Thank you Laura Kay Smith - BIM Manager Lead, Buildings and Facilities Western Canada, SNC Lavalin, for contributing the following post.

I want to thank Ideate Software for giving me the opportunity to write a blog post, so I can share how BIM is simplified by good tools. My main tool pallet has always involved Ideate Software, and I would like to share with you some of my processes and tips for successful implementation and usage.

I have previously discussed how BIM failure is due to complexity and lack of education (see my article, BIM is Simple), suggesting that BIM is most successful in companies that understand the value it provides. In this article, I provide some tips and tricks to get your firm’s BIM implementation and usage on the right track.

You will need buy-in from your whole team to keep the BIM process simple. The buy-in starts by making things easy to use. Here are some useful workflows that incorporate quality BIM tools I found to be useful:

Ideate BIMLink

My first major success in moving BIM forward in a firm came in 2013 when I stumbled  across Ideate BIMLink (Kasian Sets a New Facilities Planning Standard Using Ideate BIMLink). This is where I had an epiphany on the importance of BIM tools paving the way to success in BIM processes.

Ideate BIMLink allows everyone on a project to be involved with the data input of Revit. It’s a tool that allows the push and pull of data between Excel and Revit.

My main workflow for this tool is in health care. Because health care requirements are strict, it’s important to minimize the places that information must be corrected when projects change: if you ignore this, your project can spiral into endless rework cycles.

For example, each room in a hospital has a specific purpose and needs, size, equipment, location and finishes. You can track and update this information without manual entry by using Ideate BIMLink:

  1. Set up your template file for health care with standard parameters used for operations and requiring checks.
  2. Create an Ideate BIMLink link with those parameters.
  3. Transition the received requirements onto the Ideate BIMlink Excel export and import into your project.
  4. Pull the room sizes and requirements back into your Excel requirement check. Here you can set formulas to verify and check the numbers. You can also set up a parameter to color your rooms to make the requirements visual.
  5. Organize your Ideate BIMLink data to produce Room Data Sheets.

Laura Kay Smith
Snapshot of Excel worksheet showing data extracted from Revit

Laura Kay Smith
Snapshot of Excel worksheet showing data extracted from Revit with color-coding added to emphasize variances

Ideate Sticky

The Ideate BIMLink tool is very powerful, but it only helps you manipulate information that is already in your model. If you need information on your pages that is not part of your file, you can use Ideate Sticky to ‘stick’ the data on a sheet.

Ideate Sticky allows users to show Excel in Revit without the additional parameter inputs. For example, your project may need you to include electrical conduit schedules. To add these to a page using Ideate Sticky, you can select the print area of a sheet and place it directly into your Revit sheet. This can be a live link, meaning any changes to the spreadsheet will also update in the BIM model. All the information in the original sheet, including equations, graphics, layout and coloring will translate to the print sheet. You can use this setup for those engineers that do not work inside the model.

If the project needs both the push and pull of data and the simple sticking of information on a sheet, both Ideate BIMLink and Ideate Sticky can be used in the same document.

Ideate Explorer

One of the most important parts of BIM management on a project is model maintenance and verifications. Ideate Explorer is a simple checkup tool for your model.

Ideate Explorer allows the model coordinator to accurately fill out the required Model Review checklist. Component and Subcomponent checks on Naming, Level Naming, Proper Dimension and Text styles used. The Warning checks inside of Ideate Explorer are also easier to understand and help you find the offending components.

Using BIM tools that are simple and allow the team to focus on the actual BIM data rather than model maintenance will help in the simplification of BIM. Ideate Software offers a great tool base for that step into 3D modeling. 

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The Ideate Software team was thrilled to be invited to show off a prototype web project we’ve been working on at the Forge DevCon Village Expo and Autodesk University 2019 in Las Vegas.

Overview of our Project 

The web project is our internal Beta Forge Integration solution, which allows BIM 360 subscribers to easily assess the warnings in their models by adding model health Key Performance Indicator (KPI) cards to their Project Home or Insight dashboard from the BIM 360 platform’s Card Library. 

We started with the count of Revit warnings as a key metric for assessing a model’s risk and paired it with the ranking organization from Ideate Software’s Warnings Manager to present “Stoplight” KPI cards and “Top 5 Worst Offenders” bar charts. Warnings Manager is a component of Ideate Explorer, our application for fast Revit data discovery.

