Thursday, April 28, 2011

Revit 2012 – spin that rotation

Explaining how the rotate tool works in Revit has always been an interesting experience in any training class I have ever run. Half the students get it, the other half are left scratching their heads. I suspect much has to do with the engrained AutoCAD mentality. So Revit doesn’t work like AutoCAD? That’s weird; don’t these two products come from the same company? Anyway, I remember struggling with the rotate tool the first time I encountered Revit. Not that I couldn’t understand it, I just didn’t have a clue how to alter the center point of rotation. It took some smart arse to tell me I have to drag the rotation icon!

Revit 2012 has put pay to all that frustration and tweaked the way you interact with the tool.So when you choose the rotation tool now, you can move the blue dot by dragging it to a suitable location to define your center point of rotation.


2012_rot2You can also define center of rotation picking the “place” button, this allows you to pick a center point of rotation on the canvas.


As you would expect, when you choose the “place” button, the rotate point can be snapped to other elements.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Revit 2012 – 3d mice – 3Dconnexion support


It’s been a long time coming, but finally Revit 2012 now has 3Dconnexion 3d mice support. I remember around 3 years ago speaking with Richard Gladman of 3Dconnexion UK about using a 3d mouse within the Revit environment, at that time it was not supported. So with the support finally in 2012, does the hype match up with the reality?

I managed to acquire a 3Dconnexion SpaceExplorer 3d mouse, courtesy of 3Dconnexion UK to test. 3Dconnexion produce various different mice; the SpaceExplorer is the mid-range version, this includes quick view keys as well as additional navigation settings.

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The SpaceNavigator is the entry level 3d mouse, which I suspect most users will opt for, especially if cost is an issue. The SpacePilot Pro is the Ferrari version!

The box from 3Dconnexion duly turned up and I unpackaged the device. Placing it on the desk it looks like something out of the film Minority Report. There is an air of beauty about this sculpted techno geeky device and that was even before I plugged it in. I decided to go the 3Dconnexion website and download the latest drivers rather than install the ones provided on the shipped cd-rom. Once the drivers were installed; I plugged the 3d mouse usb cable in and then the blue light lit up on the navigation cap. I was ready to go! Can somebody tell me, why blue lights or highlighted blue buttons look so cool? There must be some research that has taken place that says blue = techno cheek porn; you must buy! Anyway, I was expecting to have to install special drivers to get full support with Revit 2012, but that wasn’t the case.

I fired up Revit 2012; the first thing you notice is that an additional icon is included within the navigation bar.


If you click the arrow below the icon you can access a 3Dconnexion control panel where you can assign different commands to the various buttons on the mouse.


Interestingly and as highlight by Tom over at Inside the Factory, you can actually add custom commands and string together multiple commands, which is extremely useful. Be sure to check out his  youtube video which will explain more, as well as how to customize a SpacePilot Pro.

I used my now legendary at-at.rvt model as a test to put the 3d mouse through its paces. Whilst navigation does take some time to get used to, it’s really cool being able to navigate and view a Revit model using this device. Here is me messing around with the at-at, I am sure the more I use it, the better I will get an navigating!!! Hand eye coordination has never been a strong point. :-)

The hot keys on the SpaceExplorer allow you to rapidly orient the model to various elevation views. I set too and tried different graphic displays. I actually found that the newer graphic modes of consistent colours and realistic mode operated faster than hidden line and shaded with edges. I believe this is because the newer graphic modes utilise the full support of your graphics card, whilst the legacy modes are still reliant somewhat on the processor to display the graphics. I certainly noticed a bit of lag when rotating the model. Therefore, your best option is to use the newer graphic modes when using the 3d mouse.

So who will use a 3d mouse you may ask? I guess it depends on the type of work you do within Revit. I am thinking that designers are going to love it or anybody who will need to review models for consistency and virtual coordination. However, if you are just doing production work, you may not see any benefit. If you regularly navigate the Revit environment or you are a techno geek, then this is a must have device for your desktop!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Blogpress for iPad

These days I am trying to extend my blogging capabilities. Our household has so many different electronic devices connected to the Internet I thought I would try to blogging from each of these different devices. I have recently purchased a copy of Blogpress for iPad.

