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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Goodbye Autodesk Suites, Hello Industry Collections

In case you missed it: Autodesk Suites are gone, you can't buy them officially anymore. Instead, you can buy into an Industry Collection. Here are products in each Collection, from the FAQ:

And here is some information on renewals and floating license provisioning:

You can get an idea on pricing from the Autodesk UK Store.

Main page:
Industry Collections | Autodesk

Friday, February 17, 2017

How Can You Integrate Manufacturer Content with Your Company BIM Library?

I'm wondering if 2017 will be the year that BIM content management stopped being hard :) Maybe that's going a bit far, but the fact is that there are some great content management tools out in the market now. In fact, I have spent the last few months doing some detailed analysis and comparison of these.  But more on that later...

In the meantime, how do you go about integrating Manufacturer content into your Company BIM / Revit library? Its an interesting question because usually your company content may be high quality, audited, approved, and regularly updated. But the manufacturer content can sometimes leave a lot to be desired. With those thoughts in mind, the upcoming webinar about UNIFI Connect could prove to be quite helpful. Unifi are looking at ways to share manufacturer content through their already awesome platform.

You can register for the UNIFI Connect webinar here.

This all plays into a larger conversation about BPM. Think about the recent merge of the Autodesk Seek content over to BIMobject. It is one thing to collect a lot of manufacturer content, but quite another to ensure its quality and applicability to a given user. How are you going about solving this problem? Do you use BPM at all, or do you use generic in-house content?

Feel free to reply in the comments.

Read more:
Connect Hosting - UNIFI

Microsoft Print to PDF Driver Does Not Play Nice with Revit

Have you experienced a blank and somewhat non-responsive Print dialog in Revit? Pressing Setup does nothing in this situation:

What's going on here? Well, there is something in the Microsoft Print to PDF driver that Revit doesn't like, possibly to do with paper sizes or something. How do we fix it?

Just set your default printer to something else, like Bluebeam or CutePDF. Then, Close and re-open the Print dialog in Revit:

As you can see, now the dialog is happier and you can proceed to setup your sheet print settings.

Check Cloud Service Status At a Glance with the Autodesk Health Dashboard

As we move more and more information and services to the cloud, 100% uptime becomes more and more necessary. In our BIM world, if you are running a project on C4R (Collaboration for Revit), and that cloud service goes down, the project could be severely affected.

If uptime is important, so is monitoring and reporting. You can now view the latest "health" status and history of Autodesk Cloud products using the Autodesk Health Dashboard.
Status
History
Check it out here:
https://health.autodesk.com/

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Free Tool to Compare Revit Models And Visualize The Differences

This is a very useful addin coded by Matt Mason during a recent Hackathon. Basically, it lets you take a Snapshot of a Revit file at a point in time and save that info to a small database file. It is not saving pure geometry, but a lightweight set of all the useful information about the model, including parameters. Then, when you get a new file, you run the Compare function to compare that snapshot against the current model. Very cool.

Installing Metamorphosis
  1. Clone or download from the Github page
  2. Copy the files to your ProgramData Revit addins folder
  3. Restart Revit

You should get this on your Addins ribbon:

Using Metamorphosis - Taking a Snapshot
  1. Open a Revit model
  2. Click the Snapshot button
  3. Choose a location for the snapshot SDB file
  4. Click Start

Using Metamorphosis - Comparing with an Updated Model
  1. Open an updated Revit model
  2. Click the Compare button
  3. Browse for the snapshot file you created
  4. Tick all of the Categories you are interested in
  5. Click Start
  6. On the resulting dialog, you can browse through the Categories
  7. Select a line item to take you to that Revit element
  8. Re-group the list by different criteria like "By Change Type"
  9. Click Color Elements to apply a colour to all changes
  10. Click Remove Color to remove the colour
This is a great little addin, it works quickly and it has a definite application in the real world. Full credit to all those involved in building it.

And judging by the Github updates, it may be developing further in the future...

