Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Revit Fan Chimes In.


So there I am, minding my own business, when an anonymous reader posts a fairly extensive rundown of their experience over the last 30 years in the field of Architecture.  I was intrigued, since it's fairly rare that anyone who isn't a full-on hater of Revit comments here (unless they are trolling or spamming), so I allowed myself to give them an impartial read.

Their over-arching premise seems to be that, despite ungodly amounts of time, effort, and money having been invested in it over the years, nobody has ever actually managed to take into account the needs of the design professional.  I would probably add (as I have in the past) that trying to quantify such elaborate disciplines so that any moron with a computer and a software license can do it is fairly impossible.

Pencil, rapidograph, Versacad, Microstation, Autocad, Revit (pin bar mylar drafting - thanks for the update!) overlays, etc. etc. are simply tools or techniques, each with their own advantages/disadvantages and learning curves.  The ones that have gone by the wayside (especially manual methods) had obvious constraints, but early computer systems also had their own limitations.

While my attitude towards Revit should be fairly clear to anyone with even a passing familiarity with my rants, I've always tried to stress that it is the electrical portion of the software specifically that is the focus of my disdain.  It was obvious from the get-go that it had started as an architectural tool, with the Engineering portions slapped on as an afterthought.

Obviously the Architectural/Structural portions were developed more thoroughly, so it wasn't surprising when Architects and Structural Engineers took to it like pedophiles at a poorly chaperoned field trip. It was the first time most of the people I worked with had been exposed to a 3D design tool (as I've mentioned before, I had spent years designing site and interior lighting in 3D).

Besides the advantage of more fully developed software for their disciplines, they also had the combined efforts of dozens of Architects, designers/drafters, and even one Mechanical designer who literally damned near killed himself beating his head against the Revit machine to make it work (at least something) like it was advertised.

All I had were a dozen projects at any given time to get the fuck out the door - and a couple of shitty 'tutorials' that didn't even come close to addressing what to do when you were dropped head first into the pool of shit that were early (and even later on) Revit models in a never-ending process of flux (and ironically, taking longer and longer to complete).

In theory, this would've given me longer to complete them - and made up for the extra time necessary to overcome the plethora of obstacles Revit would throw up at any given moment.  In reality, I no longer had any way of knowing what the status of my projects were any given time.  If I walk away from a CAD file, and come back to it later, it's exactly the fuck where I left it.

Even if the Architects had been busy rearranging the floor plan - as soon as I exported a new one and dropped it in, the worst that could happen is that I would need to rearrange or maybe add/delete a few things, and adjust my circuits accordingly.  If I walked away from a Revit file for even a day or two, I might come back to find everything fucked.

And that's just goddamned unacceptable.

Anyway, back to what this guy was saying.  I honestly don't know what doing large scale architecture
projects was like in ACAD, and I can imagine it could turn into an unholy nightmare - but the 'how many fucking layers does it take to design an outhouse?' comment struck me as funny, because I had developed a set of field house drawings for a school (including architectural, structural, mechanical, plumbing AND electrical).

I did the whole project in one file - without paper space, and when I was done I had maybe a dozen layers for each discipline just to keep everything straight.  Out of all of the other functions and minutiae ACAD can get you stuck fucking with, I simply don't use 99% of it.  I know quite a few of the settings/commands that can be tweaked to get the results I want (but I don't have to keep them in my head, because the Internet is a massive repository of information on ACAD).

I was amazed when I first started at my current job to find that someone had somehow allowed a metric fuckton of layers (and other junk) to invade their template - and refused to be purged.  I noticed that their files would run into trouble after a few times of cutting/pasting information (you would go to 'paste' and nothing would happen - no error, just 'derp').  I knew there had to be some relation between this and all the extra junk (that was bloating the file size).

Fortunately, after a few minutes of browsing the Internet, I ran across a command called 'write block' (-wblock), which I already knew about, but when you go to write the block, you can specify '*' and it will basically create a new file with everything in it - sans all of the embedded blocks/layers/bullshit.  The result was a smaller/leaner file without all of the bazillion layers/linetypes/etc. - and you could now cut/paste to your hearts delight.

I will admit, there are a number of commands/toggles that could be better arranged, or have better defaults (and maybe some prompts), but having been around computers (and CAD) since way before there were mice connected to them, I'm fairly adept at working my way through things - and the ACAD text window gives you a running tab of what is happening at any given time (so you know that it is having a problem instead of Revit just fucking dinging at you).

I don't use the 'ribbon' or even the classic menus - just a handful of commands in the QAT, and a few pop up menus (properties, the text window, layer manager, etc. that come up on a second screen - leaving me with just... all kinds of room to see what I'm doing.  I also love the ability to flip on viewports and be able to simultaneously look at up to eight different places in my drawing.

