Thursday, April 16, 2015

Download Finder for Autodesk Products and Updates

Have you checked it out yet?
Autodesk Knowledge Network

By clicking Service Packs and Fixes, then Revit Products, I discovered this little gem:

Autodesk CAD- and BIM- Standard Tool for Revit | Revit Products | Autodesk Knowledge Network
The tool provides extended functionalities of DWG and DXF export in addition to Revit´s “out of the box” Export. Some examples are:
  • Define *.dwt template for export
  • Implement layer standard
  • Assign objects and components (e.g. wall layers) to AutoCAD layers
  • Include material information automatically to layer names
  • Assign categories, families and even types to AutoCAD layers
  • Create blocks with attributes from tags
  • Replace tags or symbols by pre-defined blocks with in the *.dwt template
  • Process doors and windows with ÖNORM tags to DWG
There is also the ability to convert polylines from DWG files linked to a Revit project to space boundaries and rooms.

Heads-up via Support | ATG

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Using Dynamo and Revit to Convert Point Clouds to Actual Geometry for Use in Tekla or Other Software

We often work with consultants using Tekla Structures, but we only recently came across the issue of trying to import point clouds into Tekla. The officially recommended workflow is:
Leica / Trimble scanner -- Trimble Real Works -- Landxml -- Tekla Structures

But what if we don't have Real Works? Basically, we want to create geometry from point cloud (which we can make into a massive list of XYZ values in a text file). Sounds like an easy job for Dynamo... and in a way, it is.

Here is what worked for me:
  1. Import the source point cloud to Recap, decimate to 100mm grids, and remove all values except X,Y,Z (screencast below). This took me from about 19 million points down to about half a million
  2. Export from Recap to PTS format.
  3. Remove first line in the PTS file using Notepad++ (if necessary). The output should look something like this:

    Here is the Screencast:

    Note: steps 1 to 3 should essentially create a 3 field space delimited XYZ text file with no Intensity, RGB or Normals (sometimes called NEZ by survey people)
  4. Load some family called PointCloud.rfa with a Type called Point (can be adaptive or not)
  5. Use a Dynamo definition to place a given family at each location.
    One of my main concerns was scalability.. How many points / instances can Dynamo and Revit handle here? Initially, I used a method where the definition itself threw away a lot of points in a totally arbitrary manner, using a series of DropItemAtIndex nodes. This got me from about 500000 to about 120000 points, and this worked ok. I ended up modifying the node to allow for a number of 'drops' (from 0 to 4). Each drop throws away every second point... Finally, as I was getting all the points anyway, I thought it would be nice to have a Topography creation option. The published package can either create families at each point, make a topography, or both.
  6. Once you have generated the geometry you want from the point cloud, then Export to DWG or DXF
  7. Transmit to consultant
Here is a little readme:
When you first load the package, you should set up the entry data types as per below:

If your text file is space-delimited (as mine was), make sure the delimiter string field actual has a Space in it.

Also, set the two booleans to False (meaning that no families or topos will be created) for the first Run, and set the drops to 4. The "Number of points" output node will give you an idea of how many points are in play at that particular drop level, like this:

If you are running on 'normal' system hardware, you probably should keep it to around 50000 geometry creation points if possible. On my Surface Pro 3, it could work with the 30000 points no worries, and my workstation could handle 120000 ok. So, once you have a reasonable number in that output box, you can set the go and place instances and / or make a Topo options to True. I think Revit may struggle with huge points on a Topo, but I was able to place the family instances (with a small crosshair or 3D sphere at the origin) and then export to DWG.

Keep in mind this is a very arbitrary and lossy method - point clouds were never really meant to be wrestled into geometry like this. However, it may help you in certain situations. The Dynamo node has been published but it is very beta at the moment, so of course the usual disclaimer applies: "use at your own risk".

Package is called Place Family Instances or Make Topography by Point Cloud.

