Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Last post for this Blog

From this point on you can follow me on:

Thank you for all who have followed up to this point.

I have tranfered the history of this blog to the new site and thus will leave Archin3D up for only a few months more before I close it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sheet Creator Application for Revit

In case you did not notice this morning, I uploaded the application as promised.


Have a Happy Holiday!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Revit Add-In Gift on Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve I will be uploading an Add-In for Revit that will help you more quickly create sheets with significantly less clicks. In fact, it somewhat provides a solution for #10 of the AUGI Revit Wishlist given to Autodesk this year at AU2009. Check out http://jasongrant.squarespace.com/ for an early Holiday gift on Christmas Eve and I hope everyone has a Happy Holiday.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Revit API Software

Check out my new blog... just posted what software options you have for doing Revit API work.

Friday, December 11, 2009

AU API Examples Session

Watch my AU session on Revit API examples at my new blog.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

New blog... Follow for AU updates

I have been working on many things.... one of those is my API examples session at AU. I have also been working on a new blog format and name which I am going to kick off this AU week. I appreciate all who have followed up to this point and hope to give you even more to look forward to at http://jasongrant.squarespace.com/

The squarespace site structure gives me the ability to, in one place, place content for download, allow you to upload info to me, forms and more. I look forward to being able to share a wealth of information with you.

If you are attending the AU event and want to follow where I am, follow me on twitter also.

I am really looking forward to AU this year and hope to see you there.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Revit API Suggestions

I have a session at AU this year that I am doing along with Michael Coviello from TRO Jung Brannen on API examples that we use in our work environment. We are looking another 1 or 2 great ideas for what would make your work in Revit easier, more efficient or just something you think is missing. Any ideas that get used will be shared with the Revit community so toss out anything no matter how trivial you think it is. I look forward to seeing many of you at AU and have a Happy Halloween.

Autodesk Revit API examples from Real Office Applications
90 Minute Panel

Monday, May 11, 2009

Little bits of increased speed make a difference

Part of my job here is to ensure that all of the users have what they need to be productive. Maybe you have a similar role in your company also, but have you ever thought that something basic in the content that you provide could actually hinder the performance of your users? This first of a series of explorations into different families. In this instance, we will examine the simple downlight since it is in just about every project in every office. What is a downlight but a hole in the ceiling, trim on the surface, a box behind and the light source. There is nothing that could be improved... or is there?

I have always questioned to myself and to others about whether the hole in the ceiling is necessary or if it could possibly create performance issues. Think about how many times you place a light, the fact that it is a curved surface within the cut and that every time you move it needs to regen the relationship between the elements. To test this theory, I created a benchmark journal test that included placing 1,500 downlights, modifying the size of the downlight opening and moving the entire set of downlights. I had (2) downlights that I used for the test, one had a hole cut in the ceiling and the other had no hole cut but another solid extrusion to add a material on the surface of the ceiling where the hole should be.

The results were interesting:
Placing 1,500 downlights - Without the hole cut, the downlights were placed 18% faster.
Modifying the downlights - The downlight tests were about equal
Move 1,500 downlights 6" - Without the hole cut, the downlights were moved 35% faster.

FYI - The results are based on the average of multiple runs after different restarts.

So maybe you think that the millisecond delays within your work do not make a difference but if you have enough of those maybe it will make a significant difference. Lets say that you actually did have a 35% inefficiency because of slower downlight movement. That would mean that you had 2.8 hours that you lost in a 8 hour day if all you were editing were downlights. That's pretty amazing. But if you have 50 users each loosing 35% productivity then you lost 140 hours worth of work in one day.

This issue alone is one of the reasons I am so cautious about letting outside content from external websites to populate our projects. Why risk the multitude of possible issues that can result of downloaded content to save an hour.

If you have an idea or a family that you would like see explored for my next post please let me know through comment or email. Even send me a family that you think is built for speed and I will see if it can be improved.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Influence the next AU

In past Autodesk University events have you ever wished that you could influence what sessions you have to choose from?  There is actually a venue to do so.  For the second year, Autodesk is allowing the AU community to vote on their favorite session options for Autodesk University 2009. Your vote will help influence what classes there are and when they are scheduled.

To vote, simply go to the AU Session Selection Page and login with your AU account info.  If you don't have one then just sign up.

The deadline is Friday, May 8th at midnight PDT.

