Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Autodesk apps for the iPad / iPhone

It's still hard to believe, but my employer has given every employee an iPad 2! Now the possibilities for collaborating just went through the roof. Do we call each other on Face Time now instead of the phone? Do we share info via iMessage? Anyways, now that I've had a day to sit on it and let it soak in, I found myself crafting a list of apps that I've found useful to share with coworkers. Naturally it included all the Autodesk apps. When I was done crafting it, I couldn't believe how many apps they have already. Here's my list:

Autodesk apps - all free unless noted
AutoCAD WS - Dwg viewer / editor
Design Review Mobile - view and markup DWF files (like a PDF but any Autodesk tool can print them)
Sketchbook Express - hand sketching app
Sketchbook Pro for iPad - more features *** $4.99
Pixlromatic - Another photo editing software but from Autodesk
Buzzsaw - if you are on a project with a buzzsaw account, you can access your files and view them in AutoCAD WS or Design Review Mobile that Evan mentioned
Bluestreak - working on a project using Bluestreak and Revit Server? Get your notifications and messages on your iPad now!
123D Sculpt - feed your inner sculptor with this clay modeling app
Autodesk ForceEffect - physics simulator for testing forces against design models
Autodesk Imagine Design Create - eBook about design created with Autodesk products
Fluid FX - something for the kids to tinker with *** $0.99
Time FX - another clock app
TinkerBox - a physics puzzle game for the kid in all of us
Constructware - access info from the jobsite application from Autodesk
Autodesk Area Mobile - access Autodesk forums for media and entertainment products like 3ds Max or Maya

We've also come up with a few other apps that we feel are essentials or just needed for when you feel like taking a break. Some of these come courtesy of Evan Troxel over at "method" from his essential list.

Keynote - presentations
Numbers - spreadsheets
Pages - word processing
DocScan HD - take a picture with the iPad, fix flaws, markup/make notes, convert to PDF/image and email/share. - free

Photo editing
Instagram - take and edit photos for a vintage effect and more! - free
Adobe Photoshop Express - Photoshop on the go - free

Utility Apps:
Dropbox (virtual storage)
Evernote (note taking)
Goodreader (.pdf reader +)
Dragon Dictation (you say it, it types it)
Google Earth (aerial mapping)

Sketching Apps:
Penultimate (digital sketchbook)

Reading Apps:
Flipboard (e-magazines by user preference)

Communication Apps:

Star Walk for iPad - if you enjoy astronomy or are simply interested in that bright dot in the sky, this will show you everything in stunning detail using gps & gyroscopic aware location technology - $2.99 and totally worth it!

Gravitarium2 - music/interactive app running over 5000 particles and allows you to use up to 10 fingers at once. It was free but now worth the price of admission. - $1.99 and is a great buy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

eTransmit for Revit updated!

Yeah! I was just wondering about this technology preview this week and today I noticed that an update has been posted to the labs site. Looking forward to more updates in the near future!

Go get it now!

eTransmit for Revit

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rounding up Stray Neurons'...

Trying to find a focus after AU 2011 and it's been difficult to even find the time. Today is the first day I've been able to get back to my home office after AU. Upon return, I found myself thrust right back into grind for 3 days straight, plus dealing with a cold I must have found in Vegas...

Now that I've finally had a chance to reset, I would have to say the highlight for me this year was attending the class/lab "Playing with Energetic Supermodels" held by Matt Jezyck & Zach Kron. Not only was it a last minute addition to the schedule, they pulled off a killer lab with full datasets, handouts and presentation slides, which relied on working with pre-alpha software. The other great thing about the class was seeing the Revit/Vasari brain power in one room. Some of my previous blog posts have given slight hints at the power now within reach, but I can now honestly say I've driven a Vasari mass element via a node workbench I built myself.

Vasari + Dynamo = AWESOME - "This is the software you've been waiting for..."

I think this will be my focus in the short term in addition to the other stuff I already have going on. Vasari DL
Vasari Community
Dynamo DL and Community

Go get started!

P.S. - Waiting for Vasari to add a couple buttons to the Solar Radiation tool as shown in the class...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Yup, fully functioning workbench to drive the building to an optimal orientation to the sun for solar panel placement!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Session: AB4391-L Twice Baked: Creating Your Own Adaptive Components and Panels

The last session was an incredible breakdown of how Zach Kron did the directional

orientation aware panel.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Playing with Energetic Supermodels

The following photo is grabbed from the class I'm about to take as the instructor preps. I'm really, really looking forward to seeing a node based workflow done live in a lab...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Session: BO4449 BIM: A Marketing Effort

Joseph Joseph gave another great and well put together session. Quote: "Turn lemons into lemonade. Turn BIM into BIM-onade." In other words, can marketing turn your existing efforts surrounding BIM into new or additional opportunities?

He also stressed the importance of having a BIM Roadmap for your company. Something to share with not only internal people but clients too.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

R Tooooo!!!

Fully functioning astrodroid is at AU...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

AUGI Volunteer Breakfast

Breakfast this morning was sponsored by AUGI - yummy bacon eggs sausage and pastries! Learned of some upcoming changes. If you are at AU, stop by the AUGI booth to GeT up to speed!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, November 28, 2011

Let the AU Festivities Commence...

Wow. What a day - the fact that I was only five minutes late to my first 5pm session is a miracle. If you know me well enough, ask me about it!

The 5pm session was a top secret NDA session which I can't really tell you about.