Sample point family for download
A note on coordinates and rounding:
This tool currently uses project coordinates. A future revision may offer shared coordinate translation. In the meantime, you could use some reference geometry at project base point and run this tool in an new empty, linked file, then move it into place in project. Related discussion:

Also, it appears that rounding is occurring to 3 decimal places, which is not ideal. Again, this may be fixed in future.

I tried lots of other methods, including POINTSIN and IMPORTXYZ lisp routines in AutoCAD, but oftentimes the dataset was too big, or the input data was not what the routine was expecting.
Some other methods I attempted are below, but they weren't too successful...

Also tried:
  1. Import points to Civil3D
  2. Convert Civil COGO points to vanilla AutoCAD blocks
  3. Use blocks to generate geometry
Using Civil3D to Convert Points to LandXML for Import to Tekla Structures
Another possibility:
  1. Points into Civil3D (as Drawing Objects in a Surface)
  2. Export Surface to LandXML

Monday, April 13, 2015

Autodesk Shared Reference Point 2015 to facilitate Civil3D and Revit coordinate system collaboration

Note: you will need to login to Subscription to download ...
Autodesk® Shared Reference Point 2015 provides functionality to export known points and elevation from AutoCAD® Civil 3D software to an external file, in which Autodesk® Revit® software can import and setup a "Shared Coordinate System." This enables the collaboration of exported RVT, DWG and NWC files back to AutoCAD Civil 3D and to coordinate models in Autodesk® Navisworks® software.

Readme - English (pdf - 422Kb)


For AutoCAD Civil 3D 2015 64-bit - English (exe - 3634Kb)

For Autodesk Revit 2015 64-bit - English (exe - 3608Kb)

Autodesk Shared Reference Point 2015

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Review of the Powerful CGS Revit Tools suite, and Exclusive Discounted Price if you mention What Revit Wants

When reviewing any Revit addin suite, I'm often interested in the unique tools that you just can't get anywhere else. CGS Revit Tools has quite a few of these... and in this post I will describe just a couple of examples.

Also, in some very good news for What Revit Wants readers, for three months CGS are offering an exclusive, limited-time, 30% off of retail discount (yes!) offer if you email and specifically mention What Revit Wants. You can also just click on the CGS banner in the left sidebar. I think you will find that this is a very comprehensive suite, and with this generous discount it is very good value indeed.

Now, on with the review..

CGS Revit Tools comes with a built in spreadsheet editor called BIM Query. So, unlike some other Revit addins, you don't actually need to open Excel and deal with input/output files - you can modify the data directly in a special editing canvas and then 'Apply' it directly to your model. It is quite fast at extracting the data to the spreadsheet (depending on size of model and number of categories selected).

Resize Section Box is a very useful addition to the suite, as it allows you to quickly match a Section Box to a Room, Space or View. This is a pretty powerful and unique implementation, as other Section box tools often only deal with model elements:

The BIM Manager panel provides a very comprehensive set of cleanup tools, very useful for detailed model review and audit:

There is also a tabular Type Editor, which allows quick and easy navigation, duplication and modification of family type information:

There are various tools provided to easily align text and labels. Here is a quick demo:

The Legend by Category tool helps automate the creation of Legends for an entire category at once!

And CGS Revit Tools offers a lot more, including:
  • ability to create finish floors based on rooms
  • automate assembly view creation
  • visibility automation / toggle switches
  • a 'Zoom To...' tool
  • Sheet view automation
  • Create views for rooms automatically
  • Tool to give your elevations that nice 'depth' effect
Additionally, a Content Admin Kit is included for free:

Among other things, this allows you to easily create a calculated value and then Execute to update that formula or relationship as needed. The Update Category tool will update a selected Category for a given folder to the current Revit version in a batch process.

As you can see, this suite covers a lot of ground and can save you time by automating repetitive tasks. Quick cost analysis: if it saves you 6min / day, that is one hour per fortnight, saving you almost 25 hours per working year. Let's say you make about $25 / hr... The suite will have paid for itself at least 4 times over in the first year alone. So, yeah, it might be worth a look :-)

Reviewer's Note: I tested version 2015.2.250.0

Special pricing (if you email in the next three months and specifically mention What Revit Wants, you can take an additional 5% off the already discounted web prices below, meaning the total discount is 30% off retail):
# of Licenses
 Current Web Pricing
What Revit Wants discounted price

Check out this blog for some real-world applications and workflows for using this suite:

Help can be viewed online at this link.

