Thursday, July 31, 2014

Generate Spatial Room 3D Elements using Navisworks Exporter

I know you can use various addins (like Case Extrude Rooms to 3D Mass) to make a form out of a Room element in Revit. However, there is a vanilla Autodesk way you could go about this:
  1. Export a Revit view to Navisworks with all of the Room-related export boxes ticked in the Navisworks Exporter addin
  2. Open / append the NWC in Navisworks
  3. Turn off everything except the Room objects that the Navisworks Exporter created
  4. Export the scene to FBX, convert to DWG, import it to a family, place that family back in the project (using parts of this workflow). Use origin-to-origin linking to get things right.
You could then use the Room 3D element "family" in an Interference Check, to determine what elements exist in Rooms (this would only work for Categories that support Interference Check in Revit).

"The Uses of BIM" document from Penn State CIC

Download at:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Free BIMethods video series covering topics including parametric towers, adaptive components, curtain panel pattern-based families, double-curtain wall systems

Jeremy Roh has created some decent tutorial content and shared it on Youtube, covering topics such as Revit, conceptual modelling and Dynamo. One of his recent playlists is embedded here:

Check out his channel for more at:
Jeremy Roh - YouTube

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Want a powerful, new way to Share, Store and Search Your Revit Content? Your Families may have a new home...

I had the opportunity this week to spend a bit of time with Unifi. What is it? Well, in simple terms it is a way to store all of your Revit families in a secure location online. You just batch upload all of your current family library, and Unifi then goes ahead and indexes all of the important family related data. Then, you can do fast and intelligent searches of your entire content library whenever you want to find and load specific families into your Revit projects (using the Unifi addin for Revit).

However, it does a lot more than just 'store' stuff. It handles users and permissions in an efficient yet elegant manner, and guess what... because your cloud family library is now globally accessible, you can share it with project team members inside and outside of your domain or organization. You can set up different "libraries" based on their purpose (for example, the standard Revit Imperial/ Metric content can live in one library, while your "Essential" company content may be another, Healthcare families in another library and so forth). Tags can be applied to families, and the search function actually has learning algorithms, so it gets smarter as your team uses it.

What about different Revit versions, you say? Well, after you upload a Revit family from a given version (say 2012), the Unifi servers will automatically create 2013 and 2014 versions for you (automatic upgrading). In this way, there is a single point-of-truth for each family - you don't get file folders full of different family versions with different functionality (a problem that BIM managers have been dealing with for years).

How many family professionals are in your team or company? Usually there are one or two users who are really at the top of the family tree, and they do your family development, content creation and the like. How can you quickly connect these highly skilled users with the actual day-to-day BIM technicians in your office? Unifi handles that too. Any user can "request" a new family if one doesn't exist for a particular purpose, and this request is automatically passed onto the family creation people (by Unifi). When they login, they see a list of content requests, and can then handle them in a logical and methodical way. They make the family, upload it, and then the entire team has access to the new content.

Unifi is what Revit content management has needed for some time, in my opinion. You can easily download the trial, upload your content and see if you like it. Many Revit teams are struggling with a core set of challenges when it comes to content; Unifi provides solid answers to many of these questions.

I spent some time with Steve Germano (Director of Product Development) this week, and I was excited to hear about the plans to expand and upgrade the already-compelling feature set of Unifi (including branching out into the Sketchup realm). The development team over there clearly has a good view of what Revit users need, and they are already well on track to provide a solution that could easily become a key part of the Revit content management system in your organization. Additionally, they are listening to the current user base, and continuing to build the feature set with each new update.

