Saturday, April 5, 2014

How we drown in stylistic audacity

Change the Common Ground

It's April...and a young BIMmer's heart turns towards new software releases.

I find this time of year amusing...or anytime any new software comes out from any vendor.  The "Woot!" 's , the "Oh, darn!" 's , the "There's nothing in this!"...

I love to watch the stamping of the feet and hemming and hawing, and then...nothing.  The loudest of voices are usually the most passionate, and the ones most firmly entrenched.

In my last post, I challenged you to get out off your comfort zone.  I'll go you one more...if you are so mad at whatever someone did or did not do to your software, why not look elsewhere?  Even if it's for hedging your bet or for the sake of learning and you have no intention of changing...

Every good business in their business plan has diversification.  I was at an meeting a few years ago with many leaders from various AEC firms, and one vendor challenged them to diversify their BIM technology..."Put 10% of your projects in a different platform." they challenged.   Most won't (due to cost, or because they just don't want to, don't see a need, whatever), but look at what happened in 2008 when many single-business line AEC firms went diversification.

Side note:
Personally, and my pal Rob Jackson at Bond Bryan can back me up on this term...I am "Agnostic, with Preference."  I really don't care what technology or process you use, nor should you care which ones I use.  From an RFP or Requirements standpoint, I will do whatever is required (of course, "delivery of" and "using" are two different things.)  BUT if you give me a choice, and it fits the bill for the project, I'll choose what I am most familiar will you, and probably a good choice.

My point:  stop complaining if you aren't going to do something about it, and consider BIM Diversity.

(OK, slings and arrows time for those who will argue "We need Cross Platform BIM Interoperability so I don't need BIM Diversity" point is various technologies have various process and capabilities that you won't know about if you aren't aware.)


So, while others have been writing about Revit 2015 features, and ArchiCAD features...I'll do the AECOsim side of the house here.

Now, if you go to  you'll find the main list of the items that will be released in the AECOsim Building Design SELECT Series 5...and there may not seem to be a lot here:

Building Platform:

  • Windows 8.1 Compatibility 
  • Microsoft Office 2013 Compatibility 
  • RFA Interpreter 
  • Reporting Enhancements 
  • Replicate Drawing Option 
  • IFC Export Enhancements 
  • Create Plan View(s) Tool Enhancement 
  • Label Coordinate Annotation Tool 
  • Sneak Preview of Future Enhancements 

o Mechanical:

  • Duct Sizer (New and Improved) 
  • New Mechanical Content 
  • Drawing Enhancements 

o Structural:

  • Steel Deck Enhancements 
But I want to focus on one in particular:  RFA Interpreter.


Make once, use many

Many who I have talked about has asked:  why would Bentley create an RFA Interpreter...does that mean they are giving up on making content?  I don't think so, but you can't deny the wave that is Revit, and you can't deny that many manufacturers are creating their content in RFA (Revit Family).  

Would you want to recreate all that content, or just come up with a way to use it?  Ding, work smarter, not harder.

The RFA Interpreter reads the RFA file, and retains the geometry and parametric controls that are defined in the original RFA but behaves like native components in AECOsim.  The properties and parameters of the RFA are listed out so you can map them to their Datagroup counterparts in your Workspace (or just accept the defaults).    The parametrics are retained, the business intelligence is retained...

You can do import one at a time for placement as a massing-type object and just "place it", you can import one at a time and map the parameters to Datagroups, or you can batch convert bunches at a time for your use.

I'm not going to rehash what is in the Help File above...but I want to focus on one thing here...and I'm not sure people are seeing it.  There's no IFC here, there's no DWG, there's no "translation" per se...AECOSim is READING the RFA File and making it available for use OUTSIDE OF REVIT.

Think about that for a second...really think about it.  Do you see what I see?  Let me know if you see what I see in the comments below.

I'll most likely focus on two more items in coming posts: the IFC enhancements and the Reporting enhancements.

Enjoy the day!

Blog Title comes from the Yes song "Hold On" from 90125

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

If you're tired of the same old story...turn some pages

The familiar is...well....familiar!  We all like the familiar.  We're happy with it, it's comfortable, it's easy.  We know it well, we withdraw to the familiar when things aren't going well.  We are drawn the familiar when we need comfort or affirmation.

