Using the Revit IFC Export in your own add-on

In September 2011, Autodesk make accessible the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) exporter for Revit as open source code, licensed through a LGPL v. 2.1 licensing agreement. In 2014, this project evolved to include IFC import as well, and was named “IFC for Revit”.

This source code is available on Source Forge, and everyone can contribute to the part of Revit that deal with IFC.

This source code is now the built-in IFC engine for Revit, and I was told that this engine is also behind the conversion service available through Forge.

When the user clicks on Export to IFC, an even is triggered, and Revit catch this even to run the IFC exporter. This also works when the event is triggered by the Document.Export() used through the Revit API by a third-party add-on, like the one I built last week. This IFC Export engine will then read the Revit model, convert every element into its IFC counterpart, and write the resulting IFC file.

How Revit export to IFC

This IFC engine comes with a special UI, the IFCExporterUI, designed to tap into the capabilities of the open-source IFC exporter to give you more control over the configuration of your export.

There are different add-ons for each Revit version, and each new release of Revit is shipped with the most up-to-date IFC engine available at the time. However, the code for this engine evolve quickly, and you can always download the latest version as an add-on on the Autodesk App Store.

At the time of writing, the landscape looks like this:

Revit Version Built-in IFC Exporter version Latest IFC Exporter version (with the Revit IFC add-on)
2016 Exporter 16.0.490.0 – Default UI Exporter 16.6.0.0 – Alternate UI 16.6.0.0
2017 Exporter 17.0.1081.0 – Alternate UI 17.14.0.0 Exporter 17.4.0.0 – Alternate UI 17.4.0.0
2018 Exporter 18.0.0.420 – Alternate UI 18.0.0.420 Exporter 18.2.0.0 – Alternate UI 18.2.0.0

If you want to know witch version you have, you can check it by opening an IFC file with a text editor and look among the first lines, the FILE_NAME one:

Check you exporter version

I didn’t dig into the subtleties of the different flavors of each Revit version, like R2 and other exotic name, you get the picture.

Last week, I published a Revit add-on to send a model to bimsync. Under the hood, this add-on exports the Revit model to IFC before uploading it to bimsync. As I was building my add-on, I realized that I couldn’t just use the Document.Export() function with whatever IFC export settings Revit could provide me. To be useful, such an add-on must allow the user to set up his own IFC Export configuration.

I look into the code of the IFC Exporter UI to understand how this user interface communicate with the export engine. I found out that you need an IFCExportConfiguration class to use a specific IFC Export configuration. Below is an example of the code needed to export a Revit model to IFC:

//Create an instance of IFCExportOptions
IFCExportOptions IFCOptions = new IFCExportOptions();

//Get an instance of IFCExportConfiguration
IFCExportConfiguration selectedConfig = modelSelection.Configuration;

//Get the current view Id, or -1 if you want to export the entire model
ElementId activeViewId = GenerateActiveViewIdFromDocument(doc);
selectedConfig.ActiveViewId = 
        selectedConfig.UseActiveViewGeometry ? activeViewId.IntegerValue : -1;

//Update the IFCExportOptions
selectedConfig.UpdateOptions(IFCOptions, activeViewId);

string folder = "A path to a folder where you want to save your IFC file";
string name = "the name of your IFC file";

//Export the model to IFC
doc.Export(folder, name, IFCOptions);

You start by creating an instance of the IFCExportOptions found in the Autodesk.Revit.DB namespace. This is standard in all Revit flavors.

Then, you retrieve or create an instance of the IFCExportConfiguration class. This is a class provided by the IFC Export add-on that hold every aspect of your export configuration, from knowing if you want to export the BaseQuanties to the path to the IfcPropertySets mapping files.

You get the Id of the active view and use the UpdateOptions method of IFCExportConfiguration to pass it along with all other properties to the IFCExportOptions.

The IFC Export add-on also provide an IFCExportConfigurationsMap class to get the built-in configurations and store the new ones.

The existing export setups

But where find these IFCExportConfiguration and IFCExportConfigurationMaps classes ?