Revit Warnings
On the Top 5 cards, users can get additional data about the BIM 360 projects and files upon hover and drill-down, and on the Stoplight card they can easily send emails pre-populated with project-identifying information to alert co-workers that a file needs fixing. 

Feedback from Potential Users

In showing off our work-in-progress at the Forge DevCon Village Expo and Autodesk University, we aimed to get conversations started about the potential value of this tool and the direction users would like to see it go. We were not disappointed. 

We were gratified to hear interest in areas that align with our current plans for this project, including: 

  • Exporting data and visualizations to Power BI
  • Closing the loop by connecting cards on the BIM 360 platform back to the desktop version of those Revit files
  • Providing notifications to make insights from these data visualizations more immediately actionable

Most of all, people expressed interest in seeing this prototype expand to become a full Ideate Software product or add-on to one of our existing products with a complete catalog of cards that can make up a model health dashboard. One visitor told us that something like this would have saved him considerable time and effort on a recently finished project by helping him locate files with problems and notify the “fixers” easily.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to provide feedback and suggestions on this prototype work! We are encouraged by the responses and will continue our investigation into how it can best serve our customers’ needs.

Your Thoughts?

If you weren’t able to make it to Forge DevCon or Autodesk University 2019 and have an idea you would like to share, as always, we would be delighted to hear it. 

About the Author

Stephanie FitzgeraldStephanie Fitzgerald – Software Developer
Stephanie earned her Ed.M. in Technology, Innovation, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and her B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from University of Oregon. She also gained a certificate in Advanced Full-Stack JavaScript from Alchemy Code Lab in Portland, OR. In past roles, Stephanie wrote C# and web design curriculum for Zaniac, where she was also the project manager for development, managed a research study of student motivation to learn math for Harvard University, and redesigned the website for a Tufts University library. As a student, she built a social network site for athletes, a back-end security package, and a tablet game app for the California Science Center. 


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CBT Architects is a leading design firm headquartered in Boston, MA. Its 230 professionals create tomorrow’s landmarks through a broad range of local, national and international projects in architecture, interior design and urban design.

The CBT Design Technology Team uses Ideate Software applications to help project teams validate their project data and resolve individual model issues, and they proactively support all projects by incorporating the applications into model management processes.

Nirva Fereshetian, CBT’s Chief Information Officer and Associate Principal said, “Revit software is one of our Design Technology Team’s primary tools, and we use add-ons, including those from Ideate Software, to make Revit processes more efficient.”

Here are some examples of how they use our tools:

  • Fix Visibility Issues with Ideate XRay
    Rood Vincent, from the Design Technology Team, said, “We get a lot of calls from Revit users who place an object into a view in Revit and then can’t find it anywhere. With Ideate XRay, the solution is fast and simple.”
  • Ensure Accuracy with Ideate BIMLink
    When the Design Technology Team’s Lynn Quagliato talked about a hotel project that included six buildings, 700 guest rooms, and furniture counts for all the rooms, she said, “Getting the furniture data through Revit wasn’t ideal, because the software can’t show it all. It was easy with Ideate BIMLink.”
  • Keep Models Stable with Ideate Explorer
    “Ideate Explorer give us deeper insight into Revit model elements and allows for enhanced selection options,” said William Paquette, CBT Design Technology Team. “This significantly aids in model management, allowing us to quickly identify where issues may be and areas that can be cleaned up.” 

“We appreciate Ideate Software’s tools as well as its support,” said Nirva. “They help us ensure our people get the most of out their software by providing training, how-to videos and Help files that our Design Technology Team can dig into, and then showcase highlights to our designers using one of our real projects.”  

Read more about how CBT Architects uses Ideate Software tools. 

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At Ideate Software, our support team is integral to our development efforts. Every question teaches us how we can improve.

Here’s a great question that came from Erica Spicer, an Architect, Interior Designer and BIM Manager at Gensler

Support Question 

“I went to manage worksets with Ideate Explorer yesterday where I learned about the warnings tool. I was wondering if it would be possible to add a parameter within Ideate Explorer to define something as an ‘ignorable’ warning. That is, I’ve gone to the warning, decided that it’s ok, and I’d like to not see it again next time I evaluate warnings, or at least be able to easily filter it out.”  

