meaning. (And: I apologize if I ever said or intimated that Revit is simple...If I did say that it's simple then I'd like to clarify and say it's easy...mostly, not simple). Sorry folks, there is no "push button Architecture" Nothing comes from no work!!!

WTF do I mean? Well let's see what Merriam Webster says about:
1 a: causing or involving little difficulty or discomfort (Like when Revit and the user are both at their best)
3 a: marked by peace and comfort (Like when Revit and the user are both at their best)

4 a: lacking in knowledge or expertise ('Can't get much done in Architecture, etc. that way)
5 b: free of secondary complications (Doesn't sound like Revit...or Life...)

NOW that that's over with here is an easy way to Name, Rename (or More) views or sheets, etc.

Use a Revit Schedule
! Actually we use 'View Lists' and 'Drawing Lists' (we must use the VIEW/NEW...per the image below, because these are some of the few items NOT on a Tool Bar)

Uhhh by the way, Autodesk, do you see the symbol that you call an Elevation marker? It's
simple (and as long as you keep it around so are you...Please change it!!!) -Is it insane of me to speak toward a corporation as if it's a person??? Better yet a person who is listening to me!!!

Back to business...
The issue herein is that I needed to change a whole bunch of views' names.

If I am editing objects that can be seen in the model then I tile the appropriate view(s) along side the schedules and work from the schedule to then make wholesale, or multiple changes...thus the easy...not to mention faster, better & more Revit-like way). YEEEHAAA, using Revit like Revit.

The Image Below:
1: What needs to be Renamed.
2: Why we need to Rename it.
3: Painful to Rename more than a few views from the Project Browser (PB).
Plus there are more clicks to get to information to/from the PB than can be at our fingertips from a schedule...On Demand Information (ODI for the TLA folks) I like it!!!
...the info, not the TLA's...

4: The solution of choice. If you need to Rename or add info then type the info once, CTRL+C then just click and paste (CTRL+V) to rename... But what I needed, as illustrated below was easier...I just had to click/select (one step if you're a bit careful) and delete the now useless info...
The moral of the story is:
If it can be scheduled then it can be changed from a schedule; Easily.

Makes sense when we see it like that, doesn't it??? Revit Like Revit.


Monday, July 23, 2007

In Place Revit Family: The Floor

Well, I have been asked to show a colleague how to create a metal deck floor. YAAY!!!

First I asked the user (as you should ask yourself) if they (or you) actually needed it in the model or will illustrating the corrugation in a detail suffice: refraining from modeling this floor would keep the file smaller, more flexible and a bit more streamlined to edit, etc.

Well, the answer came back that they want it in the model, so here we go...
First I created a bogus project to illustrate the following procedures: I already have levels and grids so defining Work Planes will be simple: I will use Grid J (Hey, what a nice coincidence).

The 'Project' waiting for the 'floor'.
On the Modeling Tools choose 'Create'. This will begin the create an "In-Place-Family" portion of our show.
Choose "Floors" (somewhat obvious since we want to create a floor). This is going to make our In-Place-Family a Floor Family. Always remember that when creating any kind of family (In-Place or Component) you must choose a category; if one does not correspond to the object you are creating then use "Generic Models".
Name the family...Be specific so you can tell it apart from others you create!!! BTW: "Floor 1" is probably something I'd NEVER use on an actual know, do as I say, not as I do...(a day without hypocrisy is a day of
Now we're ready to model. For this we'll use a "Solid Extrusion" for the body of the floor.
Set the Work Plane (as I said I am using Grid J...Nice name...)
When I choose a grid, in order to draw perpendicularly to the plan view we are in (if we are in one) Revit will ask us to open a corresponding Elevation or Section View, so know your views!!!
Also remember to set the depth of the extrusion to a depth that will make it easy to see, you can stretch it's depth into final placement, easily enough, later on. I find it best, in many cases to stretch extrusions later (rather than calculating them up front) as it also makes locking it, much simpler.

7) Now that we're in 'sketch mode' draw the actual profile needed. Lines? How quaint...
When you're done drawing the extrusion's profile then "Finish Sketch" but don't Finish Family, yet. We still need to create a few voids (or would you prefer to use shaft openings? Well good luck getting
shaft openings to cut the In-Place Floor: let me know how that works for you...if you try it).

BTW: notice I am stretching the extrusion length in the image below, right? You would lock it if needed.
Now create any Void Extrusions necessary. Note: I made them -2'-0" since they begin at the level and need to cut downward. Also the wedge shape needed to be a separate void and needed to leverage the Cut Geometry tool. Your results will vary, this is one of the times CTRL+Z becomes handy, quite possibly...

When you finish the voids then finish the family...and...voilà:

A Metal Deck Floor...Well OK maybe we didn't make the materials 'metal' (yet) but you get the point...Right?

Take Care,

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Revit Error Reporting: Again, Just Do It!!!