Now that I have your interest, I would like to do some self promotion.  I have proposed four classes in an attempt to present for my first time at Autodesk University.  If you want to see any of these classes at AU please login and vote for them. Click on the names below to link to the sessions.  I hope that I can share some of this information with you at the next AU.

Learn how utilizing the API can help automate even more of your Revit process or how it can help you better manage and present the "i" of BIM. Two prominent Boston firms, Payette and TRO JungBrannen, have teamed up to present examples of how the API is being used in their offices. We will also exhibit code from a simple API to describe a basic code understanding and provide useful resources to help you manipulate the API. If you are looking to have more control over the functions and data within Revit, then this class is for you.

This lecture is intended to share the knowledge of hardware benchmarking to BIM and Revit Managers so they can help influence the decision on hardware purchases for use with Revit. This presentation will cover the results of a multitude of different hardware setups as well as provide the knowledge for each attendee to create their own internal company Revit benchmark. If you ever felt like you were making blind choices on hardware decisions then this class will give you the research and facts that you require.

The traditional way of documenting our work has been challenged by BIM but the architectural field has been stuck in the status quo of 2D documentation which is persistent and resistant. People fear change and lack the faith that something else could be better. How do you change the few Revit users within your firm from a group of individuals into a passionate tribe that can change the future of your firm? This class will explore the challenge of stepping beyond the fear of change and leading a tribe of passionate users. Can you be an effective leader?

Organization is the key to effectively dealing with hundreds of views and different phases within a project. We will explore different ways that you can pre-categorize views within the project browser and add shared parameters for additional control and organization. From there, we will examine the effect that unclean families have on a project when populated numerous times on a project. Tips and tricks will be shown on how to effectively keep your project clean, lean and running smooth. Attendees will learn the little oversights that had dramatic effects on their file performance.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Article on Boston Architects and the Economy

Interesting Article by Robert Campbell from the Boston Globe Online about the state of the economy for Architectural Firms, especially for the Boston Area. I would be interested to hear how other areas of the US are doing if anyone wants to comment.

Architects search for blueprint to get by
As building plans stall in a recession, architects tend to get hit first and hardest. That's proving to be brutally true in Boston, a city with more than its share of professionals in the field.

Nancy Jenner, the acting director of the Boston Society of Architects, estimates that the average layoff rate in Boston architecture firms is already pushing 30 percent. In some it is more than 50 percent. Firm after firm report that with no new work coming in, things will only get worse this spring and summer.

"They are the ones that get busted around more than other professionals," said Kermit Baker, a Harvard researcher who also serves as the American Institute of Architects' chief economist.

Baker cites US Department of Labor figures for the nation as a whole, which reveal that from the level of peak architectural employment in July 2008 through January, architects lost jobs at double the rate of lawyers and accountants.

Massachusetts ranks seventh among states in the number of licensed architects, although it is only 15th in population. Nearly all of them are concentrated in Greater Boston. According to the Boston society, there are just over 8,000 employees of architecture firms in Massachusetts. About 3,200 of them are licensed architects.

Architects are nothing if not inventive, and they are trying everything to survive the drought of new work.

Some firms have cut salaries from top to bottom. Others have moved to a four-day week. Some have stopped taking interns. Still others offer unpaid furloughs to valued employees, aiming to keep them around for the future when times get better.

What happens to the employees who do get laid off? Some reinvent themselves. Others leave the profession.

One who is trying reinvention is Graham Ruggie, 40, of Ashland. Ruggie used to be director of product standards at Cubellis, a firm with 16 offices in several states. Since last summer, Cubellis has dropped from 500 people to about 300 and closed some offices entirely.

Ruggie remembers the January day he got laid off. "I took 10 or 15 minutes to feel sorry for myself. My boss felt almost as bad as I did, and he gave me three or four days to wrap up what I was working on," he said.

"I used some of that time to make calls. I put out all my tentacles. I'd been talking to my wife and others about striking out on my own not only with my own architectural practice, but working on real estate development."

"I've been through three downturns," he said, "and this is definitely the worst."
Another recent layoff victim is Ann Berman, who was a project architect at Arrowstreet in Cambridge. Because it did a lot of commercial work, Arrowstreet was one of the hardest hit. Berman began looking elsewhere last year, failed to find a new job, and was laid off in September.

"I see it as a forced vacation," she said. "I'm doing the things I want to do. I volunteer for community service, I design sets for a children's theater, and I've applied to be a substitute teacher. I would love to be an art teacher."

