Thursday, August 24, 2006

Where are all those hand-drafting based firms?

Change Is Now...

Change or Die??? (Well he said parish, but you get the point) WOW, those are strong words...By The Way, Where are all those hand-drafting based firms?

I was originally going to go on about where they may have gone but I've decided to be more succinct and declaritive:

I am standing for embracing the change into a BIM workflow and becoming one of the many driving forces in the next great evolution of our industry.

We all know or have heard that, if one wants to generate something truly great they must take risks.

Moving to BIM may be a risk (though not in my opinion!!!) but any risk involved to it has so much potential and so many benefits
that I feel it is one risk that we can't afford to NOT take.

Courage is being able to act in the presence of fear.
Loathing is being in a state of reluctance.

...Where are you standing?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Make non-coplanar objects coplanar

Several years ago I finally had enough in regards to AutoCAD and the dreaded Z coordinates of objects always getting screwed up, usually after I xref'd in a consultants .dwg. Now, the issue wasn't that consultant's file, it was how AutoCAD works and me. If I snap to something 400 feet below, well it's my fault for not being aware. It was a tough thing to accept at first but once I realized that the error was in a belief of mine I was able to begin the path to least in the realm of CADworld.

After all it was only a belief of mine that the lines "were" or worse yet "should" be flat. (Those @*^#! 'unrealistic expectations' will get us every time!!!) ...I mean they "looked" flat and I was in my top view...

"uh oh, 'better check the side view...
@*^#!" Sure enough, the lines were not coplanar. AutoCAD may be a lot of things but it usually doesn't lie!

One thing that I got from all of this (and I can't be happier about it) is the realization of this whole
system of CADbelief that exists mostly just below our conciousness. It is so nice to be free, or at least getting there, as the struggle for my freedom from CADbelief goes on; just now with my eyes open (er).

Well to make a long story longer, I suggest that in addition to using the solution on this Blog that you read the white paper from Autodesk (
Make non-coplanar objects coplanar) for this one, as they explain 2 ways of achieving the desired result. They also provide a great deal of support there, as they always do. (I believe (hahahaha) that their syntax is incorrect, as I used the ^C^C in the command, they only have one ^. I can attest that the button works as you can see the command in the CUI dialogue image above, if you click on it.

'That said here's my favorite way, their example #2...Make a custom button and paste in the following syntax to the macro area within that button in the CUI:

Then just click that new button whenever you have objects at incorrect Z coordinates; no need to select anything first, this works on everything (no it won't explode walls in ADT, etc) but it will bring xref's down to a Z of 0 so unload if need be.

The screen shot at the top of this post is the CUI editor and If you don't know your CUI then introduce yourself by typing CUI at the ACAD/ADT, etc. 2006 and 2007 Command Prompt!!!

If you've never been there then please click the link on the CUI dialogue box that says "Learn more about Customization" the CUI is a
subject for another time (in this Blog).


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Automatic Revisions, Tracking and Management? a CAD users dream; a Revit user's Reality!!!

Automatic revisions, are you kidding me? Well, no and neither is Revit Building 9.

First: Create a revision cloud in an appropriate view. (Menu Bar/Drafting Tab/Revision Cloud)

Second: Tag that cloud with a Catagory Tag. (if not present load it from the Annotations folder...yes, the family file is called "Revision Tag").

There you will create and manage revision info.

Finally place the view on a sheet (that has a Revision Schedule built-in to it, like the standard templates included with Revit!!! BOO
M you will have the revision already filled out on the sheet before you can even say "wow").

Now, if you created your sheet templates by leveraging the families included in Revit you will already have a revision schedule built-in (barring its deletion). But if you imported and exploded a CAD template without then building a revision schedule in to the new Revit sheet family template you may want to go back and rebuild yourself new sheet family templates.