If the IFC for Revit add-on is installed, you can find these classes in the IFCExporterUIOverride.dll. This dll can be found in your ApplicationPlugins folder, in the IFC plugin install folder (C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\ApplicationPlugins\IFC 2018.bundle\Contents\2018)

Running this on a Revit equipped with the add-on will work nicely, but it will fail miserably when the user doesn’t have the IFC for Revit add-on. In this case, the add-on can’t find the IFCExporterUIOverride.dll containing the IFCExportConfiguration class:

Using IFCExportConfiguration without the add-on

If you have a Revit version with the IFC Exporter UI built in (Revit 2017 or 2018), the IFCExportConfiguration and IFCExportConfigurationMaps classes can be found in the IFCExportUI.dll, located in your Revit installation folder (C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit 2018\AddIns\IFCExporterUI). In this case, the features available are the same than our previous case, but are in a different dll.

If you don’t have the IFC Exporter UI at all (Revit 2016 and earlier versions), you must fall back to the basic export options.

In a nutshell, we have to manage these three cases:

Class DLL Revit version
IFCExportConfiguration IFCExporterUIOverride.dll

In C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\ ApplicationPlugins\IFC 2018.bundle\Contents\2018

All Revit version equipped with the IFC for Revit add-on
IFCExportConfiguration IFCExportUI.dll

In C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit 2018\AddIns\IFCExporterUI

Revit 2017 and 2018 without the IFC for Revit add-on
IFCExportOptions RevitAPI.dll

In C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit 2018

Revit 2016 and earlier without the IFC for Revit add-on

To manage these different cases, I created my own export configuration class, named IFCExportConfigurationCustom. This class handle the configuration of the export and is an interface between my code and the possible IFC export options.

I load in my Visual Studio solution the two dll containing the IFCExportConfiguration class, and using alias, I call a different version of it depending on the installation of the user:

IFCExportUI::BIM.IFC.Export.UI.IFCExportConfiguration
IFCExportUIOverride::BIM.IFC.Export.UI.IFCExportConfiguration

I also handle the vanilla Revit 2016 in my IFCExportConfigurationCustom class, without using any version of the IFCExportConfiguration (which is not available in this version of Revit), using instead the plain old IFCExportOptions built-in into Revit.

By managing the different possibilities of the Revit installation, I am able to make use of the best configuration available to export IFC. I am also able to use directly the Setup configuration interface available in the custom UI, and retrieve these user-defined export setups in my add-on.

Edit IFC Export Setup

If you plan on building your own Revit add-on to upload IFC models to a cloud service, don’t hesitate to look into the source code behind this article, the solution can be found on Github.

By opening the source code of its IFC engine, Autodesk make an underrated effort toward interoperability. Even if it’s obviously not for every Revit user, I think that everyone who rely on the Revit IFC export for its own software should look at this engine to get a full understanding of the possibilities offered by this exporter

 

Revit and bimsync Just Got a Room Together!

This is no mystery that I am a big fan of bimsync. But the lack of integration with Revit make things a bit too time consuming than it should be. To start solving this issue, I created a small Revit plugin to upload your model to bimsync in a single click.

You must first log into your bimsync account. After clicking on login, a browser session will open, and bimsync will ask for your credentials and if you want to allow the Revit plugin to be connected to your account. This will grant the plugin access rights to your bimsync account.

Login into your bimsync account

Login into your bimsync account

Once connected, your credential will be safely stored on your computer so you won’t have to login the next time you open Revit.

You can now upload model to your bimsync account. Select “Upload”, select your bimsync project and model, type in the associated comment, select the IFC settings and click on “Upload”. After a while, depending on your file size, your Revit model will be uploaded to bimsync.

Upload your model to bimsync

Upload your model to bimsync

The Setup drop down allows you to select the IFC Export configuration. You can choose a standard “bimsync” recommended setup, an existing setup, or create a new one.

After the first export, bimsync project and model ids will be saved in your Revit model, so you won’t have to select them again the next time. If you are curious, you can find these ids in your Project Information:

Your Project information

Your Project information

To create your own IFC Export setup, you can use the usual IFC Setup Dialog. Select File -> Export -> IFC to open the “Export IFC” dialog. Select “Modify Setup” to open the “Modify Setup” windows, and click on “New” to create a new configuration. You can now set everything in this new configuration before selecting OK to close the “Modify Setup” windows. You can now safely close the IFC Export dialog without exporting anything, and open again the Upload dialog in the bimsync plugin. Your new configuration will be available in the drop-down.

