Using Revit in Viewer Mode as a Plotting Station


mimeograph-788411

If you don’t know what this is you ain’t old enough

A question came up about the need for a self-standing Revit 2016 plotting station to generate PDFs. A firm did not want to tie up a standalone or network license when running off a batch of plots. I initially latched on the prospect of using the Autodesk’s Batch Plotting App, but realized right away its major limitations was that it was not a non-licensed self-standing product and worse did not print to PDF.

Read more…

Exporting High Quality Views from Revit for Reports


Wanting to save a view as an image for reports?

While I typically use a premium screen capture and image annotation tool on a daily basis. I’ll suggest anyone to try this tip to take higher quality image shots within Revit as a Render image. It will store the image in the Revit Project Browser, after which the image view in Revit is exported to a standalone file for creating reports.

First select a view; be it plan, section, 3D or whichever you need. Set the view as needed to optimize how it is to be presented in the report. Shading and Sun settings can be set for best presentation. In my case, using a 3D view with a section box, I want to zoom to a portion of the model to illustrate a point in my report to the project’s stakeholders. From the image below, after I have spun the oriented the view as needed, I am ready to save the view as an Image.

Screenshot

Do a right-click on the view name in the project browser and right-click on the name to open the context based tools. Select the Save to Project as Image.

Context menu Save to Project as Image

This will then bring up a setting dialog box.

Create Image Output Settings

Just follow the setup as per the image above, giving consideration on how the SAVE Image to Project would need to be optimized for your report.

After the image is saved, look in the Project Browser for the saved image under the Rendering Category, be mindful custom browser organization might not display the Renders category.

Rendering image in Project Browser

Before beginning to export the freshly created view(s), save the project in order that the saved view be visible in the list of views to export. Go to the Revit Start Icon at upper left corner of the Revit session. Just be aware that there are many export options and it’s necessary to scroll down to near the bottom to find the Export as Image option.

Export as Image

Just note though that the Export Image dialog box does offer a way to directly export the current view as opposed to the steps we went through to create the Render views beforehand. The process I showed lets us set up several views to save to the Renders category and be exported in one step.

Export Image Settings

After exporting browse to the folder the Project is in and find the files that were created in the Export procedure.

rme_advanced_sample_project_DSM - Rendering - Image for Report

rme_advanced_sample_project_DSM - Rendering - Opposite view

The quality might be a little better than that of a screen grab. Try and share with your colleagues on the project teams.

BONUS ROUND

I have to share this little gem.

We all know when placing a family component to the model that the spacebar option rotates the family along a 90 degree segments? Right?

Well try this option: When the non-hosted family must be rotated in respect to a previously placed line or reference plane of some unknown angle in the model. What most will do is place the family and then rotate it. A few more steps than this option presented.

Begin to place the component family and then hover the family over the angled reference (or arc), highlighting the reference (line, wall, etc). c. Click on the spacebar—the preview placements will flip between perpendicular or parallel to the reference object.

Tales from the Helpdesk Crypt – Selecting Hardware Configurations for Revit


Frequently, we have are asked on customer support to make hardware recommendations for Revit users. Being that hardware technology advances fairly quickly, we can’t make specific recommendations on what hardware to buy. However to be helpful, we typically ask several questions about the scale of projects, amounts of rendering and then we will make some basic assumptions on the hardware configurations. Our users can use that information to compare features and pricing when shopping for a new system or specifying one to be built out.

As a starting point, review this handy Revit white paper document titled Model Performance Technical Note from Autodesk. This document outlines from top to bottom all aspects of optimizing the system, network and modeling practices before spending money on the hardware side.

Most of my experience with selecting hardware for use at CADsoft has been relatively painless. The hardware selection criteria are based on what projects are likely to be encountered while using a notebook form factor to provide training, support and mentoring users. This will be based on several sources of information that are presented as links. Then factor in some percentage to stay away from achieving the point of obsolesce too soon. Typically, I can manage with what ends up in my notebook bag for the next 3-4 years and that’s it.

I’ll break down my requirements along three major items, the CPU, RAM, and Graphics.

CPUs define the power of computing.

