Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mastering Revit Architecture: To the press!

The newest edition of Paul F. Aubin's Mastering Revit Architecture goes to press in a couple days. So begins officially the longest period of time in my personal calendar: The time between when i deliver the last of the final manuscript to the time it takes to get a printed book. Truth be told I am posting this a little early. There are still a few more proofs to finalize but we are REALLY close now. The files shoudl deliver to printer in about two weeks. Unfortunatley it then takes them a few weeks to print, package and ship the books to warehouses, soooo, this is why this is officially the longest period of time in my personal calendar. At this point, I have done all I can, and now like my readers, I have to just wait for the new book to arrive in the mail.

There are several new enhancements to this edition that I would like to share with you. This year, we go to a new trim size for the book. It is now larger using the 8 1/2" x 11" size. The page layout has been freshened up a little too which should make pages easier to read. Obviously, the new interface in Autodesk products dictated a major re-write of nearly every tutorial step in the book. Also, just about every screen capture is new. (Let me know if you find any lingering references to "Design Bar" lurking in the text... we tried to catch them all, but you never know...)

In this edition I have completely revised the previous coverage of shared coordinates. I moved the topics around and refined the workflow to better suit actual best-practice usage in most of the client firms I have visited. I also incorporated the new Project Base Point and Survey Point features in this discussion. You will find these topics now in Chapter 6.

We are including a video lesson for the first time on the CD ROM. This lesson is a quick start overview. It covers materials from the Quick Start and the User Interface chapter.

CourseNotes - Brand new with this edition we are including a CourseNotes reference card. You will be able to buy this bundled with the book or separately. (I don't know all the details on packaging and pricing yet, so stay tuned). The CourseNotes is a fold out reference card that includes quick reference material to help you get started with Revit. The card includes an overview of the interface, steps to use the most common features, zoom, pan, modeling tools and a complete list of keyboard shortcuts. You can keep this card handy as a reference as you work in Revit. A bonus page in printable PDF format on Worksharing is also provided on the book CD!

New Chapter - The Conceptual Modeling Environement is new in Revit 2010 and in the new edition of Mastering, it scores its own chapter. While comprehensive coverage coould fill an entire book on its own, look to Chapter 15 for an extensive overview of the new conceptual modeling environment.

New Appendix - Rendering! Many of you requested coverage of Rendering in Mastering. In the 2010 edition it is here! Look to Appendix C for a handy reference and overview of rendering features in Revit 2010.

Families - Chapter 10 has always been a detailed exploration of Families and Family editing. But did you realize that it is nearly 100 pages of tutorial coverage? You will learn how to use existing Families and create your own in this detailed resource.

Expanded Appedices - Many chapters begin with a dataset that varies sometime considerably from the end point of the previous chapter. To bridge this gap, I have expanded Appendix A - Additional Exercises to include more exercises to fill in these gaps on your own. Of course Appendix A remains totally optional and you can still open the dataset at the start of each chapter with all edits and features ready for the current lesson. But if you are wondering what was added, or prefer to add it yourself, you can do the lessons in Appendix A in between each chapter.

I am looking forward to getting this book out and available. I truly think this is the best edition yet. I had a lot of help getting it to this point and I thank everyone involved (you know who you are, but if you want to see your name in print, read the Preface ;-)

Thanks everyone. You can visit the "official" book page on my site for more info and to order from Amazon here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Windows 7 (RC1) is available

Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 (RC1) is available. I have downloaded it and installed and spent about 45 minutes noodling around.

I have not installed Autodesk software yet. Usually, when I build a new system, I install OS, patch it, reboot, patch it again, reboot, patch it again... (you get the idea) and then build an image of the clean OS. Then I add all my business apps. (Office, Photoshop, CD software, utilities, etc). Patch all those then make another image. This is my clean system before Autodesk software. I then install my Autodesk stuff.

For Windows 7, I am going to approach a little differently. I think I am going to install only the necessary business apps, then go right to Autodesk software so I can test it out. I have two hard drvies on my system, so I set up dual boot. I might be crazy, but I am actually contemplating doing some of my book chapters on Windows 7...

I stuck with 32bit for now, but I am also considering downloading and installing 64bit as well. Don't have a third hard drive, so I would have to re-image for that.

Anyone else tried Revit or ACA on Windows 7 yet?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Central and Local Files

Many of the large Revit firms (HOK, SOM, many others) have developed scripts or macros to assist users in creating their Local files from the Central in Revit. Autodesk threw their hat in the ring this year in 2010 with the new "Create New Local" functionality. I am very pleased with this new feature which has mostly flown under the radar but I think is a HUGE benefit to all the firms that DO NOT have a home-grown routine. The little check box in the open box allows you to select a Central file, but when you click Open, Revit actually creates a new Local file on your hard drive with your user name appended. Very cool. Long overdue.

