Archive | April 2, 2013

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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Vasari tips and tricks

Vasari is an excellent tool for design analysis and conceptually massing and energy testing. Although your results are not accurate enough to use for construction purposes, it is a great tool to compare different design options in order to see the affects of the mass or building in relation to the surrounding environment. If you are unsure how to set up vasari for energy analysis, you can view an older post here which will take you through the process step by step.

In this post, I will share a few massing tips and tricks which I have picked up through using the software.

Adding and editing profiles:

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Adding a profile to your mass can dramatically change how the mass or building will look as you can see in the image above. In order to add a profile, simply tab through your selections until you can pick the whole mass. Click on Add Profile in the ‘Form Element’ tab and select where on your mass you want the profile to be. Once the profile is added you wil be able to DRAG the profile in all directions to pinch and push the mass in certain ways, play around with this until you get your desired shape. The Vasari starter screen was created in this way – Check out the Vasari talk here explaining how this was achieved.

Adding Edges:

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Edges or vertexes are also used in Vasari as a way to manipulate your mass or form. As you can see in the image above, you can begin to turn a very ordinary rectangular block, into an abstract and more interesting shape to work with. Each edge in a Vasari project is editable, it is also possible to add new or extra edges to your mass in the same way as a profile. You can play around with these until you achieve your desired result.

Using ‘X-Ray’ mode:

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X-ray mode in Vasari is similar to wireframe mode in a program like Revit. The main difference is the X-Ray produces ‘nodes’ on every edge and profile we have created, this gives us even more freedom to play around with the shape of the mass and create something truly unique. With these 3 tools along with the standard massing tools, it is possible to create almost any shape that you would want a building to be. 

Adding Levels:

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If you are testing out high rise buildings in Vasari, you may have say 20 or 30 levels or floors in your building. A quick way to add all of these levels, rather than manually adding them is to hold down the CTRL key and drag the levels up to the next position. This will copy the level and allow you to create mass floors. Although this method would not be suitable if you need to use precise measurements, it is more than sufficient when testing out different design options for energy consumption / wind simulation etc.

If you are looking for more detailed instructions and help with Vasari, you can either get in contact with me below, or watch some of the Vasari talks – These are a weekly webinar / meeting explaining different aspects of Vasari, all the way from the introduction right up to advanced modeling techniques. Check out the Revit Wiki Help page here to view all the previously posted Vasari talks. I will be posting some tips on creating panels in my next post. 

 You may also wish to check out the tips & tricks section on the Vasari forums here.

Problems logging into M-SIX VEO Demo

If you have just downloaded the new demo of M-SIX VEO, you may be having trouble logging in. You will most likely be receiving the error that you’re password is wrong or not matching, and the password reset is not solving the issue. 

After playing around with the login for a while, I figured by typing the word “demo” in the ‘account’ field, you are then able to log in with the information you were provided with. I’m sure the instructions will be updated shortly, but for anyone who is having problems with it, hope this post will help.

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M-SIX VEO is finally released!

I’m pretty excited to announce – The eagerly awaited new software, VEO by M-SIX has finally been released! This is very exciting news as I’ve heard a lot of hype about this software without actually knowing too much about the functions. 

On January 37th, 2013 at infinity o’clock M-SIX gave birth to a bouncing bundle of software. VEO weighed in at 28mb. All healthy and happy.

— M-SIX (@MSIXVEO) February 7, 2013

I have just downloaded the trial and am about to run some tests on the software. I am looking forward to reporting back here shortly with more information about VEO. For now, I would recommend you download a trial for yourself and get involved with the discussion forums.

Below is a screenshot of the VEO interface with the ‘Project Sauron’ starter project – VEO has lift off!

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Click on the images above or visit the M-SIX VEO website here – Look forward to learning more and discussing this software with the BIM community!

BIM Documents

If you are following me on Twitter, or a close follower of this blog – You will have noticed a new link appear in the top menu of BIMopedia. ‘Documents‘ is a public portal area where I will be uploading and storing various BIM Documents from around the web. 

All of these documents are also available online from their original source. The point of me doing this, is to provide an area where all of these documents will be stored in one place, making it easier to find what you are looking for. Full credit is given to the original author where possible. 

It seems to be an idea which is supported by a lot of the #globalbimcrew on Twitter who have helped to fill in some of the gaps. Similar to the BIM Diary, I am doing this as a way to share with the BIM community, and in short, make life easier for the rest of you searching for valuable information on BIM.

I feel this could also be a good resource for anyone looking to get into BIM, there are documents there to interest users of all experience levels. It is important that we include anyone who is interested in our BIM journey. There is no point complaining about people refusing to implement BIM if we are not helping them to make it an easier transaction! The elitist attitude seems to be fading, which is of course a very positive thing for the community.

If you have any documents which you would like added to the list, simply contact me through the blog or write to me on Twitter @BenPMalone