If it sounds like these Unifi folk know what they are doing, it might because INVIEW labs is behind Unifi. And INVIEW labs does lots of Revit content development for Autodesk Seek. Are you getting the picture? (This is one of those times that you probably could just stop reading and go get the trial... or) Read on for a brief summary:

Unique, powerful features of Unifi:
  • your folder structure is automatically tagged onto your content when you Batch Upload it
  • batch user creation (is very fast!)
  • tracking of content requests - content creation can be centralised and distributed to key users
  • Shared Search Keywords (learning algorithm)
  • Smart Folders / Saved Searches
  • automatic upgrading of uploaded content (single point of truth for each family)
  • automatic versioning of changes to families (backup / rollback abilities)
  • extract any Revit System Family Type from an existing Revit Project and store them in the Unifi cloud - Wall Types etc (this includes complete MEP systems with required supporting families from Routing Preferences)
Latest release notes are at

A few thoughts on the UX:
  • interface is very clean and smooth, and it fits the Windows 8 "style" of frameless dialogs etc
  • simple deployment - you don't have to set up new local database instances or deal with local domain / file permission problems
  • auto updating feature works seamlessly and quickly
  • the Unifi pane can detect which Revit version is running and adapt to the current environment
You may be interested in this:
Case study link

Some final points of a somewhat geeky nature:
  • Steve mentioned that they have no server-side concerns with handling the bandwidth of company library uploads and downloads - the actual storage space is not an issue for them. Its interesting to consider really, because its something that might currently be a struggle for your company: trying to store and backup 100gb of Revit content on your local domain, and mirror that globally between offices, and keep it all in sync. That can be hard. But uploading it to Unifi and getting them to handle it all - much easier from an IT perspective.
  • A number of large firms have already made a commitment to the Unifi system. If it makes $$$ sense for the big guys, I think it will make sense for SMBs too.
  • There appears to be some validation in place, that will stop the upload of very bad Revit families (like the Room category family I made a while back) Video here.  
  • You can open the Unifi pane in headless mode (without Revit) by using the shortcut, which will likely be installed to this path:
    "C:\Program Files (x86)\INVIEWlabs\Unifi\Unifi.exe"
    This will allow you to drag and drop from Windows Explorer to directly batch upload to Unifi without opening Revit.
  • There is some good Unifi overview at this link

Give it a go, and feel free to reply via comment to this post or tweet me @lukeyjohnson with your opinions!

Some people have expressed concern with having to download their families from the web to insert them into projects. Consider the following points:
  • you never have to deal with the upgrade screen as Unifi always inserts the native Revit version of the family (a good time saver)
  • Unifi has a local cache of any family you’ve downloaded (it internally stores the last 50 families you’ve downloaded) so you insert these from local HD anyway.
  • if you’ve already inserted a family into your project from Unifi, the next time you use Unifi to “insert” that family into your project it actually knows if the family in your current Revit project is the same revision as the one on the cloud, and it simply starts the family place command, it doesn’t actually download again. No reason to as it is already in the project
  • office to office bandwidth may be extremely expensive compared to internet bandwidth. Multi-office AEC firm CTO’s may prefer the fact that Unifi uses internet bandwidth and not their network bandwidth.
  • Unifi provides monthly full database downloads for customers, meaning that a rare internet outage is likely a very low risk to affect workflow.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Rebar from Tekla to Revit via Microstation SAT (workaround)

From a LinkedIn discussion:
normal .ifc file from Tekla with the rebar option ticked and imported it into MicroStation, from there I exported a .sat file of the rebar and inserted it into Revit. Of course this means you can't modify it in anyway but if all you need it for is to cut sections then works quite well. 

Precast modeling export to Revit | LinkedIn

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Navisworks Resource Sharing Site

I thought it might be useful to set up a shared folder to allow Navisworks users to upload, download and share resources. The idea here is that lots of Navisworks resources (as listed below) can be exchanged and re-used on future projects. Why should we all keep reinventing the wheel?

Only invited users can upload, while any user can view and download the content. Note: if you are an uploader, keep in mind that this will be globally accessible, so you need to be aware of any IP considerations that may apply. At this point, I'm considering this to be "open source" (with associated licensing conditions). Additionally, I am keeping the guidelines to a minimum, just feel free to share something if you think others could make use of it.

Anyhow, here it is:
Shared Folder Link

There is a readme with some basic guidelines at:
this link

If you would like to be a contributor, feel free to contact me via comment, on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Here is an initial list of the things that I think will be worth sharing (but there will be more added):
  • Appearance Profiler DATs
  • Clash Test XMLs
  • Find Items XMLs
  • NWF Templates
  • Search Set XMLs
  • Settings XMLs
  • Workspace XMLs

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What I've been up to for the last 6 months or so..

