RTV Tools

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Realtime Presentation Tools in 2016, and Autodesk Live Download Links

The realtime visualisation industry is really heating up, with some awesome products out there. Most of these rendering engines are also supporting VR, which is now solidly on the 'slope of enlightenment' and consumer acceptance.  Which realtime rendering and 3D visualisation product do you think is the best in 2016?

I started a survey and would love your opinion, see below:

I would like to run this survey again in 2017 and see how things have progressed...

Now, I'm resisting the capitalization of Autodesk Live for the time being. Maybe I'll come around, but for now maybe its a bit heavy handed :)

Download links for Autodesk Live products:

Note: when you make a .live file, you specify whether you want it to be for iOS or for Windows desktop, and they are not interchangeable.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What Is The Quickest Way to Filter A Selection of 2D and 3D Elements in Revit?

The Filter dialog in Revit doesn't always tell you if an item is 2D (living in a view) or 3D (living in a model). This is most noticeably with something like DWG links and imports. If you have selected all of these in your project (perhaps with the help of Dynamo), how can you separate them into 2D and 3D?

Because you can't change something like Workset until you have only 3D dwgs selected...

Its quite easy actually! If you have your selection ready, simply start the Create Group command from the Ribbon. It will sometimes offer a warning or error about how it can't group everything you have selected. Once you get past that warning, you are probably going to be left with a Model Group of only 3D elements. Then, you can go ahead and change the Workset of all of these imports at once.

On other occasions and depending on your original selection, Revit may actually offer to save the Model Group with attached Detail Groups.

Fix for Unity Black Window on Startup

If you install Unity on a secondary hard drive, you may experience the problem where Unity opens to a black dialog window only, with no menus or anything. Here is the fix:
  1. Get code from below (or from source here)
  2. Modify set UNITY_PATH=C:\Program Files\Unity to match your install location
  3. Put the text in a bat file and run it
  4. Unity should work now
 Code copied here:

set UNITY_PATH=C:\Program Files\Unity

set UNITY_7Z=%UNITY_EDITOR_PATH%\Data\Tools\7z.exe

set UNITY_ROAMING_NODEMODULES=%HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH%\AppData\Roaming\Unity\Packages\node_modules





"%UNITY_7Z%" x -y -o"%UNITY_ROAMING_NODEMODULES%\" "%UNITY_ROAMING_PACKAGES%\unityeditor-cloud-hub*.tar"
move /Y "%UNITY_ROAMING_NODEMODULES%\package" "%UNITY_ROAMING_NODEMODULES%\unityeditor-cloud-hub"

"%UNITY_7Z%" x -y -o"%UNITY_ROAMING_NODEMODULES%\" "%UNITY_ROAMING_PACKAGES%\unityeditor-collab-history*.tar"
move /Y "%UNITY_ROAMING_NODEMODULES%\package" "%UNITY_ROAMING_NODEMODULES%\unityeditor-collab-history"

"%UNITY_7Z%" x -y -o"%UNITY_ROAMING_NODEMODULES%\" "%UNITY_ROAMING_PACKAGES%\unityeditor-collab-toolbar*.tar"
move /Y "%UNITY_ROAMING_NODEMODULES%\package" "%UNITY_ROAMING_NODEMODULES%\unityeditor-collab-toolbar"

"%UNITY_7Z%" x -y -o"%UNITY_ROAMING_NODEMODULES%\" "%UNITY_ROAMING_PACKAGES%\unity-editor-home*.tar"



via forum

Friday, October 21, 2016

Check Out The Public Revit Roadmap

Ever wondered where your Subscription $$$ are going? Now you can find out at the Public Revit Roadmap:

A few interesting links at the end of the page:
We’ll post updates periodically, and your feedback helps!  Let us know what you think. If there are specific areas of interest, you can submit requests through Revit Ideas -

If you would like to provide feedback on these capabilities, we would be happy to involve you in our beta program (Revit Preview).  Reach out to revit.preview.access@autodesk.com to join Revit Preview.

