Thursday, 19 December 2013

Revit origin

Recently I was asked how can you tell if someone has been playing around with the project base point and survey point.

If you have a good template your survey point and project base point resides on the revit origin. It's good to know that you can adjust the survey point and the project base point but the Revit origin is fixed.

The first indication that the survey point and the project base point have been moved is of course that they are not at the same position any more. The second one is: select the project basepoint. If it has values other that all zeroes it has been moved. 

To check files you may use this old trick to find certain points. Draw a tiny drawing in Autocad. I like an X with a circle on the Autocad origin. Save the file and link the drawing in Revit with these settings.
Auto origin to origin.
The image below shows two projects side by side:
In project two I have moved (the left one) the survey point and the project base point unclipped. Next I have imported an autocad drawing origin to origin. Notice where it shows up. So if the autocad drawing does not land on top of the project basepoint or surveypoint than they have been moved. 

In the project shown on the right I have moved the survey point and project base point in a clipped state. When you do this you see that if I link in the same dwg as before it lands on top of the project base point. 
Moving a clipped project base point is the same as using the Relocate Project tool. See Relocating a Project.
  • Project coordinates do not change for the model elements.
  • Shared coordinates change for the model elements.
The helpfile explains it quiet well. Since I am more a visual person I am going to take the files to Navisworks.

Project 1 (image below) The survey point and project base point are both on top of the revit origin. The dwg file has also been loaded into this naviswork file. Since nothing has been moved everything is where you expect it to be.
Project 2 (image below) The project basepoint and survey point have been moved. Notice how navisworks places the survey point on top of the autocad file.
Project 3 (image below) The project basepoint has been moved. It seems to have the same result as project 2 but, the big advantage is that when revit files do not share coordinates you can always link them origin to origin. 
Another advantage is that if those revit files are not linked you can enter the coordinates of the project base point in Navisworks and everything ends up where they are supposed to be. See image below. 
(Or you can enter the project basepoint coordinates form one revit file into the other one. That is what the publish and reconcile command does as well)

Personally I prefer the setup of project 3 it facilitates automatic feature and fix it yourself if things go pear shaped.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Navisworks 2014 selection tree

A small tip today about something I ran into.

Perhaps you have noticed that when you select a selection set or search set in Navisworks 2014 your selection tree switches to the selection set thingy. (it used to be a tab but now they have changed the interface and you can't really call it a tab)

See image: In this image you see me selecting a searchset and the selection tree switches to show which search set I have selected..... WHY?????
Personally I would like to see the standard tab from the selection tree when I select a searchset.
Fortunately you can adjust this behaviour. Go to the application menu -> click on the options button while holding the shift key on your keyboard. This will open the hidden Navisworks options.
Go to: Interface > selection tree > remove the tickmark by tab_on_current_selection

Restart Navisworks

something compleetly else and not relevant
These hidden options from Navisworks make me want to start searching for these hidden autocad snap settings that some drafters have seem to be able to activate. :)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Revit LT and shared coordinates

If you take a look at the following link you will see that Revit LT does not share coordinates among projects.
But that doesn't really matter if you take care of a couple of things: 

  1. Setup shared coordinates as I have described in previous posts
  2. Make sure that the project basepoint stays on the original location (on top of the revit origin)
  3. Link revit files origin to origin!

post about shared coordinates:

It's true that in Revit LT you will not be able to acquire or publish shared coordinates. But when this is not possible you can use the origin to origin methode. If you have to export a revit file to Autocad than in the export settings you will not be allowed to export with coordinates to dwg. But who wants to export to Autocad anyways? :) 

dwg export settings from Revit 2014 full
dwg export settings from Revit 2014 LT

Guess what: If you want to export your revit LT model to Navisworks you can export to the right coordinates. The next two screenshots are form Revit 2014 LT and the full version. Notice that both have shared coordinates :)

Looking at coordinates Revit LT is usable in a BIM driven project. There might be other showstopper but coordinates do not have to be one of them.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Navisworks searchset creation

If your into planning with Navisworks you have most likely experience with creating searchsets. If you want to create a planning that build up your model per level over time you end up creating a whole lot of searchsets. Creating searchsets in Navisworks can be a bit of a tedious chore. I like to think I have a much faster solution for it. There is one small catch. Don't panic at the site of xml code.

First let's take this model:

The exterior walls this model are compound walls and have been split up in parts. In the picture below I have zoomed in on a window.

We want a planning where the different parts appear at different times. Basically we want the concrete first, insulation next and masory last.

First let's make one searchset that finds all concrete parts from the compound wall

Select an element which you would like to find with a searchset and take a look at the properties. Take a look at the selection tree and see where you have something selected. Make sure it's not geometry when you are working with revit files. There are much more interesting properties when you set the selection resolution to first or last object.

