Friday 21 December 2012

End of the world!

I missed the end of the world!

I quit my job, spent all my money and burned down my house!

Oh well, at least I still have Revit!



Wednesday 19 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. 

Seasons Greetings
Joyeux Noël
Gesëende Kersfees
Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
Glædelig Jul
Gajan Kristnaskon
Hyvää Joulua
Froehliche Weihnachten
Bada Din Mubarak Ho
Buone Feste Natalizie
Sung Tan Chuk Ha
Linksmu Kaledu
Meri Kirihimete
Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Feliz Natal
Srozhdestovm Kristovim
Suksun Wan Christmas
Nadolig Llawen

I'll  be taking a break from Blogging and will return mid Jauary.



Monday 17 December 2012

Shut up and Listen!

I recently started following a Blog called "Shuttingup"

This Blog is dedicated too:
Management and leadership tips, tricks, and techniques especially useful for the newer manager. Hosted by Eric Wagner, CTO of Pearson Digital Learning.

I've really enjoyed reading some of the latest posts. I have found the tips and "reminders" very informative.

These postings not only apply to management but to anyone who works in an environment with other people. This blog will help you deal with other people and manage situations.

Great Blog.
Check it out.

I'll shut up now!


Thursday 13 December 2012

Project Chronicle

I've just been creating training videos using a new application from Autodesk Labs called Project Chronicle.

Project Chronicle is currently in Technology Preview so it's free to use from Autodesk Labs. Project Chronicle allows you to create training videos with Audio which also include a timeline of actions. 
I haven't found any bugs in it so far and I've created a series of training videos ranging from 6 to 11 minutes.

Project Chronicle allows you to record actions (workflow) in your Autodesk product such as AutoCAD and Revit. It will capture your screen along with Audio if you choose, it also displays along the bottom a timeline that highlights when you clicked on a tool etc.
Like so:

The Videos are then posted on the Chronicles web site under your Autodesk log in profile and you can choose whether you want the videos to be public or only accessible through a link which you can email or embed.

I'm going to include the links in the course ware I use when instructing.

Check out Project Chronicle on Autodesk Labs: where you can download the program that allows you to record the video and audio.

And check out the Chronicles web site to see how the videos work.
What a great idea!

I look forward to seeing how this developed when it graduates from Autodesk Labs.
One function I hope they include in the released version is the ability to export the video into other formats so I can load the video's and include them as files with my training material.

Alive in the Lab...

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Book Review - The Zen of Steve Jobs

Here is another book review.
This is what I'm currently reading, it's an easy quick read and well worth it.

It'll give you some insight into Steve Job's and his ability to be Innovative!

Go to this site and check out the u-tube video where the authors and illustrators talk about how the book evolved!

The Zen of Steve Jobs 


Monday 10 December 2012

Why are my Graphic Options greyed out?

Ever came across this problem!

The graphic options are greyed out and not accessible!

Found this when one of our Revit Users couldn't change the interior elevation from Wireframe.
With some help from a couple of the guys in my office we found out what was causing this issue.

I initially thought it was a View Template issue, then phases, worksets....I looked everywhere!
It ended up being caused by a CAD import!

One of the site CAD imports had AEC objects, it was saved using AutoCAD Architecture which uses AEC Objects. We also had another issue with this site plan where it would shoot the model out into space when doing a Zoom Fit! The file was stripped out prior to linking into Revit but the AEC objects remain and one of them could have a point off in space associated to one of the blocks.

What we had to do was open the problem CAD file in AutoCAD Architecture, export it to AutoCAD (the flatten tool in ACA doesn't do the job adequately), then if the problem persists start exploding blocks until you find the one that has a point off in space. Dont forget to minimize your CAD layers as well!

I was amazed that one cad file can cause so much grief!

Thanks to my Jedi's for helping me out on that one!


Friday 7 December 2012

Vancouver... The Greenest City in North America?

Here is a link to a great article written by one of the Senior Partners here at CEI.

