Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Re: Coworker Looking for Job in DC

Due to a change in life circumstances, one of my coworkers is looking for a job in the Washington D.C. area. She's an interior designer with two years experience. She's been working in Revit for the past year and in my opinion is really good at Revit and has the ability to learn things really fast. Please feel free to email any inquiries to her directly at:

I want to wish Colleen all the best of luck in her new adventures. We'll all miss her here at NELSON/Black Cow.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

AU Project Template Survey Results

The results of the Project Template survey are available to browse and review.

Link to Results

Thanks to all those who responded.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

AU First Day

AU officially underway. Yesterday was the second annual Computational Design Symposium hosted by Robert Aish. It was interesting just like last year with some excellent presenters, well worth it if you can make it next year. The evening was full of various mixers and socials, Speaker and Blogger Socials and the AEC mixer. What was quite interesting is several of us got a chance to chat with Carl Bass (ADSK CEO) at the speaker social, turns out the software he uses the most is Inventor, and he rated himself as a “fair” Revit user. Not bad for a CEO I guess, ;-)

The rest of the night was quite nice catching up with folks from across the country. Got some good tidbits out of folks from the factory, but of course I can’t share… ;-). All I can say is that I continue to look forward to future releases of Revit both this coming year’s (2010) and future years.

Class today not too bad. Interesting and picked up some good tips and thoughts. The conference keynote was excellent hopefully the AEC keynote will be as good. The technology behind Avatar.... just plain cool!

For those less fortuate folks

For those of you who are not in Vegas right now, don't forget that if your company has a subscription that you can attend AU virtually. Not quite the same but you can download all course content provided by the speakers.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Arrived AU

I'm checked in and hanging out at the 'Bay.

Still tweaking the presentation but pretty much done. 112 responses to the survey, so still not even 50% of possible class attendees, but oh well. The data is interesting, and has helped.

Realized I uploaded the PPT the other night with a bunch of template slides from Autodesk, those have been removed.

See you here! Drop an e-mail or comment if you want, killing time today (Sunday).

Launch your own SlideRocket presentation!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

AU 2009! Project Templates

Its the final run-up to AU2009. I know attendance is going to be down this year, but still looking forward to seeing old friends.

I'm teaching a course on Project Templates this year. I'm really interested in getting feedback from many users. I've had several conversations and calls with folks from around the world about project templates in an attempt to gather as many points of view as possible. But I'm not done!!! Even if you can't make it to AU this year, take the survey now!

Click Here to take survey

Results will be integrated into my presentation materials, which will be posted on the AU site. If you're a subscriber that means you can get the info. It also means that if they decide to record me, you'll be able to watch the whole thing.
Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency

I'm also running an UnConference session all about Project Templates:

What Makes a Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Template

Friday, October 30, 2009

Multiple Match Type

This little feature has escaped me for who knows how long, and I confess to finding it in 2009, and not 2010 (though I grabbed my screen shots from there). 2010's Ribbon also makes it far more obvious then in the old UI. But here it is. When you use Match Type (MA on the keyboard) in the options bar is a little check box option appears "Multiple". Check it, and you're dropped into a selection mode where it is very easy to select multiple objects whose Type you want to change to your "base" type. Click on the "Finish Selection" button and all the types change at once!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Subscription Advantage Pack available

Sometime in the last 24 hours Autodesk posted the new Build, Revit Extensions, Model Review (aka BIM Review) and DB connect on the subscription website. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Follow-up from Revit Blogger Day

First, no, I'm not getting paid (though I keep hearing "the check is in the mail"....) ;-)

To dive into a little more detail Autodesk will be releasing the "Subscription Advantage Pack" essentially this wraps up things like "Revit Extensions" or the brand new "Wood Framing Utility" as well as including a special Revit build that includes new features for subscribers only. This new build and any new features will of course be compatible with non-subscribers, however those of us who work for companies that do subscribe will now get tools such as what was listed previously.

So what's coming, I think my previous list of new "features" was pretty self explanatory. What else is coming...

For Revit Arch & Structure there will be a new extension for wood framing. What this does, is it allows you to select you walls (yes walls only) and generate wood framing following various rules, you can adjust the framing in an editor. When you're done, push the magic button and you get wood 2x's modeled all over your model... pretty sweet (almost makes me want to do plain old residential construction).

The Revit DB link (which had previously been posted on Autodesk Labs (with a built in timebomb) will now be available.

