Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Correction to "Divisions to Manage Design Options"

An omission to my previous tutorial on using divisions to manage design options has been brought to my attention. In step 11, in addition to selecting the "Elevation A" division, you also need to select the "Base Model" division to get the entire model.

This actually illustrates another strength of using divisions to manage plan options. It's easy to select the wrong combination of divisions when combining a complex set into a complete model. If you make a mistake, all you have to do is select the view that you were trying to complete, right click, and select "Properties". Simply uncheck the unwanted divisions/levels and re-check the ones you really want. Finally, select the "Views" root category, right click and select "Regenerate". All views will be re-analyzed, and any that need to have XREF's detached and others attached will be taken care of automatically.

Thanks to Jodi Bonet of JML Architects for catching my little slip!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Using Divisions to Manage Design Options

Note: Divisons are a part of the overall project management system included in ADT, which allows for a building model to be split up into a "distributed database" of multiple drawing files. This enables easier teamwork, automated management of external reference files, smaller file sizes, and as you will see in this tutorial, multiple plan options. While an understanding of divisions in particular is not necessary, this tutorial assumes the reader has a basic understanding of the workflow of Project Navigator, and understands the terms "constructs", "elements", "views" and "sheets". For more information on these terms and Project Navigator workflow scenarios, there are several resources available. In addition to the Autodesk Architectural Desktop tutorials on Project Management, there are a number of third party publications and web-based tutorials.

Divisions are intended to be used to divide a project up laterally. For example, you could divide a hospital project up so that each wing was a different division, or a campus could be divided up so that each building was a division. Divisions can span multiple floors, so they are indpendent of levels, which divide the project up vertically. Divisions are optional; you don't have to use them, but they do provide you another level of flexibility if you choose to do so.

Because divisions don't actually "live" anywhere as defined, users tend to get a bit confused at first as to how to use them. Levels are easy to figure out - Level two is assigned an elevation of 12', therefore anything that is assigned to level two must exist at 12' also. But it is the very fact that divisions are so "nebulous" that gives them additional power beyond what they were originally designed for. This tutorial will show you how to use divisions to manage various plan options, then easily combine the various options into multiple sets of plans, elevations, models, sections etc. for documentation purposes. As an example, we'll use a typical scenario - a residential project with multiple elevation options - a common need for many volume home-builders.

1) First, start a new project - give it any name and number you like.

2) In Project Navigator, select the "Edit Divisions" button in the upper right corner of the "Divisions" section of the "Project" tab.

3) In the Division editor, create four divisions:
Base Model (for all objects that are present in all options)
Elevation A
Elevation B
Elevation C

4) Close the Division Editor. From this point forward, when you see the word "Division", you can just translate that to "Option". That's about the most difficult thing about this.

5) Create a new Construct - call it "Base Model" and in the Divisions/Levels matrix, assign it to Level 1, Division "Base Model". Open it up. Draw a simple exterior of a house - any shape you like, and save it.

6) Create another new construct - call it "Elevation A", assign it to Level 1, Division "Elevation A". Do NOT bother to open it up.

7) From your base model, which should still be open, select the elements that make up the front part of the house (those elements that would change with the elevation options), and drag them on top of the "Elevation A" construct, then release. They should disappear from the current drawing and will now be in the "Elevation A" construct, in the same X,Y,Z coordinates that they were originally drawn in. (You could open the construct up and check if you like, but trust me, they're there).

8) Still in the base model, draw a different facade. Create an "Elevation B" construct, assigning it to the "Elevation B" division and drag and drop your new facade into that construct.

9) Repeat to create an "Elevation C" construct with it's own unique facade, then save and close the base model.

10) Go to the "Views" tab, and create three categories - "Elevation A", "Elevation B" and "Elevation C".

11) Create a new view in "Elevation A" and call it "Elevation A Model". For the "Context" simply select the "Elevation A" division, then confirm the contents and finish. Open the View and viola, you should see the base model combined with the elevation A option.

12) Repeat step 11 to create the Elevation B and Elevation C models.

You're done. Whew! Now, wasn't THAT difficult ;-).

