Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Newforma and VEO - Where do we go from here

It all started on Monday with some vague reference to some interoperability and licensing of VEO for Newforma (even a shout out to Dave). People clapped and smiled, but no one really knew what to make of it, myself included. Newforma User Conference 2012 is over now and I have a more clear view.

Newforma and VEO have created something pretty great and after spending one hour with the new tools (not hands-on, but 1 on 1 with the managers) I think that the other BIM shoe is about to drop. One click publishing from Revit gets the model in Newforma with ease, links included. From there view creation, manipulation, and most importantly, "spinning the model", are all at your fingertips. Selection of the model by the parameters of your choice allow you to generate action items, RFIs, and a myriad of other familiar Newforma tools. Snap shots are stored as links to the 3d views complete with the item in question highlighted. You can even take existing issues in Newforma and tie them back to the VEO model.

All in all, what we have is a 3d model as up to date as you want it to be available to anyone on the team with Newforma. (rumor: perhaps to infoexchange participants as well) complete with actual project information tied to it.

I was told beforehand that we are still months away from market and that these aren't promises of new features, etc, etc. Even still, this is definitely something to pay attention to.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Navisworks 2013: Finally a Better Meeting

If you haven't used Navisworks 2013 yet, I recommend you do so today. I've finally had an opportunity to use it this week and I have to say that 3 "minor" changes have made all the difference in the world. The shot below should tell all you Navisworkers and Clash Detectives out there all you need to know.

Hint: Columns 3 and 4
See it? Actual references for the clash location based on the structural grids lines, with offsets! Even more useful than that, however, is the Level the clash is on has been identified. Want to tackle problems a floor at a time? Sort by Level. No more isolated collisions tests by level, no more breaking the model up by floors to get separate data, no more search sets finding levels. These two changes alone are enough to make most of us out there very happy, but wait, there's more!

Mmmmmmm, greeeeen.
Column Grid Lines. Let that sink in. And no, they are not some wonky line-based family from Revit. Navisworks 2013 finds the grid lines in any of the Revit exports you have (in this case, I am using the structural model). They can be viewed by level, or automatically show you the level above, below, or both, relative to your current location in the model.

I speak from experience here. Being a user since version 2009, I can tell you these changes are most welcome and make communication that much easier with all parties involved. The setup time for a meeting has been drastically reduced which means I can spend more time actually identifying problem areas and less time on workarounds.

Thank you, Navisworks 2013, for making it easier to run a meeting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Open Revit Standards

As has been stated so far (BurkeLight, Johnson), the need for standards is so very real, but so nearly unattainable. While there are decent efforts in the works and most companies doing it on their own, they tend to bog down very quickly and get lost in the weeds.

David Fano at CASE and others have come up with a rather unique, new world, approach to standardization in the industry. The Open Revit Standards projects is starting in earnest. Follow the conversation here for more information.

I'm sure this will get very interesting.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What architects do...

What do we do? Are we master builders, draftsmen, scheme designers, conveyors of intent, or construction documentors? The biggest problem with BIM is that it pulls back the curtain on the biggest problem with architecture. 

What do we do?

The expectation from the perspective of owners is that we develop lego-style documents on how to put our building together. That part is our fault. That we even called them "construction documents" was the first mistake. We all know that contractors and their subs do not rely on our drawings to assemble the building. They reference it for things like material patterns and interior wall layouts (among other things), but it's really a C.Y.A. doc to show how much of the building we have thought through so we can explain to the judges later that indeed we did show how to 'waterproof the window'.

Enter BIM
Hi, eveybody!

"That data is there, right? All of it? Everywhere?"
"Well, no"
"But I see it there on your paper"
"Well, yes, but <software/process nuance> and so we just draft it there"
"Oh, what do I pay you for again?"

This is playing out across the industry everyday. We have BIMEPs to describe what it is we include in our modeling effort (or more realistically, what we don't), but it still begs the question "Why don't we take more risk?" Contractors and owners are teaming up to push expectations through the roof and a lot of those land at our feet in the name of "life cycle". Without first understanding what they do pay us for, it's impossible to explain what they don't pay us for. We should be asking for more money and more time to help achieve the goals for the project set up by the owner. Not because we "do Revit" but because that kind of info is most definitely "not in scope".

IPD (or something similar) can't come soon enough, because right now, we all sound like a bunch of nay-sayers rather than team players.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Creating Experts

Back in 2003, Revit would change the way architects thought about process. The excitement I felt all those years ago would spread like a virus and all who came in contact with its greatness would be swept up in the coming apocalypse. There was just so many ground breaking, sea changing capabilities in this software; literally doing in 2 minutes what used to take 2 weeks. How could this not catch on?

A decade later and the question I have is this:

How do you make someone an expert?

Pictured: Shared Parameters
Or put a little differently. What makes someone an expert? 

Why doesn't everyone understand how Phases work? Or what Schedule Keys are? Or even that there are such a thing as View Templates?  I think the answer is basically experience, but is there something else? Training is great, mentoring is required, evangelizing is in my job description, but I can't make the horse drink (a Texas proverb, apologies). Maybe it's something else entirely. Gamma radiation exposure, anyone?

How are you fostering individual growth in your company? Are your experts treated differently by management? Incentives? Accountability? Or are we relegated to the 'CAD Manager/Expert' business model? Sitting in the darkened cave in the back of the office, wishing everyone would just 'get it'.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Revit 2013 - Sweet View Templates

Last year, I had a conversation extolling the virtues of view templates and their basic underutilization. Revit 2013, as most of you, has finally taken the greatness of the view template and made it easy to implement and maintain. For the first time, we can predispose a particular view type to a certain view template upon its creation and even have it linked dynamically to said template for future modification.

