Okay, the first four years are always the fun ride...you never know what's gonna happen, and sometimes things don't always live up to your expectations. Working with Autodesk software has been like that - it takes a while for things to warm up and get going, as evidenced by the progression of applications like AutoCAD MEP.
So, in my earlier series of topics on the promise of BIM technology and the future, the 2011 release of Autodesk products brings us to the next phase...but are the programs fulfilling the promise of better, faster, more accurate, easier to use, etc? Let's start by taking a look at Revit MEP 2011.
First things first - the issue of conduit, cable tray and flat oval duct has been addressed by Autodesk. All of this items are defined by project specific type families, where fitting families can be added to a project, and used with a type. One nice feature I saw was how a conduit can be constrained to a cable tray - so if the cable tray moves, the conduit moves - very nice. No more using pipe and duct to respresent these objects, which will make coordination in Revit and Navisworks much clearer. So, this part of the promise is nearly complete - getting real world representations of objects into the hands of the Revit designer.
Second item up - panel schedules - these are customizable in Revit MEP 2011, which should stop some of the bickering about the look and feel of the documents. With the RDB Link add-in now part of the program, other database applications can be used to control the flow of data both ways - from an external table into Revit and back out again. There are also improvements to control items such as demand factors, so the designer can edit their behavior to get more accurate results.
Third item - a big one - is the "always on" properties palette, which allows instance property input during placement...very nice....although not everything is included, it's definitely a step in the right direction.
Fourth item - and the jury is still out on this one. Additional items have copy/monitor functionality such as light and plumbing fixtures, but I haven't seen anything on improving interoperability with an architect's ceiling grid element in a linked file - what I wanted was a horizontal constraint for a light referencing a linked grid. I didn't see this in the betas, but will check again when the shipping release comes out around the second week of April.
Fifth item - a new analysis display tool to show building analysis and space properties...haven't messed with this much yet, so as we get into updating our manuals, I'll try to get some additional information posted here.
So, how far does this go towards fullfilling the promise of a true BIM model? Well, it's not 100%, but it's not a baby step either. Just getting items 1-3 are enough to get me excited, especially since I've spent the past few months working as a BIM coordinator on a large medical project. I've heard all of the pros and cons, and am working up something for AU this year about the experience, but I'm even more convinced that Autodesk is going down the right path. Good job to Dave Pothier and the crew at Autodesk - I'm very pleased, and ready to move these guys forward...
Next up - The Promise Fulfilled - Part 2 AutoCAD MEP, and the new Promise - AutoCAD Plant3D...talk to you soon!
Later - David B.