It helps to understand the difference in CPU chips when specifying your hardware criteria. Project sizes based on TI’s as opposed to Hospitals can vary so buying lower cost systems because your projects are not big and complex can be shortsighted. Even if there are no expectations of scaling up to larger projects, faster chips paired with the better motherboards are essential to avoid early obsolesce.

The design and production teams will require different level of computing capacity based on the amount of modeling needed, views, sheets, schedules and so forth. Therefore select the best Intel i7 CPU for the money.  Be aware, not all CPUs are the same even if they claim the i7 Intel chips on board. Pay attention to the processor number and clock speeds. These are listed here in this link Intel® Processor Comparison and pasted below.

 

Intel i7 Processors

Intel i7 Processors

When several different computer systems are presented and the prices differ, the cheaper system may be on account of the type of i7 chips and motherboard installed into the box not to mention other components that make up the system. Armed with this information you will be guarded when reviewing system specifications and be assured you are buying the correct and best CPU and motherboard combinations.

Where it comes to Xeon vs i7 CPUs which is better? Despite all the talk around the topic, my inclination it to go with newest i7 CPU on a better motherboard, get a SSD (solid state drive) and upgraded screen(s) instead.

More RAM is better.

RAM modules are cheaper than waiting or dealing with crashes due to out of memory issues. Your time is money and waiting costs money. Having all that CPU power and too little memory to handle any anticipated load is shortsighted. Better to get all you can afford now. So how much is enough, 4 or 32 GB? Where in between is enough? 32 GB is considerably more than needed for a vast majority of projects even with most products open in the Autodesk Building Suite.

My opinion is that 4 GB alone is all soaked up by the Operating System with some left over for office productivity suites. Microsoft’s Windows Systems Requirements are claiming 1 GB for the OS and 1-2 GB for the Microsoft Office Suite. I suggest rounding up to 4 GB to be sure.

Revit generally comes in suites packages. But let’s concentrate on the Revit side. The Official Minimum Requirements call for 4 GB. My opinion is that this is just about right for starting up Revit and conducting training sessions and no more. For production work I’ll recommend 8 GB for Revit alone.

For even larger health facilities projects in combination of workseted projects we need the assurance that project will not suffer stoppages and slowdowns. So generally go for more up to 16 GB as the sweet spot for long term planned obsolesce. Only consider more if building forms are complex and requires linking in different building wings building are planned.

What about the rest of the software in the suites? It’s not uncommon to run Navisworks, AutoCAD, 3ds Max, possibly Intraworks and then ReCap. Combine this with PDF readers, office productivity suites, and iTunes going at the same time. So plan accordingly and realize the benefits of the suites with the extra RAM.

Graphics, when presentation is everything.

Being AEC professionals and facilities managers, we will spend up to 8 or even more hours a day in front of our computers. Nothing is worse than dealing with video cards and monitors that are not up to snuff. Being productive requires being able to spend considerable time in from of the screen for several hours at a time and not come away with headaches and eyestrain.

However there are so many different graphics cards on the market that it is impossible to evaluate them all. As a starting point the Autodesk Certified Hardware website is a good starting point on what hardware/graphics selection to go with.

Autodesk Recommended Hardware Website

Autodesk Recommended Hardware Website

 

Understanding how the Graphics Cards work with Revit is best explained here in the Revit Forum. It’s my favorite go to place to help users and system builders understand the ins and outs of Graphics Cards and would visit it a couple times a year.

However, hardware and driver configuration is a moving target and is difficult to pin down at times. My alternate sources of information are to peruse the Autodesk Users Group International (AUGI) and Revit Forum. For system builders consult the discussions with a internet search using “Revit Tom’s Hardware”.

Spending serious coin on Graphics Cards is generally unnecessary and does not equate with more speed unless creating renderings from Revit and 3ds Max is planned. Better to get a card with dual monitor support and two decent sized monitors.

Wrapping up

Saving money with an i5 Intel CPU and purchasing 16 GB RAM means the slower CPU will not be fully realized with the extra RAM. Likewise, purchasing a Quadro K4000 Graphics Card will not result in higher graphics performance unless it is planned to render with it. So avoiding potential bottlenecks is our objective in specifying a system based on reasonable costs and performance.

