Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Revit Type Catalogs

As we continue to test more Revit Families with our FAR Designer we have come across some very interesting items related to creating Revit Type Catalogs.


Here are some examples of items we found that I would like to present as discussion points and encourage your feedback:

  • A Revit Type Catalog included Parameter Values using simple equations for a manufacturer and/or other text items where no equation was required. The parameters are not part of the text file, but part of family. It is my understanding that Revit will add those Parameter Values when importing into the Revit Project File which eliminates the need to have Revit evaluate an equation that is not required in a Revit Type Catalog. However, if you do not use Revit Type Catalogs, then it is appropriate to take the approach of including Parameter Values using simple equations.
  • Another Revit Family we tested included Parameters with Values that were determined by an equation and they were trying to place those Parameters into Revit Type Catalog text file. I question why anyone would consider doing this as any Parameter that has an equation should let Revit determine the Value.
  • Another Family we tested had an Instance Parameter in the Type Catalog and Instance Parameters should not be in Revit Type Catalogs.
  • We also tested a Revit Type Catalog that had 170 Types and 45 Parameters within the Type Catalog. I question the size and feel it should have been broken down for ease of use, as going through 170 Types is a lot to search when looking for what you need.

I can fully understand why architects do not trust what they are downloading when there are such inconsistencies, even with something as trivial as creating Revit Type Catalogs.

It is my opinion that a 'best practice' approach should be taken into account when creating Revit Type Catalogs.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

FAR Designer Type Catalog Issue2

Someone using the FAR Designer tried to put Parameters that have equations into the Revit Type Catalog. I do NOT recommend putting a Parameter in a Revit Type Catalog that has an equation and suggest you let Revit handle that inside the Family. When looking at the differences between Types in a Family, I consider the Type Catalog to be a place to hold the Parameters with different values that are not controlled by an equation.

FAR Tool Tip: If you are creating a Revit Type Catalog when using the FAR Designer, do not select a Parameter that has an equation.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

FAR Designer Release

CAD Enhancement Inc. is announcing the release of the FAR Designer - a valuable tool allowing the following functionalities within a Revit Family to:

  • Create Type Catalogs
  • Manage the Type Catalogs more efficiently
  • Add Types, add or remove Parameters, rename your Parameters, change the values of the Parameters etc.- all within the Revit Family Editor
  • Define which Parameters are within the Type Catalog
  • Show the Parameters within their groupings along with their values and any equations
  • Allow you to print or save a ‘read out’ of the Parameters within a Revit Family to a rich text file that can be opened as a Word document
  • Show what will be in the Type Catalog after it has been saved
    Download a Free Trial of the FAR Designer

    Note: To access the FAR Designer you must have Revit 2010 and the FAR Manager installed on your computer:

    Read about the FAR Designer


Feel free to call 651-815-0220 or email Lrobinson@cadenhancement.com with your questions, comments and feedback regarding the FAR Designer.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

FAR Designer Use 1

Right after announcing the release of the FAR Designer we received this inquiry, "We have a large number of Revit Families that have Types within the Family and would like to create the Revit Type Catalogs for these Revit Families. Can your tool help?" We were happy to respond by saying, "Yes, it can, as that is one of the reasons the FAR Designer was developed."


Below is just one example in a step-by-step process showing how you can use the FAR Designer to create Revit Type Catalogs for Revit Families that already have Types within:



  1. Select the Revit Family
  2. Open the Revit Family within the FAR Designer
  3. Select the Parameters you want in the Revit Type Catalog then save as a Type Catalog. It will create the txt file and remove all the Types from the Revit Family

Another FAR Designer feature to try as you are creating your Revit Family and adding all the Types, would be to group all the Parameter names in the Family Editor within the FAR Designer, thus allowing you to see the differences, which in turn, allows you to make a good decision of what Parameters should be in a Type Catalog.

Click here to download a 15 day Free Trial of the FAR Manager and FAR Designer. (Revit 2010 and the FAR Manager must be installed on your computer before accessing the FAR Designer.)

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Revit Type Catalogs - FAR Designer

Are you tired of opening Notepad or Excel to create your Revit Type Catalog? We have created a tool called the FAR Designer to help with this task. It is built on our FAR Manager technology (within Revit 2010) so it does require that you work in a project file. This can be an actual project file or just click on a new project file in Revit.

Once you have created your geometry, you can either create all your Type(s) as you would with a typical Family or go to the project file and open it using the FAR Designer. If you choose to open the project file using the FAR Designer you will have the capabilities to add Types, Parameters, rename your Parameters, etc... within the FamilyEditor. You can also select the Parameters you want to be in the Type Catalog.

Another functionality of the FAR Designer is the ability to easily add and remove Parameter Sets to the the Type Catalog prior to saving it. This can be done by clicking on the selected Parameter(s) within the Type Catalog column. You will also find a Type Parameter Unit column that allows you to set the Parameter Header correctly with the ## symbols.

The FAR Designer tool also allows you to take a Type Catalog and re-insert all of the Types back within the Family as well as remove the Type Catalog.

One of the most significant features of the FAR Designer is the ability to create a 'read out' of the Parameters within a Revit Family and save it into a rich text file that can be opened in Word or printed out for your product managers and others responsible to verify the product information in the BIM format is complete and accurate.

Contact us with any questions or comments

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Release of Far Manager and Bim Manager

CAD Enhancement Inc. is announcing the release of the FAR Manager and BIM Manager tool sets for use with Revit Architecture 2010.

The FAR Manager is a Content Manager that allows the users to:

  • Import the whole family
  • Import just the type
  • Add parameters and types
  • Access to RevitCatalog
  • Search for families within the users network by Category, Sub-category, Types, Parameters and their values

The BIM Manager is a tool set that allows the BIM Managers to:

  • Add/edit parameters by batch
  • Control the folders that the users can use with the Far Manager
  • Catalog the family for quick search

The best part is that CAD Enhancement Inc. is providing these tool sets for Architects to download and use for FREE.


Read about the whole process that includes these two tool sets at http://www.cadenhancement.com/labels/FAR.html


To download the FAR Manager and the BIM Manager http://www.cadenhancement.com/2001/01/far-manager-bim-manager.html


Take a look at some of our video clips of the FAR process:
1.) BIM Manager Utility Tool capabilities http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwp6XqQQm9s
2.) FAR Manager Search capabilities http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAW3HdOTodY
3.) FAR Manager - Importing Types capabilities http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1qwWZnz0_o
4.) From an Inventor file to Revit Family http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBwXiRpw6hM

Contact us with your comments, feedback and suggestions as you begin working with the FAR Manager and BIM Manager tool sets.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Manfacturers data / BIM data

My last blog on CAD drawings and BIM returned some interesting comments from within my blog as well as from Linkedin Groups. It appears some were missing the point or not understanding it while some responses were building upon it. As a means to clarify my point I would like to take this discussion to the next level.


For the purpose of this blog, let’s consider the BIM data as representations of the manufacturer’s product data. In order for building manufacturers to be competitive they will most definitely have to be concerned with the BIM representation of their product data. But that is not all they are concerned with as they have the manufacturer’s representation of that data, not to mention marketing data such as cut sheets, shop drawings, etc.



  • Manufacturers Representations – There are a number of categories relating to data from the perspective within manufacturers’ walls but let’s just look at a few items:
  • Engineering data comes in all sorts of different methodology such as solid modeling, database driven and plain old 2D. This data is the life blood of the manufacturer, not only displaying current product line but being used to create new product (R&D). Actually, when I talk to manufacturers I like to draw a big circle and label it as the engine model from which everything is a derivative of this data.
  • Marketing data - Even though there are and can be more derivatives than just marketing data from an engine model, for this blog let’s look at the marketing data as data including BIM data and cut sheets or shop drawings.
  • BIM data is from a geometry point of view and should, for the most part, focus on providing the ‘foot print’ and ‘volume in space’ for the product. There are other concerns involving more detail that I will leave for another blog. The BIM data from the meta data perspective is also a key factor as it is really where manufacturers have to be cognizant in order to provide all the data necessary for their product, which includes pointers to cut sheets or shop drawings and specifications to name a few.

What I was trying to convey in my l last blog was that manufacturers will need to continue providing drawings of their products in a 2D fashion. This data will most likely take the form of a PDF file which will continue to provide the necessary detail and information that an architect or engineer needs. Again, this is something the BIM models do not provide other than by including a URL link to this data.
There are quite a few other derivatives we could talk about but the main point I want to emphasize is that all of the product data could be taken from the engine model, which is exactly what we are doing with the FAR Process - becoming a derivative of the engine model.

