Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Revit 13/14 Easter Egg

I never ran into the situation I'm in now with Revit 2013 that I'm in now with 2014 where a project was started in CAD (ACA version) then brought into Revit after SD or Programming Phase, but I checked & 2013 can. So pre-revit 2013 AEC content from ACA (aka:ADT) wouldn't show up in Revit so one would have to use the function to "Export to CAD". Of course, it doesn't translate the 3D info, it only shows the 2D info.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Template Strategies

My venture on revamping my current strategies to make my Revit Template more ravishingly riveting is nearing completion with just some polishing needed in some areas, but let us not count the chicks before your eggs have hatch ;) Also, be aware that the Project Template is an ever evolving entity, or like an old/high-end vehicle that needs constant TLC. That's expected as BIM is ever evolving in all aspects from modeling to the API to most importantly the Strategies implemented as I'm doing here, so my "Template" will continue to mature adapting to any nuance. Here is a List of my Strategies that I've deemed pivotal & listed in somewhat of an order of importance:
1.)Project Browser
2.)Shared/Project Parameters
3.)Object Styles
4.)Line Types/Styles/Patterns & Weights
5.)View Templates/Types & Filters
6.)Text & Dimension Styles
7.)Fill Regions
9.)other Settings & Content {Seed Files for standard drafting views (for code/project/partition info & details) / legends /system families /schedules}. A clean Model is a healthy Model.

Why is the Project Browser my number one? Well, work-flow is like safety at a construction site. In order to be safe for example one must tie-off  when at heights greater than 6', or like keeping the work area clean, and so on. In essence, Safety is about proper work-flows for any given task at the construction site, whether actual or virtual. So the PB is about keeping our View structure very organized to very easily & quickly browse-able to place the views onto Sheets & or just for coordination purposes. I've been fortunate enough to be like a fly on the wall (by having someone from within explaining the thought process) of a few major A/E Firm's strategy for their templates. After comparing & after having a very deep thought process of the work-flows each presented; I went with the firm that had a major influence for the creation of the USAEC Standards after having done a project with the required Template. The only Major difference from what I originally started with was that they had an extra layer of dissemination so incorporating it was more of a matter of adjusting the nomenclature. So it made me confident to see my Template "Theory" as very "Applicable"; or meaning others independently coming to the same conclusions as I ;)

There is nothing more key after the work-flow has been established than both types of Parameters: Shared & Project. This is where the cream rises to the top, where it's no-mans-land for the typical CAD Manager, lisp routines need not apply. This is why any firm getting their feet wet in BIM needs a "BIM Manager". To utilize & to produce Shared Parameters is to have been in the trenches & to anticipate the fires that may ascend to the forefront. If their is potential then you should plan for it.

Of course, Object Styles is what layering is to CAD, but better. I began with applying the N.C.S. line weights to what could apply. Then tested may instances of view types & scales to get the right balance. This not complete without having figured out all the Line Settings, & Fill Regions; which help set up your strategies for all your different View Settings that it's like having an "Ace in the Hole", because it can easily help bring life any project. Be prepared to waste plenty of paper plotting to test all those styles/theories till you find harmony. I create a Legend View consisting of all the graphic standards/styles to easily track all the settings.
As for text & dim styles, & also including fill regions having a good nomenclature strategy goes together like a hot peach-cobbler with ice-cream, or like peas & carrots. I like to use "T" to identify settings of  transparency & "O" for Opaque, or "D" for drafting & "M" for model at the end of the name as these settings/styles are important to compliment the graphics you're aiming to accomplish & or for its purpose without having to dig into the setting to analysis what is happening in the existing view. Plus, it distinguishes your standards from the ones imported by something other.

Other settings/content worth the effort my very well reflect upon the Firms culture & or project/business market types. In my case I have several Seed files (rvt files, since we are into many types of business markets) containing all sorts of system families, legends, & "Standards". It's best not to fill up the template with all sorts of system families/content, but I do try to have as much of the schedules present (especially types for QA/QC), & some I leave in the seed files to be transferred when needed like partition schedules for types to be placed under the detail info for example. Remember, having your final template between 5-10 MB is an ideal setup. It was easier when I was just concentrating on Healthcare, but now it's small retail/business, government D.O.D. branches, municipalities, clinics, office buildings, aviation & possibly hospitality real soon. So I have files for every type of system family that may apply to a business market along with their Standard Sheets used in identifying project information. So I've heard that with every new version of Revit you should created a new template or at least "Transfer" the setting/styles, but maybe it would be wiser for every 2 years take a deep look at your template strategies to see what's in the best interest from every vantage point. As Bruce Lee once masterfully said,
“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
I hope this helps you go down the right path to revamping or if starting the new venture into BIM. So to find your Revit Zen, or your Yin to your Yang. I've seen plenty of Blog posts of the topics listed, but not too many about presenting all the best coherent strategies (as seen through my eyes) for the project template. If I get requests to reveal more of my strategies in-depth, then I'll gladly do so as here I think that I've really condensed it here. It's been a long journey, but of which I've just now started to "Enter the Zen" after tackling the challenge nearly 2 years ago after seeing what I used previously really wasn't meshing well in the new environment. Remember, one simply can't transplant a template or parts of it into another culture without understanding its origin, it must mesh or find that creamy middle in your own template dynamic. I'd gladly share my template, but without my Shared parameters, but the one provided by the USAEC is what I would best recommend for anyone to start with considering the warnings I just mentioned. Giving mine away would be for most like trying to put a square peg into a round hole, so go, never be satisfied & be water my friend ;)
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Friday, March 29, 2013

