June

6

2014


Example of a Clash Condition Isolated in Revit

The clash detection and resolution process has evolved into a mainstream, scheduled activity during the design process and has slowly established itself as a standard quality control activity in most BIM Execution Plans. Not all clashes are issues, but of the identified clashes there are many that the BIM coordination team will be able to flag as coordination issues. These issues, typically referred to as 'Requests for Information' (RFIs)  are distributed for resolution during coordination meetings, with a list of 'Action Items' assigned to every consultant or sub-contractor. The current product-based tools fall short.  There is the 'Switchback' feature that lets you go from a clash in Navisworks to its location in Revit - but that assumes you have both products. Otherwise, there is no automatic exchange of RFIs between products. You could view them in a Navisworks Freedom clash file but then you are left with the task of finding them in the Revit model, something that a Revit schedule can readily do.  Since both products can exchange data with an Excel spreadsheet, there is an opportunity to expedite the process. You can share a  'Schedule of Open Issues' created from Navisworks with Excel, manage the data, then push the data to a Revit Schedule, from which you can locate the clashes. The workflow involves four steps:

  • In Revit, create several parameters across the model categories to document the issues.
  • Export the empty Schedule of Issues to Excel as an RFI Schedule.
  • Map the Navisworks generated clashes (exported HTML report) into the RFI Schedule.
  • Import the worksheet into Revit using Ideate BIMLink.


RFI Schedule Built in Revit

Let's explore these steps in greater detail:

  1. Create parameters across the model geometries and build a 'RFI Schedule': Create new Multi-Category project parameters to document the RFI. In this example you create three custom parameters to keep your schedule short. Additional fields could be added as needed. The parameters created are:
    • Clash Name:  Holds the Clash name coming from the Navisworks Report.
    • Clash Cleared?: A Yes/No parameter that shows if the clash is active.
    • Comments:  Coordination follow-ups, issues, other instructions to the BIM modelers.
  1. Export the empty Schedule of Issues in Excel format: You use Ideate BIMLink to create a multi-category 'link' of user parameters that are then exported into an .xls file.  This schedule will be empty of parameter values but will contain the Element ID of every object in the project. Note that the multi-category link in Ideate BIMLink includes both system family (walls, ducts, etc.) and the other custom families (equipment, air terminals, devices, etc.).

    Export the Multi-category Parameters as an Excel File Using Ideate BIMLink
     
  2. Map the Navisworks Report into the Schedule of Issues: The HTML tabular report generated by Navisworks can be opened and saved in Excel format. You nest this report as a worksheet tab in the BIMLink exported RFI Schedule. The report can be reformatted to display a limited amount of information, or the data can be grouped to display information in a single column (using the Excel formula CONCATENATE).  You can also customize the report to include Clash Priorities, the counterpart clash ID number, and/or any other additional consultant notes. Next, map the Clash Report parameters to the schedule using the "Identity Data" field as the key identifier, and using the Excel formula VLOOKUP to associate a string of information from one database into another.

    The formula arguments of VLOOKUP are not difficult to understand:


    Excel VLOOKUP Formula Explanation
  • What unique identifier are you looking up in the database? (Element ID)
  • Where is the database? (The Navisworks Report range of values)
  • Which column of the database, associated with the unique identifier, do you wish to have retrieved for you? (Second Column from the left)
  • Range_lookup is an optional argument, that has to do ascending or descending order of the identifiers; it requires to be either a TRUE or FALSE value, or it can be be left blank.

    The mapping of information is generated in the same Excel link file. New worksheets or working columns added to the link file will affect the import action.
  1. Import the Schedule into Revit:  This will populate the Schedule of RFI with the Navisworks data. The RFI Schedule of open issues will enable location of the issues in Revit and speed the resolution.  To review any open issue, the user can highlight the element in the schedule, and then show the desired object for resolution, or apply the Isolate view control.  When an issue is solved, you would mark the checkbox parameter as "Resolved", and/or add a date or any other note in the comment field.  New issues/clashes can be added or removed as the design evolves over time. This workflow would be a valid approach for Revit generated models. Non-Revit models would need to follow the traditional resolution process.  A limitation within Revit, is the inability to confirm ID numbers of objects in linked models. In Federated, Revit-based models, you can color-code the counterpart clashing elements thru the use of filters based on the custom 'clash' parameter (ie. Yes/No clash parameter).  The filter will apply a material or surface override to all the elements identified as clashes, which then would be retrieved across linked files via Visibility Graphics Overrides (VG > Revit Links > Custom > Filters). For a consistent, coordination review across multiple disciplines, you can document this process and include the detail, format and use of review filters in the BIM execution plan.