Obviously, this is a simple example - but you can expand this out to any number of scenarios and option combinations. It works the same whether you have three options or thirty, one level or ten. Creating the views is just a matter of checking and unchecking the various option combinations, and you can add new options (divisions) any time you like. Using the drag/drop functionality you can move and copy geometry from one division to another with ease.

For more information on the workings of Project Navigator and Project Management in ADT, you might find the following link useful:

Drawing Management Braindump (Paul McArdle - ADT Development Team)

Autodesk Issues Update for CUI Issues

Autodesk has issued an update for issues related to CUI files - it can be downloaded at the following link:

Download CUI Update

Specifically, it addresses the following issues:

1 Editing a CUI file could introduce duplicate entries (IDs) that may cause the file to become corrupt. Loading the corrupt CUI file results in an error message stating that the file is invalid and you can no longer customize the file.

2 Upon converting a menu file that contains a screen menu, erroneous blank lines are added at the top of the screen menu section. This can affect the display of commands that appear toward the bottom of the screen menu.

To Install the Patch:

1 Close AutoCAD and all other applications, and log in as Administrator.

2 Navigate to the folder where your AutoCADĀ® 2006-based products is installed. For example, c:\Program Files\AutoCAD 2006.

3 Search for the AcCustomize.dll file, and rename it to something like AcCustomize.dll.org.

4 Save the downloaded AcCustomize.dll file to the install folder for the AutoCADĀ® 2006-based product that you are going to repair.

5 Start your AutoCAD-based product and try loading the file that was giving you the error. You should no longer receive the error message or shifted menu entries.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Site for Autodesk Old-Timers

If you were using Autodesk products back in the mid 1980's, you no doubt will know the name "John Walker". For those of you that don't, he is the founder of Autodesk. You can visit his website for some interesting insights into the early history of the company as well as a host of other interesting geek and non-geek stuff.

John Walker's Web Site

Friday, June 10, 2005

Security patch from Autodesk Available

There is apparently a defect in most Autodesk products that poses a security risk - fortunately there is a hotfix available - from the readme:

Description of Problem
A security issue has been identified that could allow a local user to gain inappropriate access to another local user's computer. This problem occurs in a number of Autodesk products. (See the complete list in "Affected Products," below.) You can help protect your computer by installing this update.

This affects users of AutoCAD-based products as well as users of products based on the Revit platform.

You can download and install the patch from the following location. It only takes a couple of seconds:

Download security patch from Autodesk

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Revit Structure - Another Piece of the BIM Puzzle

Autodesk began shipping a new product on Tuesday of this week - Revit Structure. Based on the Revit platform, this product offers a tool that has not existed for structural engineers prior to now. It allows for a geometrically accurate physical model of a building's structure to be built, while maintaining a relationship to the analytical "stick model" that engineers need for analysis. It includes bi-directional links to popular analysis packages such as ETABS and RISA-3D.

What does this mean? The engineer can work with the analytical model, as he/she is used to doing, and there is no disconnect with the physical model and typical details that the drafter is used to working with. If the analytical model changes, the physical model changes as well, along with any model-based details and views.

Additionally, Revit Structure will export and import from ADT - yes, ADT, and when Revit Structure's structural elements are exported to ADT, they come over as ADT structural objects where appropriate; in those cases where there is no comparable structural component (footings, etc.), they come across as mass elements. Naturally, Revit Structure can link Revit Building models as well, and since they are based on the same platform, can even provide "monitoring" tools to ensure that if the architect makes changes, they are reflected in the structural model - and the engineer has the ability to reject/approve/postpone those changes, depending upon the impact that they might have on the structural integrity of the design.

This is a MAJOR development. Up until now there have been very few real options for structural engineers who want to contribute to a BIM database. This new tool provides them with state-of-the-art modeling, analysis and documentation tools with direct links to the two major architectural modeling applications in use today.

Stay tuned for more information, or visit the Autodesk web site for more information - in particular, check out some of the customer success stories that are already being published from engineering firms that used the product on real projects while it was still in beta:

Autodesk Product Info Page for Revit Structure

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Store Wars

Check out the trailer for the new Store Wars episode.

May the Farm be with you.