Xrev API Tools: Increase Productivity!



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Xrev Transmit - Version 2 - Quick rundown!

New Features:

  • Matrix Transmittals
  • Report Designer
  • Bulk Selection (Shift & Control Click)
  • Bulk Editing
  • New Naming Rules
  • Better Validation of Settings
  • Autodetect paper size option for PDF
See how much time you can save issuing drawings from Autodesk Revit in PDF, DWG, DGN, RVT, DXF, DWF, DWFx, and as many physical printers as you like, all at the same time!  Then have it produce a transmittal for you automatically, or publish the files directly to Aconex to instantly share them with your team!!

New Instructional videos coming soon...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Are you getting the most from Revit in your office?

Optimizing your Revit implementation can be the difference in a success or failure for your business.

  • Do you find yourself having to change things every time, for each project, to have your drawings look reasonable? (object styles, by element overrides, line weights, etc.)
  • Do you have to always search through old projects to copy/paste work you've done before?
  • Do you find each project looks a little different in terms of graphical consistency?
  • Is your family symbology inconsistent across your library? (EG: All your windows have the same coarse/medium/fine display and the same symbology for sliding panes etc)
  • Are you recreating legends and schedules from scratch for each new project?
  • Do your projects quickly become slow, performance wize?
If you answered YES to most of these then there is a good chance your implementation is not optimized.  Having to change all these things with each new project can greatly effect your design and documentation efficiency, and be the difference to making a profit or a loss!

Over the past 12 years I've completed Revit implementations that are customized for each individual office or projects needs.  I've completed templates for Architectural, MEP, Structural, Interior Design, Landscape, Multi-Discipline & Hospitals.  They all have commonalities, but they must all be tailored and optimized each time.

Your template should have:
  • View Templates for every standard view that you typically create, resolved to the point that you don't have to change it graphically ever...  Just apply your tags, symbols, dimensions and text notes.
  • Extensive use of Filters.  By category or even sub-category is not a sufficient way to achieve the graphics requirements of most offices.  Filters can be used to pick up commonalities of elements to control them graphically.  Try to never use by element overrides!
  • All your standard views setup.  This includes the typical number of levels for the bulk of your projects.  Remember you can always delete things you don't need.
  • Levels & Grids pre-placed.  I typically have 3 levels in my templates
  • All your standard sheets setup, with views laid out on them.
  • All your standard schedules laid out.  Have schedules for documentation already laid out on your sheets, but also have schedules created purely for editing data in bulk (working schedules)!
  • All your standard notes & legends setup and placed on the appropriate sheets
  • Views for BIM, EG: Navisworks or IFC export views
  • Guide Grids for your various paper sizes
  • Options to switch between paper sizes and have all your symbology update accordingly.  (EG: At A3 you may reduce the size of your section/elevation markers)
  • The most common families you use (2D & 3D).  Don't load too much or all you'll forever be updating it.  Only include families that are in 90% of your projects.
  • Version Tracking.  This will help you identify what varies between your current template and your project.  Remember your template should be always evolving!
  • Standard materials correctly setup
  • All your Fill Patterns
  • All your Line Styles
  • All your commonly used tags loaded
  • Colour Fill's setup - Too often do I see people using colour fills to only colour fill some rooms for example.  As a result they are forever changing the colour fill scheme to exclude certain things.  DON'T do this.  Use a filter instead!  Then you won't have to change it every again.
  • All your systems setup (Pipe, Duct., etc)
  • All your commonly used system family types (Walls, Pipes/Ducts/Conduits with correct routing, Floors, Roofs, Curtain Walls, Sweeps/Reveals, Ceilings, Stairs, Railings, Ramps etc.).  Don't include all of them, store all of them in a special project so you can copy/paste them in.  Only include types that you use in 80% of your projects in your template.
  • Text Styles, Dimension Styles, Spot Elevation Styles, Spot Coordinate Styles with names that are descriptive of their use, rather than their appearance...
  • All your Phases/Phase Filters/Graphic Overrides setup and mastered
  • Mark Number start values setup correctly, chain options in sketches set appropriately, the default open view set appropriately
  • Your users adequately trained in the use of the template so they take advantage of all of its features!!
Your library should have:
  • Some sort of vetting of content, so it can be identified what is "company standard"
  • A naming convention and structure that makes content easy to find, both in the library and once loaded into your project.
  • Consistency of representation and functionality for elements of similar type.  (EG: all your pipe fittings have the same parameters and functionality, or all your sliding windows etc.)
  • As much meta data/parameter information populated as possible to reduce the need to fill this out every time in every project
  • Type Catalogs wherever there is more than 2 types, to limit the loading of unneeded types
If you'd like some help optimizing your Revit Systems please don't hesitate to contact me at support@xrev.com.au 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Using Temperature Parameters in Formulas

Yesterday I was working on some MEP families and thought I'd do some tricks to generate some formulas to match a manufacturers capacity tables for Total Cooling Capacity & Sensible Cooling Capacity.