So far it works very well, maybe not as good as Microsoft Live Writer, but great for blogging on the go.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Revit 2012 printing issues

I read with interest the problems Alan over at Revit Learning Curve was having with printing from Revit 2012. More details on his challenges can be found here.......

Now this opens up an interesting debate; Is this a bug with Revit 2012 or during the update of Revit 2012, has what ever changed made the drivers incompatible? In my view, two different items. Now I have never really been a big fan of Kip printers; they are cheap and do a reasonably good job, but they are hardly Oce Printers. But not everybody can afford Oce devices! I remember as far back as Revit 5 having stability issues when printing from Revit to a Kip printer. Anyway, after trying various different driver versions, we got one which provided reasonably good results.

Anyway, to the point of this post. Let's assume there is a genuine issue with 2012; who's fault was it and why wasn't it picked up before? Those that Beta tested the product or Autodesk? Now I will put my hands up and say, when I was testing Revit 2012 I did not attempt or try printing from the beta software, which I have to admit is very poor! Thinking about it, we all talk about the virtual model, but printing the deliverables is still part of the basic delivery process. So I wonder if anybody else tried printing during the beta? Alan did you try printing during the beta? because if you had, I wonder if you would have picked up the problem then? Should we be blaming Autodesk? I have visited the factory a number of times and I certainly didn't find a room packed full of all the latest printers run test plots from future versions of Revit.

I guess this is the real issue; we get so excited about the new functionality, yet we miss the fundamentals. The nature of software will mean there will be issues, the beta program is supposed to pick up these issues, but the fragmented nature of the Windows platform will mean that things sometimes get missed. I am sure Autodesk will put there hands up and say that there is an issue, which they will fix. Maybe it's not; it could fall on the printer firms to fix there drivers, if this is the case, you may be waiting a long time! However, its also up to those that get invited to test the software to help QA the product. Once upon a time I couldn't wait to get the latest version installed onto my laptop, nethertheless these days I take the view, wait until service pack 1!! ;-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, April 18, 2011

Newforma Addin for Revit

If you don’t know by now, I’m a big fan of Newforma! Whilst on the face of it you may think I am biased because my old boss now heads up the EMEA division and a few others friends have set up a the first Newforma reseller in the UK. Far from it, I remember seeing Newforma well before Tim Bates joined Newforma and I was instantly struck by its ease of use, flexibility, understanding of the architectural workflow and density of functionality. Whilst I have heard a few (and you know who you are!) just say that the Newforma is only great for managing emails, maybe readying this article will give you a different opinion.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rambol Evolutionary Design

So I have just attended the Rambols Computational Design presentation with some of my hok colleagues at London's Design Center.

Rambols showed some amazing  work, much which was created using customized scripts generated in what looked like java to solve complex structural and facade issues. It was all very impressive. Of particular interest was where Rambols team plan to go in the future. They mentioned the use of bim as the future, which drew a groan from the audience, much to my surprise! I wondered why? Having seen the funky use of parametric scripts to generate complex forms to rationalise designs which in essence contained rich data about the make up of the form; I struggled why this was not considered part of the bim workflow. Its a model and it contains information which is associated with a building I missing something here? Not being an architect and just a poor old technologist, is there some secret code that I don't know about? Am I not being purist enough? So like a dog with a bone, I did some digging. I asked a few people after the presentation why they thought it was different, what was the issue? People automatically seemed to associate Revit as bim! So if i buy a copy of Revit I am doing bim and thats the only way to do bim. No Revit, no bim. I argued that if a model, any model, which contained information was not a information model, what the hell was it? After fighting my case they did start to see my point of view.
Whilst I don't hang out in the higher echelons of the architectural world, I am just a technologist at heart; so what it indicated to me is the total missing understanding in the industry of what bim is. Whether people are fed up with the term or they don't believe the hype, I really don't know. But virtual environments for designing building forms which contain valuable data are here to stay. Whether you use products like rhino, Revit, gc, autocad, scripts to develope your design models really doesn't matter. Its more important to utilize this data throughout the design life cycle and to collaborate; each time increasing the richness of the data at the appropriate stages. If  this is not bim or virtual designing, then I really need to go back to the drawing board! So in conclusion, information modelling is a process and as I continue to say, you don't buy a box of bim......

