Thursday, December 06, 2012

AU 2012 - Is it a cloudy future?

So, after almost a week I've mostly dug myself out from the post AU work hangover. For the first time in several years I was quite pleased with the majority of the course I attended, though most of them were dealing with Data and Information, and not specific Revit techniques.

I was however a bit dissapointed with this year's Keynote. I thought last year's was better overall (though the  kid was great), however I'm getting tired of hearing Carl Bass tell me the same thing for the last three year running, ie Autodesk is investing in cloud software solutions. Ok, we get it, what else? Oh yeah, you're software is going to share seamless with all products, and they don't want to "restrict our data". Enough, tell me what else is coming! I get the cloud thing we all do, but its also going take you another three to five years to get to full enterprise level support.

So with that thought in mind the folks at Imaginit were kind enough to line up Beau Turner and Matt Mason (two of my favorite guys to chat with) to talk a little bit about where they see things going and why they're leading the software developer they are (which by the way does not have cloud, social or mobile in any product name) and where they seem some intruging possibilities in the not too distant future.

Consider it DoRevit's AU Keynote rebuttal/follow-up.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving & See You @ AU

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the United States!

I will be headed out to Autodesk University on Sunday and look forward to seeing many of you out there. I'll be kicking around so don't hesitate to look me up either through e-mail, blog comments, or whatever.
Kitchen Island, glass tile backsplash

Kitchen on left, tiled chimney and wood storage on right.
Wood Stove Hearth
Second Floor Foyer
Master Bath Shower (sans glass) and Make-up vanity beyond.

 The house is coming along quite nicely, painters are finishing up this week and next, we just need to get our guard rails installed and a few other minor finishing touches, here and there.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Figure a Problem Out, Document the Solution, Share...

Project Chronicle Screen Shot: Video & Command Tracks
I have been waiting a year for this Autodesk Labs technology research project to come to fruition, and finally tonight I got the e-mail I'd long been waiting for!

Project Chronicle has gone live!

Chronicle is kinda like Jing for Autodesk products except is also captures actual command data, so that someone watching the video can also "See" exactly what you did, what your settings were/are and when you did it. I'm really intrigued by this technology as I think it is a great way to easily share with people how to perform a task in Autodesk software.

Now it does look like everything is "public" so that means if you have something you want to "keep in your company" you're still going to have to use tools like Jing. Though I do hope that something like Chronicle advances to where we can choose with whom and how we share our "Chronicles".

Happy chronicling!

Edit: I've since been informed that Chronicles can be marked as "private" so you don't have to share with everyone, you can choose to share with specific people. Which is good news, as this person reminded me though, this is hosted by Autodesk Labs. That said, the more people use it and leverage ti, the more likely Autodesk will be to perpetuate it in some form.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Laser scanning: Any monkey can do it

Who says monkeys can't run a laser scanner? Of course we'll have to see if he can make all the clouds register together. It would have been preferable to do the scans before board and plaster went up, but when you're waiting for fun toys to fall off the back of a battleship you can't be too picky!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Coloring Rooms with Rules & Scheduling Project Info

So one limitation that I've encountered with Color Fill Schemes for Rooms has been that you don't really have flexibility in terms of a set of "rules" by which to color, its mostly an all or nothing proposition with regards to a single parameter's value. So this week, it finally occurred to me to try filters to color rooms. I tried several view setting with no luck. In my case I wanted to color some very specific rooms all the same, and while I could have used room name, and made each unique room the same color, and turned all the others off, that seemed like alot of work to me. There had to be a way to make filters work!

It finally occurred to me to apply the filter with a color scheme applied to the view. Viola! My filter changed the color of my target room(s). That still left me with the issue of how to only color the rooms targeted with the filter. This actually turned out to be quite simple, rather then turn the rooms off, I made them "white". The white is a good "trick", it means that I can reduce my color scheme to a parameter with fewer values, think Department Names rather than Room Names, you could even create a parameter for rooms to which you assign the same value. With all rooms still visible, but set to white, now I have the freedom to colors rooms based on whatever Filter Rules I can dream up, thus allowing me to effectively right conditional statements to group rooms together under the same color or pattern which a single value would not typically allow.

Another silly little thing I encountered this week. I needed a schedule to contain project information, in this case with a list of areas. I actually needed the Project Name with each row of data (don't ask too many questions). What is one to do? I remembered that a couple of weeks ago when working with schedules that "Project Information" was a valid choice in the schedule field's tab combo box. This time though, I created a new schedule and it wasn't there! Then it occurred to me to check the "include linked files" box. Once again, presto! I had project information available to schedule with my areas. Now ironically I don't actually need to schedule anything from my linked file(s), but that is ok, I can deal with that one way or another. I do somewhat understand why these choices only become available when choosing to include linked file data, but at the same time it is a bit of a needless limitation, I can't think of any good reason why Project Information should not always be a valid choice.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Type Catalog Quirkieness