Being metric, the Dry Bulb & Wet Bulb Inside temperature parameters I had setup were in degrees Celsius.  The Capacity parameters are in kW's so in order to use the temperature parameters in the formula I would need to remove the units.

Easy, I thought.  I'll just divide by 1°C and that will give me a unitless value.

Unfortunately Revit decided to throw a curve ball at me.  Internally all its calculations are done in Kelvin.  For example, if I use my DB in a formula and its value is set to 20, Revit actually uses 293.15.  So then I thought I'd divide by 1 K... No luck!

After trying for 3 hours I eventually gave up and went to bed.

With a fresh head I did some playing around in Excel to try and figure out how Revit was getting the results it was and eventually I came to this:
Unitless Temperature Parameter

So essentially what Revit is doing here is:

(293.15-272.15) / (546.3/546.3) or 20/1 = 20

Now hopefully someone else doesn't have to go insane trying to figure this out!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A guide to employing a BIM Manager or Revit Manager

If you are looking to really accelerate in the changing world of Building Information Modelling (BIM), you are going to need a dedicated BIM Manager (aka VDC Manager, Revit Manager, BIM Strategist etc).  There is certainly no shortage of people sporting this still relatively new job title.

So if someone has been a BIM Manager in the past, does that mean they are qualified?  

Unfortunately, not necessarily.  In many firms the title of BIM Manager is often given to the existing BIM technician who knows the most about BIM at the time.  That's certainly not a bad thing.  But depending on their environment and their strive to learn new things and expore it may not necessarily qualify them to be 'your' BIM Manager.  Many users with this title still only perform their same technician roles.

As such I strongly recommend evaluating their experience and skills practically.  How do you do that?  

There are online test systems available for BIM such as Knowledge Smart.  With these systems you can customize the test to suit the types of BIM tasks you'll require and then see how they fair.  There are also the general aptitude tests that evaluate how well a user picks up new information, performs under pressure etc.  However, if you are relatively new to BIM as well, you may not know what you need.

It is very easy for someone to throw around buzz acronyms like BEP (BIM Execution Plans), IFC (Industry Foundation Classes), COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange) and appear to know their stuff!  But talking the talk and walking the walk are very different.

A BIM Manager needs to know a lot of different technologies, not just theoretically but practically.  Specifically the methodology and best practices of information exchange, file formats, optimization, collaboration and the required information.  Also depending on your company your BIM Manager may have different roles (lists may not be exhaustive of roles):

Contractor BIM Manager:

  • Developing BEP
  • Performing Clash Detection & Coordination Meetings
  • Performing 4D Sequences/videos to win Bids as well as for construction and working with the programmers (typically in Primavera)
  • May involve modelling temporary works, scaffolding, formwork, traffic, cranes - or you may simply just coordinate someone else to do it for you
  • Ensuring Design Consultant, and sub-contractor models are supplied at regular intervals and dictating the formats to be supplied in.
  • Extracting quantities/take offs from the models
Design Consultant BIM Manager:
  • Briefing the client as to the BIM options & establishing to what the BIM deliverables are
  • Developing BEP
  • Ensuring adherence to BEP and maintaining BEP as amendments are required
  • Performing Clash Detection & Coordination Meetings
  • Developing & Managing Content Creation to the required standard
  • Setting up Project Models
  • Producing IFC or Navisworks/VEO files for coordination
On larger projects you may have different hierarchies of BIM Managers.  EG: Someone who oversees everything to maintain consistency and perform the collaboration tasks.  Then people that are more hands on concentrating on the authoring of the models to the appropriate standards.

Manufacturer/Supplier BIM Manager:
  • Development or delegation of BIM Content for customers
  • Managing feedback from customers and revising content as required
  • Ensuring the embedded information is correct and the content accurate represents the products

So to know if someone is right for these roles, I like to ask more specific questions to try and establish whether they have real knowledge or are just going on some things they've read online:
  • How would you go about setting up a BEP?
  • What would it include?
  • If you've been involved with BEP's in the past, what issues have you faced?
If you are a design consultancy, whether it be architectural, structural or MEP, I'd want my BIM Manager to also know the practicalities of the design software.  Which in many cases these days is Autodesk Revit.  One of the best skills to have in Autodesk Revit is great content creation/family creation skills.  I find that if a user knows how to make a good quality family and has worked on a decent variety of projects at different stages, they are going to make a good Revit Manager at least!  As such, testing their content creation skills is a must!  In my book if they know that they are half way there...

I hope some find this a useful reference for either finding the right person for their company.

If you need any help evaluating candidates feel free to drop me a line.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Why consider me for your next Revit/BIM project?

