RTV Tools

Friday, October 21, 2016

Check Out The Public Revit Roadmap

Ever wondered where your Subscription $$$ are going? Now you can find out at the Public Revit Roadmap:

A few interesting links at the end of the page:
We’ll post updates periodically, and your feedback helps!  Let us know what you think. If there are specific areas of interest, you can submit requests through Revit Ideas -

If you would like to provide feedback on these capabilities, we would be happy to involve you in our beta program (Revit Preview).  Reach out to revit.preview.access@autodesk.com to join Revit Preview.

The First-Ever Public Revit Roadmap - Autodesk Community

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Making Curved Mullions that Can Be Scheduled In Revit

Interesting question raised by Rene Pellicer Garcia on LinkedIn recently:
I found that I just couldn't make real Revit curved mullions (of the right category, schedulable, measurable, etc). Best I could do was a geometry that looks very mullion-like, but can't schedule it, measure it or quantify it...

It is one of those situations where there are many ways to accomplish the same task, and those methods could include:
  • Traditional family modelling
  • Adaptive components
  • Dynamo
  • Non-typical modelling (railings, structural framing etc)
I decided to give it a go with the Adaptive Component method. Here's how I attacked the problem:
  1. Created an adaptive profile family
  2. Nested that into a 3 point Arc Mullion Adaptive family, and hosted it on the arc reference line
  3. In the Arc Mullion Adaptive, made the main mullion form from the profile and the arc
  4. Created a rig of Reference Lines to host the Arc Length Dimension
  5. Used some hosted points on the Arc as intersected references for the Arc Length Dimension
  6. Made a shared, instance, reporting parameter on the Arc Length Dimension

  7. Loaded that family into the Mass form family
  8. Placed it with 3 point click placement
  9. Selected the Instance and used Repeat command to make it into a Repeater
  10. Did similar for horizontal mullions
  11. Noticed some places where it 'broke' - mostly where the Arc Length Dimension flips inside out or goes straight -- considered making a 'straight' version of the family for these locations?
  12. Made a schedule, filtered by Type Mark, showing these Arc Lengths
  13. For the purpose of Identification, made a quick Dynamo Script to auto-populate the Mark parameter:

I'm sure my solution is not perfect, but it is one way of attacking the problem. It could be finetuned to be more robust and provide a nice modelling output.

You can download my modified sample file here, containing the adaptive components.

LinkedIn discussion:
Creating schedulable curved mullions in Revit

Monday, October 17, 2016

How to Disable the 3Dconnexion KMJ Emulator driver for Game Controllers

The 3dxWare package installs an emulator which basically lets the 3dconnexion device pretend that it is a game controller. However, this can cause problems. I was recently emulating a Wii U Pro controller as an Xbox 360 controller for use in Virtual Reality in Revizto. But the KMJ emulator was causing problems...

So, you need to disable the KMJ emulator using these steps:
  1. Go to Device Manager
  2. Switch to View - Devices by Connection

  3. Under 3Dconnexion KMJ Emulator, look for HID-compliant game controller
  4. Right-click and disable it

  5. It will no longer show up under Game Controllers in Windows

Using the above steps, I was able to use Revizto Viewer in Game navigation mode simultaneously with a 3Dconnexion device in its native mode, plus the emulated Xbox 360 controller.

Heads-up via user on the forum

Building A High Performance Portable BIM Workstation - Part 2 - Going Meta

What specification did I end up with?
(Read the previous Part in this series to see how we established some baseline specs)

After checking out a few different manufacturers and comparing pricing, I decided to go with a Metabox rig.

Here are the details:
Metabox Prime-X P870DM-G
  • 17.3" 4K QFHD 3840x2160 IPS WVA Matte 60Hz (100% SRGB) NVIDIA G-Sync LED
  • NVIDIA GeForce 980 (GXX) Extreme 8GB GDDR5 VRAM with G-Sync
  • Intel Core i7-6700K Processor (8M Cache up to 4.2 GHz)
  • 64GB DDR4 2400MHZ (4 x 16GB)
  • Samsung 950 Pro 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD
  • 2TB 5400RPM Slim line HDD
  • Killer 1535 AC Low Latency WIFI and Bluetooth

As you can see, it meets the following requirements:
  • 64GB RAM
  • High end desktop gaming graphics (not mobility)
  • High end consumer CPU
  • PCIe M.2 SSD

Here are some of the other things in the box:
  • External USB Slim Blu-ray Reader/Writer Optical Drive
  • Win 10 Professional 64BIT License & Media - Installed & Ready-Out-Of-The-Box
  • 2 Year Metabox Platinum Care Onsite Pickup Protection
  • Power DVD Bluray & DVD Playback w/ Burning Suite

And here is what it looks like when compared to a Surface Pro 3 (my previous site office rig):
Metabox Prime-X P870DM-G

I've been using this system for serious work for about 2 months...
  • How did I set it up, and 
  • How does it perform? 
We will consider these question in future parts in this series.