Afterwards, I went to the blogger social hosted by Autodesk at SushiSamba in the Palazo. It was great to see so many friends. It amazed me how despite not having really seen each other much over the last year (some not since last AU), we could simply pick up a conversation like we saw each other just yesterday. Here are a few pics from the blogger social:

The general scene:

Sean lurking ominously for the perfect shot from his marshmallow gun:

My marshmallow gun (sniper style) and LED throwie that I made thanks to Instructables:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Code Words and Mystery

For those who have been watching, closely, something has been building...
Lurking in the shadows...

A bit more has been revealed in the past few days.

First a post by Phil Read with a cryptic image.
Then a LinkedIn Company page appears - with a website in its company info - using the same image Phil posted...

M-SIX - something to keep an eye on?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Node Based Control for Functions + Revit = ~gasp~

Is this what I think it is?
dynamo + arduino

A node based workflow for Revit? What do you say now, lovers of grasshopper? =)

Yes I know it's not fully there, but still...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Formation of Alliances...

Something is underfoot - Frank Ghery just released 2 press releases this week announcing strategic partnerships and alliances. On the 18th, Ghery announced: "Architectural Leaders Join Frank Gehry to Form Strategic Alliance  Dedicated to Transforming the Building Industry Through Technology". The names on that list are quite impressive! Then, on the 19th a second press release announced: "Autodesk and Gehry Technologies to work Together to Improve the Way Buildings are Designed and Constructed".

Hmm... World leading architects + world leading design software company =______________

I'll let you fill in the blank, but I have to hope this leads to some really cool things happening in the near future. This is a pretty big development considering Ghery technologies uses their proprietary Digital Project so prominently. Since Digital Project is built on the same platform as Solidworks from Dassault Systems, one can't help but speculate what is going on. Ghery is dabbling in two technology pools now...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Elevation tags in Revit not updating...

On Monday this week I spent about 4 hours cursing at elevation tags in Revit. Last I recalled, an elevation tag in Revit is supposed to update to reflect the detail and sheet info once placed on a sheet, no matter what. Well, not this time. I could change the detail number in properties for the elevation and it would show on the sheet and in properties as having updated, but the marker itself would not update. Steve Stafford posted a great video showing this. Steve S. found that changing the elevation type would cause the marker to update and display correctly.

I also found that the marker would resume displaying updates to the detail number on a consistent basis provided it cut building geometry. If the extents of the marker view depth did not cross any geometry, it would not update the detail number if updated. So, another temporary solution would be to ensure the depth of the elevation view touches or cuts through building geometry. However, I haven't had a chance for successful testing to ensure this is the case. Like Steve S., I too am on WU2, so I'm curious if others are experiencing this under WU1 or if on WU2, if you can verify that cutting geometry ensures the tags update correctly.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Autodesk Cloud Services

Out of the ashes of a scattered set of tools arises a new service from Autodesk - Cloud Services. Many others have blogged about this, but I felt I should give a heads up to all those of you out there of a few things you should be immediately aware of.
  1. ALL of your subscription users will be given access to the cloud features IMMEDIATELY.
  2. Project Neon from Autodesk labs has been retired. A shame as I was just getting this deployed firm wide...
Of course, there is no global way to control settings for your subscription users, so if you should need to turn off/on settings company wide due to security reasons, you get to do so ONE by ONE. Fortunately I only had about 30-40 people to change this setting on. :/

More on this to come as I explore this new service. I wish Autodesk had communicated this better to its Subscription account managers...

Friday, September 9, 2011


So, yes all Revit bloggers have posted about Vasari 2.1 with the great new ability to analyze CFD. But today I finally broke down to post when they added the latest shiny tool - SLIDERS!!!!

Everyone likes sliders, especially designers.

You can download from the main Vasari page on Labs!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

AUGI Salary Survey - Take It!

Have you taken the AUGI Salary survey yet? If not, make sure you are represented - the survey closes August 19th at midnight, PST, US!
AUGI Survey link

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Monitoring Autodesk License Usage

Keeping track how many licenses the company has in use can be a challenge, especially if you utilize multiple license servers at different locations. When I first started at HMC they had configured a DOS script to query each license server and generate a text file. That's great if you only have one server and only need to identify usage at a specific point in time. Once you get into multiple servers or needing to sample throughout the day, then you will want to look at something like JTB FlexReport. It's a very powerful tool which allows you to sample usage at intervals throughout the day and record the values so you can start to build historical license usage. However, depending on your budget, you may not be able to go for the full version.

I'd like to introduce you to JTB FlexReport LT which is a free, lite version, of their full tool. I'm immediately putting it to use as I can now query every server with the click of one button instead of using multiple scripts for each server. Here's how it works.

Licenses to Report on:
Setting up the servers you want to query is the first step. A simple @servername will do. Replace servername with the name of your specific server. Description is optional, but you can see that I chose to add one for each server (names have been removed to protect the innocent).

Adding the correct feature codes is really simple. Clicking item (1) "Add Features" will query the license files and list all possible feature codes that can be reported on. Due to the nature of our license files, I needed to exclude what it found by placing a check mark next to the individual entries for specific releases of products and only reporting on the main feature codes - see item (2). Then for item (3), I gave a brief description of the features I wanted to query. Then click Save Settings button - item (4) - to save your changes. Lastly, click item (5) - Show HTML Report - to display your report.

