Links to Revit tips on other Blogs

I have found a lot of great tips on other peoples blogs.

I’m listing some of the best here so I can find them later.

Managing Detail Level in Revit

Interference Check in Revit

Looking for Missing Items in Revit

Creating Custom Wall Types in Revit Architecture

If you find any great tips, please let me know.

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eZ Review

This is a review of the free universal file viewer and mark up program eZ version 4.0.85

DISCRIPTION (from the web site http://www.ezmeeting.com/ezfree.shtml )

eZ FREE

Simple and easy-to-use, eZ allows you to view SketchUp, PDF, CAD, 3D Models, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, digital photos, graphic files etc. all within the eZ application.

Amazing 3D viewing tools include measure distance, calculate area, dynamic rotation about any axis, section cuts, lighting, color & material controls, and hidden line removal. Cutaway sections can be invisible, ghosted, hidden line removal or a combination of ghosting and hidden line removal. The section plane can be rotated about any axis and moved through the model along any axis.

Sophisticated CAD viewing tools allow you to view and turn DWG and DXF layers on and off, and set foreground and background color for easy viewing of important details. Dynamic zoom, pan and rotate lets you focus on the area you want. Measure distance and calculate the area of any part of a drawing. Tell your clients about eZ so you can distribute your drawings, and they can view them through eZ’s simple interface, without needing to purchase or learn programs such as SketchUp and AutoCAD.

Insert and view digital photos quickly and easily directly from your scanner or camera. Zoom in to any level, rotate and pan. Also, convenient markup tools including add text, pencil, line, ellipse, rectangle, arrow, etc. allow for you to markup on the files without affecting the original, as if you were marking on a transparent overlay.

Organizing information into a compound file (containing more than one file) is a great way to keep track of different kinds of related information. These multi-part documents are easy to distribute for viewing and collaboration. You no longer have to worry about clients and colleagues having the same applications or software versions you do in order to share information.

REVIEW:

The program eZ is the file viewing and markup portion of eZmeeting, an internet conferencing and screen sharing program. While eZ is free, eZmeeting charges a monthly, or per meeting charge. This program is from Sigma Design, the company who produces the architectural program Arris CAD.

I was really hoping that I could recommend eZ. I like the concept. It’s just the implementation that I have a problem with.

When you download and install eZ what you are getting is eZmeeting. Every time you start the program you are presented with a log in screen for you to use for online meetings using eZmeeting. You only need to click on the “Start eZ FREE” to start the free file viewing and mark up program. There are no other nag screens. If you ignore the Start and Join Conference buttons and the Share and Join Desktop buttons what you have left is a blank screen area that you can draw on. They call this a “whiteboard”. The real power of this program is that you can open a large variety of different file types and mark on them as well. When these are CAD files, you have a good way to mark-up and share drawing files. With 3D models, you can dynamically rotate the models as well as dynamically cut sections thru them. You can add sketches to any view along with comments and arrows. This can all be saved and sent to your consultants for review. They can add their comments and return them to you, etc.

You can also create a single eZ document that contains several different document types, along with your markups.

Here are some of the problems I have with it:

  1. It doesn’t install with a help file. That has to be downloaded and installed separately.
  2. It doesn’t work with the latest version of AutoCAD. The most recent version of AutoCAD drawing (.DWG) file it will load is version 2005.
  3. It hangs up when trying to open large .pdf or .doc files
  4. It makes its .pdf printer driver the default printer on your computer. Even if you change back to your preferred printer, the next time you run EZ it changes it back.
  5. When you try to print you get a “printer not activated” error message and are directed to the Amyuni Technologies web site where you are invited to purvchase their PDF converter. It says on that page “This special offer is only valid to those who have purchased a product with Amyuni PDF Converter built in.” and gives you the choice between the $59.00 PDF Converter or the $79.00 PDF Suite. You can select any other printer you want, but I would expect a free PDF printer to be included in a free product.
  6. Can’t load a .txt file.
  7. Can’t mark-up a .doc file. You can open it (with a couple of ““printer not activated” error messages) but can’t mark it up.
  8. Trying to open a power point presentation without the Amyuni PDF converter activated locks up the program.
  9. AutoCAD drawings are only viewable in 2D.
  10. Can’t view AutoCAD drawing layouts, model space only.
  11. You can’t open an Arris drawing without opening it first in ARRISview and saving it out as a .gts file. Note that you can mark up the drawing in ARRISview without having to use EZ. So, if you are an Arris CAD user, you only need EZ for non-Arris files and for internet collaboration.

I am sure there would be more issues if I tried to use it longer. I have never had a program that I have had to abort more often with Windows Task Manager. I didn’t try out the collaboration function. The $99.00 per month fee seems a little excessive to me. Especially when there are several free screen sharing programs available, such as the excellent Adobe ConnectNow program.

