Archive | April 2013

buildz: Candy stripes for your facade

buildz: Candy stripes for your facade

“User Question:  I have 3 types of panels I need to alternate across my building facade in vertical strips, a full spandrel, ventilation, and vision (all glass).  How do I do this without manually changing all the panels?”

Find the answer on the link above! A great post from Zach Kron’s buildz blog here – Check it out and make sure you view the rest of his awesome posts as well.

Zach Kron Candy stripes to facade

BIM Technologies press release – Construction – News

Newcastle-based BIM Technologies, launched by architecture and technology business _space group, has appointed Johnny Furlong and Ben Malone to its nationwide operation. This brings the total team to 16 in London with a network of support staff across Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester and Hull.

New team members for capital expansion – Construction – News.

Setting up your Revit project to model point cloud data

The best format to bring your point cloud directly into Revit will be in *.pcg format – If you are yet to index your files, you may have any of the following files types: *.fls *.fws *.las *.ptg *.pts *.pcx *.xyb *.xyz – If your files are still in one of these raw formats, you will first need to index your files. You can do this directly in Revit, or if you’d prefer, check my old post here to find out how to do it outside of Revit.


If you are working with point clouds, you are probably aware that setting up the points to be re-modeled properly within Revit is essential. When you import your point cloud by shared coordinates, you are left with a 3D model of your points. Although this may look good, it’s not going to be enough information for you to model the building. What we need to do is set up sections, levels and elevations in order to give us a good chance of capturing all the details.

ImageAs you can see from the image above, when you import a point cloud into Revit, you do not get a very clean view of the model compared to when you view it in a program made for this specific purpose, e.g. point tools.

The first thing that we will do is create a section view on Level 0. Right click and zoom to fit > Draw a section from the left to the right hand side of your screen to ensure you will be intersecting your point cloud. Once you have done this, go to your section. If your point clouds shared coordinates file was set up correctly, you will now see your model in the section view. Unlike 3D views, section views allow you to add levels and elevation tags to your model.

ImageSet up your levels as required. There should hopefully be enough detail at this point to be able to identify where your floor slabs are starting and where your ceilings are located. Simply create your levels and as normal, you will notice new floor and ceiling plan views appear in your project browser. Once you have you levels set up, it will most likely be necessary to adjust the view range, in order to cut out any noise, or objects in the point cloud that you don’t want modeled in your Revit file – for instance bins, storage etc. I personally like to use 2 plan views for each level – 1 with a low view range and the other with a high view range. This will make it clear which elements are located where in the building. Using sections in certain areas will most likely be compulsory.

ImageNow you have 2 views of each level it will be easy for you to begin modeling the walls, openings etc inside of Revit. As you can see from the image below, just changing the view range makes a huge difference to the same level and is a very important aspect of modeling from a point cloud. If you neglect this, you may well miss vital parts of the building that need to be modeled.

ImageOnce you have started modeling your walls etc you will probably come across certain objects for example beams and columns which need to be modeled. Although, of course Revit has standard beams and columns in the generic libraries, I find it better to model these as structural in place components – This way you can recreate a very close replica of the objects in question.


If you have surveyed the building with a scanner such as a Leica model, you will most likely have TruView files to go along with your .pcg or raw format files – These will come in very useful when you are unsure about how certain objects are joining together etc. Be sure to make use of these files which can be opened in Internet Explorer with a plugin enabled. They are 360* panoramic photos of the areas which have been scanned. (The scanner also photographs the building as the points are being scanned.)

ImageAfter a bit of time and a lot of patience you will eventually see your existing building come to life in Revit. If you are having any troubles with modeling point clouds, feel free to get in contact and ask any questions you may have. I will be posting a blog shortly about jumping geometry (see below) due to positioning of point clouds in relation to shared coordinates – and a solution to fix this problem!


Stand alone indexing of RAW point cloud data into .pcg files

EDIT 11/12/13: This method only works with Revit 2013 and below.