HTML Output sample
Below is a sample of the output generated by the program and quickly gives us feedback on what is getting the most use. Here is a breakdown of the data presented (with names/numbers removed to protect the innocent):

  1. Expand or Collapse license servers will quickly show you all users pulling licenses from each server. In my list of Servers, I've simply clicked on the heading for the first server to see what is in it (see #4). The Expand/Collapse buttons will get every server expanded/collapsed.
  2. Show/Hide users will allow the servers to remain expanded, yet hide the users pulling licenses and simply display the features you've asked to query for that are active on that server.
  3. Aggregated Usage will display the totals for all servers combined at the very end of the report (see #7).
  4. License Server Status = Individual license server details. This shows what licenses are on it and who is pulling which licenses.
  5. If there is an error with one of the servers queried, it will be displayed here. In this example, the server queried runs multiple vendor daemons - one for Autodesk licenses and another for SmartBIM, which is currently being indicated as being down for service (yes, that's daemons, not demons, although the complexity in license files sometimes warrants the nickname).
  6. Another type of error can be indicated, in this case, the license server simply hasn't been setup yet for the office queried. 
  7. Aggregated usage - this is where I really get the benefit from this tool. I can quickly see from a firm wide standpoint, how many licenses are in use, how many are available and a quick % of utilization.

In Summary
JTB FlexReport LT is a very versitle tool in itself and quickly provides you a snapshot of what is going on with your licenses at any given moment. As it's free, I'd highly recommend you take a look at it if you use network licenses. You may even decide in looking at it that you would want to give the full version a try. In that case, I would suggest to contact JTB World to inquire more about the full version and its capabilities that go far above and beyond what the LT version does. Personally, I'm hoping to get the full version sometime early next year.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Revit Wall Generator

Tired of maintaining a wall library file?
Tired of generating one off wall types for a specific project?
Tired of having to verify if your wall meets structural, STC or fire rating codes?
Tired of users not creating walls that conform to your firm or industry standards?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, then you will find the tool I've been beta testing of extreme interest. The tool is being produced by a metal stud manufacturer, but the implications are huge. ClarkDietrich Building Systems has named the tool ClarkDietrich BIM Wall Creator. They have even taken the effort of posting a YouTube video showing the basic work flow of their tool.

In essence, you start with the Wall Type Creator and design your wall with a certain end result in mind, namely: design your wall by height, sound rating or fire rating.

For item (1), this is where you build out the desired parts of your wall assembly. In the image above, we are looking to design a wall assembly by height. By changing the different components in the assembly (Web, stud o/c, deflection, lateral load & wallboard type/layers) we will be shown the corresponding product by ClarkDietrich that will be applicable for the choices made.

Item (2) shows the 3 choices available based on our design criteria. Selecting one of the heights listed at the far right is the next to last step.

Item (3) is the button to click which will create your wall type. It's a simple copy/paste once it's built out for you.

You will see something like the following once the wall has been built in Revit:

Where things really start to get interesting is the type properties. They are filled out so extensively and well it serves to address a number of things that an as built model in Revit would need to include. Creating walls in this manner is so fast it's not even funny!

The only drawback I see to this, is you are now specifying manufacturer specific content. That's great if you are using ClarkDietrich studs on your project. Not so great if you aren't. I'm sure that's what they are hoping though, to get specified into a project via the use of this tool. Also, it won't create other types of walls such as CMU, Concrete, wood stud and other types. That being said, its making me want to give the API another look and see if I can't make my own, generic version of this tool that address all wall types. Then again, maybe this type of tool is something Autodesk should provide ootb for Revit!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Reflections on Testing and Setting up Revit Server

It occurred to me recently while talking with a colleague to make a blog post on some of the things I came across when going through setting up and testing Revit Server (RS). Hopefully this will help out others who are looking at implementing RS at their firm. I've made a post about Revit Server previously on my older blog which may be of reference, but already a few things on it have become out dated.

Testing on Revit spec Desktops
For starters and to get our feet wet, we setup 2 regular Revit spec desktop boxes with Windows Server 2008R2. One was the central RS and the other the local RS. Initial testing across the WAN was promising as save times dropped from minutes to seconds. When the average time for saves went from 7 minutes across the WAN for 180MB file done to around 30-45 seconds, I knew we had to get this going throughout the firm.

Expanded to Actual Servers
Now that we decided to implement this fully, we had to get our ducks in a row so to speak if we were going to place production projects into RS. We knew that for reliability, the setup needed to be on appropriate server grade boxes with redundancies built in that all servers should have, especially for the hard drive. Looking back, we spec’d out servers that are below the recommendations from Autodesk, but they have been working out so far just fine as we only have one active project going in it. If the use increases over time, then we will look at the need of whether or not the servers need to be upgraded.

File Backup for Disaster Recovery
We also verified that appropriate backup measures are in place. We are using Windows Shadow Copy 3 times throughout the day to ensure we have something ready in the event something is lost mid-day. Also, at night we employ a script per the RS Wiki site to place a server lock on all models andback up all files on a nightly basis.

Planning out Central vs Local Servers
We realized that we needed to establish early on which office location would serve as the central server as you can’t flip a switch and make a central server a local server. Also, we felt it would be an IT administrative nightmare trying to establish multiple offices with central servers.  We decided on making our office with the largest head count the central site. All other office locations will be local servers pointing to it. We felt this was appropriate because the majority of work is carried out in this location and it has the largest bandwidth for handling connections to outside locations. Connection bandwidth will have an effect on your experience with RS too. If it’s not fast enough, you can end up with corrupt models or models failing to access the central properly.