I tend to find most interesting properties on the element tab of the property window. For this purpose the property by arrow 2 and 3 are good. I have put a blue arrow #4 at the property for base level. I recommend not using this one because an other one is much more usefull. I do need a property that has a value for base level just not this one. The ID number of the level screws up the searchsets. Instead go to the property tab: Base level. This tab also has a property called name but this value does not have the ID number of the level in it's name. Later you'll see why that's better.

At arrow one you see the searchset definition: I have created 4 criteria  (technically you could probably do without criteria number 1)

  1. At arrow two I give the searchset a name. I tend to use the values of the criteria seperated by a # for the name. This should give you a rough idea of what the searchset is for.
Now we have our first searchset. Ofcourse you could use the interface, switch some properties of the previous searchset and save the new search. This gets tedious quiet quickly...

On the sets window there is an export searchsets to xml button.

Next go to
If you don't have install rights on your machine than you can also put this on a usb drive and run it from there. You'll have to look around a bit on how to do that but it's fairly simple.

Let's take a look at the xml code:

Most likely you will be most interested in all the things that are coloured black!
Also click on the words between < > they will highlight 

Notice the line numbers on the left:

line 1 to 3 ignore those. leave them in.
Line 4 is important. Notice the word selectionsetS 
Selectionsets can contain multiple selectionset (no S)
Line 5 the selectionset stores it's name from Navisworks here. This line is important
Line 6 Defines where to search in which models in Navisworks

Let's create a couple of searchsets that will find the same parts but on different levels.
On line 55 you see that this selectionset ends. 

  1. Put your cursor behind  and press enter.
  2. Put your cursors at the first position on line 56
  3. Start dragging a selection from line 56 to line 5
  4. ctrl c
  5. Put your cursor at the first position on line 56
  6. ctrl v as many times as you need
  7. Go to notepath++ menu view collapse level 4 or 3 ( I want the selection sets to look like this image below

collapsing levels will let you rename the name of the searchsets quickly. You are dependant here on a decent naming scheme in revit..... I assume that there is some structure in your level names that should allow for quick changes
Next a find and replace
  1. go to view
  2. search and replace
  3. put your cursor somewhere in the second searchset. (that's between line 56 and 89)
  4. let it search for the value you want to replace
  5. click on replace
After you click on replace it will jump to the next one. Change the replace value and do it again and again and again until your are done. If you would have used the property in Navisworks with the ID number stored you would have been in trouble here. You would have to find and match those.
  1. save as: Part#Basic Wall#plattegrond#Beton - C25/30
  2. save as: Part#Basic Wall#plattegrond#Isolatie
  3. Find and Replace the material names. You should be able to use replace all
  4. Save the file again
Go to explorer and you should have at least two searchset xml files:
  1. Go to Navisworks
  2. Delete the existing searchset 
  3. Import the searchsets, one at the time... (same button)
  4. Create a folder structure of you liking. I tend to use Revit categories as folder names
  5. Put the searchsets in
  6. Export the searchsets again
  7. delete all searchsets
  8. Import the file you just exported, WHY?
With my methode you get searchsets that have the same guid... First when I started out doing this I would change the guids myself. That's tedious. Recently I found out that when Navisworks exports searchsets it checks if the guids are the same and if they are it changes them for you. What's the guid doing here? I have no idea. But's probably better to have unique guids. 

Have fun. You'll have tons of usefull searchsets in a little bit of time.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Adaptive components in an Assembly

Following up on my blogpost about adaptive components and dynamo. I wanted to see what happens if I would put these components in an assembly. I took two of the thirty components and put them into an assembly and I added some annotations. Dimensions work fine, tags were behave slightly odd. They didn't really place well, but nothing that can't be fixed with a bit of manual editing.
I turned this one in to an assembly.

I changed the excel file (see this blogposting: Next I re-ran it through dynamo and everything updated. For the movie I made quite some drastic changes to the design parameters. The bridge got a lot bigger. What I did notice is that because of these changes some of the sections views were wrong. The adaptive component grew bigger than the positions of the section views could accommodate. This can also be fixed with a bit of moving around. 
The dimensions also stayed in the original location but the measurements did update. 
I don't think that any of this should stop you from using this. Because the change I made to the bridge are so extreme. I increased the span from 45 meters to 60 meters. (roughly 135 feet to 180 feet)

Movie direct youtube link where you can set the quality to HD
Adaptive components in an Assembly

Monday, 7 October 2013

Dynamo and Revit adaptive components

For quite a while I have been following Zach Kron, who writes an excelent blog on dynamo with Revit. In this post he writes about using excel to drive geometry in revit:

He was so nice to share the files he used. After looking through his files I got the idea let's see if I can great a simple bridge. I was thinking about creating something out of segments. So I have this bridge in mind which I am going to chop up. I had something like this below in mind.
I needed to do two things, create an excel file and create a good adaptive component.