In this article John Scott talks about Vancouver's mandate to become the "Greenest City in North America" and how the city intends to achieve this.

"While we all look forward to more creative ways to reduce our collective carbon footprint, given the fact that buildings are arguably responsible for half of the energy consumed by our civilized world, the expectation for each and every building developer and owner to contribute to a solution will increase rapidly in Vancouver over the decade ahead."
John Scott



Thursday 6 December 2012

AU and Known and Unknow Issues.

I got back from Autodesk University Last Friday and came down with the Flu on Saturday night! Aghhh!

First day back at work today and wanted to quickly put down some thoughts on some interesting things I found out while I was at AU.

My old nemesis has returned, this nemesis is so illusive he doesn't have a formal name and is only know as "Missing objects on my pdf!"

Thought I banished him forever when I first came across this issue a number of years ago (in my ACA days) we would print to pdf using an unnamed pdf print driver and random objects would disappear... objects like the the fire rating legend, or notation... you know the kind of things that can cause legal grief for an Architect! Needless to say this was quite discerning since everything looked great in the file and even in the plot preview. Granted this was before the ACAD to PDF that latter came with the new ACAD release and our solution at the time was to find a new pdf driver.

Well to my surprise I get a email from one of my Revit users asking why objects are not showing up!
Didn't think this would happen with Revit! (how naive!).
So we will now evaluate a new pdf driver!
Anyone else ever had this issue with pdf's?

We are testing a couple projects using Revit Server and have had a couple error messages stating that "This Operation could not be Completed", after asking around at AU I found out that there appears to be a known issue between Riverbed and Revit Server (wish I had known about it earlier...). anyway apparently the guys at Riverbed are working on a solution, in the mean time I have to look for a work around!

Speaking of Revit Server, I'm sure Autodesk is working on a better way to collaborate using Revit Server. File exchange on the cloud doesn't cut it, I want real time collaboration just like how the Revit Server should be used, but I don't want to have to deal with setting up a outside server.... Hurry up guys! ;-)
I think the new year wll bring some interesting changes from Autodesk.

AU was once again a blast, caught up with my regulars, Bruce McCallum from Dialog,  Brian Anderson (go see his session on BIM Management at AU and RTC), Gord Luckett from  Arrow Geomatics, as well as the usual Autodesk guys I know and not to mention my posse from BC and Alberta. I even sat and had lunch with David Light!

I also had the opportunity to meet some Autodesk icons namely Shaan Hurley and Scott Sheppard, met with Phil Read of M-Six showing the latest software (more on this latter!) interesting guy!

More soon!!!
I'm still recouperating!


Wednesday 28 November 2012

Revit Error Journal File Location

I recently had to send in an error journal file to Autodesk.... and had to look on line to remind myself where to get it from!

So here it is:

For 2013 products:
Windows XP: %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Autodesk\Revit\<Product name and release>\Journals
Windows 7: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Autodesk\Revit\<Product name and release>\Journals

For 2012 products:
Windows XP: %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Autodesk\Revit\<Product name and release>\Journals

Windows Vista or Windows 7: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Autodesk\Revit\<Product name and release>\Journals


Friday 23 November 2012

Off to Autodesk University

I'm off to Autodesk University on Monday...
I've lost count of how many I have attended, I think it's my 6th or 7th?

I always look forward to catching up with my other Revit guru's and attending some great Revit sessions as well as taking advantage of retaining my Revit Professional Certification...for free!

Anyway, hope to see you there....I'll have a QR code on my badge and be at the Cansel Canadian Mixer on Wednesday night at the Eyecandy Sound Lounge.



Wednesday 21 November 2012

Green Building Studio DOE-2 Error (Doh! error)

I have been playing with Green Building Studio (GBS) recently as we will start analysing our buildings during the design development stage.

