Category Archives: Uncategorized

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:

My feedback, your feedback

Moving is hard. Moving a website with an established community to a different platform is even harder. Remember when AUGI tried to change their forum software and it resulted in RFO, as well as a user-revolt that cancelled the migration and restored balance back to the universe? Have you experienced difficultly getting old links to function now that Autodesk Revit help has moved, again? Sure, it’s faster, however the wiki nature is gone, and with it the richness of user-contributed content, filling a gap in documentation that has now returned. Well, some lessons are quickly forgotten.

Yes, moving is hard. Put some pictures on the walls and make it feel lived in. That’s sort of what I’d like to see with the new home for Autodesk Labs. Granted, I understand a little bit more about the situation after having an IM session with someone in the office of the CTO, I still feel I need to explain my tweckle.

You see, I am a huge, no an enormous, fan of Autodesk Labs and their super-adventurous cousin, Autodesk Research. Perhaps the frustration of losing something valuable like ease of access and a graphically-rich experience of the former Labs site got the better of me. You can go check out the link, although a better idea of what I’m talking about would be cached in the internet wayback machine, here.

When I heard the Labs site was shutting down (yes, the same site that nurtured the highly successful Projects’ Vasari, Inventor Fusion and Pinocchio) and moving to the same platform that runs the beta site, I was saddened. Labs started shortly after I began blogging, in mid 2006, so this all felt like I was losing an old friend.

To clarify: I enjoy the beta site, also known as ‘My Feedback’, for what it is and am usually only participating in two projects at a time. Who has time for more? So, with all the tech previews, as they’re called in Labs, how could you find what you’re looking for or understand what’s new or changed when all you see is a non-graphical list? The ability to filter items by industry or platform was very useful, and is sadly not available at the moment — I do hope that capability comes back, even if in a splash page that let’s you sign up for a project.

What’s going to be most challenging in maintaining engaged participation, for me, is that each discussion forum is completely distinct and separated. I’m not going to walk away by choice. The future still has some fun technology developments to come.

Why silo tiny projects in this way? Sure, metrics are important, however if the measurement gets in the way of the primary activity of testing new tools and connecting with the development team, is it really worth that loss? In an age of growing complexity and number of tools and communication platforms that we need to deal with regularly, this doesn’t need to be so.

If you agree, I hope you’ll let the Labs team know by visiting Scott Sheppard’s blog, and give them some constructive ‘You Feedback’, here:

(P.S. Some changes have already occurred since my initial rant, as I suspected the moving van was not yet empty. On the Labs walls now hang some very lovely artwork. Is it compelling enough yet? You decide. )

I wish to complain about this PC

The PC is officially dead. There can be no further debate.

Autodesk, Otoy, Mozilla and Amazon come together to work on something that will not only transform the design industry, it will level the playing field. It seems an unlikely alliance, however these companies are all at the top of their game, and each one is all about the experience of using their products and services. The way we work and play will be significantly impacted for some time to come. The lowered cost of entry in using professional tools will also make many industries much more competitive. Small firms and large will each have access to the same high-performance infrastructure — no IT required. It will enable collaboration in ways that will shortly bring real-time, geographically-dispersed teamwork to the AEC industry. Press releases here and here.

Can you hear that? It’s the sound of an industry dying. Like the silence of a cloud floating overhead, the calm before the storm, a illusion of tranquility — the storm is a lot closer than it looks. This day seemed as though it were a decade or more away, despite all the industry executives predicting it was upon us. It was inevitable, and it is now here.

You had a good run, PC. With 30 years of mainstream success, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You did great things. Look back on those achievements with pride. You will have space in our memory (though you have none in yours), and in our hearts and our museums. Actually, little PC, don’t be blue. You don’t even need to be retired. That’s the most awesome part of this announcement. You just need to run a browser. That’s all, nothing more. You might even be refreshed with a new OS, one that has very little function but connecting to the internet.

HTML5 brings device independence to all

It’s out there. Waiting. Patiently for what ever you can throw at it. Gone are the days of spinning beach balls, the eternal hourglasses, and blue rings of death. You are free, free to be anywhere. Do anything. The next big thing? Well, it isn’t the tool we hold in our hand (because we can hold mobile devices in one hand now, after all). It is the services that allow us to connect to the work we get done. Oh, the possibilities.

