Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Don't be a one trick Pony

As we wind down the year and start thinking about the next 6-12 months, it is important that we leverage our current skills with new and up and coming technology. I heard over the wire recently the some architects think that Navisworks is of no use to their current work flow. One architect in particular commented "I would never use or teach Navisworks to my team". In general, these are the same people whom said CAD was a fad and that BIM would never fly.

I have found that there are two types of people whom do not embrace new tools: those with a singular lack of vision and those whom suffer from an unwillingness to step out of their comfort zone. In other words, these people do not want to try something different for fear of failure or just looking silly. These are the people who believe that focusing on just one thing will get them through the day. They want to be "experts" at just one thing. And in general they will “flaunt” their expertness, until they realize that they have become irrelevant.

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but strictly speaking, architecture is a generalist type of profession. As is construction. You cannot be good at just one thing and keep yourself relevant in today's global market place. It is not that type of world.

Take bees for intance. There are specialist bees and generalist bees. Specialist bees have developed a relationship with just a few or one type of flower. Generalist bees have developed a wide variety of tastes when it comes to flowers. Guess which ones are more abundant and fair better in urban environments?

Architecture is much the same way. Firms that survive the lean times have more then one trick up their collective sleeves. These are firms with good business plans that focus on a range of project types and offer an assortment of services. These are the firms that will still be in business when the economy returns to normal.

So here is a is a great video about some of the uses of Navisworks for Architects:

As for my personal perspective, I know that if I had had Navisworks when I was working on large resort and multifamily projects, I would have not lost out on years of sleep as well managed to make it home at a decent hour.

My top five uses/reasons for Architect's to introduce Navisworks into their workflow include:
  1. Better coordination: Even within your own Revit model! Navisworks has a much, much better clash and interferance checker then Revit's interferance checker. For instance, you can choose a variety to different types of objects such as columns and railings and compare them to doors and stairs. Revit only lets you compare catagories of objects such as walls to columns. It does not let you drill down and just check all of your steel to all of your ducts, stairs and openings. Naviswork's ability to let you filter out unnecesary items and select just the relevant data is a huge work flow advantage.
  2. Quick and seemless navigation. Because of Naviswork's distinct compression algorithem, huge datasets are compressed down to a managable format. In short, any user can easily navigate in real time without having some super tricked out computer. And the navigation is easy! You can walk, you can crouch...You can fly!
  3. Aggregation of diverse datasets. I call Navisworks "Kitchen Sink" software. In other words, it can read any file type you are likely to run into in the AEC profession, including the kitchen sink. This is particularly useful for architects whom are dealing with trades that are working in Microstation, Archicad, Civil3D and CADMech/Duct. Because Navisworks allows you to coordinate across multiple file types, architects can always be on the same page with their subs.
  4. Validation: Because you can aggregate diverse datasets, you can validate your design early and effectively. You can create virtual walkthroughs and punch lists for big room meetings and discussions. Navisworks also lets you share the animations and model easily by way of the Navisworks Freedom viewer.
  5. A seat at the table: Time and again, I hear from my architectural collegues that they are being marginalized during coordination meetings. In order to have a seat at the table and join in the conversation, you have to understand and be able to use the current technology. Navisworks lets you put skin in the game, instead of sitting on the sidelines.

See you all in the new year!

And, as for my new years resolution, I am going to post at least once a month! My first post of the new year will be regarding search and selection sets.

Until then, adieu.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Turning off those light sources!

An outstanding issue with datasets exported from Revit in the *NWC format is the light source object. Even when you turn it off in Revit before exporting, it stills shows up in Navisworks. This will cause problems if you are running Clash Detective with tight tolerances and keep getting 'hits' or false positives because of the light source object. So how do you turn it off without having to scroll through the selection tree?

Use a Search Set! Search Sets and Selection Sets are by far the most valuable tool in Navisworks. Anyone who has taken one of my classes knows that I tend to harp on this subject ad nauseum.

The question is, how do we set up the search set? The answer is through a material filter called Default Light Source.

Example: In the image below, you see how the light appears in a Revit project before export. Remember, even if I turn this off before exporting using Visiblity Graphics (VG), it will still show up in the Navisworks NWC file upon appending the project file.

When I open the NWC file in Navisworks, the light fixtures will look like this:

How can we quickly turn off all of the lights sources without having to drill down in the Selection Tree and pick each one individually? (A very low value, mind numbing task!).

If you drill down the selection tree until you get to the nested light source object you will see a nested object called "Solid". If you look at the objects properities in the properties window, you will see that it shows up on the Material Tab and has a Property Name value of Default Light Source.

Using the Find Items Tool we can set the search field as follows and then save this as a Search Set. This will enable us to quickly turn off the light sources or set up rules in Detective to ignore items in a specific Selection Set.

Happy Hunting...!

Locking your Global Options

This is one of those smart little tricks that is buried in the help menu in Navisworks. You can lock your global options on local machines to prevent accidental changes to settings such as units, viewpoint defaults and file reader settings.

Here is the trick:
Go to Start and then Run.
Enter CMD.exe to launch the DOS Window

The directory will look something like this:

You will need to change the directory by typing CD C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Navisworks Manage 2011 as shown above.

(Note, mine is installed on my D: drive partition, but in most cases this will probably be the user's C: drive)

Hit 'Enter' and then type "optionseditor.exe" -l (That is a space after the quotes and a minus sign in front of the letter "L"). It will take a second of two for the Options Editor to launch. You will then see the following:

Notice the locks! You can lock any settings that you do not want your users to change, thus causing errouneous results in Clash Detective as well as mis-scaled datasets.

The next step is to export these options by selecting the export option on the lower left. Check all the options in the dialog box as shown to the left. You will need to set a project directory location that has a global_options folder in it with the exported options file (*XML) placed in that folder.

Now when you relaunch Navisworks, the options will be locked! This will make the life of VDC and BIM Managers a lot easier!

As a final note, you can find this information , sans screen captures in the help menu by going to this topic: How do I share the Autodesk Navisworks settings on a site and project basis

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A little slow on the get go

Sorry there have been no new postings lately. Business has been, well crazy!
I will be posting soon with some tips and tricks for Navisworks 2011!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Navisworks 2011 - Sneak Peek

Navisworks Manage 2011 provides additional tools and tweaks for day to day users. Having spent the last few months beta testing the software the following features are my personal favorites:
  • A section tool that have a gizmo for on screen manipulation. For previous users, as you are well aware, using the section tools proved to be hit or miss type of workflow. This was especially true if you were using the section box tool. Now Navisworks provides a gizmo you can see and manually manipulate on screen. You can use the gizmo to resize the section box or section plane. There is also an additional Section Plane Settings control bar to allow users to link section planes in the view.

  • The addition of a Gantt View tab in the Timeliner tool is another welcome feature. Users can now view the linked project schedule (MS Project, Primavera and CSV currently supported) in the industry recognized Gantt chart format. Users have multiple options for display dates (Actual, Planned or Actual vs. Planned) and a zoom feature.

Other features to explore in this release are:
  • Batch Utility Export
  • Support for Revit Room objects and properties (via the plugin)
  • Import and Export support for the FBX format
  • Consolidated navigation
  • Selection Tree Copy/Paste enhancement
  • Plugins Tab (if you have them!)
  • Additional support for Microstation
  • Enhanced *.SAT support
  • And tooltips for those of you whom need a little extra help on occasion!

For additional sneak peeks and information you can check here: