Reseller MEP Apps for Revit
Last year we took a look at third-party apps from industrious developers for MEP users of Autodesk® Revit®. This time around we will review what resellers have been putting together. With their close relationship to Revit users, resellers are often the first point of contact when Revit isn’t working as desired. Resellers are uniquely positioned to identify trends and opportunities with their client base. They are also in close contact with Autodesk and can leverage relationships there to guide decision making on what apps are going to be long-term winners.
Besides being in the sweet spot between the creators and users of Revit, resellers are in constant competition with other resellers. This means they need to find ways to differentiate themselves. Resellers are therefore driven to discover their clients’ needs and provide solutions in order to survive in an ever-tightening market. Understanding that resellers are confined to their market areas and not every reseller listed in this article may be known to any given user, their applications are typically not.
When it comes to purely MEP applications, there is not much. Is this because the MEP tools native to Revit are so perfect? I haven’t found a user who thinks so. More likely, the problems with MEP tools in Revit are deep rooted in engineering units and internal calculation constrictions, which are not completely exposed in the current API for programmers to attack. Adding to the problem, engineers are a particular bunch and finding tools that satisfy all, while seeming easy, is not.
In the middle, resellers have taken their best shots. Let’s take a look at what resellers have been putting out there for our use (in alphabetic order by reseller name). Where I thought detail mattered to an MEP- focused person, I have added an explanation of the tools’ intended use. Where it didn’t, I didn’t.
Advanced Solutions, based out of Louisville, Kentucky, has bundled its applications and branded the utilities BIMAssist. Availability is limited to the United States, but BIMAssist is free for clients whose subscription to Revit is through Advanced Solutions.
BIMAssist combines 12 tools.
Case Update is a tool to change text case supporting upper, lower, and title case. The tool can be applied to elements, views, or whole projects. Add to that the ability to filter by type and a zoom to feature; this is a handy tool for most any user.
Door Mark Manager (Whoop-de-do)
Fire Rating Coordinator links a fire rating on hosted elements to a host element, then can verify and align one way or the other.
Match Instance Parameters is pretty much what it sounds like. Works on selected elements, all in view or all in project.
Note Block Creator (Is this really a need?)
Project Cleaner helps users compress linked files by taking out plans, views, schedules, legends, and more.
Room Phase Replicator
Room Surface Parameter Extractor
Sheet Number Update adds and removes sheets, then renumbers the sets to eliminate gaps in sequencing.
Space Synchronize – everybody has one, including Autodesk.
Text Find and Replace is just what you think. Includes a zoom to that can be helpful for finding elements.
Find out more about Advanced Solutions BIMAssist for Revit by visiting AdvancedSolutions.com.
CAD Technology Center out of Bloomington, Minnesota, has been one of the most prolific producers of Revit apps of any of the resellers I reviewed. Advanced users will enjoy having the heavy machinery CTC provides and inexperienced users will be able to do amazing damage really fast. The CTC arsenal is large (35 applications by my count), which is great; they have your tool no doubt. It is also cumbersome in that the average user may gravitate to 10 percent of what is offered and be burdened with an overstuffed ribbon. Some users may have anxiety over the sheer volume of tools and simply ignore them.
For a cool $7,000 the BIM Data Suite will export a snapshot of the BIM data in your model to SQL, XML, or a CTC Model Compare file.
BIM List Server centralizes Revit content and provides a customizable family browser to help users find the right content no matter where it is or they are.
The BIM Manager Suite includes a Batch Family Loader, Project Cleaner, Revision Cloud Remover, and Family Tools at no cost. For $1,250 you can add a Dimension Checker, Family Processor, Import and Link Manager, Shared Parameter Manager, Type Swapper, and a Watermark tool to brand your content.
The BIM Batch Suite includes a Family Exporter and Family Loader for free. For $324 a Project File Upgrader and a Plotter and Exporter tool can be added. The Plotter and Exporter tool allows users to schedule plots to PDF or exports to other formats. Considering all the time you might spend plotting, having it happen automatically overnight may make the cost of this tool a non-issue.
The BIM Project Suite includes seven free tools: the BIM List Browser, Detail Link, Length Calculator (displays the length of a pipe, duct, conduit, or cable tray run), Project Link, Quick Select, Revit Properties, and a Renumbering tool. Twelve more tools can be added for $450. These include Fire Rating, Model Compare, Schedule XL, Parameter Jammer, Revision Manager, View Creator, Spreadsheet Link, Spreadsheet Drafter, Spreadsheet Link Express, Schedule Parameter Resolver, Room Family, and FAB Sheets.