The Cloud & Newforma

So we were looking at having A2K host our Newforma server based on its spec requirement. Well, it's way cheaper to host it locally like under $10K (one time fee), but if by A2K then you are looking at +$7K PER year. It's a no brainer ;)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

To Split, or not to Split the Model...

I've been dealing with large revit projects ever since I got thrown into the Ocean/ to the wolves/ my feet wet, etc ;) Recently I've been asked by many in my community of what are the best practices/rules & or workloads I use to splitting a model. There are many factors & circumstances that should play into whether to Split the model. My 1st rule is to complete as much of all the basic walls, windows, doors, openings, floors, roofs, & ceilings. Then if need be (+7 people in the model at an early stage) utilize as many worksets based on Regions & or construction/package type; ex. "West Wing-Interiors" or "West Wing-Walls" etc. [note: if lots of lag is happening when selecting/modifying objects early on when +7 users are in the model, then make sure your network is to snuff like having Gigabyte Switches, etc, strategies to eliminate bottle necks to your local network] I would be preferable holding off till you start CD's before the split. As for model size use the rule set in James V's book "M.A.R.A. (revit version here)" (he also gives good pointers to splitting the model in his book) as long as your x64 PC has sufficent RAM with(+12GB), then no real need, or till wait times to open a model utilizing specific worksets to open has meet its threshold (being, if it takes more than 5mins to open; check the warnings log too). At which point it's best to Split. Also, if it's a large bldg with many design options, then possibly have them as links (I've done the same for phasing) if they encompass a large enough area. A large model with many Design Options, you're either looking for trouble & or looking for Murphy. Good Journeys ;)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Exporting to AVI: The Quality vs File Size Dilemma

Till recently I had no real need to dive into the options of utilizing Codecs for an AVI file, whether it be for a walk-through or a sun study. This wasn't until Multi-Office collaboration came into play & pleasing the Project Principle in charge in a satellite office ;p (his 1st Revit Project; talk about getting your feet wet in Revit on a 1 million SF project), sending AVI files back and forth through a Corporate IM platform (we are currently testing Webex Connect in a trail phase, but have been hearing so much about Microsoft Lync that we're holding off on an official IM until we sort out our Cloud Infrastructure that will be finalized firm wide later this year, which I'm working on another post dedicated to this experience).

Encoding is a complex topic so let me provide the best site I could find to express the ends-n-outs of what I know because it's a ton of material to cover (I had a past in video encoding/converting for personal use; cough, cough, but I digress, lol). So this Link gives the overview, and these codecs below have been found to be the best codecs out there not only by me, but a sort of consensus by the masses; XVID (,), and H.264 (Shark007)(, or, which are a 2 step process involving Conversion of uncompressed data). So the easiest of the two (when dealing with possible settings) is to go with XVID. So is H.264, but depending on the two (divx/h.264), it either has too many possible settings to deal with and requires the added step of converting. In my weak attempt to find a codec version that will populate the Codec options before exporting I wasn't able to find something really "championed" by many, but if you want you can try finding something other than Shark007's Windows 8 Codec (x64). In general when exporting an "animation" in Revit with these codecs that I recommended have a limit. It's a max output resolution of 1290x1024 (Horizontal by Vertical , if either parameter passes this threshold usually your options decrease for Decompression types and or possible errors could occur.)

With XVID I recommend to use the default settings, or for any of the other provided codecs for that matter. So remember:
(image taken from a walk-through, not Solar Study) 1290 (horizontal max) x 1024 (vertical max), haven't played to see if it's interchangeable. I personally have always preferred the widescreen ratio.
 So this is what shows up after installing XVID, and SHARK007's x64 Codecs. If you're unaware the defaults in Revit are the 1st 3 listed and the last one listed.