The First-Ever Public Revit Roadmap - Autodesk Community

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Making Curved Mullions that Can Be Scheduled In Revit

Interesting question raised by Rene Pellicer Garcia on LinkedIn recently:
I found that I just couldn't make real Revit curved mullions (of the right category, schedulable, measurable, etc). Best I could do was a geometry that looks very mullion-like, but can't schedule it, measure it or quantify it...

It is one of those situations where there are many ways to accomplish the same task, and those methods could include:
  • Traditional family modelling
  • Adaptive components
  • Dynamo
  • Non-typical modelling (railings, structural framing etc)
I decided to give it a go with the Adaptive Component method. Here's how I attacked the problem:
  1. Created an adaptive profile family
  2. Nested that into a 3 point Arc Mullion Adaptive family, and hosted it on the arc reference line
  3. In the Arc Mullion Adaptive, made the main mullion form from the profile and the arc
  4. Created a rig of Reference Lines to host the Arc Length Dimension
  5. Used some hosted points on the Arc as intersected references for the Arc Length Dimension
  6. Made a shared, instance, reporting parameter on the Arc Length Dimension

  7. Loaded that family into the Mass form family
  8. Placed it with 3 point click placement
  9. Selected the Instance and used Repeat command to make it into a Repeater
  10. Did similar for horizontal mullions
  11. Noticed some places where it 'broke' - mostly where the Arc Length Dimension flips inside out or goes straight -- considered making a 'straight' version of the family for these locations?
  12. Made a schedule, filtered by Type Mark, showing these Arc Lengths
  13. For the purpose of Identification, made a quick Dynamo Script to auto-populate the Mark parameter:

I'm sure my solution is not perfect, but it is one way of attacking the problem. It could be finetuned to be more robust and provide a nice modelling output.

You can download my modified sample file here, containing the adaptive components.

LinkedIn discussion:
Creating schedulable curved mullions in Revit

Monday, October 17, 2016

How to Disable the 3Dconnexion KMJ Emulator driver for Game Controllers

The 3dxWare package installs an emulator which basically lets the 3dconnexion device pretend that it is a game controller. However, this can cause problems. I was recently emulating a Wii U Pro controller as an Xbox 360 controller for use in Virtual Reality in Revizto. But the KMJ emulator was causing problems...

So, you need to disable the KMJ emulator using these steps:
  1. Go to Device Manager
  2. Switch to View - Devices by Connection

  3. Under 3Dconnexion KMJ Emulator, look for HID-compliant game controller
  4. Right-click and disable it

  5. It will no longer show up under Game Controllers in Windows

Using the above steps, I was able to use Revizto Viewer in Game navigation mode simultaneously with a 3Dconnexion device in its native mode, plus the emulated Xbox 360 controller.

Heads-up via user on the forum

Building A High Performance Portable BIM Workstation - Part 2 - Going Meta

What specification did I end up with?
(Read the previous Part in this series to see how we established some baseline specs)

After checking out a few different manufacturers and comparing pricing, I decided to go with a Metabox rig.

Here are the details:
Metabox Prime-X P870DM-G
  • 17.3" 4K QFHD 3840x2160 IPS WVA Matte 60Hz (100% SRGB) NVIDIA G-Sync LED
  • NVIDIA GeForce 980 (GXX) Extreme 8GB GDDR5 VRAM with G-Sync
  • Intel Core i7-6700K Processor (8M Cache up to 4.2 GHz)
  • 64GB DDR4 2400MHZ (4 x 16GB)
  • Samsung 950 Pro 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD
  • 2TB 5400RPM Slim line HDD
  • Killer 1535 AC Low Latency WIFI and Bluetooth

As you can see, it meets the following requirements:
  • 64GB RAM
  • High end desktop gaming graphics (not mobility)
  • High end consumer CPU
  • PCIe M.2 SSD

Here are some of the other things in the box:
  • External USB Slim Blu-ray Reader/Writer Optical Drive
  • Win 10 Professional 64BIT License & Media - Installed & Ready-Out-Of-The-Box
  • 2 Year Metabox Platinum Care Onsite Pickup Protection
  • Power DVD Bluray & DVD Playback w/ Burning Suite

And here is what it looks like when compared to a Surface Pro 3 (my previous site office rig):
Metabox Prime-X P870DM-G

I've been using this system for serious work for about 2 months...
  • How did I set it up, and 
  • How does it perform? 
We will consider these question in future parts in this series.