What needs to be installed for local/server systems
For local systems, getting ready to use RS will vary depending on the version of Revit you are dealing with. As detailed in myprevious post, Revit 2011 needs the following components installed: Web Update2, Subscription advantage pack 2 (link takes you to sub ctr), RS client app (link takes you to sub ctr), Project Bluestreak and RevitActivity Stream (more on these last two will follow). For Revit 2012, all you need is Project Bluestreak and Revit Activity Stream. Its recommended though to ensure Web Update 1 for 2012 is installed as it provides a number of stability enhancements when working with RS.

For server systems, you will want to ensure Windows Server 2008R2 is up and running along with IIS. Then, setting up RS is pretty much a breeze via the install wizard found on your Revit installation disk or downloaded files (it's been noted by Autodesk to not extract the files for RS install from the main Revit install setup). The latest recommendation from Autodesk is to install RS 2012, update1. I can confirm this is the desired tool as we were having issues with RS 2011.  One thing we did once we got one local server setup was we imaged the setup, then ghosted it onto the other local servers, changed the box and local server name and had a really quick setup.

Security issues
The biggest hurdle I had to overcome was when I said to IT that we needed to install Project Bluestreak (BK) for anyone using RS. BK requires certain ports to be open in order to allow it to communicate through Autodesk servers. These ports happened to be the same ones they had blocked for IM apps like AOL AIM. I was able to convince them that this was the only way to have automated messages display when people were STC.

The other thing we did was set only certain people to have access to RS. There are 2 ways you will want to have access setup. You will want to limit the number of people that can access any of these areas to minimize the risk of someone accidentally messing with files they shouldn’t. The RS admin panel operated via Windows Internet Explorer can be set so that only certain users can access it in order to set model locks for maintenance. Also, Windows Explorer should have 2 paths opened to allow access to the physical files. One goes to the location where the model data is stored and the other goes to the log folder for RS as both of these locations will need to be accessed in the event you need to send files to Autodesk if there is a problem. This applies to both the central and the local servers.

Stability issues
It would seem that RS 2012 update 1 has fixed many of the problems we were experiencing with RS. RS 2012 update 1 will work with both Revit 2011 and 2012. Things like model locks, where no one could save to central would randomly occur or the local files for users would become disassociated from the central. It seemed these issues were occurring once a week for a while. Still, even with the occasional issues we were having in RS 2011, the team estimated they were saving about 12 hours a week for 3-4 people working on the project. Now that we seem to be done with file locks and disassociated local files, productivity should increase even more.

As mentioned earlier Project Bluestreak (BK) is required for automated communication of actions such as STC. Earlier on there was a lot of communication interruptions due to working out server port issues and some bugs Autodesk was working out on their side. It seems that most of that has been worked through now.

Also, you will want to ensure that if in the event the team is comprised of people only in remote offices, that you have a support person or computer you can remote into at the central office location. You will want this if you need to place a model into RS. It can’t be done safely over the WAN and in order to ensure the model does not go corrupt, you need a local system in the central office for that.

The other thing to think about is that RS only hosts Revit models. You cannot place other files into it that you might normally link into a Revit model such as dwg files. You will want to make this clear to the team that the model will no live in a different place than the project. Also, when you go to send the file to other trades, you need to open the central with detach from central selected, otherwise, if they don’t have RS setup, they won’t be able to use the file. So plan for a little extra time for that.

Next steps
Now that we have it running smoothly for one project we will be opening it up to other projects that utilize teams from different offices. If this continues to scale smoothly, we will start looking at the possibility of building a DMZ to allow other trades to work on projects on the same server. That probably won’t be able to happen for testing until next year though.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Green 3D Printing - the Solar Sinter

So, I'm sure a number of you out there have heard of 3d printing. I know that while the companies that make them tout some of their "green" capabilities, most of the process of making a 3d model out of resin likely isn't that environmentally friendly.

Therefore, I would like to introduce you to the Solar Sinter. This handy device will turn ordinary sunlight and sand into any shape you would like to hold in your hand, straight from your 3d computer model. The entire process runs from the sun's power, laptop power, device power and object creation. I personally liked his "office". Granted, the final shape isn't super precise, but I would be willing to bet they can refine the process...

Markus Kayser - Solar Sinter Project from Markus Kayser on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

RTC - Day Three

Saturday was shorter, but held the nugget of the entire conference.

First though, I was at a session presented by a couple of architects from Japan highlighting the progression and use of BIM since their disaster they experienced in March of 2011. While what they are having to deal with is tragic beyond belief, they have a good outlook. Believe it or not, BIM use is progressing steadily there as it is here.

The second session is the golden nugget - possibly paid for the cost of the conference in itself. Jason Grant presented: Revit for Presentations: Graphics that "POP". At the end of it, I realized that he just single-handedly gave me exactly what I've been looking to do for our designers. You see, there is this love for Sketchup in the offices I work with due to its "graphical" capabilities. Now I can share with our designers a way to accomplish what they want inside Revit! Jason also blogs over at his site called Adaptive Practice - check it out!

All in all, if you were on the fence this year about attending, don't give next year's event a second thought. You must attend!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

RTC Day Two

Steve Shell (The Rock and Roll Architect) presented tips for better making Revit graphical output look and stand out much better than the out of the box product. He showed areas we can focus on involving Materials, Line styles, Project Location / Sun Settings and Phases. One tip he gave was the use of multiple views on one sheet, overlapped to add depth to the layout of the view. Also, the need to place elements in odd/unusual places for a better 3D presentation view can help dramatically instead of leaving blank areas of the view such as sky or ground.