How I operate mostly just depends on where my left hand is at any given moment (I'm left handed - although I do keep my mouse buttons set up the same as a right hander)  if it's on the mouse, I will click a command, but if it's on the keyboard, I can quickly type a command (or shortcut - and not have to worry about hitting two keys and starting a fucking unwanted command like in Revit).

Now, the funniest comment - having to do with pulling up an older project.  Try to do it in Revit.

The first thing you will be doing is waiting for half an hour (or more) while it upgrades to your current version (and good luck if it has any problem doing so).  Obviously if the CAD user didn't know about 'relative path' then it's easy for xrefs to get fucked up (I can feel you - because I just got done fixing nearly 200 sheets that some idiots handed over to us to do 'as builts' - including some details that the morons had saved onto their desktop instead of the folder with the rest of the files.

As far as having to drill down through every drawing and change everything to black - could you not simply plot monochrome?  (Maybe not)  But in Revit it wouldn't have been 15 seconds, because you would STILL be waiting for it to convert.  I could see where it would be a bitch to have to go back and use ACAD after having gotten to your level of Revit mastery though - I can imagine it would be like trying to issue a set of drawings on a typewriter.

I like to complain about the garbage files I get from Architects - but I do realize that the files they are sending me are dependent on Revit being able to export to CAD correctly.  What makes me amused is when I see an actual set of their sheets or .pdfs - and it's plain to see right there in their drawings due to view range fuckups (from the 16 quadrillion view range settings).  Honestly, I actually enjoy going through and cleaning up a set of drawings for my use - and it's a great way to get familiar with the building.

To tell the truth, in my current job, I usually have less problems out of Architects, and more out of Electrical Engineers/Designers (the ones whose job I used to do) who don't understand what is necessary for the systems I am designing to meet code (or even work at all).  I just got done issuing a building for a college that was showing zero sprinkler equipment, and had conflicting information for the elevator (due to a typical detail they dropped in - and nonsense on their drawing).

Hopefully one day you will get to have the pleasure of dealing with an MEP firm that is tying the Revit anchor around their balls.  Most simply can't justify the cost - especially since many are using older 'stand alone' copies of CAD (nothing that Autodesk has added in the last decade really has much affect on drafters - and you can download the latest version of TrueView for free if you need to open a newer .dwg file).

It was enough of a pain in the ass to keep up with Revit when all of the disciplines were in the same building - have fun constantly uploading/downloading massive files and watching as it eats itself (especially as Revit newbies attempt to figure out how the hell to use it, quickly burn out, and start to resent you - more than they probably already do).

Everyone can take Revit and stick it up their ass (sideways) - or use it (fuck it - it's no longer my problem).


Next Time: Another One Bites The Revit Dick


  1. Well done!

    And I do hope I never need to make my Revit hump together with some Revit MEP firm. It sounds like a complete pain in the ass.

    I especially liked this one:

    "If I walked away from a Revit file for even a day or two, I might come back to find everything fucked."

    I could totally see that happening with Revit. You select a few things and delete them, and a few hours later you realize that you also deleted 2 floors worth of stuff down below. If you don't know what you're doing you can fuck up the whole project in 10 seconds and not even know it.

  2. When using Revit, I got fairly adept at using the filter tool to know how many items I had selected (and what they were) at any given time. Of course, if the selection tool didn't suck balls this wouldn't have been necessary.

    What always really fascinated me was it's almost complete lack of ability to manipulate the model in 3D, instead always constraining a user to working in 2D views (only to find out it's fucked).

    Having used multiple level editors for 3D games in the past, I knew it was possible to have an interface that allowed for more freedom for viewing and editing than the dipshit garbage Revit encumbers a user with.

    I always imagined a system for electrical design that allowed me to work in a model as if I were actually inside of it - laying out equipment, receptacles, lights, etc.

    Instead it was a constant fight to get things to host, resulting in nearly every device attaching itself to random surfaces (often outside of the view range, resulting in the device simply 'disappearing'.

    From a strictly electrical design viewpoint I pictured having the ability to specify an electrical service, connect it to the building, and then run distribution throughout.

    Instead, it was dozens and dozens of settings buried in different places, panel families that didn't work (Square D finally stepped up and made a plug-in for Revit, but it was about the same time I was giving Revit my final middle finger).

    Now the worst problem I have is finishing projects so quickly that I bury the people responsible for reviewing them (well, that and one of our salesmen who has a half-dozen government projects in flux, but who has a fucked up back resulting in him being out, drunk, and/or fucked up on pain pills).

    He finally had surgery to burn some of his nerve endings or some such nonsense. No idea what that will result in...