.. is lots of Navisworks, and a little bit of multi-discipline Revit. A concise summary was provided in this Virtual Built newsletter:
If you want to learn more about Virtual Built with a view to improving the agility of your team, check out our website.

Revit 2014 Update 3 direct links

Here you go:

Revit 2014 Update Release 3
Revit 2014 UR3 (32-bit) (exe - 68327Kb)
Revit 2014 UR3 (64-bit) (exe - 106583Kb)

Revit Architecture 2014 Update Release 3
Revit Architecture 2014 UR3 (32-bit) (exe - 68327Kb)
Revit Architecture 2014 UR3 (64-bit) (exe - 106583Kb)

Revit Structure 2014 Update Release 3
Revit Structure 2014 UR3 (32-bit) (exe - 68327Kb)
Revit Structure 2014 UR3 (64-bit) (exe - 106583Kb)

Revit MEP 2014 Update Release 3
Revit MEP 2014 UR3 (32-bit) (exe - 68327Kb)
Revit MEP 2014 UR3 (64-bit) (exe - 106583Kb)

Revit LT 2014 Update Release 3
Revit LT 2014 UR3 (32-bit) (exe - 68327Kb)
Revit LT 2014 UR3 (64-bit) (exe - 106583Kb)

Installation Readme files and Enhancements Documentation are available on each product page.



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Tagging a Family with Multiple Connectors in Revit MEP

Heads-up from Ideate Solutions, originally from Revit Clinic:
tagging the physical wires instead of tagging the device:
  1. draw wires coming off of each connector as small as possible 
  2. (if the wire is short enough, the arrow head will not show up.) You can then 
  3. hide the dot/short line of the wire in the symbology of the family and 
  4. tag it.

Ideate Solutions: Revit MEP FAQ - Tagging Families That Have Multiple Connectors

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Performance Tips for Working with Very Large Datasets in Navisworks

When working across an entire healthcare facility and clashing combined NWDs, Navisworks may slow down to a crawl (we are talking single instance using 10gb RAM or more). Here are some tips to improve stability:
  • Make a "safe" home viewpoint inside a room somewhere, that won't force Navis to draw the entire dataset in one window, and set some of the following as part of that viewpoint...
  • use Shaded View, not Full Render
  • Lights - Headlight
  • Don't try and use Appearance Profiler if your dataset is large and your Appearance-related Search Sets are not at file level
  • When in Clash Detective, you can use the automatic Item 1 and 2 Highlighting instead of Appearances to visually examine clashing items
  • File Options - Clipping Planes - Near - Fixed at 0.1
  • File Options - Clipping Planes - Far- Fixed at 100 (or less if necessary)
  • Use Selection Tree instead of highly processor intensive Search Sets when possible
  • When appending a new model to an already huge dataset, you might get better results if you use the Project Browser. Import Sheets and Models -> bring the new model in and then after opening it and having a look, Append this model to your main model by right clicking in the Project Browser
Finally, I have found Navisworks 2015 to be much smoother and more reliable than previous versions. You can upgrade to 2015 and still downsave to 2013 for projects that require you to do so.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Revit IFC Exports - the IfcExportAs parameter vs the Exporter mapping and preferences

An interesting discussion has been brewing over on LinkedIn about IFC Export from Revit. In my personal experience, the most predictable results come from deleting the IfcExportAs parameter and using the IFC mapping files to force the export result. However, this may not be the best path for data longevity and roundtripping.