And herein lies the problem.  How do you grow?  How do you get differing opinions if you aren't challenged?

Quote to think about
"If you're dumb, surround yourself with smart people.  If you're smart, surround yourself with smart people that disagree with you." -Isaac Jaffe, SportsNight.

Still The Same...
When I was a part of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Large Firm Round Table for CIO's, one of our members asked that we get involved in the recently (at the time) formed Association of General Contractors (AGC) BIM Forum.    The first one I went to was in North Carolina, and subsequent ones were in Florida, Tahoe, Kansas City, etc.  But after a while, I stopped going to the BIM Forum.  I wasn't getting anything out of it.   Why?

The same people saying the same thing.  I don't know if this was by design or not, but it was the by product of the group in my eyes.

Now, it's just an example.  So if you are from the BIM Forum, please don't take offense to my's just that: my opinion.  I could use one of a whole bunch of similar examples:  local user groups, industry groups, technology conferences that do the same.   There's always an 'alpha group' of the same people doing similar things.

It's easy to get into Groupthink...which is "a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences."

When you get into talking to the same people talking about the same thing in the same manner and the same context, one can get real stale real fast.  You can't grow.

Branching Out To a New Idea

Many years ago, I tried to commit myself to be more 'agnostic' with my approach to technology.  I wanted to be open to multiple ways of doing things in multiple technology platforms versus my 'old familiar.'  I grew up Bentley.  I know many right now are leaning or grew up Autodesk or other vendors when it comes to my AEC background, and that's fine.  I was also a Bentley (and Autodesk) reseller at one point in my life.  So, it's easy to fall into the evangelistic role  for a product, and it's easy to get into a "every problem is a nail when all you have is a hammer" approach.  When I moved into management, I made it a goal to step back, and be less "Bentley" and more holistic....look at it from another angle. 

So I went to...Autodesk University.   The differences in approach, in content, in speakers, in many things to what I was used to was very palpable.  Each vendor's conferences has their strengths and challenges.   But the fact that I was a staunch Bentley user going to Autodesk University is the key here....and what did I learn?

Well, I'll admit: I don't necessarily go to AU to learn keystrokes and function/features.  I go to learn other things.  Things like presentation styles, people skills,  networking, conference ideas, technology on the show room floor that may apply to me and my firm, global work-sharing ideas, and a host of things I may not have learned at my familiar conference with the same people.

I got out of my comfort zone, and went and looked around at what else was going on.  I chose to look at something different, and learn. 

This year, I am going to the Revit Technology Conference Design Technologists conference.  Now, I am no longer a primary Revit user (nor was I ever primarily a Revit user.)  But I'm going.  Why?  Get out of my comfort zone.  Go and get a different perspective.   See how others in other platforms deal with the same problem.  Will it change my mind to use Revit in my field?  No. probably not, as I am in the process piping world now.  I don't see Revit as a fit for what we do.  Is that OK?  Sure it is.  Not a fit for everyone...

But the RTC group has smart peers that have similar problems:  technology adoption, change management, chase the sun engineering or global work-share, and a host of other things.

Now, and please take this as constructive criticism and tongue-in-cheek ribbing, but I hope the RTC users will be the same in trying to get out of their comfort zone.  People who have passion for their way, their tech, their whatever....seem to trend towards "My way is best, why would you not do <insert "thing" here.>"  I used to be this preferred technology, all the way, 100%, nothing else matters, and you were dumb if you thought elsewhere.

Now, I call myself "agnostic, with preference."  And by going to other places that don't work around or with my preference, I am learning that many of our problems are similar, many of our solutions are similar, and we can learn from each other, no matter our preference.

Make the Change that you are on the Brink of

My challenge to you:  get out of your comfort zone.  Don't only go to your familiar...go to a conference or a user group that uses something you don't (or may never) use.  See what they do, see why they do it.  Don't go there to sell your way, or to be smug about your choice...go there in the spirit of learning.  We are all smart people, we all have our way, we all do things for reasons.  Instead of looking down, why not ask "why"?

Going solely to the same session at the same conference every year listening to the same people talk about the same or similar things is familiar, it's comfortable, it's also makes you stagnant.  

Get uncomfortable.  Go learn.  Go grow.

Song Lyric Referenced:
REO Speedwagon - Roll With the Changes