Disabled Material & Specification in Revit Fabrication Parts

Fabrication Parts in Revit don’t always allow editing of their Material or Specification properties. Look at the below side by side images. Revit’s properties can be seen grayed out on the left but those on the right are not.

Material & Specification Properties – Left Read Only, Right = Read/Write

Revit can obscure the reason for this because you have no access to edit your Fabrication Database within the Revit environment. The answer however is quite simple.

Fabrication Parts with the “BoughtOut” property set do not allow editing of Material or Specification. After all, a bought item is typically static and can’t be easily changed. Non-BoughtOut items do allow editing of the Material and Specification properties.

The following is another side by side image of Fabrication Part properties. The properties on the left have the BoughtOut property set. The properties on the right do not have the BoughtOut flag set. While not accessible from Revit, any of the other Autodesk Fabrication products can display and edit the BoughtOut property.

BoughtOut Property / Left = Set, Right = Not Set

AutoCAD 2020 Released – What’s New

The following is an overview of the changes made to the AutoCAD 2020 release.


New Dark Theme

Improvements to the clarity and crispness of the dark theme. Similar sharpening was also applied to the light theme as well.

Background colors were optimized the with the icon colors to provide the optimum contrast without distracting from the workspace, where the focus should be.

Ribbon Access

Application button  > Options > Display tab > Window Elements > Color Scheme

New Commands

None.

New System Variables

None.


Blocks Palette

Redesigning the Insert dialog box was to provide better visual previews of blocks in the workflow for inserting blocks. The palette increases efficiency for finding and inserting multiple blocks-including the new Repeat Placement option, which can save you a step in some cases.

Key features in the new blocks palette facilitate your specifying and inserting blocks efficiently from a most recently used list or from specified drawings. Three tabs are available to provide the following:

  • The Current Drawing tab displays all the block definitions in the current drawing either as icons or as a list.
  • The Recent Blocks tab displays all the most recently inserted blocks either as icons or a list regardless of the current drawing. These persist between drawings and sessions. You can remove a block from this tab by right clicking it and choosing Remove from Recent List.
  • The Other Drawing tab provides a way of navigating to folders from which you can choose drawings either to insert as blocks or to choose from the blocks defined in those drawings. These drawings and blocks also persist between drawings and sessions.

The top of the palette includes several controls, including a field for applying wildcard filters to the block names, and several options for different thumbnail sizes and list styles.

Ribbon Access

Home tab > Block panel > Insert.

Access from the ribbon provides a gallery of the blocks available in the current drawing together with two new options, Recent Blocks and Blocks from other Drawings.

These two options open the Blocks palette either to the Recent tab or the Other Drawing tab. The gallery displays the same content as the Current Drawing tab.

Placing blocks from the palette can be accomplished by dragging and dropping or clicking and placing.

New and Changed Commands

BLOCKSPALETTE – Opens the Blocks palette.

BLOCKSPALETTECLOSE – Closes the Blocks Palette.

CLASSICINSERT – Opens the classic Insert dialog box.

INSERT – Starts the BLOCKSPALETTE command except in scripts, which open the legacy INSERT command for script compatibility.

-INSERT – Starts the command line version of the classic INSERT command.

New System Variables

BLOCKMRULIST – Controls the number of blocks displayed in the Recent tab of the Blocks palette.

BLOCKNAVIGATE – Controls the file and blocks that are displayed in the Other Drawing tab of the Blocks palette. Valid values include: Path/filename and extension to an existing file, and “.” (None), in which case the last-used file is remembered the next time the palette is opened and persisted across sessions.

BLOCKREDEFINEMODE – Controls whether the “Block- Redefine Block” task dialog box is displayed when inserting a block from the Blocks palette with the same name as a block inside the current drawing. 0= Don’t prompt to redefine-always use the local block definition. 1= Display the “Block – Redefine Block” warning dialog box when appropriate (Default).

BLOCKSTATE (Read only) – Reports whether the Blocks palette is open or closed.


Purge Redesign

The Purge feature has been revised for easier drawing cleanup and organization. The control options are nearly the same, but the orientation is more efficient and a resizable preview area is now available.

  • You can now purge zero-length geometry without purging empty text objects.
  • Check boxes in the Named Items Not Used panel provide a way to select purgeable items by category as well as individual items.
  • With one click, the Find Non-Purgeable Items button displays additional information specific to why the checked item cannot be purged, which will be helpful in many cases.
  • For objects that can’t be purged, the new design provides enhanced information as shown below, including the number of objects on which layers, and their impact on file size. The Select Objects button in the illustration below, zooms in on the specified objects that can’t be purged.