The next big session for me was by by Doug Williams of Perkins + Will on How to Establish a BIM Execution Plan. This fits right into one of the areas I've been dealing with lately so it held my interest greatly. He provided some great resources as well as direction to take and who to involve in the process. This was definitely my highlight and favorite class of the day.

Michelle Leonard presented her tips and tricks she's picked up along the way doing interior designs in Revit. She has found that libraries for content are key. Design Options have also been helpful for her teams.

Marcello Sgambelluri ran a Lab called a Special Application of the Adaptive Component, which centered around a third use of points using the Shape Handle option to graphically control parameter input. The applications are virtually limitless as it can control dimensional input, material changes and more all by sliding a grip on the screen!

Day two was wrapped up by a lovely dinner event outside over looking the beach. They had these awesome meringue dessert thingies that called for seconds...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Revit 2012 eTransmit

Somehow the word "Finally!!!!" doesn't do this justice! I've longed for an easy way to transmit a Revit project and now Autodesk has finally given that to us.

eTransmit for Revit 2012!!!

Hopefully your project is in 2012 and you can put this to use now!

Extreme BIM 2011

Fresh off the heels of RTC, the Extreme BIM 2011 held at USC should prove to be most insightful as to what some of the most well known names in Architecture are up to. Just browsing through the speaker list is practically a who's who! I'm really looking forward to this event. If you want to go, registration is open until July 6th.

Mario Guttman, AIA, LEED AP | Design Applications Research Leader, Perkins + Will
Application Programming for Computational Design; A Case Study on Driving Revit from Ecotect

Ian Keough, Associate, Buro Happold Consulting Engineers PC
Out of the Box : BIM Tools for Visualization and Documentation

Nathan Miller, NBBJ, Associate
Dataspaces and Uncertainty

Joseph Burns, SE, PE, FAIA, Managing Principal, Thornton Tomasetti
Stretching BIM: Design to Construction

Chandler Ahrens, Morphosis
Progressive Feedback

Michael Kilkelly AIA, Associate - Gehry Partners
Translations from Model to Building

Bradley Hardin, RA, LEED ap, Vice President of Strategic Pursuits, Balfour Beatty Construction
BIM and Extreme Execution – Why Digital Field Work is Everything

TEAM Gensler
Adam Gumowski, Designer
Brian Fraumeni, Designer
Kristen George, Designer
Lorenzo Marasso, Designer
Yasushi Ishida, Designer
Mind the Gap

Brian K. Stewart, Partner and Nicole Davis Tinkham, Associate, Collins Collins Muir + Stewart LLP
A Legal Perspective on BIM

Robert Cull, Executive Project Director, Cedars-Sinai Health System, Facilities Planning, Design and Construction
Document Management/Control in the BIM Process

TEAM CCC (some might be virtual)
Lee Belarmino, Vice President of Information Technology and Bond Executive, San Joaquin Delta College
Kimon Onuma, FAIA , President ONUMA Inc. / Founder of BIMStorms
John Roach, Director, Systems Analysis & Research, Foundation for California Community Colleges
BIG BIM BANG: How the California Community College System Connected 71 Million Square feet of BIM, GIS and Facility Management Data in the Cloud

RTC - Day One

Thursday. The day started off with the Keynote address and how RTC has grown. Carl Bass, Autodesk CEO, made a presentation and he was smart enough to not talk about Revit in front of several hundred Revit experts. Instead he talked about how he see's computing changing so many things, specifically infinite computing and how it's changing the way we design and build. Hyper-connectivity has affected the resources we can access at any time (accept while at RTC - boo-hiss). Lastly, he tied in Ubiquitous Access as demonstrated by more people having more tools at their disposal. Placing these three things together is how our future will be affected in how we design and build.

David Conant provided a history on the birth and growth of Revit. Showed some great early design concepts and trade show videos they made.

Dan Stine gave a great session on providing Revit support in a larger office. He made a few points that stood out and resonated nicely with me. Specifically, going to a quite conference room and locking yourself in there until you finish what you need to get done along with walking users through answers to avoid getting repeat questions.

I went to session on Bentley's Generative Components tool and found that, as I thought, Revit can do everything it does. Revit just does it with a much better designed interface.

The highlight for me on Thursday was a support session presented by Harlan Brumm from Autodesk support. As he deals with Revit, he gave some great insights to problems. He even addressed a couple issues I was dealing with and gave some things to go check on that I hadn't thought of. Being an Autodesk employee, he gets to take a 6 week sabbatical every now and then. The crazy thing was, he came here to present, despite being on his 6 week sabbatical. That's how much he loves this stuff. He even stayed for the rest of the days as I saw him popping in and out of classes. Harlan also contributes to the Revit Clinic blog, check it out!

Next, Lonnie Cumpton and Beau Turner presented the Revit Model Review add in available to subscription users. Looks like this tool will get some use to ensure standards are followed in the future. A great first day, capped by some nice refreshment afterwards.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reflections of RTC - USA

Well, live blogging from the event really didn't go as I had hoped/planned. My blasted AT&T reception was non-existent. Wi-Fi? Nope - not really. So, I pretty much ended up disconnecting for 3 days and just enjoying the conference. Overall, I have to say that this conference ROCKED!

If asked, I wouldn't try to compare this with Autodesk University (AU) as I really feel their focus and goal are totally different. I find myself pulled in 20 different directions at AU but at RTC I was able to focus on just Revit related topics (for once). Also, the venue was a nice change from Vegas. If I had to chose between the 2, I would quite possibly pick RTC over AU. Of course I would still prefer to go to both.

