Modelling Piling from Microsoft Excel using Revit & Dynamo

Happy New Year to everyone and straight back into the deep end with more Dynamo! Way back in 2013 I reviewed the Excel Model generation tool that allowed the creation of Revit elements based on a spreadsheet. This allowed the modelling of various objects but was limited to generation of only geometry and did not allow the user to add data to the objects.

Link to YouTube Video: YouTube Tutorial

Revit Piling from Dynamo and Excel

I used this tool to create a Revit piling layout derived from AutoCAD geometry. See Post Below.

I have since used Dynamo to achieve a better method for the setting out of piling as well as setting the Pile number and even loading.

In this post I will step you through the Dynamo node so that you can create a similar routine. Let’s start with the raw Excel data. In my example I have the Pile Number, the Easting and Northing Coordinates, the Level, Depth (Length of Pile) and the Pile Diameter.Excel - Piling Data

The following image below shows how to select the Excel file and then pass the filename and sheet name into the Excel.ReadFromFile node. Note that I have used a Code Block for the Excel Sheet Name but you can of course use the string node instead.Dynamo - Get Excel Data

The next stage is to remove the unwanted headers from the Excel data. The List.DropItems node is removing the first list. Note that list is a ‘nested’ list so will remove the [0] index as shown below.

Dynamo - Remove Headers from Excel

Next the transpose node is used to sort the data into the correct columns. The current data is stored as rows. The List.Transpose node converts rows to columns as shown below.Dynamo - Transpose the List

The next task is to get all the required data into separate lists so that we can later ‘feed’ this into the nodes to create the piles and also add data to each Revit Element. Dynamo has a node called List.GetItemAtIndex which gets the relevant data. In the below example I am getting the data from index 1 which is the Eastings Coordinates. Index 0 is the first column which is the Pile Number.Dynamo - Get Item At Index

This then leads me onto the next problem. By default the piles will be modelled from the origin (0,0,0) and Revit has a geometry limit of 20 miles which will clearly be broken by the large numbers (This project is around 200 miles from the OS base). In the below image you can see the ‘effect’ of geometry modelled a long way from the origin. This is referred to as graphical degradation and will affect the visual and also the accuracy of snaps etc.

Revit - degradation of Graphics

In the Project I have set the Project Base Point of a known Pile coordinateSet Project Base Point

I have then subtracted these values from the Eastings and Northings to give me coordinates relative to my project base point. In the below example I have the known Easting and Northing setting out point set. I then pass this value into a code block (marked with red boxes). The Code block is taking two variables and then subtracting the set out from the real coordinate. The nodes with the blue frames are the original coordinates.Dynamo - Transpose the Coordinates

The next step is to then model each pile based on a pre-defined Foundation Family. In this example I have created a round pile with an instance parameter to control the Diameter and another to control the depth. I have named this family ‘Concrete Pile’. The FamilyTypes node will list all loaded Families in your current Revit project. We then use the FamilyInstance.By.Coordinates node to generate each family from the two code blocks that generate the X and Y position and the third which is the ‘raw’ Z levels.Dynamo - Create the Piling

It is now time to make use of the ‘metadata’ such as the Pile Number and the Diameter by utilising the Element.SetParameterByName node. This needs the elements from our FamilyInstance.By.Coordinates node and also a string for the Parameter Name. Again I have used a Code Block for this example. In the image below I am using the instance parameter ‘Mark’ to read the Pile number and then add this into each Pile. This is then repeated for the Pile diameter and if required, the loading.

Dynamo - Setting the Pile Number

So anther interesting use for Dynamo in a structural project. I will produce a video tutorial to accompany these notes in the next day or so.



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Happy Holidays!

Hope you all have a good holiday season and a great New Year!

Christmas Image

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Revit 2016 R2 – A look at the new features

Just like last year, Autodesk have opted for a mid-life release in the form of Revit 2016 R2 but a few less structurally orientated tools than last year’s Revit R2 release! Never the less, some of the Platform tools are very useful and make the user experience even better.  Let’s take a look at some of these new features in a little more depth. I have opted just to show the most relevant tools for the structural workflow. Before we start here is a list of all the new features.

