Monday, August 8, 2011

More API goodies

This is yet another subject I’ve been meaning to write about for some time now. Advanced Solutions’ BIMAssist is another set of tools made possible through the ever-expanding Revit API. I got very excited watching the video of the new feature “Room Surface Parameter Extractor”, which is not part of the tools available in IMAGINiT’s Utilities for Revit. It’s nice to actually see different tools packaged by each of these companies. Their main target audience however is their subscribers, and from what I’ve seen over the last years, pricing for non-subscribers could easily make Anderson Cooper’s The RiDicULiST.

The BIMAssist page contains video clips of each feature, which is probably what convinced me to try it. It was a period when I was struggling with finding an acceptable compromise (recently, the word of the day in politics) to documenting finish materials in Revit. Which reminds me that I really need to post my wrap-up thoughts on the subject from almost a year ago, but back to the subject…you can go and see each one for yourself.

My testing experience was somewhat conflicted. It took forever to get the 30 day trial license to function. And tanks to a busy schedule, it expired before I finished my testing, however they were extremely helpful in extending the license, so thanks a lot for that!

Unfortunately I was not as excited once I found out exactly how the room surface parameter extractor worked. Rather than bore you with a lot of writing, here is my list of notes I jotted down:

  • Door Mark Manager: Numbers doors based on the To/From Room number;
  • Project Cleaner is a very nice tool to have. Useful when sharing a 3d model and you want to make it lighter or remove sheets, views etc. without having to do it the manual way (such as grouping and saving out the group or linking the project into a new file and binding it);
  • Sheet Number update: Also quite nice when you need to renumber sheets without having to do it the long way (we usually have to rename it twice if the final sheet number is already in use: append a suffix, renumber the other sheet and renumber again by removing the suffix);
  • Fire Rating Coordinator: I was excited at first about this tool, but as I read the help, all excitement faded and turned to disappointment. This tool is making the wrong assumption that the door fire-rating will be the same as the partition fire-rating: Wrong! Take a look at (for example) IBC 2009 Table 715.4 and you'll notice only a handful of situations where that holds true. Also notice the importance of the partition/wall type: The fire-rating alone does not tell the whole story. So a 1 hour wall can mean a 1hr, 45min. or 20min. door depending on whether the wall is a Fire Barrier, a Shaft Enclosure/Exit Passageway, and Exterior wall or a Smoke Barrier. Clearly this tool does not address any of these issues;
  • Room Surface Parameter Extractor: I had really high hopes for this tool and was very excited. Unfortunately
    I'm a bit disappointed after testing:
    • Painted materials are not recognized. This is a big issue because creating unique wall types just to designate different colors is just not the way to go. This tool should be able to read the materials on the surfaces around the room and not just the ones in the definition of the element;
    • Only the material name is reported; why not give the user the ability to report certain material parameters instead, such as Type Mark? I also tried doing a thin finish floor above the floor slab and it worked if there was only one floor (finish) in the room. However if you had 2 floor finishes, there's no way to list only the finish materials of just those floors. The option "Comma Delimited List" in "Surface To Use" ends up reporting all the floor layers, which is not what we would expect of a “surface extractor”. I also found it to be a bit slow when running, even if I selected just one room.

Anyway, if you want to see these tools for yourself, you can participate in a free webinar coming up this Wednesday 10th August.

While we’re talking of tools, make sure to visit the ADN Plugin of the Month page at the Autodesk Labs site, where various tools are made available for free in exchange for user feedback. For example there is a Door and Room renumber tool that I find very easy to use, and recently they released another handy one called eTransmit. Finally, Jochen of b.i.m.m released the updated tools for the Revit 2012 version, so be sure to check those out too. So many tools, so little time to keep up with them all!



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