Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A more detailed look at tagging in the NBS Plug-in for Autodesk Revit

There have been a few questions from users of the NBS Plug-in for Autodesk Revit asking for information on how the tagging works in more detail.
Question from linkedin
Question on this blog
In this blog post I try and answer (a) what it currently does, (b) what it currently doesn't do and (c) what we're working on.

The NBS Plug-in for Autodesk Revit is a free tool that can be downloaded from the URL below:
And overview of some of its features are given below:

1. Tagging system objects
In the example below there is a specification in NBS Create for an 'Internal floor tiling system'.
A floor tiling system specification in NBS Create
The corresponding object in the model may be tagged against the system in NBS as shown below.
The tagged equivalent object in Autodesk Revit
This is possible through the use of the two shared parameters 'NBSDescription' and 'NBSReference'. The NBS plug-in stamps these in through the 'Associate object' feature, so there is no need to manually add them through the Family Editor.
The type parameters required for the tagging
2. Tagging component objects
For component objects, the process is identical. In the example below there is a 'Gas fired condensing boilers' specification clause in NBS Create.
Boiler product specification in NBS Create
In the model the tag can be added to show the relationship between the two items as shown below.
The corresponding type of boiler in the model
The parameters required are again the same. These are 'NBSReference' and 'NBSDescription'.
The important parameters
In addition to tagging, the user can also view a report as to which items are coordinated between model and specification. The user can click on the items in the report to jump to instance of that type in the views within the model. This is shown in below.
Verify, fix and browse the associated objects using the report
There are other features that this tagging allows also such as the ability to view the technical guidance and also the generation of an outline specification from the model. Please see the link below for more information on this:

3. Tagging materials
Material objects can be tagged in a similar way, however there are limitations here in the current plug-in that is live.
  1. Within the Revit user interface it is not possible to select a material from within an object
    In terms of our developments, we could look to see if our plug-in could read the materials in a system object and offer the user to select the material they'd like to annotate. This is on our r+d list of things to look at for future.
  2. Currently it is not possible to view the material in the 'Verify objects' report.
    This, however is something that is reasonably well developed and will be in the next beta version of the plug-in we will release to NBS Beta Testers in January.
Tagging of material objects
An NBS product specification that maps to a material in the model
The material tagging/checking for errors will come from the two parameters 'NBSReference_mtrl' and 'NBSDescription_mtrl' as shown below.
The material parameters that are important
If any users of the plug-in would like have an early preview of this functionality - we'd love to have you as part of our Beta Testing programme:

4. Tagging 'elements'
The majority of NBS National BIM Library objects are at 'system' or 'product' level. However, some such as the external walls, floors or roofs are at an 'element' level.

An element contains more than one system. For example below, the external wall has a cladding system, a structural concrete system and a plasterboard lining system.
A wall 'element' in the model
To tag this in the model against NBS, there are two options:
  1. Pick the primary system to tag the object against (maybe the cladding system in the example above) and then manually annotate the additional systems in the wall object.
  2. Split the wall object into its systems (as in the example above where the cladding system is highlighted in blue). Then tag the systems at a one-to-one level against NBS. This is more involved in terms of modelling skills, but does better represent the building. For example it allows for a single system to cover the outer face of a building, but different systems to be modelled on the inner face to match the floors and rooms of the building. 
Finally, tagging still works with the in-built Revit KeyNote functionality. All NBS specification products allow users to export information from the project specification to a KeyNote file. It should be noted that objects tagged using KeyNotes will not have the spec linkage, guidance, spec creation, preview functionality.

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