Multi-Disciplinary Enhancements

  • Global parameters
  • Cancel Print and Export
  • Family visibility preview
  • Filter Voids and Solids
  • Performance Enhancements
    • Occlusion Culling
    • Export to DWF/DWFx
    • Colour Fills
    • Background Processes
    • Object Styles
  • Revisions
    • Sheet Issues/Revision Dialog Box
    • Revisions on Sheet Dialog Box
  • Revit Links
  • Work sharing

Architectural Enhancements

  • Perspective Views
  • Spot Slope
  • Wall Joins
  • Railings
  • Autodesk Raytracer Rendering
  • Energy Analysis

MEP Enhancements

  • Fabrication
    • Insert Part
    • Connect as Tap
    • Rotation Tools
    • Show Service
  • Electrical Settings
  • Assigning a Distribution System

Global Parameters

This is probably the most interesting of the new features as it now allows control of multiple elements with a single parameter. In the example below I have used two Global Parameters to control the floor to floor levels in a structure. I have the typical Floor to Floor height of 3600mm and a service level of 4000mm.

The first stage is to create the levels and dimension these levels with Aligned Dimensions.

Revit Global Parameters - Floor to Floor Height

You then select the dimensions that you would like to assign a Global Parameter and then click the Label tool on the Options Bar (Similar to the creation of parameters in a family)

Global Parameters

You can then control the various values of each parameter by first selecting the dimension and then clicking the small ‘pencil’ icon or using the Global Parameters Icon on the Manage Ribbon.

Global Parameter - Edit Parameter Icon

Revit 2016 R2 - Global Parameters Icon

You will then see the Global Parameters Dialog where you can create new parameters, edit existing parameters or delete parameters. What is quite interesting is that you can use Reporting Parameters to control your own user parameters.Revit Global Parameters - Floor to Floor Height Change

A good use for this is possibly setting steelwork to the base of a floor slab. In the image below you can see that a reporting parameter has been added to the floor slab (225) and this has been referenced by a Global parameter (Beam Control). You can then assign this parameter to the beams offset in the Properties Palette.

Revit Global Parameters - Beam Offsets

Linking Revit Models

A simple but useful new feature is to link Revit Projects from Project Base Point to Project Base Point. This can be useful when each model has set the geometry out from this point.

Revit 2016 R2 - Link Revit File by Project Base Point

Some of the other features are more ‘cosmetic’ in nature but all add to a good user experience in the day to day use of the software.

Here is the reworked View Range dialog box which is ideal for new users who wonder about the various settings such as View Depth, Top Range etc.

Revit 2016 R2 - View Range Dialog

The Filters dialog box has had a bit of reorganisation by separating Rule Based and Selection Filters to reduce the amount of filters displayed in the dialog box.

Revit 2016 R2 Filters

Reference Planes can now be renamed directly within the graphics screen for ease of use.

Revit 2016 R2 - Reference Plane Naming

You can also select multiple sub categories in the Object Styles dialog box which increases productivity when creating project templates.

Revit 2016 R2 Filters

So there’s a very quick ’round up’ of the new features. Again, not too bad for a mid year release.


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Introducing Autodesk Advance Steel 2016

With the release of Autodesk Building Design Suite 2016 back in June Autodesk announced that AutoCAD Structural Detailing was to be discontinued from the suite but would still be made available to clients that had subscription. One of the main catalysts for change was the acquisition back in 2013 of the Advance Steel product which gives the much needed fabrication and structural detailing capabilities to the existing Autodesk structural suite of products. Autodesk Advance Steel now completes the portfolio giving BIM workflows and capabilities to Steel Detailers, Fabricators, Manufacturers and Contractors.Autodesk Advance Steel Workflow

In the workflow shown above the structural engineer can design the steel frame in Robot and then import the model into Autodesk Revit with the design results, the Revit model can then be transferred and synchronised with Autodesk Advance Steel. The steel detailers can then add any secondary steel, cold rolled systems as well as the required connections and check these to the required design codes, create fabrication documents and output CNC code. The Advance Steel model can then be federated into the main Navisworks model allowing contractors to plan the logistics and construction. Finally, Autodesk Point Layout can be utilised for the creation of points and then the data exported to Robotic instruments for setting out.