"Model Review" this looks like Avatech's BIM Review, but more tightly integrated with Revit, I know there is a very close relationship there, so to say "I'm not suprsised" is not to much of an overstatement. Part of Autodesk's plug with the new Model Review extension is that it will allow you to validate a model is ready for energy anaylsis, and help to identify what needs to be fixed in order to get valid results.

There is a bunch of feature ports in the custom build. For instance; architects will be able to:

  • Create Sloped Columns
  • Create Curved Beams
  • Create complex Trusses
  • Cope beams
  • Create slabs with integrated metal decking profiles and slab direction
The "split wall with gap" tool has moved out of the realm of an INI mod, into a real feature. Autodesk can't say much about overall performance of this tool, other then that is has been in use for awhile. What is nice is that when used, it maintains the wall as a single object, even though it has been split. It seems like this tool has some useful possibilities, but I'm not totally sold, yet....

Structure is getting some improvements to the bridge tool. MEP is getting all new content particularly for electrical stuff besides Power & Lighting. MEP is also going to get tempory dimensions when in layout mode (which should prove useful).

You'll find other folks blogging about this new stuff, so be sure to see what I missed, or get their take.

More from ADSK blogger day...

Autodesk is releasing a "Subscription Advantage Pack" which will basically wrap a bunch of things that were released by themselves for subscription members, plus add new things like New Features.

Coming in a few days for all Revit products:
  • Shortcuts for draw commands
  • Keyboard shortcut manager
  • Conditional formatting
  • Text format shortcuts (cntrl+b, i & u)
  • Text Find & Replace
  • Convert lines (model/drafting)
  • Linked file performance improvements

Autodesk Revit blogger day!

On the Webex now, more "pre-release" info to come!

Friday, October 02, 2009

I'll take a double please....

A double skin that is!

I took a little more then a week, but I finally managed to build a working double skin panel. It still needs some refinements, but it at least works! While this may not be perfect for full on Consrtruction Documents (yet) I think this holds a lot of promise for some of the more practical things you can do with the new tools that showed up in Revit 2010.

Things I've learned (mostly from Zach):
  • Points - its all about locating points! Then creating geometry.
  • Workplanes!
  • Build everything off the corner points.
  • If not the corner points, then driving points on the default reference lines.
  • Did I mention workplanes? "Set" workplane should be your next favorite tool.
  • Dimensions need to be set to specific workplanes too.
  • Did I mention points are important? Make the reference planes of the points visible (properties).
  • Use the reference planes defined by reference lines.
  • The "host point by intersection" is a handy tool.
  • Did I mention points?
  • Workplanes.....

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Invisible to be Visible?

This is what I would I consider to be an "old technique" but it has come up recently around the firm. How to make objects that are above the view's cut plane (in plan) visible (I suppose it might work in section/elevation, but I never tried).

If you've read the wonderful Revit series "Introduction to Revit Arch" & "Mastering Revit Arch" (both solid books, thanks to the authors, whom I've been meaning to blog about), you should already know that certain objects will show-up, even if they are above the cut plane of the view. All of the categories are categories that are "cut" in plan and it mostly has to do with architectural convention about showing some stuff in a plan, even if it is not "technically" visible in the plan.

So that works really great, for those categories. However, what if you have a light fixture (say a wall sconce) that you also want to show in your plan, but of course it is mounted at 5'-6" or 6'-0", what do you do! Even if you put in symbolic geometry it won't help, as the view is not cutting the object, or the object is not below the cut plane. One solution would be a plan region, but they can be wonky at best, and would you really want to do a plan region for every wall sconce...? Or meven worse, modify the cut plane for the whole view? More then one view ! What we really need, is way to convince Revit that it is "cutting" through the object, even when its not.

Enter the Invisible line, an unseen friend! Take your wall sconce family, and you'll note that among the various Line Types (really subcategories) available to you with which to draw lines is "". Now, simply draw a line from the reference level to your wall sconce geometry (you can do some align/locks if you so choose). Pop the family back into your project, and viola! You're sconce will show up in your plan, with no extra effort.

Now wait! You might say, what is going on. Quite simply Revit is obeying its own rules (kinda like Kirk in the Kobayashi Maru, but not really), while we can not "see" the invisible line, when Revit's view cuts through the line, its there, and it "sees" it, which means it sees the object. Since a light fixture is a "non-cuttable" category, that means Revit must render the fixture in projection, since this is a plan, that means to render the light fixture in projection would require that the "top" of the fixture be shown in the view. Therefore, the light fixture is displayed in plan the way you want it to, all because of a simple invisible line.

