2016-12-01

Replacing a text string across a directory

Since I have been working with my company, I have learned about LOADS of great tools.
For example, Beyond Compare, when keeping files synced across multiple environments (like development and production).

Another great one is FileLocator Lite, because, you can't put a price on finding exactly the data you need as quickly as possible.

Today, I am just pleased as punch with Notepad++. In my tasks modifying ARCHIBUS, I work in this program almost constantly, and have been doing so for the past three years. Obviously, I was already a pretty big fan (see my previously published article "Notepad++ Formatting Tip"), but, today, my unnatural love for this program grew even greater.

I needed to change the value for a single attribute, but, across every place where it showed up in the system, in all three environments we're using.

Turns out that Notepad++ has a lovely entry in the Search menu called "Find in Files..."
I was able to locate the exact string I needed, dictate the replacement string, filter for only the files our team had modified, in only the applicable directories.


If there is any doubt about context, you can see in the search results the exact line where the search string is located.

I recently returned from yet another inspiring Autodesk University for #AU2016. If you're interested in catching up with the @MistresDorkness commentary, twitter is the place to go. 

2016-08-31

FormIt360 + Dynamo: A Win-Win for Designers!

Today I am delighted to host another guest post from Ryan Cameron! If you missed his popular tutorial article: "Revit + 3dsMax: Utilizing Render Techniques - A Winning Combination", I suggest you take a second to check it out. A great tutorial, with plenty of tips and tricks.

FormIt360 + Dynamo: A Win-Win for Designers!

Article by Ryan Baker Cameron, AIA, LEED AP, EDAC, NCARB

      @rbcameron1            ryan@ryanbakercameron.com           LinkedIN


Tell me if you’ve heard this scenario before... You have your design team cranking away on some concept models in Sketchup. They model the heck out of it and it looks awesome! You get client approval and final sign-off because they love it too! Congrats, go buy yourself something nice! 
Then BANG, at some point it has to be real. Model conversion happens and starts to break down the files and the dreaded omissions start to happen because you’re viewing a model you have no direct connection to. You’re spending hours remodeling areas in Revit, dreaming of a better way. 
Yet another hole in the BIM process.

Around 2012 Autodesk FormIt360 came on the scene. Without hesitation, I downloaded it on my Nvidia tablet because I was looking for a way to model-on-the-go myself by developing Android Apps. From a practical standpoint it was a winning situation.  
Traveling a lot, I found I could save them to the cloud when I had WiFi, then get on a plane and continue. The second “win” came when it was clear to me that all that work wasn’t wasted because it could be transferred directly to a Revit model using massing families. This meant that my efforts in the Revit process were much more accurate depictions of the model, not a comparison between two screens. One step better, I could apply my “real” Revit walls to the face of the massing geometry.

Since those days, FormIt360 has come a long way. Animations, layers, materials and even Dynamo integration. 

So let’s talk about that for a moment. The ability to write code and run a script to help evaluate your model isn’t just a neat trick, it is becoming a requirement. Coding is the new sketching. 

Let me explain. Let’s say you have a zoning ordinance that requires setbacks and has height restrictions. It isn’t always evident to your design team, as we want them to have the freedom to be creative within the boundaries of the site. What if you could create a simple script that turned the model red, or warned your design team in some way, should they go outside those legal parameters?
Perhaps a script that auto-adjusted a parking garage by typing in simple numbers for Stall Count or Floor-to-Floor height? https://dynamo.autodesk.com/customize-5793c57a1cea5a924f4682fb
Feel free to login and download this Dynamo Studio file to experiment with. Maybe you could be the one to make it even better? That’s the beauty of open-source, take it and make it better.

So where’s the beef? Why would you want to migrate from Sketchup, since you have all of those models in your library? 
Well for starters, FormIt360 has a plugin for Revit that converts *.rfa and also *.skp file types into *.axm files for use in Formit360. Secondly, you’re going to start to see more websites with free content available for download as FormIt360 becomes more popular like this from Turbosquid: http://www.turbosquid.com/Search/Artists/3d-medical-equipment?keyword=axm

In this demonstration I will use the 2017-UR2 version of Dynamo Studio. Do not let the thought of having to learn scripting become overwhelming. We will be tip-toeing around Dynamo’s most basic nodes and publishing them to the cloud using its upload manager to Google Chrome. Plus, you’ve already downloaded the script from the dynamoreach link I posted, right?
Remember when I said we’ll be using the most basic nodes? Of course you do, it was in the previous paragraph. Do you notice all the black dots with reference planes attached to them in the image below? That is the Curves.DivideCurve node in the Lunchbox package created by a college classmate of mine, Nate Miller of Proving Ground. The web version can’t recognize it (for now) so we’re going to detach it from the lines of code. 
That way you don’t get an error like this:

So your screen will look like this then once all the black dots are gone. In fact, this is what you should have downloaded already.

