Ideate Automation is a new desktop solution from Ideate Software that leverages some of the Forge APIs but does not require the use of any Autodesk Cloud Credits. If you, like me, struggle with a few of the words in that last sentence, read on. In this blog post we’ll discuss what Forge is, how it is used by Ideate Automation, and clarify that no Autodesk Cloud Credits are used by Ideate Automation.
What is Forge?
Forge is a platform of web service APIs (application programming interface) that allow you to integrate Autodesk cloud software products such as Fusion Team and BIM 360 Docs into your workflows and embed their components into your own applications. There is a nice class from the London 2017 Autodesk University called “What the Heck is Forge” where you can learn much more on this topic.
The Autodesk cost of using the Forge APIs is borne directly by the third-party partner/developers, and then passed along to the end customer, but only when certain APIs are used. Ideate Automation does not use the Forge APIs that consume cloud credits.
What is Ideate Automation?
You can increase productivity, eliminate the need to train staff on repetitive tasks, and ensure task outcomes are highly predictable, free of user errors, and standardized with Ideate Automation for Revit. This scripting solution runs time-intensive BIM tasks in the background while staff does more meaningful work. Either started manually or scheduled to run at night, Ideate Automation is empowering and cost effective. You can learn about some of the most common examples of Revit task automation here.
Ideate Automation utilizes some of the Autodesk Forge APIs so that customers can log in to their Autodesk user accounts to directly access their live Revit models on any BIM 360/ACC (Autodesk Construction Cloud) hubs to which our custom integration has been applied. In the image above, I have logged in to build the list of all the hubs and projects to which I have access. Once this is done, I do not need to remain logged in unless a new hub, project, or file is needed. If you are not using BIM 360/ACC to store your Revit live models, then you do not need to set up the integration in order to use Ideate Automation.
Glynnis Patterson, NCARB – Director of Software Development
Glynnis is a registered architect and has worked within the building information modeling (BIM) industry since 1998. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, she has worked as an architect, educator and construction site manager. Glynnis is the Director of Software Development Services and continues to work with AECO clients worldwide, developing, and consulting on solutions to BIM challenges. In her spare time, Glynnis volunteers for the local high school and with growitgreenmorristown.org. Find Glynnis on LinkedIn.
We at Ideate Software love Revit software. We know how powerful it is and how it transforms the way Revit users in the architecture, engineering, construction, and owner-operator fields perform their jobs. As powerful as Revit is, it does have some limitations. Our goal as a company is to talk with Revit users, learn which of those limitations create the greatest challenges, and develop plugins for Revit that address those challenges.
Reasons the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, and Owner-Operator Industries use Revit
Used by an estimated 4 million subscribers around the world, Revit is the most popular BIM tool within the AEC community. Why? People love it because it excels at transforming data created in 3D models into realistic documentation and visualizations of buildings and structures that architects, MEP engineers, structural engineers, construction workers, building managers, and others use to share, review, update, and confirm designs. The single platform used for multidisciplinary BIM workflows, from design through operation, leads to enhanced designs, fewer errors, and less rework, all which contribute to an outstanding employee and client experience.
In addition to enabling the sharing, syncing, and iterating designs between architects, engineers, contractors, building operators, and others, Revit software also delivers specialty toolsets that offer capabilities specific to each discipline. Here are a just few examples:
Architects create fully functional mock-ups of buildings that not only support construction, but also help sales and marketing teams because they can walk potential clients and other stakeholders through the building and point out specific features that interest the specific audience.
For remodels and renovations, Revit software can integrate with Autodesk ReCap, which allows the user to take points from photographs of existing structures and import them into Revit, so architects work with an accurate portrayal of the buildings.
Using the analysis features in Revit, architects can optimize the performance of a building in the early stages, run cost estimates, and monitor performance over the lifetime of the project and the building.
Complying with local requirements is easy in Revit because the software works with localized libraries and templates that can be edited to meet the needs of any project.
Detailed 3D Revit models are used to create many bidirectional views, like 3D details, schedules, and sections. Since all the views are stored in the same model, when the engineer makes a change to one, the others automatically update.
While creating the physical model in Revit, the engineers use the analytical model to conduct structural analysis and export to analysis and design applications.
This easy-to-use modeling tool increases the productivity of MEP professionals by automatically placing ducts, pipes, and fittings.
With access to manufacturer-specific content, the engineers create exact digital representations prior to construction as well as as-built models after construction.
By using the multiple views in a Revit model, engineers check for clashes and issues in the design process, avoiding costly on-site mistakes.
Construction teams prepare construction documents with 2D drafting services that include elevation plans, foundation plans, roofing, sectional drawings, structural framing, floor plans, and more.
By automatically calculating the amount of material needed, Revit helps contractors minimize waste, reduce the cost of the project, and keep the project moving forward instead of dealing with material shortages.
Before any construction begins, contractors confirm that the designs can be successfully implemented by assessing the steadiness of the foundation, systems, fixtures, material choices, etc. to detect flaws.