Edit IFC Export Setup

Edit IFC Export Setup

You can also go directly to your bimsync account from Revit by clicking on “Profile”. This is not very useful, but at least you will be a few clicks nearer to change your profile picture.

Under the hood, the system is quite simple. The plugin will look at your selected IFC Setup and use them to export your Revit model in an IFC file. This file is then zipped and uploaded to bimsync.

Between exporting to IFC, compressing the file and uploading it to bimsync, the entire process can be rather long. Depending on your model size, computing power and Internet bandwidth, the Upload command can take a few minutes to complete. I am thinking on using the Autodesk service Forge to convert Revit model to IFC online, freeing your computer from this tedious task.

You can already download the plugin on the Autodesk App Store.

As usual, the entire source code is available on Github, feel free to use it on your own project. Don’t hesitate to report on any issue you might have with this plugin, there is always a lot of room for improvement.

Sloth, the online BCF viewer

I am a vocal proponent of the BIM Collaboration Format. I think issue tracking is what is missing in the building industry, and the BCF provide a standard to do just that. In the meantime, more and more tools are supporting BCF, with the notable exception of Autodesk products, even if add-ons can fill this gap for Revit and Navisworks.

Yet, convincing people to leave their spreadsheet-based ways of working to go on BCF-based workflows still need some form of paper-based reports extracted from these BCF issues. Most of the BCF-based tools lacks this sort of reporting. In this regard, BIM Collab is the best one, and provide the ability to create PDF and Excel reports. But even BIM Collab won’t support Word documents, or the ability to use a custom template.

A while ago, I built a small utility to create Word reports from BCF files. However, this tool doesn’t support BCF 2.0, and lack the ability to create Excel reports. It was more than time to upgrade it. Instead of improving upon it, I decide to rebuild it, this time as a web-based tool, to make it more accessible.

So, I introduce you my very first “web-app”, Sloth, an online BCF reports generator.

Sloth BCF

You can upload a BCF file and see the resulting report in your browser, showing the main information in your issue: Tittle, author and creation date, along with the first screenshot in your issue.

Uploading a BCF file

Once your issues are loaded in your browser, you can export them in a report in a Word or Excel format, writing down all information found in this BCF file. Sloth use basic styles in Microsoft Word to highlight titles and dates.

Export a Word report

You can also upload a Microsoft Word template (.dotx) before exporting the Word report. Your template will be used to create this report.

Add a Word template

To read these BCF files, I am using the XbimBCF .Net library developed by the openbim.org team.  Xbim is following to the letter the BCF specification, adding every necessary check to ensure that all mandatory values are here, between the assigned limits. A few solutions don’t support these specifications, you will end up with the following error message if you try to upload a BCF file from them:

Error in the BCF file

I have tested Sloth with BCF files created in bimsync, Tekla BIMSight, BIMcollab and Solibri. I assume that BIMCollab’s Revit and Navisworks plugins will work as well, please let me know if it is not the case.

As usual, the application is open-source, licensed under the MIT Licence. You can find the source on GitHub. Please don’t hesitate to report any issues you might find, and happy reporting!

VR for Revit

I recently get my hand on an HTC Vive headset, and I spend some time exploring various solutions to display a model in this headset.

The HTC Vive headset

There are a handful of solutions, like the Revit Live from Autodesk or Enscape, but I choose to focus on a VR-only solution build by IrisVR, Prospect.

Installing Prospect is pretty straightforward, and you end up with the Prospect application along with the Revit plugin.

I run the Revit plugin, select a 3D view, and export my model to the Prospect application.

Export your Revit model to a VR scene

The resulting virtual visit is saved in my Prospect library. I can also save this scene as an external file, to open it in another computer running Prospect and a Vive headset.

The visit itself is divided in two, a scale model overview and a walkthrough.

In the scale model mode, you can see a small-scale view of the model that you are able to manipulate like any 3D view in your favorite design tool. You can also add sections and move them around. The feeling is close to manipulating an actual physical mockup, as we move it, turn it around and “grab” it to have a closer look.