Patrick Johnson








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Monday, November 2, 2009

The Future of CAD with the World of BIM

As one of the fastest moving initiatives in the commercial industry, Building Information Modeling (BIM) is an innovative approach to integrating the design, construction and management of a product.

  • Recent studies revealed:
    Over 50% of architects, engineers, contractors and owners are utilizing BIM at moderate levels or higher.
  • Architects are the heaviest users of BIM with 43% using it on more than 60% of their projects (that number is expected to grow throughout 2009).
  • 77% of BIM users are involved in at least a moderate number of green projects.
  • Half of the industry is using BIM or BIM-related tools today — a 75% increase in usage over the past two years.
  • 42% of non-users believe that BIM will be highly or very highly important to the industry in five years.
  • One in five users who formally measure ROI see returns above 50%, while 9% of users who
  • formally measure ROI see returns above 100%.

BIM (Building Information Modeling) is changing the world and has also created a burden for manufacturers to supply data to the architects in a different format. This does not mean manufacturers need to forget about the simpler CAD drawings they have been supplying in the past. There will always be a need for these drawings. Actually, in the BIM format, a manufacturer should be supplying a link to their CAD file (shop drawing) as a way of providing the information part of the ‘I’ in BIM

As a manufacturer you may be asking, ‘Why do we need to provide BIM data?’ The answer is simple, the world of architecture and design is changing and it is changing fast. Right now we have two states, Wisconsin and Texas, mandating that all their government projects must be a BIM format. Many architects are stating that your product(s) will not get specified unless you provide BIM data. I will also add that a properly developed BIM model will put a manufacturer’s product specifications in front of the architect, which in turn, greatly increases the chance of getting that product specified.

However – not all projects will be in BIM. You will have some architects that will not move to the BIM format, projects that will not demand it and there are all of the existing buildings that may have expansion plans and already have documentation in CAD formats. With the understanding that BIM is a new format that is here to stay, it’s important to acknowledge the need to provide CAD drawings and shop drawings will not be going away any time soon.

The following are links to information supporting the use of BIM by architects:

BIM adoption rate exceeds 80% among nation’s largest AEC firms

http://www.bdcnetwork.com/article/ca6668193.html

SmartMarket Report on Building Information Modeling (BIM)

http://construction.ecnext.com/coms2/summary_0249-296182_ITM_analytics

First Wisconsin, now Texas mandates BIM for state projects

http://www.bdcnetwork.com/blog/1340000734/post/1350047735.html

Patrick Johnson

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Monday, October 12, 2009

When to use the Far Creator

When to use the FAR Process as the most efficient means to creating Revit Families.

When do you know that you want to be able to use the FAR Process to automate your data into BIM Models (Revit Families) for the architect to use? Just because you can automate the creation of BIM Models does not mean that it justifies doing it.

Attached is a flow chart that presents various scenarios for building manufacturers illustrating the points to consider when creating your product data into BIM Models and when it justifies automating this process with the Far Process.

I’ve highlighted some of the points to consider as you review the Flow Chart.

  • What are you using to create the designs for your product mix? (AutoCAD; Inventor; SolidWorks; Pro E)
  • Are your designs 2D or 3D?
  • What is the most efficient way to create BIM data/Revit Families for your product Type?
  • Static
  • If the product is stable (does not go through engineering changes) and unless there is a common design around multiple products, a manual creation of the Revit Families is most cost efficient
  • When a static product is changeable, the FAR Process is the most efficient method of creating Revit Families
  • Configurable
  • Customizable
  • Both Configurable and Customizable products should follow the same methodology when creating Revit Families
  • The FAR Process is most efficient to create the Revit Families when provided a basic core model and a list of options that differentiates the product models
  • When the parametric changes of a product impact the form, fit and function, the FAR Process is the most efficient method to create Revit Families
  • When the parametric changes impact the dimensional changes of a product, a manual creation of the Revit Families is most efficient
  • Made to order
  • When the product is ‘made to order’ and is static (the geometry is non parametric), then the FAR Process is most efficient when creating Revit Families. The AEC Exchange is another option but is only available to Autodesk users on the manufacturing side with some limitations.
  • Build Design (product design for a specific building project)
  • The FAR Process is most efficient when creating Revit Families. Again, the AEC Exchange is another option but is only available to Autodesk users on the manufacturing side with some limitations.

Contact us if you would like to discuss your product mix and how the efficiencies of the FAR Process can work for you.

Patrick K. Johnson

Building%20Manufacturers.pdf

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Far Process Summary

The intention of this blog is to provide you with an overview of the FAR Process and describe how your company can automate the creation of Revit Families as well as manage your library of Revit Families more efficiently and effectively utilizing the FAR Process.

The objectives of the FAR Process are:

  • To create a Revit Family automatically that is usable, maintainable and sustainable throughout the life of the building project.
  • To create a tool for Manufacturers to manage/control their product data for Architects using the BIM format without being dependent upon an outside provider to create and maintain their Revit families.
  • To create an automated Revit Family created that includes product data provided directly from the Manufacturer and is ready to be downloaded into BIM projects.

Overview of the FAR Process:


The FAR Process is built from 3 main components:

1. FAR Creator
2. FAR Data Set

3. FAR Manager

The FAR Creator is not just one application. It is a set of API's that will be built for each Manufacturer based on their software and their industry. The FAR Creator takes the product data provided by the Manufacturer to create the FAR Data Set required for the FAR Process.

  • Each Manufacturer will be able to use their own set of API's to create the FAR Data Set necessary for automating the creation of their own Revit families, from their own manufacturing data using the FAR Process for custom and future product developments.
  • The FAR Creator allows the Manufacturer to have the ability for updating architect data automatically when changes are made to the engineering data.

The FAR Data Set is a text file that contains the product data and instructions for the FAR Manager.

The FAR Manager uses the FAR Data Set to create a Revit Family within Revit. The FAR Manager also includes a Content Manager interface which allows the user to manage their families within their own file system

We have 4 short video segments on YouTube demonstrating the capabilities of the FAR Manager; BIM Manager Utility Tool and the ability to create a Revit Family from an Inventor file.

Click on the following links to see the YouTube video clips:

1.) FAR Manager Search capabilities
2.) FAR Manager - Importing Types capabilities
3.) BIM Manager Utility Tool capabilities
4.) creating a Revit Family from an Inventor file

Contact us to discuss how you can begin automating Revit Families for your company with the FAR Process.






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Saturday, August 29, 2009

What is the proper way to market on the web

What is the proper way to market on the web?

The web is a powerful tool for getting the word out but also can be detrimental if one is not careful.

As we have been marketing the FAR Process on the web I have received comments that we are not explaining it in enough detail to potential customers.

Our approach from the beginning was to intentionally provide a ‘high level’ description of the FAR Process in order to intrigue people about how we developed a process to automate the creation of Revit Families. We did this so they would ask what it was and if they could see a demo. Frankly, this approach has worked beyond our wildest dreams. We have been providing demos for some of the largest architect firms in the US and across the globe.

However, we feel we are walking a fine line between providing enough detail for potential customers interested in the product while guarding the proprietary information from competitors. We do not want to ‘show all of our cards’ before we are ready to do so. If you have been following me via Twitter or my blogs you will notice we are providing more detailed information about the FAR Process with each blog. We plan to continue providing more details through these blogs until it is released, which will be occurring in the near future.

My question to you is, “What do you think about marketing on the web and the most effective approach that should be taken?

Do you think we have taken the right approach?

What would you recommend?

Any and all comments would be appreciated.

Here is an example of the new approach we are taking.

We have a video on Searching for a Revit Family
New blog on the BIM Manager Utility



Thank you.



Patrick Johnson

President - CAD Enhancement, Inc

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Partial drawing

In AutoCAD 2009 you may run across what I term is a ‘bug’ when it comes to partial drawings. I have had an issue when starting a new drawing that it will actually start as a partial drawing. This can become annoying, especially if you have any customizations that may be dealing with layers. What is even more amazing to me is that this ‘bug’ has not been caught in any of the service packs.


In a nut shell, AutoCAD has a new variable - openpartial which is defaulted to 1 which allows you the ability to open a drawing in partial open. It is my feeling that when you are starting a new drawing, you should not have to be concerned that it has a ‘bug’, especially an inconsistent one that does not ‘show up’ all of the time. Therefore, in order to alleviate the worry of a ‘bug’, the very first thing that should be done is to change the variable to 0.