Some related screenshots: 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Get Started with these 15 Practical Uses of Dynamo with Revit

There has been a bit of strange talk around the social web and some forums lately about whether or not Dynamo is truly useful, and whether it has a real future in the BIM environment. I admit, at the moment it is still leaning to the 'enthusiast' side (but only just), and I think as you read over the posts and resources I have selected below (many of them from the past couple of months), you will see that the momentum and value of Dynamo in our Revit world is accelerating. As usual, full credit goes to original posters and content creators.

The software is hardly at version 0.8 (officially)... just wait for 1 point oh!

1) Tips and Tricks

2) How about renumbering?

3) Auto create sheets...

4) Creating grids...

5) Make doors react to room size and contents...
Dynamo: More Than Grasshopper Lite | CASE

6) Auto section box creation...
Revit Dynamite and Ammo: Auto section box - Dynamo style

7) Make topography from images using Dynamo and Mantis Shrimp...
topo tools for dynamo | archi-lab

8) Convert Topography to Polysurface mesh for further use...
 Enjoy Revit: Dealing withTopography in Dynamo

9) Randomize color and materials...
Phil-osophy in BIM: Randomize Color and Material in Revit - Dynamo Style!

10) Animate design iterations...
5 Dynamo Custom Nodes that can animate;
  • Number and Length Parameter iterations
  • Element Transparency
  • Camera movement
  • Element Color Ranges
 More at Animate design iterations in Revit with Dynamo | Håvard Vasshaug

11) Rooms in 3D

12) This page has a visual list of all the Built In functions in Dynamo:

13) Using Dynamo for model quality review...

14) Visual programming for Revit -
80 minute demo from one of the top conceptual designers in the business...
Dynamo: Visual Programming for Revit from Alfred Huang on Vimeo.

15) And this is more of an amusing one... :-)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Autodesk 2016 Direct Download Links (Revit 2016 direct download)

Best result will probably be to copy and paste the links into a download manager, such as DownThemAll with Firefox...

Revit 2016 direct download links:

(thanks to anonymous in the comments for heads-up on these Revit links)

Autodesk Revit LT 2016

Autodesk Revit Architecture 2016

Autodesk Revit Structure 2016

Autodesk Revit MEP 2016

Autodesk Navisworks Manage 2016


Autodesk Navisworks Simulate 2016

Autodesk Building Design Suite Ultimate English 2016 Win 32 bit 64 bit


Oh, on a related note, if you are looking for your Productivity enhancements / Subscription addins, go to this link:

Some other BIM-related, Autodesk 2016 software links here (keep in mind these are useful as trials only, unless you have access to legal activation methods through subscription with Autodesk):

AutoCAD 2016:

Inventor 2016:

AutoCAD Architecture 2016:

AutoCAD MEP 2016:

Autodesk Vault Basic English 2016 Win 32/64

Autodesk Vault Basic Server 2016 English Win 64bit

Monday, March 30, 2015

Glue Updates and 2016 New Features (Navisworks Manage 2016 for every Glue user :-)

Check it out:

Just making sure you got these two important points:
  1. All project and enterprise BIM 360 Glue subscriptions include access to Autodesk Navisworks Manage 2016 (available soon) for use by the purchasing company
  2. Attach and view BIM 360 Glue models directly inside AutoCAD 2016
    Reference the Glue merged model as you design to avoid potential conflicts

Some game changing stuff here...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Selection Tools included with BIMiTs Revit Plug-in

Did you ever notice this handy little selection toolset?

Pretty cool, huh?

