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Simplicity with Autodesk® REVIT Architecture®

By Justin Taylor, 28.08.09 | Comments

If something isn’t broken should you fix it? Well quite possibly yes as it happens.


When practices switched from using drawing boards to the first basic CAD systems, the drawing boards weren’t broken (with the exception of the ones at my college!). So why did the change occur?


The two main reasons for this change were:


·         Competition from other practices using CAD.

·         The desire to work more efficiently, thus making more money.


Although original drawing work in CAD was slower than a decent manual draughtsman, the advantages gained during modifications and repetitive work soon gave practices an edge over their competitors still working on drawing boards. This meant that they could meet shorter deadlines and also take on more work.


Today thousands of practices still use generic CAD packages, which are in effect nothing more than electronic drawing boards. Aside from the odd software crash, or hardware failure, these CAD packages are not broken; they are still capable of performing the required functions that they were designed to perform. So do they need to be fixed?


Everyone knows that the current market is one of ever tightening deadlines, stricter building regulations and greater competition. Most of us have either experienced or at least heard of the so-called ‘intelligent’ 3D building modellers on offer.


But what makes designers decide to move out of their comfort zone and learn something that is fundamentally different in the way that it looks and works?


Back at the beginning of the 90’s I had quite an impressive vinyl record collection, which I was quite proud and protective of. Then small, shiny, plastic disks in neat little cases called CDs appeared in the music shops. I took little notice at first, but within a very short time, I could no longer buy my beloved vinyl and the rest as they say was history.


The CD was a success because it out performed its competition in several ways. The vinyl record wasn’t metaphorically broken as such, but the CD superseded and very quickly became the norm. Now before anyone writes in, I know that the true music connoisseurs out there will still hold the record in high esteem and regard its playback sound quality as closer to the original live music, But that argument is for another conversation.


The lesson to be learnt here is that those practices that embrace intelligent design software will become more efficient and those that don’t will end up where my records did…..the local car boot sale. Yes I know that’s sacrilege, but there you have it.


So what makes a software package worth spending money? Well in my mind it’s:


  • Simplicity
  • Power
  • Value

Software needs to be intuitive and powerful. It should be designed for a specific discipline and meet that requirement without design restrictions and without costing an arm and a leg.




Upon start up it is obvious that Revit Building is different from its competitors. Underneath its refreshingly simple user interface, uncluttered by toolbars, dialog boxes, model space and paperspace etc. lays the most powerful architecturally biased CAD software on the market. The interface reacts with the users as they design, alleviating the constant need to open toolbars, dialogue boxes and palettes etc. One of the main reasons that the Apple iPod is the best selling mp3 player is because of it’s simplicity of use over its competitors.


Let’s just discuss one small aspect that can be a major issue to a lot of users, that of text and dimension settings. When you come to create a plot sheet, with all the various zoom scales, you still want your text and dimensions to be the original size that they were created with. Correct? You do not want to have to start messing around with systems variables and switching styles just to match everything up. The good news is that in Revit you don’t have to. Once you have set up a style that’s it! No matter what scale of view it is used in, if it was 3.5mm text it will always print full size as 3.5mm text.




Revit has no legacy software, dragging along a history of dead technology – Revit was created from looking at everything that holds back the industry and understanding that change is the norm. A little fact you may not know is that the name Revit came from the words Revise Instantly. These two words were the driving force behind the core technology.


We don’t need to go in to the science bit and explain the concepts of parametric design, but Revit makes it very easy to create intelligent design data. Whether that’s plans, sections, details, schedules, perspectives, renders, walkthroughs etc. the real bonus is that because every view in Revit is live, you never have to effectively work in 3D.


More importantly, the power is visible in the complete lack of influence it has over its users. The last thing we all want is to be able to look at the skyline and identify the software used on the new buildings by the features and objects they consist of. Revit gives you the freedom to Define, Design and Decide.




Is Revit value for money over traditional CAD packages? Well in a recent survey of 300 practices using Revit the average productivity increase was between 40 – 120%!

Just let that sink in and if you thought it may be a typo, that’s 40 – 120%! Which means that even taking the lower value of 40%, a user will effectively gain an extra 94 working days per year, which seems like pretty good value to me.


Revit will allow you to work in a far more effective and productive manner, producing more deliverables than any generic CAD packages can.



Usually this is the point where I summarise all the facts outlined in my article, but this time I will do something a little different. This time I will leave you with one simple question and one simply statement:


Q:        Does your practice want to stay in business?


S:         I don’t know of many practices solely using drawing boards that still are.

About The Author:
Justin Taylor is an AEC software industry expert
Contact Revit the Frog on:
Phone: +27 832315283
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