Author Archives: Sean

Global BIM Collaboration Just Got Real

In the real estate business, the biggest catch phrase of the last 30 years has been “location, location, location”. In the world of BIM and how you assemble teams to work on designing buildings that has also been true. We have always been bound by the limits of our corporate networks or made to jump through hoops with remote desktop, virtualization or complex server implementations. Today, that seems to have gone away with the advent of the global launch on Autodesk A360 Collaboration for Revit.

According to Autodesk:

Centralized access to project data contributes to more efficient and easily-managed collaboration whether within a firm or for projects involving remote participants. “Collaboration for Revit provides us greater flexibility,” says Leo Gonzales, BIM Manager at Newman Architects. “If they’re on the road, at a job site,
or just working from home, our users can access their Revit projects as if they’re sitting in one of our offices.”  

Autodesk A360 Collaboration for Revit - workflow diagram

Autodesk A360 Collaboration for Revit is a service that works with Revit software to connect project teams with centralized access to BIM project data in the cloud. Image courtesy of Autodesk.

In a nutshell, when Autodesk A360 Collaboration for Revit (C4R) was first launched it enabled teams only in North America to collaborate live on a single or group of models, hosted in the A360 cloud. As a first version product, announced at the annual conference, Autodesk University 2014, even then it was quite robust and mature, and began to enable for the first time, official support for multi-firm collaboration in Revit without the need for disconnecting your work and sending it to someone, usually via FTP. This service built upon the knowledge the teams had in making Revit file-based collaboration successful, and several years of Revit Server, a product you would install and configure on your own network to enable inter-office collaboration.

What’s New?

Fast forward 13 months and today, as promised, Autodesk has launched an expanded service with new datacenters around the globe to offer international support, presently in English only, making things much more interesting. It’s expected that later in the month, all Revit software languages will be available on as part of the installer that enables Revit to speak to the cloud services. It will be very interesting to see how this evolves and firms who wish to take advantage of this competitive edge may even begin to move daily project work off of their corporate servers, finding the security, robust performance and reliability hard to match at any cost.

The new global availability, starting today, will be enhanced greatly by teams taking advantage of the Communicator for Revit feature on the dashboard and within Revit – enabling teams to better understand the state of the models, who is working when, and to be able to quickly enable discussions with extended team members.

Click to listen to a short five-minute podcast with Sylvia Knauer, product marketing manager, Autodesk:

What are you waiting for? Start working with the best people in the world on your BIM project. Location is much lower of a factor than ever before.

More information can be found here:

Availability and More Information

A360 Collaboration for Revit is a cloud service subscription licensed per user and includes a subscription to A360 Team. A360 Collaboration for Revit is available globally in English starting 7, 2016, with support for all Revit software languages expected to be available later this month. Multiple Subscription options are available [annual via the Autodesk Online Store or Autodesk Authorized Resellers; quarterly via Autodesk Authorized Resellers; and monthly via the Autodesk Online Store].


Announcing Autodesk BIM 360 Docs

December 1, 2015 – Autodesk Inc, as one of what will likely be several industry announcements at Autodesk University in Las Vegas this week, unveils in a press release the project formerly known as Project Alexandria Technology Preview, Autodesk BIM 360 Docs, “a comprehensive, cloud-based service for the construction industry that provides a virtual workspace to create, access, maintain, markup and share 2D and 3D project documents, plans and models”.

Clearly aimed square at competitors such as Bentley ProjectWise, Bluebeam Studio and Newforma, this marks a sophisticated, modern commitment to document and model sharing at the construction site or in the office in ways that former solutions like Buzzsaw and Design Review could not have made traction.


Features supporting both mobile and web document and model viewing, markups, version control and more are more tightly integrated than previous environments with flagship solutions such as Revit 2016.

In a surprising move, access will be free and include unlimited users and unlimited files.

More information can be found here:

The official press release can be read, here:

Dynamo, Nearing its Big Day

welcome-to-the-futureToday marks an important milestone, Dynamo is now at version 0.9, making it one step closer to mass adoption.

Why do I say that? First: The website has undergone a major overhaul. The team has spend a great deal of time modernizing the experience, taking it beyond the typical WordPress theme (something I have to do myself). Second: The fit and finish of the program has finally become stable and the UI for is friendly to both the novice and seasoned beta user. Third: There’s a greater focus on collaboration in this release, with the ability to put shared resources on a network drive within your organization, in addition to the Package manager repository online.

The new features increase interoperability, by enabling the creation of DirectShape elements to place in Revit. Background preview works in Virtual Machines and Remote Desktop – so you can totally be ditching the bulky laptop and using the new iPad Pro while travelling and need to whip up come computational goodness. Also, you can find stuff now. The search is really robust, both in the side menu and with the right click search.apple_pencil_medium

This has been the year of Dynamo, and it will culminate with what I and certain is a 1.0 release announced very soon. Autodesk University 2015 is less than four weeks away and it seems we are gearing up for some greatness. Heck, even in the SketchUp world it was announced this week (from none other than the Computational Design powerhouse of Thornton Tomasetti) that there’s the ability to connect with Grasshopper and Dynamo now.

Colin McCrone recently wrote that the Dynamo Primer is “complete”, or Open Source now, meaning you should use it to learn and contribute back. We get more and more community sharing. I would not be surprised if there were some more video tutorials in the works from some of the industry heavyweights. Stay tuned for more, as I hear it.