Partial open is suppose to work when the drawing is saved in paper space and the variable INDEXCTL is set to non 0.


The following are the definitions for these two variables:openpartial - Two conditions must be met for this system variable to have an effect. The drawing must have been saved with paper space displayed (TILEMODE is set to 0), and the INDEXCTL system variable must be set to a non-zero value.


Indexctl - To receive the maximum benefit of demand loading, it is recommended that you save any drawings that are used as xrefs with layer and spatial indexes.


The point I wanted to emphasize in this blog is if you do use partial open drawings, you need to be aware that your new drawings may start off with the ‘bug’ described earlier and you need to deal with it. If you do not use partial open, set both variables to 0.



Patrick Johnson

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Friday, August 28, 2009

BIM Manager Utility

Within the FAR Manager there is a utility exclusive for BIM Managers allowing specific capabilities that general FAR Manager users can not utilize. The login will allow only the BIM Manager to gain access into this utility.



Some of the exclusive capabilities within this utility allow the BIM Manager the ability to:

· Set the path(s) of where the users will be able to read and/or save families from within the FAR Manager.

· Add parameters and values in a batch mode. The general user will have the ability to add parameters one at a time; following a similar process as is found inside Revit. (We felt this ability was better suited for BIM Managers to handle than giving that kind of control to the general user.)

· Set up the search functions for all users allowing the ability to search not only items such as family name but also reaching inside the families and searching data inside the family quickly.



Attached is the BIM Manager Utility video file which demostrates these capabilities in greater detail.



Patrick

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Inventor ilogic and Far

As we continue moving forward with our development of the FAR Process we have been digging deeper into automating the creation of Revit families from Inventor. Inventor iLogic (a free product add-in for Autodesk subscription users) will play a huge role in the ability to make this happen. I look at iLogic as a ‘rules based’ logic that is attached to the models within Inventor. To me, this is one of the best moves Autodesk has made in a while. I look at iLogic as a tool that is very simple to use but very powerful - oh yeh, there is even a help document with it.

The ability to return and pass data to outside applications and databases is one of the true powers of iLogic. The way we intend to use iLogic for the FAR Process is only one method for using this ‘rules based’ tool. Once you understand how this tool works, its use will be limited only by your imagination.


I know we are only scratching the surface when it comes to utilizing the capabilities of iLogic for our use with the FAR Process. iLogic is worth looking at for the capability to put rules on any or all parts and assemblies, as it will only make your model that much smarter.

View the video showing an Inventor model to a Revit Family automatically.

Contact us if you are interested in scheduling a demonstration of the FAR Process using Inventor iLogic.

Patrick K. Johnson

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Far Creator

The FAR Process is built from 3 main components; the FAR Manager, the FAR Data and the FAR Creator. The FAR Creator is the piece of the puzzle for the Manufacturers that will take their product data whether it originates in Inventor, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Pro E, etc. in order to create the FAR Data set required to automate the creation of a Revit Family.


The FAR Creator really is not one application but a set of API's that will be built for each Manufacturers, based on their software and their industry. The ultimate goal is to get the FAR Creator set up for the Manufacturer so they will not be dependent upon an outside provider for creating and maintaining their Revit families. Each Manufacturer will be able to use their own set of API's to create the FAR Data necessary for automating the creation of their own Revit families using the FAR Process for custom and future product developments.


Another cost advantage with the FAR Process is that the FAR Creator allows the Manufacturer to have the ability for updating architect data automatically when changes are made to the engineering data - thus eliminating the need to manage multiple sets of data.


In addition, we feel one of the greatest advantages of the FAR Process for Manufacturers and Architects is found when working with customized product data. The FAR Creator allows the ability to create the FAR Data set for customized products for Architects automatically, thus eliminating the cost and reducing the amount of time for both the Manufacturer and the Architect to create this data.


The FAR Creator creates the data and automates the creation of the Revit Family to appear as if it were done manually. The FAR Process has the ability to automatically create an efficient, effective and high quality Revit family consistently, each and every time.

Feel free to watch the video of going from Inventor to a Revit family Automatically.


Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in seeing a demonstration of the FAR Process.


Patrick Johnson

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Far Process and Manufacturing

As we started putting together the plan for the FAR project one objective we were trying to accomplish was to automate a process where Manufacturers could create Revit families without the investment of purchasing Revit software, training, and the staff to manage Revit. Our original plan was to create a way for the product data from the Manufacturer to be passed to the Architect who has the FAR Manager and Revit software so Architects could create the Revit family on their side automatically, since Manufacturers were focused on producing products instead of creating data.


For the past 6 weeks we have been presenting demos of the FAR process. Those initial demos were designed to get feedback from both Architects and Manufacturers. One item that we were hearing from the Manufacturers is the desire to create the Revit families themselves. The reason behind this was coming from the marketing side as they want the ability to decide where the Revit families reside in order to get the most exposure for their families and ultimately, their products. As a result of that feedback we are now offering the option for Manufacturers to implement the entire FAR process which includes both the FAR Manager and the FAR Creator to enable the capability for automating the creation of their own Revit families.


I think this was the beauty of these demos, not only did we obtain feedback regarding the concept of the FAR process but we also learned how companies plan on managing their architect data moving forward.


Again, I would like to thank everyone who participated in our initial demos of the FAR process and welcome other Architects and Manufacturers to contact us if interested in scheduling a FAR demo.



Patrick Johnson

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Updating Sheet numbers

Updating sheet numbers in your Paper Space tabs automatically can be a challenge and time consuming when doing it manually -especially if you do not use the simple approach of 1 thru 10. Updating of your sheet numbers happens any time automatically when a template is added, deleted or changed. If you are using the scheme to give each sheet the same name as the Sheet Number (e.g. M1, M2, M3 for Mechanical drawings and E1, E2, E3, E4, E5 for Electrical drawings) and you want to label your drawings as (M1 of M3) or (E1 of E5) a new challenge arises when you remove a sheet or add a sheet and need to be able to update all the remaining sheets correctly (e.g. M1 of M4 when adding one additional Mechanical sheet).

CAD Enhancement Inc. has developed an application that automates the process of updating sheet numbers as described in the previous examples. This is one of those tools we have found helpful to eliminate the need to go into Paper Space objects and is extremely cost effective with a quick ROI.
If you are interested in implementing this tool at your facility all we would need is to review your sheet number standards.

Feel free to contact us if you have comments, questions or interest in this application.


Patrick K Johnson

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Paper Space

When I look at Paper Space and when I talk to customers - I always say, “Think of Paper Space as a piece of paper.” As you start thinking of Paper Space in that way while setting up your standards and procedures correctly, Paper Space can become a way to print and/or publish your drawings without the need of opening up those tabs. We’ve actually been able to set up a customer so they never have the need to go into their drawings what so ever. Of course, not everyone will have that ability but I want to show you there are ways you can minimize the need.

To begin with you need to look at what is available to help you minimize or eliminate the need to open up the Paper Space tabs such as:

Fields - These are items that you point to in order to see data that you want to read. For example, you can point to the tab name for the sheet number. I actually like to point to properties in the custom properties within the file for filling in the Title Block. Using this data from the fields you start building consistency in your Title Block which also allows for quick changes, no matter how many sheets you have to work with. examble.

Layers – Generally speaking, you can control specifically what layers are frozen, thawed or on and off. An example of this is found in the view ports within each Paper Space object.There is more available to help minimize the need to open Paper Space tabs such as Annotative Text which can be applied to more complex drawings.

The point I want to emphasize is ‘Whatever you do is dependent upon your standards and setting up your templates correctly.’ Also, we have found that sometimes having an application in place helps with these matters. One small application we have developed and like to use is discussed in the blog Updating Sheet Numbers within Paper Space. We feel it becomes non-productive if you are doing work in Model Space which also creates a need to do work in the Paper Space object. With the proper setup you can minimize or eliminate the need to go into the Paper Space items to do any work.

Feel free to contact us with your questions and/or comments regarding Paper Space.

Patrick Johnson

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

FAR Demo Summary

Throughout the past 5 weeks CAD Enhancement Inc. has been presenting demos of the FAR (Family Automation Revit) Process which is a tool that automates the creation of Revit families. One of our intentions with the initial FAR demos was to obtain feedback from manufacturers and architects to improve this application to best meet your needs.