How to Stop Windows 10 from Restarting Your Computer

It is getting harder to stop Windows 10 from 'auto restarting' after an update. There used to be some UI settings, but now you have to get a bit more insistent.

Here's how:
  1. In the Run dialog box (Windows Key + R) type "gpedit.msc" (without quotations), hit Enter
  2. Go to Computer Configuration - Administrative Templates - Windows Components - Windows Update
  3. Double click on "No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations"
  4. Enable it and click Apply

How to prevent Windows 10 from restarting the computer after installing updates - Super User

Friday, October 14, 2016

How to Fix "Unexpected errors occurred while exporting these elements to the IFC file" when exporting IFC from Revit

Even using the latest IFC exporter addin, it may still have problems with some elements, causing the message:
Unexpected errors occurred while exporting these elements to the IFC file

I used these steps to work around this issue:

  1. Open Revit model
  2. Neutralize coordinates (for explanation and steps see here)
  3. Tried the export, which failed, with this error
  4. Then got the element ID from the error report
  5. Went to a suitable 3D view for export
  6. Hid that element in the View
  7. Modified the IFC export settings to use “elements in view”
  8. Re-exported, which now worked without error. 
Hope it helps!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Direct Download Links for Revit 2017.1, Revit 2016 Update 7, and The DynamoBIM Player is Here

Big day yesterday in Revit updates, particularly with Revit 2017.1 (apparently not really 2017 Update 1, but more like 2017 R2 or subscription release?) bringing some really cool enhancements, and the Dynamo Player! Here are some links and other information:

Revit 2017.1 (point 1, or maybe R2, but not really 'Update 1' ??)
Direct Download Link
Release Notes 
Autodesk blog post
    showing these top new features:

Revit 2016 R2 Update 7
Direct Download Link
Release Notes

Dynamo Player
People have been asking for a way to run their scripts more easily and transparently, and now you can. Simply install Revit 2017 Update 1, ensure you have Dynamo installed, and you will have a new option on your Ribbon...

It comes preconfigured to point at a samples folder:

You can point this at your own "Player" folder containing DYNs.

Press Play button to Run, and Edit button to open the DYN in Dynamo.

It remains to be seen how inputs will be handled?

Pick Objects and Dynamo Player
Interesting thoughts over on the forum, about how if you use a DYN with a Select Node, it will still 'work' --  this opens up some great possibilities!

Dynamo Player on Revit Help

Associated discussion over here.

Revizto 4.2 Released

I have spent some time in the pre-release testing phase of Revizto 4.2, and there are some really nice enhancements. One of the big ones is that you can now optimize your models in the cloud after the initial Sync. So you have the initial 'local' compression options, plus a cloud optimization phase. This can result in a really big decrease in model size, which is something that has been needed.

Also, the VR capability is improving - you can now use VR to view issues! And the HTC Vive controllers are now supported, so the Vive experience in Revizto should be even better now.

Better support of 4K screens is also great, as is DWF import support.

More export options:

Vector sheet export:

So head over to https://revizto.com/en/download and grab the new version...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Loading And Editing Materials in Revit

Material Editing in Revit takes a bit of getting used to. It was a big change in Revit 2013, but by now we should be getting used to it, right?

Here's a little image showing how you can:
  1. Load a material from a Library
  2. Access its Appearance
  3. Open the Asset Browser
  4. Swap the Appearance

Using a Wii U Pro Controller as an Xbox 360 Controller in Windows 10

In some VR applications, the Xbox 360 controller is a hardcoded default. If you don't have one, you may be able to emulate with a tool like x360ce. If you specifically have a Wii U Pro Controller, you can connect via Bluetooth and emulate a 360 controller with the steps below.

Here's how:
  1. Unzip WiinUSoft
  2. Install the SCP driver from the subfolder (right click as Administrator)

  3. Go to Bluetooth settings in Windows
  4. Pair with Nintendo controller

  5. Run WiinUSoft as Administrator
  6. Press the X button on the screen to start emulating Xbox 360 controller with Wii U Pro Controller

  7. You can also create custom mappings

Here is how it shows up under Game Controllers:

Some links:

WiinUSoft 2.1.zip


Downloads - WiinUPro

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Building A High Performance Portable BIM Workstation - Part 1 - Specification

So, you are in the market for a new BIM workstation? Recently I was too, and I wanted to share my experience and the 'process' of specifying, buying, and setting up a BIM workstation.

