Blog Published: 10/11/2020

Blogger - Alec Milton

That's impossible...isn't it?

Publishing Revit sheets to PDF & DWG in a matter of seconds

The problem

Working with Autodesk Revit invokes both joy and frustration, and for a long time we were frustrated that every small change you might want to make to a Revit drawing involved so much time and effort. As software developers, we want to make things easier and faster for our customers, but the tools just aren’t there.

Take the situation that you need to issue some drawings on a project that’s working to ISO 19650. As part of the process you need to change the name of each PDF so that it includes the Suitability Code and the Revision, but these need to change on the title block too and those changes also need to take into account each drawing’s history.

For example if the issue is for Authorised & Accepted, the Suitability Code will need to be changed from S0 to A and if drawing X was previously published at C02, its new revision will be C03, whereas drawing Y may have already been issued a number of times and may be at C05, so it will need to change to C06.

The solution - or so we thought...

To a software developer this is fairly simple and it will be no surprise that our document and drawing management software handles all of that automatically. The problem that bothered us however, was that users still had to go back into Revit to publish the updated sheets.

Sure, there are tools that can batch process in Revit, but you are still at the mercy of Revit’s performance. Models can be huge, so the combined time to both load the model and then render each of the sheets to PDF is considerable. This is time when both the machine and the user are tied up waiting. So, I was delighted to be able to announce back in August that we had cracked this problem and that we can now edit a Revit sheet and create a new updated PDF in a matter of seconds per sheet and without opening Revit– magic! You can learn more about this here

This is a huge improvement and something that we were delighted with until some customers told us that they also need a DWG of each Revit sheet, so they will still have to pop back into Revit to create those.

No problem we thought, we can just export the sheet to DWG and then use some existing DWG editing code of ours to update the attributes…but we hit a brick wall. When Revit creates a DWG, it turns all your lovely title block text into MTEXT rather than attributes. MTEXT doesn’t have the unique identifiers that attributes have or the positional justification. So, we were stumped - but thankfully not for too long.

The actual solution

Thanks to the coding skills of our team, we can now export Revit sheets as DWGs with attributes and with the correct justifications, so that your text spills in the right direction when you edit it.
 
Put these things together and we can firstly publish Revit sheets to both PDF and DWG and add some pixie dust to them. Then when you need to make small changes to the title blocks, which may be the full ISO 19650 Suitability Code and Revision type of changes mentioned above, or may simply be the addition of the approver’s initials, both the PDF and the DWG can be updated in seconds. This all happens on your server without taking a licence of AutoCAD or Revit and can be used to batch change multiple sheets at once.


Exciting times

At the moment, this is beta software that we are testing and improving in-house. Later this year we hope to be able to provide pre-release versions to selected customers and in the new year it will become part of our standard offering.
 
We will be showcasing the huge time savings from our PDF processing in our ”Speeding up your Revit workflows with data management” webinar on 20th November and hope to include the new DWG handling in future webinars. So, if you would like to see this feature of our document and drawing management software in action, register for our webinar here.

 

About the author

  • Alec Milton

Alec Milton

Head of Document Management Solutions

Alec joined Excitech from Arup Group Ltd where he lead the development of engineering software applications as director of the Technical Software Group. He was simultaneously the managing director of Oasys Ltd where he spent 13 years commercialising Arup’s software products. Alec is a Fellow of the British Computer Society and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering Designers.
 

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