December

1

2020

San Francisco, CA, December 1, 2020 – Ideate Software, an Autodesk® AEC Industry Partner and Autodesk® Authorized Developer, is pleased to share enhancements to Ideate StyleManager, its Revit  solution that allows users to analyze, delete or merge non-standard Revit styles.

“Unapproved or non-standard styles within Revit models, templates or family files cause poor deliverable quality as well as delays due to the need to republish the documents,” said Glynnis Patterson, Director of Software Development, Ideate Software. “In June 2019, we launched Ideate StyleManager with tools for managing the styles of nine Revit functions, including Object Styles, Line Styles, Line Patterns and Fill Patterns. This month, we launched six new tools that directly address requests from users, including Viewports, Dimensions and Arrowheads.”

Eric Miller from Bora Architecture & Interiors said, “As we are fundamentally updating our templates, we have found the definitions for text and labels within tags and symbols to be an absolute nightmare. We are delighted that the new version of Ideate StyleManager addresses this issue.”

One unique enhancement included in the November 2020 release of Ideate StyleManager is the ability to analyze, delete or merge Text Types and Font styles: 

  • Text Types – Unapproved text types that make their way into projects or templates cannot be purged when they are in use
  • Fonts – They can be displayed in tags, title blocks or other annotation families, making non-standard fonts hard to track down

Finding, analyzing and fixing non-standard Text Types and Fonts is easy with Ideate StyleManager.

The new version of Ideate StyleManager also makes it easy to analyze and correct the styles of:

The November 2020 release of Ideate StyleManager also includes:

  • Performance improvements
  • Language support for Spanish, Japanese and French
  • An “Isolate Similar” function that allows users to compare materials that have many key properties in common
  • The ability to delete unplaced groups, which will streamline cleanups of Viewports, Line Styles, Text and other styles

For more details about this release, please visit What’s New in Ideate StyleManager.


About Ideate Software - Ideate Software, an Autodesk® AEC Industry Partner and Autodesk® Authorized Developer, empowers Revit users to gain unprecedented control over their data. Ideate BIMLink, Ideate Explorer, Ideate Sticky, IdeateApps, Ideate StyleManager and Ideate Dashboard for Autodesk® BIM 360® were all developed to solve persistent problems in architecture, engineering, construction and owner (AECO) workflows. Ideate Software solutions enable Revit users to save time, increase accuracy, improve project deliverables and elevate design.

Autodesk, BIM 360 and Revit are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries.

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November

30

2020

Every AEC firm has a project situation where this thought occurs: “We want to streamline this process. Our software can design and/or document the project, but we need more.” The options for the owner or firm are:

  1. Do nothing. Live with the pain
  2. Search to see if there is something free on the Internet
  3. Create an in-house application (software development)
  4. Subscribe to an add-in program (from a third-party provider)

Before exploring these options, from the one with the lowest initial cost to the one with the highest, let’s define return on investment (ROI). According to Investopedia, ROI is “a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. ROI tries to directly measure the amount of return on a particular investment, relative to the investment’s cost.”

Because AEC firms are service-based companies, to determine ROI, they must look at a combination of first costs (purchase investment), on-going costs (maintenance), and cost savings (quicker completion of tasks/work) as part of the business decision. For the purpose of this article:

(First Cost) + (Ongoing Costs) – (Productivity Savings) = Total Cost

This simplified calculation says there are first costs and ongoing costs that must be serviced by the productivity gains. Without productivity gains, all that remains are costs.

Another factor AEC decision makers must determine is if the process/product they are considering is the right tool for the project/process. For example, every person working around the house finds out that you can use a screwdriver or a hammer to countersink a screw. In fact, many ‘newbie’ homeowners have tried hammering a screw into a piece of knotty wood. They find, though it is possible, the result is neither efficient nor does it create an elegant finished product. The point is that decision makers looking to streamline processes must find the right tool for the job. The jobs will be different, therefore, the tools needed have to be different. One reason contractors buy power equipment is that it helps them be quicker at their jobs than hand equipment. The advent of air-powered nailers (more expensive than hammers) increased productivity, provided consistent results, and reduced errors, and they are now the industry standard in wood construction.