Ribbon Access

Manage tab > Cleanup panel > Find Non-Purgeable Items and Purge.

These options control whether Purgeable Items or Find Non-Purgeable Items is currently displayed in the Purge dialog box.

New Commands

None.

New System Variables

None.


DWG Compare Enhancements

The primary enhancement to the DWG Compare feature is that you can now directly compare and edit the current drawing together with a specified drawing while in the compare state. The changes you make in the current drawing are closely tied to the compared drawing and changes between the drawings are dynamically compared and highlighted.

To facilitate direct editing in the compare state, the COMPARE command was moved from the ribbon to a docked toolbar at the top of the drawing area. Most of the options were combined into the Settings control and enhanced as shown. You can easily toggle the comparison from the toolbar and the display of the types of differences from the Settings control.

Also, the default colors can easily be changed by clicking on a color, red to yellow in this illustration, for your preferences or for colorblind-friendly colors.

For example, let’s say you need to compare the differences between two highly complex drawings that have been simplified to look like the following:

The result of comparing the current drawing with the compared drawing looks like this:

The change sets are each surrounded by orange revision clouds, which are more clearly visible when you’re zoomed in.

  • You can import the highlighted differences (yellow) from the compared drawing into the current drawing. If you do so, these objects will now exist in both drawings and will automatically turn gray. Only the objects in the specified area that are not in the current drawing can be imported.
  • You can also export both drawings into a new “snapshot drawing” that combines the similarities and changes between both drawings. The result of this operation is the same as a drawing comparison in AutoCAD 2019.
  • The arrow buttons provide a way to step through each change set, automatically zooming in to each successive or previous change set.

Ribbon Access

Collaborate tab > Compare panel > DWG Compare.

New Commands

COMPARECLOSE – Closes the Compare toolbar and exits the comparison.

COMPAREEXPORT – Exports the comparison results into a new drawing, called a snapshot drawing, and opens the drawing.

COMPAREIMPORT – Imports objects from the compared file into the current drawing. Only the selected objects that exist in the compared file and not in the current file are imported.

New System Variables

None.


Measure Geometry Option-Quick Measure

Measuring has become much faster with the new Quick option of the MEASUREGEOM command. With this option, you can quickly review the dimensions, distances, and angles within a 2D drawing.

When this option is active, the cursor displays all nearby measurements, both inside and outside the nearest parts of a drawing. The squares displayed at the left side of the illustration represent 90 degree angles.

The distance between the two objects is measured in the illustration below because they’re parallel.

Tip: To avoid quick dimension clutter and to improve performance, it’s best to zoom into complicated areas.

Ribbon Access

Home tab > Utilities panel > Measure/Quick.

Changed Commands

MEASUREGEOM – Adds the Quick option for real-time measurements.

New System Variables

None.

Save to Web & Mobile Enhancements

AutoCAD 2020 includes additional support for AutoCAD Web and AutoCAD Mobile. The enhancements are as follows:

  • Support cloud connectivity and storage. Depending on what you have installed, the Places list in AutoCAD file selection dialog boxes can include Box, Dropbox, and several similar services.
  • Xrefs are now included with the drawing files that you save for web and mobile access.
  • The CAD Manager Control Utility includes a new checkbox on the Online Content tab to disable the SAVETOWEBMOBILE and OPENWEBMOBILE commands. This control has been added for sites that require their drawings to remain within their organization’s network.

Access

Quick Access toolbar save and open commands:

New Commands

None.

New System Variables

None.


Graphics Configuration

AutoCAD now launches correctly with different DirectX drivers (Dx9, Dx11, or no driver), high resolution (4K) monitors, and dual monitors. In addition, the graphics display settings are consolidated into three modes, which includes gradient hatches and images. The graphics performance setting, Intermediate Mode, is updated to reset several display parameters automatically to optimize your display.

Access

Enter GRAPHICSCONFIG at the Command prompt.

The Graphics Performance dialog box displays, shown in part below.

New Commands

None.

New System Variables

None.

Autodesk Fabrication: Best Practice #9

Use the Same Version of software to Admin your Database

Consistently use the same version of software for all administration work. You can draw/model/estimate/etc using any version. Just make sure your users don’t have administrative permissions on their login. But for administering your database, always use the same version. Here’s why…

You can work in multiple versions of CADmep, ESTmep, CAMduct and even Revit (w/Fabrication Parts) using the same database configuration. In other words, the configuration itself is “Version Agnostic“.

