Autodesk University 2015 Grab Bag Wrap-up Part 1: It’s About Time

I recently had the privilege to present an AU wrap up at both Revit DC and Revit RVA user groups. I thought I would massage what I shared with them and slap it up here. Overall, I had a great time at AU this year. I hadn’t been in several years and I forgot what a great combination of design and technology it is. I also forgot how much sleep you need when it’s all over. I am not sure that I got out of bed on Saturday. Sorry, what was I talking about?

Oh yeah. AU.

These are the things that I picked up either through classes, on the exhibition hall floor, through conversations, or just through gut feelings. These were the things that I was thinking about after I left the conference, for one reason or another. I tended to ramble in this article, so I am breaking it up into 4 parts.

It’s About Time

These are the things that I feel we have been hearing about and promised for years, and it’s finally time.

The Model is King

The Model Is King

Ever since the emergence of Revit and BIM on the industry, there has been a push to get everyone to work in the model, make your model important, collect your data in the model. If you’re reading this, I am probably preaching to the choir about how important the model is, but I think it has been a tough sell for many of us. At the end of the day, we just need to print paper… that’s the usual excuse. And frankly, a lot of the promises of what the model could do for us or how easy it would just didn’t hold up. I think we have finally turned a corner. There were vendors on the hall floor that were so confident in how easy it was for their technology to be able to get the proper data out of a model, they invited visitors to simply walk up with their Revit file on a flash drive and they would make the magic happen. There were so many classes and vendors on working with the model and sharing data from the model, and you didn’t get the sense that people were rolling their eyes at it anymore. The idea of interoperability was huge, and that’s not interoperability with a DWG file, it’s foundation is the Revit model file.

The Cloud

The Cloud

Are you tired of hearing about the cloud? I am. But, if you looked at either running applications from the cloud or hosting documents a couple years ago, it’s definitely time to take another look. There are probably other solutions out there, but I spent some time running Revit through a virtual machine via Amazon Web Services. I was amazed at how the performance was. Last time I looked at running Revit through the web, there was a lag that made it completely unbearable. The setup I used had completely done away with this lag. This is totally a viable solution now.

I was also really impressed with how effective FormIt 360 is, even moreso that it is a cloud based app. First and foremost, it is Autodesk’s attempt to replace Sketchup. I sat in on a lab with the head of the FormIt team, and it is absolutely ready to replace Sketchup in the design workflow. It feels like it has some way to go for those of you who use Sketchup for presentation work, but it is already a superior tool for design. The modeling is just as easy as Sketchup, and it integrates into a Revit workflow with far greater ease.

Last in the cloud is hosting documents. BIM 360 Docs was officially launched at AU, and it looks sharp. There is a waiting list to get rolling on it, but the team took the time to fill a lot of needs for sharing and marking up docs online. It’s mainly in the construction end, but it is definitely a solution I am going to keep an eye on.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality

Everyone who saw The Lawnmower Man was excited over the potential of VR. So, maybe five of us. Luckily, Virtual Reality became more prominent over the years, and not only through amazingly horrible sci-fi movies. We saw promise after promise of it being integrated in the AEC world, and while we saw some neat applications, they were all at the experimental end, or just for the firms with the really big wallets. That’s not the case anymore. Oculus Rift had a strong presence at the conference, and they were really fun to play with. There were multiple visualization offerings that could work with VR for people to choose from. If you don’t want to pay whatever for a Rift, you can fork over just a couple bucks and get a Google Cardboard or something akin to it. Combine that with Stingray or Max and your Revit model, and you have a high quality and inexpensive VR solution. There isn’t much of an excuse anymore.

That’s it for the first part of my wrap-up. To recap: all of these have been talked about for years, and frankly, were either too expensive or really didn’t work effectively before. It’s definitely worth your time to reevaluate.

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll be covering the tech that just isn’t quite there yet.



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