Archive | March, 2012

AutoCAD WS: Geolocation

31 Mar

In the new AutocAD WS update for iPhone there is now a set location, my location, and mark toolbar. I was hoping that I could add my location and then press “my location” and as I walked around the building the blue dot would move. This seems pretty easy using the geolocation features built in to the phone – I have a map that does it and it’s not even a full blown app. What the app did do was allow me to select my location and then I could view the drawing in Google Earth. My drawing is not properly scaled so it’s huge but I will post the pictures below. As someone who likes to place CAD drawings in GIS, it annoys me when I open a drawing and see it being drawn in the ocean. I hate 0,0. I always end up opening drawings and moving them to the correct position. So being able to just stand at the corner of a building and select my current location saves me some time.

Autodesk is really improving AutoCAD WS and I am enjoying it – they added 3D views as well! Let me walk the building or site and update my location in the drawing and I will be an even happier user.

Here are the pictures showing setting location, my location, and mark. Lastly, on Google Earth in the desktop browser app.



When Architecture and Planning Mix: BIM and GIS

20 Mar

Architects and planners work at two different scales and use two different sets of software. Architects use computer aided drafting (CAD) and Planners use geographic information systems (GIS). Architects are often drafting a single building on a site and planners are analyzing a block, neighborhood, city or region. It is not that often that a planner works at the level of a single building and it is just as rare to find an architect drafting a city. What if we could combine the work of architects and planners in GIS?

Read More at The Urban Times…

Mapping a Graveyard with Field Assets For iPhone

19 Mar

There are two old graveyards I pass almost daily in Albuquerque. Through Google, I was able to find an attempt by someone to create a list of all the people buried in these sites. It appears there was a grant at some point to do this work, but over time, without upkeep, many stones have been weathered and the names gone. There are also many small crosses and stones that appear to be marking graves, but there are no names or indications as to who was buried there — if anyone. This would be a great GIS project. At a minimum, I think a point on a map with a popup showing an image of the individual grave or tombstone, and the name if possible.

I have an app on my iPhone – Field Assets – to collect data (another great app for this, especially if you had your own tileserver would be  Fulcrum). I walked over to the graveyard and just took two points as a test of accuracy and to give me something to work with on building a web map.

In the app, I setup an asset type called grave with no attributes other than the default name, image, location, sound clip. Then I added a grave by starting with use current location and fine tuned the actual location. Finally I took a photo of each grave.

The images show the graves on a map – within the app – and a photo of a grave. I can export from the app to a SHP file, CSV, SQL, HTML – this is awesome! The app will export out webpages of your asset that you can modify.

I need more work on this – mostly more time. Once I have all the images and points in the app, I would then create a Leaflet.js map in a website that embeds the images in the popup – an puts the points on an aerial image. The data collection could be done quite quickly and then fine tuned in QGIS at home. The point is that Field Assets or Fulcrum are effective data capture apps for most mapping needs. If you need hardcore accuracy then a cell phone is not going to cut it, but for most of us, it puts GIS data collection capabilities, that were not too long ago way out of reach, in our hands.


Download A Building

16 Mar
DeadDrops USB in A Wall

Dead Drop

I have seen this image on many webpages and found it interesting. Googling it, I found the website from which it came – Dead Drops.

According to the website:

‘Dead Drops’ is an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space. USB flash drives are embedded into walls, buildings and curbs accessible to anybody in public space. Everyone is invited to drop or find files on a dead drop. Plug your laptop to a wall, house or pole to share your favorite files and data. Each dead drop is installed empty except a readme.txt file explaining the project. ‘Dead Drops’ is open to participation.

This project made me think, what if you could plug in to a building and download that building? What if, when you plug in to the USB stick, you are presented with a local webpage (HTML file) containing access to the floor plan, maintenance logs, sensor data, etc..

Using an AutoRun script like we did for CDs – back when we used CDs – we can present the files with a web based front end without actually connecting to the web.

So why do this? Why not just put the files on the web or let someone connect to our network and look at the files?

  1. I may not want my sensitive files – floor plans – on the web.
  2. If I put them on my intranet, I have to let this person on and this opens up the possibility that they can get to other things.
  3. Of course I have a backup, but say this person deletes or corrupts the files on my intranet and I didn’t? If they delete the USB stick, I still have my originals.
  4. This lets me provide a place for a consultant, or emergency responders, to plug in and have everything they need in one place.

None of these reasons are great. The real reason to do this is because it is cool. The physically connecting a computer to a building and then seeing all the information about the building is an experience that is not obtained by going online to a website or opening a file.

But I have been asked by school districts to give them floor plans of their facilities so they can place them in a box that is accessible to first responders so that they can get information when arriving on scene. So why paper? How about a USB stick in a box with a cable they can plug in to?

Practical? Who knows.

Cool? Yup!

It’s Not Revit, It’s You.

15 Mar

It has to be said: Revit is not the problem, YOU ARE!

Let me explain….

I sat down this morning to listen to a licensed architect ask how to find out wall areas in Revit. After hearing the answer, the architect asked for the drawings in CAD. Because using DOS and CAD – yes, DOS was actually used, I can’t even make that up – is faster and Revit is inefficient and doesn’t do the things it needs to do. How can it have so many tools and capabilities but none of them are relevant to our work.

I hear this way too often. Revit can’t do X. Or, AutoCAD is much faster at X than Revit. This is wrong! There is very little that you can’t do in Revit, you just don’t know how (let me say that for the work I am doing there is very little it doesn’t do). CAD is faster because you have been using it for 15 years. Trust me, when you get proficient in Revit,you will find many things much faster.  I offered to put a cost formula in the template that will calculate the costs of painting the walls. “But I don’t need to paint them all.” I know, but when the model is drawn for every future project those costs will be in the model. Just select the walls you want and you are done! How about stucco? Want me to add tile and carpet on the floors? No Problem.

Was my offer accepted? NO.

Did you know you can export it to AutoCAD – sorry, we don’t have DOS so you will have to use Windows. NO.

The architect printed out the floor plan and is calculating the area with a ruler!



Revit Editor iPhone App

14 Mar

In a previous post I showed how to Edit Revit Data Through the Web using Apache, PHP, and MySQL. The webpage ran on mobile devices, but I have thrown together an iPhone specific version of the webpage for mobile field data collection.

After editing the model through the web, you can see your changes on the full site.

The address for the iPhone App is HERE.

Here is what the app looks like. One note, after clicking submit in the app you will see a screen that says “undefined.” This is because I am still missing a final page. I am thinking to either take you back to the form or show the results of your edit. I haven’t modified the page because it is built of the same script as my full website. For these examples I piggy back on other apps I have built to make for a rapid development.

Architectural Criticism

14 Mar

The last few months have been a busy time for discussions on architectural criticism. On Feb 27th the NY Chapter of the AIA brought together:

  • Julie Iovine, The Architect’s Newspaper (moderator)
  • James Russell, FAIA, Bloomberg
  • Cathleen McGuigan, Architectural Record
  • Justin Davidson, New York Magazine
  • Paul Goldberger, The New Yorker

to discuss “Architectural Criticism Today” as the first discussion in their 4 part series on “Architecture and the Media.” Two days later, Alexandra Lange released her new book, Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities.

Read More at the Urban Times…