On my test project whenever I ran the gbXML file I kept receiving the following error message:

I googled what a DOE-2 error and found this:
The error is caused by a very tiny polygon that Revit is writing to the gbXML file. The vertices of the polygon have so many significant digits that they are being rounded off and the simulation engine (DOE-2) is reading them a duplicate vertices.
In plain English, somewhere in your model are very tiny surfaces or openings. These could be any number of things, such as ventilation openings, piping, etc.
You need to simplify your model and remove such tiny surfaces or openings. This will not cause a loss of simulation accuracy.
Which is great information... but doesn't help me any as I cant find the tiny surfaces or openings! I stripped out the model and I still couldn't run the gbXML file! I was at a point where I was going to edit the gbXML file and delete the erroneous data!
Until I realised I can use a solution I have used on other Revit projects where some objects are corrupt. Copy clip your model out to a new file. Basically select everything in a 3D view, copy to clipboard, open a new blank project and paste your model into it.
you'll have to re-create your spaces but that's easy and then export your gbXML file and your in business, the new gbXML file runs perfectly in GBS.
Excellent..... now whenever I run into this issue I have a solution...
I'm going to use this solution for every problem I have now.....
Burn my toast in the morning... copy clip and try again!
Shoes on the wrong feet! Copy clip and try again!


Tuesday 20 November 2012

Revit Warning - Warning, there are no Warnings!

One of my Power Users received this warning message from Revit the other day.

It's a little fuzzy but it says:
"Document doesn't contain any warnings related to these elements"

So Revit is now warning me that there are no warnings!

Ya gotta love that! We had a good laugh at this...Until I got thinking....

Some day's I think Revit is maybe a little too smart for it's own good!
And this is the proof!

What's next?
A warning that Revit doesn't like the way the building is designed? Oh wait maybe Green Building Studio will do that!

Or maybe I'll start getting the warning "Maybe you shouldn't do that"... at which point I tell Revit to F#$% O%$ and do it yourself! Stoopid compooda!

Way too intalligint.


Monday 19 November 2012

Canadian Mixer at AU 2012

Cansel, who is a large Canadian Authorise Autodesk Reseller is hosting a "Canadian Mixer" event at Autodesk University this year (2012).

So here's a shout out to all the Canadians attending Autodesk University this year, your welcome to attend this Canadian Mixer at the Eyecandy Sound Lounge at the Mandalay Bay Casino Floor. between 9pm and 11pm on the 28th (Wednesday) of November.

I'll be there!


Thursday 15 November 2012


So it's the middle of November and I have yet to Blog about Movember!

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in Canada and around the world. With their “Mo’s”, these men raise vital funds and awareness for men's health, specifically prostate cancer and male mental health initiatives.

On Movember 1st, guys register at with a clean-shaven face. For the rest of the month, these selfless and generous men, known as Mo Bros, groom, trim and wax their way into the annals of fine moustachery. Supported by the women in their lives, Mo Sistas, Movember Mo Bros raise funds by seeking out sponsorship for their Mo-growing efforts.

Mo Bros effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November. Through their actions and words, they raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.

Dan in our office has one of the best Mo's I've seen yet.

You can support Dan in his quest to raise funds for Prostate Cancer by clicking on the link below and select the Dontate To Me link.

Let's see if we can raise Dan to Mo Jedi status!



Wednesday 14 November 2012

I blogged recently on "Working Smarter Not Harder" with an emphasis on "getting tooled up"!

Have you ever noticed when a contractor pulls up to a work site he often had a number off tools at his disposal, quite often I see them pull up an enclosed trailer with all their equipment in it.

This stuff isn't cheap!... Would probably explain why they have a security system attached to the trailer. These guys don't mind spending $$ on purchasing tools that enable them to do a job faster, easier and better than the next guy.

When I was a kid I'd follow my dad around the work sites (he worked for a large home building company) and I remember the carpenters only using a handsaw and a hammer to pound nails! And I'm not THAT old!... No I didn't help Noah build the Ark!

Nowadays if you don't have the right tools at your disposal your not going to be as appealing to your potential clients. Yes I can build a house only using a hammer but it's far more efficient to use a Nail Gun, with the time saved, maybe I can build the Gazebo my wife wants!