But she adds that if another job opened up in architecture, she would grab it.
Jim Batchelor is a partner at Arrowstreet who is this year's president of the Boston Society of Architects. He admits to a precipitous drop in the firm, from 170 people to "around 50 or 60."
But he, too, sees a bright side, or at least claims to.

"It's a time to learn new skills," he said. Architects he knows are becoming qualified to rate the energy consumption of buildings, or are learning a new computer-based method of communicating between architects and builders.

"We all believe that's what's going to be our future, and we have time to retrain in a way we didn't when we were busy," he said.

Some architects are abandoning the job market altogether and going back to school. Applications at Harvard's Graduate School of Design are up 30 percent this year. At MIT's architecture program, applications are up 40 percent. There just aren't any jobs, said Deborah Johansen, Harvard design school spokeswoman . Harvard plans to host a session in New York where students will network with alumni who may be potential employers.

There are no fewer than five schools of architecture in Greater Boston, more than any other US city except New York, which also has five. The Massachusetts College of Art and Design expects to soon gain an accredited degree program, thus giving Boston six. Many of the graduates of these schools work for years in local firms before becoming licensed.

Richard Fitzgerald, the recently retired director of the Boston Society of Architects, likens this recession to the last big one, which was back in the early '90s. "It was a tragedy of lost jobs," he said. "We lost a whole generation of young architects who went into other fields, who otherwise would be moving into leadership positions in architecture firms today."

But Fitzgerald also notes, "I think there are few professions as resilient as architecture. Architects aren't used to being rich. They're in it to survive, not for the dollars."

Of course the problem isn't limited to New England. One hundred architecture firms recently showed up to compete for a single, rather modest library renovation in Malibu, Calif. And in Britain, government figures show that the number of architects filing for unemployment benefits increased by 760 percent in the last year, more than any other profession.

Baker points out an ominous difference between this recession and earlier ones. In the past, he says, institutional work - buildings for nonprofit clients such as hospitals and universities - held up better than commercial work, such as office buildings, condos, and retail stores.

But today, says Baker, with banks not lending and endowments shrinking, institutional projects, too, are being put on hold.

Some cite the government as the architectural client of last resort. They hope that the stimulus package will fund public works such as schools and healthcare and transit facilities.

Alex Krieger, a founder of Chan Krieger Sieniewicz in Cambridge, said he is facing a new kind of competition. "We do a lot of planning for government agencies," he said. "In recent months we've found that some of the biggest, best known architecture firms in the country, people who wouldn't normally go after small planning jobs, are competing with us. Suddenly, everyone becomes a planner. Public clients are impressed by these big national names. We've lost jobs that we think we'd normally have gotten."

Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell

Friday, April 24, 2009

Revit Ribbon Wow Factor

Autodesk has been coming up with new ideas each week for why the "Ribbon" was a positive move. While I would like to believe all the new reasons for why Autodesk forced the ribbon, I still believe it came from some marketer's dream, that influenced corporate, which then became a movement requiring all software packages to look the same. They were going for a wow factor. The wow factor being that if something looks better then people will want it. This works for product design, sometimes websites but rarely on software. Below are some examples:

Product Design
People will buy electronics that have less features and costs more than another on the shelf simply because it is better designed and more visually appealing. When perusing the shelf or website they created a wow that separated this product from that. Design for this has a purpose and it works.

An overly designed "Wow" website with animated graphics and shifting/sliding of content and controls can actually make it more difficult to see the important information that the website is trying to reveal. While you may get more people wanting to look at the site, they are looking at your "Wow" and not YOU and what YOU can provide to them. The person who clearly states their core values and services on the front page, easy to read, will probably get a better business response.

So recently I was trying out different DVD ripping programs so that I can copy my toddler's movies onto an external drive so that when he destroys the disk, I can just burn a new one. I had two serious contenders for my money and both were on full use trials. The first I decided to try was because they had created a Wow Factor in their User Interface design, the downside was that it actually did not work well. The burned DVD would automatically skip from chapter to chapter 50% of the time and you would finish the movie in seconds. So I tried the other which was a basic interface with nothing graphical about it and few buttons or options. It worked perfectly and did what it was designed to do. Which one do you think I spent my money on?