How to Stop Windows 10 from Restarting Your Computer

It is getting harder to stop Windows 10 from 'auto restarting' after an update. There used to be some UI settings, but now you have to get a bit more insistent.

Here's how:
  1. In the Run dialog box (Windows Key + R) type "gpedit.msc" (without quotations), hit Enter
  2. Go to Computer Configuration - Administrative Templates - Windows Components - Windows Update
  3. Double click on "No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations"
  4. Enable it and click Apply

How to prevent Windows 10 from restarting the computer after installing updates - Super User

Friday, October 14, 2016

How to Fix "Unexpected errors occurred while exporting these elements to the IFC file" when exporting IFC from Revit

Even using the latest IFC exporter addin, it may still have problems with some elements, causing the message:
Unexpected errors occurred while exporting these elements to the IFC file

I used these steps to work around this issue:

  1. Open Revit model
  2. Neutralize coordinates (for explanation and steps see here)
  3. Tried the export, which failed, with this error
  4. Then got the element ID from the error report
  5. Went to a suitable 3D view for export
  6. Hid that element in the View
  7. Modified the IFC export settings to use “elements in view”
  8. Re-exported, which now worked without error. 
Hope it helps!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Direct Download Links for Revit 2017.1, Revit 2016 Update 7, and The DynamoBIM Player is Here

Big day yesterday in Revit updates, particularly with Revit 2017.1 (apparently not really 2017 Update 1, but more like 2017 R2 or subscription release?) bringing some really cool enhancements, and the Dynamo Player! Here are some links and other information:

Revit 2017.1 (point 1, or maybe R2, but not really 'Update 1' ??)
Direct Download Link
Release Notes 
Autodesk blog post
    showing these top new features:

Revit 2016 R2 Update 7
Direct Download Link
Release Notes

Dynamo Player
People have been asking for a way to run their scripts more easily and transparently, and now you can. Simply install Revit 2017 Update 1, ensure you have Dynamo installed, and you will have a new option on your Ribbon...

It comes preconfigured to point at a samples folder:

You can point this at your own "Player" folder containing DYNs.

Press Play button to Run, and Edit button to open the DYN in Dynamo.

It remains to be seen how inputs will be handled?

Pick Objects and Dynamo Player
Interesting thoughts over on the forum, about how if you use a DYN with a Select Node, it will still 'work' --  this opens up some great possibilities!

Dynamo Player on Revit Help

Associated discussion over here.

Revizto 4.2 Released

I have spent some time in the pre-release testing phase of Revizto 4.2, and there are some really nice enhancements. One of the big ones is that you can now optimize your models in the cloud after the initial Sync. So you have the initial 'local' compression options, plus a cloud optimization phase. This can result in a really big decrease in model size, which is something that has been needed.

Also, the VR capability is improving - you can now use VR to view issues! And the HTC Vive controllers are now supported, so the Vive experience in Revizto should be even better now.

Better support of 4K screens is also great, as is DWF import support.

More export options:

Vector sheet export:

So head over to https://revizto.com/en/download and grab the new version...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Loading And Editing Materials in Revit

Material Editing in Revit takes a bit of getting used to. It was a big change in Revit 2013, but by now we should be getting used to it, right?

Here's a little image showing how you can:
  1. Load a material from a Library
  2. Access its Appearance
  3. Open the Asset Browser
  4. Swap the Appearance

Using a Wii U Pro Controller as an Xbox 360 Controller in Windows 10

In some VR applications, the Xbox 360 controller is a hardcoded default. If you don't have one, you may be able to emulate with a tool like x360ce. If you specifically have a Wii U Pro Controller, you can connect via Bluetooth and emulate a 360 controller with the steps below.

Here's how:
  1. Unzip WiinUSoft
  2. Install the SCP driver from the subfolder (right click as Administrator)

  3. Go to Bluetooth settings in Windows
  4. Pair with Nintendo controller

  5. Run WiinUSoft as Administrator
  6. Press the X button on the screen to start emulating Xbox 360 controller with Wii U Pro Controller

  7. You can also create custom mappings

Here is how it shows up under Game Controllers:

Some links:

WiinUSoft 2.1.zip


Downloads - WiinUPro

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Building A High Performance Portable BIM Workstation - Part 1 - Specification

So, you are in the market for a new BIM workstation? Recently I was too, and I wanted to share my experience and the 'process' of specifying, buying, and setting up a BIM workstation.