In this article, I review a decision-making process that will increase a firm’s success in streamlining the project workflow.

Addressing the Pain: A Look at the Four Options


 This table is based on a similar graph produced by Robert Manna, Associate at Stantec.

Do Nothing

This approach, sometimes called ‘other use of capital’ simply states, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” or “we have always done it this way,” or “the authoring program should do this.” All of the above thoughts have some validity but are short-sighted. The ‘Do Nothing’ approach ignores the high on-going costs of inefficiency and the possibility of errors while having a zero-productivity enhancing element. In fact, doing nothing increases the pain, decreasing employee morale and leading to other productivity losses.

We choose to do nothing because it is the easiest answer. We can sit by and silently complain about the authoring software. However, it is imperative that decision makers and leadership find solutions that solve problems, reduce errors, and increase productivity. 

Questions to ask: 

  • Do we have a problem, a pain?
  • Define the pain – What is the existing and the desired workflow?  Diagram the desired workflow showing the entire process, including pinch points.
  • What are other firms doing to fix the pain?

Search for a Free Solution (The Internet Route)

Often this is the first ‘go to’ strategy after the pain has been felt. We Internet-search the pain and look at the first 3-4 results to find the ‘magic’ aspirin for the pain. Often, the results are as relevant as when searching for the best car for 2020; they are not very specific and do not provide a valid methodology for identifying a successful solution.

When Revit first became an industry standard, the need for Revit families exploded. AEC companies downloaded ‘free’ families only to find out that they were bloated (file size), not created well, or not suitable for the firm’s desired usage. Though the first cost was low and there were zero maintenance costs, the cost savings were negligible, or simply the pain was still there. Sometimes the pain increased because of the use of inappropriate families to the firm.

Today, add-in solutions run the spectrum from good to not-so-good. Careful consideration of the decision-making process is required. You should evaluate free solutions in the same way paid solutions are evaluated:

  • Test the solution thoroughly, including BIM model fidelity
  • Determine if the free solution solves the whole problem or just a portion of it
  • Understand the business model of the solution seller

Create In-house Solutions

The in-house software solution requires hiring or utilizing in-house resources to create a bespoke solution. New graphical software programming interfaces can be used, and those bespoke solutions can have great value. Also, the use of traditional programming solutions (C#, Python, JSON, etc.) has lowered the preliminary learning threshold. However, on-going costs to learn and maintain the program are required.

In-house solutions have a fairly low first cost but a high on-going cost. The hidden cost is the ongoing maintenance of the solution. That hidden cost includes updates when a new version of the authoring software changes the underlying connections between the solution and the authoring software. The biggest issue to address is what to do if the in-house software developer leaves the company. Based on our discussions with people at numerous AEC firms, we have found that this happens often, and when it does, the pain returns and the money expended into the in-house solution become a lost investment (non-ongoing benefit).

Items to consider:

  • Assess in-house resources and outside consultants – understand the cost and availability of each option
  • Determine a transition strategy to plan what happens when the in-house person is not available
  • Understand that bespoke solutions tend to work best for bespoke pains (crafted solution for a process that is unique to a project)
  • Model the ongoing costs and time required to maintain bespoke solutions

Subscribe to a Third-party Solution

This option has the highest first cost. As buyers, we always wonder if there is a lower first cost; however, as the formula at the beginning of the article states, first cost is only one-third of the equation. All purchased solutions must be evaluated and measured by the total cost and benefits.

In reviewing third-party solutions, you should evaluate the seller. Some information to obtain is:

  • How long has the seller been developing Revit add-ins?
  • How long has the seller been around?
  • How stable is the software? Can it damage your Revit database?
  • What are their support mechanisms? What does the seller do when a user encounters an issue, including providing in-program help features?
  • Does the seller listen when you have feature requests, or more importantly do they listen?
  • Can the seller produce ROI information and show why their solution will save the user time (money)?