We need to carefully contemplate and make a distinction between what we believe to be benefits in reusing legacy CAD data and the realities of doing so. A shift in perceptions, habits and workflows is required if we are to create a successful BIM environment; the ways-of-the-CAD do not always translate, much like some of the hand-drafting practices that needed adjustment, integration or abandonment with the advent of the CAD workflow.

The transition to a BIM solution requires a great deal of
suggestions and help. This should come from internal and external sources that can be relied upon to both brainstorm and also to help us with best practices and concepts for legacy content and so much more. A trusted, varied and experienced group of Revit support personnel can be your greatest asset. My intent is to be one of those voices.

When using Revit with an "onward and upwards" approach rather than a "copy from backwards" approach, in almost every case will enable success.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Beliefs, Myths and other beautiful lies

Before I can entertain discussions or comparisons between, say Architectural Desktop vs. Revit Building (which we will as time goes on) I must frame our current state of CAD, as I believe it to be.

Before BIM (BIMtown) there was CAD (CADworld) where lines on a page were walls: Why? Well, we believed them to be.

In CADworld we overlay a highly formalized, sometimes enabling, yet restrictive belief system over our productions in order to have them function for us. Most of the time we don't even realize that we are attaching beliefs. As long as everyone involved in the project buys into this agreement reality then all will appear to be working. Dimension overrides and all!

If you fall into the category that feels that a line based CADworld reality is either equal to or superior to a model based BIMtown solution then I say “Welcome, sit back and get ready to be upset, shocked into life (or better yet; do you want to buy an old 386 pc or better yet a slide rule?)”.

We believe so fervently that we sometimes, if not always forget what is or was important to us. We get caught up in processes, formulae and habits, we then wear them like they're fluffy slippers. I hold to the ideal that Architecture and it's practice should be a creative act: even though that too is a hollow belief. What do I mean??? Well, any belief is only real as long as someone believes it.

Belief is not reality.

Reality is reality.

What is is.

Everything else, rationalizations, reasons, thoughts and beliefs are subjective and inevitably incorrect to someone.

When I am painting a canvas my creativity would get stale if I were to always use the same materials, brushes, etc. By forcing myself to explore new and possible solutions to an age old problem (painting a picture in this example) I find that it can be quite liberating, exciting and rewarding: yes, sometimes the result is unexpected (and this, I believe, is the best possible result) if one has talent and explores possibilities and takes risks that person or firm will see realized more outstanding results than were previously believed possible. This new excellence will be reflected in the work, no matter the discipline. When creating a building why not search out the best tools to enable innate talents to shine through, rather than holding on to outdated, limiting solutions? Is death that imminent? Are we too scared? I sure hope not!.

20 years or so ago most every building, even large building projects were drafted by hand. Where are those projects going to now? The hand drafters???

Fast forward to the beginning of the 21st century (now, then, whatever): Most building projects are being realized on and with a line-based CADWorld drafting solution...much better than drawing by hand, (although not as fun or dirty) but not as efficient as Object-based midBIM (Architectural Desktop, etc.) or BIMtown (Revit Building, etc.).

Back in the 1980's if you were around; did everyone immediately embrace CADworld? Not likely. But those who did take that first leap (first); back when hair was big and punk rock went into a temporary hiding; found that they were able to do things in their A/E practices that reinvigorated them, their ideas, their coworkers and their sex lives...(ok maybe that's a stretch but I sure felt like I was on the cutting edge and I strived for more than I had before).

Now we are again back in those proverbial times, NO not the 80's! Now we have more piercings, tatt's and fake body parts, but we find ourselves at a crossroads between that line-based CADworld; a falsely comfortable past way of being; and an unfamiliar BIMtown future.

Who will lead, who will follow and who will find themselves outside looking out because they wanted to hold on to a CAD standard, a CAD software or any number of other means to an end?

The end I strive toward is producing and enabling others to produce and realize their creative ends by leveraging the best possible solution and in CADworld it is appearing more and more like midBIM may be an ok, even exceptional interim step but BIMworld may very well be (is) the way to go.

What do you believe?

Check back in 10 to 20 years to see if I am correct.