If eZ would work with the most recent versions of AutoCAD I think a lot of people would use it. eZ would need to preserve the different layouts, the way it does pdf file pages, as well as model space and layers.

Move to Indiana

The move from Colorado Springs, Colorado to Lafayette, Indiana is complete (more or less). Colorado Springs is a beautiful place to live and I wouldn’t have moved if I could have stayed. Here is why I moved:

As sole proprietor of a CAD consultant company I call CAD Directions, I have been providing services to the architectural community since 1994. With over 30 years Architectural CAD experience I provide an array of services.

Highlights from the last couple of years:
-    As production draftsman: Produced architectural construction documents for several buildings including an 84,000 sq. ft. school on the north side of Colorado Springs.
-    As 3D Modeler: Created several 3D computer models including the 21 building Health Sciences Center located in downtown Philadelphia for Temple University (I had previously done the same for their main campus.)
-    As delineator: Provided many photo-realistic computer renderings, including animations and shadow studies for several clients ranging from a home owner in California to a land developer in New Jersey.
-    As programmer: Provided custom AutoLisp programming for a cabinet designer in Colorado Springs.
-    As teacher: Furnished custom AutoCAD and Revit training.
-    As CAD Manager: Setup CAD standards and procedures for an interior design company and an architectural firm in Colorado Springs.
-    As BIM expert: Assisted a Revit professional in California who required help in refining prototype families for architectural product manufacturers.

You can find more information about me and the services that I can provide at my web site:

http://www.caddirections.com/index_old.htm

Last year (2008) was my best year ever. But this year my business got slower and slower until by October, it had slowed to to the point where it was practically nonexistent. Having lived off my credit cards for a couple of months in the vain hope that work would pick up, I finally had to swallow my pride and accept my daughter’s offer to move in with her in Indiana. So my wife and I, along with my father-in-law and his dog are all now happily living with my daughter and her husband in Lafayette.

Even though I do work for Architects and designers all across the USA most of my work for the last few years has been for local Colorado architects. I have started cold-calling all of the local architects. First I called all the architects in and around Lafayette. Lafayette is about half way between Indianapolis and Chicago so I have started calling the architects in Indianapolis. I’ll call the Chicago architects next.

The good news is that I have met a local architect who has offered me a contract to produce a set of drawings for him. I start tomorrow. I have also talked to an architect in Indianapolis who is giving me a contract pending his client’s signing off on the project. And I have a meeting on Wednesday with another local architect to discuss possible opportunities.

Google SketchUp 7.1 new features

  Find out what’s new in this release.

For those of you who haven’t yet tried SketchUP, it is a very popular 3D modeling software based on an edges-and-faces approach, where faces are 2D objects formed by edges, which are lines or boundaries. Two-dimensional outlines can be push-pulled by a mouse into 3D models. The program is free but there is also a Pro version available for $495.00. SketchUp Pro adds AutoCAD and 3ds Max support.

Here are the Highlights:

(1) Improved rendering engine for better support of large models

(2) Dimensioning. LayOut 2.1, part of SketchUp Pro 7.1, now includes a simple tool for adding dimensions to models.

(3) Sharing and collaboration. SketchUp now supports import and export support for COLLADA and KMZ files.

(4) Photo textures. You get direct access to Google Maps Street View imagery from inside SketchUp.

Minimum Recommended Hardware Configuration

I got a call yesterday from an AutoCAD professional who was in the market to purchase a new computer. She wanted my recommendation as to what she should get for running AutoCAD. This got me thinking. If I was going to buy a new computer today to run the latest versions of the programs I use the most what would I get?

First the software: AutoCAD, Revit Architectue, 3dx Max and Photoshop. Assuming that I wanted to be able to run the latest versions should I decide to upgrade them all,  that would be: AutoCAD 2010, Autodesk Revit Architecture 2010, Autodesk 3dx Max 2010, and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.

Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional (Latest Service Pack)

All of these programs will run on XP or Visa and they can all run 32bit or 64bit. For now I would stick with 32 bit. I worry that all of my older programs won’t work on 64bit, and besides, I’m nor really ready to up date all of my software at the same time. I am also not comfortable with switching to Vista for some of the same reasons. I wouldn’t even consider a MAC because none of the architects that know are using it and I have to work with them. 3ds Max doesn’t list XP Home Edition as an option, so I will stick with the Professional Edition.

Processor: Intel® Core™2 Duo 2.4 GHz or equivalent AMD processor

Autodesk recommends this for Revit. It isn’t the minimum required, but it doesn’t cost much more and should be really fast. Adobe doesn’t recommend anything slower than 1.8GHz.