So here are some suggestions on what software is available to you to add to your utility belt, much like having the right Lightsaber... or a number of Lightsabers, like General Grievous in the Clone Wars... but I digress....

  • Get the Revit Extensions available from the subscription center.
  • Download free software available on the Subscription center such as Impressions
  • Download additional tools from Autodesk App Exchange
  • Keep a folder of Websites that provide Revit family content
  • Follow blogs, in particularly mine ;-). A wealth of knowledge from smart guys like What Revit Wants, The Revit Kid, Simply Complex, Between the lines and It is Alive in the Lab
  • Access Autodesk 360 for Rendering, Green Building Studio
  • Check out what's coming down the pipeline from Autodesk by signing up for Lab's.
  • Check out what your Reseller can offer you, most resellers now offer add in tools to their clients. 
Most of these tools are free (if not all) or are available through Subscription.

Get tooled up!


Monday 12 November 2012

Cool new feature!

Here is an idea for a cool new feature for Revit...... actually it could be applicable for any application!

How about instead of the warning message you get when you do something wrong in Revit you get instant feedback through your mouse!


A mild electric shock when you get a warning asking you "Are you sure you want to do that?"

Or a not so mild electrical shock for those errors you cant get around because you've don't it wrong!

A little jolt every time you try to get Revit to do something it dosent want to do will smarten you up in no time at all!



Wednesday 7 November 2012

Model Integrity Checklist

I have developed a Model Integrity document to be used throughout our offices.
This document contains a checklist protocols to maintain model integrity across all CEI offices.
This is a simple check list where the auditor can verify model content and process making sure that the Building Model is constructed in accordance with CEI standards and project requirements. Verifying Model Integrity periodically throughout the project reduces the risk of incorrect modeling causing misinformation and/or additional unnecessary work.
Validation of the model provides a guide for clarifying the model file for issue, the intention being that the recipients of the model know the file is fit for use and will not require additional work to fit within the project framework. Issues can then be tracked and resolved in a timely manner as they arise.
An Audit should be carried out periodically throughout a project to verify model content integrity by the Project BIM Captain as well as by the BIM Manager.
A copy of this audit is to be kept on file as well as sent to the BIM Manager upon completion.
It's a basic two page check list. Here's an sample of some of the items:
  • Is the Message Board information completed
  • Has True North and Project north been established and used correctly
  • Is the CEI Standard Project Browser being used properly
  • Complete spell check
  • Is all text in upper case
  • Delete unnecessary Reference planes
  • Revisions, Site Instructions, C/O’s been completed according to CEI Standards
  • Are Annotation styles consistent with CEI Standards
  • Are Dimension styles consistent with CEI Standards
  • Are Drafting Lines being used where the Linework Tool would be better
  • Are Line styles consistent with CEI Standards
  • Is the Level of Detail in the model appropriate for the scope of work
  • Are objects on the Correct Workset
Some of these are pretty basic and common sense but it's always good to be able to check it off and know that its been done.
Integrity in Modeling...

Monday 5 November 2012

Recycled Bottle Wall

So here at CEI we like to be innovative... so when we took on a project for a local landfill facility had the opportunity to do something unique in the facilities management building we designed.

Robert Parlane who is the lead Architect on the project came up with an idea of using 500 ml plastic bottles Incorporated into a feature wall. This wall also features strip lighting built into the frame to light up the bottles which are filled with distilled water.

Here is a photo of the mock-up wall that Robert built himself.... apparently the staff here helped him out by drinking numerous bottles of Coke!

We had to model the wall in our Revit model so I developed a family for the bottle and then built the wall in Revit!

The Bottle Wall Family

The Bottle Family

The Wall as used in the project

Cool eh!
Cant wait to see it built in the building...


Thursday 1 November 2012


Every year I get a kick out of Halloween. 
Carving pumpkins and seeing the little kids who come to my door is always a blast.

