Sunday, April 26, 2009

Revit 2010 Ribbon development


There has been much discussion and blogging about the new ribbon interface in the latest edition of Autodesk’s Revit platform. To get a little back story, watch this video on it’s development and the thought behind it. Even after testing and bug-hunting RAC2010 for 4 months, I still have trouble finding some of the commands I want. Granted, I’ve been using Revit for a while now, I think since 2002 or 2003, and the “old” UI is second nature to me. After watching the new ribbon interface video, I was a bit more comfortable. It points out that you can move the buttons around within each tab and add them to the quick-access toolbar. You can also dismount the tools and have them sit on a second monitor if you prefer. The fact that the tools have moved around quite a bit takes some getting used to. A really useful tool I found to help one adapt to the ribbon is the “Where is my Command” button on the help bar drop-down.


In terms of performance, certain aspects seem faster and others not so much. There is a Performance Technical whitepaper here which can help you with this regard. For those of us who work on large, multidiscipline, multi-office projects, you might see some performance boost here and there as it is making more use of 64-bit and multi-threading. In the end it is still mainly a single-threaded application so having a 16-core beast on your desk won’t help you crunch the database any faster.

The ribbon’s performance is still slow. It seems faster than when I was first introduced to it in January, but there still seems to be a split second delay in the reconfiguration of the panels between activities. In my mind, this is a critical functionality that needs a resolution. Delays in this reconfiguration process during modeling and drafting get very frustrating. If anyone knows a way of speeding this up, drop me line.

All in all I like the look and the flexibility that is provided in the ribbon but I would like to see more flexibility added. I like the functionality of the tools reconfiguring to the related tools of the selected subject. I find this very useful and it makes the application more intuitive. I would like to configure the tabs myself. I find certain Revit activities use a different array of tools more frequently than the “typical” Reviteer layout that exists. I find myself switching through the tabs quite a bit during the kinds of things I do which are not springing to mind right now otherwise I would list these activities.

The bummer of it all is that my firm now has the job of retraining a lot of people on how to interact with and use Revit. A job that I would rather not have to do. Revit and Building Information Modeling is a freight-train plowing through the beach chairs of the Architecture, Design and Construction industry and there’s one thing that I am certain about; and that is change in this aspect of the industry is becoming more frequent and more viral – not effecting just architects, but engineers, contractors and everyone that is connected. More often than not, change is good. Change expands the mind. Change revitalizes stagnant industries and creates new ones. And from a simple post about a new interface to the paternal application we have gotten into a philosophical diatribe on change. I didn’t see that coming.


Craig Barbieri

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