Update: Family Editor Interface was added to the Featured App category! 

On 30 May 2016, Archilizer’s first plugin got a place in the featured apps in the Revit Store. We are really happy with this fact and we hope that now the plugin will have the chance to reach and help even more people out there!

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This is a special one for me because this is our first officially published Archilizer Plug-in! I am incredibly excited about the launch of this first digital toddler and I wish it all the luck and happy moments with its new users!

In this Plugin Review, I will go into detail of what the plugin does and where to download it from but first, let me give you a few words about the process of submitting a plugin to the Autodesk Plugin Store, as this might be interesting to the few of you who are thinking of sharing their programmatic work with the world. Having been through the process once, I would dare to say that it might be easier the next time around, however for a first timer, the venture sure was intimidating. In a sense, writing the plugin itself was the easier part, as following the admittedly many Autodesk sources was actually a challenge.

Your first action, after creating an account in the App Store website, is to go to the following link, read through the text and head to the bottom of the page, where you will see a little matrix with video tutorials. Watch those at least a few times. No go back and read the text again. Once you’ve gained enough courage, start the procedure of launching a new plugin and refer to the above resources as you need. Every single bit of the process can take a lot of resources. Personally, I would recommend outsourcing the logo design, because even for a seasoned graphics pseudo-designer as myself, I ended up producing a crappy logo with an even crappier resolution, for some yet unknown reason (this will be the first thing that I will be updating as well).

Challenging as it may be, don’t worry all that much. After putting everything down the way it is described, publish your work and you will have the pleasure to communicate with the IT Support team which will guide you through the rest of the process. It literally feels like a humanized bug removal tool. On every step of the way, they will report when they encounter a hurdle or an obstacle and make you fix it. From start to finish, the whole thing took about a month. I hope this gives you a feeling of what it’s like to publish a plugin to the Autodesk Store. Don’t hesitate to ask me any questions. Now let’s get back to this plugin and see why it is so adorable!

What it does.

Family Editor Interface takes only those parameters which manipulation is useful in creating an intuitive feedback on how your family is behaving and slaps them onto a simple applet that sits quietly in your work field. The simple sliders represent the values of those parameters. They give you a meaningful range of values to play with and test the mechanics of your door, window or furniture system. The plugin is conceptualized as an interactive tool that makes the process of family creation more enjoyable. The plugin is most certainly influenced by Grasshopper, Dynamo and the like and is one of those quality-of-life add-ins which you could do without but just makes your task more pleasant.

Who is it for.

Anyone who spends enough time in the Family Editor. In my practice, enough time is the time necessary for you to create a responsive, well-parametrized family which does not break in contact with regular users. A complex family has a lot of interconnected relationships between its parameters and even for its creator it is sometimes hard to intuit the internal logic of the structure. That’s when this simple interface comes really handy, as it allows you to quickly test the functionality of all your ‘important’ parameters, or in other words, the parameters which drive the family. However, once used to this extra panel, it becomes a second nature to just check your parameters and I tend to use it even for small components with just a Width and a Height parameter.

Is it free?

It is absolutely free and if there is enough interest from the community, I will open the source on GitHub, so folks can play with it and take it in the direction they want. Meanwhile, I will be taking on board any comments and suggestion in order to make the tool as user-friendly and useful as possible.

How to use:

You can find a few short video tutorials on how this plugin is used on the publisher’s website. I would like to think that the tool is quite easy to understand and use, but if you have any suggestions, please write me in the comments section below or by contacting us.

Tips and Tricks:

Use the ‘Refresh Document’ button to quickly ‘reset’ the defaults of your parameters and incrementally reach a higher/lower value.

Try it now! Test it for free! 

You can find the Family Editor Interface in the Revit section of the official Revit Plugins Store here:

When managing projects of non-small sizes, one of the tedious routines that you are required to go through is to somehow match information that is part of the project’s Sheet set and its View set. The idea of cross-referencing data between various elements is native for information management, yet Revit does not yet cover that aspect for us. Dynamo, however, does (so, in a sense, Revit does. Duh).

Traditionally, we could approach that task as follows:

 

  • load all sheets
  • load all views
  • for each sheet and view, see which view the sheet is sat on and finally
  • check if the corresponding parameters match and if not
  • do something (make them equal)

 

Now, there is one little bug that has been migrating with every update of Dynamo, and the brand new 1.0.0 (Congratulations!) version still apparently still got it – when retrieving elements by Category, the View Category will spit a message which states that Template Views are not Views. That’s fine. There is an even nicer node that simplifies the task for us:

Sheet.Views

What this node is supposed to do is to only select those Views that are place on the set of Sheets it is given. Now we can skip a step, retrieve only the Views that matter, and continue with our cross-referencing. .. but this node ,too, does not work.