Over the years, I have been involved in setting the recommended specs for quite a number of CAD and BIM machines, and have used various suppliers - from big name brands, to the smaller PC builders. I personally feel that the big name brands rarely make sense in terms of what you get for what you spend. Many large firms will go with HP or Dell because they have some kind of long term agreement with them. But for small to medium businesses, you can definitely shop around to get maximum performance for your budget.

Target Applications
Firstly, you really need to clearly define the purpose of this machine... and this often boils down to "Which software am I going to use most of the time?" It can be good to put an estimated percentage on this.

For me, it would be something like:
  • Revit 30%
  • Navisworks 30%
  • Revizto 20%
  • Other 20%

Secondly, you need to determine if you need portability. I move around quite a lot, typically spending a few days in a site office, a day in our head office, and a day or two doing training or implementation work each week. So I need a powerful machine that can jump from desk to desk. I'm not overly concerned with battery life or even weight, as it won't ever really be a 'lap' top, but rather a portable desktop workstation.

I thought it would be worth mentioning that some people at this point would immediately jump to running a thin client of some sort, connected to a web host virtual machine with heaps of grunt. And that makes sense for some people. But I need to be able to run things like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and the internet connection is simply not good enough in parts of Australia to completely rely on a virtual workstation

Form Factor
With that in mind, I wanted to build the fastest portable Revit, Navisworks and Revizto machine without going too crazy on the budget. The Director here at Virtual Built understands the importance of good hardware, which is great. I have been in the situation at previous jobs where you are wrestling to get an outdated piece of hardware updated or refreshed... it can be a drawn out battle!

Moving on, what does the above actually mean in terms of platform and specs? I looked at mobile and compact tower PCs, but it didn't seem practical. Some of these have a monitor engaged on the side of the tower, but again, this wasn't really well suited to running meetings.

So, I ended up looking at laptops. I started to focus on gaming laptops. Because a big part of how we work involves Revizto, and Revizto is built on Unity, and Unity is a game engine... it makes sense that good game hardware will run nicely. I have already come to the realisation that high end (Quadro) graphics in terms of ROI doesn't make a lot of sense on Revit, and even with Navisworks I don't see it as a huge advantage. If you were doing a lot of 3dsMax work, maybe the high end graphics would be more important.

Memory (RAM)
It is actually quite difficult to find a laptop that can take 64GB of RAM. I feel that 64GB RAM is the new baseline if you are working on any kind of complicated BIM projects, such as large hospitals. This helped prune down the list to just those gaming laptops that could handle big memory.

My comments about Quadro graphics cards kind of come into play here as well. Most people in a normal working environment will simply get better value from the high end consumer Intel CPU range (such as i7), rather than going with Xeon/s. And I was more interested in clock speed than cores, because while Revit is getting better at using multiple cores, it still isn't really there yet.

So, what graphics card should we go for? Many laptops come with the M (Mobility) range of nVIDIA graphics, like 980M and so on. I guess I'm an nVIDIA guy? I was pretty interested to learn that some high end gaming laptops actually take a full desktop graphics card architecture and cram it into the portable form factor. This means I could have a portable machine, without sacrificing any graphics prowess.

Obviously, the main drive needs to be an SSD, minimum 512GB. But did you know about PCIe M.2 SSD drives? These things are ridiculously fast. We will also probably need a big secondary drive to store large datasets, including a sync location for our company Box storage. This doesn't need to be an SSD, but it could be if the budget allows.
Non SSD drive performance

PCIe M.2 SSD performance

Some peripheral choices are not hugely important, but I think that getting the fastest and best network interfaces (Wifi and LAN) actually do make a productivity difference. Minimum of 3 or 4 USB3.0 ports if you can, and a few different graphics outputs - HDMI and mini DVI at a minimum. Would also be nice to have integrated Miracast (Wireless Display adapter) as well.

What does all of this mean? Well, let's try and sum up the spec in one sentence:

A laptop with 64GB RAM,

the fastest i7 processor that can fit into the budget,

desktop nVIDIA gaming graphics (minimum 970),

a PCIe M.2 SSD primary drive, 2TB secondary,

and fast network interfaces.