Over the years, I have been involved in setting the recommended specs for quite a number of CAD and BIM machines, and have used various suppliers - from big name brands, to the smaller PC builders. I personally feel that the big name brands rarely make sense in terms of what you get for what you spend. Many large firms will go with HP or Dell because they have some kind of long term agreement with them. But for small to medium businesses, you can definitely shop around to get maximum performance for your budget.

Target Applications
Firstly, you really need to clearly define the purpose of this machine... and this often boils down to "Which software am I going to use most of the time?" It can be good to put an estimated percentage on this.

For me, it would be something like:
  • Revit 30%
  • Navisworks 30%
  • Revizto 20%
  • Other 20%

Secondly, you need to determine if you need portability. I move around quite a lot, typically spending a few days in a site office, a day in our head office, and a day or two doing training or implementation work each week. So I need a powerful machine that can jump from desk to desk. I'm not overly concerned with battery life or even weight, as it won't ever really be a 'lap' top, but rather a portable desktop workstation.

I thought it would be worth mentioning that some people at this point would immediately jump to running a thin client of some sort, connected to a web host virtual machine with heaps of grunt. And that makes sense for some people. But I need to be able to run things like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and the internet connection is simply not good enough in parts of Australia to completely rely on a virtual workstation

Form Factor
With that in mind, I wanted to build the fastest portable Revit, Navisworks and Revizto machine without going too crazy on the budget. The Director here at Virtual Built understands the importance of good hardware, which is great. I have been in the situation at previous jobs where you are wrestling to get an outdated piece of hardware updated or refreshed... it can be a drawn out battle!

Moving on, what does the above actually mean in terms of platform and specs? I looked at mobile and compact tower PCs, but it didn't seem practical. Some of these have a monitor engaged on the side of the tower, but again, this wasn't really well suited to running meetings.

So, I ended up looking at laptops. I started to focus on gaming laptops. Because a big part of how we work involves Revizto, and Revizto is built on Unity, and Unity is a game engine... it makes sense that good game hardware will run nicely. I have already come to the realisation that high end (Quadro) graphics in terms of ROI doesn't make a lot of sense on Revit, and even with Navisworks I don't see it as a huge advantage. If you were doing a lot of 3dsMax work, maybe the high end graphics would be more important.

Memory (RAM)
It is actually quite difficult to find a laptop that can take 64GB of RAM. I feel that 64GB RAM is the new baseline if you are working on any kind of complicated BIM projects, such as large hospitals. This helped prune down the list to just those gaming laptops that could handle big memory.

My comments about Quadro graphics cards kind of come into play here as well. Most people in a normal working environment will simply get better value from the high end consumer Intel CPU range (such as i7), rather than going with Xeon/s. And I was more interested in clock speed than cores, because while Revit is getting better at using multiple cores, it still isn't really there yet.

So, what graphics card should we go for? Many laptops come with the M (Mobility) range of nVIDIA graphics, like 980M and so on. I guess I'm an nVIDIA guy? I was pretty interested to learn that some high end gaming laptops actually take a full desktop graphics card architecture and cram it into the portable form factor. This means I could have a portable machine, without sacrificing any graphics prowess.

Obviously, the main drive needs to be an SSD, minimum 512GB. But did you know about PCIe M.2 SSD drives? These things are ridiculously fast. We will also probably need a big secondary drive to store large datasets, including a sync location for our company Box storage. This doesn't need to be an SSD, but it could be if the budget allows.
Non SSD drive performance

PCIe M.2 SSD performance

Some peripheral choices are not hugely important, but I think that getting the fastest and best network interfaces (Wifi and LAN) actually do make a productivity difference. Minimum of 3 or 4 USB3.0 ports if you can, and a few different graphics outputs - HDMI and mini DVI at a minimum. Would also be nice to have integrated Miracast (Wireless Display adapter) as well.

