Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wishing you a Merry Christmas


Once again, I would just like to wish those of you that follow my blog a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Wow, 365 days disappeared very quickly and the older you are, the quicker it goes. Its been a very odd one with some real lows as well as amazing highs. These are my top ten cool/weird things of 2010, in no particular order……

  • Presenting with James Van at AU 2010, but then forgetting how to draw a wall in front of 600 people!
  • Being part of (all be it very small) the Mastering Revit Architecture 2011 authoring team
  • Getting a message left on my cellphone from Autodesk to attend the 2011 AEC day in Waltham, MA, one day before April Fools!
  • Autodesk releasing Vasari
  • The Apple Ipad
  • Twittering
  • Angry Birds
  • My blog post for RAC 2011 making it into AEC edge mag
  • Stability in the RAC 2011 UI!!!!!
  • Forgetting how to draw a wall in front of 600 people!
  • Cloud computing

I look forward to 2011, its gonna be another interesting one……

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

AU2010 – adaptive component exercise

adaptive component

















I thought I’d run through the adaptive component exercise that James Van and I planned to show at AU2010. This exercise can be completed in either Revit 2011 or Vasari. The 60 minute class really didn’t provide enough time for us to go through this particular example, which I am sure was very annoying for the audience. Lets hope that the AU organisers listen to the feedback and return the class schedules back to 90 minutes for AU2011. However, in the meantime I hope you find this useful.

Saturday, December 18, 2010



The guys over at Design Reform / Case Inc have come up with a novel new site, called Design By Many, its a community base site where you can post design challenges. The site is currently running a competition to design a parametric version of  Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House.


If you are into parametric design, make sure you throw you hat into the ring; they are offering a HP Design Jet 111 printer as a prize! This is my rather scrawny effort…:-)

render example - Rendering - 3D View 1_1

Anyway be sure to check the site out at

Monday, December 13, 2010

Revit 2011 – Room Book Extension

RoomBook Extension 2

Be sure to check out Simon Gillis post about the Revit Room book extension being made widely available from the Autodesk Subscription Center.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Project Vasari – Voids


Anybody who was fortunate enough to go to AU 2010 may have attended Phil Reads class Into the Void:Zen of Creating Complex Sculptural Forms. If you didn’t attend, be sure to check the class out as it uses some great techniques for carving and creating geometry using void geometry.


However, what Mr Read eluded to discuss was the use of voids in the massing environment within Revit 2011 or even Vasari. So this article is a continuation from my previous post where I hosted a profile on a line and created a form. In part 2, I will use the technique in the previous post; but I will also combine this with the carving void technique Phil demonstrated at Autodesk University to create the parametric form you see above. The exercise is undertaken in Vasari, but you could just as easily do this using full Revit's massing functionality. You will be glade to know that there is no music, just my dulcet tones explaining how I put this together.  I hope you find this useful.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Project Vasari – hosted nested profiles











There will be times where you want to use a profile to create a swept form; this was reasonably easy to do pre Revit 2010, but the CDE has caused some confusion. So I am going to briefly describe how to use a mass family as a profile and then load this into another mass family and then host the profile to create a swept form or a simple extrusion using the nested profile. This is the start of multi stage tutorial and although I am undertaking this in Vasari the technique works just as well in full Revit's massing environment..

In Vasari start a new project. Next set one of the vertical workplanes to be your current workplane to draw on.


Next using a model line, draw a line on that current workplane.


After drawing the model line, choose the point tool and host a point on the model line. You will notice that the line will snap to the line and once hosted, you can drag the point back and forth along the line.


Next do a crossing selection to pick up the hosted pointed. We need to change the “show reference plane” parameter settings of the point from “when selected” to “Always”


Ok, with this part completed, start a new mass.rfa and choose metric mass.rfa or imperial mass.rfa.


You will now draw a simple closed profile on reference level 1, using model lines, as indicated in the image below.


Save the family and then load this into your already open project with a line and hosted point.Having loaded the family into your project you will discover your profile will be attached to your mouse pointer. We now need to get the profile on the workplane of the hosted point.


To do this, choose set work plane and pick the workplane of the hosted point. The profile will then flip around so that it is in the same orientation as the hosted pointed.


Place the profile on the hosted points as indicated in the image below.


Once you have placed the profile, select the model line and the profile you just placed.


Then choose “create from” the Ribbon, this will sweep the profile along the path.










With this basic knowledge you can start to get clever with your nested profiles. In this example I have a combination of profiles with different sizes.


In the next part of this tutorial I will show you how to combine this technique with the use of cut and join geometry to create a complex geometric form.

Autodesk Sketchbook Mobile – Android


Are you an Android user? If so, be sure to download Autodesk SketchBook Mobile now available for Andriod as well as Iphone and Ipad. You will find the Android version on the Android market place.

