Wednesday, July 31, 2013

RTC comment piece in World Architecture News

For those that are still sat on the fence on whether they should are shouldn’t go to RTC Europe, which will be held in Delft, Netherlands at the end of September; hopefully my comment piece in World Architecture News will persuade you it will be a good decision.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Switch Join Order


This one passed me by in Revit 2014, but may have been picked up by others; you can now switch the join order of elements. This is probably best demonstrated when needing to join like minded materials together, such as concrete beams & slabs

Here we have 3 pre-cast concrete beams & a slab. We obviously want to join the elements together to create nice clean joins.


If we choose Join Geometry from the modify tab, we can select the slab & join it to the beams.


Now if we don’t want to show the beams projected into the slab as indicated in the image above, select the Switch Join Order tool, & the select the slab & then each individual beam to switch the way the concrete cleans up.


The cutting rules are recognised when you create a section box through the model as well. Here I have joined one beam so it projects into the slab, the other 2 remain flush to the underside of the slab.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New version of IFC Exporter for Revit

I got this email message forwarded from one of my colleagues, BIM superstar, Michael McCune. Basically it was in reference to a new version of the IFC EXporter for Revit. Details are listed below:-

IFC Exporter for Revit 2013 (v2.12):

IFC Export Alternate UI for Revit 2013 (v1.12):

IFC Exporter for Revit 2014 (v3.4):

IFC Export Alternate UI for Revit 2014 (v2.4):

What’s new for IFC Exporter for Revit v2.12/v3.4:

General (Revit 2014 UR1 Only):

Added basic support for IFC4 export, corresponding to the Coordination View 2.0 MVD. Please see the Wiki for more details. This requires Revit 2014 Update Release 1 to be installed. Note that currently the ifcXML format for IFC4 is not supported.


  • Minor performance improvement by reducing the number of calls to the IFC export mapping table.
  • This version is the Revit MEP certified version of the exporter. Revit is now certified for all 3 possible export certifications: Architectural, Structural, and MEP.

New Functionality:

  • Add new MEP property sets: Pset_SanitaryTerminalBath, Pset_SanitaryTerminalShower, Pset_SanitaryTerminalSink, Pset_SanitaryTerminalWashBasin.
  • Add support for IfcRelCoversBldgElements for ducts and pipes. - Allow association of property set descriptions to a specific pre-defined type of an entity.
  • Allow exporting foundation and retaining walls as IfcFooting, if set in the IFC export mapping table, or using "IfcExportAs" for the particular wall.
  • Export "SiteLandTitleNumber" and "SiteLongName" shared parameters from Project Information to IfcSite, if they are set.
  • Optionally allow storing the generated IFC GUIDs into the project file after export. This will add "IFC GUID" parameters to elements, their types, and Project Information for Project, Site, and Building GUIDs. This requires version v2.4 of the alternate UI to set the option, and requires a manual save.
  • Read in ParameterMappingTable.txt, which allows users to specify a mapping from Revit properties to IFC common parameter sets. Please see the Wiki on custom parameter mapping for more information. - Special thanks to: Tom Pesman ( and the Dutch Revit User Group ( / for their contribution of this improvement to the Open Source.

Bug Fixes:

  • Add base equipment to the IfcSystem.
  • Correct export of true north for IfcSite.
  • Correct scaling of Voltage values on export.
  • Move more local coordinate systems closer to the entity's geometry.
  • Properly export space containment for equipment.

What’s new for IFC Export Alternate UI for Revit v1.12/v2.4:

New Functionality (Revit 2014 UR1 Only):

  • Added IFC4 Basic Coordination View 2.0 configuration, and IFC4 as a pull-down option for IFC version. This requires Revit 2014 Update Release 1 to be installed.

New Functionality:

  • Optionally allow storing the generated IFC GUIDs into the project file after export. This will add "IFC GUID" parameters to elements, their types, and Project Information for Project, Site, and Building GUIDs. This requires v3.4 of the exporter to add the parameter values, and also requires a manual save.
  • Report which property sets are being exported on a single line in the detail section of the first export screen.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Update is done

So I have finally completed all the edits & tweaks I planned for the blog. Hopefully you find the format sharper, cleaner & not too clutter. Let me know what you think….

