Program Validation with Spreadsheet Link and Room Family Manager – Part 1

CTC BIM Project Suite White Paper Library –  CTC Software

 

Issue

When working on medium to large buildings, how are you managing your program requirements? How are you checking the intended design area? In what way do you capture the number of required elements in a specific space? How can you assist the designer with room layouts and making sure the required equipment is used in the correct space? What happens when the design or the requirements change? Is there a way to compare data and assist with these changes? This session will demonstrate a process that will answer these questions, using tools you may already have at your fingertips: Spreadsheet Link and Room Family Manager. These tools can be powerful assets when establishing building programs.

Typical Workflow In manual workflows, many architectural firms will use an Excel® spreadsheet containing all the special requirements needed for the building. Occasionally, some firms will have a process to export the data from Revit® and linked directly into this spreadsheet. Most firms will export the room data from their Revit design models, and manually enter the data in their spreadsheets. But what happens on the return side? How this data gets back into Revit almost always is another manual process. There are a handful of Issue When working on medium to large buildings, how are you managing your program requirements? How are you checking the intended design area? In what way do you capture the number of required elements in a specific space? How can you assist the designer with room layouts and making sure the required equipment is used in the correct space? What happens when the design or the requirements change? Is there a way to compare data and assist with these changes? This session will demonstrate a process that will answer these questions, using tools you may already have at your fingertips: Spreadsheet Link and Room Family Manager. These tools can be powerful assets when establishing building programs. Dynamo workflows and paid Revit plugins that are meant for this process specifically, but they either take dedicated professionals to create and maintain, or they cost a lot of money to purchase. Unfortunately, these tools are not commonly used. Then what about the content required to be placed in each space? Often, a designer is reading from the spreadsheet, browsing through their Revit library and manually placing the content into their projects. If the design changes, or the requirements change, it all becomes a manual process, updating both the spreadsheets in Excel, and updating the models in Revit.

Solution This entire workflow can be simplified by using a couple of tools that many firms already have: Spreadsheet Link and Room Family Manager, both from the CTC BIM Project Suite. A template can be created for the type of project and spaces that are being used, to assist with populating special data obtained in the building program. This data can be pushed into the Revit models, and a back-and-forth design process can begin. For the content to be placed within the rooms, Room Family Manager will help with defining the list of equipment required by each space, and help with populating each space with the defined list, and again another back-and-forth design process can begin.

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Autodesk Desktop Connector and Sheet Sets

By Matt Kolberg , Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

 

Autodesk Desktop Connector and Sheet Sets

An update to the Desktop Connector as made available on August 11, 2020.  Here is the relevant Autodesk document.

 

If you’re a Sheet Set user who also uses BIM 360, this update is for you.  In addition to other resolved issues, the main feature in this update is that Sheet Set DST files are now recognized.  When a DST file is uploaded via the Desktop Connector, any drawings contained therein and their references are all uploaded.  When a DST is opened in AutoCAD, drawings will be synchronized locally.

AutoCAD 2021.1 Update

By Matt Kolberg , Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

 

AutoCAD 2021.1 Update

Autodesk has released the first update for AutoCAD 2021.  Find official documentation here.  Here are some highlights:

  • Blocks palette:
    • There is a new Favorites tab.
    • Block can be copied from other tabs to the new Favorites tab.
    • Blocks sybchronized in the cloud can become accessible across multiple devices.
    • You can better manage your synchronization settings in the Blocks palette now.
    • Insert a DWG into the current file without it being added to the Libraries tab.
    • New variable and setting in Options: BLOCKSYNCFOLDER – Sets the path where the recent and favorite blocks are stored.
  • In the AutoCAD web app, click Open in Desktop to open the drawing in AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT desktop.  A plug-in must be installed.