However, now this raises the inevitable file naming / office standards debate. The problem revolves around the word "Central" that most firms have been appending their Central file names with. Should this practice continue? It is an interesting question that I think will take some time to resolve. Here is a passage the I just penned for the Worksharing appendix in my new edition of Mastering Revit Architecture (due out soon):

BIM Manager Note: There is some debate as to what the “proper” name for a Central file ought to be. It is current common practice in many firms for the word “Central” to be added to the name. This has been the defacto standard for many years. However, with the 2010 release and its ability to automatically create a Local file (see the “Creating a Local File” topic below), some now question the wisdom of including “Central” in the file name. When you let Revit create a Local file automatically, it will use the same file name as the Central file and append a suffix with your user name. You can see an example below in Figure B.14. This may cause confusion for some since the word “Central” will now be included in their Local file name as well. The most important thing is that it is clear to all team members which file is the Central file and that they do not open it and work directly in it. The traditional reason for appending the “Central” suffix has always been to help make it clear to users which file is the Central. However, with the new functionality to create Local files, it may be a moot point. Consider that even without the “Central” suffix; the file names will always be unique because Revit will automatically append the user name to Local files. So in summary, you may now want to consider a new policy for file naming: Name the Central file without the “Central” suffix such as: ABC Office Towers.rvt. When you create a local file, it will become ABC Office Towers_User Name.rvt. further, since the Central file will always be on the network server and the Local is typically in the My Documents folder (by default), this should also further clarify the difference. What even naming convention and procedure you adopt, make sure it is clearly communicated to all project team members and that all are required to follow it.

Many other bloggers are discussing this topic as well:
Do U Revit?
Revit OpEd

Thought? Comments?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Revit 2010 Keynotes

I just finished updating the detailing chapter in Mastering Revit Architecture 2010. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the out-of-the-box detail components that ship with Revit now have keynotes assigned to them. This has been a long running complaint of mine. I have not read about this anywhere and discovered it quite by accident. It was a nice little surprise. This makes using keynotes that much more advantageous because a great obstacle in upfront setup is removed. If you have never tried the keynotes, you might want to give it a try. When you add a a detail component, then add a keynote by element, the note will just appear. Nice!

This is how it should be. Here's hoping that they get around to doing the material library and other Families next.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Voting is on for AU

For those of you planning to go to Autodesk University (AU) this year, I may have overdone it. :)

I have proposed 8 sessions! Yikes. If they choose them all, I'll do it, (but I am kind of secretly hoping they only choose like 5 or 6... ;-)

Anyhow, voting is on for sessions, so if you are planning to attend and would like to do your part in overloading my schedule, you can login to AU voting here:

Public Voting for AU 2009

My sessions:
Breaking Free of the Plan: AutoCAD® Architecture Sections and Elevations

Revit® Families: the Step-by-Step Introduction

Detailing in Revit Architecture

Design Options and Phasing in Revit® Architecture

Revit® Architecture Tips and Tricks

Shared Coordinates - Exposed!

"Revit Inside" Revit Architecture for the Interior Designer

And my first AutoCAD MEP session, co-taught with three industry experts:
Mastering AutoCAD MEP - Ask the Experts

And here is a link to my sessions from last year. You can download handouts, view recorded sessions and post questions. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Welcome St. Linus fourth grade!

I did a presentation at my children's school today on this terrific piece of software called Celestia. The software is free and provides a complete simulation of the solar system and in fact the entire known universe. You jump aboard your virtual space ship and can literally fly anywhere! It gives you some astounding views and a REAL sense of just how BIG the universe is. Very cool. i highly recommend it. It may not run on every computer, it does require some horsepower and decent video card, but its free, so download it and try it out!

I gave the kids a bunch of web links and as promised, here they are:

Astronomy Web Sites:

The free space simulation that lets you explore our universe in three dimensions. Celestia runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

The Celestia Motherlode
A repository for various add-ons like textures, models or celestial objects for Celestia.

Celestia Educational Activities
You can just download the free version of Celestia and start to explore, but I HIGHLY recommend Frank Gregorio's excellent educational resources. Basically the presentation I did today was one of his lessons. Whether you are teaching an astronomy class, or just prefer a self-guided tour, you can't go wrong with these resources. You can download them individually or purchase a CD from Frank at nominal cost which installs everything you need.

Interesting diagrams of the solar system

Google Earth
Amazing free interactive model of the earth with high quality aerial satellite photography, 3D buildings, the sky, the oceans and more.If you haven't heard of Google Earth, really, where have you been?

NEW - Google Moon
Online only, similar to Google Earth, but showing the moon.Very cool.

Sky and Telescope
Probably the premier Astronomy magazine

Interactive sky chart from Sky and Telescope. Use it to see what objects are in the night sky where you live on any day and time.Print a chart and take it with you in the backyard.

Microsoft Worldwide Telescope
I haven't explored this much yet, but it looks very cool. Check it out.

NASA Image of the Day
Vast archive of photos from NASA missions, Hubble and you name it!

Scale model of the Solar System on the web
An interesting model of the solar system. Don't scroll too fast, you might miss it...

Build a Solar System
This tool lets you plug in the desired size of the Sun, and it tells you how big and how far apart everything else needs to be. Neat. In the session, I showed the kids a schematic based on this tool of creating a Solar System model at St. Linus. The long dimension of the St. Linus campus is 1,300 ft (from 103rd to 105th). If we place the Sun at the corner of 105th and Lawler, the Sun would be about the size of a softball (3 1/2" in diameter) and Pluto (yes I know it is no longer a planet, but I still like to include it - poor Pluto) be the size of the haed of a pin and would be right at the corner of 103rd and Lawler. WOW!

Powers of Ten
Forgot to show this one to the class, but it has always been a cool one. I think it was Charles Eames in the 60's that did a movie on this concept. This website has lots of items devoted to the idea. Amazing how similar things at the micro and macro scale start to look... Hmmm, divine design?

World's Largest Solar System Model
One more - I mentioned the Solar System Model in Peoria, IL. It is listed in the Guiness Book! Here is the link:

Well, that's all I have for now. It's a big universe out there. Enjoy it!


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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