January 31, 2017

Got Certification?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a reliable way to gauge someone’s AutoCAD, Civil 3D, or Revit experience before they are hired and start working? There is a certain peace of mind that comes with knowing what a person can do, especially when they will contribute to the success of your organization.

One of the biggest challenges we hear from our customers here at Ideate, is how to find qualified engineers, architects, and drafters to hire. In some cases, there are numerous applicants interested in a position, and all of them list “AutoCAD Experience” on their resumes. The trouble is “experience” can mean anything from having used AutoCAD in the past, to having taken an AutoCAD class in college or at a technical school, to actual on-the-job use of the program. Skill level varies widely and it is difficult to know how someone will perform before they are hired and on the job. If a person is hired who doesn’t have the needed skills, both the company and the employee have lost valuable time and energy.

Implementing an application-based skills test during the interview process is one way to help gauge the level of experience a user has. However, developing the test for your standards, and scheduling the exam takes time and resources.

An alternative, and arguably much easier solution, is to look for Autodesk Certified Professionals when reviewing resumes and interviewing job applicants.

The Autodesk Certified Professional program ensures a reliable validation of skills and knowledge in the use of Autodesk applications. Hiring certified professionals can lead to accelerated staff development and improved productivity.

Ideate is proud to feature multiple Autodesk® Authorized Training Centers (ATC) and Autodesk® Certification Centers (ACC), providing globally recognized training and testing. Ideate offers Professional level certification exams for AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, and Revit MEP. *

Are you a current professional looking to distinguish yourself from others? Gaining Autodesk Certified Professional status will provide an industry-recognized credential that helps prove your skill level to current and future employers. With an Autodesk certification, you will enhance your credibility and career success.

*Please note, exam vouchers must be purchased directly through Ideate and individual appointments are scheduled monthly at our Authorized Certification Centers. For more information and to schedule an exam, please contact us at education@ideateinc.com or 888.662.7238 x1012.

Thank you for reading. For more information on the software solutions, training, and consulting Ideate provides, visit our website at www.ideateinc.com.


ENI Manager & Senior Application Specialist
Matt is an ENI Manager and Senior Application Specialist in Ideate, Inc.’s Seattle office. He has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and is a licensed Civil Engineer. Prior to joining Ideate, Matt worked as a civil engineer, using Civil 3D on a variety of projects including site development, roadway improvements and infrastructure design. With over 10 years of experience in the civil engineering industry, Matt now provides training, consulting, technical support, and implementation strategies for organizations transitioning to Civil 3D. Matt is an Autodesk Certified Instructor (ACI), as well as an Autodesk Certified BIM Specialist: Roads and Highway Solutions. Additionally, Matt is and Autodesk Certified Professional for AutoCAD, and AutoCAD Civil 3D. He can be found on twitter as @MattM_PE

January 26, 2017

Performance Degradation

Recently, while doing some research for a technical support case at Ideate, I came across this article on the Autodesk Knowledge Network (AKN), “Civil 3D Performance Degradation.” Posted back in October, this article provides a fix for performance-based issues occurring across multiple users in an organization.

Per the article, some of the issues addressed are long wait times when opening files, long lags during the PURGE and AUDIT commands, and additional lags with dialog boxes appearing and plotting. The issue affects both AutoCAD and AutoCAD Civil 3D, from the 2014-2017 releases. If you’re encountering any of these issues, I strongly encourage you to check the article out.

The solution is straight forward and involves replacing the existing AECCNETWORK.dbx file with the new one provided by Autodesk.

Here are some additional things to note:

  1. You will need Administrative rights for the system to complete the process.
  2. Applications must be closed before applying the update.
  3. The update needs to be implemented on each user’s machine, at once.
  4. The performance problem will recur if an unpatched version of Civil 3D is used to open a file.
  5. The performance problem is fixed at the time a drawing file is saved in the updated version of Civil 3D, not when the .dbx file is replaced.
  6. The first time a user opens a file, the update will not be evident.
  7. Performance will greatly improve after the first save.
  8. External references need to be resaved to see the benefit of the update.
Items 3-5 are very important to remember. If the fix is not applied to each user’s machine and an unpatched version of Civil 3D opens the file, the performance problem will recur. With that in mind, I want to reiterate, the fix should be applied to each machine at once, rather than as needed. All files, including XREFs, will also need to be opened and saved before there is a noticeable change in performance.