Enhancing the Power of Revit with Ideate Software Plugins
Ideate Software is an Autodesk Authorized Developer and is a member of the Autodesk Developer Network. We develop Revit plugins that give customers unprecedented access to and control over their Revit data. In 2008 we launched our first Revit plugin, Ideate Explorer. Since then, we added Ideate BIMLink, Ideate Sticky, Ideate StyleManager, and IdeateApps to our list of tools that solve persistent problems for Revit users in architecture, engineering, construction, and building management. In June 2022, we launched Ideate Automation 2.0 to boost the power of our plugins for Revit by running time-intensive activities in the background. All our tools help Revit users perform tasks in much less time, freeing them to spend more time on interesting and valuable activities.
Here are highlights of the capabilities of our tools:
Ideate Explorer – To solve the challenge of finding hidden problems in a Revit model, we developed Ideate Explorer, which is a model browser that shows each instance of elements within the Revit model; the browser in Revit is simply a project browser. With Ideate Explorer, users can easily:
Search for and find hidden problem items including DWG imports or links
Navigate through view-based elements within Revit
Search on parameters such as elements assigned a certain size
Review and manage Revit warnings
Ideate BIMLink – Data in Revit models needs to be checked regularly for accuracy, and when design changes occur, it needs to be updated. The process in Revit can be time consuming and frustrating for everyone involved, from the person entering the data to the people waiting for the end product. Ideate BIMLink eliminates the problem by enabling users to move data from Revit into Excel, where its powerful functionality makes verifying, correcting, and updating data fast and easy. Then, when the data is correct, the user simply uses Ideate BIMLink to bring it back into the model, which automatically updates. Tasks that once took hours take just minutes.
Ideate Sticky – Revit teams need access to a wealth of non-BIM data, which, without Ideate Sticky, is difficult to format nicely. With Ideate Sticky, users live link formatted text in Microsoft Excel, Word, and PDF documents to their Revit projects, ensuring everyone has access to the correct information, such as:
Document issue records
Ideate StyleManager – A bloated Revit file doesn’t perform well, and one of the most common causes of a bloated file is extraneous data which often comes from copying and pasting data from other files. Done incorrectly, this process brings in all the style information associated with the original file. With Ideate StyleManager, one of our plugins for Revit, this is never a problem, because users can quickly analyze, delete, or merge non-standard styles.
IdeateApps – This collection of 10 tools streamlines common tasks identified by Revit users as tedious, time consuming, and error prone, such as batch-creating views, copying sheets, aligning plan views, renumbering elements, ensuring the legibility of annotations, and more. Whether used as Revit architecture plugins or by MEP or structural engineers, the IdeateApps Revit plugin delivers insight into models, improves the quality of Revit models, and frees the users’ time to do more interesting and valuable activities.
Ideate Automation – We developed this scripting tool to automate time consuming tasks in Revit and Ideate Software solutions, such as:
Creating PDF exports from Revit files
Auditing Revit family size
Checking compliance with standards in Revit
Automating common tasks in Ideate Software applications for Revit to:
The Ideate Software team has been getting many requests for information about Ideate Automation 2.0, which launched in June 2022. I was pleased to lead the first webinar on this new scripting solution designed to automate common or time-consuming tasks in Revit by using the Ideate Software plugins, such as Ideate BIMLink, Ideate Explorer, IdeateApps, and Ideate StyleManager. Glynnis Patterson, our Director of Software Development, was also there answering questions.
View the Recording
Here’s a link to the recorded webinar. Watch it and share it with others who would like to see:
An overview of the features and benefits:
Save time by automating Revit and Ideate Software application tasks
Reduce risk of human error by scripting tasks and ensuring predictable outcomes
Focus on other activities by running scripts silently in the background
Information on how to use Ideate Automation to:
Create PDF exports from Revit files
Audit Revit families
Check compliance with standards in Revit
Automate common tasks in Ideate Software applications for Revit to:
Ideate Automation is included in Enterprise subscriptions at no extra change; contact your account manager to activate your subscription. It is also available from our website as a separate solution for other customers.
Browse our website to learn more about how Ideate Software helps Revit users save time, increase model accuracy, improve deliverables and elevate design.
If you have any questions, reach out to us. We are here to help you understand and use our Revit plugin solutions.
About the Author
Steve Deadman - Customer Success Manager - EMEA
Steve provides support to customers and helps them get a strong return on their software investment. He has a B.Eng (Hons) degree in Mechanical Engineering and various certifications in engineering. Before joining Ideate Software, he worked at several top architectural firm in the United Kingdom where he specialized in the implementation and management of BIM processes and technology. Find Steve on LinkedIn.
San Francisco, CA, July 19, 2022 – Ideate Software, an Autodesk® AEC Industry Partner and Autodesk® Authorized Developer, is pleased to introduce the Revit community to Ideate Automation 2.0, its latest tool to increase efficiency by automating time-intensive tasks.