Step 1: 

Know your nodes! We will only be using: Point.ByCoordinates List.Create Polygon.ByPoints Surface.ByPatch Integer Slider Custom Code Block

 Step 2: 

Right-click in the canvas to bring up the search menu. Type in the names of the nodes above and place them on the canvas. To create a Custom Code Block, just double click the canvas.

Step 3: 

I hope you’re Italian, because its spaghetti time! Connect up your Point.ByCoordinates node X to the Integer Slider. Now slide that toggle bar left and right! You are officially a coder!  

Step 4: 

Duplicate the rest of the code from the file you downloaded to get a feel for what it’s like to string these nodes together. It’s the best way to get comfortable, a simple set of shape-generating nodes together to reverse engineer what someone else has put together. Especially when the answers are right in front of you. Just like how you made it through college, right?
Here are a few hints: Holding the Esc key will temporarily shift you from code mode to model mode. 
Ctrl+B will do the same. Just like most things in computer programs, you can CTRL+C and CTRL+V your nodes so you aren’t constantly right-clicking and searching for nodes to place. Trust me, it’s faster.

Step 5: 

Upload to web! This is the easiest step of them all! File & Save to Web & Name it and hit Publish! Amazing right? And you can just copy the link and share it!

Just like learning to drive, I can tell you all about the engine, the types of tires and when to shift, but the only real way to experience it is to get behind the wheel and go.
Enjoy the ride everyone!

2016-05-24

Ch-ch-ch-changes - I left the owner's side

So, as some of you may know, though I followed the Social Media Policy to the letter, my last employer actively discouraged me from blogging. I leaked out a few posts, but, have had to be mostly on radio silence.

Now that I am free to blog about my work again, I have the honor of confessing that I have finally left the owner's side for the consulting side. I had always worried about the job security and the benefits of working for a large facility, but, I am confident in my new company and their prospects.
I would like to extend my thanks to all of the folks at the St. Louis Revit Users Group and AUGI and Autodesk University who talked me through my potential career change. Your input and advice was a balm to me when I needed it.

On March 28th, I began working with my new team, InfoNarus, a CAFM/IWMS consulting firm. Though it was a hard decision, as I interviewed with a handful of fantastic companies, I felt this one would be the best fit for my skillset, interests and personality. The usual disclaimer goes here, that although I proudly represent my company, everything I write here on my personal blog, as well as any other social media (twitter, forums, linkedin, etc) is still my opinion and my opinion only. I do not speak for my organization, so do not take my word as their collective stance.



March 28th has not historically been a great day for me (it's my birthday), but, I did have to reminisce back to 16 years in the past, when I was offered employment with Barnes-Jewish Hospital (one of the nation's top 10 hospital and a part of BJC Healthcare) and got to quit 2 of my 3 pedestrian jobs. It was one for the books. I did work on the BJH Facilities-Engineering team for over 13 years and learned most of what I know about the industry with them and remain in contact with many of my team members. I wish I'd been able to find a promotion opportunity within the organization, but, eventually had to move on.

In the fall of 2013, I started with a financial services company (see my LinkedIn profile for details) with a great reputation for family and community culture, and a strong dedication from leadership to growing management of their facilities assets. I walked into a major system upgrade which had some fits and starts, and most of the team was so jam-packed busy with their daily work that not much change and expansion was able to happen due to time and mental faculty availability. Constant change in other departments also caused some steps backward, having to stop our work to rework workflow we'd established with the other teams outside of our control. Add to that a noisy cube farm that kept getting more and more full and this introvert had to call it a day.
I really miss the people on my team, a dedicated group of users who never once said 'that's not my job', and I still offer the occasional hand of tech support to facilities and IT, since I know questions like the ones they pose to me aren't easily found elsewhere. Best of luck to them as they try to fill my old position, I know they'll get up to great things as they continue to support the growth of the rest of the business!

Now, I get to support clients with their implementation and support needs, and have enjoyed having my coworkers to rely on when I get stuck. It is a change in the type of work only technically, I still get to help facility operators be the best stewards they can be to the assets with which they have been entrusted. Focusing on speeding up workflow and improving accuracy and informing business decisions with concrete data and modern technology can have a huge impact to the efficiency (and stress level) of FM employees.

I look forward to returning to blogging and sharing some good AutoCAD and Revit content with you all, sprinkled with Archibus and other CAFM/CMMS/data management/programming information.

2016-04-28

FM in Social Media

This is the final in my series of posts about resources on the AUGI FM Community. Facilities folks often use AutoCAD and Revit in their facility arsenal and have a lot of knowledge to share. 
I recommend checking out the Facilities Management - In Practice forum listed below, as there have been some really interesting threads in there recently.