Civil 3D 2021.1 Update

By Matt Kolberg , Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

 

Civil 3D 2021.1 Update

Autodesk has released the first update for Civil 3D 2021.  Find official documentation here.  Here are some highlights:

  • Feature Lines:
    • Easily insert elevation points or PIs on feature lines at their crossings with other feature lines.
    • Set grade or slope between multiple feature lines.  Use the previous new command to insert points first.
  • Pressure Networks:
    • Add/Move/Delete vertical bends from a pressure network.
    • Pipe run profile settings:
      • New overrides tab for specifying static or dynamic updates.
      • Profiles selection now includes a create from surface option.
    • You can now change a straight pipe to a curved pipe in profile view by grip editing, and change a curved pipe to a straight pipe.
  • BIM 360 Collaboration for Civil:  Support has been added for reference templates and sheet set data files.  You must install the latest update for the Desktop Connector.
  • ArcGIS:
    • You can add new objects that were created in Civil 3D to ArcGIS by moving them to an existing ArcGIS layer and then saving the layer back to ArcGIS. Changes to property set data are now saved back to ArcGIS along with the geometry.
    • Support has been added for exporting curves (instead of tessellated segments) to a file geodatabase.
  • Bridges
    • Support has been added for configuring layers for an existing bridge in a drawing.
    • Support has been added for assigning layers for bridge generic object subtypes.
  • Project Explorer: Autodesk Project Explorer for Civil 3D is an environment that allows you to review and analyze civil objects in the model. Here we will look at Alignments, Profiles, and Corridors.  See this YouTube playlist.  This is an extension which must be downloaded and  installed separately from 2021.1.

Infraworks 2021.1 Update

By Matt Kolberg , Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

 

Infraworks 2021.1 Update

Autodesk has released the first update for Infraworks 2021.  Find official documentation here.  As of the date of the release of this article, Autodesk has not yet added information about the 2021.1 update.  When they do, this link should be correct.

 

Here are some highlights:

  • New Home page.  More like AutoCAD and Civil 3D.
  • Import complex Civil 3D corridors with multiple baselines and offset baselines.
  • Customize lane and intersection markings.
  • Model builder allows the selection of a projected coordinate system before the model has been generated.
  • Refined bridge analysis.
  • Bridge cross frame improvements.

Civil 3D Surface Points

By Matt Kolberg , Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

 

Civil 3D Surface Points

Easily differentiate points appropriate for a surface model from those that are not.

A typical topographical surveys consist of hundreds or even thousands of points, most of which must be added to the definition of a surface model.  Some of these survey points are not appropriate for use in defining surface models.  Such as those points not taken on the ground.

Many Civil 3D users use a special point group to exclude those points that are not appropriate for surface models.  The group is defined by including the survey points, but excluding those points whose raw descriptions match those in the list.

This works well, but it will fail when the surveyor shoots a point with a non-standard code, that point does not belong in a surface model, and this is not communicated with the design staff.

Consider this technique instead:  Define description keys for all points and define the Format column as usual with one exception: add a special character, such as a plus, to the end of those points which are appropriate for modeling surfaces.  Points that are not shot on the ground are devoid of this plus at the end.

Then define the point group with only one custom setting, Include points whose Full Description ends with that special character, in this case a plus.

When a surveyor in the field encounters a feature which requires a new code, and that point is appropriate for a surface, they can simply append that special character to their raw description.  If no communication between them and the office staff takes place, that point will automatically be included in the point group and therefore in the surface model.

In the rare case where a point normally appropriate for a surface model is not appropriate for a single shot, the surveyor can append another special character to exclude that point from the surface.  MHD-  Then the surface point group can exclude points whose raw description ends in that character.

Manhole where the lid is above ground…

Property Set Data in Civil 3D

By Colin Gaudet, Technical Consultant Infr/GIS

We use the Manage Tab in Civil 3D for some important stuff like data shortcuts, managing styles, and Dynamo. But how often do we look at the panels between those tools?

So today let’s talk about Property Set Data.

Property Sets are a great tool to attach additional information to any AutoCAD or Civil 3D objects in your projects. They are pretty easy to use and incredibly versatile.

