Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Zen of Revit Content Creation

Question.  Do you know what it's like to be inside of a convection oven?  Go to Florida in August. 

Even with that my friends, I am happy to say I spent seven days of joyful family time down at Disney World in Orlando.  93 degrees and 107 with the humidity.  Wild Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Animal Kingdom...  As is common with me I could not get my mind off of work even though I spent a lot of time 'catching up' before I left.  But after a few days of acclimating, sleeping in (so I could stay out late when the sun was down) I started to understand what the essential value of vacation was about.  It's all about family.  Once I got over the difference of the climate and the chaos of theme parks I really started to enjoy my time with my family.  And when I was in process, in the pocket, enjoying them and the time I was spending with them time flew by.  That is, time ceased to be a linear process.

As I am less interested in the learned procedures of Revit content creation and more interested in the way to proceed I contend that immersion, reflection, and application is the cycle that thought must take when proceeding with Revit content creation.  I think it is especially the case with those CAD operators that have spent years in the trenches with their command lines in a non-BIM world.  It is not a comfortable conversion for these veterans.  "Where are my icons?  Where's the command line?  I am a CAD guru but now I am a beginner again!"  The operator becomes self conscience of his/her inadequacy as an asset.  Every movement within the project becomes weighed for value, reflected upon, and judged for worth.  Gone is the intuition and the smooth movement of mind to hand.  We are no longer in the pocket my friends.  We now live in the world of the Revit process.  

To be a fluid intuitive Revit operator takes time.  Leave the hubris behind.   Enjoy the discovery process.  Do not bite off more than you can chew. 

There are those in management that think, "Oh it's another CAD program.  You push a button and it happens.  It won't take anytime for my seasoned CAD veterans to learn this tool."  Wrong.  This is a new world for the 2D's.  No, it's a new UNIVERSE for the 2D's.  The objects now stand in the third dimension.  The elevations are done, the utility loads for scheduling are already in the object.  There are different procedures.  Elevations now appear in the early stages of the project for review by the client and you have less reverse engineering as the operation of the facility is revealed early in the design process. 

A welder once told me that laying down a bead with 7018 was very Zen like.  "You start in the most uncomfortable position of the bead.  You strike the arc and focus on the bead.  As you bring the bead towards your body you become more comfortable.  As you finish the weld you are in the most comfortable position of all.  The flux is peeled back like a caterpillar's skin.  It is beautiful." 

Again I posit that it's the cycle of immersion, reflection, and application that thought must take when proceeding with Revit content creation.  Proceed into your flagship Revit project with some basic tools and stretch into the project horizon.  Reflect on the use of new tools and apply those.  Repeat.  Enjoy the process.  Be at play with the process.  Dance with the process.  Time flies. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Learning Revit for Foodservice: Part 1

I get lots of spam.  An unusually large amount from African nations alerting me to the millions that some kind hearted or befuddled billionaire has bequeathed me.  Even though I know these are all bogus I have been noticing how uplifting they can be.  They may start out with 'God Bless You' or 'Something Wonderful is Happening' or something to that effect.  I put a filter on them so that only the first 8 words will show up in the email.  'God Bless You', 'You're in for a Treat', 'You are God Himself'...  I find reading these first thing in the morning up lifting.  Pre-work stuff on the Ipad, still laying in bed, hiding my Ipad near the pillow.  Hoping my wife doesn't catch me. 

I'm a foodservice consultant in the business of creating documents for design professionals.  It's been foodservice for me since I graduated from High School, then back to college, then finally back to foodservice.  I was a Yo-Yo bouncing between school and a foodservice way of living.  It is my way of life.

Foodservice is an industry with a wide mix of individuals that come from very different beginnings.  Maybe they came the Hopitality way, or the Culinary Arts way.  I came the manufacturing way.  I spent years as a Stainless fabricator and custom layout designer.  Everything from vibratory weigh cells for food processing to three compartment sinks and custom refrigeration.  I would design, layout, fabricate, weld, and polish out stainless objects that would eventurally end up in a commercial kitchen somewhere.  It was a way of living and being.  I would take special care when I positioned myself to weld a stainless edge.  I would start out in the most uncomfortable position that I could and as I welded I would end up in the most comfortable position I could.  Focus on the bead, the tempo, the penetration, not the past, move towards comfort.  It was a beautiful metaphor. 