I've not done an exhaustive review, but I beleive invisible lines are only availble in families that belong to categories that do not cut (which would make sense), I'm also not sure if the line style shows up if you make a family first with a generic template, then change the category. I'll leave it up to you the reader to explore and learn on your own. I do know it works for light fixtures and speciality equipment (the two I deal with most often, and where the issue is most likely to crop up).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Classic Roman Architecture anyone...?

This started as a little "show & tell" to Zach, and now its a movie... (mine didn't work nearly as well as his).

I think this goes further to suggust what you can do with these tools to handle complex geometry we just could not model before. Easy? No! Cool? Yes!

Further disclaimer - Zach made the video, not me. I just got the conversation started..... (my panel didn't work nearly as well as his)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

When E is not... E?

I was working on a family here at the company, and it turned out we need to use a formula that involved using a Log function (you remember Calculus right? Cause I don't.....). In excel the Natural Log (that is the log taken of e, your handy dandy mathematical constant) is notated with the function ln(). Which is fine and dandy. If you look in Revit help under valid syntax, is conveniently says that the "log" can be taken of any number, what they fail to mention is the base the Revit log function operates in, which is 10, not e (bummer :( )

But....! If you do enough research (or remember enough Calculus) you find out that Logs in base 10, can be converted to Logs in another base, by some simple alegabra. (hooray!) Even better, Revit help clearly states that the function exp() will raise e to the specified power, so therefore we could write:

= log()/log(exp(1))

and we would get the result we need, since a number raised to the power of 1, will simply be the original number. This is good, because theoretically this means that Revit (and or your computer) will use e calculated to the most accurate value the program (Revit) will accept (you're still with me, right?).

Yet, for some reason, Revit's result did not agree with Excel . With a little more help from some friends (read the whole AUGI thread here) it was discovered that the function exp() resulted not in raising e to the specified power, but 10!!! So, exp(1) = 10 in Revit, contradicting Revit's own help documenation!

Now I ask, why would we ever need a function that raises 10 to a power? I can always write: 10^2, 10^2..... I can even use parameters for both values if I need to, 10 is a number, not too hard to deal with. I would much rather have access to e particularly since I need it!

For now, we're using a truncated value for e in our formula, and its close enough, but I would say, with relative certainty that somewhere (quite a long time ago) someone made a mistake...

Not that too many people are running around using Logs and e in their Revit formulas, but with the advent of the new massing tools, it could become a possibilty. Besides, its the principal of the matter, right, we should have access to our standard mathematical functions, and the documentation should be correct!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Streaming Revit!?

Autodesk Labs has come out with something new and interesting. The ability to test drive and stream apps from their servers:

Project Twitch

This is really interesting to me, as it means that potentially we could do something very similiar internally, or, eventually, like many "cloud computing" applications, we need only pay for how much access we require to applications like Revit, Maya, Autocad, and our IT deptartment does not have to worry about maintaing the high powered comptuers or software.

Now, I realize that likely in the short to medium term server side apps will not replace the functionality of having something like Revit or Maya local on your computer, however, with a decreasing need for 2D Autocad, I could see high value in being able to "buy direct" from Autodesk, how much, and when we need access.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The future really is coming...

Steve Stafford recently had a really good post about "the future" here is another.

Indiana University has released BIM standards for project delivery, to be followed by BIM contracts. They cite a number of sources I'm familiar with, including the State of Wisconsin, which has also released BIM standards.

These standards are real, and they're detailed. Generally I don't take much issue with them, and most of them assume you're working Revit. However, I did note in IU's standards they require all wall finishes and materials to be included... paint anyone? It will be interesting to see how all this plays out. I have to assume that any of these organizations are willing to negotiate once you get to the table, since most of them require some sort of "plan" with regards to how the design team and contractors will work together, and the required model deliverables.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


We apologize for the lack of posting recently. For those who don't know .... you guessed it ......


Some of you who come to Boston RUG meetings will know this but we've moved to Boston!

And in case you didn't know this is Robert's wife Krista posting because I got tired of waiting for him to "get around to it". Thanks for the patience and we hope to get back to our regularly scheduled Revit posting soon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An eye into the future.

