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News on the latest in design, manufacturing, fabrication, construction, and engineering technology.


Matt Dillon
Matt Dillon
Matt Dillon's Blog

I ran into a nasty issue with a customer the other day while helping them get set up on BIM 360 Team and A360 Collaboration for Revit. Once I had them set up, they began initiating collaboration on several Revit projects. Initially all seemed to go well, until they started opening up the recently uploaded files. In every single file, once they opened it in Revit 2017 (as well as Revit 2017.2), the first thing they clicked on in the file (whether an element, a view,  or a ribbon) resulted in a irrecoverable error and Revit would crash.  Google is your friend. I quickly found a thread on the Autodesk Revit Forum where it was explained that this has been recently identified as a problem for some people, but not all. In fact, this was the first time I had seen it. Autodesk does not have a fix for it yet, however, there is a temporary workaround until they do - it involves disabling Communicator.  If you are experiencing frequent irrecoverable errors when working on A360 Collaboration for Revit files, follow these ...

The most basic of all visualization mediums is a simple rendering. While you can certainly generate very powerful and compelling still images in Revit with no additional software necessary, bringing your model into a more powerful rendering environment such as 3ds Max can provide you with additional capabilities to further enhance your image. 3ds Max includes a variety of rendering engines, each with it's own unique capabilities. The ART (Advanced Ray Trace) renderer is more or less the same that is found in Revit 2017, however the NVIDIA mental ray renderer brings additional capabilities that are not found in Revit 2017, or even in the mental ray renderer found in Revit 2016 and earlier releases.  The mental ray engine provides more controls for global illumination (GI), which allows you to render interior scenes that utilize exterior a high amount of exterior lighting. Both images below rely heavily, if not entirely, on external lighting for an interior scene. However these kinds of scenes can be very challenging to render without the ability to use the Global Illumination settings which are not found ...

The word "Visualization" gets used a lot these days, but what does it really mean? It's actually a fairly nebulous term, and can include all kinds of graphic communication tools and methods, from a simple hand-drawn sketch to a full-immersion virtual reality experience, and tons of things somewhere in between. Merriam-Webster defines Visualization as: 1: the formation of mental visual images 2:  the act or process of interpreting in visual terms or of putting into visible form 3:  the process of making an internal organ or part visible by the introduction (as by swallowing) of a radiopaque substance followed by radiography I think we can all agree that for purposes of building, site and infrastructure or product design we can ignore the third choice, but the first two would definitely apply. We use visualization tools and methods to put a design in visible form and to provide a mental ...

On February 7 - at 12:30 PM Eastern Time, I will be conducting a 45-60 minute webinar on Cloud Rendering with Autodesk Revit. Here are some sample images from the webinar. To register (it's FREE), go here. During this free webinar, we will examine the Autodesk A360 Cloud Rendering workflow using Autodesk Revit. We will look at the basic interface and settings, then explore more advanced features, such as exposure control, panorama and stereo panorama renderings for use with virtual reality goggles, and how to share your images with others.  See you there!

Appearance assets are the component of a Revit material that tells it what it looks like when it's rendered. However what many users don't realize is that the appearance asset is actually not a part of the material itself, it's being reference by the material, and multiple materials can reference the same appearance asset. Where the trouble occurs is when a user modifies a material, editing the asset that it is referencing, only to find out they just inadvertently edited a bunch of other materials as well, because they were using the same reference.  This is easy to avoid if you know what to look for. This usually happens because someone selected a material in the current project's material library and duplicated it to create a new material. While editing the duplicate they went to the "Appearance" tab and made changes to the appearance settings (they didn't assign a new appearance asset, but modified the one that was already there - color, reflectivity, transparency, anything at all about the asset). To see how to avoid this issue, take a look at ...

There's a lot more to the Revit Material Browser/Editor than a lot of people realize. This video will walk you through its interface, and also the process for creating new custom materials and storing them in a custom material library for use in other projects. See the video here.

We have recently revised our A360 Collaboration for Revit and BIM 360 Team white paper to include some late-breaking details in the set up and operation of A360 Collaboration for Revit and BIM 360 Team. You can get your updated copy here.

In every Revit Fundamentals class I teach, I find an opportunity to preach. I preach about the importance of "clean modeling" - making sure that your model is as error and warning-free as possible. Not only for those that have to use it when you're done with it, but also for your own benefit, well-being, sanity and job security. One of the biggest topics of my sermons is the process of reviewing and resolving warnings in Revit. Unfortunately, like most sermons, this usually falls on deaf ears, and periodically I run across the result of NOT religiously reviewing and resolving warnings. Recently I had the pleasure of opening a Revit model that not only looked like ... OK... I'm not going to pull any punches ... it looked like garbage, but it was essentially unusable. Every time I selected an object to edit, I had to wait several seconds while the dreaded Windows circle of death spun incessantly. There's a common cause to this symptom, and I went with my first instinct. I used the Review Warnings tool on ...

