Wednesday, 11 July 2012

It's the little things that count...

Sorry for the rather lengthy delay between posts, it's been a busy few months on many fronts and I've now got to play catchup! There's been a significant amount of development by CBI over the last few months so there's lots to blog about over the next few weeks!

I've just finished putting the latest release of CodeBook (26.05.2012) through it's paces and have been very impressed with some great new functionality and lots of small enhancements that have been made. These little tweaks will save a mouse click here and there, simplify processes and make day to day work just that little bit easier - which is what this post focusses on.

I spoke with Peter about the release and he said that during the last few months they have looked at introducing new "game changing" functionality, such as the mobile tablet version, taking full advantage of the improved Revit API which will now allow CodeBook to generate c-sheets (currently beta testing) but also working through the user-based-wish-list i.e. all those little requests we've been emailing support about.

The first enhancement I came across involves Lookups Editor, which now includes several new Categories that can be edited - Equipment Library Info, Equipment Asset Info and Equipment Asset Data.

Ever wished you could rename some of the default Equipment Library fieldnames? Well now you can and whilst CodeBook has always been highly customizable, this demonstrates a greater maturity in the userbase and responds to the needs of the different geographic regions using CodeBook.

Equipment Asset Info and Equipment Asset Data, relate to several areas which also can be renamed - the BIM interface fields, some relate to FF&E positional data and some to the Facilities Management realm - all of which provide the ability to respond to even the most whimsical of client requests!

One to highlight is the CodeBook Asset guid, which enables each FF&E item within the building to be given a unique asset based identifier which is increasingly being requested on projects. Procurement, assigning barcodes, QR codes, asset tracking and management etc... all rely on this.

Next up is the Revision Editor, which allows you to manage revisions more easily across a project, especially when there is a staggered programme and departments with different revisions to manage.

Within the Equipment Library it is now possible to provide an Alternative BIM name. Typically you would have single Revit family|Type associated with a single equipment record within the CodeBook Library - but it is now possible to link to multiple families or family types to a single equipment record in CodeBook.

I think this is aimed at slightly more experienced Revit users and I'd suggest carefully thinking through how you wish to use this. One specific application of this for Health Projects in NSW, Australia would be to link multiple family types of different sizes (e.g. desks) to a single CodeBook equipment record and single HFBS code. The Health Facility Briefing System groups many items under a single code, yet during the user review process when planning and modifying room layouts, different sized desks are specified. So these family types can now all be linked to the same equipment record.

Whether you SHOULD group them together regardless of size is another matter and whether you need to provide a comprehenive schedule should also be considered - the functionality is there, but my advice would be to use sparingly.

Get location using BIM Pick/Hit can be used to find out the coordinate information for a piece of equipment along with the headline data (code, description etc...)

Once selected in CodeBook, click on the Revit family and the info will appear in a small window.

There are several enhancements within the Equipment Library - Find Using Query now includes a NOT button, so you can search / filter even more precisely. For example you might want to search *stainless* to get a list of stainless steel benchtops, but you might not want to include those with a lipped edge, so you'd simply type in *lipped* and tick the Not button.

The equipment library is sorted by equipment code, but there is now an option to switch the sort order to Sort by Description. Which of the two you use is a personal preference, but now you can easily change between them.

Two questions that I'm often asked are "How can we permanently delete equipment from the library?" and "How do I know if I have duplicate equipment codes?" There are now two functions available that do these tasks, Purge Equipment Library and Ensure equipment codes are unique.

Both are useful, but should be used sparingly - for example, if you have just hidden several equipment items, give it a week before Purging the Equipment Library. Purging permanently removes the equipment, so if you've hidden an item by mistake you can't get it back (through using the unhide items function).

Two very welcome additions to Project Explorer are Insert New Department and Insert New Floor. In the past you had to close Project Explorer, open the Department or Floor Properties, create the new department or floor, close the properties window and open Project Explorer again. It might seem small, but this will save some to-ing and fro-ing in the early stages of a project.

Room Editor has some functions that have been revised, Synchronise a (individual) Room and Remove BIM link used to require clicking on the Revit Room that you wanted to synch or remove the link to. Now you don't need to click on the Revit Room.

Show Properties within Room Editor, now expands the room editor window, as opposed to opening a separate properties window. I prefer this format from a workability perspective and it means there is one less window to worry about. You'll also notice from the image below that the Required and Designed equipment are grouped together by code where you have more than one item. You can expand this if you need to carry out a task on a individual item, but again I prefer the format and it means you don't have to count up on screen how many items you have in total.

Adding, Removing and Substituting equipment items now has the ability to create a list of add/omits/substitutions which can be applied to individual rooms, or all the rooms in a department or all the room in the project. This will certainly help make global modifications a bit easier, but I think the most value will be when making department based changes.

Update Designed Equipment Lists now has two additional options. Use graphics centroid means that CodeBook will calculate this from the family extents when updating equipment lists, rather than using the origin point specified when you built the family. Also CodeBook can now pickup on the Phase data, should you have equipment placed on multiple project phases.

There are two major new functions that have been added - Task on Selected Rooms and Set worksets - but these are both quite large topics and deserve a detailed explanation, so I'll cover these in a subsequent post.

So all of that should save you a few clicks per day and hopefully you found the post useful, any requests feel free to email me.

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