Template-y goodness, now with more dependents

Although it seems to be quite a small step, in reality, this is a giant leap in the right direction. Graphics and drawings are still very important to many project leads and having global control over every view in the project with such ease could finally put to bed the idea that document control is confusing in Revit. No more re-applying templates by view or hoping no one changed the Default View Template on your views (you see, Revit now categorizes your views automatically by View Type).

Soon, it will track you via GPS - coming 2015

Now there is no reason we shouldn't know what's going on in our views and what controls are in place. This makes me very happy.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Revit Architecture Family Categories - For Shame!

In Revit Architecture 2012, I've noticed something recently in collaborating with MEP engineers about the families we use and the function behind why we use them. Specifically, I am speaking about ceiling diffusers. There are other families that are just as guilty of what I am about to share, but I will focus on them for this article.
We put the FUN in Dysfunctional
We, as architects, have been happily grabbing the default families from the content provided by Autodesk without a doubt that they would function as intended. The problem is that the diffusers in the Revit Architecture content belong to the category Mechanical Equipment while the exact same family in Revit MEP belongs to the category Air Terminal. One particular call from one of my engineers got me thinking about the duplication effort it would take to coordinate something as simple as ceiling diffusers. Let me 'splain.

Architects want to put the diffusers precisely where they look the 'best' in his/her ceiling. The engineer wants the diffuser to be part of a complete system for his analysis and specification purposes, location is less of a concern. In a perfect world, the architect would place the diffuser and the engineer would copy/monitor it and swap it out for a more 'complete' version of it that meets his needs in his model.

Try doing that with families from 2 different categories.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Clarity for Revit Server

It's been a while, but I have a really good excuse! I've traveled the world, told tales, explored, and ate well. From the shores of western Ireland, to the South of France and Monaco and onward to the beaches of Dubai, I have now returned. What a trip, indeed, but that is for another post perhaps.

Seriously, this is what aquariums look like in Monaco.
Upon my return, I find my new love, Clarity, has finally been made public. LINK
Built upon the Autodesk® Revit® Server platform, IMAGINiT Clarity enables better collaboration between Revit users (both inside and outside an organization). By using IMAGINiT Clarity you can control your Revit Server setup, automate repetitive tasks, and provide valuable data to non-Revit users – all with simple setup, easy administration and secure connectivity.
We've been toying around with this tool for the past couple months and I have to say, it is the bomb. Almost everything that needs fixing in Revit Server, Clarity addresses.  Permissions, task automation, web access, VPN are all there. Head on over to their press release and check'em out. Tell Beau I said hi!

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Non-BIM Hobby

We all do something else, hopefully, outside of work that makes us happy. Maybe it's kickball or something. The point is, technology, architecture, BIM, et al, are great, but we need to step away now and then.

Seriously, who doesn't love kickball?!
Some background; I've played music most of my life. Starting with the saxophone in 6th grade, my love for playing music has only grown. I picked up the guitar for the first time in 1995 and haven't put it down. More recently, however, I've been exploring new musical avenues. Last April, I decided I was going to learn the banjo.

Every Thursday night since then, I've been playing in a 'jam' group with guys from around DFW. I believe the best way to learn is to play with other people as often as you can. Last night a few of us got together to play an 'open mic night' where one of the guys work and the rest is history.

We'll probably be famous soon...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Apply Dependent Views

You spend so much time getting your dependent views set just like you like them. You get the cropping regions all set, with just the right amount of overlap, and then you remember this is a 30 foot tower.
 queue dramatic music
Well don't fret, little buddy. You can take all that hard work and apply it to every other floor in seconds! Just right-click on the parent view of the set you just finished and choose "Apply Dependent Views", choose the views you want to apply that set to, and you're all set. This is yet another great example of "do it once, do it right". You will have to take some time and rename the new dependent views, but the hard work is done. Apply your view template for that type of view, and get back to work!

The views you apply your set to must be the same scale as the original.

I tell my employees all the time that if you find yourself doing something menial repetitively, there is another way to do it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back to Reality

What a great break! 12 days of Christmas, quite literally, and it absolutely flew by. Great time with the fam, but unfortunately, it's back to real life. While I was away, I played, I thought, I slept (a lot), and I contemplated where we go next as an industry. Many changes are coming our way to be sure, and if Ray Kurzweil is to be believed, the Singularity is truly near.

Your next project

Technology is changing so rapidly now that I feel like it's a full time job just playing catch-up. With tools like Revit Server coming into maturity, enterprise cloud solutions for email, documents, and storage, and teams growing ever more complex and dispersed, our life is about to change big time.

I though about the challenges we face this year and created a very short list. Some of these aren't new technologies, but on the spectrum of 'Impossible' to 'Required', these just moved into the 'Practical' realm.

  1. Security: Central files based in the cloud (or at least, outside access given to consultants).
  2. Preparedness: Owners finally realizing BIM's potential and turning the screws on those who aren't ready.
  3. Communication: Central files that aren't central files at all, but a data-hub of sorts.
  4. Process: Simulation (energy, logistics, personnel throughput) for high-performance design will become commonplace.
  5. Cost: Subscription-based cloud tools and services (think rendering).

If we make it that far.

This list is by no means complete, but just a series of thoughts I had whilst sipping Egg Nog at my 11am breakfast. Here's to a great 2012!