Filter Created Across Files to Highlight Clashes

Consultants can keep track of the resolution progress within Revit and issue progress reports during coordination meetings.  New issues resulting from new Clash Reports can always be added by repeating the workflow anytime. While this workflow is not full automation of the tracking process of an RFI, it is certainly helps to streamline bridging Navisworks and Revit. Interested on adopting this workflow?  Contact us at [email protected] .


About the Author

César Escalante - AIA, CCCA AEC Application Specialist
César is a licensed Architect with more than 12 years of experience leveraging architecture, design, and construction technologies in the AEC industry. He has an extensive expertise managing, implementing, and supporting all facets of BIM, IPD, and VCD workflows that includes the use of mobile and cloud technology during design and construction. César has played an instrumental role deploying successful strategies for multidiscipline coordination of large, technically complex, multimillion dollar projects. An innovative thinker, he is recognized as a leader at the forefront of BIM technologies, and he is a passionate educator. César is a LEED accredited professional and a Certified Construction Contract Administrator. He is currently a member of the buildingSMART alliance and the National Institute of Building Sciences. @VCDwhiz

 

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May

14

2014

General contractors and trade fabricators have historically used CSI MasterFormat as the primary way to classify cost estimation data in North America. In contrast, Building Information Modeling has favored the use of the UniFormat since the system is aligned with the digital creation of systems and assemblies, as opposed to materials and methods. In fact, Revit already provides UniFormat based Assembly Codes as type parameters in most system and out of the box component families. Even with the impetus of UniFormat, a large share of existing estimating practices still need the flexibility of mapping model elements with MasterFormat codes for estimating purposes. Whereas the adequacy of this 'mapping system' is largely debatable, and a topic beyond the purpose of this post, mapping existing system classification codes with new ones can be a daunting manual task using out-of-the-box Revit capabilities. However, using Ideate BIMLink, this task can be expedited significantly using Excel formulas. We will use the following 3-step workflow with Revit and Ideate BIMLink:

  1. Export our Revit data to Excel.
  2. Populate a custom Shared Parameter value with a MasterFormat code using an Excel formula that extracts the MasterFormat value from another database of mapped definitions.
  3. Reimport updated data into Revit

Export Revit Data to Excel We will start by exporting the UniFormat and MasterFormat parameter out of Revit using Ideate BIMLink.  We will use the Plumbing Fixture category for the purpose of this demonstration, but could easily export the data from multiple categories at once. The parameter exported includes the 'Family Type,' 'Assembly Code,' 'Assembly Description,' and a shared parameter 'Master Format Code.' 


Ideate BIMLink Fixture Type Link Parameter Definitions

The parameters are exported as an .xlsx file called 'Plumbing Fixture Codes' and opened in Excel. Here, we bring a database mapped identifiers we obtained from a source online. This database is a matrix of UniFormat codes mapped to its closest MasterFormat equivalent. You can build this matrix of mapped definitions yourself, or obtain them online. For a price, the Construction Specification Institute sells Excel definitions with UniFormat/MasterFormat titles and numbers. Populate a Custom Shared Parameter Value in Excel In Excel, use the 'Move or Copy' command to bring the Map of Definitions into the 'Plumbing Fixture Codes' spreadsheet.