A major strength of Autodesk has always been integrating tools to give users good workflows and the transfer of intelligent models and data. Autodesk Advance Steel can import and output to the following neutral formats.

  • IFC
  • CIS/2
  • SNDF

The NC data can be output via the common DSTV format or to certain bespoke machine tools. Another option is to output profiles to DXF to interface with LASER, plasma and similar automated cutting machines.

Other intelligent synchronised links are possible with Autodesk Revit and Autodesk Robot. The interface with Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis will also output the design forces directly into the Joint Design tab. There are also workflows with AutoCAD Plant 3D and Autodesk Inventor.Autodesk Advance Steel Import and Export Tools

A huge advantage of Autodesk Advance Steel is that it runs on top of AutoCAD giving a very familiar feel to existing AutoCAD users and good resourcing potential when looking for steel detailers with CAD experience. Although the main drafting and modify tools are shared with AutoCAD 2016, Autodesk Advance Steel brings many more bespoke tools to aid the modelling of structures, analysis and drawing outputs. The tools work in a very intuitive way and are used in logical workflows to provide full control of your digital model.

The steel frame can be produced either by placing elements at specific points like drawing lines in AutoCAD or you may prefer to create AutoCAD lines and convert these to Advance Steel structural elements. Plates, holes, welds and bolts can then be added to the steel elements to complete the required details.

In the image below you can see the Advance Steel connection Vault allowing the automated modelling of over 300 joints and connections. Additionally, each joint can have a library of common sizes and types stored for future projects. Custom connections can also be generated and stored within an Advance Steel Palette. Many of the standard connections support design and analysis to EC3 directly within the joint dialog box with a full design report that can be exported.Autodesk Advance Steel Connection Vault and tool palettes

The vast majority of the Advance Steel commands are all transparent which makes previewing and navigating very straight forward. For example, in the below image the railing tool has been started, the user can manipulate the display, make changes within the dialog box and instantly see the results in the context of the model.Autodesk Advance Steel Railings

Another interesting feature of Advance Steel is with its Multi User technology allowing many users to work within the same DWG model. This is achieved in a similar way to Revit by utilising a master model and then each user connecting to the master model and checking out elements as required. This becomes a very useful feature when working on very large steel projects.

Autodesk Advance Steel Multi User Tools

The Advance Steel Document Manager is the central location to manage and view all 2D output such as drawings, schedules as well as DSTV files. All documents can be previewed and managed from this simple dialog. A major strength is the ability to change any model element and instantly see which documents need revising. The revisions are then applied and revision data and clouds are automatically added to the relevant drawing frames and views.

Autodesk Advance Steel - Document Manager

The various drawing and detailing processes can handle the output of all single part drawings, assemblies and NC output with a click of a button. This is achieved by creating pre-configured drawing styles that control every aspect of the drawing from view placement, object visibility through to dimensioning strategies and intelligent labelling.

The Autodesk Advance Steel drawing output is among the best in class with fully customisable templates and styles that can be applied via simple tool palettes. The image below shows a typical Elevation and 3D Isometric detail.

Autodesk Advance Steel - Typical Elevation and 3D Frame

Here you can see a fully automated drawing output from the model. Each plate has been detailed on a separate A3 sheet with required quantities, weights and even lotting information added to the sheet. When detailing large amounts of components such as plates, beams and columns Autodesk Advance Steel has a very useful set of tools called Drawing Processes. This is based on a complex set of styles that will generate all documents with the correct templates for each view and sheet.

Autodesk Advance Steel Typical Drawing Output - Plates

Other output can be automated such as various Bills of Materials for plates, bolts, and even saw lists based on images. Like the drawing Styles each schedule is based on a template that can be fully customised as required.

Autodesk Advance Steel Saw List

In summary Autodesk Advance Steel adds a much needed set of tools to the existing Autodesk portfolio and being based on AutoCAD will instantly have a familiar look at feel to most potential users. As I mentioned previously, another very strong benefit is workflows and integration with other software tools such as Autodesk Revit, AutoCAD Plant 3D, and Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis.