Support Answer

“Your wish is our command.”

In this case, we had already designed the solution, and we pointed Erica to the step-by-step instructions in the Help file. 

It’s always gratifying to hear that a customer wants to do something that we have already designed. In our early discussions about how to display Revit warning data inside of Ideate Explorer, we heard from a lot of beta testers that some warnings (in some projects) were just big distractions and would be better off ignored. 

Our solution is shown below on the right-click menu. Being able to filter out non-essential information is becoming increasingly important in our data-rich Revit models. Helping customers stay focused on only the relevant data is something we continually strive to do.

Revit Warnings

What We Learned

We learned from this support case that juicy features that exist only on the right-click menu are not always being discovered. It’s an on-going user interface lesson for us. We always appreciate hearing about our users’ delight and confusion.
What’s your question about Ideate Explorer and Revit warnings management? Contact support@ideatesoftware.com and ask us.

About the Author

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.


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We often get asked a variety of different questions about streamlining electrical workflows using Ideate Software. So, I’ll address a few electrical and equipment workflows in two parts, or should I say two circuits? Hopefully, you had a chance to review Circuit #1, and here is Circuit #2, which highlights Ideate Explorer and IdeateApps

Can I use Ideate Explorer to find and select Electrical Data within the Revit model?

Ideate Explorer allows Revit users to quickly find, filter and select electrical data and sort by Category, Level, Phase, Room, Space or Zone. In a Worksharing-enabled model, you can also sort by Workset and ‘Edited By’ properties.

With Ideate Query, a component of Ideate Explorer, you can select Lighting Devices as an example. You might want to review elevation parameters that are just not available to be shown in a default Revit Schedule. You can select all the Lighting Devices that have an incorrect elevation and quickly change them all via the Revit Properties Palette.

Ideate Query gives you access to more parameters and data than is available in Revit. For instance, you can search for Pinned Status, Flipped Status or In-Place family status … just to name a few! Please review some of the tips for using Ideate Query here.

You might want to review additional information in our HELP files on MEP Examples for Ideate Query.

Electrical Data

Ideate Explorer helps easily locate Electrical Equipment within the Revit model, and it can sort by many options such as Space.

You can use Ideate Query to review important information such as elevation of Lighting Devices. Almost any parameter can be used to select a series of elements for further refinement.

Can I use IdeateApps to help me renumber lighting fixtures based on the architect’s room data?

With the Ideate ReNumber application that is part of the IdeateApps collection, you can renumber almost any Revit element. You can create a rule that extracts the Architect’s Room Number as part of the light fixture numbering sequence, even if that room is located within a Revit linked file. In fact, Ideate ReNumber gives you access to geometric spatial data on Room, Space or Zone parameters. You can also access Instance, Type, Assembly, Host, Level, Model Group, Phase, Project Information and RVT Link parameters as part of a numbering sequence. In addition, critical coordinate data is also accessible for renumbering rules.

You might want to review additonal information in our HELP files for including Revit Linked information such as rooms.

electrical data
Ideate ReNumber ships with many pre-defined rules, and you can create your own rule that might extract the room number from the architect’s model. The room data doesn’t need to be loaded into a MEP Space first, which reduces errors and speeds up the process.

These are just a few of the questions we get about using Ideate Software with Revit electrical data. Check out our Video Library

Our Ideate StyleManager can also assist with many workflows for EVERY Revit engineer or user, but that’s a shockingly bright idea blog for a different day and different circuit!  (I promised myself no bad electrical puns until the VERY end. Sorry!)

Visit our website for more information on our Revit productivity tools. Give them a try with a free trial version, or subscribe today. 

About the Author

Richard W. Taylor, Associate AIA – Technical Evangelist 
Richard has more than 30 years of experience working for companies that develop architectural and engineering software solutions, such as Intergraph, Bentley, and Autodesk. He has over 18 years of Revit experience, and he was part of the original development of Revit while at Revit Technology Corporation. He worked for 12 years at Autodesk, where he presented, taught, and worked to improve features in Revit. Richard holds both a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and Master of Architecture from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. As Technical Evangelist, Richard works with AECO clients worldwide, developing and consulting on BIM solutions. Find Richard on Twitter.

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