Monday, December 06, 2010

AU2010 – very quick summary

So I’m back to work after a week of BIM and AU overload, still a little jet lagged, but overall just about back in the land of the living. So what was it like you may ask? Hmmmmm well there where some highlights and some lowlights. Be sure to read William over at UnderNDA’s blog article on his Top 5 lists . I’d say this was pretty much close to my view on the event.


Trends wise, everybody seemed to tweet, cloud computing has moved on to infinite computing and every other person had an ipad. On Tuesday morning, just after the keynote speak James Van and I did a class entitled Advanced Techniques for Curtain Walls and Panels. It was a 60 minute class, I have to say it was the fastest 60 minutes I have ever seen. As soon as we had started, we seem to have finished. Feedback wise, it was mixed, mostly people complained about the time,  but I have to say this is not exactly our fault. We where trying to cram in 120 minutes of material into 60 minutes. Lets hope next year Autodesk listen to the feedback and go back to the traditional 90 minute format. Still the funniest thing was reading the feedback, it was very random…..quotes like….

“Although advanced class, it was more than I expected.”

“seemed very rushed with 1 hour. The flew through all the material.”


“Presenters were badly organized.”

“It was good, but needed more content. In the time allowed, that is all that could be done.”

“Although advanced class, it was more than I expected.”

“seemed very rushed with 1 hour. The flew through all the material.”


“one of the speakers was bit hard to understand, the other was very clear. there was not enough time to cover the subject matter well so the overall experience was not as good as it could have been”


Overall we have ended up with a score of 4.388 out of 5, so I don’t think we were that bad!


The bunny in the headlights look! This was 15 minutes before our class.

On the Wednesday I helped out Zach Kronz and Robert Manna with there Au Bon Panel Baking Your Own Adaptive Components and Panels labs class. This class got over subscribed so they had to run two, one at 8am and the second at 3pm. I would say the earlier class was probably more successful, but in both cases it was great fun and felt just like my day job running around and assisting people. Feedback again was very positive 4.646% and 4.765% respectively.

On Thursday I sat in on Phil Reads Zen of Void session. Back to some old school use of void in families. As usual, the class was presented in Phil’s polished yet sharp tongued style. Good to see he hasn’t lost of any of his passion and charm for the Revit technology. All the noise was about Phil's next career steps; I am sure you will start to hear more news over at arch+tech in the not to distant future! Certainly keep your eyes pealed as Phil seemed pretty stoked about his new career direction.

Thursday evening, Jim Balding organised an old timers Revit get together, which was great. More Revit geeks around one table than you can shake a stick at! I sat next to Steve Stafford who explained the AUGI forums wows! What a nightmare that is; the story behind this mess would make an amazing novel, its that messy!


So that's it folks, AU2010 in a few simple lines. Was it a great one? maybe not, but from a social stand point it was invaluable. Next year AU2011 is back at the Venetian, I do hope that normal services will be resumed. Until then…….

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Project Vasari – using Revit content

Fellow blogger, Robert Manna over at don’t think : Do Revit wrote a great post today about hacking Vasari, its well worth a read. Robert makes some useful observations and if you are new to the whole Vasari thing, hopefully by now you have realised that Vasari is built on the same technology as full Revit. This also means that as the file format is the same you can use normal Revit content inside of Vasari. Now the web is a wash with Revit content, be sure to check out Revit City or Autodesk Seek as a start point. But I am sure if you Google the words “Revit content”, you will come up with a bucket load of free content for you to use inside Vasari.

So you have downloaded some content, how do you get into Vasari? The quickest way is to drag and drop it into a current open Vasari project window.


The content can then be place as required.As Robert suggest in his post, you can then copy and replicate around the modelling canvas as required. In this example I have downloaded a tree from Autodesk Seek and placed it into my project.


Finally, another way to get the content loaded is to actually open the .rfa family in Vasari. Once you have the family opened, just choose “load into Project” from the Ribbon. The window will switch over to any opened project and you can placed as required.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Project Vasari – I can’t seem to render

I noticed this when I first started using Vasari. I could see the teapot icon in the view control control bar, but it seemed to be greyed out, so I assumed I couldn’t render and the functionality was disabled.


The reason for this is because by default when you start a new project in Vasari you start with create mass mode enabled. Its not until you either finish mass or double click the canvas that you come out of the create/edit mode. Once you do this, your teapoint icon will display and you can then click this to open up the render dialogue box; you will then be able to happily render your scene.


Mind you this assumes you have the material library for 2011 installed.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Project Vasari – rendering?

So you may have noticed in my blog post yesterday, that the youtube video showed me rendering the station canopy inside Project Vasari. I have had a couple of people ask me how I was able to do this. When they went to try and render they see no teaspot icon in the view control bar. No teapot icon, no rendering!