Here is one little excerpt from Wawan Solihin:
The use of IfcExportAs is more suited for mapping detailed subtype or predefined type of MEP components that are mostly defined by families and often they do not correspond 1-1 nicely with IFC definitions. So instead of getting a generic IfcBuildingElementProxy for a family type that does not have clear mapping to the IFC entity, one can use IfcExporAs to define the IFC type it is intended to be plus its subtype for example IfcSensorType.CO2SENSOR that will create IFC entity IfcDistributionControlElement with type IfcSensorType and predefinedtype='CO2SESNSOR' in IFC2x3 (or entity IfcSensor in IFC4). This is just one example. There are other entities in IFC that must have mandatory attribute set, e.g. IfcReinforcingMesh which has several mandatory attributes such as LongitudinalBarNominalDiameter. Unless those attributes are set and Revit IfcExporter knows where to get the relevant information, you will get invalid entity information in IFC.

Read the whole thread:

Heads up via @theoryshaw

Navisworks 2015 Service Pack 2

Now available in Application Manager, direct links:

Autodesk_Navisworks_2015_Service_Pack_2_Multilingual_Freedom_64bit.msp (msp - 201Mb)
Autodesk_Navisworks_2015_Service_Pack_2_Multilingual_Manage_64bit.msp (msp - 265Mb)
Autodesk_Navisworks_2015_Service_Pack_2_Multilingual_Simulate_64bit.msp (msp - 265Mb)

Service Pack 2 resolves an issue opening and appending multiple files in a single operation. The Service Pack also resolves issues identified in our Point Cloud support, Autodesk Rendering, Quantification, Clash Detective, and interoperability.

Readme and install links:

Main Autodesk page:
Navisworks 2015 Service Pack 2 | Navisworks Products | Autodesk Knowledge Network

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pre-Cast Construction Simulation and Planning use Excel Programme, Dynamo Recursion and Revit Visualisation

Adam Sheather, aka gytaco, has put out some pretty interesting content in the past week. He was trying to solve a programming puzzle to do with pre-cast panels, molds, concrete curing etc. Based on his post and video, he punched a heap of programme data in Excel, made Dynamo read and write to his master spreadsheet, and then got Dynamo to push some data into some Revit families with arrays so that he could visualise his pre-cast yard at a given point in time. Very smart stuff!

As Adam says, the Excel-Dynamo-Revit solution can:
"effectively give me a week by week view of what the precast yard will look like based on the updated Revit data, installation dates, actual to date and the pre-cast managers forecasting all in one. Plus I would be able to tag and print out if required the information!"

 Video below:
"example of using Dynamo to update Revit and excel at the same time and push the updated values back into Revit objects"


And one final Dynamo tip from his post:
Due to the lack of nodes, familiarity and examples in 7.1 I ended up ditching it and jumping back to 0.6.3 which had alot more examples including both the Solar Optimizer and nodes I thought I needed for input/out of excel files that were not in 7.1.
Whole post:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Name the 10 most significant ROI benefits of BIM

Happily, it is becoming less and less common that we have to actually justify why we do BIM.

But if you do, Daniel Hughes has put together an interesting list based on his experience:
"Here’s my list of the ten best process features in Revit; that can offer the biggest Return On Investment (ROI) in the initial phase of Revit implementation.

  1. Automatic Sheet set Management and Tag Coordination
  2. Automated Floor Planning Tools
  3. All Model & Sheet Views Update When the Revit Model is Edited
  4. Annotation Graphics Resize Based on View Scale
  5. Power of Parametric Dimensioning
  6. Pre-built Building Product Manufacturer Model Libraries
  7. Building Schedules Synchronize\Auto-Update With Model Changes
  8. Views: Independent & Automated Visibility Controls
  9. Multiple people can simultaneously Access and Edit the Project File
  10. Link DWG Files Into Revit Project"
Read the whole post at:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pushing Data into Revit from Site using website and listener addin

I'm very interested in where Paul is heading with this:
The QR Code pictured below, when scanned, will pull up the website, triggering the data in it to be sent to Revit. Picture a QR Code with info on a HVAC Unit, you scan it and the data is passed to Revit for when it was installed or serviced.
Sending Data in a URL to Revit. Data can be parsed to up date parameters of object.
Sending Data in a URL to Revit. Data can be parsed to update parameters of object.

This project fits into the larger scope of connecting our desktop Revit content creation with actual site information and making all of this accessible to entire teams on the cloud.

