Tuesday, 31 July 2012

So what is an 'advanced' Revit assessment?

We've had some interesting discussions with customers in recent weeks, about what type of topics should be covered in an 'advanced' Revit Architecture assessment.

Ace KS Author, Paul Aubin, has been collating the feedback, in his efforts to create a harder test, for those experienced users, who have cruised through the 'fundamentals' level material.

But is it as straightforward as just throwing a handful of tough questions in the pot?  Well, judging by the comments from a variety of experienced users and Revit-savvy firms, the answer is, 'not really'!

One of the key points where several users disagree is on the general skillsets to be covered by an advanced test.  Our brief for Paul is quite simple; write a pool of harder Revit questions!  However, some of the feedback has branched out into the realm of broader BIM concepts, the modeling process and/or wider construction process knowledge.

My opinion is that this is perfectly valid feedback, but, as Paul points out in an interesting discussion thread over on LinkedIn, that's not relevant to this particular assignment.

So what kinds of answers have we received from KS users, on the most important parts to include in an advanced question set?

Here are some of the best replies:

Comments from a BIM leader at a large UK Design firm:

These are the issues we come across on a regular basis:

Resetting Shared Coordinates (when they go wrong – which they do!)
Use of Copy Monitor & Limitations
Use of Phasing & Limitations
Managing Project / Shared Parameters
Wall / Window / Door layer clean-ups
Managing who draws / owns cross discipline elements such as Ceilings / Slabs / Stairs

Comments from a mid-sized Design firm in Aus/NZ region: 

The questions we would like to see are:

Types of schedules
Getting a schedule to display per sheet, i.e. Keynote and Revisions
Revit server theory
Links, Worksets and Shared Coordinates
DWFx Export and linking DWFx markups into Revit
Setting up Revisions, and rolling them back (archiving etc.)
Reference plane naming (simple but essential)
Family behaviour (e.g. line based, face based, etc.)
Visibility troubleshooting
Visual editing tools e.g. linework tool, cut profile tool, paint and split face – all essential in retaining model data as opposed to 2D overlay.
Calculated values and conditional formatting in schedules
Editing a wall parameters before placement (setting constraints etc.)
Predefining wall sweeps in the wall type
Door schedule with room parameters (To Room , From Room)

Notes from a BIM leadership meeting at a large AEC firm, based in N. America:

More advanced ways to control the top condition of walls (for example, using a reference plane to control a top condition at a curved wall)
A user can’t modify an element – what are potential reasons they can’t? (Constraints, locked, on a design option, etc.)
Copy/Monitor – common warnings
Advanced manipulations of walls – variable thickness of layers, extension distances, etc.
Layered assemblies and core relationships
Shared coordinates
Families – nesting/shared nesting and the implications
Families – reporting parameters
Project Parameters and Shared Parameters
Key Schedules, Tags and Schedules
Adaptive components (families), parts and assemblies

BIM leadership meeting feedback at a large International Design firm:

Family topics such as:
o Nested Families
o Shared Parameters
o Adaptive Components
o Lighting
o Hosting behaviours
o Materials

The new Stair Tool


Collaborative tools like:
o Shared Coordinates
o Copy/Monitor
o Clash Detection
o Survey/Base Points
o Project/True North


Curtain Wall Construction (Interior and Exterior)
o Horizontal CW’s
o CW’s driving by massing
o CW corners
o Paneling Theory

Specific feedback on a particular Revit issue:

There was one issue that stumped me for a little while earlier this week until I found it…How do you make a floor or a ramp with a variable thickness to the base rather than a constant thickness? The answer is that you need to edit the structure of the floor and tick variable thickness. Pretty simple but not everyone uses it!

Other comments:

I would add new railings and stairs features, I would also add complex form making using the massing tools. This area is a black art, but a suitable area where knowledge needs to grow.

Some of the new features of 2013. For example, materials – how do you change the emissivity of an asset?

Setting up materials is a job I always see as half done. Often the Name and the Graphics tab are paid attention to and some of the identity data however more often than not the Appearance tab isn’t visited, and the material class is rarely set. Some questions about setting up material appearances would be useful.

So, as you can see, quite a mixed bag of issues, which affect firms who are using the software from day to day, on live projects.  Lots of common areas, too.

We'll keep you posted as the first set of questions nears completion.  I have a feeling that we will split this set into two or three parts, in order to cover all of the necessary ground, in sufficient detail.

We'll also put a call out for beta testers in a month or so, to give us a preliminary round of comments, prior to release into the live KS library.


Friday, 27 July 2012

KS New Release update - part 1

Next week sees the next system update of the KS tools hitting the live site.  We've been working our way through the KS user group 'to do' list in recent months and progress has been good.  We've split the latest round of devs into two parts.  Part one goes live next week.  Part two will follow on in September.