For those of you that would like a little more information and a live demonstration feel free to drop in to our webinar on Thurday 26tt Novemeber 11:00-12:00GMT

Hope to see you there!


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Introducing Autodesk React Structures – New Structural Analysis BIM Software

Autodesk announced earlier this month that they have released a technical preview of a new structural analysis tool named Autodesk React Structures. The software promises to bring exciting new collaboration tools and workflows to structural and civil engineers and further integrate design and analysis results directly into the structural BIM workflow.

Autodesk React Structures - Main Interface
Many of you will be familiar with Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Professional which is the current Autodesk tool for analysis of Steel and Concrete structures. Whilst this is a very capable design tool the interface and workflows with other Autodesk software has not really developed since Autodesk acquired the technology back in 2006 from Robobat. At present it is very obvious that React Structures is based on the Robot platform but the clunky Robot interface has been completely re designed and re thought to give a very fresh, clean feel to the software which makes it much more intuitive.

Autodesk React Structures - Ribbons

As you can imagine, being a technology preview, the software is still in a very early design stage and many of the functions and commands are yet to be implemented but the ribbon does hint to some nice future functionality.

I will certainly be keeping a close eye on the development of this product so look out for future posts and hopefully, some tutorials. If you would like to test the software preview for yourself then click the link below:

Have Fun,


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Revit Structure Tutorial – Create Parts and Divide

Link to YouTube Tutorial:

Quite often in structural projects you may be required to turn an in situ element into multiple pre cast elements, a typical example is perhaps a wall. In this short tutorial we will take a look at the use of parts to divide an in situ wall into pre cast sandwich panels that Revit can then schedule and tag.

Revit Precast wall division

In the above example I have created a composite wall style by creating some additional layers and assigning a precast inner and outer face to cavity filler.Revit - Edit Wall Assembly

As you know, when this wall is used within the project you will generally see the wall as if it were one single object in 3D but if you section the wall it is possible to see the layers.

If parts are used then the wall can be ‘split’ into individual layers and then these layers can be manipulated. To create parts first select the wall/walls and then click the Parts icon on the contextual panel.

Revit Create Parts Icon

The wall will then appear similar to the lower left image. The individual layers are clearly visible in the 3D view.

Wall with Parts Created

The parts can then be further manipulated by selecting the ‘Show Shape Handles’ option within the instance properties of the selected part. This will then give you control to edit the physical size of the object. Other information is also shown here such as Volume and area of the part as well as its new physical dimensions.

Revit Parts Instance Properties

This method of manipulation is suited to individual elements but if you wanted to divide panels and also add options such as joints and gaps then the Divide Parts command will be utilised.
First you will need to create some reference planes to control the division of the wall. A wall can be divided by named reference planes, levels or grids. In the below example I have created some named reference planes and then made these equal.Reference Planes to Divide Wall

In the 3D view select the three parts of the wall and then click the Divide Parts command from the ribbon. Then Click the intersecting References tool.Divide Parts - Divisions

You will now see the Intersecting Named References Dialog box. Select the ‘All’ option from the Filter and you can then select all  your named Reference Planes as well as any Grids and Levels that may be relevant.Intersecting Named References Dilog

You will then see a preview of the divisions and also you can select a division profile and gap if required. You can of course create your own profiles which you can then use to split the wall. Note that you can select individual parts and then select the ‘exclude parts’ command from the context ribbon to hide these objects.

Division Profile and Gap Properties

It is worth noting that you will only see the parts in a view if you have set the ‘parts visibility’ to ‘Show parts. In most views the ‘parts visibility’ setting is set to show original. Of course if you make any edits to the original wall then the parts will automatically update.

Parts Visibility - Show Parts

Once the parts are created then you can start to add data to each panel. The first task could be to give each element a unique number. This can be achieved by using the Element Positioning command from the Extensions Ribbon (Note that you need to be a subscription customer and you will then have access to download these tools.)Revit Element Positioning

You can then add your own data as Project Parameters such as Panel Type, Mould Type etc. A schedule can then be generated based on this information which could be very useful for a contractor to understand quantities, repetitive natures and areas.