If you have been running into company-wide performance issues, this very well could be the solution you need.

Thank you for reading. For more information on the software solutions, training, and consulting Ideate provides, visit our website at www.ideateinc.com.


ENI Manager & Senior Application Specialist
Matt is an ENI Manager and Senior Application Specialist in Ideate, Inc.’s Seattle office. He has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and is a licensed Civil Engineer. Prior to joining Ideate, Matt worked as a civil engineer, using Civil 3D on a variety of projects including site development, roadway improvements and infrastructure design. With over 10 years of experience in the civil engineering industry, Matt now provides training, consulting, technical support, and implementation strategies for organizations transitioning to Civil 3D. Matt is an Autodesk Certified Instructor (ACI), as well as an Autodesk Certified BIM Specialist: Roads and Highway Solutions. Additionally, Matt is and Autodesk Certified Professional for AutoCAD, and AutoCAD Civil 3D. He can be found on twitter as @MattM_PE

January 25, 2017

The Future for ClashMEP and MEP Coordination Workflows


This article was written by Brett Young, CEO at BuildingSP, an Ideate, Inc. partner.

BuildingSP is working on very exciting process improvements in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) space for building information modeling (BIM). I want to give you a view of what we’re working on and how we intend to change construction.  

In the last several months, we’ve developed and released ClashMEP, a dynamic clash detection tool for the Autodesk Revit platform. ClashMEP differentiates itself from other clash detection tools in the following ways:
  • Real-time. ClashMEP works as the user models, so feedback on clashes is real-time.  
  • Meta-data. Integration of clash detection at the modeling level increases available meta-data associated with a clash instance.  
  • Connected. Various types of Revit file sharing, like Collaboration for Revit (C4R), allow for immediate model updates and clash collaboration.
ClashMEP is a break-out tool for clash detection because it removes a separate workflow from the BIM coordination process. It changes the milestone-like “batch” and file-based mentality of clash detection and creates a continuous process within the modeling platform. On its own merits, ClashMEP is a revolutionary product for the AEC industry.

We are not done yet with our work on real-time clash detection. The greater opportunity is to leverage ClashMEP’s differentiators and create a new platform for clash detection that aggregates clashes across the whole project, in real-time. 

Here are what we see as the unique capabilities of this new platform:
  • Automatically Generate Clash Tracking. As soon as a clash is created, the clash can be tracked in the system. This changes clash management from a milestone-based system to one of a “clash ledger.”  Clashes are continuously tracked and managed rather than reported in batches.  
  • Enhanced Accountability. Using meta-data from the modeling environment, we can more actively manage the clash process. The following information would be known for each clash:
    • The date and time the clash was created.  
    • The name of the modeler who generated the clash. 
    • The name of the modeler responsible for the other system.
    • The systems involved in the clash. 
    • The files that were in use when the clash was generated.
  • Deeper Metrics. Measuring progress and open issues gives a high-level view of current conditions.  Many management methodologies (lean, agile, scrum) rely on metrics to determine progress along complex tasks. A ClashMEP-enabled clash tracker would provide metrics that are deeper, richer, and at a higher granularity than a tracker based on a milestone / batch paradigm. 
  • Automatically Close a Clash Issue. Just like a clash can be opened as an issue when it is generated, a clash can be flagged as resolved when it is no longer a clash. Current clash management solutions rely on manual closing of issues, which creates an additional lag in the metrics as well as additional time. A ClashMEP-enabled clash tracker eliminates the manual input of closure and provides better metrics.
The analogy we’re using when talking with customers is of a “clash ledger.” This clash ledger would have an up-to-date, real time list of how many clashes are currently in the model. Management of these clashes can be filtered, sorted, triaged, and prioritized. For example, clashes over 2-weeks old represent a larger risk than clashes created in the last hour or day. A clash created without then-current models or incomplete model sets represents poor model discipline and can be rejected as a false positive for the originator to fix. Each clash would have meaningful data automatically attached to it. The amount of manual input would be very low, relying instead on automation.  

