Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hosted versus non-hosted families...really...

So I've been spending a lot (I mean, a lot) of time creating families, and have discovered some nasty little secrets...

- I always knew that you couldn't use fill regions in a model - that they had to be in a detail component family. And most ceiling mounted, hosted families work fine with a combination of 2D families to be the plan representation.

What I've struggled with are the wall mount families. Since the "wall" is actually a flat plane, and a nested 2D family can only be placed on the flat XY planes, I'm having issues getting the 2D representation to work right. Some of our symbols require fill (which I'm not keen to using linework instead of a region), so using symbol lines can be used in some cases but not in others (i.e. I need fill).

And it's really inconsistent. The duplex receptacle families seem to work fine, so I applied the same logic - but didn't get the same results with a light family.

So my answer for now is not to use a hosted family for a wall mounted (or vertical face) family. The non-hosted element works fine, and it can still be alignment or dimensionally constrained.

- Why don't the family templates include all identity data - i.e. where's the label or type mark parameter? And if I add these, they still don't pick up the data. Once the family is in a project, you can add/edit this fine, but we really need to be able to define this in the .RFA file.

- Had a great sustainable design session with a couple of guys from Autodesk today - a couple of items I got out of it - our engineers need to understand that the world is changing, and that the families in Revit can include data such as the U-Value, R-Value, etc. - and that's OK. When we get to a point where the wall/opening/enclosure elements can transfer this data either directly out to gbXML, or better yet, have the space recognize the wall type/window type/etc. (re: AutoCAD Architecture) and work through linked files, then we can start providing even more data to the engineer in an electronic form. I understand where the engineer is coming from as well - traditionally, we'd rather control that information and offer the options back to the architect, but in this new BIM paradigm it's all about the interoperability of data between platforms. I can't wait for the day that data can be edited/transferred between linked files...and the future for better energy modeling is brighter than ever. Now - if someone can just produce some decent written documentation on Green Building Studio and Ecotect (and IES, too)...

Christmas is just a few days away - get your shopping done soon!

Later - David B.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A little side story...my trip to the Camo Mecca...

Doing a little work at the home office in Camp Hill, PA, and having a great week...so I decided while I was here, I needed to make a trip to the nearest Cabela's - if you're not familiar with the store, it's the outdoors mecca for hunters and fisherman - which I do poorly but still love to do. It became an amazing quest, so let's take the journey.

Wrapped up my last meeting at 3:00pm, got some directions and headed out - to discover a little snow blowing...beautiful, just before Christmas. Being the good southerner, I'm inclined to drive in the snow in my 4WD pickup, but this week, we're in the company "clown" car...tiny but reliable, thank goodness. Dusting off the snow, I headed out 11/15 to the hotel to change...and found out Yankees can't drive in the snow any better than us. Facing a several mile backup caused by construction and god knows what else (since there was a snow glaze on the road), I made a little side jog through the local country club. I'm also thankful for my GPS, although it's getting a little cranky.

Got out on the highway finally - along with all the trucks - headed north on 81. Beginning to wonder who names these little towns - Shartlesville, Upper Tulpehocken, Swatara, Lickdale, Linglestown...at least we name ours in the south after easily pronounceable names. At least I'd have a hard time tell AAA where I was...and I won't forget the pitstop at the truck stop - for god's sake, don't touch anything...but I finally made it to PA 61, where my GPS got totally confused by a revised interchange. No worries - the Cabela's store was clearly visibly from outer space.

You have to understand, we rednecks love our toys...heck, we build these great shrines to them. Bass Pro Shops - love em...Gander Mountain, always have some unique stuff...but Cabelas...

Somebody had us rednecks in mind while I was taking the winding driveway round to the mount, where the long driveway lead to a huge bronze statue at the front door - a trapper and indian in a canoe, a massive beacon that clearly shouts, "you can spend lots of money and be us...". after luckily finding a spot in the 50,000 space, 20 acre parking lot, I entered the facility...along with a thousand other rednecks of all breeds. What made it really funny was that we're all on redneck Christmas hunting safaris...and Cabela's didn't let me down. Pausing briefly at the t-shirt gallery (funny how they all beckon rednecks as souvenirs to say, I blew a grand here), I move to the camo section.

You have to understand - camo isn't clothing, it's a way of life. And you could have several of them here, half the main floor was covered with camo for all walks of life - heavy coats, pants, shoes, hats, gloves - and in the ladies section, "delicates" that screamed "you can't see me!" Moving across the aisle to the fishing section (and marveling at the thousands of lures with names like "baby cowbell" and "hunker lunker"), found a few interesting pieces of underwater art - and made my investment.

