Monday, May 18, 2009

Blue dots in structural columns

A very simple issue came up the other day. Out of no where, suddenly, all our structural columns in a view started showing a thick blue dot at the center in plan. This ‘thing’ even got printed and was an annoyance.


Revit switches on the blue blob (and the green lines for walls) if the ‘analytical model’ subcategory for these elements are turned on in the visibility graphics. This sub-category does not show up by default in the VG:


However, if we switch on the “Show categories from all disciplines” check box, the sub category shows up:


Turning this sub category off removes these unwanted elements from the view. So far so good. But, how did these ‘analytical model’ elements get turned on in the first place, ‘so’ suddenly?

Accidentally, the visibility of the link was set to use a ‘linked view’, which incidentally had all these analytical model elements turned on!


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Structural columns not visible in Detail views

Recently we had an issue with a particular column from the linked structural Revit model. The column showed up fine in the architectural floor plan. The column also showed up fine in the FLOOR PLAN callout view. When we created a DETAIL callout view, the column would not show up. (see pic)


However, when we changed the detail level of the DETAIL callout view to “COARSE” the column showed up as a flimsy stick object.

This was an OOTB structural column. Yet, we checked the family to see if the visibility setting per detail levels was set incorrectly. Nope. Incidentally, other instances of the same family were showing up fine in other detail views.

After some irritating moments, it looks like Revit does not show structural columns in detail views if: (1) the structural column spans more than 1 floor (2) and the detail view is taken from any of the intermediate floors.

In the above example, the column spans from Level 1 to Level 3 and the detail views are taken from Level 2.

If the column is changed to go from Level 2 to Level 3, it shows up correctly in all views like


Current workarounds: Plead with the Stral Engr to split the columns (highly unlikely) or create FLOOR PLAN callouts instead of DETAIL callouts.

I have filed a support request. But, I hope there is an easy tweak to resolve this issue in a big project that has lots of spanning columns and detail views!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Free software for the AEC IT

Here is a list of software available for free. I hope this list is useful. Please add a comment if you come across a free software that can be used in the AEC industry.

Autodesk DWG Trueview: View, Print and Convert any version of Autodesk DWG files.

Autodesk Design Review: View, Print and Markup DWF files.

Autodesk Revit viewer: This is the full blown Revit software. To view and print Revit files you DON’T need a license. However, after making any changes, you need a license to print or save. 

Sketchup Home use: Amazing modelling software

Blender: Animation software similar to 3DS Max

Gimp: Amazing image editing software

Open Office: similar to MS Office

PDF Creator : Creates, appends PDF files.

Jing – screen / video capture tool

Historic Urban Modeler

Freeconference call: Most probably for non-commercial use.

Winmerge: Display differences and merge files and directories.

eraser: secure data removal tool for windows

Added based on visitor comments:

Skype: Online chatting / file sharing / desktop sharing…

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Export AutoCAD MEP to Revit

Autodesk has a white paper on effective collaboration between Revit (Structure) and AutoCAD MEP which talks about exporting Revit objects to AutoCAD MEP as intelligent entities. If you want to import AutoCAD MEP entities into Revit, the whitepaper recommends to use the “Export to AutoCAD” feature within AutoCAD MEP. No intelligent entities here.

Autodesk has another white paper on exporting Revit elements as ACIS DWG objects, to be imported into AutoCAD MEP which does not work for us, since we want the conversion the other way.

We are examining the pros and cons of bringing in the AutoCAD MEP entities as IFC objects into Revit. The irony is that the MEP consultants typically work on separate DWG files for each floor and each disciplines (M, E and P). This means that we get around 30 IFC files for a 10-floor-project! Hmmm... So here is the best practice we are experimenting with:

  1. Create a master file:
    1. In AutoCAD MEP create a new DWG.
    2. Xref all the floors and discipline DWG files. The project navigator should do this very easily.
    3. Save the file, say as, “MEP Project.dwg”
  2. Export to IFC for architects using Revit:
    1. Open the “MEP Project.dwg”
    2. Save as the file as “YEAR MM DD - MEP Project.dwg”
    3. Bind and explode all xrefs. Now the DWG should have all MEP elements for all floors and disciplines.
    4. Export to IFC.

The best part of creating a master file (“MEP Project.dwg”) is that, this DWG is still linked to all the other DWGs and will automatically get updated. The consultants have to just open this DWG and saveas, bind and explode and export as and when needed.

The Revit does not work 100% perfectly with IFC. However, it should  work fine.

All this is theoretical for the time being. This page will be updated as and when things unfold. Please add your comments if you have a better method.