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bisley – Revit Content


If you ask any interior designer want they want from Revit, apart from the normal comparisons with sketchup; the second most important item is content.

With this in mind, last year my colleague Mark Pritchard and I set about a task of contacting all the main furniture suppliers we worked with to see if…..

  1. they actually knew what Revit was?
  2. they had Revit content or where planning to build Revit content?

It was a very interesting exercise as it highlighted a genuine knowledge gap in the industry. The BIM message may be getting out to the architects and designers, but there is a disconnect with the supply chain. Overall it was a successful exercise as we managed to highlight the importance of manufacturers content. So much so, many of these firms where going away to investigate what was required to build Revit content.

However, one particular firm stood out over and above the rest was Bisley.

Bisley are manufacturers & suppliers of office storage equipment.After meeting with Gareth Evans from Bisley last year, he went away and did some research on Revit. He got Bisley to invest in Revit, he put himself on a Revit training course and started building content!


This is a comment from Gareth “I have started to draw up our pedestals and am loving using Revit over AutoCAD.”


Bisley are working on a place to post all there content and I will let you know once this has happened. In the short term, Gareth emailed me over three examples, which can be downloaded from here. If you have any comments, please feel free to post them and I will pass them on to Gareth.


Now some people are going to disagree with me, but good quality Revit content isn’t something you should have to pay for. Good quality content in my humble opinion is a marketing opportunity for the supply chain!

Saturday, April 09, 2011



If you don’t know what Knowledgesmart is, you should check it out! I was speaking with Robert Manna last week and like me, he has found it invaluable to assess staff abilities. Knowledgesmart is great for understanding skills gaps. More detail can be found at the Knowledgesmart website.

Anyway, I got an email from Rory Vance from Knowledgesmart on Friday saying that they have produced a series of blog articles, which explain how to use the various tools in the KS admin dashboard.  Be sure to check the blog….

Friday, April 08, 2011

Boston 2011–Autodesk Media Event

I thought I’d wrap this week by sharing a few photos from the Autodesk Media trip and some comment. It was a great trip and I would like to extend my thanks to Dave Mills, Bruce Finch and many others who in many cases went beyond the call of duty. It was good to see so many friends and contacts from the world I immerse myself in.

The event itself was enlightening and to some extent a little depressing at the same time. Not that there was anything wrong with what Autodesk showed, in fact there is some great work being undertaken using Autodesk technology; more that BIM still has a long way to go.There are firms that are pushing it very hard, but the industry as a whole still needs a serious kick up the arse. So when will it change? hmmmm I’m not too sure. I spoke with a number of journalists who attended the event who write for architectural and new media magazines. They where all extremely impressed and maybe their message will get out to the masses who continue to put there heads in the sand.

There is a cost to implementing BIM, but then there was a cost when you shifted from the drawing board to CAD; funny how conveniently people forget this! The world has changed, the global downturn should be forcing firms to look at new ways of working and being more efficient. The technology exists now; whilst I write this, I am sat in a train carriage where there are more people readying from mobile devices than from a newspaper. That in itself should show the technology shift. So AEC UK community, get with the picture!

2011-04-03 07.09.41

The Copley Plaza Hotel built in 1912 is well worth staying at if you ever get to Boston. Its a great location….thank you Mr Finch!

2011-04-03 09.14.33The monument at Bunker Hill.2011-04-04 19.41.33This must be the most photographed office on the planet!!!

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The tweet war begins; my screen in the foreground, Steve Staffords in the background to the right.

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Mr Stafford tucking into his dinner at the top of the Prudential Tower, notice the UFO hovering over his head.After dark these strange space craft could be seen hovering above the city.

2011-04-05 22.26.09

Martyn Day of AEC magazine kicks off a game of BIM jenga; the new party game for the AEC industry!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Boston Day 4

Day four of my Boston trip and day two of the Autodesk media event. So after checking out of the Element Hotel it was over to the Autodesk Offices for the visionary / futures session. We where bombarded with various exciting technologies, many which can be found on Autodesk Labs. What was of particular interest to me was Project Dasher, be sure to check it out here….