Read the whole post:
Revit and RabbitMQ: Passing Data in to Revit from Outside Applications | Architecture and Planning

EDIT: Paul provided the code in the comments below:
I found the code for this example. It is not pretty, but should be very simple. There are two files: the Revit Plugin and the Website.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using Autodesk.Revit.DB;
using Autodesk.Revit.DB.Architecture;
using Autodesk.Revit.UI;
using Autodesk.Revit.UI.Selection;
using Autodesk.Revit.ApplicationServices;
using Autodesk.Revit.Attributes;
using RabbitMQ.Client;

public class RevitRabbit : IExternalCommand
public Result Execute(
ExternalCommandData commandData,
ref string message,
ElementSet elements)

string msg = null;
var connectionFactory = new ConnectionFactory();
IConnection connection = connectionFactory.CreateConnection();
IModel channel = connection.CreateModel();

BasicGetResult result = channel.BasicGet("hello", true);
if (result != null)
msg = Encoding.UTF8.GetString(result.Body);
System.Windows.Forms.MessageBox.Show(msg, "Status");

System.Windows.Forms.MessageBox.Show("No Messages Waiting.", "Status");

return Result.Succeeded;

import cherrypy
import pika

class HelloWorld(object):
def index(self):

return "hi"
connection.close() = True

def paul(self,msg):
connection = pika.BlockingConnection(pika.ConnectionParameters(host='localhost'))
channel =


return msg


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Another OBJ Exporter for Revit - addin for download

 A long while back, I posted about an OBJ Exporter for Revit by Jeremy Tammik. Looks like there is another way of doing this now, and it has been released for Revit 2014 and 2015. The purpose behind this addin is to allow easy import to Blender for rendering - but it could be used for many other things too.

>>Download ZIP File<< – Version 1.8.1 – Revit 2014 & 2015

Main page at Ingelgreen:
OBJ Exporter for Revit – free plugin – New v1.8 « – BIM/Revit and Architectural IT in Bournemouth and Southampton

A free Revit 2014/2015 add-in to export Projects and Families to OBJ format. The OBJ files have been tested with 3ds Max Design 2014/2015, Blender and Octane Render.

Heads-up from Punto Revit:

Here's the link to the zip file containing instructions and .dll and .addin manifest

Punto Revit: Free plug-in OBJ Exporter for Revit

Copying RVT Links between Revit files

Let's say you have 15 RVT links in FileA, and you want to copy them into FileB. Revit doesn't usually want you to have two instances of the same linked file loaded into two different open files in a single instance of Revit (that was a mouthful!) 

However, we need to work in the same instance of Revit to be able to copy/paste. So, here is how you can do it (relatively reliably):
  1. Open FileA.rvt
  2. Open FileB.rvt
  3. In FileA.rvt, Select all of the Revit links that you want to copy (easiest in a 3D view)
  4. Switch to a Plan view and Ctrl+C
  5. Still in FileA.rvt, open Manage Links dialog and unload all of these links that you are copying
  6. Switch to FileB.rvt, and go to a Plan view that matches the one in step 4
  7. Modify - Paste - Aligned to Current View
  8. Even though they are unloaded in FileA, the important stuff is in the Clipboard in memory, so Revit can still paste properly into FileB, and you don't have a "conflict" of the file being loaded in two files at once
  9. Save FileB, close FileA without saving (or reload the links etc)
There you go, you have learned how to copy unloaded RVT links. Enjoy!

(Note: this was tested on Revit 2013 Update Release 3)

IFC Exporter updates for Revit - July 2014

IFC Exporter for Revit 2014 (v3.11):

IFC Export Alternate UI for Revit 2014 (v2.11):

IFC for Revit 2015 (v15.1):

Updates from the previous version are listed below.  Please upgrade to the newest version!

If you do not wish to receive upgrade notices, please reply and I will remove you from the mailing list.

1.       IFC Exporter for Revit 2013 will no longer be getting regular updates.  IFC Exporter for Revit 2014 will continue to do so for the next year

via email from Angel Velez