Property Set Data can be set up in a drawing (DWG) or in a template file (DWT) so that it can be brought into each new project. The opportunity to have these in a template is often overlooked, but can offer a nice solution for adding data to objects and aiding in the transfer of information throughout a project’s life cycle.

When you select Define Property Sets in the Manage Tab, it will bring up a filtered style manager window where you can create Property Sets, determine what objects they can be applied to, and add definitions.

 

While pipes have a lot of meta data behind the scenes, utilities are often drawing using Feature lines or Polylines. Layers absolutely give us some information as to what these lines represent, but property sets can take this transfer of information to a new level. In this case we can ensure consistency across revisions and eliminate dangerous assumptions about existing utilities.

There are several ways to add definitions to your property set, but all of the definitions above are manual property definitions. The type of definition will restrict the value input options for the user. There are many types of inputs from plain text to True/False options to integers or even predefined lists that we can use to get useful and quantifiable data added to any object.

In your drawing you can select multiple objects and add a Property Set to them all at the same time in the Extended Data Tab of the AutoCAD Properties window. Likewise, we can remove a Property Set from multiple objects at the same time. Then depending on the data type, you can pick from a dropdown list or enter a year of installation to add important information needed for the project design.

From the additional information I added, not only can we see what these polylines represent, we also have a better idea of how accurate this information is. Knowing that this utility information was confirmed through daylighting gives me much more confidence that it is 75mm conduit, or that it is even drawn in the correct location.

This custom meta data stays with these objects and can be leveraged in other applications like NavisWorks or Infraworks.

Or we can manually code our own label styles to sit in the template with our property set

<[PS:Property Set:Definition Name]>  Keep in mind this is case sensitive.

Or we can create a Schedule in the template to show this information in table form. Creating schedules is a little tricky and somewhat hidden in Civil 3D, but using the command < SCHEDULE [Style] > we can create a schedule style. Then < -SCHEDULEADD > we can create a schedule of this data.

This information can also be linked to Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access for more flexibility.

Hopefully this example has shown you some of the flexibility of Property Set Data. But this is only the tip of the iceberg when we look at the possibilities that come with creating these customized properties for objects in our designs. So get creative with these tools and use them to streamline communication, minimize errors and assumptions, and create more informative designs.

Here are a couple useful commands to speed things up when working with Property Sets:

  • AECPSDAUTOATTACH – Automatically attaches all property set data to all the objects they apply to in the drawing. Also allows automatic updates if property sets are edited.
  • PROPERTYSETCLEAN – Use when AECPSDAUTOATTACH is OFF. Updates property set information associated to objects after edits have been made to property set data.

Civil 3D 2020.4 Update

By Matt Kolberg , Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

 

Civil 3D 2020.4 Update

Autodesk has released the Civil 3D 2020.4 update.  Use the Desktop App to install it.  Here are the Autodesk release notes for this new update.

Notables:

  • New SYSVAR “DataShortcutsSourceCheck” to change the behavior of warnings when saving to a mapped drive on a Nasuni Edge Appliance.
  • Improved performance and stability with various features such as:
    • Unloaded XREFs.
    • Corridors.
    • Data shortcuts.
    • Save command.
    • Catchments.
    • Printing multiple sheets.

AutoCAD and Bluebeam

By Matt Kolberg , Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

 

AutoCAD and Bluebeam

Many users create PDF files from AutoCAD products as PDF seems to be the standard digital format.  There are three issues you may run into and some settings to consider if you use Bluebeam Revu as well as AutoCAD.

Viewports

First, you may see this message when opening PDF files using Bluebeam Revu (not the free viewer) which were created from AutoCAD using Autodesk’s DWG to PDF print driver.  These “viewports” are artifacts contained within the PDF file to which Bluebeam Revu alerts you when you open a file containing them.  ALWAYS say yes to removing these artifacts.  If you don’t, they will very likely affect the accuracy of any measurements you make in Revu.  If you skip past this message without selecting Yes, the viewports can be removed from the PDF in Revu’s measurement panel.