Section and rotation of the scale model

This scale model mode also works as the entry point to the virtual visit itself, as it allows you to teleport yourself in the building.

Teleport in the model

In the second mode, the visit itself, you can actually walk into the building and look around. The navigation tool is well designed, and you quickly end up teleporting yourself everywhere in the building, walking around like you own the place.

Along with the walkthrough, Prospect provide a few tools for design review, like screenshots and markups. You can draw a few notes in mid-air and take a picture of your annotations for later review.

There is also a nice daylighting simulation tools which helps us feel the light inside the future building.

Daylighting analysis

Daylighting analysis

To enjoy all these features, you will need a Pro subscription, but you can start with the free tiers, which include the ability to create a VR scene from Revit, Rhino and Sketchup.

The overall experience is really interesting, and let us imagine new workflows to validate a design with a colleague or a client. The main drawback, shared by any VR experience, is the lack of interaction with others. Strapped in your headset, you can only see what is inside the scene, and the experience feels rather lonely. However, this is probably the best tool to immerse yourself in the future building and get a sense of the space and light.

A new version of Group Clashes

I just updated my Clash Grouper plugin for Navisworks.

The main purpose of this update was to solve some issue encountered by early adopters. The plugin should now be more stable. Many thanks to the users who contributed to this release with their feedback and test models.

I also add some new features to the application, that I will showcase with this example. Detecting clashes in this simple layout of ducts (Selection A, in blue) and pipes (Selection B, in red) yield 8 clashes, spread like this:

An example of a clash test

Creating subgroups

Grouping with two condition will now create a first group per the first rule. It will then divide this first group into subgroups, following the second rule.

If we group this example by Selection A (the ducts), we get the following groups, named after the item used to create the group. All clashes involving the same item from selection A are grouped together:

Grouping by Selection A

If we add a new group rule, say, by grid intersection, the plugin will break these groups into subgroup, according to this new rule. Here, it will rename the existing group by adding the nearest grid intersection name, and break the group {Clash 7, Clash 8} into two, each one belonging to a different grid intersection.

Grouping by Selection A and Grids

Keep existing groups

You can now keep existing groups, so the Group Clashes will run only on the remaining clashes. This open more possibilities for complex workflows to group and sort clash results.

For example, you can group by status, explode the “Active” group and keep this “Approved” group. After running again the grouping function by level, it will only take into account the clash result, and keep the “Approved” group intact, allowing you to focus on “Active” group

Another example, if we create manually the following group in our previous clash test:

An existing group

We can then run a Group by Grid intersection on the remaining clashes to create the following groups for the remaining clashes, without disturbing the existing group.

Remaining clashes are grouped

Batch grouping

You can now select multiple clash tests to apply the same grouping rules to all of them

Batch processing

Along these new features, a few corrections have been made. Some groups where not properly named, this is now corrected, and these groups names should now be more meaningful. Handling missing grids or levels is now better managed, and the application should be generally more stable.

As usual, you will find this new version of Group Clashes on the Autodesk App Store. If you want to develop your own grouping rules, you can also find the entire source code on Github.

Happy grouping!

Revit plugins updates and new features

As usual during this time of the year, I published the new version of my plugins for Revit.

Align

The big improvement this year is the ability to align any type of elements, annotations or tags. I must thank Deyan Nenov and his large contribution to the source code for this new feature.

From now on, you can select any kind of element and align or distribute them evenly. This feature use the bounding box of the element in the view as a reference.

Align or distribute all elements

The Align command is still view-dependent, so using it in section view or in a plan view will not have the same effect on the overall position of a given element. A word of caution however, the align function can be unreliable in a 3D view.

View-dependent align functions

Of course, you can still use it to align or distribute your tags and annotations, and it even works with viewports:

Align viewports

Along with these improvement, Align now fully support Area tags, and a few bugs have been eliminated. You can now use Align even if on tag without a leader, and multi-leader text are now fully supported, and some selection subtlety have been introduced.

Align tags and texts

I haven’t tested it with all categories, if you find something weird, please let me know, I would be happy to fix it.

You can find this new version on the Autodesk App Store.