The adaptive component
I decided to start out with a simple adaptive box. The box has 8 adaptive points.
In order to create anything I need to define xyz coordinates for every adaptive point for every segment.
For this bridge I had my mind set up to us a nice sinus wave for it's design. This is what the dynamo create for me.
The excel file
The easy part of this file was seting up the x coordinates. I have set the x coordinates with a spacing of 3 meters x 30 segments = 90 meters (at first I was just playing with the numbers without thinking of measurements, the bridge turns out to be insanely wide. It's all adjustable to more realistic measurements but I will ignore it for now)
See image for directions of the different axis. Notice the positive and negative Y axis.
The hardest part of this all was trying to figure out how sinus functions work. Highschool math had certainly moved to a dark recess in my mind. So it was google to the rescue. After a while I had setup this formula: Amplitude*SIN((PI/circulair frequency) * x-coordinate))+shift
The amplitude gives me control of the bulge. The circular frequency is important for creating a curve which is similar on the right and left side of the bridge. With the shift I controle the width of the bridge.
These two graphs control the Y coordinates. So points 3 + 4 curve more than 7+8. You could read the graph as seeing the bridge from a top view. The other points use the same coordinates but than negative. Another thing I needed to add was that the coordinates of the next segment needed to share those with it's previous segment. See image.
The Z coordinates are created with the same formula as the Y coordinates but with slightly different numbers to create another sinus wave.
The curves below are used for the Z coordinates. Imagine standing in the water an looking straight at the bridge. point 1,2,3,4 travel along the lower curve and 5,6,7,8 along the upper curve. This makes the bridge thinner in the middle.
Here an impression of the excel file. (this sheet is for doing the calculations, the one called: coor is the one that is read by dynamo.)
Once I got the bridge working I could use parts of this excel file for generating the railing as well. I created an adaptive component. The family took me a little while to get right. (althought the railings are still intersecting the balusters)
The piece of geometry that is turned of I needed to host the points for the railings. This was the only way that I found so they would behave they way I wanted. The second baluster is turned of by default and can be turned on with an instance parameter. (needed for the last segment)
The two bands here are modelled as an inplace component using sweep. The path of the sweep is picked. I used the edge of the bridge and then I off setted the profile. 

Because the way that this dynamo script worked I had to put the bridge components in another file that the railing. Rerunning the script in the same file deleted the previous geometry.

None of this would have been possible without the dynamo script that Zach Kron provided. See image and please do look at the link provided above.

The nice thing that I found so far is that the script supports creating geometry with different number of points. I have seen it work with 2, 4 and 8 points. 

Just one more thing The idea of this model was to see if I could get it to work. I was not concerned about creating a real bridge.  

The files I used are here:


Monday, 30 September 2013

Kill Visual Basic for Applications for Autocad 64 bit

Autodesk is trying for years to get people to start translating their vba to a language

Recently I was asked by a client to come and check their hardware because performance was bad. It turned out that a generic ICT provider had setup two machines for them. They asked me to optimize them and see whether I could make some improvements.

Since this were machines meant for Autocad I like to use the test from Cadalyst.

When I first ran the test on the machines it took 55 minutes on one machine. This surprised me quiet a bit because it wasn't bad hardware at all. I did notice that the machine seemed to hang on creating arrays. Eventually it completed the array. 

Next I update the driver to a certified driver. This gave some very interesting results. First the test completed now in 46 minutes. That's almost 20% performance improvement. That's very nice but of course I wanted to know where was this performance improvement realised. The interesting part is that the 2D performance suffered from the certified driver. The improvement for 3D was so much that it easily compensated for the 2D loss. All the 3D test were faster than without the driver but it differed from a minor 1,07% gain up to 36,59% faster. The 3D realistic visual style seems to benefit the most. Strangely enough you would think that one visual style would aways be faster than another. This is not the case it differs per drawing. After making a simpel ranking system it showed that Hidden lines is the fastest, next conceptual,than 3D wireframe and last Realistic.

The 2D test are interesting as well. Here I see performance changes from -39,19% to +52,82%. One drawing completely destroyed the chance for a decent score.

The scores for CPU also changed. That suprised me a bit because you would think that a videocard driver has nothing to do with the cpu. Every tested drawing gained performance from 1,89% up to 14,79%.