If you have raw point cloud data, for example .pts, .xyz, .fls, .ptx files etc. You can index these files into a usable point cloud format for Revit externally without even opening up Revit. You will be using exactly the same tool used within Revit, but it will mean you can continue to use your workstation for other activities, without occupying Revit. You still need an installation of Revit, although unofficially it may be possible just using the ‘AdPointCloudIndexer.exe’ which is a 262kb file stored in your Revit installation folder.uploaded image

All you need to do is open your command prompt (Run > cmd) once open, simply drag and drop ‘AdPointCloudIndexer.exe’ into the command prompt. You will notice the following text (or similar) appear: ‘C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit Architecture 2013\Program\AdPointCloudIndexer.exe’. After this, make a space and use the same method to drag your raw point cloud file(s) into the command prompt, your command prompt should now look something like the above image. Simply click enter, and the indexing process will begin, the following dialgoue box will appear:

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This process may take a while, depending on the size of your raw point cloud data. For a 6GB file, the proccess took me around 10 minutes to index and the .PCG file (can be imported directly into Revit) will be saved in the same folder as your original raw source. This is of course dependant on the speed of your workstation. You will also get a notification once your file has finished processing. Although I haevn’t tried it, I assume it may also be possible to batch convert raw point cloud files into the .pcg format using this method.

Highlighted lines in Revit appearing Red?

You may have noticed this morning that when highlighting objects and lines in Revit that the lines are appearing Red. This will be the case if you are using Windows 7 – Last night there was a Windows update which has caused an error in the Revit UI which is making this bug appear. To resolve the issue, all you have to do is go into your ‘Graphics options’ and turn ‘Hardware Acceleration’ off. I presume there will be a future update from Windows that will sort this problem, but for now, this will temporarily fix the problem.

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Example red colouring issue in Revit here
More info on the Revit Forum here

PAS 1192:2, Uniclass2 and CIC BIM Protocol released

Yesterday on the 28th February saw the release of some key documents including the  government issued Specification for information management for the capital/delivery phase of construction projects using building information modelling (PAS 1192:2).

The purpose of the PAS is to support the objective to achieve BIM maturity Level  2 by specifying requirements for this level, setting set out the framework for collaborative working on BIM enabled projects and providing specific guidance for the information management requirements associated with projects delivered using BIM.

The CIC also released ‘The BIM Protocol’, a Best Practice Guide for Professional Indemnity Insurance when using BIM and an Outline Scope of Service for the Role of Information Management which can be downloaded from The CIC website here.

On top of this, the Uniclass classification tables have been updated and released provided through the CPI – the Construction Project Information Committee as Uniclass 2 which can be found on the BIM Task Group website here.

The Uniclass2 Beta search tool is a development from the BIM Gateway, a collaborative project between theRIBA Technical Research Department and the University of the Arts London. The project is co-funded by the government-backed Technology Strategy Board “Metadata Production Tools (Fast Track)” funding stream.

How to change font colour on a .pdf file (PAS1192)

It is possible to change the font colour of a .pdf file, despite the fact that they are meant for viewing purposes only. If you are having problems reading text on a specific document, then follow these steps to change the colour to something more readable.

  • Type CTRL + K or go to Edit > Preferences

Head to the ‘Accessibility’ tab and follow the instructions below to choose a colour to replace the current text with:

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Revit family standards

Are you or your practice creating custom Revit Families to use in your projects? If so I expect you already implement in one form or another, standards throughout your Families. If not, or if your looking to revitalise your standards, you should check out the ‘bimstore bibe – Revit family creation standards‘. The following areas are covered in this document:

  • Family planningImage
  • Level of detail
  • Visibility
  • Nesting families
  • Size and performance advice
  • Naming and units
  • Parameter usage
  • Cobie parameters
  • Masterformat and Uniformat classification
  • Materials and previews
  • Family testing

Be sure to check out and download some of the other excellent content on

Creating a type catalog for new families in Revit

When creating large Revit families which have a number of types / variations (e.g. size) of the same model, it may be useful to create a ‘type catalog’ to accompany the family in your project. In short, a type catalogue will reduce the amount of data going into your model when you import a new component / family. Rather than loading all 6+ types of the same family into the project, it will allow you to pick from a list (your type catalog) which size or modification of your family that you need loaded in this particular instance. This is particularly useful in families where you have 6 or more different types which could significantly slow your project down.

If you are using a family from the default library, you are able to export the families attributes as a type catalog, by simply exporting the family types as a .txt file as shown in the image below. As you will see, all of the work is done for you and every new family type you add will automatically update in the .txt file, proividing you re-export every time you make a change.

