BING Images Won’t Appear

By Matt Kolberg , ENI / GIS – Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

 

Have you ever turned on background BING imagery inside AutoCAD products only to find they don’t appear?  There could be a few reasons for this:

  • No Geolocation or coordinate system is set.
  • You’re not logged in with your Autodesk account.
  • You’re zoomed into an area compatible with the geolocation you’ve chose.

These two are the pre-requisites for using images from Bing, but there is one more which has many of my customers stumped.  Have you ever seen this message?  You almost certainly have.

If you choose Yes, then you will see your images.  If you choose No, you won’t.  If you check that little button on the bottom left, you’ll never see this message again.  Good, right?  Well, if you chose Yes, then yes.  If you chose No, well…you’ll never receive this message again and you’ll never see images!

There is a saviour, however.  There are other message like this in AutoCAD.  Toggles that prevent that box from appearing in the future.  These are called “Hidden Messages” and they can be turned back on by opening AutoCAD’s Options dialog box [OPTIONS].  Then opening the hidden message settings in the System tab.

 

I hope you can use this to avoid any unnecessary frustration in your day.

AutoCAD FLATTEN

By Matt Kolberg , ENI / GIS – Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

 

AutoCAD has a command contained within the Express Tool named FLATTEN.  It is designed to remove any non-zero elevations from selected objects within a drawing.  It does an excellent job with this, but there is some behavior that may not be obvious to all users.  This command works very well with many objects such as TEXT, LINES, and some BLOCKS.  However, unexpected behavior results when flattening Dynamic and Annotative blocks, even blocks with embedded non-zero-elevation linework.

Annotative Blocks:  For example, an annotative block with a name of Arrow, is inserted 3 times.  Regardless of the attached annotative scales, the result after the FLATTEN command will be 3 blocks with 3 different names; Arrow-flat-1, Arrow-flat-2, and Arrow-flat-3.  Further, they will no longer be annotative.

Dynamic Blocks:  After the FLATTEN command, each dynamic block will no longer be dynamic and will become an “unnamed block” with a name similar to “*U63”.

Blocks:  A typical block will FLATTEN adequately.  A block which contains elements which have non-zero elevations, will also flatten adequately.  Understand that the FLATTEN command will make changes to block definitions in this example to set all elevations to 0.

So what can be done?  Here are two options.

  • Download and run a LISP command from this discussion group post.
  • Be selective when flattening.  Flatten objects which have no deleterious results afterwards.  The AutoCAD FILTER command can be configured to easily select compatible objects.  The filter can be saved for future use.

Revit Data Corruption

By Elyse Hatch , Technical Consultant – AEC  at SolidCAD

 

Let’s talk about data corruption in Revit. In this post I will look at these 4 points:

  1. File crashes before opening
  2. Crashes when opening a new view
  3. Looking for corrupt families
  4. Higher level investigation

As always you should make sure you save a copy of your file for testing while trying to resolve corruption issues.

File crashes before opening

Sometimes a file cannot open because of a simple issue that can easily be overcome. Each of the following actions have the potential to get past a different issue. If your file crashes when you try to open it ask yourself:

  • Can the file be opened with or without audit checked?
  • Will the file open without the worksets loaded? Can I narrow it down to a specific workset that keeps the file from opening?
  • Can I open the file in a different build, or a newer version of Revit?
  • Sometimes new name allows you to bypass the issue, copy-paste file to new location
  • Isolate the file from the network save to a location where the links cannot be accessed.

Crashes when opening a new view

If your file crashes when you try to open or create new views, try these suggestions:

  • Turn off hardware acceleration try each location one at a time.

  • Reset Revit settings
    • Customized settings are stored in the app data folder, when removed from this location the defaults are regenerated.
  • Repair the installation
    • This won’t change any user setting.
  • Open Revit without add-ins
    • Locate the following folder: C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\Revit\Addins\[Version].
    • Temporarily move the addin files from the folder above to another location.

If any of these work for you take note, this is where the issue resides and you’ll want to know the exact cause whenever possible.

Looking for Corrupt Families

Sometimes the behavior you see in a file is caused by corrupt families follow this process to identify corrupt families.

  • Save a copy of the corrupt file
  • Open and save all families as a library, this process will fail when it reaches the 1st corrupt family.
  • Record the family named on the bottom left hand corner of the screen & delete the family and run again, repeat until the process completes successfully.
  • Open the original corrupt file and reload all the families on your list with versions that predate the corruption. If you’ don’t have a previous version of the family, you’ll need to recreate them.

Higher level investigation & troubleshooting

Many issues can also be fixed by returning to Revit’s original settings.  Try these steps one at a time, testing the file after each change.