In Part 1 of this post, we discussed the briefing and specification of a high end portable BIM workstation. But which one did I get? And how did it perform? You will find out in the future Parts of this series...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How to Fix Firefox not Working with Asana or Other Websites

Depending on your version of Firefox and your number of add-ons and extensions you have installed, you may occasionally have problems with certain websites not working in Firefox. I recently had an issue with Asana, which I use extensively for work. The issue turned out to be that Firefox had the wrong maximum security setting, it was set at TLS 1.0 and it needed to be higher.

If you want to check if your SSL / TLS settings are correct, head over to https://www.howsmyssl.com/

To fix TLS in Firefox:
  1. In Firefox, type about:config in the address bar and proceed past the 'are you sure' warning
  2. Type security.tls.version.max
  3. Edit the value to 3
  4. Close the tab

See below image:

This was an instant fix for my issue with Asana, and maybe it can help you too.

Unless I'm the only Firefox user left...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Open Local Files Much More Quickly In Excel 2013 and 2016

When Office applications shifted to the 'new' interface, one of the things that constantly annoyed me was having to press Open and then Browse - two clicks instead of one. This is because Excel shows a 'backstage' by default for opening from cloud services and the like.

So, how do you switch back to the old school way? Like this:

Now, using Ctrl+O will take you straight to the Explorer-style open dialog. Yay!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Quickly Get a List of All Design Files Used in the Current Navisworks File or Model

The Batch Utility in Navisworks is one of those powerful tools that is often overlooked. Like, did you know that you can easily export a list of currently appended files to a text document?

Here's how (From AKN):
  1. Home Ribbon - Batch Utility (path to the current model is automatically added to the Input area)
  2. In the Output area, As Single File tab, click the Browse button.
  3. In the Save Output As dialog box, browse to the desired folder, and enter the name for the text file.
  4. In the Save as Type drop-down list, select the File List (*.txt) option, and click Save.

  5. In the Autodesk Navisworks Batch Utility dialog box, click the Run Command button.
You will get a nice text file output like this:

To Generate a List of All Design Files Used in the Current Model | Navisworks Products | Autodesk Knowledge Network

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How To Allow TeamViewer Access Through an SSH Tunnel to an EC2 Proxy Server

In case the title didn't give it away, this is a pure IT post. If you aren't interested, check out this Mario video instead...

In some IT environments, you may find that TeamViewer cannot connect. This becomes a problem if you do a lot of remote work in various locations. How can we get TeamViewer working in these situations? Here is one way...
  1. Spin up a micro Amazon EC2 Linux instance (you can have one free instance for a year)
  2. Connect to your instance with putty
  3. Install tinyproxy with
    sudo yum -y install tinyproxy  --enablerepo=epel
  4. Edit tinyproxy settings to allow the IP of your current workstation with
    sudo vim /etc/tinyproxy/tinyproxy.conf
    add a line
    Allow xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx (your IP from whatismyip.com)
  5. Disconnect the putty session
  6. Edit putty settings for connecting to your Amazon instance to include a dynamic outbound tunnel on port 3128. Reconnect putty and leave it running.

  7. Edit TeamViewer proxy settings to include manual proxy like this:

Ok, now we have basically given access for TeamViewer through SSH tunnel port forwarding through to our EC2 cloud instance proxy server, and TeamViewer should now be able to find the outside web.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Batch Export IFC to Excel

You can use the freely available 'IFC File Analyzer':
IFA.zip | NIST

After unzipping and on first run, it will prompt to install an IFCsvr component:

You can batch convert all IFC files in a folder using the option in the file menu:

You could theoretically use this to batch convert multiple versions of an IFC file to Excel, then do a GUID based compare on the Excel data using something like Dynamo.

It also comes with a command line implementation.

  • Seems relatively slow for large IFC files
  • It doesn't seem to work for IFC4

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Three Keys to Successful BIM Content Management

In the world of BIM, content management is an extremely hot topic. We have to deal with a lot of sub-par content, we have to collect it all together and then try to use it on real projects. We have to be able to find the content we need, and we need that content to meet certain quality rules, otherwise it becomes counter-productive to use it at all. We need our content to have an appropriate level of geometry, 2D elements, and embedded data parameters.

I could write for hours about BIM content in both practical and specific terms, but in this post I want to share just three keys to good management of BIM content.

Key 1 - Have a DRI (Directly Responsible Individual)
A good collection of BIM content doesn't happen automatically. It is something that needs an appropriate level of curation, and to that end, it needs someone who is ultimately responsible. In fact, you may have a company-wide Chief Content Manager, and then persons who handle content on a more specific basis (such as a Studio Content Curator, or a Structural Content Creator). In this way, if there is a problem with content, you know who you need to speak to in order to get that problem resolved.