RAM: 4GB

I think that the more RAM the better. This is the most that a 32 bit operating system can access. If you go for 64bit, then I recommend 8GB ram.

Graphics Card: Depends on Monitor Configuration

It will need at least 120 MB and support for all of 3ds Max features (DirectX, OpenGL, Shader model 3.0, etc.) This is not a gaming machine, so there is no need for a lot of on-card 3D processing. I have been using 2 monitors for a few years now and would highly recommend it. So, you will need a card to support the monitors you want to use. The primary monitor should be a large as you can get, probably a 1,680 by 1,050 resolution. The other monitor should be the same or smaller (a minimum of 1,024 by 768 for your secondary monitor). And these both should be set for 32 bit color. Make you’re your graphics card supports all of this. A good place to start would be this list of Photoshop supported graphics cards.

Hard Drive: Plenty

No new computer you get will have too small a hard drive. These are getting larger and cheaper all of the time. You will need a lot of disk space so I recommend you get three. One for all of your program files, one for all of your data, and one for backup. Get them as big and fast as you can afford. Sacrifice a little size for speed if you need to. The one for program files can be smaller than the other two as long as it is about twice as big as you think all of your program files will require.

Other Stuff: Dealers Choice

Most everything else just depends on what you like. Some programs require a DVD-ROM drive, but your system will probably come with one of these. You will need a 2 button wheel mouse. I personally prefer a large one (I have big hands) that has a lot of programmable buttons. You may want a Wacom pen tablet to use with Photoshop, but that is optional. I also couldn’t work without a high-speed internet connection, but again that may not be required by everyone.

Here is the information I got off the various software publisher’s web sites:

Operating System Processor RAM Graphics Card
AutoCAD 2010 32-bit XP or Vista P4 or AMD 2 GB 1,024 x 768
AutoCAD 2010 64-bit XP-64 or Vista-64 AMD-64 or Xeon or P4-64 2 GB 1,024 x 768
any AutoCAD for Rendering same 3 GHz single or 2 GHz dual 2 GB 1,280 x 1,024 (32 bit)
Autodesk Revit Architecture 32-bit XP or Vista P4 or AMD 3 GB 1,280 x 1,024 (24 bit)
same – recommended XP or Vista Core2Duo 4 GB 1,280 x 1,024 (24 bit)
Autodesk Revit Architecture 64-bit XP-64 or Vista-64 P4 or AMD 3 GB 1,280 x 1,024 (24 bit)
same – recommended same Core2Duo 8 GB DirectX 9
Autodesk 3dx Max 32-bit XP(pro) or Vista(pro) P4 or AMD-64 2 GB 120 MB, D3D or OGL
Autodesk 3dx Max 64-bit XP-64(pro) or Vista-64(pro) P4-64 or AMD-64 4 GB same
Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended XP or Vista 1.8GHz or faster 1 GB 1,280 x 800 (16 bit)
XP = Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional or Home edition (SP2 or later)
XP(pro)=Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional (Service Pack 2 or higher)
XP-64=Windows XP Professional x64 edition (SP2 or later)
XP-64(pro)= Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional x64
Vista=Microsoft® Windows Vista® (SP1 or later) including Enterprise, Business, Ultimate, or Home Premium edition
Vista(pro) = Microsoft® Windows® Vista (Business, Premium, or Ultimate)
Vista-64=Windows Vista 64-bit  (SP1), including Ultimate, Business, or Home Premium edition
Vista-64(pro)= Microsoft® Windows® Vista 64 bit (Business, Premium, or Ultimate)
P4 =I ntel® Pentium® 4  1.4 GHz
P4-64= Intel Pentium 4 with Intel EM64T support and SSE2 technology
Core2Duo=Intel® Core™2 Duo 2.4 GHz or equivalent AMD processor
AMD=AMD Athlon® dual-core processor, 1.6 GHz or higher with SSE2 technology
AMD-64=AMD Athlon 64 with SSE2 technology, or AMD Opteron® processor with SSE2 technology
Xeon=Intel® Xeon® processor with Intel EM64T support and SSE2 technology
1,024 x 768=VGA display with true color
1,280 x 1,024 (24bit)= 1280 x 1024 monitor and display adapter capable of 24-bit color
1,280 x 1,024 (32bit)=32-bit color video display adapter (true color) 128 MB or greater, Microsoft® Direct3D® capable workstation class graphics card
DirectX 9=Dedicated video card with hardware support for DirectX 9 (or later)
D3D=Direct3D 10 or Direct3D 9
OGL=OpenGL

3ds Max notes:

DirectX® 9.0c* (required), OpenGL® (optional)

Some features of 3ds Max 2010 are only enabled when used with graphics hardware that supports Shader Model 3.0 (Pixel Shader and Vertex Shader 3.0). Check with your manufacturer to determine if your hardware supports Shader Model 3.0.