*Note: I really wanted to share a workflow I was working on to convert DWG lines to Rooms in Revit, and mentioned this a while ago. I’m still working on refining that process to make it more generic for you all. The client maintains ownership of the original code, however I got my very first ever mention in ArchDaily as a result of this work.


Here comes the Sun

Autodesk announced Revit Sunrise this morning. This is a preview release of Revit showing some of the features in development for Architecture, Structure and MEP. Like Revit Sundial last year, this is provided as a way for Autodesk to validate the next release and generate some advanced buzz.

Note: Not all of these features are guaranteed to be available in the next commercial release, however Autodesk wants your feedback in the Public Beta. This preview release is a hosted solution, which works as a fantastic way to review software in a non-destructive way. You install the client software without affecting your current Revit environment or occupying very much space on your computer – the installer would fit on a 1.4Mb floppy disk, if you remember what those are. The custom Citrix client requires only your Autodesk A360 login and works on any PC with an internet connection. So go kick the tires.

I’m really excited about the introduction of Global parameters, which have been a feature request for a very long time.

More details are available here:

For a list of features, see this article:

Tesla home Battery not all its charged up to be

The newly announced Tesla Powerwall home battery is purely a luxury item. Surprised? That’s what Telsa does well: introduce a sexy object that only the wealthy will buy. So far it’s worked out well for them and a tiny fraction of the potential customers out there excited about electric cars. They are not Apple, yet. Apple sells affordable luxury. Tesla will get there when they make their money, so long as they don’t pour it all back into R&D for their next big thing or a “city on Mars”.

The real buyer of these 7kWh and 10kWh batteries will be Elon Musk’s other company, SolarCity who currently lease to own solar panels with no money down. Pairs well with an efficient battery that is comparably priced to the much bulkier and obsolete lead acid batteries.

It makes almost no sense to buy these to expect a significant savings of money and change nothing in the house – the same insulation, the same equipment and appliances. You can see that without some incentives for energy saving improvements this is purely becoming a status item. It would have to be seen as also an emergency backup after an outage. Easier to use and maintain than a generator. There is an extremely long payback for simply using off peak electricity – the big selling point for this device. My household’s total shared electric bill is $60 per month. Even if I theoretically save $20 per month, it would take 12.5 years to break even. By then the battery would be long retired.

Some utility companies don’t even have variable rates for residential customers and Washington state has the third lowest rate (6.9¢ per kWh retail before taxes) in the country – so long as the hydro plants keep churning.

If you’re a U.S. resident, check to see if your location makes more sense for this new thing. Certainly places that have expensive nuclear power plants to feed and pay off have higher rates:

The year of the Dynamo


Dynamo*, of the 1987 sci-fi movie, The Running Man.

Ah.. Springtime. It is such a great time to celebrate new things. This Spring is no different. Snows are melting, trees are blooming, or soon will be. It’s a wonderful time to start something new. Plant garden. Take on a new hobby. Build a Tiny House. One thing I wanted to announce was a new role I will now have at NBBJ – that of Performance Analysis Lead. While this may seem like a big shift, it’s still in the realm of BIM, and gives me even more excuse to continue dabbling in the Design Computation world.

I’m at Midwest University 2015, which you can follow on Twitter with the hashtag #MU2015 (which incidentally, oddly also happens to be the hashtag for Miss Universe 2015. Who knew?). And this week, I am presenting a class titled: “Working Smarter in Revit with Dynamo”. Preparing for this class has made me think about the value Paradigm Shift brings to the AEC community. There tends to be a technology cycle. With it, I am going to be taking a slight bend in the road. Here goes…

I plan to write more about Dynamo. A lot more. Dynamo is a visual programming language to help make your own tools for doing all the things you wish your software did out of the box. Still don’t know what it is? I’ve written a little about tit in the past… however now, it will be a main focus. Stick with me and I promise you will find some value if you use Autodesk software, especially Revit. Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 9.42.39 PM

Above is an example script that takes all the Revit walls and colors them according to a variation in the Fire Rating Parameter. I’ll explain it more in my next post. Using tools like Dynamo includes concepts revolving around, automation, model checking, Design Computation, Big Data, Performance Analysis and how the “i” in BIM can really be leveraged in new ways. I hope you will all join me in this transition and I look forward to the new roads ahead. Dynamo will be huge this year and I want to share with you all ways it can help you be more productive and happy in your work.


* not the actual Dynamo


Screencast is dead. Long live Screencast.

I’m amazed that some folks still visit older posts of mine, such as this one on Exploded 3D Drawings from 2009! I’ve decided to end my account on due to the incredible amount of spam and no way to filter for ‘humans’. So, as much as I like using Camtasia and Jing to capture video, those videos are thus, gone. Poof. They need to be updated for new capabilities in Revit anyway. The articles will still exist, however a handful of my older videos will be broken links – until I can connect to the YouTube versions on my channel.

I would like to start making more videos soon, if I can ever get time away from building my Tiny House. If I do, I will begin using the new Autodesk Screencast tool instead of hosting on Wow, those names are awfully similar for a similar product. Did someone do their legal homework, or are we in for another name change since this amazing new service was released? Hope not. Anyway, Autodesk has made this tool available for free, and you can upload to the community site

You can check out all kinds of screencasts here, sorted by the (at the time of this writing) nine Autodesk applications that are supported.

You can also see some of my latest work as well on Autodesk University Online – where both presentations on Dynamo and FormIt in which I co-presented are now available for your viewing pleasure. A free Autodesk sign-in is required to view AU classes. Enjoy!