Update: Dieter has correctly pointed out that these selection tools are part of the Bimits package:

The Advance steel addin can be downloaded for free:

Using Lumion 5.3 with Revit for Rapid, Realistic and Effective Presentations

In times past, I had this dream that Revit would be the sole answer to every single architectural and modelling question. Due to the proliferation of excellent addins and addons, I now realise that Revit is positioning itself as the operating system of the BIM environment. It has a solid parametric, data and intelligence engine, which can be extended in many ways through the expansive API. One area in which Revit has sometimes wavered is in pure visualization, particularly of the real-time and photorealistic variety. Using RPC and Realistic display modes within Revit can achieve a certain result, but here are some questions:
  • Is using an additional presentation package, like Lumion, worth it? 
  • Will it result in a better visual result? 
  • Will the performance be acceptable?
I received a review copy of Lumion 5.3, and tested it using Revit 2015 Update 7. As usual, I have reviewed the software, but at the same time I am sharing practical tips and guidance on how to get up and running with Revit and Lumion.

To start with, let's consider whether Lumion can really add value to your current design and development pipeline. You may be thinking "I don't have a clue how to make a fly-through animation", but that is where Lumion lives. It makes it easy for you to take your BIM geometry, and put it into a real, living environment. In a sense, it is a 'complete' visual presentation package, as it includes things like environments, backgrounds, materials, weather effects, water, entourage, vehicles, people, trees, landscape, furniture, terrain modelling, and it is all in a package that allows you to modify, manipulate and tweak basically everything in real-time. It has a clean UI and extremely fast rendering capability. For output and deliverables, you can easily export still images or rendered videos of the scenes that you have composed.

You might be thinking "I don't have time to learn yet another modelling tool", but if you spend any time at all in post production software like Photoshop, 3ds Max, After Effects or something similar, then Lumion does not represent a steep learning curve. The interface is relatively unobtrusive and simple to understand. The Lumion addin allows for building models to be exported from Revit, but it also allows models to be updated and reloaded into the Lumion scene. As one person put it, "Use Lumion and Revit together and you will enjoy the synergy."

You can check out a very concise 'getting started' style video here:

To put it simply, when you pair a powerful and parametric building design tool like Revit, with a free-flowing, smooth, flexible presentation software like Lumion, you have a very formidable design and presentation pipeline at your disposal. So, let's learn a bit more about Lumion...

This remainder of the review has been divided into the following 5 sections:
  1. Download, Installation and Deployment
  2. Workflow (BIM friendliness)
  3. Performance
  4. Quality of Output
  5. Real-world applications and Case Studies
Download, Installation and Deployment:
Installing the Main application
  1. You will receive an activation email, with a unique download link
  2. Download and run the 'download manager'
  3. Copy the activation code from your email to the download
  4. It will now automatically download Lumion, usually to your Downloads folder (about 4.94gb)
  5. You should copy the installation .exe and .bin files to some safe location - these are what you will use to install Lumion on other PCs
  6. The installer should run automatically - all you need to do is set the install path
  7. Start Menu - Run Lumion 5.3
  8. Agree to the Licence Agreement
  9. Lumion will now run some benchmarks and initialize itself
  10. Once the next screen appears, you will get a 'system speed' rating
  11. Note: I was expecting to see a Revit addin automatically installed... but I have since realised that this is an additional step... see below.

Installing the Revit addin
  1. You can get the Revit addin from: 1) the Lumion website, or 2) Autodesk Exchange - Lumion Collada Exporter
    (The version I installed was 1.4.4)
  2. Running this addin will export a DAE file, which can then be imported to Lumion
Here are a few notes on how the Lumion license works:
  • The installer is specific for your Lumion License.
  • You can copy the Lumion installer to other computers or your network drive.
  • You may install Lumion on multiple machines.
  • When you start Lumion your license is flagged as in use.
  • When you quit Lumion your license is flagged as free
  • You need an internet connection in order to run Lumion
System requirements
Current hardware list here, minimum details copied below
  • OS: 64-bit Windows Vista, 7 or 8
  • CPU: A CPU with at least 6,000 PassMark points. Click here to see the PassMark list.
  • System memory: 4GB (for simple scenes)
  • Graphics card: A card with minimum 2,000 PassMark points and at least 2GB dedicated memory.
  • Click here to see the PassMark list.
  • Examples of cards with about 2,000 PassMark points: GeForce GTX 745, Quadro K4000M, GeForce GTX 570M or faster.
  • Harddrive: 20GB of disk space
  • Using Lumion and Lumion Pro via Remote Desktop or similar virtual desktop solutions is not supported.
  • Lumion and Lumion Pro require an internet connection.
Workflow (BIM friendliness)
There are a number of ways to move data from Revit to Lumion, such as using DAE format via Exporter, or FBX via built-in export. The dedicated DAE exporter addin from Revit is the recommended method.