And, of course, if you have any favorite FM / CAFM / IWMS / CMMS influencers you like to follow, let me know and I can add them to the list. Cheers!
 

FM in Social Media


Twitter

Blogs

Forums

2016-01-27

BIM for FM Community Resources

Carrying on my sharing of resources from the AUGI Facility Management Community, this is by far the most popular page of topics I had the honor of assembling.


BIM and FM


There is a lot of talk about what professionals think Building Information Modeling can and cannot do in Facility Management (FM).
How about hearing it from the owners themselves? Post-occupancy costs over the life of facilities far exceed the cost of construction, but, building performance can be a big issue from day one.
Real Estate Managers overseeing office space might be able to get along just fine with AutoCAD files if they so choose, but, Facilities departments who care for complex systems like hospitals, research facilities, plants and others can use models to easily import needed equipment data into their Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) and space and other asset data into a Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) system, as well as use their BIM tool of choice to run simulations on (and across) buildings in order to troubleshoot performance issues and plan system upgrades which are separate from their typical renovations.
Only Owners can decide what they will use this data for, and their contracts can make their expecations clear. Discussions between the design team and the folks who will oversee the design data post-construction should be occuring from the start of the project, rather than ignoring the issue until closeout.
This document was posted by Robert Bell to the Revit MEP forum, as a good checklist for discussion between contractors.
This application has been retired/graduated from the Autodesk Labs site, but, please check out the documentation for the intended functionality and contact Autodesk to display your interest in this capability.
Archibus Overlay has long worked with AutoCAD, and you can purchase it for Revit, too, allowing for reporting and querying across multiple models.
This is more of a debate with mulitiple options than an iron-clad framework, but, the idea is worth reviewing.
The General Services Administration has been a forerunner in utilitzing BIM post-construction and thoroughly documenting their standards. Check out the links on the left of the page to access press releases, videos and the BIM Library.
AECbytes does a roundup of FM products that can make use of BIM (this is an older article, if there's a newer version, please let me know and I will update the link). A good read by Lachmi Khemlani, as usual.
Case study on the business case for building information modeling at Northumbria University’s city campus, presented at ECObuild 2013.
A link to a detailed methodology and a real world report of how one hospital stepped through the process.
This article says that most companies are doing a disservice with this question, when they should really be asking 'Who is the Owner?' A rundown of the stakeholders using the data and Revit models turned over to the facilities and engineering staff post-occupancy.
The Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University’s BIM Implementation Project.
Discussion on how to work with clients on delivery and standards formation.
Discussion on some issues with working across a large multi-building campus.
Class handout and video link to an in-depth Revit class by Steve Stafford.

2016-01-21

FM Resources

My last post offered an introduction to the AUGI Facilities Management Community.

FM means different things to different people, from real estate, to operations, to security and housekeeping and potential engineering and space or project management.

With so many different roles to fill, the resources cover an encyclopedic span.

If you have other post-occupancy resources that you consider vital, let me know! mistressofthedorkness@gmail.com 



From the AUGI FM Community Resources Page:

BOMA - Guidelines for how to measure spaces for consistent reporting.
IFMA Space and Project Management benchmarking report.
Cost Analysis of Inadequate Interoperability in the U.S. Capital Facilities Industry
List of course descriptions and links to class handouts from Autodesk University (AU) and Revit Technology Conference (RTC), which apply to post-occupancy concerns
Professional Body for FM in the UK
American Society for Healthcare Engineers (MEPFP engineering in a medical setting)
St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers (look for similar organizations near you)

FM Articles from AUGIWorld and HotNews archives - See above links for publications and Library

2016-01-17

FM Community

Over my next few posts, I'll be sharing resources which I've compiled for the AUGI Facility Management industry community.


Most of the current (user-driven) communities are geared toward a specific product, with the exception of the Manufacturing and FM Communities, which embrace an entire speciality.


From the facilities landing page:

FM Community


Are you a Facility Owner, Operator, Lease Manager, Asset Manager, CMMS or CAFM Administrator?
If you're using Autodesk products to track or feed information with your post-occupancy role, then you are used to having your priorities misunderstood by the rest of the AEC Industry.
Please, feel free to ask questions about your software, processes or procedures in our Facilities-Management - In Practice forum. There is an introduction thread where you can state your facility type and the tools you use and see what others might be using as well.
This is a forum by users and for users. Advertising and solitication is against the forum policies. If you have any difficulties whatsoever with being exposed to sales tactics either use the 'report post' function in the forums or send me (Wanderer) a private message and I'll put on my moderator hat and delicately address the situation with the offending party.
To those who wish to advertise services or products to our members, please keep in mind that the only permissable way to do so it by contacting someone on the Sales team and placing an online or print ad. Thank you for your understanding.
If you have any suggestions for our links and resources pages here (see left column), please don't hesitate to say so.