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If you want to create your own custom type catalog rather than just exporting from Revit, then you will have to create your own .txt file which you will use as your type catalog. To get an overview of what information goes into this .txt file it could be a good idea to export some type catalogs from the families stored in the default Revit libraries and explore for yourself how different attirbutes are stored and named. Here are a few key points to consider when creating your Type catalog.

  • Give your family a simple name, using no spaces or unusual characters. Use _ to connect words and – between a range of numbers.
  • Ensure your Family and .txt file have the SAME NAME excluding the extension.
  • Place your Family and the .txt file in the same folder on your computer.
  • Be consitent and list parameters in the same way everytime you create a new catalog.
  • Only create type catalogs for families with over 5 variations.
  • TEST your family and type catalogs before sharing with others.
  • If you are having problems defining parameters, check an existing family that is working correctly for tips.

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Once you have your family created and all editable attributes added as parameters, it is time to start creating your type catalog. For every defining parameter you have, you will need to add this in the type catalog. Most parameters are names specifically, e.g. Length, but for the more obscure you would use the parameter ‘OTHER’.

Open up a notepad or your personal preference of .txt editor. The first line of your code, depending on your parameters should look something like this:  ,Keynote##OTHER##,AssemblyCode##OTHER##,Depth##LENGTH##MILLIMETERS,Material##OTHER##,

This is storing Keynotes, Assembly Codes, Length, Width, Depth, Material and the units. Parameters in Revit are usually listed in the following way:

Parameter Name(Length) ##Parameter Value(100) ##Unit (millimeters) – Although it may look confusing to start with, once you understand the way they are formulated, it is easy to add and edit existing values using the above method. Use the ‘,’ parenthesis when seperating different parameters.

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Once you have created your family and type catalog and try and load it into Revit, you may receive an error similar to the one listed above. This particular error is informing us that 7 values or parameters were expected, yet only 6 of them were found, or defined in the type catalog. If you receive a similar message, go back and review your family to check you haven’t missed out one or more of the types created in the catalog. Once your family has been created succesfully you  will see a dialogue box appear similar to the one shown below when you load your family into your project, this is what you want to see!

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Once again load your family into your project and check that each of the variations are working as you would expect. Once you have tested all variations, you are ready to share your family with the rest of your team. If you have any problems or more questions about type catalogs, feel free to get in touch and I will see if I can help. Hope that this will be useful for someone who is having problems with creating type catalogs.

Revit Adaptive families – an introduction

Adaptive points are a tool which has been available in Revit since the 2011 release. They are an adaption of the pattern based curtain panel. Adaptive families, unlike a standard parametric family, which can be resized by flexing and changing values are able to adapt to different situations and scenarios in a building, controlled by the points you setup. They are often used for panels and curtain panels which are similar in appearance and function but different sizes. Adaptive families are able to ‘adapt’ to their surrondings by settings points as markers or connectors. e.g. A square panel will have 4 adaptive points which you will add on each of the 4 corners of the structural framing.

Like all tools in Revit, there are a number of different complexities to adaptive families, they can be used for simple geometry for instance piping or beams all the way up to advanced modeling techniques, such as rotating panels requiring an excellent work station to be able to handle the detail and repetition on a large scale. In this post I will be trying to explain the basics in a simple and understandable way.

Before jumping in to creating an adaptive family, it is worth taking some time out to plan how your family is going to function. With normal generic families, we lay out reference planes to constrain our geometry, with adaptive panels I like to use reference planes in a grid format and repeat the same grid in the Revit project when adding the family. This consistency will reduce the chances of errors etc when you are loading your family. 

A few things to consider before starting your adaptive family:

  • Add your ‘Point Elements’ in the same order that you want to insert your geometry into your project.
  • Remember to set out grids if you are working on more than one level.
  • Adaptive points have their own X and Y reference planes attached, when working with solid forms, use these planes to constrain the points to the geometry.
  • Be sure to use ‘Reference Lines’ rather than ‘Model Lines’ when referencing your point to the form.
  • Be patient, and test your points are acting and reacting the way you expect, in the same way you’d flex a standard Revit family.
  • There’s nothing worse than rushing through and finding out you have to start all over due to a simple mistake.