The concept of the FAR Process was well received resulting in outstanding feedback that is definitely having a positive influence in the outcome of the FAR Manager and the FAR Creator.

We wanted to share the following feedback and updates with you as a way to keep you informed of the progress we are making with FAR.

Feedback / Suggestions to create:

  • Searching capabilities for existing Families (to be included in the 2nd Release of the FAR Manager)
  • Shared Parameters (to be included in the 3rd Release of the FAR Manager)
  • Ability to add Parameters (to be included in the 1st Release of the FAR Manager)
  • Alphabetize Groupings and Parameters (to be included in the 1st Release of the FAR Manager)
  • Ability to save Families or save Types (to be included in the 1st Release of the FAR Manager)
  • Ability to add Types (to be included in the 1st Release of the FAR Manager)
  • BIM Manager Tool Set (to be included in the 2nd Release of the FAR Manager).

Will Include ability to set the file directories
· Will include the ability to set-up the search tool
· Will include the ability to batch process the adding of Parameters

  • Turn-key ability for manufacturers to create Revit families to market their Revit families where they see fit (available with the development of the FAR Creator and set-up of the FAR Manager)
  • Available standard naming conventions (will be an ongoing process as we add content and receive additional feedback)
  • Ability to state comments on a family from within the FAR Manager instead of only going to RevitCatalog website (to be included in the 1st Release of the FAR Manager)

Updates:

  • The FAR Process has a Patent Pending status
  • 1st Release of the FAR Manager is scheduled for the week of August 17th – 21st
  • 2nd Release of the FAR Manager is scheduled for mid-September
  • 3rd Release of the FAR Manager TBD (Fall 2009)

Thanks to all that have participated

Patrick K Johnson

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Bridging the communication Gap between Architects and Manufacturers

In my development of the FAR process which includes a tool that allows the ability to create a Revit family automatically I have been taking a long look at the manufacturing modeling technique and comparing it to the architect modeling technique. It has become apparent to me there is a great need for the manufacturer to understand the method being used in Revit when considering a more seamless process to automating the creation of Revit families.

Obviously, the manufacturers first and foremost interest is to create and sell their product(s). Architects have stated “When a manufacturer provides their product data in a quality BIM format they can trust, and is user friendly as well as easily accessible, that product will be spec’ed more and in turn the manufacturer will sell more. “

This is a simple concept; however, the communication between the two industries and the passing of data between the manufacturers and architects is breaking down at a time in our economy when efficiencies should be at the utmost of importance. We need to work together to bridge this communication gap so everyone can benefit.

Sometimes having an understanding of the other industry is all that is required. For instance, reading the data compared to creating more rules would be more efficient. To emphasize this point I will share a personal example of how I changed my ideas about work planes when looking at them from another perspective. I was never a big fan of using work planes all over the model as I always preferred using faces to work from instead of creating work planes. However, I have discovered with proper modeling standards in place and a true understanding of the product, using work planes creates a cleaner and more workable model. It has become apparent to me when considering from the architect’s perspective, that the use of work planes in the correct position with correct labeling is extremely helpful in the extraction of data without the need for too many rules.

Share your comments.

Patrick K. Johnson

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Interesting

One of my last FAR demos was quite interesting. The gentleman suggested I should just create the content and sell it to Autodesk Seek so he could download it for free. It goes without saying, he was missing the point of what we are trying to do with the development of the FAR Process.

However, his comment got me thinking and recalling Autodesk’s last try at providing data in the ‘90's. Does anyone remember PartSpec? I remember getting that CD and saying, ‘Right, like I am going to use this junk?’ and it was a complete utter failure. It is my opinion they began heading down the same path with the way they have started Autodesk Seek and how they are spending incredible amounts of money to clean it up. My hat is off to them for trying.

I’ve also been thinking, ‘Why is Autodesk spending so much money on this endeavor?’ I truly believe they are trying to monopolize the market in order to gain the market share, which in the end, they will be able to raise the price of their software - what do you think?

Patrick Johnson

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FAR Data - what is it

At this time we have a Patent Pending on the FAR (Family Automation Revit) Process including the FAR Data Set so I really cannot go into too much detail but will give you an overview of the intention for this data set.

To begin with, the FAR Data Set is at the core of our whole FAR Process.From the manufacturer’s perspective the FAR Data Set can be created whether the manufacturer is using Inventor, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Pro E, etc..... A manufacturer using software other than an Autodesk product really doesn’t have to purchase an Inventor or Revit seat to get their data out to the architect industry. Actually, a manufacturer using Inventor should not even have to purchase Revit.

My belief is that manufacturers are in business to produce quality products and should not have to worry about purchasing software and training personnel in Revit. On the flip side, manufacturers do need to worry about getting their product data out to architects, designers and engineers in the BIM world and we believe we have an effective solution to accomplish this with the FAR Process.

The following example shows the true power of what we are trying to accomplish using the FAR Data Set with manufacturers while providing quality data using the FAR Process. During one of our recent FAR demos we had a manufacturer ask if they were to set up a database of their product data, could they have ‘real time’ updates of their BIM data when an architect requests their product. Our response was obviously ‘Yes’ since automating the process to create the highest quality Revit families is one of the main intentions of the FAR process.

Architects or others using Revit families for BIM projects need to own the Revit software and will be using the FAR Manager within the FAR Process to automate the creation of Revit families from the FAR Data Set. Another advantage when using the FAR Process is the option to choose (before creating the family) the amount of detail from the FAR Data Set to be included in the family. Future enhancements we intend to develop after getting the Revit version of the FAR Process up to speed will be to use the FAR Data Set for Google SketchUp, AutoCAD, MicroStation, etc....

Contact us if you are interested in scheduling a demo of the FAR Process or if you have questions / comments to share.

Patrick Johnson

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

FAR Manager - what is it



With the FAR process we needed a method for architects to be able to download and use the FAR files as well as the Revit families stored on the RevitCatalog website which is the designated website created for the FAR process. To be able to accomplish this we decided to create a content manager interface as one of the features within the FAR Manager allowing the user to manage their families within their own file system.

The content manager feature has also added more value for the architects. Not only will the user be able to see the typical tree of their families but within that tree they will be able to pick the type that they want to be able to load and make adjustments to the parameters of that family within the type, instance and element properties - thus eliminating the need to do all of the required steps within Revit itself and loading unnecessary data.
We also gave the same look and feel to the property tabs as you find in Revit. The only difference is that we alphabetized the structure, both in parameter groupings and parameter names, making it a bit easier to find and locate the parameter in question. The option for the parameters to be shown with or without the grouping is another enhancement we’ve added.
Some additional functionalities you will be able to use within the FAR Manager include:
- Copy types (Add)
- Remove Types
- Add parameters
- Search for families both locally and from the web site
- Adjust parameters prior to loading and placing in project
- We are working on the viewing capability to display the 3D image of the selected family or type
We are currently providing webcast demonstrations of the FAR Manager. A typical FAR demo will take about an hour of your time. If you are interested in scheduling a demo or learning more about the FAR process please contact us.
View the video on the Far Manager showing importing Revit Family type into a project.
Patrick K Johnson

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Revit Standards of creation

In response to my last blog (FAR Quality Control – 6/18/09) I received several comments about NIBS and Style Guides from one of the LinkedIn groups. I agree that Style Guides are necessary guide lines with starting points showing how software should be used, however, that was not what I was trying to convey. Maybe NIBS will address the issues I am talking about - however, it has been my experience when you wait for a committee to do something or address an issue, we may be waiting a long time.


I looked at the date of the Style Guide from Autodesk and started wondering why they did this after loading all of the data (families) into their system. I feel this should have been implemented from the start, prior to loading the data. There is a saying about databases "Garbage in - Garbage out". Once you have the garbage in there, repairing or fixing it can be an impossible task. Being a software company, Autodesk should have known better. Autodesk’s role with the standards should stop here and let the industries decide those items. Maybe Autodesk, along with the other software companies should be members of NIBS and have the same input as every other member of NIBS.

Enough stated about Style Guides. What I really would like to address are the Standards of Creation - having the right data and the naming of that data.

The following is a simple example supporting what I mean regarding the need for Standards of Creation. If you start with a window in Revit you will find predefined items such as built-in Parameters, etc. The big question is ‘How do we define more specific items?’ For instance, with a double hung window you have lower glass and upper glass, do we show double or triple pane? And, if you do, how do you name these items? Also shouldn’t there be a glass size variable in a window so at the FM level they would be able to get the glass cut if they needed to replace it?