  • Rename the .INI file (_old) which is in the AppData Roaming folder.
  • Rename App Data Folders (_old)
    • C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Autodesk\Revit\Autodesk Revit 201x
    • C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Autodesk\Revit\Autodesk Revit 201x
  • Rename Workspace in the registry editor

 

When these folders/files don’t exist, they are recreated the next time the user opens Revit. Be sure rename and not remove these files/folders, as they will server as backups for the user original setting including keyboard shortcuts and font maps.

Happy Reviting!

Be sure to check my other videos in this series for more information.

While you wait why not follow us @SolidCAD on Twitter, check out our other videos on YouTube, and see what our experts have to say on our BIM Blog!

ArcGIS and AutoCAD – Free Background for everyone using AutoCAD

By Frank Zander , Project Manager – Civil, GIS/FME  at SolidCAD

 

Imagine a world where you could get high resolution background image maps to display and PRINT in AutoCAD.

Esri and Autodesk are working closer than ever and this alliance benefits all CAD and GIS users. Esri provides a free ArcGIS for AutoCAD plugin. This plugin allows vanilla AutoCAD users to access Esri maps. As mentioned, the beauty of these maps is that they also print/plot in AutoCAD.

I was surprised at the level of detail!

Download ArcGIS for AutoCAD plugin for free at: https://www.esri.com/en-us/arcgis/products/arcgis-for-autocad

 

Contact SolidCAD for more information about our newly created three-day  training course for any INFRA, GIS/FME training.

Revit Family Creation: Family with Adjustable Built-in Label

By Elyse Hatch , Technical Consultant – AEC  at SolidCAD

 

Usually Tags are added separate from the Components we place, but in certain situations the “tag” needs to be part of the family. To push this further occasionally a request is made for flexibility in the placement due to text overlap.

This post explains how create a family with a built-in label with adjustable positioning.

Prepare the Model Family to Receive the Label

  • Open the model family that requires the built-in label.
  • Create a vertical and a horizontal Reference Line to mark the center of the default label location.

  • Create a vertical and a horizontal Reference Plane offset slightly from the reference lines. These will be the anchors for the label. Both Reference Planes must be set as “Not a reference” for the grips to show properly in the project.

  • Dimension between the new horizontal references, and the between the new vertical references. These dimensions need to be assigned separate instance parameters. To allow the label to slide in the project.

  • Choose which existing reference planes you will Align and Lock your anchor Reference Planes to. I prefer to lock them to the planes the model uses as origins. The plane you lock to must be stationary (not controlled by an instance parameter), the label will not be able to cross the horizontal anchor plane.
  • Save the family.

HINT: To make working in a complicated family simpler follow a few best practices.

Set the origin planes, then pin them.

Name reference planes clearly and remove temporary planes ASAP.

Dimension to the reference planes, not geometry.

Flex the parameters of the family before adding geometry.

Geometry to be locked to reference plans after confirming the parameters work as expected.

 

Create the Label Family

  • Using the Generic Annotation Family Template, create a new “label” family.
  • Place a label, you will be prompted to create/assign a parameter to the label.
  • Edit the label type properties, so the text size & style meets the company standards.
  • Save the label & load it into the model family you started with.

 

Combining the Two Families

  • Place the label family near the geometry in the project.
  • Align the horizontal reference in the label to the horizontal Reference line, and lock.
  • Align the vertical reference in the label to the vertical Reference line, and lock.

  • Select the label and Edit Type, associate the Family Parameter for the Label to the Family Parameter in the host family which will control the text, often Description or Type Comments.

  • If you have chosen to have a visibility Parameter to control the Label Visibility, associate those parameters to one another as well.

Using the Family

  • Save the Model Family and load into a blank project to test the flexibility of the label location.
  • Select the family, the grips for the label location will become visible. Slide then around in turn.

NOTE: Look for unexpected changes to the geometry or the overall placement of the family, this indicate the need to change the anchor alignment.

Revisiting AutoCAD Basics: Shortcut Menu Hotkeys

By Jae Kwon , Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

 

Many of us use keyboard shorts and aliases to keep our eyes on the drawing area and keep our thoughts on our design. Searching for commands on the ribbon, especially if it’s buried in the pull-down portion, is probably not our favorite things to do. The right-click contextual shortcut menus are one of the key tools for keeping ribbon searching at bay.

Shortcut menus are great. They are fully customizable, and even out of the box they have some useful commands. What makes them even better are that each one of these can be selected with just a keystroke.

Let’s look at the two core shortcut menus: “Default Menu”, which pops up if no objects are selected, and “Edit Menu”, which pops up if at least one object is selected.