So, was working on Type Catalogs today and came across an interesting quirk. If you're creating a type catalog that is going to populate built-in parameters you have to make sure that while creating the family you've put a value into that parameter at some point (even if you want to leave it blank in the end). It would seem that the blank parameters carry some type of null value by default. For instance my Type Catalog was supposed to populate the "Description" parameter, however I never bothered plugging any data in, as I knew I was just going to build a Type Catalog. However, when I went to load the family the family loaded properly, but I got a warning that the Description parameter did not exist! Obviously as a built-in parameter it is/was there. When I went back to the family, I added a value to the Description parameter, saved, deleted the value, and magically the Type Catalog worked correctly. The interesting thing to note here is that once a value is added it can be deleted, but its no longer a <null> value, so it will carry through the load process when using a Type Catalog.

As another update, house construction is progressing, interior fitout is coming along, cabinets are installed and painting is just getting started.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Art & Science

Vermont House elevation study
It is always interesting to see what pops up on my Google News feed that simply searches "Revit". Most of the time it is various press releases from companies announcing new add-ins or services (not terribly exciting), but occasionally something of real note pops up.

So this morning as I ate my muffin before going to chucch and browsed my tablet I found myself reading an OpEd piece by Michael Graves in the NYTimes. Now Michael (Mr. Graves, I dunno...?)  is not my favorite architect by any stretch of the imagination, but he is certainly not awful in my opinion. When I was in Philly our office had the opportunity to work with his firm on a local project and we chased some work together (I even spent an afternoon in their office working on sketch-up with some of their folks). It was a good relationship and we (firms) worked well together.

So to the point, I generally agree with him in his piece. I particularly like how he separates "Architectural" drawing into three distinct categories. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a good drawer at all, I enjoy sketching, and I love to use it to get my ideas out, but usually I'm the only one who understands my sketches (maybe I should have focused more on hand "art" while in school).

I would however put forward that even the lines of the first two categories (referential sketch and preparatory study) are being blurred by technology. With the advent of tablets, and programs like Evernote, Sketchbook, the new "collaboration" between Moleskin & Evernote and the fact that styli are actually helpful even with a tablet (sorry Steve) it seems to me that more and more people will start to use these electronic tools to do sketching, and in fact they can even support the workflow that Michael describes in his piece. Of course these technologies do not replicate the "feel" of using a hand sharpened lead against yellow trace, but the question I pose is; what is more important? The end product, the result, or the means by which we get there? I understand and support the need to sketch, and I don't expect that we'll ever be "sketching" in a program like Revit, but I do believe that technology can make it easier and faster to collaborate, even when we are sketching and drawing (and still get an artistic end result that we can say is "Art"). Furthermore, at the end of the day, I will still always keep a roll of trace handy at my desk, because sometimes (at least today and likely the near future) it is in fact just "easier".

However, as an example, of where "electronic" is taking over for physical last year when I was the project architect and I had to send "sketches" to our structural engineer, what did I do? I didn't print something out, draw on it, scan it and e-mail it, nor did I just draw something from scratch. Instead I used "Snip" a utility that comes with Windows7 to capture a screen shot from Revit, and use the built in pen tools to mark-up up the screen shot then directly e-mail to the engineer. Now it did help that I had one of the old Wacom screens off to the side (3rd screen, 1024x768) to quickly do my mark-ups, but in the end that is a minor point.

I realize that these sketches do not fall into the two categories that are the focus of the OpEd, but I think the point of the application of the technology still stands, and one can see where the same underlying technological tools could be applied to the practice discussed. I'll also admit that the "study" shown at the top was probably not 100% hand drawn (I honestly don't remember at this point), there is a good chance that the sketch was based roughly on a computer drawing, but the act of "sketching", was way to explore and embellish what would otherwise be a very un-emotional and static drawing produced by a computer program.

The biggest difficulty I find is making the technology available, and part of our dialog. The workflows and processes exist at an individual level (like myself) but I've yet to effectively capture it in a way to teach it, or make it available to others. The limitations of the availability of tablets (and other technology) fully integrated with enterprise systems also raises barriers to teams adopting artistic digital workflows (for instance I can't put a Wacom on everyone's desks, even old ones). I hope that the day will come, but I'm not sure when and I'm also not sure "how much", how much do people need the physical feel of drawing to execute drawing, versus the graphical result, without the "touch"?

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

House Updates

A few delays here and there, but finally drywall (blueboard) has started to go up. The crew is moving quickly, they should be done by early next week at the latest. More pics on Google+.

Monday, July 02, 2012

RTC NA wrap up, final thoughts

Home again, and back at the office... :-(

RTC NA was great (again) and the organizers deserve plenty of credit for putting on a great show! James does a great overview post on his blog (with some fantastic inside quotes).

In case you have not heard, next year's will be in Vancouver Canada (hence the NA and not USA). As well as the first European conference in Delft Holland and AUS is going to New Zealand!