What does this have to do with learning Revit for Foodservice?

There are those in the foodservice design industry that say the best way for ramping up for Revit is to bring in Revit designers straight out of trade school or bring in a trainer.  The trainer is to be an expert in Revit Architecture and Autocad.  Knows how to create spiral staircases and create custom families for wall glazing. 

Again I ask:  What does this have to do with learning Revit for Foodservice?

I used to tell new employees that Autocad is just another tool like a carpenter has tools.  Everyone can have a hammer but not too many know just where to drive the nails.  You have to know carpentry first.  It goes for Revit for foodservice too.  Those employees that were keepers and really developed into fine designers were the ones that knew foodservice first.  They knew when to add the double overshelf or where to spot the floorsink.  Schools that teach Revit focus on everything but foodservice.  They will teach you a way of thinking Architecturally or Structurally but not the Foodservice way. 

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Native Revit Foodservice Families: To Share or not to Share, That is the question

To share or not to share?  Reminds me of the early days of Autocad and the integration of CAD based symbols for Foodservice Design.  Or even before that when drafters hoarded plastic templates for manual layout.  Those of us that are old enough in this industry remember that guy that had one of his large file drawers delegated for his angle finders, french curves (not just one of them but 12), and bazillion layout templates.  He may have even had a lock on the drawer.  The blades on his mechanical pencil sharpener were tungsten steel, the elbow rest had a picture of Eisenhower embroidered on it.  Well... maybe not the last two. 

Well it's the early days of the symbol roundup for Foodservice Revit Families.  The brand, the Brand, the BRAND.  What does that mean.  Being brand based entities themselves, the manufacturers, the designers, the consultants, the dealers, (well maybe not so much the dealers), want to be recognized as unique and above the competitors.  When a potential client views the 'object for sale' they say, "Wow, when Bardon Wassmith makes a widget you can tell it's theirs!"  All fine and dandy until you set these objects together in a project and you find that the differences actually cause confusion, time, and money. 

Polarized thinking defeats Progress

The industry has discovered over and over that its standardization that creates the headroom for expansion.  Once innovators like FEDA, FCSI, KCLCadalog, and AutoQuotes set standards production boomed and the project document design process was shortened.  You got to love it!  However there is always the dichotomy of Brand Ego and Standardization that impeded that process. 

Now we have Revit Foodservice Families.  What's the difference?  Well for one they take much longer to produce.
They are like little databases that contain all the information about that object.  They have 'DNA'.  The manufacturers want to get these into the new wave of 3D development that has started to affect Healthcare, Government projects, and jobs by large contracting firms in the know about the pre-construction savings derived from Revit design. 

This time the FCSI took the lead in forming a team that started out of the 2010 FCSI conference in Minneapolis.  A task force was created to put together the standards for Revit Families in foodservice that produced a document later that year.  Although it is a 'living' document subject to revision and acceptance by the design community it is a good one that focuses on the quality and consistency of Revit Family production. 

So who are the innovators that have taken up the task of creating families for the industry.  Not surprisingly they seem to have been spawned by the 2010 FCSI conference in Minneapolis.  You have RevEquip, Turbosquid, BIM Builders, and KCLCadalog, to mention just a few.  Are they in competition?  You betcha.  And are dancing to the tune of the same drummer?  No.  Which one is the best?  You be the judge.

Next week.... Judging the Standards!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Un-Marketing: Scott Stratton

Here at FEDA listening to a presentation by Scott Stratton. This gentleman is non conformist, loud, un kept... But great listening/viewing. Social media is the topic and the message is "Awesome"! We've heard this message before. It's got to be cool, awesome, viral. Share the content that is cool. Blog, tweet, Facebook, Digg, but only when you have something to say. Don't just do it every Wednesday or weekly or monthly. Do it when you have something to say.