So how was I able to achieve this? Well its down to how Autodesk having enabled a common shared material library in the 2011 Autodesk solutions. This library is consistent across multiply Autodesk products, so if you already have say Revit 2011 or AutoCAD 2011 installed on your laptop or workstation, you will have this library installed by default. Therefore, as Vasari is basically the same as  Revit Architecture, Structure and MEP minus various features; Vasari will also share this library, so the rendering functionality is enabled! Sweet.image

Friday, November 19, 2010

Project Vasari – Station Canopy Roof


Last year we did a competition for a railway station in London as part of the Crossrail development. The designer came up with a rather funky, yet beautiful looking roof for the proposed new station.


Unfortunately we didn’t win the competition, The roof was actually modelled in another application, but I was able to produce it easily in Revit 2010. So I thought I’d show you how to do it in Vasari using an adaptive component family nested into a mass loaded into a project. Hope you enjoy.BTW I don’t normally work this fast!!! :-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Project Vasari – Metric Templates

I have been asked if I would be willing to share the metric templates I created in my previous post. Nothing secret squirrel here, so feel free to download them by click this link. DOWNLOAD Metric Templates

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Project Vasari – no metric templates?

Ok, after you download and start playing you will soon find out that Vasari provides only imperial templates. Now after a bit of head scratching I discovered that because of the way Vasari is distributed its not easy to hack the imperial templates and make them metric.

So this is what I have done. I have opened all the standard imperial templates as new projects and new families. I then changed all my settings as required and saved them to a folder of my choice as rfa files with the word Metric added to the name.


I then changed the file extension of these files form .rfa to rft. This make them Revit templates, if you didn’t already know this.

imageI then whipped back into Vasari, application menu > options > file locations and changed the default imperial template to my custom template. At the same time I pointed to the newly created location for my metric family templates.

imageJob done, I now have metric templates, which saves me having to keep changing from imperial to metric each time I start a new project or family.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Project Vasari goes live

Further to my recent blog post, I can confirm that Project Vasari has gone live. Be sure to sign in to the Autodesk Labs website and download your copy!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blog update – November 2010

Thought it seemed appropriate to update my blog template. It hasn’t changed now for just over 3 years; but Google recently introduced a template designer which allows you to produce a more flexible themed blog. I have decided to keep the colours generally the same as the previous theme; but the new theme I think is more inline with a clean modern style. I hope you like what you see.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Autodesk Project Vasari - Technology Preview

I am struggling to contain my excitement, but there is a storm a coming!!! Watch out for Project Vasari as its likely to appear on Autodesk labs in the very near future. To top that, as it’s a preview technology so it will be free to use at your own risk.

So what is Project Vasari?

Whilst it would probably be wrong to call it a Lite version of Revit, nevertheless, Project Vasari is an easy to use standalone application built on the same technology as the Autodesk Revit platform. Vasari is able to produce conceptual models using both geometric and parametric modeling functionality. Your designs can be analysed using the built-in energy modeling and analysis features. This is the same cloud based functionality which was recently added to Revit 2011 as part of the Q3 subscription advantage pack.


Revit LT?

Now let me step back 6 years to 2004. I was working for Excitech an Autodesk Reseller here in the UK. They had employed me as an Applications Engineer to promote, train and help sell Autodesk Revit. Revit 6 was the current version, this was well before anyone at Autodesk had thought about adding the year + 1 to the product. Promoting Revit was a hard graft; whilst it demonstrated really well and people loved what they saw, they just couldn’t see how it would fit within their existing processes. Architects and designers where just not ready for BIM. To be honest at the time ADT had a far stronger user base. I remember clearly speaking with my line manager, Tim Bates, about how Autodesk might consider pushing Revit out to a wider audience. One of the things we talked about was a Revit Lite, a focused version of the product for people to play, develop and learn with. The reality was a total long shot back then. Whilst Revit 6 did have massing, it was not the building maker tools; they appeared with Revit 7 and the concept environment we now have was just a twinkle in somebodies eye. Now the year is 2010. A Lite version of Revit is now a reality, all be it a focused version for the design architect and energy modeller. I can envisage when Project Vasari appears on the Autodesk Labs website, the downloads are going to go through the roof. As well as architects, engineers and designers, I can see students, 3d modeling technology enthusiasts all wanting to get a copy to play with. Project Vasari has a lighter footprint than its big Revit brother so it will happily run on a standard spec or workstation. I will certainly be downloading a copy for my Macbook to run under bootcamp.


So why the name Vasari?

Those guys over at Autodesk come up with some great names for their alpha and beta products! If you Google the word Vasari you get the Giorgio Vasari, an Italian painter, writer, historian and architect. Vasari was born in Arezzo, Tuscany. If you have ever been fortunate enough to visit Florence, Italy, the chances are you would have crossed the Vasari Corridor. ( the bridge in the image below)


So what will Vasari allow you to do?