Room Finishing

Along with the support for Revit 2018, I corrected an issue where a skirting board was created even if the room was not bound by a wall. From now on, Room Finishing will not create a skirting board along room bounding lines.

Support room with room boundary lines

Room Finishing is also available on the App Store.

Time Stamper

The Time Stamper plugin got a few improvements this year along with the usual bug smashing.

You can now choose between applying your time stamp to every element, or just the one visible in the view. This will give you the ability to filter on which element you want to apply a stamp.

You can also choose to keep or override an existing value, this should help you keep the history of a given element.

A few bugs where corrected, making the creation of the four shared parameters far more reliable. Groups are now supported.

Support for groups

Time Stamper is now available here.

These new versions are now available on the Autodesk App Store. Don’t hesitate to report any issue you might find in them or ask for improvement.

These plugins are open source, you can find the source code here, here and here. Feel free to use it on your own project or contribute to these projects.

Building a Forge Web Viewer

Web-based “BIM” solutions are the last big trend, and Autodesk is among the most advanced player in this area with their API offering called Forge.

Autodesk Forge is a product from Autodesk that don’t come with a user interface. Instead, it is designed to be used through other software, and especially web-based solutions. Autodesk Forge is also the technology behind most of the web-based product of Autodesk, like BIM 360 Team, Docs or the A360 Online File Viewer.

The community around these products is growing, and new resources and samples are published on an almost daily basis.

Among them, Augusto Gonzales recently wrote a comprehensive tutorial to build a small web viewer using Autodesk Forge and ASP.NET. Being more of a .NET programmer, I took on this opportunity to learn more about this new product and build my own web-based Forge viewer.

I start by creating an ASP.NET Core MVC Web Application with this tutorial. ASP.NET Core being a web framework developed by Microsoft, you can use your C# skills to “easily” build web application.

I follow the detailed explanations from Augusto Gonzales to send my model to the Autodesk server for conversion, get an GUID back and use it to display my model in the Forge viewer. The explication on the blog are straightforward, and I won’t delve into it. I just had to made some few changes since I am using a different version of the ASP.NET Core framework.

Using technologies from Microsoft, it is easy to publish my application on Azure, the Microsoft cloud hosting solution.

I called the end-result Termite, and it is available here.

The Termite Web Viewer

By default, you see a model of my neighborhood from my last post, but you can also upload your own files. A word of caution, uploading and translating a large model can take quite some time, do not close the windows until your model is displayed on the screen.

I also add some features to the viewer. You can lock the rotation of the view by clicking on the lock icon. I also put in place a very basic section tool. To use the section, click on “Add a section” and select a face in the model to create your section.

Viewer Extensions

These features are built as extension of the Autodesk Forge Viewer, are written in JavaScript and run in the browser of the end user.

The source code is available on GitHub. Seasoned web developer will probably find a lot to correct in my application, but I hope to improve with practice

I still have a lot to learn in this area, so you might expect some other web app in the next few weeks.

Modeling a neighborhood with Flux Site Extractor, GIS data and Revit

Since my last post, I kept on working on urban development. I particularly think about importing GIS data into our usual authoring tools. My experience with Infraworks was interesting, but it is still difficult to use this data in a Revit model.

The most promising resource out there for creating a context in a Revit model is the Flux Site Extractor. You select an area, add some features to extract and send them to a Flux project.

The Flux Site Extractor interface

After retrieving this data in my Flux Site Project, I use the Flux Dynamo nodes to get the topography as a mesh, extract the vertices of this mesh as points and use these points to create a toposurface in Revit.

Creating a toposurface from the Flux Site Extractor

Building profiles and heights came from OpenStreetMap, and aren’t accurate enough to be used for site analysis. But I am using building profiles to draw on a plan view the footprint of every building retreived with Flux. This will help me futher down the road to align my buildings on the toposurface.

Buildings footprints drawn in a plan view

I found more accurate data on the parisian buildings on the APUR Open Data plateform. I download this data as a shapefile containing every building in Paris.

Obviously, this dataset is too large to be imported as it in Revit. I am using QGIS, an open source GIS application, to extract a subset of this file. To do so, I draw a polygon encompassing the few city blocks I want to retrieve and use the “Clip” function to create a new shapefile containing only the selected buildings.