Default Menu:

  • R: Repeat
  • C: Clipboard
    • T: Cut
    • C: Copy
    • B: Copy with Base Point
    • P: Paste
    • K: Paste as Block
    • D: Paste to Original Coordinates
  • I: Isolate
    • I: Isolate Objects
    • H: Hide Objects
    • E: End Isolation
  • U: Undo
  • R: Redo
  • A: Pan
  • Z: Zoom (real-time)
  • Q: Quick Select
  • F: Find… (find/replace text)
  • O: Options

So, pan command can be run with a simple right click followed by pressing A. In the above list, Isolate and Pan are nice. The rest have decent keyboard shortcut or alias options already, but things get much more interesting with the edit shortcut menu. The Edit shortcut menu hotkeys are listed below (except for those already listed above):

Edit Menu:

  • E: Erase
  • M: Move
  • Y: Copy
  • L: Scale
  • O: Rotate
  • D: Draw Order
    • F: Bring to Front
    • B: Send to Back
    • A: Bring Above Objects
    • U: Send Under Objects
  • G: Group
    • G: Group
    • U: Ungroup
    • A: Add to Group
    • R: Remove from Group
  • D: Add Selected
  • T: Select Similar
  • A: Deselect All
  • S: Properties Palette

Basic editing commands like copy, rotate and move are made significantly made easier with the shortcut menu hotkeys. Draw order hotkeys are solid, as are Group hotkeys (if you use the group feature). Add Selected is amazing (draws a new object of the same type and as if match properties were applied afterwards), as are Select Similar and Properties Palette.

Best of all, whether you decide to throw more commands into the shortcut menu or not, you can manually add or edit the hotkey for each item. Let’s look at the Undo item in the “Default” shortcut menu in the CUI:

. . .

Note how there is an “&” character in the name of the item in the shortcut menu. That designates the letter that follows (U) as the keyboard hotkey for that item.

What this allows, essentially, is to open a second set of keyboard shortcuts that are accessed with the right mouse button.

I know there are still many drafters who prefer to use the right mouse button to repeat the last command rather than access the shortcut menu. There is nothing wrong with that. If you are a shortcut menu user, however, it gives you all sorts of hotkeys through the right mouse button so that you can keep your eyes on the drawing area and your mind on design. Consider giving shortcut menu hotkeys a try if you don’t use them already.

Path of Travel tool – Revit 2020

By Camila Lima Pires , Technical Consultant AEC at SolidCAD

 

Path of Travel tool is a new feature in Revit 2020 that determines the distance between two points on a floor plan. By selecting a start point and an end point, Revit automatically creates the path and calculates the length and the speed of the travel based on an average walking time. The tool also recognizes obstacles such as walls and furniture and create a path around these model elements. The tool will ignore some model elements such as demolished elements or elements that are hidden in the view.

Some other categories can also be customized under the Analyze tab – Route Analysis Settings.

Notice that by default the doors are not considered obstacles.

You can also set an analyze zone and determine the top and bottom offset. Any object in this range will be considered an obstacle and the path will avoid them.

 

Path of Travel

To use the Path of Travel tool, open a floor plan view and go to the Analyze ribbon tab and select Path of Travel on the Route Analysis panel. Revit will ask to pick a start point and an end point.

Once we have selected the end point, an automatic green path line runs along the building. Since we can tag the path information, I placed a tag to read the length and time parameters.

The tool can also be updated in case we add a model element on the way. To update the path, select the path you want to update and under the Modify | Path of Travel Lines click on Update.

Notice that it also updates the tag.

If we select the path created and look under properties, we can find the instance properties calculated by the path. These are reporting parameters and when you modify the path Revit will redo the calculation. Notice that the Path of Travel is a detail line which means it is view specific. It is important that you create this in the view you wish to see it in, and it will not need to be filtered or hidden from other views.

Reveal Obstacles

This tool is very useful to figure out why the Path is not behaving properly and understand which elements are being considered as obstacles.

After toggling it, all elements analyzed as obstacles will display in color and the rest will display in halftone. The categories can be changed at the Route Analysis settings.

Schedule

We can also schedule this information and set filters to analyze the content and see if it is code compliant. The Path of Travel Lines will be under the Lines category.

Here is a sample of a schedule with all the parameters that are available. On my example I set a filter to highlight in red the paths that go over 30m.

Filters

We can also set filters to easily identify these paths on a floor plan view and make changes if necessary. In this example I set the filter to override the lines that are greater than 30m.

Potential Issues

One last thing I would like to point it out is that this path graphics are not fully customizable. We can change the line style from solid to dash for example, or create a new line style, but you cannot customize the arrow and dot at the start and end point.

