AU2017 Influencer Event

It has been awhile since I have posted myself, so I am honored to be able to host another guest post for a fellow AutoCAD Influencer, Frank Mayfield. 

Here are some past guest posts:

After a year of anticipation, AU 2017 has come and passed, and with it, unparalleled learning experiences, along with connecting and reconnecting with new and old friends.
For all its glitz and glamour, Las Vegas is actually a perfect venue for 10,000 geeks to congregate, as its scale and opulence is all powered by its underlying technology. And that technology, after all, is what we’re all about.
Nowhere is this more evident than at the Ka Theater in the MGM Grand. It was my privilege to join an illustrious group of AutoCAD end users, along with key members of the product and marketing teams for a rare, behind the scenes, look at the inner workings of the Ka Theater.

[This dragon greets you to the entrance of the Ka Theater at the MGM]

On Monday afternoon, a full day before AU officially started, our group of “Influencers” enjoyed a lively shuttle ride down Las Vegas Boulevard to the MGM Grand, where we were treated to a wonderful reception with our Autodesk hosts. They knew, as we were soon to, that to fully appreciate the magnitude of the Ka Theater, you must see the Cirque De Soleil “Ka” show itself. So, after the reception, the entire team was treated to this incredible production. We returned to the Venetian later that night, jaws agape from a truly magnificent show. Had that been the entire experience, it would have been more than enough, but our story doesn’t end there…

[A pic of a panoramic photo, showing the theater and the incredible moving stage]

The adventure continues instead the next morning, when our group heads back to the MGM for our exclusive, behind the scenes tour of the Ka Theater. Upon our arrival, the promise of a caffeine pick-me-up was cut short by a long line, and a short time frame.

[AutoCAD Influencers: Shaan Hurley, Lisa Feldhammer, Alyson Moses, Lynn Allen, David Cohn, Rick Ellis, Curt Moreno, and way in the back, Donnie Gladfelter and Rob Maguire]

Soon we found ourselves in the front row of the theater, house lights up, and listening to our guide, the show’s Director of Automation, Mark Castle. He described many of the intricate details of the show and how the moving stage works. The stage production was designed in 2004, and we got to see some of the original drawings – all done in AutoCAD.

[Original 2004 AutoCAD drawing of the Sand Cliff Deck]

Our tour then proceeded three floors down, into the bowels of the Ka Theater. We ended up behind the moving stage, known as the Sand Cliff Deck. This stage is truly the star of the show, as it is able to raise and lower 75 feet by a vertical gantry crane. It can also rotate in three axes with the help of four hydraulic cylinders. During the show, this deck may be level, rotate 360*, or tilt up a full 90* - or anywhere in between!

[Looking down at the Sand Cliff Deck from the stage level]

[Looking back up to the theater level from behind the Sand Cliff Deck, 3 floors below]

The Sand Cliff Deck gets its name from a scene in the show where the deck is covered in a special granular cork material which simulates sand. The effect is spot on, but as Mark explained, the cork is the most difficult aspect for the crew, as at the end of the sand scene, the deck literally tilts forward toward the audience, spilling the cork from the stage, and it gets everywhere, including in the machinery. Cleaning up the sand is the most arduous task between shows.
One thing you may not think of while watching the show, but which does strike you from the vantage point shown above, is that the movement of the stage is nearly silent. I could recall the night before being able to hear the performers' footsteps and movement on the stage. It was explained that this quiet movement is accomplished by all of the hydraulic machinery being housed outside of the venue.
Our group continued the tour with another elevator ride; this time six floors up to the show’s control room. The entire show is electronically controlled from here. A relatively small space, our group was squeezed in tightly as we learned about how they manage the show.

[Linda Sellheim, Leah Friedman et al squeezed into the control room. On the right, the view from the control room.]

Soon, we found ourselves in the practice room. Full of equipment, mats, and harnesses all similar to what is found in the production, the performers spend many hours here honing their skills.

[All of the smart AutoCAD Influencers may look at the practice vertical peg deck, but the dummies must look away]

The final stop on our 90-minute tour was the costume department. On our way in, we saw harnesses for the acrobatic performers, their costumes, and as you see below, cabinets lines with perfect head models of each performer who wear a custom fitted mask.

[If you ever wondered how to get ahead...]

As the costume managers were describing this, I couldn’t help but wonder if a more modern way of accomplishing it might be better? Scan the performer’s head and 3D print it? Even better, scan the head and virtually create the mask, then 3D print that? I’m willing to bet some others in our group had the same thoughts.
One thing we did learn was that the costume department is a very busy place. They’re responsible for creating the costumes of course, but each morning, there is a rack full of things that need to be mended, and they also take care of all the laundering. Plus, backup costumes and alterations are all part of their day’s work.

[The Influencer group listens intently as the costume managers explain their job]

[Never one for being in the spotlight, Lynn Allen does her best to blend in…]

After an hour and a half of awe inspiring behind the scenes technology, our tour came to an end. I want to thank Autodesk, and specifically the AutoCAD team for putting this together for us.
I’ll leave you with this thought, if you ever get the chance to see the Cirque de Soleil Ka show, I highly encourage you to do so. Not only will you be thoroughly entertained, you may remember this post, and think about all the behind the scenes technology that was designed in AutoCAD. Until our next Influencer adventure, farewell for now.

