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Showing posts from 2013

From BIM to Unity… and beyond?

You may have noticed that I'm interested in Unity. Here is another post about this fascinating game engine. Unity eBooks on offer for $5 There is of course my own book " Unity for Architectural Visualization " ( ). I you act quick, you can even buy it at a great discount, since Packt offers all eBooks and video courses for $5 till Jan. 3d (  ). I can recommend the  Unity Game Development Essentials  book by Will Goldstone as a general introduction and the  Unity 4.x Cookbook  as a series of valuable little tricks and tips once you know how to use C# in Unity. Unity for Architectural Visualization as a Video Tutorial? I'm currently working on a video course on the same subject . Will be still at an introductory level, though. Will be announced later. Further advancing interactive architecture projects I do hope to make a sequel on a more elaborate level as well. Not sure in which format. Book? Video Course? Websi

My book on Unity for Architectural Visualization is ready

My (first) book on Unity for Architectural Visualization is ready. All files and texts are with the publisher (Packt Publishing) and they will make it available any day now. The cover image is a photograph by an external photographer, as is custom for Packt, but the bridge into the clouds is a nice metaphorical image on virtual and imaginary worlds. I've dragged the whole text through Wordle to come up with a text-based summary of the book: Despite the fact the only the 7th chapter goes specifically into scripting, I was a bit surprised that the term "script" is quite big, next to more obvious terms, such as model, objects, image or software. Who can spot the CAD and 3D applications mentioned? If any of you read the book, it would really please me to receive some feedback. Who knows what the future will bring.

Some teasers, some free cloud space - getting ready for next semester!

This blog post is more a personal note, to share with the readers, whoever you may be, from wherever you may live. I have a few plans that I'd like to share with you. If you comment, you have the chance of steering it a bit. After all, what's blogging just for the sake of yourself. Unity for Architectural Visualization I'm about to finish the last revisions for the final chapters of my upcoming book Unity for Architectural Visualization. I do hope I live up to the expectations. It will be published by Packt and they have a pre-order page ready: ArchiCAD Summer School Next week, I'm heading off to Cardiff (Wales) for the ArchiCAD Summer School 2013. There will be a BIM Teacher gathering, the introduction of ArchiCAD 17 (which I'm already using) and Artlantis 5 (which I'm using less, since moving more to Cinema4D, but interesting nonetheless). I will be too late for the openBIM day, a

About SketchUp 2013 and the meaning of "free"

Most CAD and 3D-related websites have already gone over SketchUp 2013 by now. I'm not into repeating all of this, so this is more a personal reflection. SketchUp has become widely successful for many (valid) reasons. When I discovered SketchUp for the first time, they were at release 2 and ran by @Last software, who had lots of prior CAD experience. I remember suggesting to introduce it into our CAAD classes and we got a classroom license just a day or two before the first lesson. I quickly created some HTML overview pages and we were running. It will not come as a surprise that the software was a huge success. Reason for success: simple to use, quick modelling (push-pull!) and well-thought out graphical display styles, without jeopardising accuracy (inferences, axis locking). When Google took over, there were some hesitations, but overall the result was very positive: a free version became available, the 3D Warehouse was only in its infancy, but grew at a tremendous s

What do you want to read in a book on Unity and Architectural Visualization?

I am currently in the writing stage of a "mini" book on Unity for Architectural Visualization. There is not much   I can publicly share, at the moment, but I do hope it will be worth it. So if anybody has some ideas of what should absolutely be included in such a book, let me know and I'll see if I can fit it in somehow. But good, practical tips are also very welcome.

Basic Mobile modules for Unity are free for all

Last year, Unity gave away free licenses for the Basic iOS and Android add-ons. This was, back then, a temporary promotion. I reported about it as well . Apparently, they want to attract even more mobile developers and decided to release these add-ons for everybody, without cost. So you can now have a free license of Unity, which supports Mac, Windows, Linux, web player, iOS and Android . Other platforms are in beta: Blackberry, Windows Store apps. Read some more and look at the announcement from Unity's CEO David Helgason at the Pocketgamer blog/site . You might have to wait a bit, since the Store-page is temporarily off-line at the moment. There is still the non-free Pro-license of Unity and the non-free Pro-license of the iOS and Android add-ons, which present quite some additional functionality. The most 'missed' features, at least according to me, are realtime shadows, bounced lights for baking and the performance features of LOD, static batching, Occlus

From PDF (back) to DWG

Disclaimer : I was politely asked by Emily Donalds from Cometdocs to possibly feature a post on their PDF to AutoCAD webservice. While wary about advertisement, this is an open and free offer and useful for CAD users. On you can (obviously) convert PDF files to the AutoCAD DWG format. In a time were probably every single PDF containing CAD drawings was originally created as a digital drawing anyway, it makes sense to optimise on this kind of drawings. You can go to the website and, without creating an account or registering, you can upload a PDF from your computer. It should not exceed 40MB and you need to be willing to enter your e-mail address, cause the conversion process will happen on their servers. The service is free and upon testing, was reasonably fast. The example I tried was a PDF from a elderly care centre provided during a research project and was originally drawn digitally (although I'm not aware of the exact software th

ArchiCAD 17 and Revit 2014: What's new? How do they compare?

