Monday, December 04, 2006

Autodesk University - Day Three

It's Wednesday and the AU rookies who haven't paced themselves can barely make it to breakfast. This day is probably the busiest of the week. Most Autodesk networking events occur tonight along with the famous Industry Receptions - the Building Industry will be heading over to the JET nightclub at the Mirage...let's see if I make it.

6:30 AM - Breakfast with a few of my team members. Looks like we're getting the hang of the column grid locating plan. "Hello. We're at D-22! Wait...stand up and wave. Oh, there you are!"

8:00 AM - Building Solutions Main Stage

The Main Stage event for each individual industry has traditionally been the arena to show off new product functionality and/or betas for new products. I was disappointed to hear little new information about BSD products this year. They did demonstrate a "drawing compare" feature in AutoCAD, but it took an awfully long time to compare in relation to viewer products such as Brava and the Newforma Viewer. Armundo Darling demonstrated Revit Systems' integration with IES tools, but that was already displayed in the keynote presentation on Tuesday. Now that Autodesk has moved most of their products' major release dates to the Spring, we probably won't get too many more exciting announcements on the Industry Main Stage in the future.

10:00 AM - I'm on...Techniques for Large Projects in Revit Building

The first of two classes I'm teaching this year. This class used to be called "You Can't Do That in Revit," but based on my evaluations of the past two years, my attendees expected to actually hear about things they couldn't do in Revit! Thus, I re-aligned the course expectations and objectives (without the silly title) and focused the content around my expertise. Hit my mark with the timing of the content, special thanks to Bob Yori for driving. New this ear...MindManager instead of PowerPoint. We'll see what the audience thinks when I review the evaluations. By the way, you can find old content from the "You Can't Do That" classes on WikiHow - click here to search for Revit entries.

11:30 AM - Off to the the DWF Executive Customer Council

I had the honor of joining a select group of industry colleagues in the DWF Executive Customer Council. The Q&A session after my class extended another 10 minutes so I had to run downstairs to the DWF lunch. 4 to 5 members from each industry were selected to present their current and future uses of DWF format and Design Review along with our top 3 wishes for new features/functions. Most of us were focused on scalability for large datasets, yet there were some interesting tangents for those in the manufacturing industry and public sector. Other suggested enhancements included digital signatures, integration of ordering data, dedicated sketch mode for single markups and others.

1:00 PM - Ditching class

Supposed to take Beau Turner's class on Revit Phasing and Design Options, but I wanted to search around for something a little more advanced (sorry, Beau). And that's the beauty of AU Online - worth the price of admission alone! - to return later and download handouts and data from classes you missed.

I slipped into "Extreme Architecture: Complex Geometry with Inventor and Revit." If you set your expectations high, be prepared to have them hit bottom even harder. I was again somewhat disappointed by the overall context of this class as it didn't have enough technically oriented content to learn something extra about using Inventor, and didn't really get to what I would call "extreme architecture." It seemed to be a class focused on sharing data between Inventor and Revit, but I would have enjoyed a really robust class weighted more toward complex design issues and buildability with Inventor.

3:00 PM - Wow.

As a welcome pick-me-up on 'hump day,' the class "Expanding BIM with the Revit API" was probably the best of the week. Emile Kfouri and Miro Schonauer of Autodesk shared some real-world examples of the Revit API in action. The examples were smaller, but completely relevant and expandable to ideas we have at SOM. First was the House Configurator - an ETO (Engineering to Order) solution to give the client/owner a simple interface to choose from many design options with a template residence. Once the options are chosen, the Revit model swaps groups in and out to complete the final design. Obviously, alot of pre-planning has to go into the Revit model, but I can definitely see the potential. Next up, a bi-directional link to MS Project for phasing data. Revit elements are ported out to Project, where a PM might push and pull the timeline for various elements of the construction. The data is then imported back into the project, updating custom parameters for every element in the database.

A VRML exporter was shown, but it was for a specific client request to produce a VRML file format. Not too much use in the general public, but the potential is there to use the API to export your Revit model to any other software (Digital Project, Rhino...) via the API. Next was something I thought was outstanding: collaboration with web services. Miro demonstrated a Revit project consisting of a bookshelf with some book families (which he happily demonstrated their parametric flexibility!). OK, so what's the big deal with a bookshelf and some books? With the books selected, he opened a custom window which allowed you to type in a search phrase which searched Google first - "autodesc rewit"..."Did you mean 'autodesk revit'?" The second module then searched the Amazon website for the top 10 titles matching the phrase and displayed book titles including those by authors Paul Aubin and Chris Fox (who happened to be sitting in the class!). The data pulled from the Amazon web service included the title, author, retail price, Amazon price and sales ranking. This data was then pushed into the selected Revit element with the last part of the app. Cool.

5:00 PM - Raise the Roof

For the last class of the day I was scheduled to take Steve Stafford's Family Lab, but it was already full when I entered so I decided to sit in on the Scott and Scott show on Revit Roofs. As always, the Scotts (Davis and Brown) gave an excellent presentation and I always manage to walk away with a few new tips. The picking order when joining soffits to walls, splitting a roof sketch to work with overlapping eaves of varying heights, and more.

6:30 PM - Networking

Wednesday night is jam-packed with networking events and I had to choose only a few. The DWF Executive Customer Council and Consulting events were both at Canaletto, but I only had time to chat with the DWF team - apologies to Mark, Hunter, Dave, Phil, et al. Next was a fantastic dinner with our Autodesk reseller - Imaginit - at Wolfgang Puck's Postrio restaurant. It was a "wine pairing" dinner where each course had a complementary wine selected by the chef. Thought I was going to make it to JET for the Building Industry reception, but the great food and the fake sky in the Grand Canal Shoppes messed with my mind and it was time for bed before I knew it.


  1. Enjoyed your session & I know you got one positive comment about MindManager!

    I found the "forever twilight" of the Canal & Square area very disorienting esp when juggling multiple bookings. I had 3 events booked for the pre-industry party session but only made it to two as lost track of time.

  2. Where can I get this VRML Exporter?

  3. You'll have to contact Autodesk Consulting as the tool they demonstrated was custom built for a customer. Do a search for "Autodesk Professional Services" and look under "Custom Engineering."