Panel Schedule

Bear in mind that a very similar set of tasks can be performed on the following objects as well as in place families.

  • Walls (excluding stacked walls and curtain walls)
  • Foundation Walls
  • Floors (excluding shape-edited floors of more than one layer)
  • Roofs
  • Ceilings
  • Structural slab foundations
  • Slab Edges
  • Fascias
  • Gutters
  • Structural Framing
  • Columns
  • Structural Columns

Take a quick look at my YouTube tutorial for step by step instruction.

Have fun,


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SOFiSTiK Reinforcement Detailing and Autodesk Revit Structure

Reinforcement Drawings and bending schedules have traditionally been prepared in semi-automated 2D applications such as CADS RC or manually in 2D CAD applications and while this has served the industry for over 25 years the traditional drafting techniques are becoming obsolete and disconnected from the emerging BIM processes and client requirements. The deliverables are most likely to be 2D drawings and schedules but increasingly also a 3D information model which has benefits to all the project teams including the consulting engineers, contractors, fabricators and steel fixers. The 3D model is particularly useful to all team members in highly congested, complex areas where clashes and pre fabrication issues are often only discovered whilst on site which leads to increased cost and project delivery creep. As with any construction project, communication and understanding is always improved when a 3D model with the relevant information is shared with all relevant parties.

Some of you may already be aware of the new features of Revit Structure 2016 for 3D Reinforcement modelling and detailing. Many of these improvements were in relation to the production of an RC schedule and a new tool to allow the use of shapes within a reinforcement path. However, although these improvements are most welcome there are still a few limitations, deficiencies and annoyances when it comes to efficient modelling, detailing and scheduling of reinforcement within vanilla Autodesk Revit.

3D Rebar - Revit and SOFiSTiK

Autodesk Revit 2016 gives the primary reinforcement modelling functionality and allows the efficient handling of thousands of 3D rebar’s in a model via specialist elements. The SOFiSTiK Reinforcement Detailing tool takes these core modelling tools and adds an additional level of sophistication to the modelling, detailing and scheduling of concrete projects. The main SOFiSTiK ribbon is show below.SOFiSTiK Reinforcement Detailing Ribbon

SOFiSTiK Reinforcement detailing’s main advantage is that it drastically speeds up the detailing of rebar by overlaying Revit 2D detail components over the various views and hiding the Revit rebar. The big plus with this technique is that all the supplied families are completely customisable allowing for RC drawings that exactly match your traditional 2D CAD output. For example, if you want to show a UBAR in plan with a dot or perhaps a cross or tick and tag bars in elevation or section then this is just a simple case of editing the supplied family to suit your requirements.

bar tick and tagUBAR Dot

The efficiency of the process is demonstrated below with a slab with some openings and angular faces. The rebar was added with the Area Reinforcement and path reinforcement commands and then the layers are automatically recognised by the SOFiSTiK layer tool. The split Rebar command has then been used to divide the bar into standard stock lengths.

Split Rebars

The view is then added to a drawing sheet, rebar numbers automatically assigned and the bar is then hidden, tagged and detailed. It is also worth noting that varying ranges and skewed bars can be detailed with a new Rebar Container objects.

Rebar ContainersRD Detailing - Slabs
In the next view I have created some reinforcement for a column detail and added some couplers to the model. A separate schedule can then be generated showing the configuration and location of the couplers.

Rebar Couplers and Schedule

I have also found that when the Autodesk Extension Reinforcement Macros are used then SOFiSTiK Reinforcement Detailing will recognise the correct shape code, the original shape codes are not to standard and hence cannot be used with standalone Revit.

Here is an example of the slab opening macro.

Slab Openings

Some of the main new features for the 2016 release are:

  • Rebar Groups – Used for grouping of bars such as varying ranges and skewed bars
  • Bent Fabric
  • UK Content Pack
  • Rebar Chair Spacer – Shape Code 98
  • Rebar Mechanical Couplers

In summery I would recommend that you download a trial of this software and perhaps take a look at some of the tutorial videos that SOFiSTiK have created.

We also have a Revit Structure course designed for existing users that will lead delegates towards the creation of reinforcement within Revit Structure.


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