“The cost of paying staff to watch their computers churn through opening large Revit files or processing large volumes of data can be significant,” said Glynnis Patterson, Director of Software Development, Ideate Software. “Ideate Automation is a scripting tool that works with Ideate Software to run those time-intensive tasks in the background while staff works on other activities, or even during non-working hours.”
Ideate Automation runs silently, which means it can run unattended on a dedicated computer or on a person’s computer while they work on other things. And because the automation is scripted, the resulting data is standardized and free from end-user errors.
On its own, Ideate Automation can be used to export PDF files. Below are examples of how it can work with Ideate Software solutions. Here is a short overview video.
Ideate BIMLink, which enables users to export data from Revit software to Microsoft Excel for easy editing, can drive Ideate Automation to produce document issue records, export health check data, prepare COBie data drops, and generate quantity takeoff data.
Ideate Explorer, which allows users to search for elements not found in the Revit browser, can drive Ideate Automation to export Revit model warnings data.
Ideate StyleManager, which helps Revit users analyze, delete, or merge non-standard styles, can drive Ideate Automation to audit model information.
Ideate Annotate, which ensures the legibility of tags, text, dimensions, and other annotative elements, can drive Ideate Automation to review annotation clashes.
Ideate Automation is free to customers with Enterprise subscriptions and available as a seperate subscription to others. Visit www.ideatesoftware.com for more details or to get a free trial.
About Ideate Software - Ideate Software, an Autodesk® AEC Industry Partner and Autodesk® Authorized Developer, empowers Revit users to gain unprecedented control over their data. We developed Ideate BIMLink, Ideate Explorer, Ideate Sticky, IdeateApps, and Ideate StyleManager to solve persistent problems in architecture, engineering, and construction, and owner-operator (AECO) workflows. We developed Ideate Automation to boost the power of our Revit plugins by running time-intensive activities in the background. Ideate Software solutions enable Revit users to save time, increase accuracy, improve project deliverables, and elevate design.
Autodesk and Autodesk Revit are trademarks of Autodesk, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries.
Microsoft Excel is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries. All other brand names, product names or trademarks belong to their respective holders.
I recently had the pleasure of demonstrating Ideate Automation to one of our longtime customers. During the demonstration, I was asked if Ideate Automation could be used to process custom Ideate BIMLink definitions, specifically Revision Cloud Comments. Their goal was to periodically export certain Revision Cloud information for review. The data review could be read manually using pivot tables, Excel macros, or by other means, such as Power BI. Although we ship Ideate Automation with scripts that point to standard Ideate BIMLink link definition files, users can indeed use Ideate Automation to process custom Ideate BIMLink link definitions.
Here is the process to accomplish the requested task.
In Ideate BIMLink, begin with a pre-configured link that meets most of your criteria. In this example, we began with the Revision_Clouds-Review link definition.
Add or remove parameters, as necessary, until the link definition meets your criteria. In this case, we removed a few parameters that were not needed for the QA/QC task.
If there are other links that you want to customize, go ahead and do so. It may be a good idea to rename the link definitions and edit the comments section, so they describe the link in detail.
After customizing the link(s), right click on them and save them to a folder location that Ideate Automation can access. Once completed, close out of all open Revit versions and launch Ideate Automation.
For the example that was presented, we used the IBL-MP-Export_Publish task. The advantage of using this script is that we can process the custom link definition(s) exported from Ideate BIMLink for multiple Revit files and export multiple links to one excel file on a per-project basis.
The Ideate Automation steps for this workflow are as follow:
Select the IBL-MP-Export_Publish script
Browse and select the Revit file(s) you wish to process
Select a folder where the Revision information for each Revit project will be exported. For this script, all file exports will end up in the export folder location you choose
Modify the Excel export file names, if required. The default setting for this script is the Revit file name, plus today’s date, followed by the Excel file extension of .xlsx
Browse to the folder location where you exported your custom BIMLink link definitions. ALL links in this folder will be processed by Ideate Automation, so if there are any links that you do not want to process, you may want to move those links to a different folder
Select Create & Run to let Ideate Automation process the selected Revit files from Step 2
Be sure to review the Ideate Automation Queue for any errors. A successful process will return an Error Code 0
Shown here is an example of the files that were outputted as a result. In this example, we chose four Revit files for Ideate Automation to process and export revision data from:
The results of the demonstration with our customer was an Excel file that exported their required Revision Cloud comments. From there, the data could be edited and imported back into the Revit model using Ideate BIMLink or the data can simply be reviewed as part of their QA/QC process.
Sash Kazeminejad - AIA, LEED AP - Customer Success Manager
Sash earned his Master of Architecture from Montana State University and is a California registered architect, LEED Accredited Professional. He has extensive experience in project management; BIM management; design for architectural firms in California, Montana, and Oregon; and leading classroom and online BIM training. He provides consulting, sales, support, and training solutions to AECO customers around the globe. Find Sash on LinkedIn.