Whilst still a research project, Dasher showed the potential for downstream use of the Building Information Model. As the site says “Project Dasher is a web-based application that helps to augment existing Autodesk® Revit® design models with real-time building submeter and sensor data on electricity and occupancy.” The use of the model for downstream use is extremely high on my priority list right now, as I am work with a client who really wants to leverage the BIM for full lifecycle use.

After a short coffee break it was over to Phil Bernstein for a Pecha Kucha style presentation which he shared with two of his colleagues. This was a look at trends and changes in the industry as well as how new technology is changing how we deliver design and construction. Cloud Computing and mobile technologies are the take home here….these two trends alone will transform how we will work now and into the future.

Then onto the Q&A. Robert Manna asked a very interesting question about the term BIM. He said he saw a shift by Autodesk from the B in BIM being a noun to a verb. Its all about Building the model….

After a lunch it was on to the secret squirrel Revit futures session; continued NDA’s are in place so I am sworn to secrecy! These sessions, in my opinion, are one of the most exciting aspects of these visits. It allows you to get a good inside track on the challenges that the guys and girls at the factory have to deliver the tools we require. I am going to sound like a cracked record; but once you truly start to see the amount of feedback and viewpoints the factory have to accommodate, you really start to understand the magnitude of the challenge.

There were 5 of us, all well-known bloggers, who attended the session. We were asked to provide feedback on a particular piece of proposed functionality that is currently being worked on. The 5 of us provided 5 different responses to how we thought the task should be solved! None of the responses where right or wrong, in fact they were all valid answers. It is this sort of feedback Autodesk look for. Dave Conant from Autodesk, who was fielding the questions, highlighted that this is typical of user responses. It is said that there are many ways to skin a cat, so if there was just one simple answer to the problem then it would be easy. Revit as a technology to deliver BIM is now a solution which is used in many different geographical locations; no longer can you think of it as a product which needs to work only in your backyard. Each country has different building codes / regulation and Autodesk needs to be able to address these to satisfy everybody's needs. Therefore, many of these large development projects are multi-year operations and with our continued year on year Revit fix, we still feel we want immediate gratification and bang for our subscription bucks. Cut the development time, then you are going to have a half backed solution. I think the user base needs to start to understand this and if you think just throwing resource at the problem will sort it, then you are wrong. I have seen architectural firms do this on projects; thinking that by having more people on the project it will ensure the delivery goals are meet. Generally this never works, because people just get in one another’s way and it creates more tension and project instability.

Anyway, I would like to extend my “thanks” to the development guys and girls who took time out of the busy schedule to share what they are doing. As always, it’s enlightening and exciting at the same time. It gives me the confidence that things are genuinely moving in the right direction and makes me proud to be part of the Building Information Modelling revolution. Nevertheless we still have a hell of a long way to go; we need to continue to educate the AEC community, clients, the authorities and general public, only then will BIM become mainstream. I’ll give you an example; I recently changed my car insurance. As part of the exercise to get the insurance quote I was asked what I did for a living…now go try and explain that you are a Revit Specialist helping to deliver Building Information Modelling on architectural projects! In the end I resorted to IT manager as my final response…….

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Boston Day 3

So another early start. Over to the Autodesks offices for a 7.15am breakfast and then straight into the media event.
A full on software "new feature" packed session introducing design suites, new versions, bim 360 and much more. It was really intense! Infact there was so much, it was not easy to keep up. The design suites look to offer users real value, however be aware you can't split the bundle.
After lunch it was onto the typical Aec session. Revit architecture,structure and mep. People have whinged on about limited functionality in arch and structure this year, but I totally disagree, more I see these new versions there is plenty in this release for everybody. Mep also playing serious catchup to it to older siblings; this version is a game change for the Revit bim platform. I would guess the US is a head in Revit mep use, so lets hope use Brits wake up and smell the coffee and start moving on mep adoption.
Autodesk are finally taking the construction space very seriously. With parts and assemblies in Revit 2012 and switchback functionality in Navisworks 2012. I was very impressed and I really linked the ability to link dwfs with the 3d model in Navisworks.
As the afternoon progressed Steve Stafford and I played a game of out tweeting one another, Steve won that one! However, I am learning from the master and between the two of us we totally stomped the twitter airwaves. Hopefully we got the message out to the industry on some of the new toys which will hit your desk very soon.
After the main marketing "stuff" it was a trip by bus to the prudential tower, for an amazing panoramic view of the all of Boston. I am lovin this city!

