Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Moving Ahead...and Counting Down

With AU starting in just a couple of weeks, it's time to do a little housekeeping, and get some updates out there...

AU Class Updates!
For AU 2013, good news on the attendance front. So far, about 200 people have signed up for each lecture, and the AutoCAD MEP lab is full. It's cool to see the high interest level in AutoCAD MEP. During our Tweetchat last week, Dana Probert from Autodesk asked the question about advice for users migrating from AutoCAD MEP to Revit. My answer is to learn how to use as much of AutoCAD MEP's object tools as possible, since they're both similar from a work process standpoint. IFC conversions up from AutoCAD MEP to Revit are fairly smooth, given that you won't get systems like you do with default Revit elements. But the software is getting better in terms of translation.

Data? What Data?
Speaking of translation, I did some internal training on exporting and sharing data from AutoCAD MEP schematic objects out to Excel, CSV and now database tables. One of the items I've been looking into is linking property set definition data to different databases or files for power riser and plumbing isometric objects, to actual Revit engineering objects. Our development team has been working on different data validation tools between AutoCAD P&ID and Revit for a while (I'll be covering this in my MP1304 AU class Wednesday, Dec. 4th - which will also be recorded live, and available via AU Virtual after the event this year). The programming process really isn't that different. The challenge is how to be selective with the data you want to extract, and then how you tell the different databases to compare data.

It's amazing how many different tools are available to check and coordinate physical objects and their interferences, but how little thought over the years has been put into the data coordination (in the lower cost CAD/everyday design arena), from the building design standpoint. Which rolls me back to my Autodesk vs. Bentley topic line I've been working on (more on this later), but one big thing I was interested in was how Substation handled managing the data between the protection and controls diagrams, to single lines, to panel layouts and then the 3D model. I'd love to report more on that, but we had an issue getting Projectwise to work with Substation that delayed our implementation over a month. To their credit, Bentley did get it fixed, but it was tough to watch the issue hold up momentum Quality control should be handled much better by software companies - it can be the simplest thing (i.e. telling a program how to create a folder and get it working with other applications) that gets missed, and gives you a black eye. It's as important as missing a design flaw, that causes something in one of our systems, not to work correctly. And boy when something doesn't work, it's hard to get users to keep from throwing the whole baby out with the bath...luckily, cooler heads prevailed...I'm looking forward to learning what Autodesk could be doing about this in the future.

Back to AU...
Here's a little something I'm working on. In this year's Revit tips and tricks class (MP1507), I'm going to add a golden nuggets segment at the very end of the class - stuff you won't find in the handout but will have to show up to see. One item I'm going to cover is how to get Revit to perform at optimal levels when using Projectwise. We were getting major slowdowns, that turns out were related to how the Projectwise Integration tool was working with Revit 2013, Update 2 (note: it doesn't work with Update 3, which we also found out Revit 2014 doesn't work without it being installed, if you're running 2013 and 2014 on the same computer, due to .NET 4.5 - that was a mouthful). Bentley recommended double-clicking on the Central file straight out of Projectwise Explorer, with integration enabled. Create a new local when prompted every time, and the Revit model runs much faster, and eliminates command delays. I also turn OFF all notifications for sharing, updates, permissions...that really threw our users for a loop.

Another tip is related to annotation families. I've started using more reference lines and dimensions to control the size of annotations. This helps the user when the box around a label needs to get a little bigger. We add a label parameter to the dimension, so the user can change this on an instance basis, once the tag is placed in the view.

We've also been dancing around the schematic symbol versus real world model issue with particular types of families. One big tip is to add a visibility parameter for symbol graphics versus model graphics - and not relying on the detail level or scale of the model to control visibility. This one is a work in progress that I hope to have finished in the next couple of days. If you're planning on coming to this class on Thursday, Dec. 5th, make sure you plan on staying for the whole thing - these little secrets are gems that we look for all the time, and I plan on making everyone suffer through the rest of the class first (BWAahahahaha!)...

Speaking of predesign...Infraworks!
We had a great visit from some Autodesk folks a short while ago, and got a first look at Infraworks (www.autodesk.com/products/autodesk-infraworks/overview). We've needed a tool that allows us to take an existing site, and work with schematic locations for some of our water treatment facilities. This tool was easy to use, and could go a long way towards helping do a better job of defining hydraulic profiles for sites. For more information on these, check out sessions GS 2644 - Beyond 3D in Autodesk Infraworks: Simulate What Happens in Real World Models, and GS1998 - Autodesk Infraworks: From Concept to Completion. This is one of those promising tools that I hope to post more about...soon...

It's time to wrap it up...still got some videos to record, powerpoints to figure out, and pre-class skits and scripts to hammer out. Dr. Shots will be making a comeback...albeit a brief one, with tragic consequences...so I'll see you in two weeks...

Later - David B.

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