Find out more about CAD Technology Center’s applications at ctcexpresstools.com
If you have been waiting for something directly applicable to MEP, Design Master out of Lynnwood, Washington, boasts actual help for electrical users. Offering include:
Breaker and Wire Sizing, which calculates based on connected loads and allows user overrides.
Feeder Sizing calculates based on overcurrent protection and allows user overrides.
Voltage Drop is calculated using selected feeder sizes and Revit supplies the feeder length. Users can override as required and create a schedule for easy manipulation.
Fault Calculations for equipment and document in a Revit schedule.
Arc-Flash calculates incident energy and required PPE. Create a schedule to document values.
One-Line Riser Diagrams automatically creates one-line diagrams that allow customization per company symbology.
Find out more about Design Master’s applications and pricing at designmaster.biz.
Ideate Software, San Francisco, California, offers three apps.
BIMLink, which can pull BIM data from a model and put it into Excel where it can be modified and pushed back into the BIM model.
Ideate Explorer simplifies project navigation, searches, filtering, quantifying, indexing, and selecting elements.
Ideate Sticky has a memorable name, even if it is not immediately understandable. The idea here is that Excel rules and wouldn’t it be cool if you could place whatever spreadsheet desired on a sticky note and post it inside of the Revit database? You can with Sticky.
Find out more about ideate applications and pricing at ideatesoftware.com
IMAGINiT also provides a host of tools free utilities for its clients.
Adjust Pipe provides tools to adjust pipes, so the Trim and Extend tools will always work.
Room Renumber allows users to number rooms by function, not order placed.
Element Renumber applies the same power of the Room Renumber tool to grids, levels, spaces, and other elements.
Room Phase Copy is a common tool because rooms cannot exist in multiple phases.
Space Update syncs space properties with linked room properties.
Grid Select allows users to select elements based off the grid they are on.
Change Case is clearly something that should be native to Revit because everybody provides the tool.
Earth Connector bridges Revit to Google earth and even allows phases.
Parameter Copy is a powerful tool to switch parameters in an entire project between type and instance types, or host and element, or room and component.
Parameter Concatenator is a highly useful way to combine two separate parameters into a single parameter.
Translate uses Google Translate to quickly translate notes and text to more than 50 languages.
ViewSetup uses your View Templates to instantly create the views you need based off levels and phases. Personal note: I can’t live without this one.
View Cleanup is just what you think. Drop the hammer on linked files before you link them.
Dependent View Copy is new in 2016. It uses an example set to create, name, crop views, and more.
Revit Excel Link is yet another flavor of tools to push and pull information between Revit and Excel.
Dim Text Update allows users to override multiple dimensions at once.
LinkFixer makes updates and relinking (even folders’ worth) a breeze.
U.S. CAD, headquartered in Newport Beach, California, is another extremely prolific producer of applications for Revit. For what the company quantifies as “low cost,” you can enjoy the use of seven packages of tools.
The BIM Manager tool set includes the following tools.
Multi Type Editor
Folder – this tool opens Windows Explorer to the current files location
BIM Query – uses Excel to pull edit and push BIM data
The Analysis tool set includes the following tools.
Room Lighting – not what you hoped for; just calculates room volume
The Annotate tool set includes the following tools.
Legend by Category – create custom legends by element
Align – align text to elements
The Select tool set includes the following tools.
Filter – apply filters to selection sets
Select – rules-based selection tool
The Modify tool set includes the following tools.
Draw Bounding Box
Edit Grid Name
Room to Floor
Create Assembly View
The View tool set includes the following tools.
View Depth Override – change element colors based off distance to viewing plane
Align Viewport on Sheet
Toggle – switch on and off visibility by category for a whole project
Resize Section Box
Room Views – generate 3D room views
The Content Admin Kit tool set includes the following tools.
Execute Calculated Parameters
Update Calculated Parameters
Manage Calculated Parameters
Shared Parameter Manager
For more about USCAD applications go to uscad.com.
As I said last year, keep users in mind. Don’t overwhelm them with ribbon tabs. Remember there are no guarantees that these tools will work with other tools you have. You may have to wait for resellers to react to new versions, leaving you in the lurch between product release and application update every year. It is difficult to take just the tools you want and leave the ones you don’t. Resellers have done a consistent job of delivering their tools in large packages. Much like cable TV services, you will have to buy the Home Shopping Network whether you want it or not in order to get “SportsCenter.”