We’re very excited about moving ClashMEP from where it is today and really changing the workflow. In AEC, we need a continuous process for management of our models, not the old paradigm of meeting-based clash coordination. All current users of ClashMEP get access to our new platform and we’re very near to announcing a release date. Get in contact with us so we can talk about your projects and how we change your BIM workflow.  

January 24, 2017

Creating an Origin Point Marker for Revit

For those of you who have read my blog posts, attended my e201s, taken a course with me, or seen me present at a Revit Users Group, you are already aware I am a big fan of the Revit Coordinate System. After spending a considerable amount of time studying how models link and how Shared Coordinates work, the system makes complete sense to me. Well, for the most part, but it did take some time to get there. For instance, I was initially convinced the Project Base Point and Internal Origin Point were the same thing, but after doing lots of testing, I did realize they were, in fact, not the same points.

Starting in Revit 2010, Autodesk provided the ability to display the location of the Project Base Point and the Survey Point by turning on their visibility states in the Visibility/Graphics dialogue box. In my opinion, this was a game changer for the Revit Coordinate System, because it gave us a visual explanation of how the Revit coordinates work. Prior to Revit 2010, understanding the Coordinate System was challenging, to say the least.

While we can now see the Project Base Point and Survey Point markers, we still cannot see the Internal Origin Point. Finding the Internal Origin Point is quite easy, but wouldn’t it be nice if we had a marker that could visually display the location of the Internal Origin?

My video, Creating an Origin Point Marker for Revit Projects, shows you one of the ways in which you can create a marker for the Internal Origin Point. It is important to note, you need to ensure you find the Internal Origin first. To do this, start with the out of the box Revit Template or use the Move to Startup Location feature on the unclipped Project Base Point. Once you have found the Internal Origin, you will be able to place the Marker Family and pin it into place to prevent accidental movement. Also, keep in mind, the marker family will crop out of your view if it lies outside of the crop region.




If you would like to show support for the idea of having a native Revit marker for the Internal Origin Point, then I encourage you to visit my post on the Autodesk Website and vote for this feature by clicking the “Vote up” icon on the left hand side of the page.

Thank you for reading! For more information on the software solutions, training and consulting Ideate provides, please visit the Ideate Inc. website.

Sash Kazeminejad
AEC Senior Application Specialist 
Sash is a registered Architect and LEED Accredited Professional who holds a Master of Architecture from Montana State University. Sash’s experience includes project management, BIM management, and design for architectural firms in California, Montana, and Oregon. In addition to being a Bluebeam Certified Instructor, Sash is As an Autodesk Certified Instructor, Sash who provides Revit Architecture training and solutions for AECO firms. @sashpdx 

January 19, 2017

Energy Analysis Modeling (EAM) – Masses


This post is part-one of a four-part series on Energy Analysis Modeling.

Suppose you have two alternate building design options, both created using masses, and you want to evaluate and compare the energy performance of your designs. Well, I have good news for you; you can create two energy analysis models (EAM) studies in about 5 minutes.

The goal here is to establish an energy efficient direction for the design at a conceptual stage. We will go in depth with Revit building elements and things like the thermal properties of materials later in this four-part series. To start, I want to focus exclusively on managing thermal conceptual values applied to various mass surfaces and generalized energy loading according to building type.

All classroom activities on the ground level
Classroom activities stacked

Using masses for your energy analysis model will ask you to select values from a compact dialog that assigns design assumptions. These can be values related to:

• Energy loads such as occupancy (i.e., office, school, or residential)
• Geographic location and a local weather file
• Percentage of glazing on surfaces
• Thermal conductivity of the masses faces (i.e., Walls, Floors, Glazing, and Roofs)

This process will enable you to compare the energy performance of both of your designs and select the one that works best for you.