When I tested a single day Solar Study in Hidden Line Mode as my sample from 7am-5pm in 30min intervals with 4frames/sec = ~10sec of video the file size was more than 5.5mb using "MS Video 1", and quality was very low at the highest setting; considering my history with Visualization tools. Then when Uncompressed it was just over 50mb. Finally when I used XVID the quality was as crisp as in the "view" seeing it live in Revit on your monitor at a file size nearing 0.5mb. When I used the Conversion option it was also an added 0.5mb compared to XVID when I played with the frame settings. Between Divx & H.264 conversions, H.264 wins.  When having both tools set to the highest mark Divx showed more pixelation & H.264 showing no degradation at all.

Hope this helps. Please comment on any other tools that populate the codec option (aka: Compressor) to encode the AVI file format using XVID/DIVX/H.264 codecs.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Into the BIM Future: The Cloud (aka:remote Data Center, aka: so long Revit Server)

It's semi-official, just waiting on the Final-Final projection numbers. PGAL, my employer, will be transitioning to The CLOUD that'll be managed by "Advance 2000". Many kudos to Chris & Will. It just so happens FKP, Cannon Design, HDR to name the few are also/have moved to the cloud, which is a better solution than Citrix, fewer headaches for one major reason.
What makes this move so appealing is the fact when you compare Apples to Apples (amount of bandwidth & how much you pay for it) the savings are through the Roof. For PGAL it amounts to ~50% of our IT Infrastucture of all of our Satellite Offices included. Now in our 3rd year projection (hardware replacements due to expired warrenties) we'll have 60% savings, then in the 6th year it would be 100% savings, then repeat :)
So our savings are going into tools for Productivity such as; Newforma, OpenAsset, Knowledge Architecture, Cisco's Webex Connect (firmwide IM) to name a few.
So what does moving to the cloud give us; Mobility, Accessibility, Connectivity, Productivity, Scalability to name a few things. Now with the M$ Surface Tablets (1st without a stripped down OS, but with a full version OS, aka: Windows 8) its like the missing link to full mobility with full productivity. Sorry, an iPad/Android tablet can only take you so far, and a typical Laptop has its Cons. A tablet with a full version OS has nothing but Pros when it comes to being mobile & in the field.
In the coming posts I'll be elaborating more of the benefits & how things "work" when utilizing the cloud solution (aka: the future) ;)

Friday, August 10, 2012

In search of the Holy Revit Grail: Ultimate Revit Template...WELL...close enough

In my hiatus from posting my unique BIM experiences (note: I don't like sharing my perspectives that are in any way similar to what other more popular Revit Bloggers post before me; "regurgitation" runs rampade on the WEB. I like being a Shepard, not a Sheep)  I've been all but. Directing BIM implementation, strategies, management, Project Coordination, etc for +5 offices for more than the past 2 years by myself rather than "by committee" of +5 offices (from my previous employment) has opened me up to even broader insight too much to really reflect a bit until now. Managing family life with 3 daughters (1.5, 3.75, & a 6 year old) & a management position is no easy task to squeeze an inch in of professional reflection time for the most part, L.O.L., but alas, here I am again.
    I wanted to share a little GEM for the ones' struggling because of coming too late to the BIM Party & or Unfortunate Luck of just now getting into the BIM scene. By the way...tell your Bosses they're +5 years too late & a dollar short no doubt ;p Any way to help the unfortunate ones if you go here you'll find Templates for all Disciplines. It's not perfect it does have a few holes/errors/omissions, but its "Core Strategy" for the BIM work-flow ranks up there with mine (from 2 years back ;). I'm putting my proverbial money where my proverbial mouth is and giving them some of my perspective. David Johnson is their point man if you'd like to give your 2 cents after reviewing the "living document" as they call it. I feel it "holds mustard" in making it into a Community Document to have a well balanced Template like the philosophies from people over at  or like Also, the Client Organization I've seen produce the best BIM Standards document is from Some people hold their IP (intellectual property) too close to their chest. How will this BIM world really progress if not by "sharing" (core religious beliefs). I'd gladly share mine...some day soon, but after I take it from a Modern Art Masterpiece (it's complicated) to a more astonishing Renaissance piece (in harmony). I take pride in my work ;)
    Being the "Lone Wolf" has had its gratification, and that's adding members to my "Wolf Pack". Seeing that "Intellectual Light Bulb" turn ON is just PRICELESS!; the So long to CAD (dumb lines) & HELLO NURSE! (smart objects) salute.
    I could never send enough thanks to Gregory Arkin over at It's always a pleasure when I get a chance to speak with him, over the phone. On the agenda...BIM Cloud Solutions. There's nothing better than listening to people with "Perspective" & like-mindedness. I could listen to him & Colin Cowherd from ESPN all day ;D