I have been fortunate enough to get me hands on a pre-release version and this is what I have discovered so far, I haven’t covered all the features, but this will give you a flavour…….



The installation of Vasari is interesting as you are offered you two options. You have the ability to download a 400mb install exe file or you can opt for the new streaming feature. I decided to go for the light weight streaming feature as I was particularly interested to know how it worked. You start by downloading a very small lightweight installer application called Spoon. Spoon is a virtualization technology that packages an application and the applications pre-requisites into a single executable, allowing users to download and run a single file instead of downloading and running an installer. When the user runs the Spoon executable, the application is run in an isolated environment that has controlled access to the operating system. It’s a dream, no issues what so ever for me.


Essential Learning

Learning new software quickly ensures you become efficient and productive. Vasari introduces an excellent series of quick start video tutorials. These are referred to as the Essential Skills Movies; there is a floating window with links to 6 simple movies which will kick start your Vasari experience. Follow these series of movies and you will be up and running in no time. Understanding form making is crucial so many of the articles and youtube videos contained within my blog as well as Zach’s Buildz blog will provide you with tips on using Vasari’s more complex parametric features.
project vasari-essential skills


Interface and functionality

As already mentioned, Vasari offers you the same easy to use modeling functionality as you get in full blown Revit. When you first start Vasari you notice that the interface is slightly different compared with its Revit counterparts. Tool icons are a dark grey, the interface has a grey gradient background, nothing too unusual. But then it suddenly hits you, levels in 3d! In the project environment! Levels in 3d have been available in the concept mass family since the concept design environment (CDE) was introduced in Revit 2010, but they have not made their way to the project environment. This is great feature as this really allows you to really understand the 3d space.
Navigating around the Vasari 3d space is via the now familiar Autodesk ViewCube and Steering wheel tool. Right mouse click and you get access to various zoom controls. Hold the middle mouse button down and the control key and you will fast zoom whereas holding the middle mouse button down and the shift key will rotate the camera view around the 3d space.
I have spent hour and hours of my time using the concept massing tools in full Revit. My preferred method of creating forms has always been within the CDE, where you use a mass family to build forms. These families can then be loaded into the project environment. This workflow is still possible in Vasari. Even so, Vasari changes all that, as the project environment now seems far more connected with the family editing environment.
Vasari offers you a limited number of family templates to build content; mass.rft, adaptive component.rft and Curtain Panel Pattern Based.rft are all available, which is more than enough for concept design form making. You are also able to pass your models to full Revit Architecture, Structure or MEP as Vasari uses the same .rvt and .rfa file format version. This also means you will also be able to start an .rvt or .rfa concept mass in full Revit and open it in Vasari. This opens up some potential interesting workflows.
You can print from Vasari, but there are some limitations. For instance you can’t seem to place your designs on drawing sheets. You are able to import DWG, SAT, DXF, DGN and Skp files, you can also export to DWG, SAT, DXF and DGN.
You can schedule with Vasari, but you are limited to scheduling Mass Floors. You can add additional predefined fields to you schedules, but you are not able to duplicate the schedule and create custom versions, not a big deal based on the defined target audience.
Vasari also provides you with a number of pre-defined masses for you to drag and drop into your project from the project browser, but using the mass.rft template you can obviously build your own custom mass families. In the screen grab below, you can see some additional families created using Vasari’s massing template.











This video will briefly show you some of Vasari’s modelling capabilities……

Now if you think Vasari can only model buildings, then you are wrong. :-)




So what do I think of Vasari? I absolutely love it! I had heard through the grapevine that Autodesk where working on something special, a kind or LT version of Revit. There are some which will not get that excited, because if you use full Revit then you already have access to this functionality so Vasari may not offer anything new. But saying that, I have heard it said by many designers who either use Sketchup or Rhino, that full Revit is a far too heavy beast to work with. Without knocking their skills and abilities to design, they are often simple folk when it comes to technology. But to some extent they have a point, if all you want to do is design and analysis a concept, full Revit is like having a hammer to crack a nut! Project Vasari fills the gap very neatly.
My personal view is that Vasari is a potential game changer! Whilst Sketchup is a great application, it has plenty of limitations when you are looking to use it within your BIM workflow. Vasari is a great tool for early concept work; it provides an easy to navigate UI, flexible parametric and geometric design tools, it’s so easy to learn and will fit happily into your BIM workflow. Finally, a word of warning, Vasari is a preview technology so you will get no official support on the Product, but you will be able to feedback information via Project Vasari’s Facebook page.  Keep your eyes pealed on Autodesk labs as well as the AutodeskBuilding Youtube channels as release time frame is very soon.  Finally when it does go live and you get a chance to play, be sure to smile whilst you use it, as it totally rocks! :-)