The Exporter addin (Revit to Lumion Bridge) works in orthographic 3D views and takes all visibility filters for the view into account. If you try to export from a Perspective view, the Lumion export addin will be disabled. However, in Revit 2015 R2 you can easily convert a Perspective 3D view into an orthographic or Parallel-3D View to allow export to proceed. Here's how:
  1. Ensure that a Crop Region is applied and Visible, and the view is "unlocked". 
  2. Then, right-click on the View Cube and switch to Parallel-3D view, like this:

Then, run the exporter. The UI is relatively easy to follow:

I tested using 'normal' accuracy, and the file size result was like this:

You can then easily open or create a scene in Lumion, and then import the model you just exported from Revit:

Once in Lumion, you can use the WASD keys to walk around, and QE keys to move up and down. If you hold the right mouse button and drag, this will change your view direction. Holding Shift will speed up your movement. It is quite a fluid navigation system. F1/F2/F3/F4 turns shadows on and off and makes other quality vs performance changes.

You can see other tips and keyboard shortcuts at:
LUMION 5: Quickstart Guide here
LUMION 5: Keyboard shortcuts

Placing models
It is easy to place models, just:
  1. Click the category (people, transport, landscape etc)
  2. Click Change Object to select desired model
  3. Click to place in the scene

To bring in external models, like DAE or FBX exported from Revit, use the Import models option.

Depending on how your model heights were configured in Revit, you may need to move your model downwards in Lumion. In my case, I had to move the model downwards in the Y-axis by about 150m (yes, Lumion understands the vertical to be the Y axis, not the Z):

To update the model, just re-export the DAE file from Revit. You can reload by: going to Import mode, selecting the spanner for 'context' menu, selecting your Model and then clicking on the blue circle, which will open up the context menu with the reload option:

It is interesting to note that even new objects (ie. newly added to the Revit model) that have a Revit material name matching a currently overridden material in Lumion, will then adopt that Lumion material when the import is reloaded. Nice!

 There is a brief tutorial video on the Lumion to Revit workflow here:

Easy Architectural Visualization in 15 Minutes. from Lumion on Vimeo.

So, is Lumion able to do anything that Revit can't do? In a word, yes. For example, it can handle things like sculpting large-scale terrain models very easily, as this demo shows:

Add to that: movie effects, ocean / water, the large model and material libraries, lighting effects, render quality, and the overall ability to transform a scene from a collection of polygons into something that more effectively represents the real world.

The Collada DAE export was very, very fast - under 1 minute for a 150mb Revit model. Accordingly, of all the file types that can be used to get data from Revit to Lumion, I would expect that the recommended and preferred method is via the DAE export in the free addin.

Quality of Output
Lumion is targeted at rapid, real-time, moving animations with models that may also be animated. So the result is usually something that looks very 'alive'. Coming from an architectural background, you may initially be surprised at the overall 'look' of things and you might find it slightly cartoonish. However, I recommend that you give it a try and have a go at tweaking a few of the display settings.

It is very easy to create a flythrough or fly around animation. Just start the movie tool with the film icon, then create a number of keyframes as you would with other animation tools. Then, you can easily export to mp4.