While I can not put my hands on the new versions of both of these applications, the web is getting filled with announcements so it is a good moment to see where both of the most popular BIM authoring tools are going to. I go over the "new" features and see how they relate to their main competitor. This way, my post is not simply a copy-paste of the PR mailing ;) Revit 2014 I got most of what I learned about if from this blog post . Displaced views to make open perspectives is nice to have. ArchiCAD does not have it, but it could be faked when placing multiple views on a layout. Double click to edit sketch of floor/roof is also a nice, small improvement, that might be quite handy once you get used to it. I remember it from MiniCAD when I used it in 1998-2000. In ArchiCAD, you click on an element and a floating palette pops up with all editing functions that are relevant. In Revit, you get a few extra icons on the ribbon. Edit and manage materials in a single

Temporary free license of XMind plus for student and teachers

XMind is one of several mind-mapping applications. They have a temporary offer for a free student or teacher license , but it expires at the end of may. This offer is worth $79 so well worth a look. XMind is cross-platform (Windows, OSX, Linux) and is partially open source. The main application is free to use, but for some additional features, there are some non-free editions. While the free version offers a wide variety of diagram tools and sharing on a website, you need the plus or pro version for export to Word, PPT and PDF. There are some more "business" oriented features that are only available in the Pro edition. Check out the comparison here . I have been an avid mind-mapper user for a while and did use Freemind for quite some time. This is still available as Open Source, written in Java, so it runs on Windows, OSX and Linux. While I've turned more and more to use Evernote for note taking (as it syncs between laptop at work, iMac at home and my iPhone

xBIM, an Open Source .NET Toolbox for BIM development

While answering a LinkedIn discussion on Open Source BIM, I stumbled upon the open xBIM toolkit . Apparently, they use the "openbim" domain name, and seem to be related to the openBIM initiative by BuildingSmart and some software companies. It is not an end-user program, but a software developer toolkit, written for the .NET framework so it should be supported on Windows, inside .NET-supporting applications such as Revit or AutoCAD. In theory, it might also be usable using the Mono framework (an Open Source implementation of the .NET framework that also runs on other platforms, such as Linux or OSX). It is hosted on codeplex ( ) which is managed by Microsoft and relies on Open CASCADE for 3D modelling and visualisation. It has a CDDL license, which is comparable (but not identical) to the LGPL license, which does allow commercial usage, unlike the more stringent GPL license. The toolkit can help you to write custom software, requiring IF

Let ADSK choose the right software for you... or not?

Today, when I went to the Autodesk Students website ( ) I was greeted with a " Product Selector ". By answering a few basic questions, the most appropriate (Autodesk) software for your purpose is suggested. While I was not surprised at the answer, it was plain obvious that whatever you choose that is related to architecture, building or construction, the answer would be " Revit " in almost every single case. Select a project > house > Revit Select a project > building > Revit ... Select a field of study > Building and Infrastructure Design > Architectural Engineering > Revit Select a field of study > Building and Infrastructure Design > Architecture > Revit Select a field of study > Building and Infrastructure Design > Civil Engineering > Revit, Civil 3D, Infrastructure Modeler or AutoCAD Select a field of study > Building and Infrastructure Design > Construction Management > Navi

Evaluating an ArchiCAD model in Solibri

My newest tutorial video explains how to evaluate an ArchiCAD model with Solibri Model Checker , using IFC . It is quite long (over 50 minutes) and again in Dutch. It handles the main workflow and shows how to adjust some parts in the ArchiCAD model to have better results. I'm interested in providing English translations, but that would fall outside of my teaching work so I need to find another way of supporting this effort. Would captions be an option? (still a LOT of work) As always, everything is recorded using Screenflow on a Mac, but everything I show works exactly the same on the Windows versions of ArchiCAD and Solibri.

From ArchiCAD to Revit using IFC (with video)

It's in Dutch so maybe not for everybody, but I recorded a few video-tutorials discussing how to get a model from ArchiCAD into Revit in a more or less editable form, so you can still do some things with it. Using IFC and Solibri to inspect the exported model and see what is indeed exported but missing upon import. Inside Revit, we make a Schedule and notice that the room does not pick up the ArchiCAD Zone Height properly and the category needs special attention to get through. Important lessons: some ArchiCAD model simplification can make life easier (e.g. a SEO between wall and roof resulted in the window being placed one floor below its opening). Not sure if going back and forth between ArchiCAD and Revit to finetune IFC export is feasible for many people, but we have to deal with the current intricacies of the IFC implementations as they are today. FWIW, Revit 2013 was running inside Windows 8 in Parallels, whereas ArchiCAD 16 and Solibri Model Checker 8 were running n

Digital Archeology - recovering old ClarisCAD files

Last week, I got a question from one of our master thesis students. She is working on a historical reconstruction project and received some old files from the architectural office, responsible for a renovation project in 1993. They used ClarisCAD. The files had no extension and the software is, obviously, part of CAD history. Recovering the software ClarisCAD is not available anymore, but on Macintosh Gardens , an archive is maintained with downloadable installation files. You can download the full software freely and it runs without requiring to enter a serial number. I assume, as the software is abandoned, that using it can be considered as some kind of "fair use". I did not fully investigate though and as it was only used to recover some files, I think it is OK. Recovering the operating system To be able to run this on a current computer, you need to emulate the Operating System (unless you have the actual hardware still running around somewhere). Luckily, there a

I'm alive and so is BIM

So I haven't had the chance to post a lot, lately. That is not because I had nothing to say, but because I was busy. As anybody else, I guess. In fact, most of the people I meet are more than busy and getting eaten up by work, responsibilities... Well, this isn't a post about complaining, beware. I thought I'd share a little thing, which might appeal to some of you. I'm working quite a lot with IFC files lately and while I clearly recommend to at least use a good viewer to check what you are exporting from your BIM software of choice or when checking an IFC you get from somebody else. But from time to time, you need to dig inside the raw IFC data . The well-structured but otherwise not-meant-to-be-read IFC text code. So you load up Notepad (on Windows) or TextEdit (on Mac) and open an IFC file... Well, better stop at this point. For one, notepad is nowhere up to any serious text editing task and secondly, well, it'll frustrate you. You need at least a decent