I think everyone agrees we need to have consistency for this type of data across the industries and having consistent data across different manufacturers would be a tremendous improvement for everyone involved. Imagine if window manufacturer A and window manufacturer B (as well as all of the generic window manufacturers) were following the same Standards of Creation.


Developing new Standards of Creation is a huge undertaking. We feel CAD Enhancement’s FAR process will be able to begin addressing this concern and will be adding it to our testing procedure. We will be watching NIBS and even consider becoming a member so when more detail Standards of Creation are released we will be able to work with them. CAD Enhancement’s FAR process will be able to incorporate the standard changes with extreme efficiency while utilizing the ability to communicate with both the manufacturers and architects who are using FAR and if necessary, will be able to update their families on their system and in their projects.

Patrick K. Johnson

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

FAR Quality Control

One of the issues I see with all of the websites offering Revit families is the lack of Quality Control (QC). I have been told that some of those websites have QC, however, when I asked and never received a response, it lead me to believe there wasn’t any QC to talk about. I welcome a response comment from anyone reading this blog who has information regarding the QC standards from any of the websites offering Revit families.

As we start providing the FAR program we will be implementing a QC program that I want every end user to know about and be aware of. An important part of the FAR program QC will be the testing procedure that is in the midst of being developed at this time. This testing procedure will be used for all Revit families that will be created and accessible thru the FAR program whether it is a Revit family or FAR data.

The FAR testing procedure will not be public knowledge (meaning it will not be posted on our website) but will be available only to our customers. We will also provide, upon request, the actual testing document of any family to show that we are adhering to the QC standard we have set for the FAR program. If someone has issues or suggestions regarding the FAR testing procedure and/or testing results, we will be happy to talk about those concerns.

One of the long term goals we are trying to achieve with the FAR program is not to just create the families and walk away, but to promote the continuous improvement in the quality of creating automated Revit families while improving the communication between the manufacturer and AEC industry.

I encourage you to respond with your comments regarding Quality Controls and Revit families. You can also contact me if you would like to schedule a demo of the FAR program.

Patrick K. Johnson

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

FAR - The Revit Family Solution for Manufactureres

In the manufacturing world today we are seeing a great demand to produce more than just ‘off the shelf’ products as the customer is "demanding to have it their way" and in a timely manner.Manufacturers design product lines including static parts/products (what they may have in their catalog); configurable products; as well as total customized products that have been tailored to meet the customer’s specific needs. The following is how I see these product types and their relevance to providing data for architects working in a BIM format, specifically Revit.
  • Static parts - These are products that may be singular in size or manufactured in multiple sizes. If they offer multiple sizes the data for these products would be great in a look-up table allowing the end user to select and load what they need, not to download all of the types at once which we feel would be unnecessary data for the architect.
  • Configurable - These are products that allow the end user to select their needs based on criteria provided by the manufacturer. When providing data in Revit families for configurable products we caution that you have to be careful in not over doing it. This is where CAD Enhancement can help. We would build these Revit families based on our theory of constraints and not all of the design rules that it takes to produce the products, thus reducing the size of the Revit family.
  • Custom - This is the made to order product designed to meet the specific needs of the customer. More and more manufacturers are requested to create their custom products in a Revit family on a daily basis. CAD Enhancement has the solution for this increasing need by automating the process to provide these Revit families and also allow the end user the opportunity to select the right amount of detail to load into their project.


With the BIM world encroaching the manufacturing world for this BIM data the question is “How to best do this?” It appears websites such as Autodesk Seek, Reed Construction Data and TurboSquid do not have the answer or possibly cannot handle this in their current format. It is also possible they just do not understand how to work with manufacturers’ product data to create efficient and effective Revit families.

CAD Enhancement has the solution in the FAR program to remedy all of the above mentioned product scenarios. The FAR program will not only address these issues but will also allow an architect the ability to select the amount of detail that best represents a product within their Revit project file.Demos of CAD Enhancement’s FAR application will be kicking off the week of June 22, with the anticipated release of the FAR Manager to be around the first week in August. If you are interested in a demo with the opportunity to ask questions about the FAR application, please contact us to schedule a time. We are keeping the attendance for these demos to individuals or a small group in order to allow for constructive interaction between CAD Enhancement and the attendees.



thanks



Patrick K. Johnson

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Revit Standards

I have talked to a few people about creating Revit standards for families - which I personally feel is a very good idea. Trying to create Revit standards across an industry would require a willingness for those in the industry to adapt to some changes but the results would be great.

Some basic items I think should be standardized to create Revit families include: the names of the parameter, the reference plane names, what gets dimensioned, and what gets shown in a Revit family, just to name a few.

However, the most important item I think that needs to be addressed to create Revit standards would be having the manufacturer’s data in line with the Revit family. What I mean by this is that a parameter in the Revit family should match the parameter in the manufacturer data. A length parameter in Revit should match the length parameter in the manufacturer data. Once this happens, you can then make changes to the families within projects, especially from a manufacturer who has custom products. In a sense, this data becomes bi-directional, where you could extract that data from the project and pass it to the manufacturer and vice versa. By accomplishing this you will prevent errors and misrepresentation of a product in your design, making sure the manufacturer can produce what is required. It goes without saying the accuracy this process offers will also speed up the approval process.CAD Enhancement’s FAR application will have this bi-directional capability built into it resulting in higher quality Revit families for a manufacturer’s standard and custom products. To accomplish this will require working with the manufacturer closely to get the application set up correctly. However, the results will be time and cost effective for both the manufacturer and the architect. The manufacturer maintains the integrity of their product while the architect can trust the product will fit within the project design the way it was intended.I strongly feel it is only after the connection is made to accurately pass the manufacturer’s data to and from the Revit family, that the process to standardize the other items can take a foot hold. The question to ponder is “Who holds this responsibility?”

Feel free to share your thoughts or comments by responding to this blog or contacting me.

Patrick Johnson

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Multiple languages - use of Dictionary and Xrecords

I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter on the internet about providing drawings in multiple languages. You may have noticed I touched upon this topic in my previous blog on Dictionaries and in one of the comments I was asked to elaborate a bit on how to use dictionaries and Xrecords to make this happen.

First, I feel the need to state this disclaimer; using the technique described in this blog will not translate English text to Spanish text or any other language automatically, you need someone that knows the languages to help set the text in each language. Also, the number of languages that can be stored in a drawing is up to the user.

As I mentioned in the Xrecord blog and the Dictionary blog, there is nothing available ‘out of the box’ to use these tools. These data containers must be implemented with the use of lisp and/or dot net. I recommend dot net for any AutoCAD version 2007 and newer. I would say that dot net is about 4 times faster than lisp and 100 times faster than VBA. You would notice the speed difference when you switch languages, especially for large drawings.

The following is a description in a step-by-step process for using dictionaries and Xrecords to create a drawing in multiple languages:

1.) The first thing you need to decide is how many languages you want to use in your drawing. The number of languages will be the number of Xrecords you will need per extension dictionaries.
2.) You need to build your set of tools to handle these different languages.
3.) You need to create an individual command that will set an extension dictionary and the Xrecords to each entity that holds text (dbtext, mtxt, dimensions, etc....) and set the current language text to the Xrecord.
4.) You need to create a command that will scan a whole drawing and set the extension dictionary and Xrecords to the text entity.
5.) You need to create a command that will display a dialog box that allows a user to add the text to each Xrecord. Note: This is where you would edit your different languages.You need to create a command that allows user to select what language to display in the drawing. Actually, this data would get stored in the NOD, the main dictionary of the drawing file.

Through the use of dictionaries and Xrecords you will keep your drawing much cleaner. If you move the text the languages will follow. It is much cleaner and user friendly than trying to manipulate with layers. There are more items that could be built into this, such as an interference check (some languages will require longer text strings) or create a batch routine to change a folder of files to the new language to display or set the dictionaries and Xrecords.We have all the logic to do this within our framework. There is so much more you can do and of course, we need to take into consideration that each company will want to add their own touch to this.

Feel free to contact us if you would like a collection of commands to work with your language issues in your drawings.
Patrick K. Johnson

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cad standards documentation

Documenting what you have for CAD standards is key for two reasons: 1.) It allows the users to be able to look up the settings and data used previously, and 2.) It allows the CAD Manager to keep track of what he/she has and how it was set up. Believe me, as time goes on, aside from the everyday tasks you do, it is easy to forget what, where and how your drawings were originally set up. This again supports my main point that you should be writing CAD standards for whatever you are using, whether it is AutoCAD, Revit, Inventor, SolidWorks, etc.