I had someone tell me the other day that I was not being considered for a role as they thought I wan't qualified enough as a BIM expert... 

As such I thought I'd write a quick post outlining a brief summary of my BIM experience to avoid this occurring again.
  1. I'm a Graduate Architect - I haven't registered as I've personally had no need for the additional qualification in the roles I've been completing
  2. I've been using Revit since 2001 (12 years) - one of the first in Australia
  3. I've developed Revit for Asset Management and Facilities Management for major Petroleum Retail Giants
  4. I've completed hundreds of full Revit projects!
  5. I've completed 7 projects where I've gone from Revit direct to fabrication (laser cutting from the model) as well as producing shop drawings directly saving money in bringing in extra trades and avoiding any remodelling steps.
  6. I assisted in developing the BIM-MEPaus Standards for MEP Engineers & Contractors throughout Australia, creating a lot of the generic content.
  7. I consult frequently to multiple Architectural, Structural & MEP firms to develop their Revit and BIM Standards and generally assist them win more work by allowing them to offer more than their competitors by utilising BIM.
  8. I assisted in developing the Australia & New Zealand Revit Standards (ANZRS)
  9. I wrote BIM Implementation Plans, BIM Execution Plan Templates and facilitated meetings to deploy BIM at a Tier 1 Contractor's, back in 2007 when others were just starting to hear about BIM.
  10. I completed clash detection modelling and clash reports, 4D Sequencing in Navisworks for numerous projects for many Tier 1 Contractors.    This included connecting into MS Project & Primavera schedules.
  11. I assisted a Tier 1 Contractor on mining projects and their technician was so impressed they asked me in to train their team and push BIM in their offices
  12. I've worked on major health care projects.  I was originally contracted for 3 weeks to perform a task that had previously been completed by a major reseller and Autodesk, the team was so happy with my results they contracted my services for a further 12 months!
  13. I've worked on projects with 1:1 modelling requirements through to projects worth $7B in the UAE which many thought were impossible to build/document.
  14. I worked with the Landscape Architect on another very large health care project to develop Revit Standards and assist with modelling for Revit Landscaping.
  15. I've modelled fuel systems for Diesel Generator Systems for a very large health care project.
  16. I've now provided services for Interior Design, Architecture, Landscape, Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Seismic, Fuel, Hydraulic, Fire, Traffic, Civil modelling & coordination
  17. As part of my role at Cadway (6 years) I was responsible for exploring new technologies, filtering through the marketing fluff, testing and identifying what was worth implementing and what wasn't.  Then finally implementing the technologies.
  18. I performed a IT System Administrator role, so I'm across many IT systems such as Citrix, Anti-virus, Exchange Servers, Backup systems, Private Clouds etc.
  19. I have experience and resources to customise Revit and develop tools to expedite and improve quality/efficiency of Projects in Revit.
  20. I've spoken at many international Revit/BIM Conferences & Events with excellent feedback
  21. My Revit Family Creation skills are second to none - I've spent 4 years creating highly efficient and smart content for Manufacturers
  22. I've worked on just about every typology of project you can think of.  Including: Multi-Res, Masterplanning, Health Care, Mining, Defence, Retail, Mixed Use, Institutional, Education, Transport, Art, Interior, Landscape, High Rise, Commercial.
Of course my CV goes into this in a lot more detail.  But hopefully this gives you the confidence that I know what I'm doing...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tag all with shared nested families

The other week I came across an issue on a project where we were required to tag all FF&E in the plans/elevations.

As these elements were of numerous family categories, the multi-category tag seemed like the correct choice.  We also wanted to be somewhat selective about what elements were actually tagged.  Due to the large number of repetition and relative unpredictability of groups we used some complex families for each room fit-out which actually included every family nested into it, with some parametrics to adjust for varying room sizes.

Unfortunately, if you just select the host family and choose tag all it does not tag the nested sub-families.  No one wanted to go through the process of Control selecting all the invidiual families as that would have taken forever.  So I suggested creating a schedule.

By creating a multi-category schedule sorted by Family & Type and filtered for elements that I don't want to tag,

  • I could then select the elements in the schedule, 
  • then switch back to the view I want to tag in and 
  • choose tag all (using current selection).  This way I was able to quickly select all the nested families in a matter of seconds.  Revit is smart enough to automatically filter by what is actually visible in the current view.

PS.  I had a "DOH!" moment on the tag all functionality when doing some of this, I didn't realise you could tag all using multi-category tags, I thought tag all was only for by category...!  I think Autodesk should modify this dialog so it doesn't just show tags you have loaded, but instead shows all potential categories, including multi-category and then against the ones without tags show greyed out with the option to load a tag.  This way others won't make the same mistake, or am I the only one that did this?  It's amazing how you can be using a product for 12 years and still find something new occasionally...

Autodesk also need to add the ability to "Keynote All" in this dialog.