What new in Revit 2014 ipad App

imageSo you read my article in what’s new in Revit 2014, but now you need something to review on the go. How about downloading the new iOS app. Its free & available now from the itunes app store.

UK BIM Task Group News Letters

If you are UK based & you are trying to still get your head around the BIM requirements, be sure to check out the BIM Task Group Newsletter, some interesting articles here…

Friday, July 19, 2013

Revit 2014 service release 1

As noted by others, Revit 2014 service release 1 has appeared.

Scaling families – #empirebim


It seems very trendy to scale families these days! As I missed out on some of Marcello’s RTC Revit hacks this year, this is homage to what he & others like Kelvin Tam are doing. So as others have shown, I have various nested generic model families, dropped them into a plant family template. This family is then nested into another plant family. This is then placed into a project. Using the height parameter in the family, changing this, scales the family.


So what about this for a complete twist; a curtain wall At-At…..



So it easy to achieve this. Just create the family using the nested plant family approach previously described in both Marcello’s & Kelvins Blog posts . Next start a new curtain wall panel family. Then load your plant family into the curtain wall panel. Lock & align it to the reference level. Then create a dimension between the top & bottom reference planes in an elevation view. As indicated in the image below.


Then select that dimension & turn it into a instance based reporting parameter.


Finally link this report parameter to the height parameter in the nested plant family.


Save your family & load him into a new project. Draw yourself a new piece of curtain wall. The key component here is to set the divisions of the curtain wall to be by number in the type properties of the curtain wall, certainly during the test process. Also, set the curtain wall panel type to be your newly loaded curtain wall panel.


Your panels will then display in the the curtain wall. Select the curtain wall & alter the vertical grid & horizontal grid number as required to increase the number of panels.


You will be able to do other cool things if you manually divide the curtain wall.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Modelling Best practise tip – part 2

As noted by Jay Zallan on twitter, my previous post actually didn’t provide an exact answer, but in many ways that was the reason for the post, remember the skin a cat part?. :-) But what Jay did do was start a debate about potential ways to solve this issue & this crowd sourced a great discussion, so thank you Jay. I always liked to be challenged, as whilst I have knowledge in the use of Revit (hopefully) there are many ways to do things & I love to capture everybody's thoughts, one of the beauties of twitter & social media. So the conclusion from the debate was as follows & btw I am not taking credit for this. This goes to all those that challenged the post I made; they are the real hero's here.:-

  • Edit sketch profile is bad, causes too many down stream issues; probably very true in many cases. but not all situation. Use with care.
  • Whilst the 4 wall solution provided an answer, its was probably not the best configuration. Instead model the walls as indicated below. Thanks to Robert Manna for this suggestion. This approach not only provides good wall clean ups, it ensures quality IFC exports.


  • Wall joins from the wall configuration above…nice clean ups.


As a test & thanks for Rob at BondBryan for this, if you IFC this configuration from Revit, whilst you end up with 4 walls, when you IFC the result back into Revit, the model comes back perfect. Even the wall joins are good,


Using edit wall profile, IFC the walls, its fine in an IFC viewer, but re-import into Revit & you get a real mess. I would guess its the same for any other <insert preferred BIM application here>.

Hopefully this crowd sourced information will be useful to you, but even the, remember that cat, as it probably needs a new skin.

Modelling Best practise tip

One of the most interesting aspects of using Revit for model authoring is often there is more than one way to skin a cat. Let me provide you with an example. Take a look at the image below.


You will notice, in principle both wall junction configurations look the same. The end modelling result graphically provides what you need, yet one solution is made up of 3 walls, the other 4 walls. I see this type of thing all the time with new users, even though they are educated in the deep capabilities of walls.