Copy Mapped Definitions in Excel


Imported List of Mapped Definitions as a Separate Excel Tab

Then populate the 'MasterFormat Code' column using Excel Formulas using the VLOOKUP formula.  The VLOOKUP formula is a function that retrieves information from another database based on a supplied instance of a unique identifier. The goal is to retrieve the MasterFormat code from the Mapped Definition worksheet based on a common UniFormat identifier. The formula goes like this:

VLOOKUP Formula[/caption] The formula arguments are as follows:

  1. What unique identifier are you looking up in the database? (MasterFormat)
  2. Where is the database? ('Map' worksheet range of values)
  3. Which column of the database, associated with the unique identifier, do you wish to have retrieved for you? (Second Column from the left)


Excel VLOOKUP Formula Explanation

The Range_lookup is an optional argument and has to do with whether the column that contains the unique identifier is sorted on ascending or descending order; it requires to be either a TRUE or FALSE value, or be left blank like we just did. The formula is copied and pasted across in all the cells of the 'MasterFormat Code' column, and the values retrieved. If a value is missing on the map database, it will yield a #REF error. Reimport the Data Into Revit The last step is to save, close and reimport the Excel file into Revit using Ideate BIMLink.


Importing a Link With Ideate BIMLink 

The final result is shown here as a Plumbing Fixture Schedule:


Imported MasterFormat Codes

The workflow described here using Ideate BIMLink, expedites the task of associating new system classification codes to Revit families that otherwise would take hours to complete. The process is equally applicable to upgrade to new code classification releases, custom codes developed by specific estimating workflows, or any other code classifications applicable to regions outside the United States.


About the Author

César Escalante - AIA, CCCA AEC Application Specialist
César is a licensed Architect with more than 12 years of experience leveraging architecture, design, and construction technologies in the AEC industry. He has an extensive expertise managing, implementing, and supporting all facets of BIM, IPD, and VCD workflows that includes the use of mobile and cloud technology during design and construction. César has played an instrumental role deploying successful strategies for multidiscipline coordination of large, technically complex, multimillion dollar projects. An innovative thinker, he is recognized as a leader at the forefront of BIM technologies, and he is a passionate educator. César is a LEED accredited professional and a Certified Construction Contract Administrator. He is currently a member of the buildingSMART alliance and the National Institute of Building Sciences. @VCDwhiz

 

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April

29

2014

Long before I knew anything about Ideate BIMLink, I found myself spending a lot of time creating and managing Revit data, especially for custom building facades. While massing and adaptive components give you virtually limitless possibilities when it comes to design, using a simple curtain wall with custom panels can be just as effective. But what would happen if you have a lot of curtain wall panels that you want to randomize, such as their thicknesses and materials? Having to manage this data, panel by panel, could take you several days and leave you very frustrated, especially if you have hundreds of panels to edit.

Using Ideate BIMLink, I will show you how you can easily get started with Computational Design by exporting your curtain wall panel data to an Excel file and quickly apply random materials and thicknesses to several hundred curtain wall panels in a matter of seconds for a unique and fun building façade.


In this example, we will be using Ideate BIMlink to manipulate over 700 curtain wall
panels to create some colorful glass boxes with a variety of block depths.
 

Here's how you get it done. Step 1: Create a custom curtain wall panel starting with the Curtain Wall Panel.rft template file that ships with Revit.


Create a custom curtain wall panel, with custom parameters.

Step 2: Create a Material Parameter and set its properties to Instance.

Step 3: Create a Thickness Parameter and set its properties to Instance. Setting both the material and thickness parameters as instances will allow for greater flexibility of the family and will make the randomization of the panels thickness and materials a lot easier to control.

Step 4: Assign the custom material parameter to the default Material Parameter that is part of the Curtain Wall Panel template.


Assign the custom material parameter to the Default
Material parameter in the Curtain Wall family file.

Step 5: Save the Curtain Wall Panel and load it into your project. Once the curtain wall panel is loaded, it will be available so that you can create a custom curtain wall and apply this panel to that wall.

Step 6: Create your curtain walls using the custom Curtain Wall Panel family and a pattern of your choice.


Create a custom curtain wall using the custom curtain wall panel.

Step 7: Create a link file in BIMLink using the Curtain Wall Panels category. You can use a pre-defined .link file and edit the fields as necessary, or create your own from scratch.


Create an Ideate BIMLink link by adding the required fields for modification in Excel.