Again we see that the videocard driver also influences performance for Disk interaction. Here the results start from -18,18% up to +13,71% 

Although happy with the improved performance I wasn't quiet happy with the score. Looking around at the system I ran into VBA.... Suddenly a memory triggered my mind of another system 2 years ago that came to a complete standstill because of the vba enabler. I asked the people there what do you use it for? Do you have some legacy programs that need to run. Since they could think of one I de-installed the vba enabler.

After de-installing I ran the test again. Now the test completed in 17 minutes...
That's a nice 323% performance improvement. Therefore the title of this blog: Kill Visual Basic for Applications for Autocad 64 bit.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Lines of overhead beams

Recently I was asked again about overhead lines. We want to see dashed lines from beams above our head on the floorplan we are looking at. It would be really great if beams and floor openings would get the same status / settings as caseworks. 

Since this is not the case we have to deal with this problem. A thought occurred to me, since this client uses a lot of links why not try and use a designated view to tackle this problem.

The setup: I have an architectural and a structural model. see image below

The architectural file has two thin floor slabs and the structural file has beams, columns and structural floors. The structural file is linked into the architectural file.
I want to get this in the architectural file. You see I have the view level 0 open and I see the beams from level 1 dashed and red. I specifically did not model any beams on level 0 to avoid showing the wrong thing)
In the image above you see what we want to see in the architectural file
Here you see the visibility and graphics tab of level 0 in the architectural file. Notice that it links to a view from the structural file. This view is specifically setup to only show beams and and it has the graphic overrides. It also has specific viewranges.... Unfortunately In the custom view I can only set the viewrange for linked view or host view. The host view will not work because those are a level to low. The linked view might not work because of viewdepth settings. Basically the architectural modeller has to ask the structural modeller to create specific views for him. In this case that's not really a problem. In other cooperative designs it might not be so easy to ask this. But with the 2014 release you could facilitate these views within a couple of minutes. 

So the structural modeller has to do the following:

  • create a view type for floorplans
  • create a viewtemplate for this view
  • let new views of this type link to this viewtemplate

and the last this he would have to do is create views for all requested levels.

The important thing I had to do to get this to work was to set the viewdepth deep enough. See image, this setting worked for this model.
In the architectural file I had to do this to get it to work:
  1. go to visibility and graphics
  2. go to tab Revit links
  3. click on the button by host view
  4. set the first tab to by linked view
  5. chose the linked view
If you want you could even override settings of the linked file again. Do so in the model tab if you need to. I know this method only works when you use linked files and it works better if the structural engineer is willing to help. Have fun and if you have a better way please don't hesitate to tell me.

Friday, 24 May 2013

BIM 360 Glue

Finally I have gotten access to BIM 360 Glue.

I am quiet excited about the possibilities of this product. Basically it's navisworks in the cloud. This opens some very interesting communication options for companies working together.

Autodesk states that Glue offers:
  • Enable more stakeholders to contribute
  • Gain better project insight with up-to-date, single project view
  • Improve project delivery with less RFI’s and better coordination
  • Manage & resolve conflicts in pre-construction
  • Anytime, Anywhere
  • Design Review
  • 3D Coordination
  • Clash Detection
  • Includes Mobile Application
It's not going to replace Navisworks at all. It complements it communication abilities.

It extends typical navisworks functionality to people without Navisworks. Below I'll give you an impression of glue in screenshots.

Starting in Navisworks
Notice the Glue it button. This is a separate add in you can download from:

Glue it
Create folders

BIM 360 glue is launched from a website:
 Open your project
 It very much feels like you download some form of the navisworks engine. Notice al the Navisworks features.
 My Revit models keep turning up in annoying imperial units. Might have something to do with Revit running on an imperial engine underneath.
 Show and hide like you would in Navisworks.
 Create views and share them directly to someone who needs to see this
Section planes
 And ofcourse mark ups

 But also Clash detection online! (not with all the feature you have in Navisworks but still very nice)
 The clash shown under is a bit stupid but the emphasis for this picture is more on the inofrmation screens and the ability to contact people about this clash. If you send a clash to someone they will get a link which they can open in their browser. (chrome like browsers seem to work best)

After you have merged uploaded models you may also download an nwd. I didn't yet get class results in the nwd or the views I created but I think that's just a matter of time.
 Although you can change the units in BIM 360 glue, I have not yet been able to get a autocad dwg and a revit model on the same spot as I do in Navisworks. This might be just me at the moment. (another option is first sticking the stuf together in NAvisworks and then glue them.) I'll look into it and if it needs additional trickeries I'll blog about it)

Autodesk Bim 360 Glue is a very promising tool. Be aware that the major software packages have already plugins to add content to glue. (Revit Navisworks Civil 3D and Autocad)

If you are interested get a trial account here:


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