You might argue that it makes little difference, but from a purist modelling / downstream use of the model, I believe it does make a difference. This was no fault of the user who modelled it (btw this example was taken from a model I was auditing). He or she maybe under pressure & they did what they needed to do to get the information out of the door. But this highlights a big challenge that the industry has, what is best practise? I’m a firm believer that you should model how you would build it, whether or not you do or don’t use the model for wider “BIM” uses. BY engraining this culture within your teams, when a project comes along where you really have to deliver Level 2 BIM, (ie. a collaborate project where all disciplines are sharing their models) you will be a far better position to ensure that things are done correctly.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New Look

The blog needed a refresh. Hope you like it, its still work-in-progress, so the images & layout might yet still change.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Curtain Wall icon – speed green - 2014

Was testing some Revit 2014 things today & suddenly my Curtain Wall icon went funny? Not sure why, but after a restart it sorted itself out. I do find if you do get these sort of glitches in graphics, a restart typically solves the problem. Neither less, it was a surprise & colourful addition to the Revit 2014 interface!


PAS1192-2: new BIM standards - NBS TV video

The NBS have produced a useful video which explains BIM in the UK, especially around the COBie, PAS1192-2, RIBA BIM overlay requirements. It makes interesting viewing, with interviews with Nick Nesbit (BuildingSMART UK), John Eynon (architect) as well as Dale Sinclair (Dyer). The interviewer does an excellent job at questioning the interviewees, pushing them to demystify the whole thing. I found it slightly amusing that technology seemed to get side stepped, but then remember I am a technology geek. This is what fires me up. Whilst people & process along with collaborative working are essential to BIM, I like to understand how the technology integrates with the process to drive efficiencies at a fundamental level for collaborative benefits.

Do I believe the UK will be ready for the 2016 BIM requirement? Nope, sadly I don’t. It’s going in the right direction with a massive push & it’s refreshing that the discussion is being had. There is also some great Project work already being done or completed using a BIM methodology. HOK’s BP2, Barts Royal London hospital or Crossrail, Francis Crick to name but a few. The big game changer is the data requirements.

But right now I still see many that are confused by much of the new generation BIM requirements, if you can call it new generation. This is not me being negative at all, it’s just what I observe day to day. When you still have people concerned about the quality of the drawing output from say (insert preferred BIM authoring application), then there is no way they are ready for this next step. There is so much to learn & a fundamental mind shift required.

I hope I am proven wrong, I really do. But with so much going on, so many new terms, so many acronyms I wonder the average construction individual is confused. Our industry is complex enough as it is, please let’s not make it even more confusing. Feel free to challenge me if you think I am wrong, but when I speak to other likeminded experts, whilst they are not necessarily speaking out, secretly they have some reservations as well. It’s just that I’m stupid enough to say it publically.


PAS1192-2: new BIM standards - NBS TV video

Auditing Walls

After my recent blog post about Location Line consistency, Luke Johnson asked…..

Dave, when auditing a project (and trying to fix inconsistent location lines), do you have any tips on the most reliable way to do this?
If a wall is oriented incorrectly and needs to be flipped, do you recommend switching to 'Wall Centreline' and then using the flip control?”

When you audit a file you can’t schedule the wall Location line which is an annoyance. The only obvious way is to select the wall & observe the constraint set in the properties palette then change it. Like you are going to go through each wall in your project one by one???!!! It’s just not going to happen.


However, this parameter is exposed via the API. So once again CASE Exceler8 comes to the rescue!

If you export all your walls from your project via Exceler8 you will see the Location Line parameter listed in the resulting Excel workbook for every wall. However, it does not provide you with the actually location name, instead it’s defined as a number from 0 to 5. The values equate to the following:-

  • Wall Centerline = 0
  • Core Centerline = 1
  • Finish Face: Exterior = 2
  • Finish Face: Interior = 3
  • Core Face: Exterior = 4
  • Core Face: Interior = 5

imageTherefore, even though this is not visible in the project, you can start to review the data in Excel & with some filtering of headings, you can isolate which walls have which location lines. With an appropriate strategy & the fact you now have the element ID of the walls you can tweak the walls in Revit. Or if you are feeling adventurous, change the parameter value in the Excel workbook for any walls which you think “might” cause problems & then drive the updated data back into the model using Exceler8. In this simple video example, I have 10 walls, with differing Location Lines set. For each wall, as a double check I have included a comment of the location in the comment parameter. I export using Exceler8, review the changes, tweak the Location Line, back to Finish Face: Exterior, value 2. Then update the walls, by sync’in the data back into Revit. Job done.


Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Be Consistent – Wall Location Line:

This is going to seem an obvious, but being consistent with the management of the wall Location Line constraint is essential when laying out walls in your project. When I dig around users projects, I often find inconsistent strategies, which “can” lead to issues with wall joins. You can set the wall location line parameter when you first place a wall, this is available from options bar.


New users often don’t know what all these different parameters are or what they even do. They merrily go away & place walls with different Location Lines set, only to find that walls are not cleaning up as expected. Let me show what each of these parameters are referring when you place a wall. The diagram below shows what each parameter alignment does.


The Core boundary is set in the wall type itself. All wall system families have a core Boundary, internal & external. Observe that its the “green” lines in the screen grab above.

Now whilst this might be a slight sweeping statement, but I advice users to be as consistent as they can. If you are placing your external facade walls, typically ensure they are all set to the same location line. Also, watch the location you choose. If you choose Wall Centreline & you have to flip the direction of the wall, there are no differences, as you are mirroring the wall around its centre line, on which you placed it. If on the other hand you choose Finish Face: Exterior, when you flip the wall, you are flipping the whole wall width, this can impact areas, so be mindful of this.But if you have to change the wall makeup, then Finish Face: Interior may be preferable as you might not want to impact areas within the building.

“Ok!'” What do you recommend then? To play safe, I either make all my external walls be Finish Face: Exterior or Finish Face Interior. What I choose very much depends on the project stage & whether I know the wall build up. As for internal walls, I try very hard to always make internal partition be wall centreline. This strategy has worked for me, I hope you have similar success. But do remember you can change the wall Location Line at any time if you need to, by selecting the wall & changing the Location Line parameter from the properties dialogue box.


Monday, July 08, 2013

Shared Coordinates

Shared coordinates seems to be one of those subject areas which causes a mental block. Not actually sure why, but it does. I know others including Steve Stafford having documented & shared this with people time & time again. I even posted something a few years back which defined the process. Anyway, this is my quick step guide to setting up shared coordinates by “specifying a coordinate” at a point. I am 100% confident with this process, a bold statement I know, but I have helped setup some mega projects using these steps & it works every time for me.

Start by opening the survey drawing in AutoCAD; as good practise check the unit of the DWG, this is achieved by select or typing “DDUNITS”. It’s also worth Auditing the DWG for any errors using the “AUDIT” command in AutoCAD. Next using the “ID” command, ID a point, this may be a benchmark or a survey pin on the survey plan. In the example below, it is an Easting & Northing of 100000,100000, with the units of the DWG set to millimetres.


In Revit, start a new project. Next go to the Site view & notice the Survey Base Point & the Project Base Point. Do not move them right now.


Next import the DWG survey, but it is essential to import “centre to centre”. Do this by going to the Insert tab > link CAD this will open up the Import CAD dialogue. Locate the DWG & ensure the units are set & that you are importing centre to centre.image

Once you have everything setup, click the Open button & the DWG will be imported. If you zoom all, you should see the DWG imported & the elevation symbols, very small. Resolve this by changing the scale of the view. If for any reason the DWG is not imported centre to centre, you need to go back into AutoCAD & check the DWG file as there may be an ordinate dimensions setup which can mess with the result. Remove the ordinate dimensions from the CAD file & go back a step to import again.


Next we need to align the coordinate system of Revit with the imported DWG file. Start by upclipping both the Survey Base Point & the Project Base Point.


