Sunday, June 19, 2011

Comment Tracking Using Noteblock Scheduling


A long time ago, I came across a very talented young man named Justin Rumley who was working for a facade manufacturer in the Mid-west on the Sprint Center.  He was giving me a model of all the facade embeds and parts and pieces.  The model was very good, very accurate, but i asked him why he had done it all in Sketchup when there were so many other more sophisticated tools around.  His comment was very straightforward and i have always remembered it:

"Sometimes SMART is DUMB, and DUMB is SMART"

This statement alone could be the basis of a lengthy discourse....for another day.


I recently had a brief email discussion with some other voices from the blog-o-sphere about the various strengths and weakness of the many available 3d and online collaboration tools.  How some of them don't yet play well REVIT....tracking documents, comments and changes is still a bit of a hassel...etc. holy grail yet exists...


The builder/client for my current project is very dedicated to using Revit and has trained up a crew to both review our models for coordination and manipulate the models for their own use.  A coordination reporting work flow was developed where they would:
  1. Create a model called COMMENTS.RVT
  2. Link our submitted design models into their COMMENTS.RVT
  3. Create a series of sheets with plans, sections and 3D views to illustrate the coordination errors.
  4. Print and send us PDFs of these sheets.  Just PDFs, nothing more.
A rather simplistic method to communicate errors, but effective for certain...yet one problem existed.  Their comments were all made as simple text with leaders on the sheets, thus couldn't be tracked without a ton of additional, separate effort.  I watched the guy on the architectural team struggle as he spent more than 2/3 of his time organizing the comments into an excel spreadsheet so we could respond/act appropriately.  A similar amount of time is wasted finding a view in our own models to examine the problem

We spent far more time organizing the data and finding the problems than correcting the errors.  Effective system? Yes. Efficient system?  HELL NO!

BIMTroublemaker to the rescue!

Trying to get the team to start using navis to review and generate comments isn't really an option.  Additionally, the documents they were sending us were extremely effective at describing the problems.  The problem lay in how comments are generated, tracked and resolved.

I recently found the NOTEBLOCK schedule in Revit's bevy of scheduling tools and realized that a solution could be found there:

This schedule will track pieces of annotation and their parameters.
 Sooooo....I made a simple generic annotation that would graphically show a comment and a number:
 I loaded additional text parameters in the family like this:
 unfortunately, i couldn't automate either the sheet/view reference or the errant condition locational parameters....maybe on the next job.

but now, i can schedule generate my note-block schedule and i get:

 But wait, there's more!

Because I have taken the FUZZY MATH ESSENTIALS course at AU, I was able to figure out a slick way to make the comment change color according to its status!  The trick with this is controlling status through a series of fixed check boxes.  There is even an error message that comes up when more than one box is checked, or no boxes are checked!

This is the programming if anyone is interested:

Sure, navis and tekla bimsight and horizontal glue are really great programs.  I like them.  But this tool works in a very simple and DUMB work flow:

  1. Client sends me his COMMENTS.RVT (sans links its less than 5mb) along with a PDF print out showing what they want to illustrate
  2. We open the COMMENTS.RVT, link in our current design models, which will then show up in all the preset views.
  3. Address the comments accordingly and version the COMMENTS.RVT model
  4. Send COMMENTS.RVT back and forth until all comments are resolved

Yahtzee!  The architect is really happy.  The client guy is really happy.  Dumb is Smart, Smart is Dumb.  And i feel like i did something useful...rather than the other monkey-business i spend my time screwing around with.

Download a sample of the block here:

Trackable Comment Annotation.RFA

BTW, if anyone knows the whereabouts of Justin Rumley, I'd love to hear from him.



  1. Interesting way of using Revit. and I thought this is actually not a dumb way for coordination.

    BTW, look up linkedin and you should find the person you were looking for.


  2. Nice one Phil! I'm glad Steve and I did that class since it seems that you've put the concepts into practice ;)

  3. just thinking... ¿why not use Design Review? free, annotations, markups and model... all in only one light file...

  4. This tracking system seems to be very useful for my office. Thanks for sharing. I would like to visit this blog again.

    Keep writing!
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