Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Revit RDBLink: Enhancements to ODBC Export

One of the things that Emile Kfoury, the Sr. Product Manager for the AEC platform mentioned at the DevCamp last week was a new SDK Sample which would be available in the Revit 2008 Service Pack 2 download, called RDBLink.

A wide variety of customers continue to seem interested in the ODBC Export capabilities of Revit. This sample is an example of how you can use the API to take it even further.

This tool picks up AFTER you have already exported a database to ODBC (make sure that you have a clean export from the current Revit version).

Export Enhancement
The tool creates a number of additional tables within the existing Revit database:

  • ElementLevel (relationships between elements and levels)
  • ElementPhase (relationships between elements and their created/demolished phases)
  • DoorWall (relationships between Doors and their host wall)
  • WindowWall (relationships between Windows and their host wall)
  • RoomTags (relationships between Tags, their Rooms what view they're shown)
  • Categories (full descriptions of categories, including their default material info)
  • Openings
  • LineLoadOnBeam
  • AreaLoadOnSlab

In addition, I believe more parameters are pushed into existing tables (such as shared parameters).

All in all, this puts more information into the database - which can only be a good thing for people who are trying to leverage the information from the outside.

Import Enhancement
An important distinction is that this version is also capable of pushing information BACK to Revit. While I haven't tested it extensively, it appears to push a variety of property changes which are made in the database back to their corresponding elements in Revit.

In addition, it appears that this application can create new Family Types based on added rows in the database. The code hints that even more "creation-oriented" capability could be implemented as well.


It will be interesting to see how different firms might use this - it represents another way of exposing BIM data to leverage it in other downstream processes... And the import capabilities will get people thinking about workflows that line up well with the real world (where the design iterates many, many times) - and the BIM data needs to flow in a variety of directions to be ultimately helpful.

NOTE: The Revit RDBLink is part of the 2008 SP2 SDK - so it should be available to everyone (not just ADN members, is my understanding).

Autodesk AEC DevCamps

I spent much of last week in Wakefield, MA at the Autodesk AEC DevCamp...

While the venue and the food was somewhat weak (compared to a sales conference - go figure) - the content of the various classes was reasonably good.

Our company had 7 people attending, so we spread out among the 5 conference tracks.
In particular, I learned:

More about the Revit Certified Application process
While the SDK contains the guidelines, it's nice to hear it explained in person... At this point, nothing will be certified prior to the Revit 2009 releases, but it will be a pretty straightforward process - unless you have a structural application to certify.

Because Autodesk has done so much work with structural application integration, they have 10 additional pages of required workflow and element support to meet the certification.

I'm not sure when in the future we're going to release a retail application (which might be worth certifying) - for the moment, while we're doing custom work and promotional applets - it's not in the cards.

As always, my opinion is the biggest challenge in certification is having a good installer (in particular, one that senses the presence of the various flavors of Revit and offers to install into any or all of them - as appropriate). We're about 1/2 way there - but it's a non-trivial bit of work.

Revit API with Revit MEP: What can be done now?
This meeting demonstrated a good number of sample applications, showing how you could make valuable automation of the MEP product just using what is already available in the API - mainly just driving parameters and modifying Family Instance types.

Examples included things such as sizing Air Terminals based on the rooms that they are supporting.

The keynote was Jay Bhatt (VP of the AEC division) talking about the building market in general, as well as the influence of Green Building and BIM on the marketplace. While I had seen a variety of the slides before in other Autodesk presentations - it was well done.

Revit Families
A great talk by Steven Campbell, a QA Analyst at Autodesk (who is really in charge of all the Revit content - at least in the US)... Steven compressed his Autodesk-internal training class (which is 2 weeks) into a little less than 2 hours... There is just so much that goes into creating good Revit families - it was great to be able to hear someone who has been doing it for 6 years elaborate on what is the right process to follow - as well as just some background on what all those special lines and planes are within the content templates.

Next Up: Manufacturing DevCamp next week.