For me, the highlights were a couple sessions in particular. I'll be making a few follow up posts in the following days covering what those were! Right now, I've got about a million emails to catch up on...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Revit Technology Conference (RTC), Stateside

Today marks the start of the Revit Technology Conference (RTC) here in Surf City, USA (aka Huntington Beach, CA). I hope to make a few live blog posts from the event featuring a few of the highlights for me while I'm there. I'm really looking forward to my first RTC as previous ones had only been hosted in Gold Coast Australia.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Project Neon and Revit - Finally!

For those who like to create rendered images in Revit or don't have access to a high power workstation (or render farm), Autodesk's Project Neon will be of great interest to you. You see, Revit can only take advantage of the CPU processing power of your local box, unlike other high end rendering applications like 3ds Max which will take all the CPU power you throw at it. Neon, allows you to upload your Revit model to the Autodesk cloud, and their spare CPU processing power is put to use for your rendering. Depending on what you are doing (size of image, quality, time of day, etc.) you will see a boost in render speed anywhere from 32x to 128x faster than your average desktop.

I tried the sample files posted by Autodesk first and it worked as advertised. I then uploaded a project from my company. The Revit model was small on some standards at about 80MB (2 story high school with 2 buildings). The upload with the Revit plugin went great and picking settings for the render were really easy. The rendering on my Dell M6500 (intel core i7, Q740 @1.73GHz or 8 cores with hyper-threading on) took 1 hour, 27 minutes for an image size of 1904x634. The same file uploaded to Neon, rendered with slightly larger pixel dimensions (2000x1125), took 29 minutes to render.

29 minutes!!!!

Ok, so that's not quite real time but far faster than my laptop will ever crank an image of that size out. Plus, my laptop isn't tied up trying to render for an hour and a half, using all my CPU power and not letting me get anything else done. If I had chosen a lower image quality and smaller image size the time for rendering on Neon would have been far less.

As a side note, custom materials don't come across to Neon (the link to the help explains this more in depth). There was a material with perforations in it that didn't render correctly on Neon in my test file. Therefore I can only recommend this tool for test renders, or for checking how your design is going to look. There is little advanced control in the render settings so don't expect to be able to generate Vray images. 

So give it a try and see if it can give your rendering speed a boost!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Revit 2012 Subscription Extensions are out...

Just wanted to help spread the word that the 2012 Subscription Extensions are out now for all 3 Revit 2012 flavors. You can see from Kathryn's post what is included in each version here: Revit Clinic

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kelar Pacific 2012 Product Launch Event

On Thursday of last week I attended the Kelar Pacific 2012 Product Launch Event. This event was great and very informative showing what the Autodesk 2012 products have to offer. One of the things that made it great was that it felt like it was a one on one session with the presenter and me. It was very interactive which allowed for a more free flow of info.

Derek Renn presented what's new in a few different platforms and started with AutoCAD 2012. He pointed out an interesting use for the new Content Browser in that it could potentially be used to index a master standards file and allow you to easily populate a working file with content from the standard. Since it will index all objects inside and outside of a dwg file, the search potential is huge! I made a note to double check on my deployment image to see if we can configure in advance the folders to watch for indexing and to enable indexing for both private/public locations which allows searching across the drives on the server.

Derek next presented what's new in Revit Architecture 2012. He started off with Part & Assemblies and made a few points on applying these features to Architectural workflows. One way was to break floors into parts using grid lines which would ease in creation of the floors. Also, walls can be broken into parts for interacting with structural model or for QTO purposes. Even more exciting is now that we can break elements into parts, we can 4D sequence elements in Navisworks much more easily now. Lots to explore and play with there. One last thing he pointed out is that you can now apply view templates to 3d graphic display options. Yeah!

Lastly, Behzad covered Navisworks Manage 2012 in depth on its new features after wrapping up Revit Structure 2012. One feature I really appreciated is the ability to "Group" clashes. Say you have a steel beam with multiple ductwork cutting through it. In past versions, you would have to deal with multiple items, now you can place them in one group (think: folder) and find every related issue. Of note was the ability to use Switchback with Revit now. YES! Also, you can now assign people to clashes and have this show in the report to help with tracking who's fixing what. Then, when exporting be sure to choose HTML Tabular as this will make a clean export (instead of creating and export folder to place everything in), as well as allow you to open it in Excel. Lastly, Navisworks can now open 2d/3d DWF files. If its a 3d DWF, it should allow clash detection with other model objects.

I didn't stay for the whole event as I got what I needed out of the sessions I mentioned above. They were ready to present Revit MEP, AutoCAD MEP and Civil 3D whats new as well, but not sure if they were covered or not. Kelar provided a great lunch, nice informal atmosphere and some great insights to the 2012 products from Autodesk. More goodies to stick in the hat and make use of here at work.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Review of 3D Connexion Space Explorers

The results are in. Last April, we started a trial of 3D Connexion devices in several of our offices - specifically the Space Explorer model. It seems as if the feedback is split down the middle. It seems people either love 'em or hate 'em. We found in our testing that changing the factory defaults for the different axes was absolutely critical. Specifically, disabling the roll axis seemed to be of benefit to a number of designers. We used it in Sketchup, Bonzai, Rhino, 3ds Max Design and of course Revit.

We've come to the conclusion that while for some it can be of benefit, it would be hard to justify placing one on everyone's desk. We also felt it would be of particular benefit while doing live presentations of models in Sketchup/Revit to interested parties as it provides a much smoother navigation as opposed to the usual keyboard/mouse method. One thing a few designers liked was the beta driver software found on their dev site (version 3DX10). Its nice to be able to control pan/zoom in Photoshop and scroll in other documents. Lastly, we tested on both PC and Mac platforms and things seemed stable. One thing we didn't get into though, was assigning macro's to buttons since we didn't have the "Pro" mouse. I can see some potential for that, however it will have to wait.