I didn't experience Halloween till I moved to Canada as an adult. :-(
We didn't do Halloween in Australia when I was a kid but apparently it's caught on there now and kids now roam the streets knocking on doors looking for candy. Wouldn't be the same though as it wouldn't get dark till latter and it'll be hot! Weird!

Now my kids are too old (and too tall) to go Trick-or-Treating, I have to find other neighbour kids to go with! AND they wont share their candy with me! (it was a 60/40 split for my kids).

Anyway, I dressed up and so did some enthusiastic people in our office's.

One that caught my eye in particular it this one....

Who needs expensive AutoBAD programs when we have Etch-A-Sketch!

Creative colleagues!


Wednesday 31 October 2012

I recently downloaded an app from the Autodesk Exchange App's store called 3D Pdf Convertor for Revit by 3DA Systems.

This app ties into Adobe's 3D Technology and allows you to easily publish your Revit Project as a 3D PDF. the resulting 3D PDF is a lot smaller file but your still able to view and orbit the 3D model.

Very easy to use, the help menu is very clear with graphics showing you what to pick and are always a help!

During creating the 3D PDF you have the ability to change visual styles, detail level, change the appearance and the back ground to mention but a few. 

Here's a couple screen shots of the results.

There is also the ability to save as a "PRC" file format.... I didnt know what a PRC was either but this is what I found out..

PRC is a 3D format that lets you create different representations of a 3D model. For example, you can save only a visual representation that consists of polygons, or you can save the geometry that the model is based on. You can apply compression during conversion to decrease file size, or afterward in Acrobat® Pro Extended. By using PRC, you can create PDFs that are interoperable with Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) and Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) applications.

Benefits of PRC format
  • Allows storage of large CAD files to PDFs that are a fraction of the original size.
  • Supports post-conversion compression for faster loading.
  • Can represent Product Manufacturing Information (PMI), also referred to as Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T) or Functional Tolerancing and Annotation (FT&A).
  • Can retain geometry for reuse in CAD, CAM, and CAE applications.
  • Allows you to add 3D models to 2D files. With this you input information on your template along with the 3D model for better visualization for clients.
you can do so much with the tools available in a 3D PDF, here are some screen shots of my results showing some of the tools.
 Here are the viewing tools.

The Default Views
View Styles
Lighting Styles
Section tools.

These in conjunction with the review and commenting tools sure make this a powerful tool for review and sharing with your clients and consultants.

Here is a link to their web site:

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Railing in 2013

Here is a link to a great post by Luke Johnson at "What Revit Wants" on using the railing tool in 2013:

Luke... another Revit Jedi!


Monday 29 October 2012

Cloud Rendering Vs Revit Rendering

I love the Cloud rendering feature Autodesk offers to Subscription members!
It's fast and easy to use.


The materials when rendered in the cloud don't match the same materials in Revit!
The reason for this is that the cloud rendering engine is different from the Mental Ray that we get in Revit.

Here is a sample of a rendering in Revit, it was set to "Best" and the file is one of the Revit sample file we get.

Rendering created in Revit
Here is the rendering created using Autodesk Cloud Rendering.
Rendering in the Cloud
Big difference eh!
I don't mind the difference in Quality, I expect a better quality product from the Cloud..... but I don't expect such a big difference in how the materials are interpreted, especially coming from the same company... Really, Autodesk should have looked at this before offering the service.
This really limits how much we will be using this service, if we cant trust how the materials are going to display it negates the speed and efficiency of the service. We spend time on selecting the right material according to how it shows up when we render and sending it to the Cloud every time we want to check a material becomes inefficient.
Subsequently we will only render in the Cloud now when materials and colours are not crucial.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Work Smarter... Not Harder

I'm all for working Smarter not Harder.....

I think that's why I'm a BIM manager... lol!  I'm a lazy tech!

So often I see people designing and drafting in 2D and I wonder why...!

On the other hand I quite ofter see Revit models that are "Over Modeled"! (but not in my firm). 

It's a balancing act, input only the information you need to output!