When documenting CAD standards you really need to keep it as simple as possible. Anything long winded or difficult to find will not be read and most likely not followed. For example, when creating the templates, all you want to do is list what’s inside each template and its intended use. I like to put the template’s intended use on top because that is usually all the user will need to know. The remaining content within the template is necessary for the CAD Manager in order to keep track of what they have and how it was set up.


How you document your CAD standards is key if you want the documentation to be read and used to increase efficiencies within your CAD department. I would dare say that over 90 percent of the CAD managers put their documentation in a number of Word and/or PDF files and place them in a folder ‘somewhere’ they hope will be found when needed. Another ineffective means for CAD standards documentation I’ve seen includes creating html's as well as the use of hyperlinks to extensive user guides. Even though it is important to document your CAD standards, I really feel when ineffective documentation is used, especially when you include user guides into the mix, the CAD standards will not get read and will collect dust. Also, searching through files in order to find the page with the information needed to comply with a CAD standard becomes a time consuming and non user-friendly chore that they will quit doing.

What I have found useful is to create a help file (CHM file) that is indexed and searchable as almost everyone has used them or at least seen them since practically all the software you purchase for use on the computer comes with a help file (CHM file), including Autodesk and Microsoft. Once the CHM file has been created I like to place it where Autodesk has placed theirs in the menu system to increase the potential for usage. In case you were wondering how to create a CHM file, Microsoft has a free downloadable application that allows you to put together and compile a CHM file. I feel the need to mention there is a slight learning curve when using this application, however, this will be offset by creating something that is more user friendly, resulting with effective CAD standards documentation that will more likely be used by the end users.


CAD Standards can be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be. There is no basic template available to follow; however, I encourage you to set up a template for use in your CAD department. The most important point I want to emphasize is to take what you have for CAD standards, get it down in writing and make it as user friendly as possible.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cad Standards - Templates

I am starting a new blog that will talk about CAD standards. In the discussion groups found on the web I’ve seen questions range from “How you do you create CAD standards?” to “How do you document them?” Of course, you have each discipline and company bringing their own flavors into the mix. To me, the most important part of CAD standards is consistency - without consistency you drive down productivity and drive up costs in addition to creating drawings that are prone to errors.


I would like to begin by talking about the value of templates. Templates (dwt) are merely drawings with another extension that are used to start new drawings without having to recreate the same settings each time. Just like everything else in CAD, you can set up your templates with whatever data you would like - just be consistent! For example, you may want to setup your template with the Title Block in mind, using A, B, C, D, etc...., which happens to be a very popular method used, especially when you create a new layout within paper space when asked from the template.

One method I like to use as a CAD standard is to have a general setup that is common between all drawing sizes, such as layers, line types, dim styles, font styles, units, drawing properties, etc... which will allow you to start creating your model. Another reason I do this, is to create a backup in case you lose any of your settings during the course of the drawing – such as thru a purge. I have the template saved as a drawing file that I can just insert and get any of the settings that might have been lost resulting from a purge.

You may ask, ‘Why have a dwg and dwt file that are the same?’ As I mentioned previously about being able to use the dwg to retain anything lost – it is also important to state that I always make changes to the dwg file and save it as a template. I also like to have templates that are geared towards the paper space layouts and contain the title blocks as well as any special items that are geared towards the use of the paper space tabs. To be honest, I have always viewed paper space as a means to print out what you have, so the only work I do in paper space is the title block data. Now this will probably spark a controversy, which is ok. Another timesaving item to keep in mind regarding the template is if the setup has been done correctly, you will never have to go into the paper space items for anything; this includes sheet numbering or filling out the data in the title block.


In conclusion, I believe when creating CAD standards you need to sit down and determine how you want to use them – which in turn, will help you determine what you put into your CAD standards. I also want to emphasize that templates and the need for consistency are essential in the development of CAD standards which result in productivity that is effective and efficient.

Patrick K Johnson

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dictionaries inside AutoCad

I am writing this blog on Dictionaries inside AutoCAD as follow-up to my last blog posting defining Xrecords inside AutoCAD. Dictionaries are containers in essence, that by themselves do not hold the data you intend to store and retrieve. They hold a variety of other objects that contain the data; Xrecords for example. Dictionaries can also contain other dictionaries; basically you can nest the dictionaries. Using dictionary and Xrecords is a means to store data that has no graphical representation - a means to what I call creating a smart drawing. You can store data for variables, create parametric drawings, store selection sets, etc.... Since the data is stored when you save the drawing, anything you store will be available the next time you open the drawing. To me the limiting factor is your imagination.

There are 2 types of dictionaries I am going to talk about, one being the Named Object Dictionary (NOD) and the other is an Extension Dictionaries.

NOD
This dictionary is the parent dictionary that owns all other dictionaries. This is where you should place data for the entire drawing so you can gain access to it at any time during your programming and know that it is drawing specific - I refer to this as global access. This dictionary will always be preset in the database. Since AutoCAD uses this dictionary for items such as mlines, you do not want to store your Xrecords directly into the NOD. You will want to create a dictionary that is specific to you inside the NOD where you will store your Xrecords. I believe this helps to organize your data more efficiently.

Extension Dictionary
This dictionary is nothing more than a dictionary that attaches to entities that store Xrecords which are entity specific. There is a lot you can do that is entity specific, such as point to other entities or possibly create entity specific standards. Here is an example of how I’ve seen an extension dictionary used: Consider you are working on a drawing in English and it needs to be read in both Spanish and English. You can merely attach an extension dictionary to the text entities that can hold both English text and the Spanish text and have the drawing update to either version. Of course, there is more involved to this process than just adding the extension dictionary – but the intention of the example is to help clarify how an extension dictionary can be used effectively.Hopefully this information helps to explain what dictionaries are and how you can use them with Xrecords to expand the ability of a drawing.

In the near future I will be sharing code examples to show you how to get at dictionaries, add dictionaries, add Xrecords, etc...

To share your comments and questions, please contact me or respond to this blog.

Patrick Johnson

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Xrecords - what are they

I have been surprised by the number of people who have no idea what I am talking about when I mention Xrecords. For that reason I am taking this opportunity to explain what Xrecords are.

The first thing we need to acknowledge is that an AutoCAD drawing is not only a drawing but it is also a database with graphical representation. For this blog topic we are going to talk about the database side of AutoCAD drawings.

Xrecords are a means to store data within the database of the drawing using group codes. In short, Xrecords are data containers that have no graphical representation. Xrecords can hold any data you desire and makes use of the same group code numbering system as the AutoCAD objects (lines, circles, etc...). This data can be as simple as a layer name to a class object that is serialized and streamed into an Xrecord. One common practice I like is to use Xrecords as a means to store variables such as width, height and length of an object and use it in equations within a program. The class object is quite powerful as it allows you to use the data within the Xrecord at anytime in your program such as for engineering calculations for a drawing that can be connected to a third party application.

Xrecords are created in two arrays, one being the group codes and the other the data itself. The size capacity for an Xrecord is huge. Xrecords are placed in dictionaries which, in turn, can be stored within the overall drawing file or attached to an entity. (Dictionaries and xdata are two items we will discuss in greater detail at another time.) It is important to note you cannot gain access to Xrecords from standard ‘out of the box’ commands in AutoCAD. Access to Xrecords requires programming ability.

When it comes to the use of Xrecords your imagination is your only constraint.

Please contact me or respond to this blog to share your comments and questions.

Patrick Johnson

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Developing Good Modeling Technique

We are seeing more modeling coming from those within the Architectural Industry using Revit so I thought I would talk about some basic concepts to help develop good modeling technique. In the past I have seen the results of poor modeling technique coming from the Manufacturing Industry using Inventor, Solid Works, etc.... The basic concepts I’m referring to can be applied to both industries as a means to develop good modeling technique.

What I am talking about is applying constraints as you make your model and the use and applying the two different types of constraints; one being dimensional constraints and the other geometric constraints.

  • Dimensional constraints are exactly what it says they are dimensions that you apply to your model. These dimensions can be just a number or a parameter or equations.
  • Geometric constraints are the constraints such as collinear, align, etc... These constraints will tie your sketch together without the need for dimensions.