Video:


Original post:
AEC Technology Hackathon 2016 — Kyle C Martin

Github:
https://github.com/mattmas/Metamorphosis

Devpost:
Metamorphosis | Devpost

Revit Wants The Whole Team On The Exact Same Revit Version

This has been a 'best practice' rule for a while now, but it still applies, even in 2017. You should not mix Revit 2017.1 and 2017.2 on a single Central File.

This was flagged by pepar in the BIM Experts Slack Group.

This Bakery node or the Revit Properties extension may assist you in checking Revit build.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

How To Use A Temporary Point Cloud Transformation To Maintain Accuracy in Revit

Revit doesn't like big numbers. There, I said it.

So when dealing with 'world' coordinates in a point cloud, sometimes things just don't work too well. I thought I had this all solved recently by using the DXF, Center-to-Center, Acquire Coordinates workflow. However, I discovered that somewhere along the line, Revit still does break down with the large coordinates. I think this is happening in between Recap and the Revit point cloud rendering engine. I was getting something that looked like this:

As you can see, the shared coordinate system is very large. In this situation, you can't even move the point cloud into the correct location in Revit, it jumps in large increments when moving. Interestingly, Navisworks and AutoCAD both handle these large coordinates ok - appending the same data does not have the error shown above. So...

How do we fix this and make Revit happy?

Basically, we do a temporary truncation of the source data, get it into Revit, and then reinstate the appropriate coordinate system.

To truncate the data, have a look at your source point cloud information. In my case, I could identify 4 leading digits for the X and Y coordinates that were not significant:

Using EmEditor (which handles large text files very well), and its Vertical Selection feature, I was able to delete the 2781 and 6181 digits from my source data.

In effect, this transformed everything by 278100m and 6121000m. Keep these numbers in mind for future reference...





Ok, with the simplified source data in hand, I followed these steps:

  1. Index a new RCP in Recap using the simplified data
  2. Open surveyor DXF file in AutoCAD and manually Move all the geometry. Move the objects by the values above (278100, 6121000) towards the origin. Save As - a new DWG file with modified coordinates.
  3. Link this modified DWG into Revit, Center-to-Center
  4. Acquire Coordinates from it
  5. Link the Point Cloud RCP By Shared Coordinates
  6. Everything lines up now that the large coordinate shift error has been avoided!
  7. Link in the original DXF and align it with the modified temporary DWG we were using
  8. You may need to temporarily neutralize coordinates (here or here), and...
  9. Now you can Acquire Coordinates from the original DXF and you will have reinstated the 'world coordinates', but the Revit point cloud rendering engine is now much happier.
Hope this helps you if you face a similar problem :)

Previous post:
What Revit Wants: Using a DXF to Locate a Point Cloud in Revit with Very Large Coordinates

Monday, January 30, 2017

Convert Between Hosted Wall, Face, Ceiling, Floor, and Non-Hosted Families in Revit

Fellow Expert Elite Karam Baki has posted an interesting workaround for 'converting' between differently hosted Revit families. The term converting isn't quite accurate, really we are just 'nesting' the hosted family into another family until we get to the hosting type that we want. There are times when this will help you, but other times you may go through all of this and then decide "hey, I should have just rebuilt that family properly from the start because Revit keeps crashing now" :)


 Here's the basic steps:
  1. Use a special middleman family with System category elements living inside it... (Karam has provided one on Google Drive)
  2. Load your hosted family into that special family and host it onto the object that it wants (Wall, Floor, Ceiling, Roof)
  3. Work with parameters as needed, link them through etc if needed.
  4. Save As 'unhosted' version of your family
  5. If needed, nest this again into a new, clean family based on whatever category / hosting you want
  6. Get origins, void cuts, openings working and link through the necessary parameters...
As a general comment, I'd say you should test thoroughly in your own environment, because this whole workflow is not really '#GoodRevit' in the sense that we are breaking certain rules to get the results we want.