Well it happens to everyone sometimes: An Unrecoverable Error Has Occured... UGHHH. If (when) this does happen please send those error reports!!! it's not just to give you a feeling that ADSK is working for you; they actually want to fix the issue and when they do it helps all of us!!!

On their site, there is
this page relating to the explanations and this link is a cute (not really) picture illustrating what happens to these messages.

On with the show:
"After the Crash" and yes, I saved a recovery file...

Use the following dialog to help ADSK help us!!!
See image 3 as well but please use the "Step by Step Description" area to give as much info to them as possible (I know you're busy but if you want ADSK to get rid of the issue you experience you have to let them know what was happening. Take pains to communicate... or at least say something...

Image 1 below is the "details" page for your edification & paranoia abatement.

Image 2 below is the "What Happens" web page...

Image 3 below is their helpful hints as to what kind of info helps them help us:

Finally: Image 4 below is (I hope) obvious enough...

In an odd way I have always felt a little better after receiving the following 'thank you' from ADSK... It is almost
(ALMOST) like I never had a problem whatsoever...
AAAHHHHHH, now isn't that better???

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)


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Sloping Floor & Roof Slabs in Revit

Remember THIS POST? It pertained to sloping Floor & Roof slabs. Well it seems that I should clarify this new functionality a bit (or just my posting...although I do remember being told by 'agents' at ADSK that there is (now was I guess) the limitation of these things (at this time is we need to begin with slabs having only non-curving boundaries, only, in order to get these new tools to work. Well, the slabs don't need to begin as purely rectangles they just need to be bounded by non-curving lines. At this time they also need to satisfy the following scenarios from RAC 2008's build ...1700's Help:

..."These tools can be used to slope a constant thickness slab or the top surface of a slab with a variable thickness layer in order to model the following scenarios:

  • A constant thickness slab or roof supported by sloped non-planar framing.
  • A variable thickness material used to slope the surface of a horizontal plane (for example, tapered insulation).

In order for shape editing tools to be activated the following conditions must be met:

  • Slabs must be flat and horizontal with straight-edged boundaries.
  • Roofs cannot be attached to another roof, and the roof cannot be a curtain roof. If either of these conditions is not met, the slab shape edit buttons do not display.
    NOTE:if these conditions are violated later, by some edit to the element, then the slab shape edit will cause an error with a callback allowing the user to reset the slab shape edit."...
Since we're not able to use the new tools with curved boundary slabs the opening command and/ or the void element as cutting objects are still in play...

-More to follow???


Monday, July 02, 2007

Converting CAD Details To Revit Details: Just Do It...One way or another.

Before you read on note that there is a companion to this (or as you may find a replacement)... RIGHT HERE... added 07-09-2010...

First off thanks to Nike for unknowingly letting me use their old slogan.

Yes, the following are all 2D detailing methods for Revit!!! We can talk about leveraging our model for project specific details based off the 3D geometry later: that's a different diatribe... Also please note: All times are empirical estimates and are placed as general guides, to be used solely as approximations, as I have no way to know how your teams can or will perform, how detailed your details are, etc., etc... Now on with the show.

There is a question that seems to always come up about what to do with existing and/or typical CAD details in Revit. And that question is...
What to do with existing and/or typical CAD details in Revit?