Isolate the propers city blocks

I am using the DynamoGIS package to import this shapefile into Revit. These nodes allow me to read the file and extract the shapes of the buildings.

The most difficult thing here was to include inner boundaries in a building shape. These boundaries are not taken into account by the Surface.ByPatch node. I manage to split the first surface (the largest) using the inner curve. This allow me to create the hollowed surface.

Highlight of inner boundaries

The DynamoGIS include nodes to query any value associated with shapes. I am using them to retrieve building heights in the dataset and extrude my buildings at their proper height.

Since it is GIS data, I am using a nice tip from LandArch to move my geometry near the project base point, and make it usable in Revit.

I am using the FamilyInstance.ByGeometry node from the great Spring nodes of Dimitar Venkov to create the buildings as mass families.

This Dynamo definition create a mass family for every building in the shapefile, extruded up to its actual height. Combined with the toposurface created with Flux, this look like an actual neighborhood, where you can think about massing and site integration directly in Revit.

Site integration of a project

This process still has a few issues. The buildings aren’t adjusted at the toposurface and aligning them with the toposurface created with the Flux Site Extractor involve some manipulations. I still have some work to do on this process to streamline it, and get a more accurate representation of an existing site.

Another view of the project

 

Modeling Paris with InfraWorks

It has been a while since I wanted to play with InfraWorks, but I never had the chance, nor any purpose until recently, when I start to ponder on retrieving existing conditions to integrate future buildings in existing conditions, without having to rely on time-consuming on-site surveys.

When starting with InfraWorks, the easiest way to create a model is to use the Model Builder. This feature use data from OpenStreetMap and Microsoft Bing Maps to create fully featured models, with terrain, roads, orthophoto, and so on.

The Model Builder interface

The Model Builder interface

Using this Model Builder, I quickly create a complete 3D model of Paris.

The initial model created from OpenStreetMap

The initial model created from OpenStreetMap

However, this model is not accurate enough for any practical application. For example, the 10-stories building where I live is modeled as a 2 levels building. My idea was to use these buildings for site integration and lighting solar studies, but building heights provided by OpenStreetMap is not reliable enough, I had to find another data source.

I am quite envious of the data used to build Google Maps, which can provide us a 3D model of every building, based on 45-degree aerial imagery. But these data are obviously not easily available, and I fall back on open data.

APUR, the Paris Urban Planning Agency provide an Open Data platform with a lot of datasets about Paris and its suburbs.

Their “EMPRISE BATIE PARIS” dataset contains every building in Paris in Shapefile format. Importing it in InfraWorks is quite easy, but this dataset must be configured to map its values with InfraWorks features.

To do so, it is necessary to map the information contained in the dataset to the property of building objects in InfraWorks.

Configuring the dataset

Configuring the dataset

Some properties, like Roof Height, can be easily filled with data coming from the APUR dataset. However, this dataset is far richer than that, and I wanted some specific information, like construction date, to be imported in InfraWorks as custom properties.

To create these custom fields, I have to edit the “im.schema.json” file located in “%USERPROFILE%\Documents\Autodesk InfraWorks Models\Autodesk 360\modelNumber\modelName.files\unver. Using the indications found here, I edit this JSON file to create five custom fields for the “Building” class in InfraWorks: Construction Date, Refurbishment Date, IHG (Hight-Rise Building), Roof Height Standard Deviation and Roof Type. These fields are then mapped to the corresponding values found in the APUR dataset, using the Table tab in “Data Source Configuration”.

Mapping custom fileds

Mapping custom fields

Since my data contains the type of roofing material of the building, I create a rule to match the appearance of the building with my dataset. These Roof Type values are integers defining a roofing material for every building.

Using great explanations from here, I create a small script to map these values to a roofing material in InfraWorks, with a switch command on the type of roof described in the dataset.