Wrapping up the wet side, I cruised over to the hunter's section. You never have to worry about our second amendment rights, 'cause they've got us covered. My favorite? Not just the camo guns (yes - even snow camo), but the 50 caliber assault rifle ( a steal at $5k) was drawing a crowd of oohs and aahs...put that one under the tree, we're goin' squirrel huntin'...along with every known brand and style of rifle, pistol and shotgun. But you have to visit the collector's section - guns from old times, wars, treated with a reverence and white glove saved for rare books and the constitution. Some of these were works of art, with all the scrollwork on the barrel and chamber. Don't plan on getting one of these without mortgaging the doublewide...

Speaking of museums, walked down a narrow hall behind the gun hall... and beheld the Deer museum. We're talking buck tributes to the greats - all mounts with a story to tell on each one. There's a reason why we all love to hunt deer so much. There's so much inbreeding, you get some of the wildest arrays of racks you've ever seen (a Bullwinkle rack....really?) After wandering through the museum, I felt like I should have left a salt lick or deer corn as an offering...but leave the doe urine out in the other hall, we don't want these boys coming back to life...

And they even had a bargain barn - get your miscellaneous and useless stuff here, clothes, shows, etc. all piled up. But you had to move upstairs around the stuffed critter mountain in the middle of the store (all 4 stories of it) to get to the fun stuff - the redneck gift shop. That's where I found what prompted me to write this story...camouflage toilet seats. I ain't kiddin'...and not just one kind! Padded, wood grain, silent hinged (so you can sneak up on that terd before you drop in your hook and bait)...I was shaking quietly, as I didn't want anyone else to see me laughing. Along with other redneck gifts (ornaments of deers holding up the hunters they'd bagged, duck lamps, camo beanbags, couches, chairs, etc.) and even more serious redneck art - really, some sculptures and paintings had lots of zero's on the price...

Walking out through the restaurant and decided to decline the elk meat dinner, I decided I didn't have enough money to stay here much longer. I started the long trek across the half mile store to the checkout stand (no, I didn't buy the camo lighter or "who farted" camo hat). I bought my "souvenirs" and Christmas presents (even got one for the wife - she can't stand the stuff in these places, so I hope my choice isn't too misguided). I've learned a few things from my journey:

- Rednecks are keeping the economy running, as witnessed by the massive crowds;
- Yankees got rednecks, too;
- You really can get lost in a camo section and no one will find you;
- The story of the redneck defense league lives alive and well in the hunting section;
- There's some big daggum deer out there - and even if you take it illegally, it might wind up on a wall or display;
- My inner redneck is alive and well for me to travel 125 miles on a snowy evening to join all my redneck friends - but you won't catch me stocking up on $30 elk sausages and jerky anytime soon...it wouldn't fit in the luggage or make it through airport security...

Guess I'll have to drive up in my truck sometime and bring my clan..they'd have loved this place...BTW - here's the link for the store:


Have a merry Christmas - and don't forget to buy for the redneck you love! Next stop - the "Hap, Hap, Happiest place on Earth"!

David B.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

News from IES Virtual Environment -

Got these updates in a post AU email from the folks at IES - I'm downloading these as we type...

The Future of LEED modeling is here...

This year we announced the launch of our exciting new LEED Energy modeling tool, the VE-Navigator for ASHRAE 90.1 (LEED Energy). Designed by experts in the field and already live project tested by users, it streamlines the calculation and submission process. Don’t be left behind, offer your clients more competitive offerings! If you work in this field you can’t afford not to check out the technical, commercial and time-saving benefits this tool provides. If you haven’t already, sign up for your free trial today by logging on to www.iesve.com/Software/VE-Pro/ASHRAE90-1. This product will be available to purchase from early December 2010.

Trelligence Collaboration Enables Unique Early Sustainable Analysis!

We were also excited to announce our partnership with Trelligence Affinity. Imagine a world where space programming and planning, can be integrated with schematic design and early sustainable analysis, all within one platform. Factors such as square footage, % glazing, layout, and orientation make surprising differences in the cost and energy efficiencies of a building – especially when they could all be easily tested in conjunction with one another – this is the future we envisage from the integration between our two software platforms!

For more information on our partnership and how it will benefit you, visit http://www.iesve.com/.

New VE-Gaia updates!

We hope you got the chance to check out our new VE-Gaia early stage analysis additions with double capabilities for architects at no extra cost!

