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The traditional print publishing industry requires long production cycles before any book or publication can see print. This situation has become more acute for authors like myself who publish books on annual software releases. I hope to use this blog to publish information, updates, addenda, ruminations, and other "mid-cycle" missives. I hope you enjoy it.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I made the list!

You know in grade school, having a name that started with "A" meant always sitting in first seat, first row... ICK. But as a professional, and when appearing on lists "not in any particular order" it is quite nice to have the "A".

David Baldacchino just published a list of names he recommends for speaking this year at Autodesk University. I am not sure how much weight the public voting has on the classes selected to AU, but it can be fun to participate. If you are planning to go to AU or attend AU Virtual this year, visit the voting site and cast your lot. (of course if a class you like now doesn't get picked, that could be a bummer)

I would also like to add a few names to David's list:

Matt Dillon
Robert Mencarini
Darryl McClelland
Martin Schmid
Matt Stachoni
Gregg Stanley

And I was surprised that David didn't mention our good friend Steve Stafford, but I don't see his name on the voting list, so maybe Steve is taking this year off... Bummer.

Anyhow, Thanks David for the shout out. Happy voting everyone.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Back when I was in school....

I received my Bachelor of Architecture degree 20 years ago from Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. The year before that, 1989 I received my Bachelor of Science in Architecture as CUA had a five-year (4 + 1) architectural program (not too many of those left today).

One of the highlights CUA's architectural program was the foreign studies program. Each year a small group of students would compete for the limited slots available for a Summer abroad in the great architectural centers of Europe. If you were in the five-year program, you were eligible to go in your fourth year (final undergrad year). A jury was held in Architectural studio to determine who would get to go. I believe that my graduating class had about 60 students, but only 15 slots were available. CUA also had a graduate program for folks with a prior degree in a field other than architecture. Five of the slots available were reserved for the graduate program. I was fortunate enough to secure one of the ten spots for undergrads.

The year that we went on foreign studies, our dean came along for the trip as one of the instructors. He introduced  a new destination that year: Tunisia. We started the summer in Rome and traveled all over Italy for about 6 weeks. We then journeyed to Tunisia where we spent 2 weeks, before finishing the summer with 3 weeks in Paris.

This was not just a fun trip. We were graded, had projects and received credit for the semester. The project in Tunisia was somewhat unique. We were tasked with measuring and documenting several indigenous mosques on the isle of Djerba. This work was done with the simplest of tools: tape measure, pencil and paper. There was not AutoCAD or Revit on this trip. I was recently reminded of this experience and given to opportunity to revisit all the wonderful memories as compiled in a beautifully crafted memoir prepared by our instructor (the aforementioned dean) Professor Stanley Hallet. Stanley began hunting down the emails and contact information of the students who participated and with our help, compiled a wonderful collection of photographs and stories. All of this has been compiled in a beautiful book commemorating the experience.

If you have any interest in indigenous architecture, Tunisia, hand drawing or the like, you might want to check it out. Stanley has done a marvelous job compiling our experiences in both words and pictures and you can find a copy of his book here. I am not sure what I enjoy most: the breathtaking images of stark white mosques against the deep blue sky, or seeing myself 20 years younger, thin and with hair...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

45 Degree Earth Pattern for Revit

A client recently asked me about rotating patterns in Revit. The reason for the question was that they wanted to rotate a pattern that was imported from a PAT file-namely the Earth hatch pattern. They like the Earth pattern to be at a 45 degree angle. Alas, it is not possible to rotate an imported pattern in Revit. Patterns created directly in Revit (which limits you to just lines in one or both directions) can be rotated, but imported patterns must be at the correct rotation to begin with. This is kind of a silly limitation its true, but this gave me an excuse to dust off my old copy of Sham Tickoo's Customizing AutoCAD.

I have provided a link here to the current edition on Amazon; I have a somewhat older version. But fortunately hatch patterns in AutoCAD have not changed very much in nearly 20 years. So the instructions in my old copy enabled me to create a modified version of the Earth hatch pattern, import it into Revit and then use it as the cut pattern for the material applied to topography in a Revit project.

