Being in the design software consulting industry means we get a great opportunity to find out about new cutting edge technology, but more importantly, we get to evaluate that technology and help our clients decide if it’s the right fit for them. We have a lot of talks with firms and often ask them if they are “bleeding edge,” “cutting edge,” “leading edge,” or “stepping back from the edge.” All are very appropriate answers depending on a firm’s size, culture, clients, etc.

We also try to filter out the noise for them. Phrases like “world changing” and “paradigm shift” get thrown around a lot with new tech and software. And while most new tools we see are VERY cool, it’s hard to see them changing the way the industry works, let alone change the whole world. I like to keep things in perspective.

What the Heck Is It?

Autodesk has recently announced the beta launch of the Forge Design Automation API for Revit. We don’t usually talk about betas here on the CADD blog, but this is something pretty special. First off, let’s lay out what it is.

Forge is a cloud based series of tools for programmers and developers created and maintained by Autodesk. So its purpose is to support design and construction workflows. If you’ve been working with BIM 360 lately, you already use it. BIM 360 and its outstanding collaboration tools are built using Forge.

An API is a collection of specific functions usually focused around a specific solution or service. So, in this case, the Design Automation API for Revit is a new set of tools that let programmers open up and view, edit, and manipulate a Revit model in the cloud. It is a very exciting concept, and we will see some exciting new tools come from it.

What Does that Really Mean?

Revit has a steep learning curve (although it’s easier with excellent training!), and we have found most of the best Revit users have at least a basic understanding of design and construction. But what if I was authoring a Revit model for a design and I needed someone else, not in my firm, and not with any Revit knowledge, to be able to access and change some data in my Revit model?

As long as my Revit file is accessible to Forge, I can build a set of tools that let someone else access and modify just a small subset (or the whole thing) of my model… without needing to know how to use Revit. Maybe I want a security consultant to edit the keying data for my doors. I can give them a webpage or application that only lets them see and update the door hardware information directly in my model. Want to give someone a “menu” of design options to select from and then generate a Revit model based on their picks? The Design Automation API can do that.

The Autodesk website lays out some other great potential:

  • Create custom Revit family content
  • Automate model creation
  • Explore and analyze model data
  • Extract and produce automated reports
  • Modify existing models to maintain company standards
  • Automatically create documentation

It is going to be a massive shift in how we do work…

I Want That Right Now!

I know, I do too! We are still in beta, but as this tool evolves and matures the potential of using the Revit model database as an interactive design and analysis tool grows exponentially. I am excited to be headed to what is essentially “nerd camp” soon where I am going to get elbows deep in the new API and build some proof of concept tools to get the ideas flowing.

So What Big Word Would You Use?

I really try not to be hyperbolic about these things. AutoCAD certainly changed the industry when it launched over 35 years ago. Revit came in and made us look at everything in a new way 20 years ago. It’s definitely time for a major shift in how we do work and this is the most significant new tool I have seen that makes design, data, and model creation accessible. Just because I don’t want to sound like I am headline grabbing, I’m gonna go with “industry shifting”… in fact I’ll even say “major industry shifting.”

Just know that I am excited about the potential here and cannot wait to start building something in the new Design Automation API for Revit and look forward to seeing what other folks build, too.

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