Next we will move them to a location of 100000,100000 which is on the bottom left hand corner of the DWG. You may want to put the view into thin line mode to help with the line weights, as this can be distracting. Ignore the Northings & Eastings, we will resolve this in a moment. Place the Survey Base Point as below. Do NOT clip the Survey Base Point yet.


Next go to the Manage tab & the Coordinates. Choose the Specify Coordinates at Point command.


Pick the intersection. If this is problematic, draw a model line from the intersection & pick the end of the line where it intersects with the DWG.


In the Specify Shared Coordinates, type in the Northing & Easting to match the DWG file. You may also want to address the elevation level if you know this.


Once you have done this, click OK, to set the shared coordinates. Select the Survey Base Point & now click the paper clip, this will lock the Survey Base Point in place.


With the Project Base Point still unclipped you can then move this either to the Survey Point or to another reference location on the linked CAD file, if you know another survey coordinate or even a grid intersection, place it there. Once you have chosen a suitable location, clip the Project Base Point.


So as a double check, its good practice to save the file & then export the survey view as a DWG by shared coordinates back to CAD to see if everything has been setup correctly. To do this, go to Application Menu, big R>Export>CAD Formats> DWG files


This will open the export DWG dialogue; next go to button with 3 dots which is the Modify Export Setup.


Go to Units & Coordinates & ensure the Coordinate system basis is set to Shared. Select OK.


This will return you to the export dialogue, choose Next.


Name the export ; then Export the DWG to a suitable location. Ensure Export views & sheet links as external references is NOT ticked.


Next open the resulting DWG in AutoCAD. Use the ID command to double check the coordinates have been passed back correctly.


In this example we have zoomed into the location of the Survey base point & used ID in AutoCAD to check the coordinates. We can see from the example that they are spot on in the resulting DWG export.


As an extra check, you can always Xref in the original Survey CAD plan. If they drop in correctly on top of one another, you can be confident that the shared coordinates between AutoCAD & anything you export from Revit are correct.


Sadly I won’t be making it to RTC North America this year, but if you are interested in keeping up with all the action from my colleagues, be sure to follow them on twitter.

Also, all details on classes etc, can be found here..

I am an architect….

You may have already seen this before, but if you haven’t, pop on your headphones & enjoy……

Friday, July 05, 2013

Managing Revit data in Excel


I have already demonstrated the power of using a tool such as Exceler8 to export data to Excel. This short video steps you through the process of exporting to Excel, then linking that data to another Excel workbook. The thing I like about this, is that you keep the data moving all the time. Whilst it can get complicated on large datasets its a useful process to get accustomed to. Also, if you update your data in Revit, just export to Excel, over writing the first Excel sheet the second sheet will reflect that change.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Cross referencing parameters


I’m not convinced this is good practise but it might be useful. A request came to me the other day, “I would like to show the keynote parameter & the window mark parameter in the same tag?” On further investigation you soon discover you can either have a dedicated keynote tag which will pull out the keynote reference, but you can’t pick up the window mark type. Or you have a window tag, which can pull out the mark type, but not the keynote reference. This client wanted to show both parameters in one tag. So a quick hack around with some shared parameters & we resolved the request very simply. This is how…..

I started by creating a  “text” shared parameter called fake_keynote.


Next I ensure this parameter is used in the project. I assign the parameter to the window category, I also ensure the parameter is setup as an instance parameter.


I opened up the window tag, added a new label & assign the fake keynote shared parameter to the label in the tag & loaded the family back into the project.


This is what my new window tag now looks like.


You will observe that the tag is still not filling in any keynote data. Now the cool thing here is you can cross reference parameters, but you need to edit the window family to achieve this. I select the window & choose to edit the family.Then I add the fake_keynote shared instance parameter to the family.

imageI then make the shared instance parameter “reference” the real keynote parameter. This is achieved by adding =keynote to the the fake keynote parameter under the Formula field.


Save the family & then load the family back into the project updating any existing versions in the project. Now  when the window is loaded into the project, the keynote data is cross referenced into the fake_keynote parameter & the tag in turn displays the actual keynote data in the window tag.