System Rating

System Rating

Note that my bottleneck is at the hard drive with 5.9 rating. An investment of a Solid State Drive (SSD) for the OS, Software and local Revit project files would help optimize my OS/software Startup, save to local times will be shorter and software installs will be considerably faster.

In closing, keep in mind overspending on a single component will produce uneven results.

Rotating a Section Annotation


Snaps are great in Revit and assist us with aligning many objects, but sometimes get in the way or inadvertently cause us to make an error.  Let’s say for this example we have placed a Section Annotation (Building or Wall) and didn’t quite make it perpendicular to the wall we want to section.  If the view created is not normal to the object being cut, we cannot utilize our tools, such as dimensions, with it.

Non-aligned Section Annotation

One Works, One Doesn't

What do we usually do?  Delete and redraw.  Nothing wrong with that, but it is possible to rotate these objects and “align” them properly when the case calls for it.

Annotation End Points

Annotation End Points

The Section Annotation actually has a couple end points we can utilize, and it is good to note that the annotation can snap to Reference Planes and Structural Grids when first creating them.  I’ll describe the use of a reference plane and those end points to make the rotation dependable.

I use a reference plane because I can specify a snap override to make it perpendicular to a wall (SP shortcut).  I then can “trace” another reference plane over the section annotation by snapping to each of the endpoints found at the tail and head of the section.

Draw Ref Plane Over Annotation

I then move the section and ref plane together snapping nearest to the already created ref plane.

Move To Good Ref Plane

Once there and the two objects selected I can use the Rotate tool and definitely snap the rotation to the “good” ref plane, ensuring its alignment.

Rotate Annotation

It is possible to just use the Rotate tool on the Section Annotation itself and snap to one of the endpoints on the annotation.  You don’t really get a snap alignment with the annotation, but if you pick an arbitrary position near the annotation, you can perceive the automatic snapping perpendicular to the wall as you rotate.  I find that this doesn’t always happen though, based on what, I’m not exactly sure.  So, if I need to do this I prefer the ref planes method.  But at times in Revit, we just need to draw a line, or in this case maybe just delete and redraw the section. 

Revit Switchback in Navisworks 2012


I wanted to create a written post for this topic since I had posted a video regarding the new Switchback functionality in the Revit products.  Here is the video link; http://bit.ly/tF5SRf.  This is found on our 2012 Learning Videos page which can be accessed from the Media pull down on our website.

With the Revit 2012 products we now have a new add-in supporting workflows with Navisworks Manage.  Here, we see selections to create a Navisworks cache file (NWC) and the new setting of  Navisworks Switchback.

This tool functionality previously existed only with AutoCAD and Microstation-based products.  Switchback allows us to work side-by-side using Navisworks Manage and an authoring application like Revit or AutoCAD MEP, to open, navigate to a component in the model, make alterations, save a new export, and refresh the review model in Navisworks to update the review process.  This can happen from two places; a right-click selection menu from a model element, or using the Switchback button inside of the Clash Detective tool.

This process requires certain steps be followed:

  1. Both Navisworks and the authoring application be open.
  2. The Navisworks fileset created from the source file, i.e., nwc file, be open in Navisworks.  The project file is not required to be open in Revit or AutoCAD.
  3. The Switchback funtionality is enabled in the authoring application before performing the function, i.e., type NWLOAD on the AutoCAD command line or select the Navisworks Switchback button from the Add-Ins tab in Revit.

Also of importance is one more selection from the Options dialog inside Navisworks.  The refresh process will not work with this selection disabled, and you may find it is so in your default installation.  In the Navisworks Options dialog, select Performance, beneath Model.  Be sure to checkmark the box for “Close NWC/NWD files on load”.  This allows the authoring application to export a new file and overwrite the previous one, allowing the Refresh button to work in Navisworks.  If not, you will receive a message saying unable to write the file.

With many users taking advantage of Autodesk’s new Design Suite offerings, working side-by-side with multiple applications provides advantages to design and contruction entities to better insure designs are coordinated before and during construction processes.