Along similar lines, you may remember the Copy / Monitor hack that allows converting between some different types of hosting:
Convert Family from Wall to Face based

Back in 2011 I posted about some related workflows, including the necessary steps to get System family elements in a normal Component family:
Save an In-Place Family as an RFA for use in another project
Create a Component Family with Category set to Walls (or other system family category)

You can also make unhosted Doors and Windows from scratch, like this:
Making unhosted components like unhosted Doors and Windows

Original post by Karam Baki:
Revit Tip: Save Time Converting Revit Families - Autodesk Community

You can watch his video here:

Autodesk Revit 2017.2 Update Download Link

Details:

Interesting addition to DWG export:
Adds the option to export to DWG/DXF and DGN in True Color (RGB Values), as specified in the view.

I previously used some weird round trips via DGN to get the True Colors to DWG working.

Download link:
http://up.autodesk.com/2017/RVT/Autodesk_Revit_2017_2.exe

Release Notes:
http://revit.downloads.autodesk.com/download/2017_2_RVT/Docs/RelNotes/Autodesk_Revit_2017_2_ReleaseNotes.html

Readme:
Autodesk Revit 2017.2 Update Readme

Autodesk Navisworks 2017 Update 2 Download Link

Details:


Download:
http://up.autodesk.com/2017/NAVMAN/Autodesk_Navisworks_2017_Update_2_Multilingual_Manage_64bit.msp  


Readme pdf:
Autodesk_Navisworks_2017_Update_2_Feature_readme.pdf

Monday, January 16, 2017

Revizto Keyboard Shortcuts


Here is a list of the main Revizto Keyboard Shortcuts:

Ctrl+O - Open project

Ctrl+Shift+O - Import project

Ctrl+R - Rooms

Ctrl+X - Section Cut

Ctrl+B - Objects

Ctrl+I - Issue Tracker

Ctrl+Shift+I - Create new issue

Ctrl+M - Ruler

Home or Ctrl+H - Home

Ctrl+T - Create Video Track

Ctrl+E - Sheets

Ctrl+W - Viewpoints

M – Opens the map

R – Toggles the Fly/Walk modes (if available)

F5 – Sets navigation mode to Like in Video Game

F6 – Sets navigation mode to Like in Revit

F7 - Sets navigation mode to Like in SketchUp

F8 – Sets navigation mode to Hybrid

F9 – Sets navigation mode to Navisworks Walk

Shift (while holding) – Increases speed in Like in Video Game navigation mode

Space - Jumps in the Walk mode

”+” – Increases the field of view

”-“ – Decreases the field of view

“0” (zero) – Restores a default field of view

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You can also read about the different navigation modes at:
Navigation

Which includes this information on 3dconnexion:

Friday, January 13, 2017

Learn How To Completely Revolutionize Your Revit Presentation Capability In This Enscape Review

Every now and then, you come across a software product that makes complete and absolute sense. As a Revit professional, I have spent a lot of time learning how to use Revit: how to play by the rules, and also when to bend them. With all my Revit experience, I recognise that there are some things that just don't quite work perfectly in Revit. One of these is the rendering and material management process.

Over the years, I have seen rendering in Revit come a long way. You may remember the complete re-tooling of the Material management system a few years back? But even in 2016 and 2017, it is still a time-consuming process that requires a lot of tweaking. Having to wait each time for the result, then tweak settings, then wait again… well, we just don't have time for that in today's world, right?

That is why we have seen a huge increase in the amount of 'real-time' rendering tools and engines for Revit and BIM. But the one real-time rendering tool that really makes complete sense for Revit, is Enscape.

If you haven't heard of it before, here is a quick overview of what it is and how it works...

Enscape Ribbon
Overview
Basically, Enscape is a real-time rendering engine for Revit. It understands lighting and materials, and enables a plethora of visual effects. To use it, you simply open your Revit model, and literally just press the Enscape Start button. It will rapidly export the selected 3D scene view to a new Enscape window, and you will be able to walk around in a rendered environment using the default settings.