Return on Investment 

When AEC firms invest in a solution, the desired result are productivity gains. How can firms determine what productivity gains are available to be harvested? Revit add-ins support the authoring software (Revit), which is based solely upon labor costs, unlike construction pre-fabrication that saves labor and material costs. So how do we calculate labor savings?

Using software is very labor-intensive. Productivity and efficiency improvements considerations are:
(Source: 2019 DBEI Presentation S3.1 – Kelly Cone) 

  • How much time did the process take to do before?
  • How much time does it take to do now? 
  • How much time is saved?
  • How much time will it take when you are done?
  • Based on the time savings, how much more work can the users do in a day?
  • What is the average labor cost (burdened and unburdened) of the users?
  • How many users do you have now?
  • How many projects can those people currently produce?
  • How many more projects could they produce if they were more efficient?

Some of these considerations are firm specific (average labor cost, number of people in firm, projects per employee, etc.) and can be determined by firm ownership. Labor return on investment is hard to determine.

There are not many studies on third-party software ROI, because it can be hard to quantify the metrics of time required to do an existing process vs. time required to do the same process with a new software. Ideate Software reached out to AEC firms to understand the time they saved by using its Revit add-ins. URLs with the results include:

What these results show is that there are productivity gains that can be achieved with the usage of a Revit add-in. Through our studies, we have documented that our add-in programs do provide productivity gains, above any purchase cost, and usually within the first project usage. We have also determined that to achieve those gains, you need:

  • Upper management buy-in to create/modify workflows to leverage the software
  • To use the Help files within the program (good software has great in software help)
  • User training (good software should have good training videos) to assist in the process transition

Conclusion

Though the process may seem daunting, this article articulates a defined process AEC firms can use to determine which method to follow (do nothing through purchasing software) after a new workflow is required, the relative benefits and risks associated with each method, and how return on investment can be analyzed in a labor-intensive service industry. Productivity gains are more important than first costs in the equation. Return on investment should drive the decision.


About the Author

David Haynes, Director, Ideate Software
David is a registered architect and a project management certified professional. Before joining Ideate, David had his own architectural practice and was president of a commercial design-build construction company for 15 years. A graduate of the University of Arizona, he has worked as an architect, contractor, and developer, and he was a national construction manager for a national retailer. David's current passion at Ideate Software revolves around how data influences AECO business decisions. Find David on Twitter.

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November

24

2020

Thank you to Sanjay Gangal, who invited me to speak on an AECCafe Bunker Broadcast, a set of video conversations designed to keep the architecture, engineering and construction community informed of industry commentary, news, product reviews, events, and more during the COVID-19 crisis. 

During the 15-minute interview, I had fun highlighting the features and benefits of our products and services, letting people know how they can connect with Ideate Software at Autodesk University 2020, discussing why our products should continue to be relevant as Autodesk develops internally, and sharing a few personal facts about me, including a picture of my dog, Bear.

Richard Taylor AECCafe Interview

Thank you to Sanjay, for inviting me to participate. I look forward to seeing you in person when COVID-19 is behind us. 
  
Browse 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 20 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 and LinkedIn.

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November

17

2020

San Francisco, CA, November 17, 2020 – Ideate Software, an Autodesk® AEC Industry Partner and Autodesk® Authorized Developer, is pleased to announce the release of Ideate Automation for Revit, a scripting tool for use with Ideate BIMLink. It is designed to significantly reduce costs by letting repetitive, time-intensive, low-value BIM tasks run silently in the background, freeing designers and engineers for higher-level, more valuable work. It is an important solution for architecture, engineering and construction businesses that use Autodesk Revit® software for large or complex building information modeling projects.

“Automating repetitive tasks is one of the surest and most straightforward ways to improve the bottom line,” said Glynnis Patterson, Director of Software Development, Ideate Software. “Not only does Ideate Automation allow staff to spend more time on meaningful work, it also ensures that task outcomes are highly predictable and standardized.”