A new name is needed to describe this thing out there in the tubes. In spirit, it’s very similar to that thing we call the PC. Personal Computer? That word doesn’t fit. After all, it is not necessarily personal anymore, and not necessarily a single computer. Sure, you can call this “the cloud”. That is meaningless jargon. Perhaps Community Computing, or maybe even as Autodesk likes to call it: Infinite Computing. Why not? After hearing that one for a couple of years, it may be growing on me.

Waiting to install software, or updates is a waste of your time. You’ve got better things to do, like invent, make, improve and distribute. The impact of this and successive technologies to large AEC firms will soon encompass all the things we traditionally do on a PC workstation. If the personal workstation goes away, and the act of starting something new involves add to cart and pressing launch, what would you do with all that extra time? Where would you do it, and with what device? Whenever, wherever. It’s a great time to be a technologist. Terrible time to be a parrot, err I mean PC.

Autodesk wants to be the defacto 3D printing standard

Recently, Autodesk announced a joint partnership with Makerbot, Carl Bass has even been making the rounds across several media outlets, here’s his own words on the current limits and opportunities of this highly disruptive technology. And, as you see above, if you sign up for the Premium membership on 123D Design you’ll now get discounts on your own co-branded 3D Printer. Continue reading

Parametric Pumpkins…

As we are all awaiting with baited breath… the parametric pumpkin doesn’t have to be limited to the virtual. Here’s a working Tetris on Pumpkin, courtesy of a boat-load of LED lights, a steady hand and an Arduino board.

Pumpktris – YouTube

For more information, and detailed photos from it’s creator:

Are you ready for some football?

Revit, American style

It’s that time again. Yes football, not what we silly ‘mericans call soccer (and the rest of the known universe calls football).

Yes, I realize that not everyone across the globe is interested in our little Super Bowl coming up next weekend. On Sunday Feb 5th, the New England Patriots and the New York Giants face off in a rivalry that, while not as deep-rooted as the Red Sox/Yankees, should provide some real entertainment for those that watch for more than just the high-priced commercials. Why is all of this interesting? I present to you the Revit parametric football family.


Kelvin Tam, an architect in our Columbus office created a parametric family taking care of the variation in dimensions for NFL, NCAA and other organizations.  He used some very interesting tricks and techniques for building the complex forms of the laces, seams and logo. You can download the family for further deconstruction.

Grid Iron Gauntlet

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it? Anyone wish to tackle this complex form in the conceptual massing environment or Vasari? Feel free to DM me on Twitter and I will post the results here on gameday. Yes, if you use grasshopper/Rhino you may submit as well, I guess… wink, wink.

Download here:

Enjoy and have a good weekend.

Spooky! – Tricks and Treats.

Halloween wouldn’t be complete without Jack-O-Lanterns… Or for those stuck in the parts of the East Coast of the US suffering from that surprise Nor’Easter last weekend – Jack-O-Snowpeople. Left: Sculptor Alex Wer has done an amazing “Jobs” on this particular pumpkin… Check out Instructables (newly acquired by Autodesk) for other gord-eous treats.

Looking for a new trick?

Last week, Project Vasari saw a new update, fixing some features around importing SketchUp models, and an Add-In (ported from the Revit SDK samples) which used to be a bit challenging to deploy. Both are now plug and play ready. Go now and download the updated Vasari, and the newly available Add-In: Parameters from Image. With a gray-scale image of Mr. Jobs in hand, and some know-how, you could create a digital version of the famous sculpture using a Mass family and using the Curtain Wall Panels by Pattern feature.

For further inspiration and examples, take a look at the entries for the 3rd Annual Parametric Pumpkin Carving Contest on Buildz.

There’s some really great experimentation going on in those entries. My favorite is the one above, from the extraordinarily talented Marcello Sgambelluri, voted “The Baddest”. NBBJ’s own Kelvin Tam has an entry as well. Below is his take on a parametric face. Be sure to check out all the featured entries, and download them to take a look at their stringy-flesh insides. Enjoy!