The first moment you see it in action is really jaw-dropping. Just how fast and smooth it is to go from a drab Revit coordination and documentation environment, to this bright and colourful, photorealistic world - it is something you really need to see with your own eyes. But, the 'wow' moment is really just the beginning…


You see, Enscape maintains a live link to the current Revit session. So whatever changes you make in Revit, are then quickly visible in Enscape. Want to change the color of the walls? Just modify the material (Appearance Asset) in Revit, and watch as the color changes in the rendered view. Are you working on an interior furniture layout? Well, open a plan view in Revit and start nudging the furniture around with the arrow keys… then observe the furniture move in the rendered Enscape window! As I said, for rapid material and modelling iterations, Enscape simply makes complete sense.

Also, any changes you make to the Enscape Settings are applied immediately to the live Enscape window. You can apply and remove visual effects, modify the lighting, colour, bloom effects, depth of field, clouds and so on without ever really having to wait for a lengthy render process. Once you have the desired settings, you can save that as a profile for use on any future projects.

Of course, if you are ever involved with briefing clients and communicating design intent, you are probably already starting to perceive the potential of Enscape. When you start to look around at its overall capability in more detail, you will understand the new power that Enscape puts into your dusty Revit hands.

Getting Started
To launch Enscape, you can't have a Perspective view as the current view in Revit. This is a Revit API limitation. So, you should go to a Drafting View or a Floor Plan view, and then select the desired 'launch' 3D view from the drop-down list on the Enscape ribbon. Then, press Start...

You should review the HUD (heads up display), which shows you the basic WASD navigation method (very familiar if you are a PC gamer). Left mouse button and drag changes view direction, right mouse button and drag changes the time of day...

Tip: hold down Shift to walk faster


Now, let's see what Enscape can do!

1) Virtual Reality
I put this item first partly because of the current hype around VR, and also because at Virtual Built it was one of the main reasons we started using Enscape on real projects. We experimented with a lot of tools that allowed varying types and degrees of virtual reality experience, and we also looked at the whole pipeline - the process of taking Revit data, exporting it to some other platform, playing with lights, materials, content and so on, and finally generating or simulating the model in virtual reality.

In the end, we found a lot of the alternatives left something to be desired. Primarily, we wanted something that required minimal re-work outside of Revit, and also that created real-time virtual reality (not static panoramas). And we were really pleased with the workflow and experience of using Enscape. The image below is taken from a real client presentation that we delivered during an important function for one of the top building companies in our state:

The Virtual Built Enscape VR Kit
Live VR Mode
The VR experience in Enscape is started in the same way as the normal windowed mode, you just need to press the Enable on the VR Headset pane. Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are now both supported, and at Virtual Built we have had good results with both devices.


With the Oculus Rift and gamepad navigation, the experience is very 'easy', for want of a better word. You can quickly explain the basic mechanics to a new users, and then allow them to navigate the rendered VR model. Depending how you want to implement this, you may also then need someone to drive the Revit session at the same time. You can have the Revit user modifying materials and furniture layouts, while the Client is experiencing all of these changes in a human-scale, immersive environment. Trust me, it is pretty revolutionary... It was this experience which partly led to the title of this review.

Here are a few other ways to integrate Enscape into a VR workflow, such as with Google Cardboard devices and easy sharing to mobile phones...

1a) Exporting and Uploading a Stereoscopic Panorama from Enscape (VR View)
  1. Start Enscape and set your viewpoint at the desired panorama location
  2. On the Revit Enscape Ribbon, use the "Take Panorama (Stereo)" option

  3. Wait for the Export to finish

  4. Then use the My Panoramas button to see the completed Render
  5. Click on the cloud to upload the panorama
  6. Then click to view the panorama online


  7. You can share using the QR code

Here is an example panorama:
http://panorama.enscape3d.com/view/lcdszxzq/

1b) Viewing a Live Stereo Render
Just tick the Stereo setting...