Step 8: If your project has multiple curtain wall panel types, it may be a good idea to filter out the ones that you are not interested in editing. In this example, I set my filter to only show my custom panel.


Filter out unwanted Curtain Wall Panels in your link definition by selecting the
custom Curtain Wall Panel that you created.

Step 9: Once your Excel file has been exported and opened, you will need to add a tab next to the Excel tab that was exported by Ideate BIMLink so that you can define the Material List that you want to apply to the custom curtain wall.


Create a new tab for your Materials, then create a Named List for those materials.

Step 10: Select all of the materials and then give the selection a name. In this example, I called this list MaterialList. We will use this list to create an index of materials so that Excel can randomize the materials on the Excel spreadsheet that was exported with BIMLink. Take note that we have a list with 7 materials. This number will be very important when we randomize the materials.

Step 11: In order to randomize the materials for the Curtain Wall Panels, you must use the INDEX formula. What the INDEX formula does is it returns a value or the reference to a value from within a table or range. In this example, we are indexing the MaterialsList and randomizing the list as well. Below is how the formula for the Material Parameter works:

  • INDEX(array,row_num,column_num), where the array is the MaterialList, the row_num is the row number from the MaterialList and the column_num is the column number from the MaterialList.
  • ROUND(Number, num_digits), where number is a specified number and num_digits is now many digits you want to round by. In this example, we are going to ROUND a random number.
  • RAND(), which will return a random number greater than or equal to 0 and less than 1.


Randomize your Material List by indexing the list and applying the randomization formula. 

For this example, we randomized the row_num by using the RAND() feature, then ROUND the randomly returned value (anything between 0 & 1), then multiplied by 6, with 0 decimal places, then adding 1 (which represents the 7 rows from the MaterialList), and finally, referring to Column 1 of the defined MaterialList. The final results is a completely randomized list of the 7 materials that we created.

Step 12: In order to randomize the Panel Thickness Parameter, you can use the RANDBETWEEN () formula. What this formula allows you to do is specify a lower and upper value and then a randomization will occur between the lower and upper values. Below is how the formula for the Panel Thickness works:

  • RANDBETWEEN(bottom, top), returns a random number between a bottom and top value specificed.
  • &(text1, text2, etc) [Also known as the CONCATENATE formula], allows you to join several pieces of text together.


Randomize the Curtain Wall Panel thickness by applying the RANDBETWEEN
formula and adding the inches symbol to the outputted number.

For this example, we randomized numbers between 1 & 48, then added the inch marks to those numbers using the & or CONCATENATE feature. This will return all of the randomized values in inches, which is easy for us to understand.

Step 13: Once you have completed the randomization of the Material column and the Panel Thickness column, you can either accept the current values and import the Excel back into BIMLink or you can re-randomize the values for both columns. To do so, simply hit the F9 button on your keyboard as many times as you like.

Step 14: Once you have saved your Excel file and imported it back in using Ideate BIMLink, be sure to review the dialogue box for errors and warnings, along with all of your changes. If everything looks good, click on the Import button to finalize your changes.


Review imported Excel file for errors, warnings & changes to original parameter settings.

Enjoy the results!


Perspective View 


South Elevation View

For some fun, real-world examples of Computational Design using Ideate BIMLink, be sure to check out this Studies in Success article, in which BIMlink was used to create a complex sun screen: BVN Jasmax Study in Success.


About the Author

Sash Kazeminejad - ACI, LEED AP AEC Senior Application Specialist Sash brings proficiency in Autodesk solutions including AutoCAD and Revit Architecture to Ideate customers. His industry experience includes project management, BIM Management, and design for Architectural firms in California, Montana and Oregon. He is LEED accredited professional and is on track to achieve California licensure with Oregon to follow. In his academic life, Sash was awarded a variety of college scholarships, earned a BA in Environmental Design, a MA in Architecture from Montana State University (MSU) and taught Building Information Modeling courses at MSU Gallatin College. As a Revit Architecture Autodesk Certified Instructor, Sash provides Revit Architecture training and support for AEC firms. @sashpdx

 

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April

24

2014

Ideate BIMLink can help expedite and ease the creation of Space Analysis Diagrams. Programming has to convey data in a way that is clearly understandable in tabular format and diagrammatic plans. Programming diagrams developed under this phase are typically divorced from the data source. Transposing this data into Revit objects typically involves the tedious task of manually retyping the information into Revit Schedules. Now, this can be streamlined by importing the program data directly from Excel into Revit, using Ideate BIMLink, the Revit add-on that imports Excel generated data into Revit.