When creating your model the first technique you need to do is to tie your model together with geometric constraints - I cannot tell you how many models I’ve seen in the past with dimensions at a 0 value. What I have tried and found to be extremely helpful is to use dimensions that are required on the drawing - Believe it or not 99 percent of the time these are only the dimensions you will need to put on your model. I also want to point out that using geometric constraints also creates a clean model which makes it that much easier to update in the future.


Another important concept to keep in mind is to make sure that your models are fully constrained - which results in predictability when making changes to your model. Just imagine putting your model in a project file and when you try to change a parameter, the results show only half of the updates you thought it should have. That is always the result of a model not being fully constrained.


The final basic concept you should keep in mind when creating your models is to test, test and test again. Do not be afraid to test while you are creating your model and again, after you have completed your model.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dynamic block arrays

In the past week I have noticed a couple issues come up dealing with arrays, or truthfully trying to do advanced handling of these arrays within the dynamic block itself.

Unfortunately Autodesk has some work on creating equations and variables inside the block editor so you could do some what ifs and such.

You could try and create visibilities to handle different scenarios that you are trying to accomplish - but this can get into a management issue of your block and size constraints and manual operations to select the correct visibility.

You could get into creating a separate dynamic block of the array in question and inserting it as a nested block. If these are small blocks that will be inserted multiple times, this may not be a suitable option. Nested dynamic blocks work best on large dynamic blocks that are inserted 10 times or less into a drawing.

There are a couple approaches that I feel should be taken or at least looked at:

Event:
One is creating an event that will watch for changes in your dynamic block and then change the array parameters in question. This is not best suited for real time changes and you would see the changes after you are completed.
  • This would require creating a list of all the potential blocks to watch and what you want to do with it
  • Creating a standard, so the list can be appended by the Cad manager - not hard coded

Jig:
Another is using what is called creating a jig - using dot net. You can set up using a jig to see real time activity. As you make changes to the dynamic block you can see the array changes in real time. From the user and the interaction with dynamic block, this might be the best approach.

  • The best approach here would be to create a command that will allow you to insert the dynamic blocks - this can be set up to handle all of your dynamic blocks and put the parameters right on the screen next to the block as you position it.
  • Create another command that would allow the changes and see them real time.
  • This would require creating a list of all the potential blocks so you know which blocks have the arrays to manipulate
  • Creating a standard, so the list can be appended by the Cad manager - not hard coded

Dynamic blocks have brought some power of parametric's to the AutoCad user but still has some limitations. When you combine it with dot net, the power increases 10 fold and allows you to do so much more.

Let me know what you think or feel free to contact me.

Patrick K. Johnson

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Retrieving New Part Number(s) using the Vault / Product Stream

Are you using the Vault, Product Stream (Vault Manufacturing) and getting frustrated when you need to go somewhere else to pull a new part number for the part or assembly you are designing within Inventor or for that matter, within AutoCAD? We can show you a new way to use the Vault and/or Product Stream to your benefit.

CAD Enhancement Inc can create an add-on tool that allows you to pull a new part number and rename your model with it. The way this tool functions is while you are working within Inventor and have your model up on the screen (either as a separate file or in place within an assembly), you will have the capability to pull the next number available and rename your model to this new part number. You can also define as many schemas (part number structures) as you desire to complete your processes.

If you do not use the Vault and/or Product Stream (Vault Manufacturing) or any comparable product this can be done quite simply by providing a database file that could be utilized in the same manner.

Feel free to contact CAD Enhancement, Inc to inquire about the possibility of creating this tool for your Engineering Department.


Patrick K. Johnson

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Automating Revit Families with FAR

We are developing a unique software tool which automates the creation of Revit families and calling it FAR (Family Automation Revit). I am recommending that manufacturers take this into consideration to ensure they are maintaining the integrity of their products while providing the most accurate product data to architects who are using their products in their building designs.
FAR is being developed with the intention of benefiting both Manufacturers and Architects.

These are the benefits I see for Manufacturers to use FAR:
  • The Manufacturer will maintain control of the Revit families with assurance their product specifications are accurate.
  • The same file will be able to create an automated Revit family in either inches (US Standard) or metric.
  • There will be no need to maintain Revit Families as it can be an automated process.
  • No staff will be required on Revit – if individual families need to be created – see CAD Enhancement ‘CAD on demand’ service.
  • Using FAR will ease the process of making adjustments for product changes.
  • Using FAR will create a simple customization solution for easy, quick and accurate Revit families to Architects for configurable products.
  • This tool can be developed for accessibility to customers and prospects via the Manufacturer’s website.

These are the benefits I see for Architects who have access to use FAR:

  • Manufacturers using FAR will provide approved Revit families assuring product data accuracy compared to what is found on various websites on the Internet.
  • Architects can receive clean Revit files – no importing / exporting overhead in their project files.
  • Architects will finally have control to select the level of detail of a Revit family.
  • Creating Revit families using FAR will be more efficient and will improve productivity as there is no need to re-create an inaccurate Revit family.
  • There should be no need to manage Revit files created by companies using FAR.
  • Architects will have accessibility to accurate data which is crucial to designing a better building.
  • FAR will allow Architects to use the efficiencies of the BIM (Building Information Modeling) platform as it was intended to be used.

    Let me know your thoughts about FAR.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Creating DXF Check-in

Are you a manufacturer that needs to provide data for your vendors or your own shop to use for fabrication purposes?

It is one thing to send the drawing, but being able to send the data that substantiates the drawing using a DXF file is where the end user discovers they can cut their engineering time and the realization is made that sending a DXF file is more usable and cost effective for them.

The DXF can consist of flats for sheet metal fabricators to bring into their software for CNC Operations to punch, laser, water jet, etc. What the Vault and Product Stream (Vault Manufacturing) allows you to do is to have the DXF created during the check-in process. This way you can be assured the DXF always matches up to the latest check-in file within the Vault.

As long as you have a driver that can create PDFs, you can use this same process to automatically create PDF files during check-in.
This process can occur without the users even knowing that it is being done. Another advantage of using this process is that while the automation of creating a DXF or PDF is occurring during check-in you are assured of the files being the most ‘up to date’ and matching the last version of the checked-in file.


Patrick K. Johnson

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Press Release: CAD Enhancement Introduces Family Automation Revit® Program

Woodbury, MN – March 25, 2009 – CAD Enhancement, Inc., a Minnesota-based CAD and consulting firm, introduced today its new Family Automation Revit® (FAR) Program. The FAR program is a software development process that automates the creation of Revit families for manufacturers of building and architectural products. Using the FAR program, CAD Enhancement helps manufacturers maintain the integrity of their products while providing the most accurate product data to architects for use in any Autodesk® Revit® software.

"As adoption of the Revit platform continues to grow, we realized that a managed process for migrating CAD data into parametric Revit families would yield benefit both for manufacturers and the thousands of Revit users specifying products," commented Pat Johnson, President of CAD Enhancement, Inc. "Access to accurate and useful content continues to be one of the greatest needs for Revit users."

The FAR program affords manufacturers the ability to provide accurate, regularly updated content to architects without the need for on-staff Revit expertise. Likewise, the architects using products of the FAR program enjoy clean files with no need for importing, converting, or managing manufacturer libraries in-house.

To learn more about using the FAR program to publish your products in a usable Revit form, visit www.cadenhancement.com/FAR/.

About CAD Enhancement, Inc:
CEI "thinks outside the line" to deliver cutting edge CAD solutions using the latest in .NET programming and parametric design solutions. Services include CAD practices optimization, automation, migration, outsourced drafting and data management. CEI is certified both as a member of the Autodesk Developer Network and as a Microsoft Certified Windows Application Developer.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Managing Revit Families

Another problem that manufacturers will experience by having the Revit families for their products available on various websites is the management of their product data. What I mean here is that when manufacturers provide their product data and Revit families to the world on websites, other than their own company websites, they increase the chances of losing control and credibility for their product(s).

Losing control:
As manufacturers allow their product data to be made available on the websites providing libraries of Revit Families and the end users start storing that data on their servers, how can you manage any product upgrades and changes to make sure those changes are captured on the end users project files?

First: I really believe that manufacturers control their data by having the end users come to their own company website and have the family dropped into the project file thus eliminating the need for the end user to store the Revit family. If the end user decides to store it in their servers - they need to know of the possibility that the product can change.