For Revit Fabrication Parts, database compatibility starts with version 2016. The other Fabrication products like CADmep, ESTmep and CAMduct, compatibility goes back to at least the version prior to 2013, before Autodesk acquired the software.

What’s the problem?

You often get new functionality in newer versions of software. Versions of the software that require new data, automatically adds the new data to the database tables. When you only Use older versions of the software without administrative permissions, it ignores that extra data when it encounters it. This is why old versions work with configurations edited with newer versions,

When you try to use an older version to Administer your database, it rewrites those tables but doesn’t see the added data so it gets overwritten. This is why you should stick to the same version when editing your database.

You do not have to use the latest version to maintain your database. You can continue to use an older version for administration. Just don’t use a newer version then go back to the old. You’re perfectly fine to stick with an older version. You just won’t be able to take advantage of new features that rely on added data the new version offers. When you are ready to start using a newer version for Administration, you can make that change anytime but you should also stop using the older versions for administration.

Let’s Demonstrate the Issue

You can watch the video at the end of this article to see an example. In 2019 Autodesk added a new Connector setting for “Connector Matching”. We won’t go into what this does here but you can see in the following image the difference in the right-click menu of connectors.

Fabrication 2019 Added ‘Connector Matching

When you watch the video, you’ll see me switch between 2 different versions of ESTmep. I could use any product but ESTmep lets me quickly open and close a database so I can move between versions quickly.

If you look at the configuration icons, you can see which version of software is being used. ESTmep 2019 has all BLUE icons. You can see ESTmep 2018 uses RED icons except the one BLUE 2019 configuration.

ESTmep 2018 has RED Configuration Icons, 2019 uses BLUE Icons

The video starts with “A Test Config” loaded in ESTmep 2019. I select one of the Connectors and change its ‘Connector Matching‘ value. Next, I exit and go back into the same configuration again in 2019 to show the value remains the same. At this point, everything is working as planned.

After exiting the database in 2019, I then switch to ESTmep 2018 and load the same “A Test Config” database. I make a copy of a completely different connector. This is where the problem starts. ESTmep 2018 has no knowledge of this ‘Connector Matching‘ data. Your “Connector Matching” data is over written as soon as ESTmep writes the Connector tables using the format it knows.

Finally, I go back into ESTmep 2019 and verify the data is gone. The default value for the Grooved Coupling’s “Connector Matching” data changes back to “Same“.

You can see for yourself by watching this video.

Tip: Add Member to BIM360 Design Project

When you host a BIM360 Design project, adding members to the project is a common task. If you haven’t done this before, you may notice after typing the address thatBIM360 Design doesn’t seem to recognize it.

When you watch the video, you can notice the blue “Select” button grayed out after typing the Email address. You can type a ‘comma’ (,) after the address to make BIM360 recognize it. You’ll see the Email address converts to a boxed control when you type a properly formatted address.

When you type a comma, this tells BIM360 Design that you’re done typing the address. You can also use a comma to separate multiple addresses. This is why the comma works even when typing a single address.

Microsoft PowerBI w/Autodesk Fabrication

For years, I’ve shared my Fabrication COD scripts with the industry. These can be used to examine database content using Excel.

Tyler Phillips of Bruner Corporation recently posted a nice article on LinkedIn about using Microsoft PowerBI. His PowerBI dashboard provides a great way to help visualize the data behind your Autodesk Fabrication content.

Simply put, the scripts I share dump property data to multiple CSV files. Tyler used that data for some of the PowerBI data sources. This allowed him to built a dashboard which helps him visualize and navigate the data in a more meaningful way. And better yet, he publish a fantastic article on LinkedIn that explains how to do it.

Microsoft PowerBI Dashboard of Autodesk Fabrication Content

This is a great example of leveraging data from multiple sources. PowerBI help you mash it together to give you meaningful information that’s simple to understand and navigate.

If you’ve ever struggled with ESTmep reporting, just think of the possibilities. By taking the above concept and using it across CSV exports from ESTmep you could easily overcome gaps in estimating reporting.

Great job Tyler! Really appreciate you sharing.


Additional Resources

ATTN: Autodesk Fabrication Part Users – Revit 2019.2.1 Hotfix

For Autodesk Fabrication Part users, this is a Hotfix you’ll want to get applied. Since the first release of Fabrication Parts in 2016, there’s been ongoing issues with MEP Systems modeled with Fabrication Parts.

The issues is that to add/remove or update Fabrication services, you need to reload your configuration. This often would cause “disconnects” between parts. Often this would happen for no good reason or explanation as the parts involved may not have even had changes to them.