How about search engine optimization? Don't do it until you have something to show. Develop your product into something that gives your potential client value. No half filled product bins, no links to 'under construction'. Social Media is an amplifier that markets what you have. If you don't have anything then don't tweet about it or you'll be tweeting about what you don't have. Don't do it. Not until you have something to talk about. Always talk to the people that talk to you. Respond to your tweeters.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's Foodservice Paloosa at FEDA

Okay I guess I'm going to bite the bullet and make the big run down to Phoenix Arizona from March 30 to April 2 for the 92nd annual FEDA convention. It's really a food service Paloosa in the grandest fashion. You have all your largest food service equipment manufactures all at one place for the dealers to back slap, poke at, make jokes with, get drunk with, and a variety of other things we shouldn't even talk about. I'm really looking forward to it I think that FEDA is a great organization and it's been supporting food service in a very broad sense for design and standards. 

My friend Rick Ellingson (of Bargreen Ellingson fame) was telling me about how the FEDA standards for Foodservice were developed.  FEDA has always been in the forefront for setting design standards for our industry and it wouldn't surprize me that they would be working to set the standards for the newly emerging dealer Revit conversion.  I will find out soon what they are up to at the conference in Phoenix. 

And with that... Happy Reviting Reviteers! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Who Cares if I have Revit

The smell of the ammonia printers, the joy of updating elevations, sections, floorplans, titleblocks...

Yeah those were the glory days.  A place for hand draftsmen too.  2D world was a place for the old guard of trimming, pasting, copying over, and tools like templates, french curves, mechanical pencils.  Standing by the water cooler in the morning and talking about those new fangled CAD machines.  Wow 2D on a black screen like the twilight zone. 

Mastering dos...

Yeah I was there I have to admit it.  I'm proud of it in fact.  But I was one of those early CAD addicts that actually had 4 megs of RAM in my machine.  I can't even remember what the first program I used was.  Eventually early versions of AutoCAD.  The first blush of parametrics I ran into was with a program called Autocad Designer.  You started with a sketch, assigned global parameters.  It was so slowwww....  Great concept by not yet ready for prime time. 

However things started to pickup steam.  Eventually the guy with the tri-square and sliderule retired to the Moose lodge leaving his legacy of D, E1, and E sized velum's for future archaeologists to discover faded and yellow. 

Standards were set, software was developed, and the 2d world of electronic drafting flourished. 

Who needs Revit?  Bah...  well off to the water cooler.  :)  No.... I better demo the new BIM addon for Revit Architecture 2011 instead.  I'll pick up a latte later. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nausea and Revit

I've always wondered about people that write about blogs. As they are blogging about blogs they put it on their blog or even as I speak I'm blogging about people that blog about blogs. Just think about it. What if somebody were to write something about me they would be blogging about people that blog about bloggers that blog about blogs and so on ad nauseaum. I remember the big universal mistake people made when they were talking about the Internet in the early days they said when we were all going to be interconnected and our heads were going to be joined at the top what a wonderful world it would be. We would be able to cure cancer and send three men to Mars but did that happen? It didn't. So anyway what it turned out to be is just a bunch of people who say anything that's on their mind just opening their mouths and whatever pours out of their tiny little brains goes on to the blogosphere or on the Internet or webpage or some personal social thing.

Well this blog is about Revit. Specifically about Revit and Foodservice. The latest thing there. Things are slow to change in the arena. I still remember the smell of ammonia from the copy machines from my first drafting jobs. The sound of the pens as they scrapped merrily along the pen plotters. Architects are also notoriously slow when it comes to change. It took their industry 15 years to do what the Aircraft and Automotive industry had been doing as soon as the technology was available.

Revit Tools and Watermarks

GUID's and shared parameters files have always been a bit of a mystery to me.  Downloaded the Revit Family Tools from CTC and it looks helpful.  Have done some simple pasting and combining.  Looks like it can be helpful.

My Philippines crew has been asking about protection for Revit Families.  Remember seeing something out there that would protect the file like a watermark.  Can't remember where.  Most of these products go for a pretty penny.

Producing a video a day using Camtasia Studio 7.  Nice little app makes it easy to do demo's for potential clients.