Second: I also believe that one parameter which should be added to a Revit family is a ‘revision/version of the product’ that is being used. This would be a good way to make sure the building product manufacturer knows what is out there as well as for the end users to feel confident that the Revit family they are using is what they desired and has not changed, as it would be confirmed it is the most recent revision/version of the Revit family created.

Third: Another feature that should be added to a manufacturer’s own company website providing their product data in Revit families is the capability to allow the end user to request the amount of detail for a Revit family. Each project and/or end user may have different requirements for the amount of detail needed per family. At this time I have not seen any websites offering this option.

These are just a few comments regarding the management of Revit families. In the near future I will adding more detailed commentary.
Feel free to comment and give us your ideas and concerns with Revit families on the Web.

Thanks.

Patrick Johnson

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Nested Dynamic Blocks

Nested Dynamic Blocks

Since dynamic blocks have become available, it has changed how you create, manage and use blocks within your drawings. It also has some limitations that need to be dealt with.

Creating Dynamic Blocks: There is a lot of data out there for creating dynamic blocks and I do not want to become redundant on this issue. Just searching dynamic blocks will point you to quite a bit of information on creating dynamic blocks.

Managing Dynamic Blocks: The creation of dynamic blocks can help with the reduction of files in your block library –which is good. Some of the managing of these blocks now turns to the creation and what is inside these blocks. How complex do you make a block before making another block? Making a dynamic block too complex has its own issues when it comes to managing these blocks, the time to create, the time to make changes, and the amount of time for the user to select and make changes to the parameters.

Limitations of Dynamic Blocks: The one limitation of dynamic blocks is the ability to nest dynamic blocks. Right now if you were to nest dynamic blocks would require the user to explode each level to make changes to the buried dynamic blocks. This really defeats the purpose of dynamic blocks. This is why I created the BlockEdit+ tool to allow the user to make changes to the buried dynamic blocks and keep the integrity of the block itself.

The creation of nested dynamic blocks allows you to create more complex blocks that I believe are easier to manage from a creation point, not to mention the ability to reuse these nested blocks in other blocks – thus you are not recreating geometry.

There are other limitations of dynamic blocks when dealing with nested blocks, that I believe scare users including the idea that users will lose their dynamic properties under certain situations without warning, not to mention the ability to change the nested properties. However, with a little planning and understanding of how you want to use them in your drawing you can take what is out of the box and make it even more powerful and greater potential. Currently our BlockEdit+ tool handles a dynamic block with nested dynamic blocks.

Imagine the ability to have a nested dynamic block within a standard block. The potential is the limitation of your imagination and the ability to manage your drawings.

I look forward to your comments.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Protect Dynamic blocks

This I have seen brought up quite a few times in the past and wondering how many people find this necessary or would like to have something like this?

The best approach I believe would be to put your dynamic block inside of an empty block and then have a tool that would update your dynamic properties inside of this block. This would also require you to not allow exploding on the empty block.

Will this keep everyone away from getting at your dynamic blocks – no, nothing is fool proof. It will keep the majority of the users from getting at them. If it is not in front of most users, they would not even try to get at it. With standards and processes in your company, it would protect from users at your company making changes and other things could be put in place to protect them even more.

Our block edit tool was designed to work with nested dynamic blocks from the top level down. However with a few changes, this could easily be switched to read the dynamic block inside of an empty block and allow you to change your properties.

I will be doing some testing to make sure there are not any issues of having multiple instances of the same block in your drawing file. Right now I do not see an issue with this.

Feel free to make your comments about this, if your for it or not and give any feed back.


Thanks

Patrick Johnson
President
Cad Enhancement, Inc

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Revit Families found on the Web

I am hoping to get some comments on this subject to see if I am off/on base on my thoughts of the Revit Families on the web. Can you trust the Revit families that are found on the web to be accurate and usable in your project file.

There are many web sites out there that either sell families or allow you to earn points to upload and use to down load. Autodesk has gotten into the mix with Autodesk seek, which appears that quite a bit of their data have come from other web sites and users and as far as I can see these are in their database "as is"

The one issue I have is the lack of quality control that appears to be consistent with these web sites on their data. This makes me very leery on using this data - you know the saying when it comes to databases "Garbage in - Garbage out". Any in-accuracies will always be caught at the most in opportune times such at the construction site.

If you are looking to download Revit families on building product manufacturer data, you may be better off to go to the manufacturer's web site or contact the manufacturer to obtain families. At least you have to assume that these would be accurate in manufacturer data.

If you do use these sites, I highly recommend that you set up a process and quality control mechanism to make sure these families are accurate in their data and meet your standards prior to allowing them to be inserted into your project file.

Let me know your thoughts on this issue.

Patrick Johnson
President
Cad Enhancement, Inc

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Welcome to Our New Website

Welcome to the new look of the CAD Enhancement website. There are two new features I would like to draw your attention to. First is this very blog you're reading. Here, you will find CAD tips and tricks, real-word examples of best practices in play, and other helpful tid-bits on the topic of CAD and business process optimization.

Second, related to this blog, is the little orange "subscribe" button you find in the upper left-hand corner of all the blog pages. If you use any RSS reader on your desktop or in your browser, you can keep up-to-date with all the latest information that we have to share.

Finally, please feel free to use the comment feature below to ask any questions, however unrelated to the topic at hand, and I will be glad to respond with solutions to your problems either via email or by way of a future blog article.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

CAD Enhancement Releases Block Edit Plus Version 2.0

[Press Release] Woodbury, MN – November 2, 2007 – CAD Enhancement, Inc. (CEI), a Minnesota-based CAD consulting firm, released version 2 of Block Edit Plus. The AutoCAD add-on program improves editing capability with dynamic blocks and nested dynamic blocks. The latest version now includes support AutoCAD 2008, as well as several interface and dialogue improvements to further simplify block editing.

Block Edit Plus was first introduced in 2006 to help CAD managers to facilitate the use of dynamic blocks while accommodating common CAD practices such as nesting. The add-on allows users to edit nested dynamic blocks without the need to explode, maintaining the block’s dynamic state.

Free trials are available for download, or the product may be purchased as a single or site license, on CEI’s website: www.cadenhancement.com/products.html.

About CAD Enhancement, Inc:
CEI offers the “Next Generation of CAD Enhancement” by utilizing the latest in .NET programming and parametric design solutions to deliver CAD practices optimization, automation, and implementation services. CEI is certified both as a member of the Autodesk Developer Network and as a Microsoft Certified Windows Application Developer. For more information, visit www.cadenhancement.com.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

CAD Enhancement Receives Certification for Online Community Support

[Press Release] Woodbury, MN – September 24, 2007 – CAD Enhancement, Inc. (CEI), a Minnesota-based CAD consulting firm, received today the designation of “Certified Jammer” from the online CAD community myCADmash.com. The designation was awarded based on CEI’s demonstration of expertise in multiple CAD platforms, as well as a commitment to community involvement. As a Certified Jammer, CEI supports CAD users in the online community by receiving instant e-mail notification of members’ “Jams”—technical support issues posted online for community discussion—and then delivering prompt responses to the members’ posts.

“I am excited at the opportunity to get involved with CAD users on such a technical level,” commented Patrick Johnson, President and CEO of CAD Enhancement, Inc. “It is not only a great honor to receive the certification, but it also provides a great opportunity to connect with users by adding value in their day-to-day work,” Johnson added. Johnson was among the first members to join myCADmash.com, and today he is one of over 1000 visitors to use the site regularly.

Nick Carter, Executive Director of myCADmash.com, commented on the certification saying, “I am thrilled with the breadth of knowledge that CAD Enhancement represents. MyCADmash.com is designed to provide resources to all major CAD platforms, which makes CAD Enhancement a pillar member for our community.”

To connect with CEI’s support specialists through myCADmash.com, users can sign up for free membership and search for CEI using the member search function. To learn more about community involvement as a Certified Jammer, visit www.mycadmash.com/partner.asp.

About CAD Enhancement, Inc:
CEI offers the “Next Generation of CAD Enhancement” by utilizing the latest in .NET programming and parametric design solutions to deliver CAD practices optimization, automation, and implementation services. CEI is certified both as a member of the Autodesk Developer Network and as a Microsoft Certified Windows Application Developer. For more information, visit www.cadenhancement.com.

About myCADmash.com:
MyCADmash.com is an online community aimed at providing free search-based and peer-to-peer support for CAD users. The site is designed as a collaborative resource. Using a custom search interface built on the Google™ CSE technology coupled with a social-web community, users are able to search and share knowledge easily and instantly.

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