So here's what's coming up in part one..


We've added a new grouping feature on the Users > Users page, called 'Dynamic groups'.  The concept is simple but effective.  You can now use the information captured in the 5 user datafields, to automatically add new user records to existing groups that have already been created. (See image).

For example, a user group has been created based on datafield 2, City: New York.  The next time a new user is added and their profile includes datafield 2, City: New York, then the user record will automatically be added to the existing group.

Similarly, for existing user records, if the datafields are updated, and there are groups with the new information relating to the updated information contained in the datafields, the user records are automatically added to those user groups.

We chose to leave the existing static grouping tool in place, so now you have two choices for creating user groups.  Only the dynamic group will automatically update with new user data.


We've added a new grouping feature on the Results > Data  page, called 'Dynamic groups'.

Same concept as the user data grouping, you can now use the information captured in the 5 user datafields, to automatically add new results records to existing groups that have already been created. (See image).

For example, a results group has been created based on datafield 1, City: London.  The next time a new result is added to the database and the associated user record includes datafield 1, City: London, then the results record will automatically be added to the existing group.

We chose to leave the existing static grouping tool in place, so now you have two choices for creating results groups.  Only the dynamic group will automatically update with new results data.


We made three changes to the Question Performance page.

Change one:  We 
added sub-groups to the Question Performance chart.  Now you can select a test in the main dropdown, to view the average performance for each question, and then drill down further, to view data for individual groups (including dynamic groups).

Change two:  We included a new value for average time per question. Now you can review average time per question, alongside average score per question, by using the radio buttons.

Change three:  We added a new question popup panel on this page, making referencing questions much easier.


We added a new data export option on the Results > Data page, in the groups and dynamic groups tables. You can now export a list of training keywords, with a corresponding list of users who have dropped marks on questions which feature those keywords.

We added some new search options in the Results > Data page, including, Question Name, Module Name and Module ID.  Question Name behaves in the same way as question ID, i.e. anyone who scored <100% on a given question will display in the search results.  Module Name and Module ID searches for questions that belong to a particular module, where score = <100% and lists the users who might need training on that module.


We have provided some new options for answer precision on free text type questions.  If an answer is numeric, admins can allow a variance in the value presented in the answer field by users, assigning full or partial marks for 'nearly right' answers.

Admins can now provide user hints for answer precision (i.e. the number of decimal places required in the 'correct' answer).

For non-numeric answers, we have included the option to disregard incorrect case and white spacing in the answers submitted by users.  So, for example, if the 'correct' answer to a question was 'Top DAUG', but a user entered an answer of 'Top   daug', the admin can decide whether to assign full, partial or no marks.


We have included a new csv export tool, which allows admins to easily export question sets to Excel.  The export contains all of the question data contained in the green question footprint panel.  Look for the new icon on the ‘KnowledgeSmart Tests’, ‘Draft Modules’, ‘Draft Tests’, ‘Published Modules’ and ‘Published Tests’ pages.

The csv has the following column names:
Question Name, Question Summary, Question Text, Type, Used In (Modules), Used In (Tests), Author, Answer, Related Files, Training Tags, Category Tags, Question Category, Skill Level, Coaching Text, Coaching Files, Learning Text/Links, Learning Files


We have updated the rich text editing tools, for admins to edit and write KS questions.  The new tools appear on the edit/create question step 1 (write question), step 5 (coaching) and step 6 (links to learning) pages.

Small Changes

There are a number of minor updates which appear in this release.  These include..

An easier way for admins to access tests for users who have logged out part-way through a session (particularly where the test was started from a browser, as opposed to an invite mail).  Look for the highlighted icon on the Invites > History page.

 (NB The overall Invites section of the dashboard is undergoing a thorough review and update in part two of this dev, so more details to follow about this area soon).

Results emails now include the assessment name in the body of the mail.  We've also changed the font for invite and results mails, following a number of requests to do so.

The correct answers for unanswered questions now appear in the final report. Previously this field displayed as blank.

We fixed a bug on pick list type questions, which allowed this type of question to be published with just one correct answer. This, in turn, caused an error message to display during live test sessions.  Pick list questions require two or more 'correct' answer options.

We added new benchmark charts for the 2012 Revit data, across all disciplines.

Custom user data field labels now appear in the Results page search table.

We changed the naming convention for PDF exports of charts, now displaying the individual chart name in each export.

So that's a summary of the new tools and features in this system update.  Part two focuses mainly on improvements to the Invites area of the dashboard, plus some new user options on the test UI and one or two minor library content management updates.