Once you have decided on the best design option, you can refine the masses by adjusting values per surface or by assigning occupancy per mass zone - I will explore this workflow later in the series. For now, watch my video, Mass Models: Two Energy Analysis Model (EAM) Studies, and let’s see which building design option makes most sense, purely from the energy use point of view.

Don't forget to stay tuned for parts two through four of this series, where I will be covering Mass Overrides for Surfaces and Zones, Building Elements with Masses, and Building Elements and Material Thermal Properties.

For more information on the software solutions, training, and consulting Ideate provides, please visit the Ideate Inc. website.


AEC Senior Application Specialist
Jim Cowan’s extensive AEC design industry experience, Autodesk design solutions expertise, and status as an Autodesk Certified Instructor have made him a sought after university curriculum developer, instructor, and presenter. Jim’s areas of expertise include eLearning, interoperability between solutions, and overcoming barriers to the adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM). Educated in Architecture at Edinburgh College of Art/Heriot–Watt University and in Landscape Architecture at the University of Manitoba, Jim has special focus on sustainability issues: daylight analysis, sun studies, lighting analysis, modeling buildings, and conceptual energy modeling (models with shading devices). You can learn more from Jim on his YouTube Channel.

January 17, 2017

Creating Lettering on Glass (Decals Part Two)

In my post last week, My Model is Finished, Now to Add The Decals, I showed you how to use the Decal tool in Autodesk Revit software to apply a raster image into 3D views and Renderings for use as television screens, building signage, photographs, and paintings. I want to take that one step further now and show you another use for decals, lettering on glass.
With standard decals, a Source image is added to a Decal Type with the decal in turn being added to a surface. When creating the appearance of lettering on glass, two image files need to be used:

1. One that is considered the Source image and will represent the lettering or symbol “painted” on the glass
2. One that will be used as a mask, or in decal terms, a Cutout.

The Source image will generally include any lettering or symbols against a transparent background. Most photo editing programs will allow you to create an image that includes the transparent color. In the image below, the checkered pattern indicates the transparent background.

Note: Just using a Source image with a transparency is not enough to create the lettering effect.
The Cutout image is used as the mask for the Source image, and it is black and white. The black portion of the image is the transparent area from the Source image and will not display when applied to a surface in Revit. The White area is the “Cutout” of the mask where the text and symbols of the Source image will be placed.
To create the decal, use the Decal Types tool found in the Insert tab>>Link panel>>Decal flyout>> Decal Types tool.
In the Decal Types dialog, select the Create New Decal icon (see image below) to create a new decal. For the Source image, which will be the actual decal/image applied to the glass, pick the […] beside the Source to select the Source image to be used.

At the bottom of the dialog, choose the Cutouts drop-down menu and select “Image file” from the list. This will display a Source box similar to the Source box at the top of the dialog box. Pick the […] to select the image that will be used as the Cutout.
After the Decal Type is created, use the Place Decal tool to add the type to a glazing surface. Once rendered, you should have what appears to be lettering on glazing.

Cutouts can also be used to mask any image for portions of the image you do not want to show up in your Rendering. In the following example, an Image and a Cutout was used to place Graffiti on a building.
To see this workflow in action, watch my video, Creating Lettering on Glass.

Have fun working with decals and making your renderings dynamic.

For more information on the software solutions, training and consulting Ideate provides, please visit the Ideate Inc. website.

Ron Palma
AEC Application Specialist
Ron has 25+ years of experience in the architectural industry as a drafter, designer, lead project designer, trainer, and a CAD manager implementing Autodesk Architectural Solutions for residential design firms. His instructional accomplishments include: Autodesk Certified Instructor (ACI), trainer, support technician, educator at Portland and Clackamas Community Colleges, as well as a U.S. Army certified instructor. Ron holds a BA in Instructional Design suma cum laude, is a member of the Oregon Army National Guard, where he is a First Sergeant of an Infantry Company, specializing in training and mentoring soldiers in their careers, and has been deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Resolute Support. Ron is a published author and continues to write professional technical training manuals and shorts for AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture, and Revit. As an Autodesk Certified Instructor and Revit Architecture Autodesk Certified Professional, Ron continues to provide Revit Architecture and AutoCAD training and support for various AEC firms. @RonPalmaAEC

January 12, 2017

Revit or FormIt for Massing?