I'd like to give a big thank you to 3D Connexion for allowing us to demo these devices to prove their worth. We will definitely be investing in these in the near future.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011


It's geek out time kids! Mail order arrived Tuesday containing 2 USB flash drives each with a capacity of 32GB's containing the Autodesk Building Design Suite Premium. If that doesn't make one smile, perhaps the fact that they are solidly built with a wonderful metal casing that's well designed with a finish that is pretty close to my dell laptop case will perk your inner geek. Or maybe the sexy red flashing light will get you going or the fact that it will install over 10 products with a single click will light your fire!

Out of the box!

In Action!

I was a bit suspicious on a previous blog post about how "one-click" this might actually be. Well, it turns out, if you don't count the clicks to get to the actual install button or configuring the product install settings, it really is ONE-CLICK install for all products. The other thing I really appreciated is it detected that I already had some 2012 products installed and deselected them from the list of products to install.

Now that I think about it, I might start a collection of these on one of those janitor key chains. I think that would lend some status to my geek score...

Anyways, time to go play with some new products...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

U.S. CAD Solution Tour for Autodesk 2012 Products

This morning I attended the U.S. CAD Solution Tour for Autodesk 2012 Products (aka Make Your Ideas a Reality per Autodesk speak). Overall it was a very well put together event showcasing live what the 2012 building products from Autodesk have to offer.

The first session highlighted KaDe King, their resident AutoCAD expert who deftly showed some of the great new features in AutoCAD 2012. Items she covered were the new Content Browser, Auto-Complete for commands, new functions for Grips, being able to select/manipulate the UCS icon (my personal fav), the drastic increase in the ability to import more file formats, the parametric Array command and adding dynamic views to sheets. 

The expert panel from the U.S. CAD building team brain trust went in action (photo below) with a couple guest speakers - Scott Davis from Autodesk and Lonnie Cumpton from BIM9. William Troeak presented some of the general Revit Arch 2012 new features. William showed some of the great new presentation features for 2012 with the surface ghosting and new paint tools along with tagging/annotating in 3d. One great little tip he pointed out was that if you place regular text in your 3d view, if it is ever unlocked, the text will not hide with the other annotation objects (such as tags).


William was followed by Lonnie presenting new features centered around the new worksharing capabilities. Lonnie has unique qualifications to talk about the impact of worksharing enhancements after having worked on the Cosmopoliton in Las Vegas. After completing the project in Revit at about 7.5 Million Sq Ft and 47,000 sheets in the completed CD set, he's gained a little experience from it. In addition to covering worksharing enhancements such as the ability to remove worksets when detaching from central, he also showed a few ways for color coding them. You can color elements based on who has an items checked out or per the workset they belong to (great for seeing who has item checked out or ensuring all objects are in the correct workset). It was pointed out that the refresh rate can be set to update as frequently as every 5 seconds.

Up next was Dawn Hata covering Revit Structure and Michael Shinn covering Revit MEP. Dawn pointed out that we can now set VG to control and easily turn off the Revit Structure Analytical model with greater ease. Repeat after me: "I will go update my view templates now". Once all the Revit flavors were covered, Joel wrapped up by presenting Navisworks Manage 2012 and I owuld say the highlight was the ability to place objects into a shaded view with wireframe active, greatly enhancing the ability to view collisions in 3D. Lastly, I would like to say that it was refreshing to see the entire team utilize ONE building model design in each of the different software packages.

After the first session, everyone broke out into separate rooms, one for a presentation on Siteworks for Revit and the other on BIM9. Siteworks for Revit shows great promise in easily modifying site features and related info directly in Revit. BIM9 essentially allows you to setup your own private BIM cloud for accessing Revit projects remotely. Trust me, it works wonderfully!

All in all it was a great event and it was great to see some industry friends. Now to go get some of these tips in the hands of users throughout the company!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vasari Decisions...

In going to download Vasari 2.0, I noticed that Autodesk has been most insightful and continues to allow one to download v1.1 along with the new v2.0.

 Thank you!!! This is huge for companies who want to have the flexibility to continue to run v1.1 alongside projects still in Revit 2011 while they work on rolling out Revit 2012 and upgrading their projects to the new platform.

Vasari 1.1 is valid until August 15th, 2011.
Vasari 2.0 is valid until December 31st, 2011.

So happy to see Autodesk is serious about Vasari continuing in the labs!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Life of Software Training Book/Manual

The life of a software training book/manual is so short lived. The person gets on the day of training, writes some notes in it and references it for a year or so while they get up to speed on the software. Then it goes on a shelf, under the desk or into the office library where it can sit undisturbed for years. During our recent "Clean your desk day" that I blogged about, we also worked on other parts of the office. We found some pretty old manuals. Titles such as "AutoCAD 2002", "Architectural Desktop 3.3", "Mastering Architectural Desktop 2005" and "Revit Architecture 2009 User Guide" were found collecting dust.

Is it time to stop printing books like this and simply reference digital forms of them?
I think so...

Is there still validity to printed forms of these books?
Maybe in a limited fashion, but we certainly don't need one at every desk in the office...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Project Vasari 2.0 - Ready for Download!

Just released today, it would appear that Vasari 2.0 is now available for download. Yeah!