Key 2 - Put Your Content Together in One Place
We should be way past having little folders with BIM content on file systems and local hard drives all over the place. There are really good tools out there to collect BIM content together and manage it. The better and more powerful versions of these tools are typically cloud-based, and the best example I have personally seen is Unifi (which I have posted about before).

Unifi provdes a secure, stable place to store all of your BIM content, and then search through it, find what you need, and immediately load it into your live projects. They have been expanding the feature set consistently since it was released, and I'm happy to announce that there is another new feature coming to Unifi, which leads me to...

Key 3 - Metadata, Metadata, Metadata!
 Have you ever been searching for hours on end through folder after folder, trying to find that particular piece of content that you know is out there somewhere? Aside from being frustrating, it is also a huge waste of valuable time. Unifi has had the ability to add useful metadata in the form of Tags for a long time...

But what if you want to batch edit tags for a lot of content all at once?

In just a few days, Unifi will release the Batch Tag Manager and enable users to manage metadata in even more powerful ways than those previously available. To quote from a Unifi insider:
Tags are heavily used by our customers... Especially when used in combination with Saved Searches, tags can be very effective at creating custom collections of components.  However, with large and growing libraries – managing these tags has been difficult for some.  We have conducted several interviews with customers about these challenges and came up with the batch tag manager...  

The Batch Tag Manager will allow you to view tags in a management interface, and then batch rename, merge or delete tags. The full feature set will be discussed in the upcoming webinar.

Here are some 'leaked' screenshots of the new features :)
Tag Management Interface

Ability to Batch Rename, Merge and Delete Tags

Merge Tags Interface

It will even allow you to see historical batch operations:
Included in the feature is the ability to see a historical list of batch operations run against the library – which will allow even more control and insight.

View Historical Operations

Learn more about these exciting new capabilities at the upcoming webinar:

Unifi is getting better and better, and they are responding actively to ideas from users all around the world in the Ideas Portal...

So the questions is, have you given Unifi a try yet?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

How Does a Revit Model Work?

If you had 5 minutes to explain to someone the basics of a Revit model, how would you go about it?

I wanted to share this very basic (and rough) sketch with you, that I put together to describe the main data structures in Revit, along with key management components:

Hope you can read my hand-writing :)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Collaboration for Revit Installation and Setup Made Easy!

The fact that I'm posting about it means that it probably isn't really that easy, right? There are a few challenging pieces of the puzzle that all need to come together to get C4R or Collaboration for Revit working on a real project. I just went through this process with a mechanical firm so it is all pretty fresh in my mind.

Firstly, note that A360 Team has been rebranded as BIM 360 Team and will be migrated, more details at this post.

Secondly, Autodesk really wants your whole team (like everyone, every consultant, every Revit link) on Collaboration for Revit. However, out in the real world it is just happening bit-by-bit, and in the meantime some hacks and workarounds can make the process a little bit easier.

A Quick Overview
Ok, so Collaboration for Revit runs on on top of BIM 360 Team. What this means is that you need to have an active BIM 360 Team license if you wish to run projects. Then, you need a Collaboration for Revit license for each Revit user who will be connecting to that BIM 360 Team site. You still with me? This also means that persons outside of your firm may connect to your projects, provided they have their own Collaboration for Revit entitlement applied to their Autodesk account.

Once you have the BIM 360 Team license, and the Collaboration for Revit licenses, you then need to "Assign" the Collaboration for Revit licenses out to the users (using their Autodesk login details).

Finally, you need to actually do some stuff, like:
  • make a BIM 360 Team project, 
  • invite the users, 
  • initiate Revit models, and 
  • get the links working.

Its a lot to take in, so you can see that the blog title is actually a half-joke :) However, we were able to get all this up and running in about 4 hours for one firm, so you can too. Hopefully.

Something that will help
Given that there are a lot of moving pieces, I turned to my favourite research and documentation tool, OneNote. I have created a public notebook that you can view at this link:
Revit Collaboration Public Help

Basically all of the steps involved in getting the licensing setup, inviting users, installing the addin, and initiating models onto Collaboration for Revit are in the notebook linked above. I will continue to update and add to this over time.

Any Questions?
Just comment to this post and I will endeavour to answer your question in the notebook, or point you toward the answer.

Now, here are a few other bits and pieces that may be useful, if the notebook doesn't answer your questions...

new help documentation:

moving models to folders:

You can move projects from A360 Free to a paid BIM360 Team hub by using the Transfer function:

Taking models offline and replacing later:

using local linked files

Download links:
Collaboration for Revit 2017
Collaboration for Revit 2016
Collaboration for Revit 2015