Real-world applications and Case Studies 
I tested using a medium rise model:

Once the model was imported, it was very easy to select entire materials and replace them with more appealing versions:

To delete models, you can remove them directly from the library and they will disappear from all scenes that they are currently placed in. However, you can also delete the model only in the scene you are currently working on, and it will remain available in the library for use in other scenes:

Customer Interviews
Chauviere from HKS said at one of the above links, “I don’t think many people know or appreciate the hard work behind optimizing 3D objects to low polygon count, and still have them look convincing. The amount of high-quality plants and 3D objects in the Lumion library that can be used is impressive.”
Children´s hospital with more than 15,000 plants and trees
Summary of Lumion 5.3
In review, let's consider some of the questions raised at the beginning:

  • Q. Is using an additional presentation package, like Lumion, worth it?
    A. Yes, it would be very difficult for plain Revit to deliver the same speed, quality, and content
  • Q. Will it result in a better visual result?
    A. When it comes to real-time scene export, a Lumion visualization can be much more alive and animated than a Revit equivalent. You can also easily deliver your scene as a selection of high quality images, or as a rendered video.
  • Q. Will the performance be acceptable?
    A. Yes, provided you have a decent CPU and graphics card (refer to requirements above)
Summary of each section:

  1. Download, Installation and Deployment - 7/10, necessary to manually install addin
  2. Workflow (BIM friendliness) - 8/10, support for updating changed models
  3. Performance - 8/10, much improved in more recent versions and fast export to DAE
  4. Quality of Output - 9/10, smooth and appropriate for the visual style
  5. Real-world applications and Case Studies - 9/10,
             (see links above to see how companies are using Lumion)
My overall software score for Lumion 5.3 is 9/10. Its definitely worth a look if you do any kind of presentation work with 3D models!

In a future post, I want to look at the large-model workflow from Infraworks to Lumion via FBX.

Other links, tips and resources

You can download the Lumion 5.3 demo for free at

Note: customers who buy Lumion PRO receive the link to the Lumion viewer (together with their license code and the download manager)

Link to tutorials:

Important notice:
If you migrate your work from earlier Lumion versions take into account that the material system has been changed in Lumion 5. This requires you to re-apply the materials to your objects.

Developments of Lumion over the past 18 months leading up to Lumion 5.3:

Links to previous exporters:
Revit To Lumion Bridge
Revit To Lumion Bridge (v1.4.4) – for Autodesk Revit 2015.
Revit To Lumion Bridge (v1.4.4) – for Autodesk Revit 2014.

Legacy COLLADA exporter
Download Revit 2014 COLLADA exporter (v2.12).
Download Revit 2013 COLLADA exporter (v2.12).
Download Revit 2012 COLLADA exporter (v2.12).

If you select option "Skip Interior Details" then these Revit Categories are skipped:
  • Casework
  • CommunicationDevices
  • DataDevices
  • DuctTerminal
  • ElectricalEquipment
  • ElectricalFixtures
  • FireAlarmDevices
  • Furniture
  • FurnitureSystems
  • GenericModel
  • LightingDevices
  • LightingFixtures
  • MechanicalEquipment
  • NurseCallDevices
  • PlumbingFixtures
  • SecurityDevices
  • SpecialityEquipment
  • TelephoneDevices 
How to delete objects?
You delete imported objects by using the Imported Objects Library.  It cannot be deleted from the Library if you have a scene open and using that object, so first clear and start a new empty scene.

Then in Build Mode click on Import button --> Change Import Object --> locate your object to delete and doubleclick the Rubbish bin.  That will permanently remove the object from the library and the files.

from here

Editorial note:
"In the interests of editorial disclosure, I would like to note that this review was completed with some financial consideration from the developers of Lumion.
Luke Johnson"

Information related to older versions
I have been familiar with Lumion for some time.  A full scale Lumion review has been on my radar for a while, but like anything, it takes time to have a proper look at a piece of software.

My past experiences with Lumion had been hampered by less-than-stellar hardware.  You really do need a decent workstation to have a fluid and productive time with Lumion. In my case, my new workstation at Virtual Built has 64gb of RAM, a 6 core (12 hyperthreaded) processor, and a Quadro K4000 video card.

You can view release notes at:

Older shortcuts page:

I previously posted about Lumion at:
What Revit Wants: Real-time visualization with Lumion