//Added by me

switch (SOURCE["C_TOITDOM"])
{
case 0: BUILDINGS.ROOF_MATERIAL = "Material/Roofing/Spanish Tile Brown";
break;
case 1: BUILDINGS.ROOF_MATERIAL = "Material/Roofing/Spanish Tile Brown";
break;
case 2: BUILDINGS.ROOF_MATERIAL = "Material/Roofing/Zinc";
break;
case 3: BUILDINGS.ROOF_MATERIAL = "Material/Roofing/Slate Grey";
break;
case 4: BUILDINGS.ROOF_MATERIAL = "Material/Roofing/Masonry Stone Black";
break;
case 5: BUILDINGS.ROOF_MATERIAL = "Material/Roofing/Grass Augustine";
break;
default: BUILDINGS.ROOF_MATERIAL = "Material/Roofing/Spanish Tile Brown";
}

 

Most of Paris buildings have a very characteristic zinc roof, a material that is not available by default in InfraWorks.

Typical Parisian roofs

Typical Parisian roofs

Using the style palette, I create my own zinc material from a picture and a few settings.

Creating a custom "Zinc" material

Creating a custom “Zinc” material

My final experiment was to use the Feature Themes tab to display construction dates for Parisian buildings.

This function allows me to add a color scheme to my buildings to display values, here the construction date.

FeatureThemes

The result in quite compelling, every building is displayed in color per its construction date.

Displaying construction dates

Displaying construction dates

Building models of entire cities is incredibly easy with InfraWorks, and as long as you have correct data sources, it seems to be the perfect tool to re-create the environment for your studies.

Linking documents to a model

These days, there is a lot of ideas around using a building information model for facilities management. Among these ideas, a recurring theme is to integrate documents, mostly technical sheets, directly into the model.

Aside from the fact that I don’t see how a model build to design, analyse, and coordinate a building could be use directly in facilities management, there is also some non-trivial technical problems to overcome to have any documents properly linked to your model, whether you are using Revit, Navisworks, or an IFC viewer.
Below is a list of these technical problems, and some though on how to solve them.

Adding a link in Revit

Adding a link in Revit is fairly straightforward, you just have to use a “URL” parameter (shared or built in), and type in your link. Since a technical sheet is generally the same for every building element of a given type, it makes more sense to me to add it in a type parameter.

Door Type URL parameter

Door Type URL parameter

As you can see, I type in a relative path to my technical documentation, this allows me to move around the entire “As-built documentation” folder (models and technical sheets in PDF) without breaking the links. I end up with a pretty simple folder structure, with a model at its root, and the technical sheets nicely ordered in one folder per category.

The folder structure

The folder structure

If you click on the small “…” button in Revit, your linked technical document will immediately open in the associate viewer, here, Acrobat Reader.

How to open the linked technical sheet

How to open the linked technical sheet

Adding a link without Revit

Selecting equipment and material is generally done through spreadsheets or building economy software, and by people who could not be proficient with Revit. Therefore, I have searched for solution to do it outside Revit.
The new Flux Scheduler is an application based on Flux, which allows us to create online schedules from data uploaded through the Revit Flux plugin.

The Flux Scheduler

The Flux Scheduler

By using this Flux Scheduler, I could upload my doors on Flux, create a door schedule directly on Flux, use Excel to add the URL link, and upload back these values in Revit

Type the URL in Excel before uploading them in Revit

Type the URL in Excel before uploading them in Revit

Delivering a Navisworks model

Once exported to Navisworks, the “Link” button will display a small link button on every linked object, which open the linked technical sheet.

The link in Navisworks

The link in Navisworks

However, you must keep your Navisworks model in the same location in your “As-Build Documentation” folder structure as your initial Revit model to keep the relative links functional. In our case, we end up with the following folder structure:

The folder structure with a Navisworks model

The folder structure with a Navisworks model

Delivering an IFC model

If you export this Revit model to IFC, and open it in Solibri Model Viewer, you can display the link, but not click on it. However, by writing a “\” before the link in Revit, Solibri Model Viewer recognize it as link and you can open the technical sheet with a click. This could obviously become problematic in Revit, since when you add this “\”, Revit doesn’t recognize the link anymore.

The clickable link in Solibri

The clickable link in Solibri

Tekla BIMSight, on the other hand, couldn’t recognized any of those links as a clickable item.

As you can see, they are many ways to link documents to a model and retrieve them in a viewer, and a few things could go wrong along the way. So, before starting anything, I would recommend to make sure you can link or embedded documents in your deliverables and structure these deliverables accordingly.