Sunday, November 21, 2010

AU Virtual - Get ready for a whole new experience!

For the first time, I'm participating in AU Virtual, an online version of Autodesk University. Spent a little time cruising the site tonight - all I can say is, wow...the slick interface, dashboard, and ease of use blew me if I can just get my classes to live up to the professional level of the site (ugh...none of my usual jokes will fly on this...)

The lobby is slick on the level of detail - here's an early preview (umm, yes, I'm asking for permission - but I'm also promoting the site - ok?) - when you're ready to hit a class, join a chat or register, just pick a tool on the dashboard at the bottom of the screen. You can also navigate the lobby to visit keynotes, lounges, etc.

Only a week to go - see you in Vegas!

And have a happy Thanksgiving this week!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Plumbing fixture connections...who hates this?

Okay, I've heard enough - plumbers, and plumbing designers, ya'll are the crankiest people I've ever met. We know - you can draw a line faster, it's all figured out in the field, the program doesn't work, yada-yada...

So what does the plumber really need (besides a belt)? Rough in connections! He doesn't need connections on the bottom of a sink, or on the side of a urinal - all of that really does get worked out in the how do you help these guys get into BIM?

There are two big things:

1 - Change the location of the connections to inside the wall (thank you Melania Sibley at Enfinity Engineering in Nashville, TN). She had a sink that was giving her fits - so we made a new family. All of the connectors sit 2" inside the wall. They are controlled by vertical and horizontal work planes - the water connections can be 4" or 8" apart, you pick - and the waste connection, centered, can be moved up and down vertically in the wall to the stub-out location. this maintains the system - and eliminates the need to draw out the p-trap, trap primer (call these out in a shared parameter for scheduling).

2 - Check the fitting families - for annotation scale sizes, most fittings that show a tick have a "Tick Size" parameter - check the default, it's a formula - change the scale factor to something smaller if needed (i.e. 0.4 to 0.2) and see if it makes you symbols look better. Do the same thing with the ride drop symbol scale - and the drawings will look better! (BTW - I posted this tip earlier, but we still had people asking, so here's an image)

You now have my permission to whip your plumbers into shape...and get them BIM'ing...

See you at AU!

David B.

Content, Content, who's got the content?

Okay, so I've been here a month, and one of the first tasks I've taken on is getting as much relevant Revit content as possible as it pertains to MEP and what we do...and man, it's been interesting. In my Revit MEP Tips class, I talk (briefly) about leveraging the Internet to go out and find what you need. I found a few things:

1 - Manufacturers for the most part are still lagging behind, especially in the industrial and process equipment sectors. Most of what I found was either a) overmodeled or b) non-existent. There are some manufacturers that are really ahead of the game - I've talked about them in the past (i.e. Victaulic, nicely done - Bell and Gossett - awesome, but got to consolidate a little).

There are two aggregators I want to give a shout out to - CADWorks, where my buddy Bernie Duncan (formerly with Autodesk) landed. He's got the piping library I need - so we're moving forward towards purchasing his product. He's also got a really nice library control front-end, so it'll be interesting to see how and if we implement this across the board. Check it out - - they'll have a booth at AU this year.

Another one that we used to sell (or tried to) is the SmartBIM library ( Lots of good content, some of the more random pieces - I really like the space portion, where you can download whole rooms. I have hard time justifying paying an annual subscription for this unless they're actually helping us produce content that can't be found anywhere else - but they at least have the foundational pieces I'd be interested in using.

As always, you can find tons on Seek ( but it needs to have its categories expanded. The quick look is a bit too generic, and the front end is starting to get dated. Better search capabilities and results would really be helpful.

2 - I went ahead and made a few families for our water treatment team as a way to prove concept (added a mud valve from scratch, used some ACAD MEP parts to temporarily get me a representative part for Revit, and made a UV Unit with just connection points and engineering parameters). Each one of these types required a different approach, so keeping it simple is the best practice.

We also created an industrial equipment family template. We use this to define owner provided equipment, where we need to see a model of their content, but the connection points may be a receptacle, a nozzle, or a drain that we engineer and provide. In this case, make sure the template includes what the load data, fluid requirements and air requirements are - and then create an equipment schedule to replace your spreadsheet. It's always good to have this in one place.

3 - Organization - if I can offer one good piece of advice - separate what you download and create from the out-of-the-box content. If you edit a OOTB part, then don't put it back in the default folder - put it in a custom folder. There's some debate whether you start a new folder completely separate from the default content, or create custom folders under the default content structure. What you don't want - if you're a full service firm - is duplicated content. Take the MEP items out of the architectural folder - have the architects use your content, so you can take advantage of the copy/monitor functionality for these fixtures. And I stay away from anything MEP that is wall, ceiling, floor, roof based - and even sometimes face-based. Any non-hosted object can still be constrained to another - for example, a non-hosted light to a ceiling grid - so I'm moving away from using any hosted that has to be shared or edited by others. The KISS axiom applies...

Next up - tackling process projects - and getting old dawgs to learn a few new tricks....see you at AU!

thanks - David B.