I am not one of those people who react negatively to changes in interface with software upgrades. Usually they're there's a good reason for them, and usually they lead to a better user experience once you make the adjustment. Usually. Not always. The double-click a family to edit it thing still bugs the heck out of me... why? Never mind. that's not the subject of this post - I already addressed that in this post from August 15. No, this time I'm complaining about the color of selected objects in Revit. It's blue. That's just wrong. Even though my favorite color is blue, selected objects should not be blue - they used to be red, several releases ago. I have no idea why someone decided to make them blue.  What's the big deal? Two things: The color of pre-selected objects is  also blue - the exact same shade of blue as selected objects. This can sometimes confuse people, especially new users, as to what is selected and what is about to be selected. For Revit MEP users in ...

"Well, how did I get here?" One of my favorite verses from an iconic Talking Heads tune. And one that applies to real life more often than I'd like sometimes. When Autodesk released Revit 2013 they added a new "feature" that took a lot of users by surprise. By simply double-clicking on an instance of a component family, like a door, window, furniture component, etc., you would be placed in the Family Editor in that component family's source file, ready to edit. I'm not sure how this "feature" found it's way into the software, or who the person was that thought it was a good idea (I think they might need a little Revit training), but the user community by and large was up in arms over it. I mean... really... select an instance of a component family and take a gander at the ribbon - what do you see? What is so hard about simply clicking "Edit Family"? On the other hand, many new users have "double-click-itis" - and when that happens on an instance of a component family, they ...

Sometimes you discover something and your first reaction is a bit of embarrassment because you didn't already know it, followed by amazement that nobody else has ever mentioned it to you before, because it's potentially a REALLY big deal. In today's previously unknown-to-me potentially REALLY big deal department: Did you know that you can accidentally delete multiple family types simply by opening and saving your Revit family? It's true. Here's how it happens: 1) In a Revit project, a conscientious BIM or Model manager performs a Purge Unused, purging unused Family Types, in an effort to keep file size down. This is good practice. 2) At some point in the future, from the same project, a user selects an instance of a family on which the above-mentioned purge was done, and selects "Edit Family" from the Ribbon (or double-clicks on the family instance to go to the Family Editor - who's boneheaded idea was THAT feature, anyway?).  3) The user makes a minor change to the family, then saves the file. *Poof* - all of those family types that were purged in the project are ...

Autodesk A360 Collaboration for Revit was released in January of 2015, and since then has seen a steadily increasing rate of adoption among users who need to host a Revit Central File in the cloud in order to collaborate with other firms and organizations, or even to collaborate within the same firm between geographically disperse offices. As would be expected, as the adoption rate increases, we have also seen an increase in support cases related to A360 - mostly involving the initial setup and confusion as to the relationship between A360 Collaboration for Revit and A360 Team.  We have recently completed a white paper to explain how these two services work together, how to set them up and the basics of working in A360 Collaboration for Revit. Download your copy here!

Autodesk Stingray is a relatively new addition to the Autodesk visualization toolset. Essentially it is a game engine, and what makes it especially compelling for building visualization is that it includes a plugin for 3ds Max that allows for a direct link between your 3ds Max scene and a Stingray environment, providing an entirely new and more interactive way to view and experience your design. For more information on the Revit-3dsMax-Stingray workflow there are a series of videos on YouTube - a very short overview is provided here. Recently I decided it was time for me to start becoming familiar with Stingray, so I installed it and started working through a few tutorials. I realized very quickly that the raw tutorials that come with Stingray were not geared for building visualization using Revit and 3ds Max, so I started looking around for more. I found some very good ones on... you guessed it... YouTube again, but right away I noticed something missing. The videos all referenced a "Stingray" pull down menu in 3ds Max - a menu that I did't ...

For some time now I've noticed a disturbing message that appears any time I turn on the Sun Path in a 3D view in Revit. It references a mysterious 3rd Party Updater for the "Sun and Shadow Settings Updater" and indicates that it had to be cancelled. You have two options when this appears - cancel showing the Sun Path (not an option) or disable the Updater.  I've always just clicked "Disable Updater", but I've also wondered if I was causing some sort of problem down the road, even though it appeared as though nothing was wrong afterwards. Good news - this morning I was getting caught up on some forum posts and came across this thread, in which several users are complaining about the same message. Turns out, it's benign. It's apparently caused by the Dynamo add-in. You can just disable the updater with no ill effects. It's easy to confirm for yourself - Launch Revit and turn on the Sun Path. If you get the error message, shut Revit down, then launch again. Before turning on the Sun Path, ...