Photoshop Notes:

Some GPU-accelerated features require graphics support for Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0

QuickTime 7.2 software required for multimedia features

Broadband Internet connection required for online services

Certified for 32-bit Windows XP and 32-bit and 64-bit Windows Vista

Interview with Kanti Purohit

Kanti Purohit is the manager of the Bricscad affiliate program. The notes below are based on my telephone interview with him on Sep. 29, 2009.

Bricscad is a CAD package developed by Bricsys and built using the IntelliCAD engine. There are several “AutoCAD like” CAD programs that were based on IntelliCAD. According to Kanti Purohit, Bricscad is now about 99.9% IntelliCAD free and is working to become 100% IntelliCAD free. This will free them up to develop the program to provide more functionality than it does now.

There is a new 144 page e-book by Ralph Grabowski called “Bricscad for AutoCAD Users”. You can get it for free now a free on the Bricscad site .

Right now they are compatible with AutoCAD through 2009 and will soon be compatible with 2010. I asked about whether they would be implementing the AutoCAD ribbon interface, and he indicated that that was still an open issue. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of user demand for it at the present.

In their non-scientific user’s survey they found users 98% satisfied. And 90% preferred it over AutoCAD. Some users say they find it more compatible with earlier versions of AutoCAD than AutoCAD itself. They even have some users who got Bricscad in order to read older AutoCAD drawings.

He stressed that Bricscad is a premium product, and not just another “me too” IntelliCAD clone. It provides a complete platform for third party application developers. There are about 100 applications already and another 300 or so in the works. Many third party application developers are finding that potential users of their products just can’t afford to buy their product and also buy AutoCAD to run it on. He called this a “CAD Tax” that is added to the cost of their application. Bricscad reduces this “CAD Tax” and provides a stable platform to run their applications. If a developer has any problems re-compiling their program to run on Bricscad, they will do it for them. Who could ask for more?

The current version of Bricscad is 9.3. You can download a free 30 day evaluation copy from their web site. If you should decide to purchase a copy, please use my affiliate number JW6C-3224-JSAW and get a 5% discount.

Thoughts on the Bricscad Affiliate Program

Last month I received an email from Bricscad inviting me to become a Bricscad affiliate. For those of you who are not familiar with Bricscad, it is low-cost alternative to AutoCAD. I hadn’t looked at the program in a couple of years, so I got a copy and was impressed with it. Perhaps I will pose a full review of it later but for now I want to tell my opinion of GlobalForce DIRECT, the distributor of Bricscad products in US and India. They appear to be based in India, and that may be the source of the problems I ran into. [I was wrong about this. refer to the reply posted by Kanti Purohit ]

First let me say that after my review I was fully prepared to recommend this CAD program for existing users of AutoCAD that want to switch from Autodesk. If you can be happy with 90 percent of the functionality at 30 percent of the price and jump off of the spiraling upgrade costs of sticking with AutoCAD you may want to check it out. Bricscad uses the same .DWG file format that AutoCAD uses so there is no translation required when sharing drawings with your consultants. The menu system looks enough like AutoCAD 2008 that existing AutoCAD users can be productive with Bricscad in less than an hour, no re-training required. And if all of this is not enough, your existing AutoLisp programs will run without modification (90 percent of them anyway).

However, when I tried to sign-up I ran into problems. The email gave me two different ways to sign up. I could fill in the form on their web site, or simply respond to the email. I replied to the email and have still not received a response. I then went to their web site and clicked on the form. The form was a simple email response form where you fill out a couple of required fields and it forwards an email to them. One of the required fields was my phone number. It would not forward the email until this field was filled out correctly. I suppose I am not smart enough to enter my phone number in a format that it liked. I tried 5 or 6 different combinations. I live in Colorado and I almost never have a need to call out of the country so I am thinking that there must be some special way for someone in India to call here, but by then I just gave up.

Note to GlobalForce DIRECT:

If you are serious about getting affiliates in the USA you should not put so many obstacles in their way. If you send me an email requesting a response, and then never even acknowledge that response, it gives me serious concerns about the level of support an end user of your product could expect. If you intent to provide reasonable support to users in the USA, your web site pages should not present them with obstacles that get in their way. It is not good enough for a CAD company to have a good product. It must also have a good distribution and support network. Because of this I will not be actively promoting this product. [After posting this I received a call from Tony Flynn and then from Kanti Purohit who explaied the technical problem they had and again offered me the opportunity to become an affiliate. After I receive the conformation email I will let you know.]