Monday, July 30, 2012


It seems I managed to ruffle the feathers of the good people at Ideate by not making it clear that Michelle's session at RTC made use of their "BIM link", and not the "other product" that I mentioned in my previous post.  This is a shame because I believe them to be worthy members of the global Revit community. 

I felt it was important to pay tribute to Michelle, because her session was inspirational and directly motivated me to do something interesting with the ideas she so generously shared with us.  As far as this blog is concerned, I am in the business of sharing ideas, freely with all & sundry.  It has been a great pleasure over the past year or so to make contact with people from all over this planet who share my enthusiasms.  I do not wish to advertise products or receive inducements.  I still feel rather attached to the old-school notion of professional neutrality that held sway when I was young.  From time to time I have shared my thoughts on the quality of family content offered by a manufacturer.  I try to be honest, but not rude or dismissive. 

Tips & tricks are all very well, but I am more interested in what you want do with them.  Likewise software plug-ins and utilities.  They are just facilitators.  My focus is on the bigger picture.  What do you want to make ?  What fantasies would you like to explore ?  Which aspects of mankind's strange and poignant history would you like to elucidate by means of a data-driven model ?

The idea of using Excel to drive Revit is an intriguing one.  You need an extra little tool to make the link.  There are a couple on the market capable of doing the job.  Do your own research and make a choice.  I have no interest in influencing your decision.  But I would like to share the results of our explorations.  So let's get on with it.

First of all take my curtain panel and make the thickness parameter control the diameter of a hole instead of the panel thickness.  Use a simple formula to limit the size to a reasonable value (R = 150mm + thickness/4 ... for example) Trial and error came in handy here.

That's OK but what if I were to combine this with some thickness variation, all based on the same controlling values ?  That led to a fairly interesting arrangement.  Notice that I have unpinned the glazed panels now and substituted a glazed system panel.  Holes in the glazing looked a bit stupid, and some panels having no holes breaks up the pattern nicely and provides a counterpoint to the orange accents.

Next I tried a slot at one side.  That turned out to be disappointingly unlike anything you would ever want to build, so I introduced a sill piece that also responds to the thickness control.  I also changed the material for the system panels to a wood block flooring texture.  This is getting dangerously close to something I might actually use.  Maybe a ventilated facade for a parking structure ?

Note that all this was done in an evening after work,  AND only involved editing curtain panels.  No further interventions with the dreaded linking software. 

So what happens if I try to re-import from Excel ?  An error message of course, what else ?  But why ?  I am guessing that successive reloads of my curtain panel have played havoc with the unique ID numbers.  So I re-export and attempt to link the two worksheets again.  Impatient to do this quickly so it seems I somehow managed to switch vertical and horizontal.  Maybe that happened during the re-export process.  Practice is obviously needed if you want to control the effect precisely.  In this case I'm gunning for the happy accident, so let's accept the result and move along.

A few more tweaks, play around with different image combinations & I soon have some useful facade options to show to my team leader / partner in charge / client. 

I need to understand the data linking better and work hard on my Revit skills so that the process of linking data between two sheets can be rapidly reproduced.  But I am still quite excited about the hybrid approach: part formula-driven and part manually tweaked.

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