Archive | May, 2012

NURBS in SketchUp

24 May

I have heard that SketchUp doesn’t do complex forms like Rhino or Form*Z. I have also watched architects painfully modify simple forms to create complex forms and sites. In the old versions of SketchUp, there was an option for a Sandbox Toolbar. This toolbar allowed for several landscape/site modelling. Mos notably creating forms from contours. In the new versions you have to add the toolbar.

To enable the sandbox tools:

  • Open the Extensions Manager (Window > Preferences > Extensions on Microsoft Windows or SketchUp > Preferences > Extensions on Mac OS X).
  • Select the checkbox next to the extension that you want to enable.
  • Click OK.

To create complex forms, NURBS, in SketchUp you can use these Sandbox Tools. Here is how:

  • Create 3 lines.
  • Select the lines
  • Click From Contours.




Of course, the crazier the form, the more difficulty you will have cleaning it up. But SketchUp does a much better job than most people would suspect.

Here is a good example for site work using the Sandbox Tools. I saw this in a book some time ago but cannot remember the title.

I have a walkway and a small wall and I would like there to be grassy hills between them. Draw another line along the walkway edge and the hills against the wall.

Now Select the two lines and use the from contours tool again.

Then paint some grass.

I am not a SketchUp pro, but it is fun and quick to use sometimes. Hopefully, this will help make your life a little easier and model a little faster.


URL Tricks in a Revit Schedule

22 May

In a Revit schedule you can add a parameter of type URL. I think everyone is fairly familiar with this but I think, as with QR Codes, people are just linking to a website. But what else would you link to? How about a local file on your hard or network drive. Or, why not pass data with the URL to a page in PHP that processes the URL – it’s much easier than you may think.


Revit URL

Opened from a Revit Schedule

With your Revit model, you could include a folder of documents that you could then link to withing Revit. They do not need to be on the internet.Web browsers are really just file browsers. Changing HTTP to FILE makes it a local file browser. I created a room in Revit and added a parameter of type URL. The URL added is:


This URL links to a picture on my desktop. If I click the link in Revit, I get the image on the right. The computer knows to launch the appropriate program to open the file. A link to a AVI file opens my Divx Player.


In a my post on GIS and QR Codes, I explain how to use a QR Code to pass and retrieve data. The same can be done from a link in a Revit schedule. The trick uses PHP $_GET. Ever seen a url like this: Well that is what a URL passing data looks like.  after the ? you enter a variable name then the = then a value. To add multiple variables include an &, like this: You will need a PHP script to process the data. Here is a working example that would pass the latitude and longitude of the room from a Revit field to a website. The URL to enter in the field is:

Click this link to see a map showing the room location. Enter this in to a Revit schedule field of type URL and click it in Revit.

You can also retrieve external database data from a Revit URL. Using the same method, you would make a SQL query like the following:

SELECT * FROM rooms WHERE number = $_GET[roomchosen].

The URL would be something like: I have a post that describes this more and has source code HERE.

Do more with your Revit URL fields. Use HTML and PHP to build applications on top of your Revit file. If you think of any cool applications tell me about it in the comments section.

The Future of the Internet

21 May

Much of the recent writing and discussions on the internet have focused on political issues such as ACTA, SOPA, and Net Neutrality. These are incredibly important issues facing the internet today. But politics aside, what is the technological future of the internet? What will the internet look like twenty years from now? The internet of the future will no longer be a place – it will be ubiquitous.

Read more at The Urban Times….