Localization is the industry’s technical term for making software solutions user-friendly to people in other countries. This kind of effort always includes translation but can also include ensuring that any examples used are relevant, particularly as they relate to governmental or industry standards or requirements. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the Ideate Software development team decided that investing in an effort to become more connected with our far-flung customer base would be a great project for us to undertake. 

We can’t travel but we can try to speak each other’s language. Knowing that Google Sheets has a translate function, we thought, “how hard could this be?” 

We began our journey by taking a look at how our software looked in other languages. Did you know that Revit is available in English, French, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Russian and Czech? You can easily change the language of your Revit as described in this Autodesk article. Setting the language to Japanese was a real eye-opener for us and made us appreciate the challenge facing our Japanese customers. The image below shows the Revit interface when language is set to Japanese. Guess which tab is the Annotate tab??

Revit in Japanese

Our polyglot Support Manager, Jan Sako, quickly reviewed the Google Czech translations and saw one of the many challenges in front of us…a Sheet can be both a bed sheet or a drawing sheet. This would clearly NOT be a simple task! 

Translation Help from Japan, France, and Mexico

We decided to tackle Japanese as a way of teaching ourselves about the process of localization and were extremely lucky to find two people to help us through this first phase. Yuki Scharf, AEC Technical Specialist with Autodesk in Japan and Yoshimoto Oishi, of Archi-cube in Japan graciously agreed to help us translate both Ideate StyleManager and Ideate Sticky into Japanese. They patiently waded through our English ‘text strings’ and helped us understand when our language usage was unclear. The benefit of this work was not only that we were able to deliver a Japanese version of two of our solutions, but also that we understood better how to make our products more consistent and clear, even within our own native language. It was a humbling experience. 

After completing this process for Japanese, we then also iterated it for both French and Spanish. Many thanks to Julie Bismuth, Director of Consulting and Training with our long-time partner CAD UC who assisted us with the French translation. Special thanks to Alejandro Rodriguez Garza, owner and director of BIM Consulting Services of A4BIM and founding partner of AMIBIM outside of Mexico for his help with the Spanish translation.

This work is clearly just the beginning of our localization journey. We intend to continue to work with our partners and customers around the globe to improve our offerings and make them easier to use, particularly for non-English speakers. Ideate StyleManager 2.0 was released in November 2020 and can be downloaded here. This version contains our work in translating into French, Spanish and Japanese. We welcome all feedback! 

If you are an Ideate Software customer and interested in providing feedback for our future translations into Chinese (CHS) or German, please let us know. If you are an Ideate Sticky customer and your language is Japanese, French, or Spanish, please let us know if you’d like to test-drive Ideate Sticky in your language.

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Recently I had the pleasure of welcoming Gavin Crump to share how he uses Ideate Software applications. Gavin is a BIM enthusiast with more than 10 years of experience and is a Revit Architecture Certified Professional. He founded BIM Guru in Sydney, Australia at the start of 2020, and he runs a popular YouTube channel called Aussie BIM Guru, where he posts two videos a week to share hands-on technical tutorial workflows. 

Gavin got to know Ideate Software tools during his second year working with BIM, and he says he was “pretty blown away from the start.”  

Watch a recording of his presentation, Revit Model Management using Ideate Software, to see Gavin demonstrate workflows he uses with his clients or in day-to-day work related to his business content. Here are some comments he made about three of our products he discussed:

  • Ideate BIMLink “I find this tool really handy for data processing and Revit element management.”
  • Ideate Explorer “This is my favorite Ideate Software tool, because it is such an innovative tool.”
  • Ideate StyleManager “I typically use this for maintaining standards, to see if more than one standard for the same thing is used and for taking away a standard that’s not used in the model.” 

Everyone at Ideate Software thanks Gavin for his presentation, which received high marks from attendees. Here are some of the comments we received:

  • “I can see huge potential in the Excel link workflow.”    
  • “I use Ideate BIMLink a lot but learnt more about Explorer.”
  • “I didn't know Align would align views on sheets.”

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

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.


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Autodesk University 2020 was the first AU session that delivered insights in keynote, class and Q&A formats to a global audience completely online. As the Gold Sponsor of the conference, we joined the BIM community in this week-long learning experience and brought our contribution to the knowledge-sharing that it entailed.

Our class, Revit Productivity Discussions by Ideate Software, featured a selection of AEC professionals who shared their experiences with our Revit productivity tools and related practices adopted by their firms. This class was followed by a live Q&A session delivered on Thursday, November 19th, during which we answered questions from attendees. The Q&A session has been recorded and is accessible via the same link. Please click the “Watch” button to view it. Note: You have to be registered for AU in order to gain access. 

During the session, the Ideate Software team of Richard Taylor, Technical Evangelist, Sash Kazeminejad, Customer Success Manger and Glynnis Patterson, Director of Software Development, joined together to answer questions and have an informal question and answer session based on information presented within the recorded class video.

Richard said, “We had many excellent questions from both customers and prospects during the Q&A session. We answered most of the questions and showed how our Revit applications can increase productivity and efficiency across a wide spectrum of AECO firms. We expanded on some of the central topics that were raised within the class video by AECO firms that use Ideate Software solutions to reduce wasted time, increase the efficiency of difficult tasks and greatly improve the health of their Revit models. It was a fun, lively and informal session that went by all too quickly.

Our booth is still live and will remain accessible until December 18th.

Many thanks to those who interacted with us during the event in one form or another. Connecting with customers, prospects and industry professionals at large has been particularly important to us this year. We continue to be delighted by the questions, feedback and responses we get from you all, through whatever channel you choose to reach out to us. 

Whether you are new or well-acquainted with us, browse our website for Revit and BIM productivity inspiration. We offer a plethora of videos, Help files and blog articles to get your Revit data creative juices going.

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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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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


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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