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Tuesday
Aug092011

WHY ARE #REVIT FAMILIES SO DYSFUNCTIONAL?

This has been an issue in the use of Revit for quite some time.  I and others have questions like:

  • Why is there a category for Nurse Call Devices but not for numerous other needs?
  • Why can we not control what categories or instances we need to be cuttable?
  • Why do even cuttable categories work differently in various categories?
  • Why so much variation between the family categories in their ability to display?
  • Why does sharing a family change the rules of how it displays?
  • How are we to even know all the different results possible from each category?
  • Why does it need to be impossible to utilize the categories given to successfully complete a complex project?

This all comes together to ask the biggest and most crucial question:

If we are using BIM to create a virtual building to better the process and understanding of the components of the building, then why can we not trust the representation depicted in the families based on the preconceived determination of how different families are shown. Should they not all be a true section of the components wherever you are cutting them?  If not, then the process is faulty and prone to error.

So, lets take this issue to an example of work I am doing for a current project. We have terracotta and other materials that we want to panelize on the building but we want to see the actual cut through the material. If I have a thicker piece of terracotta than the others, as shown in the example below, then in most cases that piece will mask the piece being cut. These are all nested pieces of terracotta placed into the panel family of the same category so that they can be scheduled as their pieces as well as the whole panel.

So with this piece, lets look at some various categories that could be used for this.

Click Image to Open PDF

Here is a closer look at the two categories that are the closest to the true need of being truely cuttable.

The results are that the only category that can be trusted (other than some structural categories) is columns as long as you uncheck the show precut in plan option.  Generic model works until you share the nested components and a non-cuttable family like furniture will almost work when you share the nested components as it will show a representation of the actual nested component but will not actually cut it. So, because of how Revit is designed it leaves you between a rock and a hard place with the decision of what odd category should be used to represent what you need.

Anyone else have any thoughts or suggestions?

Friday
May132011

Friday Fun - Video

Serious current issue but a creative and fun video.

My Water's On Fire Tonight

 

Tuesday
Apr052011

What's the Use Case? For Revit Users and Autodesk... Part 2

So, how does one explain a use case?  One needs to explain what does not work or what is needed to enhance current workflows, what needs to change or be added and how this will benefit teams.  From what I hear, the "our employees waste X amount of time each week because of Y" is one of the best benefit explinations since X always = $.  Screen caps and mockups will also speak more for what you need than any words could ever explain.

So here is one use case that I had, let me know what you think:

Rooms NEED to be seen and operate in 3D as they do in 2D plans.

There are many times where the users I support spend a tremendous amount of time duplicating work so that "fake" rooms can be seen in a 3D view since the actual room cannot be seen in 3D.  This duplication work is done each time the plan changes creating more time to follow the changes with the "fake" elements than it takes to make the change to the room in the first place.  Some of the areas of the design process that would benefit from 3D room visibility include planning, conceptual design, visualizing space use and verifying that the room volume is correct.  Don Rudder at Revit .NET Development even created an API to deal with the issues we all face due to the inability to see 3D rooms.  Part 1 & Part 2 His API creates masses based on rooms which is what we have done for a long time manually.

Use Case 1:

There are many times that we need to see just the program in 3D.  Walls obscure the actual focus of what is important in the planning stages, the program and adjacencies.  If we could see the rooms in 3D and color them like we do in 2D plans, then we would not need to duplicate work and coordinate all of the rooms with masses in the same location.  This would reduce the duplication work in the conceptual phases of a project and make the teams much more efficient.  I would figure that about a half day goes into coordinating the masses to match the rooms before each presentation (internally or externally). Probably two meetings per month over six months would be 6 wasted days of time.

Use Case 2:

During the schematic design and design development phases, we are asked by the clients, management and the designers to show the rooms in 3D.  Since Revit cannot show or color a room in 3D, we are forced to create one of two very time consuming work-arounds:

  1. Fake Ceiling: A separate ceiling that is colored based on the program and slightly transparent so that one can see the room beyond.  This allows one to see the program or departments and the spaces as the project develops.
  2. In-Place Masses: Since one may have already created in-place Masses to show the program, this could be continued throught the project. Again, the coordination can be quite time consuming.

This is a huge time sink for the project teams when they could be doing more to advance the project and make it more efficient.  Another option would be to just not do it in Revit... gasp! I know, I know, I am a big supporter of one place, one software is more efficient workflow but this may actually be faster if done in an Adobe product.  A shame, since for all intents and purposes the room object is 3D but you just cannot use it like you do in plan.