Autodesk Revit Blogspot - Stats

Do you have a blog? Well if your are using Google Blogger to host your blog you will have noticed a new feature which has sneaked its way in. Typically I have used Google Analytics to track my blog activity. Not for any particular reason, just because I find it interesting to see where the pockets of Revit activity is happening around the world. However, a new feature is available to you when you login to you Blogger Dashboard. You will discover a new tab called Stats.


This is like a realtime version of Analytics. You can view allsorts, you can even see which posts are being read at a particular moment in time. Be sure to check it out as its fascinating.


Also, check out William L Campo’s post on different ways to view Blogger.


Finally, a quick shout out to all those that have linked to my Revit Architecture 2012 preview post. So far it received 12647 viewings; I am glade you have found it useful and I am humbled….

Revit Architecture 2012–Spanish


Do you need your Revit Architecture 2012 new features fix in Spanish? Be sure to check out Alberto Cerdans blog where he has translated my Revit Architecture 2012 blog article into Spanish.

Boston Day 2

So early wake up to checkin with the office in the UK. Then Zack Kronz dropped by to give me a lift into the Autodesk office, where we had a quick breakfast meeting about all sorts.

Returning back to Zachs desk we continued to have a chat about some geeky vasari stuff. Later I sat in on a few meetings, which is always interesting. Matt J joined us for lunch and I showcased a few hok projects which had caused our designers some real headaches.

In the afternoon I settled in like a new employee and did some real work. Skyped the family in the UK and then around 6ish the media event started with various bloggers and media people turning up for a reception with drinks and nibbles.

We left Autodesk offices around 8ish (myself, Robert Manna and his wife and Steve Stafford) for a meal in Lexington. Jason Grant has joined us for a drink and we are now waiting for our meal...ok my steak has arrived ..I need to eat.

Monday, April 04, 2011

BIMstore is open for business

imageI got an email from the guys over at BIMstore to say that after an intensive beta testing process, BIMstore is now officially open for business!

So what is BIMstore? Well its a place for manufacturers to place content and its a place for designers to find content. As the site says, “all content and downloads are totally free. The content is created in cooperation with manufacturers, ensuring accuracy and quality. The BIM components are”virtual models” of real manufacturers products and contain all the data for design, analysis, scheduling and specification. They can be used throughout the design process, from concept designs all the way through to construction. Some can even be used beyond construction and utilised for FM”.

A quick browse through the site and you will discover the content uploaded so far is of a very high quality.


You will find content from the following manufacturers….generic content is still limited, but expect that to grow over the forthcoming months.


Sunday, April 03, 2011

Boston day 1

So arrived safely got a good nights sleep. Started my day early @ 7am hiking around the freedom trail; not many people around that early on a Sunday morning in Boston which was a little weird. Anyway, after trashing the credit card I am due to meet Robert Manna this afternoon, then of to my next hotel.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Saveas an older version of Revit

saveasOk, so this has been a long standing request by many a Revit user, the ability to “saveas” to an older version of Revit. How many times have you heard users say that they have opened a Revit file in the wrong version and saved? or that the partnering consultant you are working with can’t open the latest version of your file because they are still on Revit 2009?

Well maybe this might be the answer…I got an insider track the other day from Steve Goutcha of Pillaroof Architecture. They have a couple of inside API guys who are working on tool which will allow you to migrate the Revit database to an older version. To good to be true? Well I exchanged mails with Steve……“as users of Revit ourselves, we understand the issues that many Revit users have; the ability to do a saveas to an older version seems to be a high priority and this seems even more important as the adoption of Revit grows. If you think about it, you have been able to this in AutoCAD or ACA for years. We have been able to get under the bonnet of the Revit API and our tool allows us to save back as far as Revit 2009. Obviously each release of Revit includes new functionality so our tool will convert newer Revit elements into generic models. You won’t be able to edit these objects because effectively they are embedded IFC components, but this should be a great step forward”…..Want to know more? Be sure to check out Steves website for more details.