Michael Hartley, Technical BIM Manager at Ramboll said, “We were waiting with anticipation for the release of Ideate Automation and we have not been disappointed by its potential. We have started implementing Ideate Automation and the tool is already influencing our workflows. Ideate Automation is allowing us to perform previously fragmented automation tasks and increase our efficiency whilst offering us new possibilities for data collection. This is one tool we have been missing and finally helps connect the dots!”

There are hundreds of tasks within the Revit project environment that could be relegated to Ideate Automation. 

The software is optimized to work with Ideate BIMLink, which enables Revit users to pull information from a file into Microsoft Excel for editing and then push volumes of precise, consequential BIM data back into the Revit model with speed, ease and accuracy. 

Watch this three-minute video for an overview of Ideate Automation:


 
Watch these short demonstration videos for examples of specific automated Ideate BIMLink workflows:

  1. Export Project Health Check Data – Create an Excel file with multiple tabs per each link definition that exists in the Health Check folder within Ideate BIMLink
  2. Streamline Quantity Takeoff Process – Automate this labor-intensive but necessary task performed by VDC managers and general contractors

Ideate Automation is available starting from US$995 per company. It is also included at no cost in the Enterprise bundle. For more information about this service, please contact the Ideate Software Sales team.

To learn more about the Ideate Software Revit productivity solutions, visit their website.
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About Ideate Software - Ideate Software, an Autodesk® AEC Industry Partner and Autodesk® Authorized Developer, empowers Revit users to gain unprecedented control over their data. Ideate BIMLink, Ideate Explorer, Ideate Sticky, IdeateApps, Ideate StyleManager and Ideate Dashboard for Autodesk® BIM 360® were all developed to solve persistent problems in architecture, engineering, construction and owner (AECO) workflows. Ideate Software solutions enable Revit users to save time, increase accuracy, improve project deliverables and elevate design.

Autodesk, BIM 360 and Revit are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., in the USA and/or other countries. All other brand names, product names, or trademarks belong to their respective holders.

Microsoft Excel is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries. 

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November

12

2020

San Francisco-based Modulus Consulting provides BIM guidance, support and services to companies with needs that range from an extra hand in drawing production through full project BIM coordination and management. While providing BIM coordination services for an electric company, Modulus was asked to pull some information needed for the company to purchase prefabricated parts.

The client asked for information about strut lengths, rod insets and offsets,” said Javi Candelas, BIM Specialist, Modulus Consulting. “My first thought was to try to create a schedule in Revit, but I wasn’t able to find the reporting parameters I needed in the available field box. As I was thinking about the pretty laborious task ahead of me (identifying instance/type reporting parameters), I remembered that a co-worker had shown me how to perform a similar task with Ideate BIMLink.”

Having decided to spend a few minutes trying Ideate BIMLink before resorting to Revit, Javi launched the software and tested some options.

First I, tried to export info from a schedule I had already made” said Javi. “But then decided to make a whole new schedule through Ideate BIMLink to do the job.” 

Ideate BIMLink - Modulus
 
That did the trick,” said Javi. “In the next screen, the properties I needed were under the Available Properties tab in the Available Properties field box. I selected the properties, added them, verified the selection on the preview and finished my link.”

 After exporting the link and cleaning up the Excel spreadsheet a bit, Javi had the information he needed.

A process that could have taken a few hours in Revit took just minutes with Ideate BIMLink,” said Javi. “It was a win for the customer, Modulus and me.” 

After rediscovering how easy Ideate BIMLink is to use and how it simplifies tedious Revit tasks, Javi decided to look at the other Ideate Software applications. He quickly found an opportunity to use Ideate SheetManager, one of the tools in the IdeateApps collection that streamlines Revit tasks performed most often.

Ideate Software tools are becoming part of my regular routine,” said Javi. “I suggest that team members take a few minutes to get comfortable with them, because they are user friendly and they make it much easier to do our jobs better and faster.

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

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