Use Case 3:  Energy Analysis

It is critical for energy analysis to have the rooms fill the space.  To do this currently, we need to cut numerous sections which is prone to error and not as easy to see all conditions.  The ability to see Rooms in 3D would help make sure that our models are ready for analysis.  Harlan Brumm (Autodesk) had a session at Autodesk University 2010 called Fixing Bad BIM for Energy Analysis and he shows how one must cut numerous sections to see how the room fills the space.  If rooms were able to be shown in 3D, this would not be so difficult.  Here is an image from his handout:

 

By nailing down the basics of what does not work and how a new workflow would benefit different aspects of the design process, it is easier to make a case within the management at Autodesk to put some effort into it.  If I were to just say, "It is rediculous that one cannot see a room in 3D, it is a failure in the use of the software."  That would not provide much information for them to go by.  

Check back for Part 3... coming soon!

Thursday
Mar242011

Watch out when quickly purging Revit views #FAIL

Chris over at RevitDialog had a post on quickly purging unused views.  Each of us find ways to speed up what could be a very mundane task.  One word of caution with this method:

If you create a schedule or organize the project browser to display your unused views, there is a flaw that comes into play with the parent/child views (duplicate as dependant).  Even if the child is on a sheet the parent shows up as an unplaced view but if you purge (delete) the view, then you also delete the child view possibly without even knowing it.

Here are some images on the setup for your project browser:  

The most important is to filter by the Sheet Number (Equal to <None>) and Sheet Name (Equal to <None>)  Similar setup for doing this with a schedule. 

Here is the issue that one will face:

Same issue with the schedule:   

Seems like an oversight by Autodesk but something to be very cautious of.  Don't know if there is some way for a combined reference to be written to the parent view by the coders.

Tuesday
Mar152011

Too Familiar with Revit

Have you found that you are too familiar with Revit now to see all the little things holding you back in the program?

You have done it this way for years now, know the work arounds and the limitations. To quote the 6 Phases of Revit, "You "know" what Revit "likes", and what it "dislikes"" After Rod Howarth's post with the Revit API tic-tac-toe, I have started working on making a Revit Family version in the evenings. I am not new to formula driven families so I thought this would be fun. Click here for a 42 page formula guide.

Instead, this challenge brought to light a whole host of deficiencies because I was trying to design the simplest interface for the game. The key to a complex program is a simple UI and that is the same with a family. Give a user a complex door family with 50 parameters that they can change and they will be crippled not knowing even where to start. Simplify that down to 6 to 12 well named and understandable parameters and they will use it without question.

So, I would start with an input parameter, chose an X or O for a particular box. The first thought would be to just use a text parameter and fill in X or O for each grid box.

Problem - One cannot drive a yes/no parameter from a text parameter and one needs two yes/no parameters to drive the visibility of the X and O. In fact, I do not believe one can drive any parameter type from text and I don't know how it got into our AU handout. This is a huge deficiency that I have come to overlook in Revit. When setting up files for others, if they need text in their schedule but also need to drive visibility, I create two parameters. We find this issue a lot, for example one has a piece of equipment with an optional piece attached to it. You want to catch it in the schedule but you don't want the endless yes, no, no, yes, no, no, no in the schedule. So one has their yes/no parameter to control visibility and ease of selection but then another text parameter that fills out for the schedule. If(YesNo Param, "X", "") I have even done this with bullets on some projects and not the X. While you may say, "see it works fine by just clicking on the yes/no" but the bigger issue comes when red lines are being picked up on a project. You now need two schedules, one with the yes/no parameters and another with the text parameters that goes on a sheet. My wish, is that in the appearance section of the schedule, one would be able to specify what a yes displays as and what a no displays as AND/OR that you could use text parameters in formulas. In the case of tic-tac-toe, it is more than just the one to one relationship between a text and Yes/No parameter since in a perfect world the text parameter would be able to influence two or more Yes/No parameters.

I have numerous other examples for use cases of text parameters influencing other parameters if someone from Autodesk needs examples of how we would actually use access to the text parameters in formulas. It seems like a huge overlook since even the software that the programmers are using typically can utilize text inputs and numerous other programs. There are other formula deficiencies but this post ended up longer than expected so I will cover it next week.

If you have a use case, send me an email or leave a comment.  I will compile a list/report and send it on to Autodesk to see if there is something we can do about this.