[The AutoCAD Influencer group outside the Ka Theater]

Frank was most recently the CAD Manager for the Oil, Gas and Chemical division at Benham in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In this role, he oversaw all aspects of the AutoCAD, Plant 3D, Navisworks and CADWorx environments.

He has been using AutoCAD since 1986 (v 2.61). Frank is an AutoCAD Certified Professional, a volunteer with AUGI as a forum manager, and a contributing author for the AutoCAD Blog. He is a member of the AutoCAD Customer Council, Autodesk User Panel, the Product Delivery Council, Product Research Community, and the Autodesk Advisors Community.

He was part of a select group invited by Autodesk to attend the inaugural CAD Manager Summit in 2015. As a top-rated member of the AutoCAD All-Star Mentor program, he has provided live guidance and answered questions for over 2,500 in-trial users in more than 50 countries worldwide.



It seems like every time I see someone write, or hear someone speak, about my line of work, they will say something to the effect of "This could better be described by [INSERT TOTALLY NEW AND COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY ACRONYM HERE]".

If you have ever found yourself typing or uttering those words, or something similar, just stop yourself. Please.

Alright. Having grown up in the engineering industry, in the age of CAD, and a burgeoning data management movement, and the expansion of BIM, I am surrounded constantly by acronyms. 
The icing on the cake was that the facility I worked longest in was a medical center, so I had to be familiar with many of those as well.

The title of my post is Three Letter Acronyms / Four Letter Acronyms for Facilities Information Management and Integrated Workplace Management Systems. 
So, yes, it IS nicer to be able to say that in far fewer letters. The only problem is, which letters to use?

Enough ranting and meme-sharing, though. I have collected a series of these acronyms for reference, which I come across often in my work. 
Please feel free to comment any others which you see or use regularly.

CAFM - computer aided facilities management
CMMS - computerized maintenance management system
IWMS - integrated workplace management system
FAM - Facilities Asset Management
FIM - Facilities Information Management
AM - Asset Management
CRE - Corporate Real Estate / Commercial Real Estate
EAM - Enterprise Asset Management
EIM - Enterprise Information Management

HRIS - Human Resources Information Systems
ERP - Enterprise Resource Planning
BAS - Building Automation Systems

DCIM - Data Center Infrastructure Management (datacenter & facilities; energy, equipment and space are efficient)
CAD - Computer Aided Design/Drafting
GIS - Geographic Information System
BIM - Building Information Modeling
IPD - Integrated Project Deliery
COBie - Construction Operations Building Information Exchange
IFC - Industry Foundation Classes (not Insulating Concrete Form, dyslexics of the world untie!)
BEP/PxP/BxP - BIM Execution Plan / Project Execution Plan / BIM Execution Plan
PIM - project information model
LoD - Level of Detail
NCS/NBIMS - National CAD Standard / National BIM Standard US
AEC - Architecture, Engineering and Construction
AEC/FM - AEC & Facilities Management
AECO - AEC & Operations

BOMA - Building Owners and Managers Association
IFMA - International Facilities Management Association

AIM - asset information management
CDE - common data environment
UDF - User Defined Field (~shudders delicately~)


A listing of my articles

So, I'm just back from a day with #AutoCAD Influencers in San Francisco. Everyone admired the JavaScript dress I chose for the event (sorry, Svaha doesn't have anything with AutoLisp on it, but, I do use JavaScript quite a bit in my current role, so I will take it).

Always a good time visiting with Autodesk, talking to people involved with the process of creating or optimizing features and marketing the software, as well as the other users and managers like myself.
I didn't even think about the fact that we were getting together on C.AD (aka Pi) Day. Thanks to Donnie for pointing that out.

I tweeted from the event as @MistresDorkness and @AUGIatAU as well as posting on Google+ and Facebook. (Those of you who are my FB friends, if you're interested in seeing complete photo documentation of the trip, please check out my 'Work Stuff' album there.)

Before heading out to sunny California, I had to turn in my article for my HotNews column. The only distinction being that it will be the last edition of my polls and surveys column, due to participation falloff, since the poll was moved from the homepage to a page under the survey's channel of the AUGI site. I certainly hope that everyone has enjoyed the insight into our membership which these quick polls have given us the past few years.

Be sure to keep an eye on your email for AUGI bulletins and social media postings regarding when the Salary Survey will run this summer.

If you'd like to see a listing of my articles, including the ones I wrote about polls and surveys for AUGI, please see my Additional Content page.




Career Advancement Goals - Writer
Do you 3D print in-house? - Writer
Hardware Review - Lenovo P700 Workstation (Engineering.com) - Author
Does the classroom prepare new employees? - Writer
AutoCAD 2016 tips in pictures - photographer
AUGI 14th Annual Salary Survey - Author and Data Analyst
In-house customization and programming - Writer
Salary Resources - Writer
Are you currently job searching? - Writer
Processes and Procedures Documentation - Writer
Essential 3rd party applications - Writer
How to Get Started in Social Media - Tipster
When do you upgrade your Autodesk software? - Writer
Do you have a side job? (gigonomics) - Writer
10 Years of Blogging - Writer
AutoCAD and LT: No Experience Required 2016 - Technical Editor
Most Frequently Used Command - Writer
A day in the life of a CAD user - Reality Star
2014 Surveys in Review - Writer
Setting Achievable Goals - Writer
AU2014 General Session - Reporter


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. 


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!


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.


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