Revit and FormIt each have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to Massing. As an AEC Specialist at Ideate, I am deeply familiar with both. Here I highlight the differences and provide examples of how you can get the best of both worlds by using them together.

Revit lets you use parameters and organic forms in creating masses. However, it is not very intuitive when it comes to creating families. It requires a plan for content creation and someone with advanced skills in Family creation.

FormIt 360, on the other hand, is very intuitive and easy to use, but has no parameters to drive content form. It does create forms categorized as “masses.” FormIt files (*AXM) can be converted to Revit files and the default “masses” can be used for energy analysis and By-Face creation of Revit elements.

These two products can also work together, giving you the benefit of intuitive modeling in FormIt, and the ability to swap FormIt forms, or “masses,” for true organic masses in Revit, when needed.

Revit masses representing activities can be assembled to create a school proposal.




FormIt Groups can be easily modeled to create forms categorized as masses and convertible to a Revit mass in Revit. FormIt 360 Pro is a product in development so its features are evolving day-by-day.



A FormIt Group is used to pass changes along in a project file and to separate components. It is like a Family (Revit), Block (AutoCAD), Component (Sketchup), and a Cell (Microstation), but is editable inside of the project file.

While intuitive, FormIt also involves some planning around controlling visibility, managing groups, creating content as separate AXM files, working with Materials and Scenes, and more. Reviewing an application’s features is not enough. You need to understand how best to apply those features.

Watch my video, Revit or FormIt for Massing?, for a demonstration on how both products can be used together to leverage their strengths, as outlined below.

Revit:
+ Data rich (parameters)
+ Parametrically driven
+ True Organic Forms

FormIt:
+ Intuitive modeling
+ Familiar functionality (Sketchup)
+ Interoperability with Revit

For more information on the software solutions, training, and consulting Ideate provides, please visit the Ideate Inc. website.


AEC Senior Application Specialist
Jim Cowan’s extensive AEC design industry experience, Autodesk design solutions expertise, and status as an Autodesk Certified Instructor have made him a sought after university curriculum developer, instructor, and presenter. Jim’s areas of expertise include eLearning, interoperability between solutions, and overcoming barriers to the adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM). Educated in Architecture at Edinburgh College of Art/Heriot–Watt University and in Landscape Architecture at the University of Manitoba, Jim has special focus on sustainability issues: daylight analysis, sun studies, lighting analysis, modeling buildings, and conceptual energy modeling (models with shading devices). You can learn more from Jim on his YouTube Channel.

January 10, 2017

My Model is Finished, Now to Add the Decals (Decals Part One)

In my post From Napkin Sketches to Revit, I showed you how to use the image command to apply a raster image of a napkin sketch, add it into your Revit model, scale it, and use it as a background to trace over to create a BIM model. In that post, I mentioned images could only be added to 2D views, but by using the Decal tool in Autodesk Revit software, an image can be used within 3D views and perspectives.

The Decal tool can be a helpful tool when the desired effect is to use an image to enhance your model. Decals can be used to display a client’s signage on a building, a painting in an office or living room, a football game on TV, or even your business name lettered on a glass door, and it is typically used when rendering a model.



Working with Decals:
The Decal tool can be found in the Insert tab. This tool is a dual functioning tool; pick the bottom portion of the tool to flyout the two tools related to decals.



The Decal Types tool is used to create and configure a decal for use in the model.

In the Decal Types dialog box, new decals can be created, duplicated, renamed, and deleted. The list on the left contains any decals configured in the project. 

The settings on the right side of the dialog box control various settings for the selected decal from the list on the left. Settings such as Selecting an image to use a decal, the Brightness, Reflectivity, Transparency, and Finish of the decal can all be controlled here.