Why do they exist in the first place?  It seems to be an issue with Autodesk’s DWG to PDF.pc3 file.  PDF’s created using Bluebeam’s PDF printer do not contain these anomalies.  Here is an Autodesk  discussion group thread discussing these viewports.  Interestingly, it indicates that these viewports can cause an issue when measuring using Adobe Pro, but there appears not to be a solution there, where Revu does indeed catch the existence of them.

Searchable Text and SHX Fonts

The second issue is searchable text.  Many AutoCAD users still use Autodesk SHX fonts.  There are several reasons to avoid using SHX fonts; not the least of which is that when a PDF is created containing them, that text will not be searchable when opened in any PDF reader software.  If you want your recipient to be able to search text, and you very likely should, do not use SHX fonts in AutoCAD.  Use a True Type font, such as Arial instead.  This is with one exception.  With Bluebeam Revu, SHX text is in fact searchable, but you must enable “Search Markups”.  More detail about this I the section below “Odd Markups”.

If you’re a Bluebeam Revu user with the CAD version or better, and you prefer to use its PDF print driver instead of Autodesk’s, there is an option to enable SHX fonts as outlined in this article.  Better, do use a True Type font as mentioned above, but there is one more setting you must enable.  A PC3 file must be created using the Bluebeam print driver and then this option set in the printer properties in AutoCAD.  It defaults to TrueType as graphics and your text will not be searchable if it’s not changed.

Odd Markups in Revu

Lastly, using Bluebeam Revu (not the free viewer) to open a PDF created by AutoCAD using its DWG to PDF printer, you may see “markups” already contained in the PDF.  There will be one markup for each text object in the file, indicated by the AutoCAD SHX Text author.  That adds up to a lot of markups if it’s a file with many text objects.  This can affect the performance of the file within Revu and they will definitely be in the way when creating normal markups.  These markups are only required if you need to search SHX text; they cannot be deleted with Revu tools.  They can be Flattened in Revu prior to adding your own usual markups, or they can simply be filtered out if you don’t wish to see them.  Don’t worry, the text in the PDF will not disappear.  I do not have access to Adobe Pro to see if this is an issue there as well.

 

These “markups” are created when printing from AutoCAD using the DWG to PDF driver and it is an Autodesk feature.  In AutoCAD, there is a variable named PDFSHX.  Turned on, a value of 1, enables these “markups” in the PDF file which results in searchable text.  Turning it off will result in no “markups” and non-searchable SHX text.  Here is an Autodesk document outlining this feature.  SHX text may or may not be searchable depending on the PDF reader in use.  For example, the Bluebeam Revu free viewer cannot search SHX text, but the paid version can.

This issue does not occur with PDFs created in AutoCAD using Bluebeam’s printer driver.

Civil 3D 2021 is Here

By Matt Kolberg , Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

 

Civil 3D 2021 is Here

It’s that time of year again folks; Autodesk has released their flagship Civil Engineering product in Civil 3D  2021.  Here is an Autodesk article explaining the new changes.  Here are my favorites from this release.

Format

There is no format change this year.  Excellent!  You may share your Civil 3D files with users back to 2018.

Pressure Networks

There has been significant development to this feature.  If you have not been using pressure networks due to feature limitations, it is time to rethink your approach; these tools are good!  We now have path-based pressure network Pipe Runs in both plan and profile.  The image below shows a grip-edit to a pressure main.  The bend was automatically swapped after the grip-edit.

Do you need your pressure network to maintain a 1.5m cover below your corridor surface?  Here, the pipes are dynamically linked to the design profile at a 1.5m depth.

Infraworks Interoperability

More collaboration features have been introduced, such as:

  • Civil 3D corridors can now be mapped to Infraworks Component Roads and remain dynamic to the drawing when reimported.
  • Infraworks bridges are now supported within Civil 3D, stylized labeled in profile views.  There is a new Bridges node in the Prospector.

Scripting

There are additional nodes and functionality related to Dynamo scripting.