The first thing you need to do is open up a new “Adaptive Genric Model Family” this will give you a blank template with and X and Y reference plane. Hold down Ctrl + Shift and with your mouse left click and drag the current reference planes to make copies of them, set out your planes similar to how I have in the image below. Keep a consistency with the spacing between planes, this is important when bringing the family into your project. Add some points and arrange them as you need: 

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Use the view cube to lay out your points, you may notice that your points aren’t snapping to the reference planes unless you are in a ‘top’, ‘left’ or ‘right’ view. As mentioned above, make sure to enter your points in the same sequence you will add them into your project. Once you are happy with the location of your points, highlight them all and click the ‘Make Adaptive’ icon on the ‘Adaptive Component’ tab. In this instance, I am going to create a random form, just to illustrate how adaptive points work. 

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Use the ‘Set’ tool in the work plane tab, and go through each adaptive point one by one and select the horizontral face as shown on point 5 above. Once we are working on the correct plane, we can begin to create the starting point for our geometry. When creating these circles as shown above make sure to use ‘Reference Lines’ rather than model lines. Solid forms and masses can be constrained and controlled by reference lines but not model lines. We now want to add some parameters to our reference circles. To do this, simply highlight the reference circle, and click the ‘Make this temporary dimension permanent’ icon as shown below.

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Once we have made all of our reference lines into permanent dimensions, we are able to add a parameter to control the size of the circles. Simply add a type parameter in the way you would with a normal family. Select the dimension, click on the ‘Add label’ dropdown in the actions bar and a parameter name related to the object. I will use ‘Bottom Width’ for point 5 and ‘Top Width’ for points 1-4 as they will all be the same size. You will now see these parameters appear in the ‘Family Types’ dialogue where you will be able to control the dimensions and add formulas etc. Set your reference lines to the correct sizes and we are almost ready to start adding some geometry. It is a good idea to test your new parameters and move your adaptive points around to check that everything is behaving correctly. 

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We now want to add some solid geometry to our adaptive points. There are of course a number of different ways to do this depending on the desired result. Here I will be selecting point 1-5, 2-5, 3-5, 4-5. Select reference line 1 and while holding down control, tab through your elements until you are selecting reference line with adaptive point 5 in. Select both of these and then hit ‘Create Form’ in the ‘Form’ tab on the ribbon. Repeat this step until you have 4 ‘spokes’ coming out of the wider base. If you have followed the same instructions that I have given, your adaptive family will look like the image below.  

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Again you should now move around your adaptive points and test your parameters to check that they are performing the way they should be. Once you have completed this you are ready to save your family and add it in to a revit project. Test it out by connecting it to a Mass. It is a simple procedure and only requires you to add the points in the same way that you have added them in your family. I sometimes find it easier to recreate the grids in a mass environment in the Revit project. You can also switch nodes on to your grid lines to make the placing of points simpler. 

If you have any problems or questions, leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Joining BIM.Technologies

I am delighted to announce that as of 4th March 2013 I will be joining the BIM.Technologies team in London. BIM.Technologies is the UK’s leading BIM consultancy, working behind the scenes with some of the UK’s biggest clients, contractors and consultants.

uploaded image“We have a dedicated team of Technologists, Architects, Surveyors, Programmers, Construction Professionals and BIM Specialists.

We use our expertise and the latest model based technology to solve complex problems in construction, streamlining its process. We reduce risk, cost, time, waste and energy from your project by applying more thought. 

We dont just use the technology for the sake of it, we review and select the best tools, software and processes to do the job in hand. We provide the protocols, infrastructure and expertise to deliver your project.”

BIM.Technologies is part of the _Space Group who also own BIM Store which I am sure you are all aware of already – as well as helping with projects and social media, I will be helping create content for BIM Store which I am very much looking forward to. BIM.Technologies also co-host BIM Show Live, which is an extremely popular BIM event here in the UK – Make sure to check it out below!

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For more information, or to find out about some of the cool work that BIM.Technologies currently undertake, check out their website here, or follow @bimtechnologies and @BIMStore on Twitter for the latest news and updates.

I feel BIM.Technologies will be the ideal company for me, and are exactly the kind of innovative, forward-thinking, technology driven company that I have been looking for. I am very excited and looking forward to getting started in March. I would finally like to say many thanks to all the team who showed interest in me!

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