2) Effects Settings in Enscape
Enscape includes a range of effects that are useful for architectural presentations, including PaperModel (think sketch pen style) and a true Architectural 'Two Point Perspective', where vertical edges are always vertical.

The effects in Enscape are mainly controlled on the General and Image tabs of the Enscape settings dialog. Below I show an example of each of the main effects.

Default

Paper Model

Polystyrol

Two Point Perspective

Depth of Field

Global Illumination OFF

Ultra Quality

Saturation 150%

Color Temperature - warmest

Bloom effect


Light (intensity) View

Sun vs Shadow Contrast - maximum
As you can see, while the Default settings look good, there is a lot of flexibility and room for experimentation. Because the changes are seen in real-time, you can do small tweaks and see the results immediately, meaning you can more quickly achieve the specific look-and-feel you want for your current design.

3) RPC
Enscape now supports rich photo realistic content (RPC), including custom content built using Archvision tools. This essentially opens up a lot of potential for rapid creation of RPC for use in your Revit and Enscape scenes.

Tip: keep in mind that 2D RPC will tend to look a little strange in Enscape when you move up close and pass by on one side of it...

Here is a quick overview on getting the RPC into your Revit and Enscape scene:

Read my previous post about it here:
Turn Any Photo Into Enscape Content In a Matter of Minutes

Tip: Make an Enscape View Template to quickly share your 3D view settings to different viewpoints in Revit

4) Output Options
There are a host of new ways to export your presentations once you begin to adopt Enscape into your workflow. Above we have already discussed:
  • simple navigation (view still images, and move around your model in real time)
  • Virtual Reality panorama image export and upload, and the 
  • Live VR experience. 
There are many others, such as:
  • Export still image (default hotkey is Shift+F11) as file, or to a Revit Rendering view in the Revit file
  • Export to EXE - a standalone viewer for the current project that you can share with clients
  • Save Perspective viewpoint to Revit session
  • Export video (set Start and End frames, then Export to video file)
    Setup video
Personally, I suggest you start with the basic desktop Enscape interface, and get comfortable navigating around and showing your Revit model to others around you. Then, you can naturally grow in your Enscape knowledge and explore more of the settings and output options. It really can give you a clear edge over some of your competitors, particularly in design- and presentation-focused fields such as Architecture studies or high end Design Competitions.

5) Updating Enscape
Enscape has an auto-update feature that will open a dialog when you first start Revit, and then prompt you to download the update through the browser.

You can also manually check for updates from the About dialog box:

Note: this review was prepared using Enscape 1.8.2.

Final Thoughts
At Virtual Built, we have started to explore the use of Enscape on a variety of projects. It is a great tool for real-time immersive VR presentations, and it maintains a very strong link to the Revit environment. For that reason it is not a disconnected endpoint, but an extension of the familiar Revit BIM environment... that gives you new and impressive ways to present and share your designs.

Due to its speed and ease of use, you will be able to test it out quickly on a few projects and experience that initial 'wow' factor. From there, I hope you will start to see how it really can revolutionize your Revit presentation capability, taking you to the next level of beautiful Revit artistry.

I hope you enjoy trying out Enscape, and feel free to reply here with your thoughts :)

How To Get It
Go to this link to get access to a 14 day Enscape trial

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Other Links
Check out some of the LinkedIn posts about Enscape from Phil Read, like this one:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/enscape-update-youre-using-revit-only-makes-sense-use-phil-read

How to Make Custom RPC with Archvision:
RAAS Cloud Rendering

More example images
Below I show some more examples of each of the main effects.

Default Settings

Paper Model

Polystyrol

Two Point Perspective

Light (intensity) View

Depth of Field (far objects out of focus)

Global Illumination OFF

Ultra Quality

Saturation 200%

Color Temperature - warmest

Bloom effect

Sun vs Shadow Contrast - maximum