I'm a little slow on the blogging here, but very excited to see this new tool released at Autodesk Labs: Revit Solar Radiation Tool

This is the kind of melding of design and anaylsis tools I've been waiting to see for a long time, just waiting to give it a try here. Note you need to update your Revit 2010 install with the latest service pack according to the info on their page.

In other news, I should mention that AUGI: AEC Edge, the new quarterly magazine focused on technology in the Design and Construction industry is out, and I'm in it, along with many other fabulous authors, give it a read when you get a chance.

Friday, June 19, 2009

AU classes

I'm happy to report that my two courses on Project Templates (an UnConference Session and a 90 minute class) were accepted for AU 2009. Assuming everything is scheduled properly the "conclusions" of the Unconference discussion will be incorporated into the 90 minute class (should make handouts a challenge ;) ). If people have thoughts on what makes a good (or bad) Project Templates, feel free to either comment or drop me a line via e-mail. I'm also looking forward to a good discussion at the UnConference session.

edit: Thanks to everyone and anyone who voted for my sessions.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fun with Rigs

Fun with Rigs thanks to Zach's latest post. I don't know what it is, but it was fun to build, and it doesn't break!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Are you a contractor, looking for work?

So if you follow this blog at all, you know we are planning and designing a new home for ourselves to be built in southeastern Massachusetts (AKA the South Shore).

The house design uses SIPs for the exterior walls and we've been working very closely with a company located in New Hampshire who will be providing our exterior walls, roof(s) and floor system(s). We're still not sure what the foundation will be (we've looked closely at ICF's).

There is a great deal of interesting information out and about these days with regards to how a house can be "pre-fabricated" but not in the terms of building giant pieces of house that get shipped down the highway. One might call this a "hybrid" approach to prefabrication (don't miss a very good rebuttle). Some of this information is old news, but I've found it useful.

To get to the point, we're preparing to do an RFP process for GC's to help us build our house. We're looking for smart, intelligent partners, both at the GC level and the subcontractors who will work for them to build our house cost effectively, and intelligently, to help save some money and help save our environment.

Think you're qualified (or know someone who is), interested in doing business in a new way, up for a challenge? Then get in touch!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Article of Interest

I'm not usually a big fan of the Architecture critic our local rag here in Philly, but for once she has a decent article: Changing Skyline: Building a McMini

Interestingly they're using SIPS, which is what we intend for our house (see previous post). Now I realize that prices don't scale linearly, but given their cost (around $100,000, not including land, etc.) I'm hopeful that we will be able to bring our house in at a reasonably price point too (do the math and they're somewhere around $100/sq ft).

Friday, May 08, 2009

House Renderings

Thanks to some tips from Buildz I've generated these recent renderings of our house design, doesn't it look warm and welcoming!

Also ran this interior rendering awhile ago:

Thursday, May 07, 2009

2010 Graphic Error

This may just be my machine but when I switch scales I get the following image until I hover over the button with my mouse.


Edit: This happens with both hardware acceleration turned on and off.

Days of Our Revit (the software serial soap opera)

So just in case you've been hiding under a rock somewhere...

If you didn't know it, as a Revit user you are a supporting character in what has become a bit of a melodramatic soap opera. I've pretty much stayed out of the Revit 2010 debate for a variety of reasons, most of which I'll be happy to discuss in person, but not here.

However in case you didn't know, there is a bit of a raging debate that has hit new highs in the last few days. To catch up, you merely need to keep abreast of the following sites:

the main character

the brash, devilishly handsome male lead

the overprotective parents

the younger child, with an independent streak

the introspective old man

and lastly, you the supporting cast....

I never liked soap operas, and still don't. There are very valid opinions and thought out there, on both sides of the "issues". Some people might stir the pot a little more then others, but it seems foolish to not address the issues head on and in a civil, reasonable way. Action, reaction, and re-reaction are neither.

There are more links out there, and more blogs, this was just a sampling of what I tend to keep my eye on.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Batch Render for Revit....

Friend of mine has posted this handy script (modified journal file) for doing batch rendering out of Revit. "Set it and forget it" to process multiple views over the weekend on your powerhouse machine at work. One note, while testing found out that you need to have your project browser set to the default that comes standard in the ADSK project template. I see this as particularly useful for doing more in depth sun studies. I was recently wanting to do every 5 mins for about 2 hours for an interior room on our house design. Currently you can only do a minimum of 15 minutes over a 24 hour period. Using this script, you would have to set-up views for each moment in time, but would give you far more control. Think of it as "stop motion animation" for Revit... :) You could even animate doors and other stuff!