I have provided the PAT file here. If you wish to create it yourself, simply open NotePad and type the following:

*EARTH45, Earth or ground at 45 degrees(subterranean)
45, 0,0, .25,.25, .25,-.25
45, -.06629, .06629, .25,.25, .25,-.25
45, -.13258, .13258, .25,.25, .25,-.25
135, -.13258,.17678, .25,.25, .25,-.25
135, -.06629,.24307, .25,.25, .25,-.25
135, 0,.30936, .25,.25, .25,-.25

Save the file as: EARTH45.pat


  1. In Revit, open Materials (Manage tab), select the Site - Earth Material. 
  2. For the Cut Pattern, browse for a new pattern. 
  3. In the Fill Patterns dialog, click New. 
  4. Click the Custom radio button. 
  5. Name the new pattern something like Earth45 and then click Import. 
  6. Browse to the PAT file from above. 



Monday, May 10, 2010

Update to Course|Notes for Revit

Who would have thought there would be so much to do updating Course|Notes reference cards for Revit 2011. I had to create 20 new images. There are only 37 images on the whole card, so that is over 50%!

Course|Notes Reference cards are six page fold out cards (8 1/2" x 11"). They cover many of the basic commands and techniques and serve as an ongoing reference to the most frequently used commands of the software. They are full color and packed with images. I have just sent the new version of Revit Architecture card into production. AutoCAD Arch, AutoCAD MEP will follow shortly. We will also be doing one for Revit MEP later this year. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

KnowledgeSmart

I often joke with my editors that I could pepper the final chapters of my books with profanity and we would never hear anything about it. This because the evidence points to their being high readership of the early chapters and a precipitous drop off from there. Of course whenever I make the above suggestion, the editor usually has a minor panic attack hoping that I am just kidding. (By now I think they know that I am... or am I... Have you read what's on page 716? hmmm? Well there is nothing terribly provocative on page 716 (but it made you look didn't it?).

Now, high-numbered pages may suffer from low readership, but they are not the lowest. No that honor would have to go to the pages of the preface. I think most of us are guilty of this one. You get a new book and after a quick leafing through (and after catching a whiff of that "new book smell") you just want to dive right in. So I am sure that most of would have to admit that Prefaces, Tables of Contents, and Introductions usually command a skim at best. Well, that brings me to the point of today's post. I got an email today indicating that evaluation results were available for one of my readers. Did you know that if you own a copy of Paul F. Aubin's Mastering Revit Architecture 2010 that you were entitled to not one, but TWO free KnowledgeSmart evaluations? Hmmm? Well, you might want to just flip to page xiii to learn more. (Yup, those are Roman numerals, I am pretty sure next to NO ONE reads those...)

Well, for those that have, you got yourself a little freebie. Enjoy.

A little about KnowledgeSmart
KnowledgeSmart (formally CADSmart) provides online knowledge assessment exams. From their home page: "Our web based testing tools help AEC businesses to capture and share knowledge. It is important for firms to know if skills gaps exist and where to focus learning to show significant productivity and efficiency improvements." Their latest assessment exam uses a combination of "knowledge based" and "skill based" questions to test your knowledge of the topic. You download a ZIP package and when instructed, open one of the included files, perform some task in the software and then answer the accompanying question(s). Other questions simply query your existing knowledge. The exam is scored automatically by the software and instant results are displayed and emailed to you. Some exams even include "coaching content" which will give you guidance on how to improve your skills. I have been working with the folks at KnowledgeSmart for a few years now. They are a very professional outfit and their tools are well designed and high quality. (Full disclosure: I was paid a consulting fee to create exam questions for the Revit Assessment).

They offer plans for firms wanting to test their employees or assess new hires. Exams can be used "off the shelf" or customized to include questions on office standards or procedures. If you are in need of such a tool, give them a try. I can guarantee that they will work hard to earn your business and continue to work with you over the long term to ensure that your needs are continually met.

Once again, if you have a copy of Paul F. Aubin's Mastering Revit Architecture 2010, you get two Revit Assessments for free! What better way to try their service out?