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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Last Minute Changes

Making last minute modifications to your floor plan can be risky, but we all do it. We think we have everything worked out, then we realize we need to move a wall to make room for an additional chase that our MEP engineer is asking for. We think to ourselves, "No problem. This should be a five minute change." We use the stretch command and instantly it's finished. Our drawings are printed, stamped, and sent to the architect of record for signature. We lean back in our chair sipping a cup of coffee thinking how glad we are to have that project out the door. Then it happens... we get the dreaded roll of drawings back covered in blood. We wonder just how many red pens were actually used to create so many redlines. Your first thought is, "what in the world could be so wrong with my perfect set of documents?"

If this scenario has ever happened to you, then you were probably not using the Autodesk products to their full advantage. Last minute changes are where BIM (Building Information Modeling) products like ADT and Revit shine. If your documents had been tied to a single model, then your ceiling plan, enlarged plans, interior elevations, sections, life safety plans, square footage tables and other details that were affected would also have been changed. We are all human, we make mistakes. In last minute changes, we tend to forget what a simple change can effect.

BIM makes so much sense to use, but as architects we think its too hard to learn, or that the way we produce our documents has worked for years-- why change what works. Change is always hard, but change will push your firm to a level above your competitors. We know in the long run it would be better if we could take advantage of all the features in ADT, but we throw our hands up claiming it doesn't work right or that it would take too long to produce. Well, it might take a little longer the first few times, but once you understand how to do it you will never go back.

Alacad offers several classes to help you gain this knowledge. We also offer what we call "over the shoulder" training. In this case, we work with you while you are working on a billable project to teach you how to use these techniques. If you are struggling with changing your old habits, or you think its too complicated, give us a call and let us assist you.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Two Weeks of Mondays

2100 miles and two weeks into our Autodesk 2007 product launch, I find myself having trouble remembering what town I will be in when I wake up in the morning. It’s like being in the movie Groundhog Day, except I am in a different hotel each time. This has been a very successful two weeks, however. Yes, we are worn out, tired of sleeping in a different bed every night, having to eat out every meal, and waking up at the crack of dawn to set up for our presentations... but I have met some great people and I believe that people are getting excited about the new 2007 products.

Tomorrow we will be presenting for Huntsville. Next week I get a vacation (sort of). I am baling on my co-workers to take my lovely family to Florida for a week of Mickey Mouse. I am not sure if you can consider Disney World an actual vacation. I am sure by the end of it I will be more tired than I am now, but it will be fun to spend the week with them and not have to sleep alone. Then the week after Disney, I get to finish the 2007 Launch tour with my family, as we hit the Gulf Coast towns.

My schedule is filling up fast for the following month. Many customers want us to come to their firms, either to discuss the new products in more detail or to help them plan their implementation process. But for now I still have several more Mondays to go.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Kudos to My Dirt Mover Buddy

I wanted to give a big thank you to my co-worker for his previous weak moment when he blogged about my blog and my expertise.

Welcome to all the dirt movers that have made their way from the dark side to the wonderful world of architecture. I hope you enjoy my blog.

To return the favor, please check out his blog at
I am not sure that my debt to him will be considered paid due to the fact that I am sure he will not get near as many referrals from my site as I am getting from his site.

Thanks Jason for the nice blog.

PDF Vs. DWF (Part II)

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about how excited I was to see the new plot to pdf feature in the AutoCAD 2007 based products. I am still excited about this because I know people have been screaming for this feature for a long time. Well the battle is not finished. I now want to write about how excited I am about the new dwf underlay feature. Not that I want to retract my previous blog, but I want to make sure everybody understands what the dwf underlay feature means to us as a profession.

Have you ever sent a consultant a drawing to use as a background (I know I have.) When you send somebody a .dwg file, what keeps that person from making changes to it without your knowledge. I have worked with engineers previously that were very reluctant to send me their HVAC drawing for the fear that I might make changes to it. (If they only could understand that if I actually did change it, it would only lead to future RFI's or Change Orders).

The new dwf underlay feature will allow us to send secure drawing files to consultants without them being able to change or edit the drawing. Previously, when I sent a DWF, they could view it, or plot it, but they could not actually use it in their drawings. The same goes for a pdf file. You can not insert a pdf file into your drawings. Now we can insert a dwf as an underlay, similar to an xref, and use it as a background. We can even use our AutoCAD snaps to snap to points on the dwf. The is wicked cool. (as Matt Murphy would say).

In my opinion this gives dwf's a whole new light. So the battle continues.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Adding Blocks to Schedules

Door elevations are fairly typical on most projects. So typical, that we tend to not care if we have elevations that we stole from other projects, and one or several of those stolen elevations do not apply to our project. This can lead to confusion for our poor contractor. I have inserted a standard door elevation block numerous times on my jobs and never even thought to double check to see if they are all actually being used. This can lead to RFI’s, and even change orders, if they do not match the door schedule.

ADT 2007 has introduced the ability to insert blocks into schedules. With this we can tie the door elevation blocks to our door objects in our plan, which insures that they match both our plan and our door schedules. This is a simple process that could lead to less RFI’s and/or change orders.

To the left is a sample schedule, that I created in ADT 2007, that is using standard blocks as the elevations. They are fairly simple to create, and once they are created you can use them over and over again on your projects. You can assign a tag property set to the door to indicate the type, and have that tag be listed in the door schedule. If all the doors of one type are deleted from your plan, then the door elevation schedule will update to reflect that change by removing it from the schedule. One downside of this new feature is that you can not use the door objects in ADT to generate the door elevations. You have to use existing blocks or simply draw the elevation using lines and save it as a block. (Maybe that will be in 2008.)