After a decal has been created and configured, use the Place Decal tool to place the decal on a flat or curved surface. Note that the decal image will be visible when using a Realistic visual style and when rendering. If you are using a visual style other than Realistic, the decal will not show at the time you add the decal.



At the time, you add the decal to a surface, the decal boundary appears, and it will adjust to either a curved or a flat surface. Keep in mind, the decal is designed for use in a rendering. Although it will display when using the Realistic visual style, the boundary of the decal will appear.



Images and the Image tool are used to display the image in a 2D view such as a plan and elevation view. Decals can be used in 3D views and are typically effective when the 3D view is rendered, otherwise the Realistic visual style will display the decal boundary.

So there you have it, use Decals to enhance your renderings by helping them be a bit more realistic, incorporate logos or images that would not be able to be used by using the Image command. 

To get a closer look at this workflow, watch my accompanying video, My Model is Finished, Now to Add the Decals.

For more information on the software solutions, training and consulting Ideate provides, please visit the Ideate Inc. website.

Ron Palma
AEC Application Specialist
Ron has 25+ years of experience in the architectural industry as a drafter, designer, lead project designer, trainer, and a CAD manager implementing Autodesk Architectural Solutions for residential design firms. His instructional accomplishments include: Autodesk Certified Instructor (ACI), trainer, support technician, educator at Portland and Clackamas Community Colleges, as well as a U.S. Army certified instructor. Ron holds a BA in Instructional Design suma cum laude, is a member of the Oregon Army National Guard, where he is a First Sergeant of an Infantry Company, specializing in training and mentoring soldiers in their careers, and has been deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Resolute Support. Ron is a published author and continues to write professional technical training manuals and shorts for AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture, and Revit. As an Autodesk Certified Instructor and Revit Architecture Autodesk Certified Professional, Ron continues to provide Revit Architecture and AutoCAD training and support for various AEC firms. @RonPalmaAEC

January 5, 2017

The Importance of Disconnecting

First and foremost, Happy New Year to everyone!

Looking back and reflecting on 2016, I realized almost all the posts I have written are about technology – mostly Autodesk products, like Revit software. This time, I decided to change things up a little and talk about the importance of disconnecting and enjoying a little downtime. Quite the opposite, wouldn’t you say?

While I have always known the importance of leaving the phone behind and not answering emails, I still find myself compulsively checking my email at all hours of the day. Perhaps it has become a habit. Or maybe I am worried if I do not at least check my email, I will fall far behind, as if each one is urgent and needs an immediate response.

This past holiday break, my fiancée and I drove to the Northwestern corner of Montana to see her family and get away from everyday life. The drive through the mountains got me thinking about the lack of cell service, and the forced disconnection from technology. The beauty of these “dead-zones” is there are no interruptions and no temptations to look at your phone or to even expect a phone call for that matter. It’s just you and the people you are with, and that interaction is always important.

While we were in Montana for only a few days, it was the much-needed break from technology I was looking for. We went cross-country skiing and ran into a herd of sheep; hiked up to a small frozen waterfall; and drove on an unpaved, snow-covered logging road for over 40 miles to a small town to meet a friend for lunch. During this time, I was unable to connect to the outside world, which helped me focus on the most important things – fiancée, friends, family, relaxation, and the outdoors.

If you ever find yourself stressed out from the day-to-day routine, take time to unplug and enjoy some time outdoors, preferably far away from cell service. It will help you relax and focus on yourself and the people around you.

Here are some photos for inspiration…






Thank you for reading! For more information on the software solutions, training and consulting Ideate provides, please visit the Ideate Inc. website.

Sash Kazeminejad
AEC Senior Application Specialist 
Sash is a registered Architect and LEED Accredited Professional who holds a Master of Architecture from Montana State University. Sash’s experience includes project management, BIM management, and design for architectural firms in California, Montana, and Oregon. In addition to being a Bluebeam Certified Instructor, Sash is As an Autodesk Certified Instructor, Sash who provides Revit Architecture training and solutions for AECO firms. @sashpdx