The other aspect that we cannot control is the distance the path takes around an obstacle. The calculation of this distance occurs in the background. It takes in consideration the width of a typical person and body sway while walking. If you want to read more information about the path travel calculation click here.

Conclusion

It is impressive in how automatic and smart the tool is. Even though there are limitations on how much customization we can do with the tool, it is very exciting the fact that it can goes around objects and that it automatically updates when a change occurs, also how you don’t have to draw the line yourself, it does it for you.

 

 

 

Civil 3D Viewports

By Matt Kolberg, Application Specialist at SolidCAD

A little tip today.  Have you ever zoomed out within a profile viewport and your surfaces and alignments are not there?  The two viewports shown below are nearly identical except the one on the bottom doesn’t display any Civil 3D plan objects, such as the surface and alignment.  Why is this?  No, layers are not frozen or off in the lower viewport.

Civil 3D has its Plan Production feature which automates the creation of Paper Space layouts, typically for plan and profile construction drawings.  The way it has been implemented is that your drawing template (DWT) will contain a sample paper space layout containing pre-configured viewports.  And those viewports are required to have set a specific property called Viewport Type.

In the image above, the top viewport is set to Plan and the bottom is set to Profile.  When the viewport type is set to Profile, Civil 3D plan objects such as surfaces, alignments, and corridors are not displayed.  This is presumably to conserve performance, but if you’re unaware of this feature, it can be confusing.

Common Tech Issue of the Week #5 – Inventor Edition

Cannot Hide Components in Assembly View in Inventor IDW File

By Chris Kotyra, Technical Support 

Issue:

I cannot hide individual components in my existing assembly view in Inventor IDW file.  When I right-click on the part I would like to hide, the Visibility command is disabled:

Solution:

The reason why the Visibility command is disabled is that the assembly view was created with Associative option checked making it linked to a Design View Representation.  What you need to do is to turn off that option.

Follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the view and select Edit View command

2. Turn off Associative option in the Drawing View dialogue box.

3. Right-click on the part you would like to hide either in the view, or on the Model Browser and select Visibility command.

4. The part is hidden in the view.

Revit Tip of the Day #2

Revit Files are Clogging Up My Server Storage!

By Jay Polding, BIM Consultant – AEC Collaboration 

Some people find that Revit files are using up too much storage on their server or other storage. Although a few companies have ‘limitless’ cloud storage this is not the norm. Plus, is anything really ‘limitless’ on this planet?

You might also want to refer to this post for additional info…

Backing Up and Recovering Revit Files 

Revit files are large…fact. But surprisingly they are relatively smaller comparable to an AutoCAD project folder. The reason for this is that Revit contains more information efficiently in one file as opposed to a folder of  many files i.e. AutoCAD, Sketchup, Excel etc. Still, your storage space may be used up WAY faster now than before Revit. Below are some possible culprits and recommendations. All of these recommendations are assuming that you have a server and local backup protocol.

1. Saving Local Revit files to server. Each person’s ‘Local’ file will eat space from the storage on the server. It’s better to have each user save the files locally on their machine. This frees up server space and acts as a backup. Saving Local Revit files to the server is made worse by many of the issues below.

2. Standalone Revit files are making too many backups. Turn the backup number down. Search for files with *.0*.rvt or a variation of that *.*.rvt. You may find many of these are redundant backups and can be removed.

3. Local Revit files are being ‘timestamped’ on open. This is when a Local Revit file is not overwritten on open, it makes another copy and appends the date and time to the name. If everyone is doing this, it will gobble storage space like candy. You might want to do the Overwrite option.

4. Revit Central files need to be Compacted occasionally. Do this in the Save Options. Also, keep the Maximum backups number down.

5. Large and messy CAD Files Imported or Linked. Sometimes a very large AutoCAD file will be brought into the Revit file. This will then get propagated to all the Local Revit files. The key here is to use AutoCAD to Purge and Audit ALL imported or Linked CAD before bringing it into Revit. Avoid bring CAD into Revit if possible. Put all Imports onto a Workset.
6. Large, messy, overly detailed or complicated Revit Families. Be suspicious of any Revit Families over 5MB. This is compounded if you need to use it many times. If the Family is well made it may be worth the pain for future information gains.
7. Revit file needs to be Purged. This command is dangerous if you just Purge everything. You will need to go through the list and pick out what needs to be purged. If there is a nasty Revit Family inserted into the project you will need to completely remove or replace it before Purging.
8. People are simply saving lots of copies of stuff. Sometimes people save every single Revit file they receive and every single copy they make. On the plus side, if it’s organised, you have a way to get old information that suddenly becomes very important. Or, it could just be unnecessary clutter. You should at least save a complete project folder at key project milestones.