Today I will be completing the 4th day of Revit 2010 training for a new team that has never used Revit. While one of the premises for the new UI was that it would make it easier for new users to grasp, I actually believe that it is harder. With everything shifting and sliding, tools there and not there, go to this tab and then back again... the issues go on and on. There is no easy way to say when you want to do this you go here. Everything is in constant movement and revealing tools in different places. What is interesting is that I see more users who will probably go back to text commands (like Autocad) because tools like the copy button move all over the place and you are constantly having to think and search out the command. While there is nothing that can be done going forward with the UI since it is here to stay, I sure hope Autodesk makes some huge advancement in the tools for the next release. Otherwise, it is a "Wow" type interface which is hard to navigate, does not follow the flow of working on design projects and has many tools that still do not adequately perform the tasks that they are suppose to do.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Revit for the Unemployed Update

I got an interesting RSS feed from http://dwf.blogs.com/beyond_the_paper/ today.

Autodesk is taking an interest in today's economic crisis where they will actually help those of you who are unemployed. Follow this link for more information http://students3.autodesk.com/?nd=assistance_home&lbon=1 and this one for a detailed .pdf explination http://students3.autodesk.com/ama/orig/Autodesk_Assistance_Program_Customer_FAQ-_FINAL.pdf

In one of my previous posts, I had thought it would be beneficial for the unemployed to be able to get a student version at a student cost for a 13 month license. Autodesk seems to have taken it one step forward and is offering the software free. This is a great move by Autodesk to show that they understand where the economy is and that they care about the users of their programs.

Check out the links above for more information.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Quick Access Toolbar - Boston RUG

A week ago today, Autodesk hosted our area Revit Users Group at their new facility in Waltham. They previewed Revit Architecture and MEP 2010 which included the new user interface (UI), Customization, Conceptual Massing and the API. While each of the presenters from Autodesk did a great job, the greatest nugget of information that I received was that you can set the quick access toolbar (QAT), copy the file and then you can deploy it to all your new installs.

Why is this important?

You will probably find out that there are tools that you will need frequently and switching between the tabs on the UI just seems time consuming. While I am assuming what my users will need, I had found that Switch Windows, Text, Aligned Dimension, Measure and WORKSETS will be a few of those tools that are essential to be at your fingertips. I will also probably deploy it with about 1/2 the default QAT selections turned off. Also with the assumption that these will be used a lot, I am going to put it below the ribbon.

You can decide what your desired setup is for your users but you will probably not be able to find the file that retains the information without the information below:

The ribbon and QAT data is stored in the UIState.dat file.
To reset the UI to its default state just delete the file.
UIState.dat file is located in the Autodesk Revit Architecture 2010 folder under one of the following folders:
o For Windows XP
%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Autodesk\Revit
o For Windows Vista

Note: Your users will be able to customize it once they start using it since this also holds the information on the ribbon and other UI info.

Thanks to Erik at Autodesk for supplying me with the path for the .dat file.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Revit for the Unemployed

I read a facebook status update the other day from a friend who was laid off from an architecture firm due to the economy. He wrote that while unfortunate, it is allowing him time to work on his exams, study for LEED and to learn this BIM thing. It got me thinking about how he would actually learn BIM. He could download the Revit trial, use books to train and try to learn it but what can you actually do in the 30 days of the trial version. Is 30 days enough to learn? When I first started on Revit, I had gotten a demo while at Autodesk University 2004. I had demos beforehand but you just start getting into it when the demo expires. The demo that they gave at AU 2004 was either a 60 or 90 day (can't remember). What I do remember is having adequate time to learn and start implementing it.

While pondering this, I thought about whether Autodesk could do something to help the numerous unemployed which would not cost much but could lead to significant gains for Autodesk's future. What if Autodesk could provide Revit to the unemployed using the cost structure of the Student License and also have the similar 13 month license? Of course, there would need to be some type of proof (unemployment check, call to the last employer or something similar). This would allow numerous individuals with the ability to learn Revit, become proficient and be more marketable. The benefit for Autodesk is that there would be many more users of the program for when the market rebounds. When these users go into their new jobs they will essentially be your sales force within those companies. Another senerio is that many of these individuals may end up starting their own practices. After seeing the benefit of Revit, what software do you think they would choose to buy when the license expires?

Something interesting to think about and I would like to hear some of your comments.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Revit Innovations

In one of my previous emails I may have been slightly harsh about the releases of Revit. In my mind, the time and energy spent on the UI is not worth while since not enough of the actual tools have been perfected enough yet to take the fustration out of day to day use. While I stongly believe that there are serious flaws in the workflow and use of the tools, the Revit team has been innovative on an actual tool that should help with the early design of a building. The conceptual massing tool is that innovation and is a great first pass at a Sketchup like flexibility to massing.

