Monday, March 30, 2009

Revit 2010 UI - a step forward or a step back?

There has been much discussion about the new Autodesk Revit 2010 UI. Some people like it, others hate it. It's a bit like marmite (vegemite to those outside the UK). However, the reality is that the UI in 2010 is changing and it will have an impact on our use of Revit from now and into the future. UI design is not easy, not that I have any particular experience myself, but my brother is a programmer and we have discussed this subject on a number of occasions. Therefore, I want to present the facts, the for's and against and then gauge your opinion. To some extent the UI has to change to make Revit look like the modern application it should be and the old UI from graphical appeal was looking dated. I know the background behind the change and a common look and feel across all the Autodesk applications was one of the primary goals. But the old UI did work and it worked very, very well. Having trained numerous architects in Revit over the last 6 years users always commented that they felt that the user interface had been built and designed by somebody who understood the architectural business. It was clean and easy to understand and everything was immediately accessible, unlike AutoCAD which could have multiple configurations. You only need to look at Sketchup to understand what I'm getting at, easy accessible icons that allow you to build great models, not that I am comparing Revit to Sketchup.

First take a look at this youTube video posted by Phil Read (yes, the Phil Read, ex Autodesk consulting and Revit guru). You should also read his post which supports this video. It is extremely funny but it does have a serious side and Phil puts this across very eloquently.

Now read this post on the Autodesk site and view the supporting video which explains the methodology behind the UI. It explains a little bit of the decisions making process and how the new UI works.

Ok, so there you have it, two different viewpoints. I have an in the "middle" stance on this. I actually want to like the new UI, it makes Revit look better and if it looks better then the assumption is that it works better. Probably the wrong way to look it, but it's like driving a new car, if it looks cool, you feel cool. Although this is not always the case, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Design and detailing buildings is not a straight forward process, but it follows a certain number of rules and workflow can be divided into a specific set of task, looking at the new UI I don't think it always follows these rules particularly well. It seems to jump all over the place and can confuse the user. Certain elements are not consistent and this is annoying. In this current world economic slowdown, firms are looking at the bottom line, they can't afford to be unproductive. Previous releases of Revit allowed users to continue to work with the Revit that they know and loved, yet get to grips with the new tools when they have time, therefore no lose in productivity. This release will immediately affect firms if they deploy it, because the user experience is unfamiliar. As users get to grips, I guess this will improve, but there is no good explaining this to your CEO as he sees productivity dropping away. The world has changed, firms are watching productivity carefully, so impacts on workflow will not be popular at all. Saying that, this is not a good enough reason not to deploy the product. Take time to evaluate it, plan carefully, even consider running internal seminars to sow the seed of this release. You may actually find that your users are less worried about the UI than you may think. This certainly seems to be the case for the office I am working in.

It would good to get a readers viewpoint. Use the voting poll at the top of this page to let me know what you think. I will then publish the results in a future post.

Revit 2010 video tutorial

Dave Fano at Design Reform has released a great video tutorial which introduces the new mass environment in 2010, expect more video tutorials soon, check it out at....


Useful workflow? - 3dsmax to Sketchup to Revit

This query came up the other day....I've created a form in 3dmax Design 2009, how can I get this into Revit? Revit generally prefers solid geometry to be exported for use within its massing environment. So either DWG's containing solids or ascii SAT files. The problem is that 3dsmax can't export meshes as solids unless you purchase a 3rd party application. However, AutoCAD 2010 should come to the rescue as it will allow you to convert meshes to solids. So how else can we get 3dsmax geometry into Revit so that we can use the "by face" tools? In reality you should be able to go straight from 3dsmax as a DWG into Revit, but this sometimes isn't that successful. So how about Sketchup? I like Sketchup as an application, but I would never want to use it as a replacement to my beloved Revit. But it does seem to act well as a useful intermediate file conversation tool between 3dsMAX are Revit. So how do we go about doing this?

Start by Creating your geometry in 3dsmax, however you will need to convert this to a polymesh surface.


Next save the mesh out as a DWG file.


Then open the resulting DWG file in Google Sketchup, this can even be the free Google Sketchup as we don't need any features in Sketchup apart from being able to save as an SKP file. Open the DWG by going to file pulldown menu > import and choose DWG.


This will import the DWG into Sketchup, although make sure you have the correct unit set, you can do this by clicking the options button in the import dialogue box. If the model from Max was in millimetres, set the units in Sketchup to be millimetres.


Once you have imported the 3dsmax geometry into Sketchup you may need to do a few fixes to the geometry, but this is easily achieved by infilling any missing faces with the pencil tool.


Then save this file as a Sketchup file, file pulldown menu > saveas.

Now go back to Revit and start a new mass.


Then import your Sketchup model previously saved into the inplace mass. File pulldown menu > import/link > CAD formats.


In the import dialogue, choose Sketchup as the file type to import.


This will import the Sketchup geometry into the mass.


You can then go ahead and use the curtain system by face tools on the mesh to build the form.



This approach is reasonably successfully but it does depend on the complexity of the form create.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Revit error messages...too much to eat?

We all know and love some of the weird error messages that you can get from Revit, but this recent one, certainly made me chuckle. I'm assuming this is what happens when Revit has had to many big Macs????

warn of bloat

Friday, March 06, 2009

So much going on.....

Ok, it would seem that now I have a real job I'm not posting as much as I should, hopefully this will change once the NDA comes down on Revit Architecture 2010. :-) Anyway there is loads of stuff going on in the Revit blogging world. Here are a couple of highlights I picked out recently.

Inside the Factory

Most of you probably know about the new Autodesk Inside the Factory blog, if you don't, take a look at it here:-

This should be essential reading for all Revit fans.

Revit Kid

Another blog which caught my attention is Revit Kid. This is a cool blog and has some great video tutorials. It seems to be geared towards those in education, but to be honest it has some great information and looks set to be a good learning resource. Check it out at:-



If you are into programming Revit, you should check out Ed Pitts'

Ed is the technical director at CADsmart. "He has been developing in VB and for several years with Revit, AutoCAD and MicroStation. When he is not doing this he is either being a good father, a devoted husband, a competent builder, an impatient decorator, a keen photographer, a rusty guitarist or an expert Lambretta mechanic". The site includes VB examples and workthroughs and as Ed suggests  "I've decided to setup this blog to share the tips and tricks I learn on the way, as well as discuss the unresolved problems that highlight gaps in the API (or gaps in my knowledge!)."