David Light has released a great overview of the new features for 2.0 and can be found by clicking this link. Download can be found here:

Word of note, if you run with this version, it will only produce files that work with Revit 2012 products, not 2011. Most of you out there, won't be bothered by this, but for some it will be something to ponder before jumping on this release.

Clean Your Desk Day

Today was designated as an official cleaning day here in the Irvine office where I work. It was basically stated: "You clean for 2 hours and we feed you pizza lunch and root beer floats". I'd say that was a fair trade off.

Why can't other things work like that in life? Gotta get something done? Have someone buy you a pizza/root beer float lunch! So simple!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Final BIM Deliverables

There's a mouthful. Final BIM Deliverables.
What is it? Well that all depends on who you ask. A recent BIM standard provided by one of my companies clients spells this out very clearly. They list specific file format requirements, collaboration and coordination methods, data exchange methods, inclusion of specification data, links to programing database, uses of the BIM (such as for sustainability analysis, clash detection and more) and that not only will 2D printed drawings be part of the closeout documents, but so will the BIM. Why? They want to have it for their FM once the building is occupied.
Is this the future we've been preparing for when owners want all this in the contract?

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Blogs...

So, I've made a list at the right hand side of my blog with a list of blog I keep up with via RSS feeds to my inbox. I have found that without RSS feeds, I wouldn't be able to keep up with all the great info that keeps getting posted at these various sources. The list however is not complete and likely never will be. The number of BIM and/or Revit blogs continues to grow. Do you see a blog missing from the list that you feel should be added? If so, please post a comment and let me know!

Friday, April 22, 2011

What do Irvine, Los Angeles, Ontario and San Diego have in common?

3d Connexion devices! This week 5 people started their 30 day trial of their Space Explorer devices. We will start collecting weekly feedback, but initial impressions ranged from excited to giddy to greedy! I hope to get these people who are testing them to try it out in Revit 2012 in addition to Sketchup, Rhino, 3ds Max and Bonzai. The tough part will be at the end and justifying the purchase to management, as noted by Tom over at the factory...

BTW, I wonder if anyone at Autodesk paid any attention to the "backwards" keyboard used in this marketing graphic????

Friday, April 15, 2011

The 3D Connecxion Has Been Made...

With Revit 2012 now supporting 3D Connexion devices, I decided to get out my old Space Traveler. It had been about a year or 2 since I last had tried to plug it into a computer. In that time, I've switched from XP to Vista, gone through several laptops and several version of Autodesk products have passed. I found out that 3D Connexion no longer supported this device and the last driver published was for Vista x64bit. I eventually managed to get it installed, however, not everything works as great as it used to.

So, I dropped a note to 3D Connexion telling of my plight and that I wanted to evaluate their devices for the firm I work with, HMC Architects. In the end I spoke with a very nice gentleman there and he offered to set me up with a 30 day trial of 5 of their Space Explorer devices. At 3:19pm, Thursday April 14th, a box showed up full of glorious new hardware. It was a joyous moment marked by the scent of freshly manufactured parts off an assembly line along with a hint hardware envy... 

Granted, we will have to return them after 30 days, but by then I hope to get a better sense of what our designers think of using them in their day to day work. I plan to report back here some of their thoughts at the end of the trial period.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

*GASP* A Command Prompt for Revit???

I know so many Revit diehards out there that shudder at the mere mention of a command line from their days of using AutoCAD. I know a lot of AutoCAD lovers who can't get over the loss of their command line when they get into Revit. Well, if you ever needed to know what commands are being issued by all those keyboard and mouse clicks, now you can. You can also type out commands and enter them to your hearts content (not that I would want to...). Check out the recent post over at BIM Kicks for the tool...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A portable viewer for Revit projects?

The other day I was contacted by a company purporting to have created a portable viewer to share Revit models. I was a bit skeptical at first, but thought I would give it a shot and check it out. The company is called CADFASTER ( ). Basically, they have a plugin that gets added to Revit which will convert a Revit project to a single EXE file. Once converted, you just double click the EXE file and it launches a small applicaiton (think similar to Vasari) which then uses your video card to display the geometry from the converted Revit project.

I tried it on a training file of a Revit project and it translated the information relatively well and quickly, however the curtain walls seemed to be missing. Then, I decided to use a Revit project currently in production for reference.
* 235MB, 5 story hospital project from Revit 2011
* Roughly 25 mins to create the exe
* 41 seconds to open 21MB exe file.

In the end, the file once opened in the viewer, was so far zoomed out that I could hardly see the building. No zoom window function, orbiting was limited, couldn't really do much more. At this point, it's not really a technology usable, but it definitely looks promising. If they can work out some of the usability/translation issues, we might have a winner.

Since they plan to have the ability to share the model remotely with multiple users and be able to add annotations to it, it could have great potential for collaboration with extended project stakeholders.

A Little Bit of Yesterday...

I found AutoCAD 2000 on a computer today - still running! It took me back more than a few years seeing that familiar red and yellow icon...

Fortunately, I won't need to worry about using it today!

A Little Bit of Everything

Welcome to my latest blog, Adventures in the World of BIM! I felt my previous blog, 2d or not 2d had outlived it's name and original intent. Postings on that blog had become more of a general nature about the technologies surrounding Building Information Modeling (BIM) rather than focused on a specific technology.

On this blog, you can expect to see a little bit of everything, hence the description under the title. You may see reflections on past technologies and how they got us to where we are today. You'll also see current trends and tools for today along with insights and glimpses into the future. Add me to your RSS feed or bookmark this blog because this is going to be one interesting adventure!