Do we redraw them (Can you say Intern?), do we Revitize them or maybe just Link the CAD files in and continue to edit them outside of Revit? Let's take a look at these options, shall we?
  • Plan A: The "In a perfect world" approach. -Draw (and/or redraw) all details entirely in Revit.
      • Ensures the cleanest Revit geometry (hopefully). (This approach can be expected to yield the antithesis of what can happen in plan B when the CAD data is bad. For the results of some 'Bad CAD' data see Image 1).
      • Details will be formatted and can be saved into project templates, pre placed on sheets and just waiting to be printed!!! Or we can use FILE / INSERT FROM FILE / VIEWS... for another method of propagating these, now existing views, into other current and future Revit projects.
      • Devise a projected time line within which to accomplish this by. Remember; eat the elephant one bite at a time, it's the only way to manage this and not freak the whole office (or boss) out! An example is: If The office has 1,000 details (traveling West at 65 MPH) and Johnny manages a team of 5 users (and 3 of them play hockey) and each user draws 1 detail a day: When will they be in Chicago?...Uuummm I mean, when will they be finished? They will be complete before 1 year comes to pass [200 work days to be in Chicago...not bad]...Hey here's a good idea for a team vacation incentive: Complete the detail work in half the time agreed upon, while still getting 'the work' out. Details done, morale high.
      • If you are on a 1-2 year plan to fully implement Revit then this method will help you enormously!!! Each detail should only take 1-4 hours once a good work flow is obtained. -Since these are quite often details that we already have elsewhere and we can print them...
  • Plan B: The "In a nearly perfect world" approach. -Revitize CAD details that you already have. (See Images 2 through 10 below!!!).
      • This consists of turning the CAD data into Revit data.
      • If your CAD teams draw (in CAD) with 8 decimal place precision, and they are always drafting perfectly, mindful of their snaps, etc., etc., etc., then what's shown in Image 1 will never happen, making this Plan = or > Plan A.
      • BUT!!! If your CAD teams draw with 1, 2, even 4 decimal place precision then all bets are off and I can almost guarantee that you will see errors! In the cases where Plan B yields less than perfect results you need to Review Warnings!!! very carefully and often to ensure that no errors show up in your actual projects...PLEASE don't let that happen!!! (Remember this later when I talk about my "Paranoia Abatement Protocol" AKA: The Old Test Project...Don't Revitize a CAD detail without it!!!).
      • Once a good work flow is obtained this could take 1/2 to 2 hours per detail.
      • Details are now Revit formatted just as in Plan A.
      • Devise a projected time line within which to accomplish Revitizing all CAD details by. My 'Chicago algorithm', the elephant and the 1-2 year plan benefits are all still applicable to this approach as well as for Plan A (Yaay)...Though the math for this option may be as little as half or better. Again, depending on the users, the CAD data, etc.
      • Sounds enticing and maybe exciting...and perhaps it is. I suggest at least a test by the same Revit user, where they take 2 sets of similar details; maybe 3 details for each option. See which works best for you, your standards and your office...
The now famous 'Image 1'
  • Plan C: The short-term, temporary or "Oh Shit, just get them out the door" approach. AKA: The "We'll get to it later" method.
      • Link (not import) the actual CAD files into separate drafting views. Fast to link but could (will) pose more work when wanting lines to import 'correctly' etc...not the end of the world but if it's not already set up and you have to print NOW you're F#@*ed.
      • Possible issues with text, leaders...But if it's "Oh Shit, just get them out the door" then we gotta do what we gotta do...
    • When (or if) you use this method, remember that when you use the Detail Callout tool you will need to choose the "Reference other view" from the Options Bar & then pick the correct drafting view from the drop down list.
      • Keep putting Plan A and/or Plan B on hold and you may find your teams are wasting so much time opening, panning, waiting that you schedule that in-house meeting where you, or others roll out the "Today we begin Revitizing all of our details" project..."Who would like to volunteer?...Yes Johnny, later is today"
      • Obvious method for when the clients or planning commissions, etc. need info before it was planned and/or scheduled for.
The detail I used herein is very simplistic with few lines when compared to most construction details I have come across and still it generated 30 errors!!! (As seen in image 1) Yes, the 30 errors "(may be ignored)" but being that the lines are all "slightly off axis and may cause inaccuracies" that is just too much risk for my liking or for me to take into the future of my projects, if I can at all help it.

  • Begin a new, blank 'detail creation' project. (Not a real Project!!!)
  • Create a new Drafting View.
  • Name it now (it's best at this point, especially if you get into a "production line" mode. It can help make this Revitizing, transitioning faster.) we can always change the scale later.
  • Open that view and Import the CAD file there. Image 2.
    • Remember, Linking is Plan C, so make sure to Import.
  • I inverted the colors and let all else be default.
    • Leaving the CAD in color makes it easier for me to see what I have already changed and what I have yet to change...
Image 2
  • Explode (full) See Revit Help and search for 'explode' to find all you...maybe...need to know.
    • Note that by using partial explodes you may be able to shave a little more time off of this process, depending on the consistency of the CAD files, etc...
  • Select all the linework and change it from the CAD's styles to one of Revit's own. Image 3.
    • Usually I adjust the lineweights later in the final, clean, project version of the detail but that's your call.
  • Convert in this same manner any CAD hatch patterns.
Image 3
  • Convert in this same manner any CAD Text styles and recreate all leaders. Images 4 & 5.
Image 4

Image 5
Hide all (now Revit) text and leaders. Image 6.
Image 6

Delete all exploded CAD leaders and arrow head remnants. Image 7
Image 7
Unhide all hidden objects. Image 8.
Image 8
  • Verify by selecting everything and hitting the 'filter' button. Image 9.
    • If you only see Revit items listed then...
  • Hit CTRL/C (Copy to clipboard).
    • Now it's the time for the Paranoia Test.
  • If you see legacy CAD names, etc. go back to the cleaning & converting until it's all clean, Revit geometry.
Image 9
  • Open another new, blank project.
  • Create a new drafting view & open it.
    • Its name doesn't matter here, since this is just for testing purposes.
  • CTRL/V (Paste from clipboard).
    • Here comes the test:
  • Select everything and hit the filter...what do you see?
  • If it's all Revit geometry, etc. then this detail is now safe for project use, if not then something slipped by, but don't worry: this extra little step disallowed your project from becoming muddied by CAD data.
  • Image 10: the final detail with lineweights adjusted...
Image 10
Oh Shit, I nearly forgot: do you really want to F#@* up a Revit Project? Explode a lot or just one large CAD file directly into your project...Don't do it!!! It CAN be tracked!!!