This has been a difficult issue for Autodesk to resolve because it’s been difficult to reproduce. Since the 2016 until now, Autodesk has slowly made the issue better but it’s still not eliminated. With this hotfix in 2019, Autodesk is taking another stab at it and hopefully it’ll be eliminate. IF not fixed once an for all, hopefully it’ll be another small incremental step better.

You can review the release notes for all Revit 2019 updates here. Look for the notes under 2019.2.1 Hotfix and you’ll see the following note…

“Resolved an issue that could cause MEP Fabrication elements to disconnect when reloading a Fabrication configuration.”

Downloading The Update

The Update is available from the Autodesk Desktop App provided it’s working for you. (Note: Mine seems to lockup or crash repeatedly since installing the Autodesk Desktop Connector. Uninstalling and reinstalling the Desktop App seems to only resolve the issues for a short while)

Alternatively you can download from the Autodesk Accounts portal if you have download permissions given to you from your contract administrator.

Revit Fabrication Parts – Pattern Support Analysis

It no secret that not every Autodesk Fabrication pattern is supported in Revit. I’ve recently finished a more in-depth analysis of which patterns are and are not supported in Revit. Each of the 703 different pattern types were tested in each version and each update of Revit.

On the Fabrication COD Scripts page, you can find a Revit Support Report script. That script will analyse your ITM library and generate a CSV report of the status of every ITM in your Fabrication Configuration.

You can also find the complete results of my testing on the Revit Support page. Here’s a summary of the the testing…


Tested Version

Each of the below versions of Revit were tested with all the the 704 different patterns:

20162016R22061R2SP7
2017.02017.12017.2
2018.02018.12018.22018.3
2019.02019.12019.2

Testing Criteria

“Supported” for purposes of this testing is based on whether Revit allows a particular pattern to be used in the Fabrication Part Browser.


Testing Results

Testing results will have one of the following status descriptions.

  • No – No Revit support
  • Varies ({verison}) – Revit support varies between Revit version
  • Yes (Risk) – Revit does support but use NOT recommended due to issues
  • New ({version}) – New Pattern supported in later Revit versions
  • Yes – Pattern is supported in all Revit versions with no significant issues

Support Status = No

No – Parts not supported by the Parts Browser are obviously listed as having “No” support. There are a total of 84 different patterns listed in this category. They are as follows…

125126127
128129130141158202203
204205206207208209210211212213
215216218220221228230301302308
503505521530764765803804805806
833873910913928960961964966969
974980983985994996999104911021106
1114114211501152115711611162116511681169
1181119411961198218521892190219121922199
2200287331083873

Support Status = Varies

Varies (version) – In some cases, Fabrication Parts were initially allowed or supported in earlier versions and later were restricted. These parts have a status of “Varies” followed by the version where the change occurred. It’s recommended you avoid use of these patterns even in versions where they work as they will not be supported in later versions. There are 17 patterns that once worked in Revit but are no longer supported. They are as follows…

0182222381845853855864876898
903912915971110511701175

Support Status = Yes (Risk)

Yes (Risk) – Patterns that list “Yes (Risk)” are technically supported in Revit but I highly recommend avoiding their use. Patterns with this status have issues like inserting at the Revit’s Project Base Point and not the cursor location. They also have a tendency to crash Revit if you attempt to grip or edit them. As a result, I highly recommend avoiding their use. There are 29 patterns in this category. They are listed here…

119189317346347348349350351352
353368369390392397398415810828
922930962963968973115911601176

Support Status = New

New (version) – Some patterns were not around in earlier versions of Revit but later added and supported in Revit. These patterns are listed as “New” followed by the version of Revit they became available in. These patterns are generally safe to use for Revit. There are 19 patterns in this category which are listed here…

217120612071238123912401241124212431244
124512461247124812491250219721982217

Support Status = Yes

Yes – Parts allowed by the browser that work across all versions of Revit are listed with e “Yes” status. There are 555 patterns in this category. They are listed here…