Kudos to the team that worked on conceptual massing. You are definately going in the right direction and I look forward to where you take it from here.

But my comment still stands... make the product work as perfect as it can and then pull some of the programmer's time away for other things. I know Revit as a whole can never be completely perfect but it CAN be a lot better.

Product Comparisons

Continuing on the previous topic...

Version Comparisons can offer more than just justification for upgrades, it can actually help your users find which product is best for their needs. For instance:

Navisworks - Do I need Manage, Simulate or Review? There is also Freedom but that is just the viewer but where do the options of the viewer overlap the others?

Max or Max Design?

Alias - Would I need Design, Surface or Studio?

There are probably others but I think my point is made. The moment that you start creating a disconnect by increasing the options for a single product line it is imperative that you include some type of comparison. At least Navisworks tries to do it but only on a high level. For example, all have Review Toolkit and 3D File and data aggregation but what does that mean to someone who has not used it? I challenge the people who created this list to go home and ask their spouse (or better yet call your mother), show them the list and ask them what the differences are between the products. Ask them what Review Toolkit is and see if they can come up with a remotely similar description to what you think is straight forward.

Why make this confusing when you probably already have the information at your fingertips. You spend a huge time marketing your but you missed something big when you don't allow the users to understand differences without extensive research.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Comparison Charts - What Autodesk is missing...

With the economic downturn affecting many architecture firms, there is a movement to re-evaluate what they spend money on. One significant aspect of every budget is software. Do the companies who almost force you into subscriptions really give you the benefit of getting each new software release? Adobe gives you a comparison chart to help you evaluate what has changed and thus puts the power in your hands to determine if the software advances from the company warrant the payment for the upgrade. Autodesk will give you a feature summary but is that enough?

I was recently asked to look into Ecotect training since there are only a few individuals using our network license within our office at a limited capacity. We would like to leverage the product more throught our design process and on more projects. With that research, I thought I would look at the upgrade of our 5.6 version to 2010 since the users would most likely be trained in the new version. I was shocked to see that the price has risen to $3,500 and then they want $750 on top of that for subscription which they try to justify by giving you Green Building Studio.

But what has been improved?

By Autodesk putting their name on it after aquisition, the price increased significantly. With the next release (2010) it increased again by $1,000. So what justifies this increase? Give me a product comparison since the product detail brochure and questions & answers paper do not mention one benefit to upgrading. Is there even a new feature? Autodesk, How are you going to get new customers for these products if you make it cost prohibitive? I can't sell this to our CFO in this market but if it was less expensive (like Pre-Autodesk days) I would be able to. If I could sell it and train it then they would see the benefit, use it a lot and need to buy even more licenses thus providing Autodesk with even more money then at the current cost since we will not buy it. How will you even get people to try it at this cost?

In the past, Revit was worthwhile to be on subscription. With the aquisition, they started a strong push to improve the product with frequent updates which has seemed to fizzle. Are they in the "the dip" or do they need to find their new "Purple Cow". Both are fast read books by Seth Godin and if you have not read them then you need to. I used to look forward to the improvements of each release but I have not seen this in the last couple releases. They always seem to focus all efforts in one area. 2009 brought us the rendering and 2010 will bring us a new user interface but what happens to all of the issues that you may think are little but really significantly affect the everyday use?
Autodesk, Please keep up with being innovative and make it worthwhile to be on subscription.

Another example of product version comparisons from Techsmith on Camtasia. They allow you to pick your version and have it compared to the current. Simple idea that most software companies do...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Boston Revit Users Group

Sorry for the long time in between posts. I have been working on internal presentations and a couple RUG groups (both internal and external). This post is to announce the Boston RUG group going public. This group is run and attended by users just like you. Please sign up if you are interested in being part of this exciting group. If you have any questions about the group please feel free to email me. (Email Address on Right Bar)

The following is from a email that Laura Handler (BIMx) sent out.
Next Meeting
Our next meeting is February 17th, at ADD Inc. You can get more info and RSVP on the website.
Organization of the Group
As you may have heard (via an email from Steve Rines), the leadership of the group is morphing. We are starting to utilize an advisory board method of organization, with representation from ALL of the ‘players’: Architecture, Structure, Systems Engineering (MEP), Contractors, Subcontractors, Owners, Facilities Management, etc. However, we need to find all of these people first. We will introduce the current board members at the first meeting and discuss this structure in greater detail.

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