That’s also fine. Here is the solution to the problem, written in python code.

.. and here is what the definition looks like:

What we did here is that we collected all the sheets in the project, using the Dynamo node of retrieving All Elements by Category, then we fed the resulting list together with a couple of shared parameters, which both the Sheet and the Views of the project use, and we executed the python code which, on one hand matched the information of those shared parameters, and on the other, gave us a handy list of ‘failed’ views. Those ‘failed’ views are simply the views that had View Templates assigned on, controlling and thus ‘locking’ the shared parameters.

While we are on the subject of python and getting instance parameters from elements, I want to point out the correct (at least for now) way of doing it.

The general syntax of this command in Python is:

element.Parameter[“Parameter Name”].AsString() – to get (can also be .AsInteger(), .AsDouble()) the parameter, or

element.Parameter[“Parameter Name”].Set – to set the parameter.

This is important to know as a lot of times Dynamo tasks revolve around Parameter manipulation and there is hardly any information out there that explains how this can be achieved in Dynamo with Python.

I hope that custom Dynamo definition can be of help to you in your BIM journeys my friends! Good night and best of luck.

Site Designer for Revit 2015/2016 R2 has been out for a while now. For those of you who may have had the chance to register its emergence and got quite excited by the beautiful video demonstrations out there (like I was) but haven’t had the time or reason to give it a try themselves, here is what you might need to know.

Site Designer is officially released plug-in, which in a way means that Autodesk supports its existence to the point of entrusting the content of this package to be part of Revit’s core installation, or at least the R2 version of Revit 2015/2016 available from the subscription center (‘Download is Exclusive to Autodesk Subscription Customers’). Once installed, the plugin comes with its own tab in the ribbon and at first glance, the amount of icons that pop out is quite impressive.

Linear workflow – this is the first thing that you notice when working with the SD is the linear workflow it follows. This is quite common for any programmatic tool and after the initial and inevitable frustration that follows every time you pick up a new piece of software, you start to get it. Following the logic of the tool equals using the icons from left to right. First, you either have to import an existing Toposurface or create one using the traditional Site tools (Massing & Site). Second, you set a surface as a base, third you start creating your elements and fourth, you simply modify them. There might have been a fifth step in which you document your work, but I did not get that far.

The problems with this type of flow come when you are already waist deep into changing and fiddling with your terrain and you realize that something major needs to be updated. There simply isn’t a way to revert to an earlier stage of your work and in this respect the workflow is quite destructive. This becomes a massive problem when you take into account the ..

Incredibly slow performance. Chances are that you are going to want to use SD on a real project where a few hectares of landmass need to be worked on. The bad news is that any sort of transformation causes SD to create a huge number of points. This leads to operations that take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to complete. This is simply not feasible in terms of the standards of software responsiveness that we have adopted nowadays. Coupled with the frequent crashes and the destructive workflow mentioned earlier, working with SD on any sort of deadline quickly becomes an exercise of hair-pulling.

Soft terrain – really nice concept. This allows you to modify a plot of land the way you always wanted, raising it as a whole and with a certain grading to the boundaries. It takes while to complete, but I did enjoy the result when one was produced. A nifty trick that I found was that I can ‘reset’ my topography by modifying it. I doubt that was the intended workflow.

Featured line – it didn’t work.

Point Wipeout – should come really handy when you start fine-tuning your design. I couldn’t get that far.

Streets – now, this is an amazing concept, because, in theory, this should allow you to create a street network with such an ease that your CGI team will love you and buy you beer and cookies. In practice, this feature is useless as it limits you to a fairly primitive set of geometric shapes and connections, so unless your project is a small house with a single front to the highway, you wouldn’t find a good use for it.

This is the point where I started to give up. I did try curbs and retaining walls, which caused the already strained model to crash. The concepts themselves are amazing and I would have loved to implement it on a real project, but I simply couldn’t find a way to submit something that would not allow my client to alter or even use the model for any meaningful purpose. After I’ve spent a few days of hard work trying to tame this beast, I had to revert to the traditional Modelling Site tools in the ‘Massing & Site’ tab.

To me, Site Designer, at least at this stage of development, is similar to what a Barbie Kitchen Set is to a professional chef. Sure, there are hobs and ovens and mittens and plates, but you might reconsider using that particular kit for your 3 star Michelin dinner.

I think that the officiality of this release might have been a little premature, but I hope that the feedback from the community will get this project faster to the point where we can finally have something to do our landscape with. I stay positive that Autodesk would not leave something as half-baked as the current Site Designer sit for too long without taking a step to either fully integrate it within the software or leave it altogether, finding an alternative that will satisfy the needs of Landscape Architects, Civil Engineers and Architects that use Revit as their BIM platform of choice.