Vote for AU

Vote for AU courses.

Robert Manna's Courses:
Good Revit Project Templates
Finding Value in Revit When You're Not Doing IPD
What makes a Good Project Template - Unplugged

Krista Manna's Courses:
Revit in Living Color
The Standardization of Revit: Are you stifling your firm's creativity - Unplugged

And last but not least our joint venture:

Residential IPD: How to use Revit with Pre-fabricated Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)

Please feel free to vote for our courses. We're both very excited about these courses and look forward to teaching them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Submit AU Courses

Don't forget that AU courses are due this week. That includes Un-plugged sessions.

AU Courses


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Revit Apps

Handy Revit apps a colleague of mine collected on his blog.

STC is the way of the dinosaur

In response to Steve Staffords Blog post:

STC is no more. Now it's SWC. To me this is harder to say and awkward. I think I may just stick with saying "sync" from now but am saddened by the loss of the revit language. STC was one of those phrases that you knew you were part of an exclusive club being a "reviteer". Say the password and you get to join our club. Oh well. Autodesk obviously thought it was confusing to users. "Syncronizing" is more appropriate to what you are actually doing.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Electrical Families 2009 vs. 2010 Comparison

Recently I've been working on a project that required a ton of electrical families. Now before all the engineers out there have a fit, We're doing an interior fit out where we are showing the locations of all the power devices. The MEP engineers are not in Revit so we're have to do this coordinating ourselves.

Because of this I was called upon to create a ton of electrical content for us poor architects and interior designers to use in 2009 mind you. So I open new electrical family and go to town. Only to find out my annotation family I have loaded in doesn't maintain it's orientation. So I go to the "Category and Parameters" to see what I can find:

...... Nothing Useful ......

MEP has this option why don't I?

So with getting 2010 "officially" installed (aka not beta anymore) I figured I'd check out what I get in that.

I can see it .... but I can't check it.

Seriously, what the use is that going to do me? I would rather you had left it not visible at all. That way I could live in ignorant bliss.

The one good thing that has now been added is that I can place MEP connectors in Arch. This option is now available when you create a new electrical family.

While this is useful, I'd also like to be able to maintain the orientation of my annotations. Oh, Revit. Why do you tease me so?


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Metamorphic Tag

I have a tag that when I zoom in on it, it seems to change the angle of the symbol once you get past a certain zoom level. Didn't know my tags were shape shifters. :-) Maybe I should just call this tag Odo. (I'm really showing how much of a geek I am and if you know what I'm talking about so are you!)


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Missing Room Tag

This morning I had a teammate come to me and ask why a room was not showing up on her plan. I jumped in to investigate. Here are the parameters of the issue:

-Room & Tag could be placed on a ceiling plan
-Room & Tag could not be placed on Floor plan (received the check your visibility graphics error message)
-Room has all the same parameters as the rooms next to it (workset, height, etc.)

Q: Why would this room tag not show while all the others would?

A: Plan region.

A plan region had been placed in one location of this room to show the clerestory that was above the cut plane. The plan region was bigger then the wall thickness so cut into the space the room was in and was preventing the room from being visible. I don't fully understand why the plan region would do this considering the height the plan region was taken at would also cut through the room. I know of plenty of errors that plan regions seem to cause such as hatches in walls suddenly showing up as the wrong hatch because it has a plan region in one area of the wall. And there are plenty more. Just as a forewarning be careful where & when you use these. It may cause you more grief then it's worth.


Monday, February 23, 2009

RE: Link, The quest continues ....

Just a quick note about rendering with linked models.

In order for your linked model to render properly you need to :

A) make sure your model is linked to the current construction phase or your view is set to show complete. Otherwise everything in the linked model will render as grey.

B) Any custom material you create & assign to your geometry in the linked file needs to also be created in the file you are rendering from. They absolutely need to be called the same thing otherwise you get the following (unless you want to have red & black checker board wall finishes):


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Link & the quest for the princess

Ever get this message? The real problem? Well when you get this message it means that you have files that have been linked into that linked revit file that can no longer be loaded into the project. This reinforces my belief in limiting the number of cad files linked into a project to one or none. The solution to solve this message is simple: unlink or relink any & all cad files in the linked revit file.