What does all of this mean? Well, let's try and sum up the spec in one sentence:

A laptop with 64GB RAM,

the fastest i7 processor that can fit into the budget,

desktop nVIDIA gaming graphics (minimum 970),

a PCIe M.2 SSD primary drive, 2TB secondary,

and fast network interfaces.

In Part 1 of this post, we discussed the briefing and specification of a high end portable BIM workstation. But which one did I get? And how did it perform? You will find out in the future Parts of this series...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How to Fix Firefox not Working with Asana or Other Websites

Depending on your version of Firefox and your number of add-ons and extensions you have installed, you may occasionally have problems with certain websites not working in Firefox. I recently had an issue with Asana, which I use extensively for work. The issue turned out to be that Firefox had the wrong maximum security setting, it was set at TLS 1.0 and it needed to be higher.

If you want to check if your SSL / TLS settings are correct, head over to https://www.howsmyssl.com/

To fix TLS in Firefox:
  1. In Firefox, type about:config in the address bar and proceed past the 'are you sure' warning
  2. Type security.tls.version.max
  3. Edit the value to 3
  4. Close the tab

See below image:

This was an instant fix for my issue with Asana, and maybe it can help you too.

Unless I'm the only Firefox user left...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Open Local Files Much More Quickly In Excel 2013 and 2016

When Office applications shifted to the 'new' interface, one of the things that constantly annoyed me was having to press Open and then Browse - two clicks instead of one. This is because Excel shows a 'backstage' by default for opening from cloud services and the like.

So, how do you switch back to the old school way? Like this:

Now, using Ctrl+O will take you straight to the Explorer-style open dialog. Yay!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Quickly Get a List of All Design Files Used in the Current Navisworks File or Model

The Batch Utility in Navisworks is one of those powerful tools that is often overlooked. Like, did you know that you can easily export a list of currently appended files to a text document?

Here's how (From AKN):
  1. Home Ribbon - Batch Utility (path to the current model is automatically added to the Input area)
  2. In the Output area, As Single File tab, click the Browse button.
  3. In the Save Output As dialog box, browse to the desired folder, and enter the name for the text file.
  4. In the Save as Type drop-down list, select the File List (*.txt) option, and click Save.

  5. In the Autodesk Navisworks Batch Utility dialog box, click the Run Command button.
You will get a nice text file output like this:

To Generate a List of All Design Files Used in the Current Model | Navisworks Products | Autodesk Knowledge Network

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How To Allow TeamViewer Access Through an SSH Tunnel to an EC2 Proxy Server

In case the title didn't give it away, this is a pure IT post. If you aren't interested, check out this Mario video instead...

In some IT environments, you may find that TeamViewer cannot connect. This becomes a problem if you do a lot of remote work in various locations. How can we get TeamViewer working in these situations? Here is one way...
  1. Spin up a micro Amazon EC2 Linux instance (you can have one free instance for a year)
  2. Connect to your instance with putty
  3. Install tinyproxy with
    sudo yum -y install tinyproxy  --enablerepo=epel
  4. Edit tinyproxy settings to allow the IP of your current workstation with
    sudo vim /etc/tinyproxy/tinyproxy.conf
    add a line
    Allow xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx (your IP from whatismyip.com)
  5. Disconnect the putty session
  6. Edit putty settings for connecting to your Amazon instance to include a dynamic outbound tunnel on port 3128. Reconnect putty and leave it running.

  7. Edit TeamViewer proxy settings to include manual proxy like this:

Ok, now we have basically given access for TeamViewer through SSH tunnel port forwarding through to our EC2 cloud instance proxy server, and TeamViewer should now be able to find the outside web.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Batch Export IFC to Excel

You can use the freely available 'IFC File Analyzer':
IFA.zip | NIST

After unzipping and on first run, it will prompt to install an IFCsvr component:

You can batch convert all IFC files in a folder using the option in the file menu:

You could theoretically use this to batch convert multiple versions of an IFC file to Excel, then do a GUID based compare on the Excel data using something like Dynamo.

It also comes with a command line implementation.

  • Seems relatively slow for large IFC files
  • It doesn't seem to work for IFC4