VE-Gaia now provides in-depth sustainable analysis across the following:

• The Architecture 2030 Challenge

• Climate Interrogation/Bio-Climatic design

• Energy Use/Carbon Emissions

• Peak Building Loads

• Low/Zero Carbon Technology Feasibility

• Solar Shading/Daylight

• Natural Resources/Water

• Building Metrics/Materials Review

Want to know more? Contact us...

Contact enquiries@iesve.com call +1 617 426 1890 or visit www.iesve.com/NAmerica for further information. Or alternatively you can email one of our experts who were at AU directly:

Michelle Farrell: michelle.farrell@iesve.com

Kendra Milton: kendra.milton@iesve.com

Dimitri Contoyannis: dimitri.contoyannis@iesve.com

Give these folks a call!

later - David B.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Updates and Links

It's always good to stay on top of the blogs...

- Greg Arkin included a post about the new extension for Revit Architecture - Roombook - if you're on subscription, download and add this tool - this comes from Simon Gillis, read about the extension here:


- A very nice thread from William Spiers at Autodesk about file size for families - we were noticing recently that just because a family includes a lot of detail, it doesn't necessarily mean the file is getting that much bigger - and then I found this post on Family Jewels:


Another note of families - we've created a custom template just for owner provided equipment, that goes with a spreadsheet we give the client. That way, they can fill out any pertinent data, then we turn around and add it back to our family. One item - make sure you create a custom subcategory for the geometry, even if you leave the family as a generic model - that way you have more visibility control over the family in the MEP model.

Also following up on a couple of items:

- checked out the new Energy Modeling Analysis extension for subscription - note that this is mainly an early SD tool for architects, and does not replace the more detailed analysis models engineers use such as VE Pro, Trace, etc. although the use and influence of Green Building Studio is obvious...
- Project Dasher, which was first widely discussed at AU, is the Autodesk attempt to link real-time building analysis data back to a Revit Model file - I'm keenly interested in trying this out, as we had a discussion about linking building controls back to the Revit model just a few weeks ago...can't wait to see how it works...see more at http://www.autodeskresearch.com/pages/dasher.

Last note - AU 2010 content files from my classes are available from Google docs - if you'd like to review a couple of sample templates I created earlier this year, send me an email or message and I'll send you the links. You need to have a Google account to download, so sign up first!

have a warm day!

David B.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Revit MEP for Water Treatment - Part 1

Now that I've had a few weeks to digest what we do and how we've been doing it, I've started to develop an approach to process jobs. Here's a few key things I've learned to get started:

1. Structure Leads! Since most water treatment plants are simple structures, getting the WWTP guys to produce the structure isn't that complicated, but it is essential. In this case, you can start with some prelims in Revit MEP (generic walls, levels, floor slabs and roofs, stairs and railing, openings and rooms) created at elevation - with the project base point at a specific corner of the building. I'm liking working at elevation but will be developing the model from the project origin - we'll worry about true NE points later.

2. Content - be prepared to develop your own! CADworks has got a nice little DI pipe library and is working on PVC, so I' recommend looking at their content

3. Don't expect the model to be a dead-on replica of the plant - the parts just aren't there yet. Expect to use a lot of generic solids and families, since most concrete structures are formed onsite. I've added an industrial equipment and WWTP family template to our library that contains the electrical/mechanical parameters someone might want when creating their connections.

I'm working on a new section for training that follows the WWTP process within a plant, and having the training material follow that process...should be interesting to see how it turns out.

Stay tuned....BIM for WWTP....

AU 2010 -- Wrap up!

So I thought I'd post a few pics here, and let you know the videos are being edited as we speak.

Lab Rats from ME419-1L - Fun Bunch!
The usual last class sunglass brigade - becoming a tradition,
you don't want to leave AU without yours!
The next generation Tesla...I'm impressed....

And last but not least...my new crew (sans Kurt - he was fashionably
late to dinner) - From left, me, Norb (the boss!) Dave Fellows and 
Le-Thanh Nguyen - plus Kurt Ferrari, who arrived after the pic - we
ARE the Gannett Fleming BIM Team!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Notes from AU - Days 2 and 3

I would have posted last night, but it was definitely a bear of day. AUv has some promise, but with technical glitches in all four classes yesterday, (including the wrong video playing in the first session), I understand the frustration. There were two areas Autodesk has got to get right:

- make sure whoever is running the stream starts the sessions on time, and doesn't cut the video off until the presentation is actually finished. If it's the technology there were using that did that, then get other technology. It was embarrassing to me on behalf of the attendees. Also, the lack of good, consistent, real time communication with the attendees (aka Goto Meeting), where I'm not having to restart moderator panels, constantly refresh would definitely make this a smoother event.
- do a better job of QA on their own work - there's no excuse for editing in the wrong video. All I could do was laugh, because I was too big to crawl under the table.

