Support for Revit Comes to Navisworks

The dream has become reality; Navisworks now allows a Revit file to be opened natively.  From the open dialog box, you can select the Revit File type from the drop down and browse for your Revit file.

When a Revit file is loaded, much like dwg files, Navisworks will create an nwc file in the same directory as the Revit file.  In order to ensure you obtain the information you are looking for, the Navisworks team added the Revit File Reader to the Options Editor.  In this editor, you can easily define the information you wish the nwc to contain.  This option is the same as the options you could originally bring up in Revit when exporting an nwc.  Keep in mind that if you select the checkbox next to Convert Element Properties that the nwc will take significantly longer to create.

Along with the ability to import Revit Files directly in to Navisworks is the enhancement to the Revit hierarchy.  The new hierarchy better reflects Revit organization.  That is the elements in a Revit file are now organized by Category, Family, Type, and finally Instance.  This is a major advantage to navigating the Revit file through the selection tree.  Additionally, all sub-parts are listed by their Revit Material.

Figure 1: Revit hierarchy

Revit Gridlines

A common problem in Navisworks is knowing where you are in relation to the model.  Navisworks 2013 provides a solution to this problem by creating dynamic gridlines from Revit files.

When a Revit file is loaded into Navisworks 2013, every level that is defined in that Revit model will also have an associated dynamic grid that is also imported.  The dynamic aspect of these gridlines is that as you navigate through the model, the heading of the gridlines will move with you.  This is important because you can always quickly obtain a visual representation of where you are in the model from the gridlines at all times.  To change the grids level, simply select the level you wish to display from the View tab of the ribbon, Gridlines panel, Level.  Additionally, you can fix the level you wish to the grid on by selecting the level from the drop down on the Grids and Levels panel.

Besides being able to choose the level you display, the Gridline mode tool allows you to configure how the gridlines will be displayed.  If you desire, you can turn off all the grids or you can turn all the grid lines on.  I suggest sticking to just one level as multi level gridlines tend to clutter up the scene view.

Figure 2: Revit gridlines

In keeping true with the Navisworks interface, each of these grids colors are customizable.  To change the color configuration, click the Application button, expand Interface, and click Grids.  In the options dialog you can choose the colors you desire for the configuration.

Time is Money


Timeliner has been upgraded in 2013 to incorporate costs with activities.  You can now link or manually add Material, Labor, Equipment, and Sub-Contractor costs.  A Total column will also appear and sum all the costs together for the activity.

The new cost data can be entered in manually in Timeliner.  To view the cost columns, first open Timeliner.  In the Timeliner window set your Columns to Extended.  This will reveal all the new cost columns.  To add the cost to the activity, click in the cell and input the amount that the task requires.  Notice that the Total column automatically updates to reflect costs as they change.

Figure 3: Timeliner costs

Another method of adding cost to the schedule is by adding a link to Timeliner and mapping the cost data from that schedule to Timeliner.   To add the link, click the Data Source tab in Timeliner, click the Add button, select the source of your choice, and in the Field Selector window map the Material, Labor Equipment, and Sub-Contractor Costs to Corresponding costs in the linked schedule.  These costs now carry over.

To visually show these costs to the project, click the Simulate tab in Timeliner, then click the setting button.  Navisworks 2013 added the cost button and allows you to customize how your costs will be displayed.  Insert all the different costs in the manner you wish to display during your playback simulation.  Keep in mind that text overlay only is displayed when Open GL is the renderer, Presenter will not render text.

Other Timeliner Upgrades

Another new feature to Timeliner is the ability to drag and drop selected activities and add them to the schedule.  This enhancement allows for quick selection and addition to tasks.  Simply select all the objects you wish to add to a task in the selection tree of from the scene view and drag and drop the selection onto the activity.  Remember, however, this is not a best practice because linking to a specific selection makes the objects static.  The best practice of linking is still to link a search set to the task.

Timeliner now supports xml exports.  Many applications are able to read xml data and incorporate it into full schedules.  Navisworks 2013 allows the schedule to not only be exported in csv, but also in xml.  The hierarchy of the xml works seamlessly with Microsoft Project. 

Clash Detective Makeover

The Clash Detective interface has been changed significantly.  No longer is there a Batch tab; in fact, batches are now documented as tests.  So when you look at the Clash Detective you might be wondering where the Batch tab disappeared to.  It can be found by clicking the down arrow at the top of the Clash Detective to reveal all the different Clash Tests.

Figure 4: Clash Detective new look

To add a test, click the Add Task button.  The old buttons, clean and clear, all have been renamed to better reflect what they actually do.  That is: Reset All and Delete All, respectively.  Compact All and Update All work the same as the previous Compact and Update buttons did in the 2012 release.

You can easily import and export your clashes now in the Clash Detective by clicking the Import/Export Clashes button.  Once you are done configuring your tests, collapse the section by clicking the up arrow.

The Rules tab has not been changed and the Select tab has had minor icon changes.  The Results tab, however, has had a major upgrade.  First, notice the column entitled Grid Location.  Navisworks now pinpoints all the different clashes and references their grid location as well.

You might be wondering what happened to the Display Section of the Results tab.  Never fear—it still exists.  To view the display information, click the arrow on the docked Display Settings located on the right of the Clash Detective window.  The Highlight items options are now located in the Display Settings instead of being displayed in the items section.  The Dim and Hide isolation settings have been consolidated into a drop-down box. All other choices remain the same.  When you have configured the Display Settings to your desire, you can hide the section by clicking the arrow again.

We have now found the test information, formally the Batch tab, the Display Settings information, but where is the old Item information? The Item information is located at the bottom of the Clash Detective and can be revealed by clicking the up arrow.  The information displayed is the same as it was in former versions.  Collapse the window by clicking the arrow when done.

The Report tab has an added feature to export Grid Location.  All other features remain the same.

New Buttons and the Power of Undo

You may also notice, in the main section of the Results tab in the Clash Detective, that clicking the headings of the columns does not automatically sort the fields.  To sort by a column, right- click the column and select Sort Ascending or Descending. 

The top bar of the Clash Detective has buttons to manage groups, add comments, and make assignments.  Let’s talk about the second set of buttons.  The filter button works exactly the same as the Select Filter checkbox did in the Display field of the old Clash Detective. 

The next icon that looks like an undo icon resets the test—all test results will be erased.  The difference between this Reset and the Test Reset All is that this Reset will only reset the current test, not all the tests.  Similarly, the next button, Compact, will only Compact the current test, rather than all the tests.

Navisworks now supports undo for the Clash Detective.  If you wish to undo an action, simply click the regular undo button from the Quick Access Toolbar or use the keyboard shortcut ctrl + z.

Introducing the Selection Inspector

Navisworks has introduced a new tool called the Selection Inspector, which can be found on the Home tab in the Select and Search panel. Selection Inspector allows you to view the properties of all the items selected.  The properties displayed are defined the same way as quick properties.

Let’s look at how this can be used.  In the Selection Inspector,  click Options to open the Quick Properties definitions.  Here, you can define the information you wish to display for all the selected items. 

Figure 5: Selection Inspector

Once the information is displayed as you desire, Navisworks allows you to export that information to a csv file.  Simply click the Export/Import button and select “export to csv.”  This data, if you choose, can easily be leveraged to create links to data bases or other materials.

Additional Enhancements

One of my personal favorite enhancements is the spring-loaded Select Box shortcuts.  When the select tool is selected, if you hold down the spacebar, the Select tool will act as the Select Box tool.  This allows for a quick selection of multiple objects without having to click the ribbon for the Select Box tool.

Navisworks now has Vault integration as Part of Autodesk’s 360 BIM solution.  If Vault is installed on your computer, an additional tab called Vault will appear on the ribbon.
Another enhancement is the ability to use the Autodesk Renderer.  In the past, Navisworks supported only Open GL and Presenter.  This resulted in a number of materials from Autodesk products and others not render according to the original specified material.  If you use Presenter materials you should always render with Presenter; however, if you are using materials from an FBX file or materials that were created with Autodesk Consistent materials, then you should use the Autodesk renderer.

Freedom Upgrades

An important release to Navisworks Freedom is the ability to section.  This incredible feature can now be leveraged by all parties and allows saved Clash Viewpoints to better represent the intention of the Clash saved image.

New Glitches

Well, now that you know the good, let’s talk a little bit about the ugly.  When Revit models are brought into Navisworks you will probably notice that they do not align with your gridlines.  This is because their file units and transforms take on the translation and rotation that the original origin has while the gridlines do not.  To solve this problem, simply change all the units and transforms to 0.

The Clash Detective has the unfortunate habit of expanding all your folder groupings every time you select an object or use filters.  This is problematic because it makes controlling your Clash environment challenging.

The Selection inspector is a powerful tool, but it seems to suffer from a lack of inheritance.  Geometry-based items will not recognize high-level information such as Source File Name, making the information you can actually acquire from the Selection Inspector limited.  Even so, it is still a great tool.

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