To demonstrate this workflow, I will use as an example the overall program data of two fictional institutional buildings. I will show how you can connect the information of Revit Area objects with the Program spreadsheets. Then, we will build Space Diagrams with Areas and Area Boundary lines.

Step 1: Build the Area Parameters in Revit:  A solid understanding of the programming data will help you decide how to build the parameters. Area parameters are typically Instance parameters because each area displays different property values. Decide what fields need to be tagged and build those as shared parameters. In the example below, I created five custom parameters, including two Shared Parameters called 'Programmable Area' and 'Neighborhood' that will be used as labels in tags.

Step 2: Build New Area Plan Schemes for Programming Options:  Customize your Area Plan views by adding them under the Area and Volume Computations. You are not limited to the Gross and Rentable Schemes that come out of the box in Revit. You can use Area Schemes to manage your Area Plan options, Zoning Requirements, Buildings, Occupancies, etc.

Step 3: Build an Area Schedule in Revit and Add Area Placeholders:  Add into the Schedule of Areas as many rows as needed to develop your space analysis diagram.  The idea is to create placeholders for each of the required spaces. There is no need to spend time filling out the parameter values because we will do this more efficiently in Excel.

Step 4: Export the Data to Excel:  Using Ideate BIMlink, export the parameters to Excel. BIMLink ships with a 'Link' definition with a preloaded set of parameters of the Area Category. Unlike Revit Schedules, the link is inclusive of all the systems and user created Area Schemes, enabling users to manipulate the data of multiple Area Plans in a single database. Add any additional custom parameters in the Area link as needed, and/or exclude the ones you don't need.

Step 5: Fill the Area Information in Excel:  Populate the Area parameters using the extended capabilities of Excel. There are many different ways in Excel to do this, to name a few:

  • Create external references between the cells of the Link and the Programming report (=[FileName.xls]Worksheet!Range). In this scenario, the two database files will be linked, and the BIMLink link would remain updated.
  • 'Nest' the programming data into a new tab and connect the cells between tabs (=Worksheet!Range).
  • Copy/Paste the data.

The choices you have to edit, sort, and modify the parameter values in Excel are far superior than the out of the box Revit ones.

 Revit, BIMLink, Excel, Parameters, Shared Parameters, Programming

Step 6: Use Pivot Tables and Charts in Custom Tabs:  The beauty of having the data in Excel is that you can use all the available Excel tools to present the data in a way that is meaningful to the client, like Pivot Tables. Build Pivot Tables in Excel to automatically sort, count and summarize the program in the same BIMLink worksheet as long as they are placed in a different tab. Data in the custom tabs will be preserved even if the link is re-exported. Keep the original 'link' tab away from format modifications; this will ensure a seamless import/export process. Another feature in Excel you can use is to assign background colors to different cell values using the Rules under Excel Conditional Formatting


Format Cell Fill Color Using Rules in the Excel Conditional Formatting

Here are few other examples of how the programming data can be displayed using different Pivot Tables, in the same BIMLink file:


Pivot Table 1 Built into the BIMLink Link.

Parameters, Shared Parameters, Programming, Excel, Revit, Ideate BIMLink, BIMLink, Ideate Software, Space Needs Analysis, Pivot Table
Pivot Table 2 Built into the BIMLink link.


Pivot Table Sample 3 Built into the BIMLink link

Parameters, Column Chart, Shared Parameters, Programming, Excel, Revit, Ideate BIMLink, BIMLink, Ideate Software, Space Needs Analysis, Pivot Table
Pivot Table Column Chart Sample

Step 7: Re-Import the Link Data Into Revit Using Ideate BIMLink:  All the Area parameter values will be updated. Again, BIMLink will only read the data in the original tab when re-importing.