Don't get me wrong - I love the idea of Virtual training, but based on the comments I got, and the fact that I had absolutely no control or ability to fix the glitches, makes me want to personally apologize to those that had to sit through it.

Back to AU live - what keeps me coming back and wanting to present are the people that attend, It's very humbling to see the same people coming back year after year, and taking the time to sit in on my sessions, Yeah, they can get hokey (one person said to lose the gimmicks), but the idea is to separate what you do from other instructors - and 99% of the students get engaged and participate. I never wanted to be the teachers I had - boring, dry, and detached - those classes drove me nuts. This stuff is not the most entertaining stuff to listen to - add a deadpan, monotonic instructor, and you've got students sleeping their way through your class.

So, with this year's scores on the Revit MEP classes and my highest score ever on a lab, those will continue to be my main focus for AU 2011 (if they'll have me back). 6 virtual and 6 live was too much, but I like one student's suggestion to run a progression series - I like that, so maybe next year we'll run a process stack of sessions. Also, I do take to heart the idea of breaking up classes by discipline, although the classes have to have enough to register to get them to make, so that's a reason why having just electrical or just HVAC only in a class may not work.

Some great tips that came from the students and other instructors:

- create an area schedule that sets program area versus actual area - if you get over, the schedule reports it (I'd add a conditional format to the data to make it jump out).
- Same instructor also uses areas in Revit Architecture to define cube names and numbers, as opposed to using rooms for these parts of a building. They use the room to define the overall area or conditioned area, so the space in the MEP links to that instead of hundreds of cubicle spaces.
- If you need to export parameters from a family to a shared parameter, you can do this from the family editor - parameters tab - there's any export option I hadn't tried, but I'm going to.

Got several others I'm trying out - as I can get some to work, I'll get them posted here.

Long day, but good event - and I'm excited, because we're headed back to the Venetian next year - woo-hoo!

have a great evening - David B.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Posts from Vegas - AU 2010, Day 1

Well, it's not really day one for me, got here Saturday to do my virtual recordings. Eventful flight - before takeoff in Nashville, plane had to go back - cracked windshield...that's a problem you don't want to have at 38,000 feet.

Spent about 14 hours prepping for 3 hours of recordings. There are three AUv sessions that I had (for the first time this year) - one for AutoCAD Architecture, one for AutoCAD MEP and one for Revit MEP. Managed to hit Revit and ACAD A right on the time frame, but was a little short on ACAD MEP. Interesting note - these sessions are recorded in one take, so you have to a) own (not know) your material, and b) don't be afraid of mistakes - dwelling on them only points it out, so it's best to just keep moving. The hard part was watching final part - man, I gotta lose some weight...

 Hats off to Autodesk and the AU staff - the speaker social was actually a great event, sponsored by Ford. There are awesome views from mIX at theHotel, took a few pics. Matt Dillon, good friend and mentor,got recognized for his years on contributions and classes at AU. I worked for him as a lab assistant at my first AU, and learned a lot from his style and rapport with the students. He's coined the perfect description of AU - "it's the running of the nerds..." - man, that cracked me up. As for the AEC mixer, watched the Autodesk Employee band - not too bad, but guys, "Comfortably Numb" is a party killer...

Had 5 classes total today - 2 virtual (of which the first one was cancelled - server issues - got to the Speaker Ready room at 6:45am, they said "didn't you get the email?" - had to laugh) and 3 live sessions, on Plant, Revit MEP and AutoCAD Architecture. And the Arch crowd was the best, followed closely by the RMEP group - but I got two more shots at that crowd on Thursday and Friday.

The exhibit hall is a great reflection of the current economic times. Met countless people that had changed jobs, left the channel for the design market, left Autodesk...but the real tell was how many fewer exhibitors there seemed to be. Not as many third party developers, and a much smaller crowd (looking like about 1/3 less) that AU 2008 at the Venetian. But the positive aspect was the determination of those present to take their current tools and process to the next level - they're all finally understanding that you have to stay on top of technology if you're going to survive as a business. Those that can't or don't evolve will be left behind...as well as those using outdated techniques and business practices.

Had a little dinner at House of Blues with a great house band, and got to finally meet some fellow bloggers in person. And for those that came to the classes - thank you so much for being there, and taking the time to attend my classes and participate - you're what makes doing this worthwhile!

 So, that's the first report from the floor at AU 2010 - I'll try to do updates tomorrow and Thursday as well.

Happy modeling! David B.