Now some may be thinking (because I already heard mutterings) that Canada might be prohibitive for Americans because air flights into Canada have a habit of "jumping" in cost compared to a similar domestic flight in the lower 48. Might I suggest you consider flying into Seattle and renting a car (3 hr drive). If you bring your family it will be a great vacation, or if you pair up with some fellow Revit junkies from your area you can split the cost on the car.

The locations chosen for RTC tend to be very family friendly, and its nice to see everyone in such a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. The upper northwest is a beautiful part of North America if you've never visited, and given the time frame (mid July) it should be a great time to visit and make a vacation of it! I know we had a great time going to Atlanta early, hanging out then having some great Revit and BIM conversations and seeing some excellent presentations!

Our own lab went really, really well. As a bit of a teaser for the material you missed out on, this is a short supplementary video I put together for the lab. Start planning now! If I had to choose between AU and RTC, and I considered myself an expert user, looking to learn from the top of class experts, I would pick RTC!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Closing talk quote

"get rid of text. If you're using text you're doing it wrong"

Friday, June 29, 2012

On the boat

We're on the boat to dinner and our daughter has joined us. Off to eat pig on a stick.

BIM washing

Interesting link

Data mining

How to mine data such as wall types and line style use data from models.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

We're here!

Checked in and heading to the pool! If you're around look us up, drop an email, comment on the post or find Krista on Facebook.


We have arrived. If you can't tell the sign says welcome to Atlanta.

On our way to RTC

We are on our way! Elephante too!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


So, I feel like I need to say something on the topic of "Autodesk 360". You may have seen recently that there has been another new "360" announcement. The problem I have with 360 is there is no product! It is a best a banner for a number of different products, most of which rely on Autodesk's cloud that they've built out (courtesy of Amazon web-services). If you start to dig into the details, it is all still separate "things". Recent acquisitions Horizontal Glue and Vela Systems for instance are all still sold through their primary channels and have not been anywhere near integrated into Autodesk. "Single Sign On" is more like "Single User ID, sign in multiple times",. If you're a subscriber with access to some of the other cloud services like Rendering, Structural Analysis, CEA, etc. there is no "single" sign on. When you get "into" the "360" website, you still have to log into each unique product.

The issue I have, is people are starting to talk about 360 like it is a product. Even Autodesk's marking material suggests the presence of some "master" 360 product "Autodesk BIM 360: The next generation BIM". If I didn't know better this would lead me to believe I can buy "360", which is about far from the truth as you can get. If 360 were some sort of "master" or "base" program to which I could add modules, then the marketing speak would make sense (and maybe that is Autodesk's long term goal), but here, today its just Vaporware.

My warning to you, if you see someone listing how they've "got" 360, or they ask you to compare 360 to another product, then start asking questions. My response is "there's nothing hear folks, time to move on". If you peak behind the curtains, you're not going to find something you can actually put your hands on. None of this is to dispute that Autodesk does not offer cloud services, my point of contention is that I think the marketing approach to said services is confusing at best and mis-leading at worst.

Hope to see many of you at RTC USA next week!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

RTC North America 2012! Oh & Revit 2013

So the veil has lifted for yet another year on the latest release of Revit. I know that David Light will provide a detailed overview of the new features so I'll spare you re-writing my own post. That said I'm very excited by the changes to View Templates and View Types, I view this as critical to help maintain a graphically consistent document set in your model, particularly when working on large projects with big teams. The other big piece that I think many architecture users will get excited about will be the new stair tool (the old one is still there) and some minor improvements in railings. Would we like more, perhaps, but at least we've got something, rather than nothing.

So, the other thing I've been tardy on letting people know about is that Krista, David and myself are all schedule to be speaking at RTC '12 about Stairs and Rails! Of course up until now my class brief on the RTC website had to be intentionally vague, but now I can let everyone know that the course will not be discussing the old stairs and railing tools, but will focus on the enhancements provided by 2013.

So if you have not already, seriously consider signing up for RTC, if last year's is any indication, this year should be fantastic, particularly with a larger audience!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Where have we been?... Busy!!!!

A concerned reader wrote a comment, asking where we went? What hole absorbed us, was everything ok?

The icons all represent something that has been keeping me quite occupied since mid November!

  • Since October 24th, I've been at home for a complete week three times. Other than that I've been on the road for business or the various holidays since then (or AU), and will be on the road this week and next. I finally get a break in Feburary while my babysitting heads west for a month of skiing (grandparents!).
  • Work is busy for me (keeping me on my toes), lots of things on my plate, and we need good (brilliant) people! Also, I will be speaking at an upcoming online event: BIM Spectrum

  • Did you know we have a one year old now! She talks, and talks and walks..... Stairs hold no fear for her!
  • We're doing this silly thing called building a house (and managing the construction)! I've posted pics on G+, I'm a bit behind, windows are all installed, rough stairs are done on the inside, and I've been told (as I write from a location somewhere in N. America) that first floor interior partitions were mostly completed today!