I don't usually just post links to other blogs - it makes me feel like a copycat or something, but this tip from Steve Stafford's Revit OpEd blog is definitely link-worthy. He describes how to use filters and creative renaming of grid and level types to easily suppress linked level and grid markers in any view.

Dim reference to a scene from "The Jerk" - my brain ain't wired quite right sometimes, I think... Regardless, you can download the new and improved Worksharing Monitor for Revit 2016 here: https://apps.exchange.autodesk.com/productline/en/Detail/Index?id=appstore.exchange.autodesk.com:worksharingmonitor_windows64:en A couple of notes: This only works for workshared projects - hence the name "Worksharing Monitor" - clever, no? If your project is in the A360 Collaboration for Revit Cloud, this does not replace the Communicator.

Ever wonder if the (hopefully) momentary glitch you just experienced uploading a file to Glue or working in Fusion360 is something on your end or not? While Autodesk's cloud-based services have gotten MUCH more reliable than in the past, and outages are rare, they do still sometimes occur. Autodesk has a new monitoring device that can help you ascertain the status of "pay-for" cloud services such as BIM 360 Glue and Field, A360 Collaboration for Revit, etc. It will also give you advance notice of any planned downtimes. You can find it here: https://health.autodesk.com/ And right now, thankfully, it looks like everything is in the green :-).

A short video explaining how it's done:

Worksharing display was added to Revit a few releases ago, but it still seems to be rather under-used. Which is a shame, really - it's easy to use, and when set up properly can give users quite a bit more insight as to what's going on in a Workshared project. The controls for Worksharing Display are found in the View Control Bar at the bottom of every Revit graphical view: From this menu, you can set the display mode for the current view and turn Worksharing Display off. You can also modify the Display Settings:   Note that you can configure the view to show the checkout status of objects (objects that you own and objects that others are editing will be displayed with different colors), owners (who, specifically has each object - again by color), model updates (what objects have been modified and saved back to the Central File or deleted since you last synchronized your own model), and finally each specific Workset can be displayed with its own color. There are two modes I find particularly useful. The first, Checkout Status is shown ...

Today I decided it was a good day to try to start learning something new. Simulation is getting to be a bigger and bigger deal with Building Information Models. I downloaded and installed Autodesk CFD 2016 from our subscription site, and our IT Director got a license file and added it to our existing license file on the server. Upon launching CFD I got this lovely message: Yes, Virginia - it happens to us, too... The first step whenever you have an issue with a network license is to make sure the license manager is actually issuing the license. And it was. I then made sure I had actually downloaded and installed the correct CFD product (there's only about a bazillion of them). I had. I'm running a bunch of other software off of that same license server, but I borrow the licenses so I can be disconnected from the network and still work. As a test, I returned one of the licenses, then launched the product for which I had returned the license. I was able to get a license with ...

I have begun creating a series of video tutorials to supplement our standard Revit classes. The first one is done and posted to Enceptia's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIwdBq_hI8U

We had a booth at Autodesk University this year that was hard to miss. We have partnered with two other firms, Geoshack and Applied Software Technologies, to bring a full suite of solutions for the construction and fabrication industry. But wait... if you're not involved with construction or fabrication, don't stop reading... In fact, check out the video that we posted to YouTube to encapsulate those partnerships as well as others that we have formed over the past year or so to be able to provide collaboration tools for the entire AEC community, whether you do construction, fabrication or design. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0Lq0FSHCGQ&feature=em-subs_digest

I think this may be a new record... FIVE updates in a single release. You'll find the links in the following article - however NOTE! - If you have Update Release 4 R2 you need to download the Update 5 for that specific version. Revit 2015 Update 5 from The Revit Clinic blog

Last week I reported the availability of Autodesk Revit 2015 Update 4 R2 - and I stated that if you are on subscription it includes a variety of new features - a list of which can be found here: Revit 2015 Update 4 R2 - new features However I neglected to mention one really important thing... Make sure you are installing the CORRECT update! There are actually two - one for subscription customers, that includes all the new features, and one of non-subscription customers that doesn't. If you are on subscription and you install the non-subscription version, you will need to completely uninstall Revit and reinstall before you can install the Update 4 R2 version for subscription customers. As I said in the previous article, access the version for subscription customers from your subscription web site. If you are NOT on subscription, go to the normal Autodesk product update downloads page for that version.

Revit Update 4 (or Revit R2) is now available for subscription customers: http://inthefold.autodesk.com/in_the_fold/2014/09/autodesk-revit-2015-subscribers-get-slew-of-new-capabilities-with-r2-update.html To download, go to your subscription site and check the listings for new product enhancements. Click the link for the appropriate Revit download and follow your nose from there. Note that you should have Revit Update 3 installed before installing Update 4 (R2). In particular, I'm excited about the prospects for much more viable site creation/editing tools in the Site Designer - which you can download and install from the App Store - again for subscription customers only.