Step 8: Build the Space Needs Diagram Using Area Boundary Lines and the Area Placeholders:  Since all the areas live in the project as placeholders in the schedule, pick the appropriate Area from the Options Bar. I applied Color Schemes to the view, based on the Name value, but we can also build others based on the information contained by the Area objects, like Zone Type, or Area Ranges. These color Schemes can also be pre-built into your View Templates.

Parameters, Shared Parameters, Programming, Pivot Table, Chart, Area, Boundary Lines, Revit, Revit Parameters, Revit Space Needs, Space Needs Diagram, Ideate Software, Ideate BIMLink, BIMLink, BIM, Excel to Revit
Space Need Diagram Sample

The BIMLink 'link' may need to be re-exported and re-imported to reflect changes in the space program. By managing the data in Excel and importing into Revit, Ideate BIMLink expedites the process of creating space planning deliverables. The same process is useful in producing other kinds of deliverables such as: Mixed Use Code Analysis, Fireproofing Diagrams, Landscape plans, Master Plans, etc. If you are interested in receiving a copy of these Pivot Table excel samples, drop us a note to [email protected].


About the Author

César Escalante - AIA, CCCA AEC Application Specialist César is a licensed Architect with more than 12 years of experience leveraging architecture, design, and construction technologies in the AEC industry. He has an extensive expertise managing, implementing, and supporting all facets of BIM, IPD, and VCD workflows that includes the use of mobile and cloud technology during design and construction. César has played an instrumental role deploying successful strategies for multidiscipline coordination of large, technically complex, multimillion dollar projects. An innovative thinker, he is recognized as a leader at the forefront of BIM technologies, and he is a passionate educator. César is a LEED accredited professional and a Certified Construction Contract Administrator. He is currently a member of the buildingSMART alliance and the National Institute of Building Sciences.

 

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April

10

2014

Access to coordinate data (XYZ) data was included in Ideate BIMLink for Revit 2013 just a few years ago, in large part to address some COBie-related requests. Since then we've heard of many other creative ways in which this data is being used downstream.

For reference, Ideate BIMLink provides a variety of coordinate data, depending upon the type of object. In this example the Structural Foundation link properties includes the Point_X, Point_Y, and Point_Z data (on the right) and additional coordinate data could be added via the drop-down list under the Coordinates category (shown circled). For Structural foundation elements there are also coordinates that indicate the start and end points for those wall-based foundations.

Revit, COBie, Ideate, Autodesk, Structural Foundations, point data, structural link properties, VDC, BIMLink,

Coordinate "point" data for Structural Foundations.[/caption] Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) managers were some of the first onboard with leveraging this newly exposed data, exporting wall, foundation and column data for construction coordination work. This was followed shortly thereafter by requests from architects who wanted to be able to identify key inflection points within complex curtain panel systems and from mechanical contractors who wanted to use total stations to located ductwork hangers.

One of the challenges of using the coordinate data with Ideate BIMLink is to report only the points you need. Yes, we can easily report the end points of the curtain wall segments or the insertion point of a pad footing, but what if we need the edge and not the centerline or what if we need all four corners of the footing?

This can be easily controlled by using a custom family that will act like a point node. By placing this family either at the specific locations within the project OR by nesting it within a family, we can use Ideate BIMLink to report only on the coordinates of the 'nodes'

 Edit Generic Models

Generic Model Family, Pad Footing

In this example we've made a small Generic Model family and embedded within our pad footing. Ideate BIMLink customers who want to give this method a try may contact us to request this sample coordinate 'node' family: [email protected]


About the Author

Glynnis Patterson, NCARB - Director of Software Development Glynnis is a Registered Architect and has worked with the BIM industry since 1998. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, she has worked as an architect, educator and construction site manager. Glynnis is currently the Director of Software Development Services at Ideate, Inc. and continues to work with AEC clients across the nation, developing, and implementing best practices solutions. In her spare time Glynnis does volunteer work and builds Lego projects. @GVPinNJ

 

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