Today’s post is a guest article written by James Herndon. James is an Architect and BIM Consultant currently living in Boise, Idaho. He has been working with Revit for over a decade, he helps clients make the transition to Revit and keeps a blog at RevitAnswers.com. Also, make sure to follow him on Twitter @RevitAnswerGuy.
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Just a few years ago there was still a lingering question about whether the industry would truly transition to BIM or not. Nowadays, the question most firms are asking isn’t if but when they will make the switch. You may have heard there’s a steep learning curve with Revit. As a BIM consultant I work with Revit newbies all of the time and I can definitely tell you that there is a big difference between those that transition quickly and smoothly and those that struggle and fail, and that difference is almost always mental. Here are my tips to help you get over a few hurdles on your first day in Revit.
#1 Don’t be afraid to push buttons and see what happens
Learning a new software program is always intimidating but don’t forget your best friend: ctrl-z (undo). Typically you can back out of anything you try so don’t be afraid to see what different buttons do. Just be sure to save often, especially right before you push that new button, but if you do find yourself in a jamb you can always shut down without saving. The only way you’ll learn Revit is by doing it, so don’t be afraid!
#2 Remember you are no longer drawing, you’re building
This is probably the biggest hurdle for people coming over from AutoCAD or Microstation and it’s purely mental. You’re not using a new drafting program, what you are doing now is fundamentally different; you’re actually building your project and you will need to rethink your typical workflow and processes a bit, this is normal, but it can be frustrating, so keep an open mind about the change.
#3 Don’t be afraid to ask “dumb” questions
I can’t tell you how many complex workarounds I’ve seen my clients cob together in Revit for things that already have a button or solution in place. For instance one firm I consulted with had developed a pretty complex annotation family for spot elevation callouts when Revit has a spot elevation tool right next to the dimension tool. Instead of saying: “hey how do you do this?” they spent hours on a problem that could have taken just a few seconds.
#4 Know who to ask
So who do you ask if you have a question in Revit? Sure you can call your reseller, but many aren’t Revit experts per se, but don’t worry, there are a ton of amazing online resources, try typing your question into google with the word Revit in there somewhere and see what you get, or try hitting the F1 key on your keyboard (this takes you to Revit’s online help file) or you can ask a question on revitcity.com or www.revitforum.org or www.augi.com/forum or visit www.revitanswers.com and get a hold of me, maybe I can help!
#5 Spend a bit of time and learn the lingo
There is nothing more frustrating than having a question but not knowing how to communicate the problem. A good live teacher will try and find the meaning in what you ask but when you’re typing a question into google or a forum’s search bar it will only be able to search for the terms you type in and those might not be the terms Revit uses.
#6 Be super careful about what you delete
I know I said to push buttons and learn by diving in, but one thing to keep in mind is that you need to be careful about what you delete out of a project. If there is a stray line in your live detail it might be a part of a wall or the roof just poking in and by deleting that simple line you may be deleting your entire roof! If you delete something like this you might not notice it for quite a while and by then it may be too late to undo, so when in doubt remember you can always “hide” things or EH (Element Hide) on your keyboard. Remember that people who are redlining your drawings won’t know this either, so take terms like ‘delete this line’ with a grain of salt, know what you’re deleting.
#7 Go look at what you’re modeling regularly
A lot of newbies forget that they are building instead of drawing and that even though what they see in plan looks great it may look horrible in elevation or a section, so do yourself a favor and take a few leisurely strolls through a 3D perspective view every now and again, or learn to use the “section box” in an isometric 3D view and go look at what you’re making.
#8 Don’t compare Revit and CAD
Getting back to that “Mental” thing: If you spend all of your time focusing on the things that were super easy in AutoCAD but you’re having trouble with in Revit, then you’ll overlook all of the awesome new tools and features you get with BIM. I guarantee that if you work in Revit for a year then you will shudder at the thought of going back to “dumb” lines, even if you did have a better ‘text’ or ‘trim’ tool in AutoCAD.
#9 Practice first
I know it’s not always an option, but I typically recommend that my clients complete an entire old project in Revit for practice before they dive in on a live project with a tight budget or timeline. In Revit the process for modeling a ceiling is entirely different than the process for modeling a door. You’ll want to try out every process that you’ll run into on a typical project at least once before you try it on the clock.
#10 Don’t Give up!
Don’t give up! I like to compare CAD to Revit in the same way you could compare a bike and a motorcycle. Revit might be more difficult to learn and will take patience, but once you master it you will never go back and it’s the path to everything down the line!
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