12345678910
11121314151617181920
21222324252627282930
31323334353637383940
41424344454647484950
51525354555657585960
61626364656667686970
71727374757778798081
82838586878889909192
939596979899100101102103
104105106107108109110111112113
114115116117118120121122123124
132133134135136137139140142147
148149150151152153154155159160
162163165166169170171172173183
184185186231250251252253254255
309311313314315316318319320321
322323324325326327328329330336
338340341342343344345354355356
357358359360365366367376377378
379380382383384385386387388391
393394395399401410411412413417
420421430431440441450451460461
470471472480501502504506507509
514515518519522523524525526533
535555556557580751760761800801
802807808809811812813814815817
818819820821822823824825826827
830831832834835836837838839840
841842843844846847848849850851
852854856857858859860861862863
865866867868869870871872874875
877878879880881882883884885886
887888889890891892893894895896
899900901902904905906907908909
911914916917918919920921923924
925926927929931932933934935936
938939940941942943944945946947
948950951952953954955956957958
959965967970972976977978979981
9849869879889899951000110111041107
1108110911101111111211131115111611171118
1119112011211122112411251126112711281129
1130113111331134113511361137113811391140
1141114311441145114611471148114911511153
1154115511561158116311641166116711711172
1173117411771178117911801183118411851186
1187118811891190119111921193119711991200
1201120212031204120515221972204020412042
2044204720512060207120722082209721082148
2149215521602182218321842186218721882193
2194219521962326238623882522252325242751
2814282128572868286928752881288228832884
2885288628992900290129022903290429052906
2907291629382965296629672979304130513060
30713386352235234522

Non-Compete Agreements

Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer so if you need legally binding advice, please seek out the services of an attorney licensed in the required jurisdiction.


I have researched my own legal matters on several occasions just as a matter of being educated in various matters. I’ve found over the years that a lot of people I run into have not.

Much of my network of associates operate in technical fields. When they change jobs, they’re often asked to sign a Non-Compete Agreement as a condition of their employment. More times than not, it’s signed as-is without any negotiation.

The most blatant power grab I’ve seen, was a former employer who hadn’t had time to draft their Non-Compete and was asking me to sign a document that said I’d agree to sign the official one once it was drafted. Say what? I’m going to agree to agree to something in the future for which I’ve not seen?

Even then, I didn’t say “No”, but asked how I could agree to agree to something unknown. They eliminated the requirement without me ever having to say No.

My Non-Compete Rules of Thumb

  • Different states have differing rules about what’s allowed and not allowed including duration. Check with your local jurisdiction for clarification in your area. Most law firms will give you a free initial consultation.
  • A fair Non-Compete shouldn’t prohibit you from gainful employment in the area of your technical expertise.
  • If signed as a condition of employment, Non-Compete agreements have legal standing provided they don’t violate some aspect of the law.
  • If you’re asked (or required) to sign AFTER you’re employed, they typically are not enforceable unless you were compensated in some way for signing it (bonus, higher wage, etc.)
  • Yes, it’s a legal document but don’t hesitate to edit it. Add things you like, strike those you don’t and change the terms how you see fit. Most companies are willing to negotiate the finer points of a Non-Compete.
  • Unless you’re hiring for a law firm,. the person asking you to sign isn’t the legal wordsmith that drafting that abomination of a document. Don’t take it personally. They won’t either when you ask for changes.
  • Limit the companies you can’t work for. What if they dominate an industry and most of your potential future employment options are “a customer”? e.g. I won’t go to work with anyone I’ve had direct interaction with as a result of my employment…etc.
  • Ask that they have a clause that if THEY terminate your employment, that the clause is null and void.
  • You’ll still need to honor confidentiality agreements but you should be able to work anywhere if they terminate your employment.
  • Work to limit the duration of the terms. e.g. 3 months as opposed to 5 years.
  • Ask to add a buyout clause, an extended notice to leave or other options to exit the agreement.

In short, get creative. You don’t have to have all the answers. It’s an opportunity to have a conversation where you can discuss your concerns and they can even help find creative ways to ease your concerns while addressing their own.

Fabrication – Attacher Tip #2

Here’s another simple Attacher tip for Fabrication products. If you hold down the Shift key while clicking on the Attacher arrow in CADmep, ESTmep or CAMduct,. the arrow rotates the opposite direction.


Clicking the Attacher – Notice it Rotates in the “Clockwise” Direction

Clicking the Attacher – Notice it Rotates in the “Counter-Clockwise”¬†Direction

Fabrication – Attacher Tip #1

Sometimes the best tips are the simplest. They can often be forgotten about or never learned because of that. Here’s a reminder for those that may not know or have forgotten…

In CADmep, or the 3d viewer of ESTmep or CAMduct, you can hold the Control key while clicking the attacher arrow to rotate the arrow 180 degrees. The below screen recordings are both done from CAMduct but ESTmep or CADmep work just the same.

Clicking the Attacher – Notice it Rotates in 90-Degree Increments
Ctrl-Clicking the Attacher РNotice it Rotates in 180-Degree Increments