BimBuilder blog recently posted this Image below.
As he mentions, "you can walk from New York to California just as easy as taking a plane... but which is more efficient?" which I thought was a great analogy!

On the back of my business card is a quote from Carl Bass from Autodesk University 2011

"Tools are what amplify our capabilities"

I truly believe this... with the right tools (software in our case) we can design and create amazing things.

Get tooled up!



Monday 22 October 2012

Revit for Conceptual Design... Yes or No?

I recently posted this comment to a Linkedin Revit Group on  Revit is not efficient for conceptual models ! Do you agree with this?
Thought I'd share it here as well...

It really depends upon the user, I have some power Revit users that wouldn’t hesitate in starting conceptual modeling straight in Revit, all the tools are there and available to you, it’s just a matter or knowing what’s available and learning how to use it. Other designers are not so familiar with Revit and prefer to use Sketchup or AutoCAD.

Don’t try and force people to choose one over the other, Designers are creative people (nature of the industry) if I try to constrain them and limit the tools that have available to them all I’m doing is constraining their creativity and ultimately they’ll feel that and leave!

What I choose to do (as BIM Manager) is provide guidance and boundaries and provide information on how and when we transition from one software to another, in our case when we stop modeling in Sketchup or AutoCAD and rebuild the model in Revit.

Even when a conceptual design is created in Revit we will stop and rebuilt the project again in Revit when transitioning from Design Development stage, the reason for this is that DD is inherently a fast paced, quick and dirty design process. We want to think fast and throw down ideas as they come. It’s a very creative process that doesn’t focus so much on accuracy… unlike Preliminary Design…

So a documented process where my designers have the flexibility to use the tools they are comfortable using…. And a given point where they know to take it into Revit for further development.

Works for us!

Wednesday 17 October 2012

The Four Approaches to BIM

A good friend of mine by the name of Bruce McCallum who is the National Design Technology Manager for DIALOG recently shared with me this graph of the Four Approaches to BIM

Bruce is also a Revit Jedi...

He kindly gave me permission to share this graph with you... :-)
(Copyright DIALOG)

Here is the definition of each "Approach"

Lonely BIM
Singular Disciplines, not sharing the model outside.
Basically the Architect is using Revit to model to create the traditional drawings....

Multiple disciplines involved sharing models only within the consultant group.

Friendly BIM
Sharing of the morel with the consultants, owner and contractors.However the model is not a contractual document.

Social BIM
Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) contracts, the model is a contractual document.
Fill collaboration between owner, consultants, contractor and suppliers. BIM is used throughout the planning, design, construction and operation of the building.

Awesome stuff..... but how often do we see Friendly and Social BIM actually happening?
From what I see (here in BC Canada) it's gaining momentum... doesn't happen on a lot of projects but on the really big projects I see and hear about "Social" BIM. For the most part it's still "Shy" BIM and less frequently "Friendly" BIM.

And do you know why????
I believe it's because Social BIM still falls outside of the comfort zone of a lot of firms. The process is different and affects the traditional design process and contract agreements. Also (understandably) liability plays a huge role.

Standing outside your comfort zone is challenging for anyone....especially if your company is at stake... I'm just thankful that the company I work for is forward thinking and see's the benefits.

This doesn't mean that it happens all at once..., the wheels turn slowly (as they should) but at least they're heading in the right direction ;-)

I hope your wheels are turning and pointed in the right direction as well....


Monday 15 October 2012

Hide at scale courser than...

Why don’t my Section Markers show up on my Site Plan? You may ask!!

Well, here is the answer!

Under the Instance Properties of the Section (pick the line of the section to see the properties), you will find a little known parameter called; “Hide at scale courser than” where you can select a scale from a drop down list.


Depending on the scale you select will determine whether or not the section marker will be visible or not. For example if you select 1:100 and your site plan is 1:500 you will not see the Section Marker, if you select the scale to 1:500 the section marker will now be visible on your 1:500 Site Plan view.

Remember this is an instance parameter, you will have to adjust the “Hide at scale courser than” scale for each section marker that you want to see.