SketchUp: Free Course Certificate

Get a 3D Design certificate with SketchUp for Free.
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I just got my "3D Designing with Google SketchUp" certificate for free at AECDaily. They offer a free podcast training and an online examination for free. If you pass the test, you'll get a certificate.

To access the podcast follow this link. If you are new to SketchUp better follow the podcast, if you are an experienced user, you might be able to take the test directly. Just be sure you review the PHOTOMATCH technique since they are quite a few questions about it.

via SketchUpLinks.

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Acrobat Pro: Turn Scaned Documents into Readable Ones

Turn scanned documents into readable (and searchable) ones with a built in function of Adobe Acrobat Professional
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This is again a bit far from the usual trend of posts, but bear with me, I've been doing a lot of writing and copy and paste lately, so not so much SketchUp and Revit fun for some days.
This quick tip is regarding scanned documents. Some times you might need to work with them. Someone sends you a scanned pdf and you wish you could use part of that thext without retyping it. Well you can with just a few clicks.
The tip is assuming you have Adobe Acrobat Pro installed. What you need to do is simply open the PDF in Acrobat Pro (not in Acrobat Reader) and go to Document --> OCR Text Recognition --> Recognize Text Using OCR. See the image below.

After clicking on it, we will get a screen that will let us choose the OCR Language. It is important to select the right language, especially for those languages with special caracters. My mother tongue, catalan has these characters for example: à, è, é, í, ò, ó, ú, ç, l·l. If you don't select the right language some of this characters will be interpreted wrong. Like for instance ó tends to be read as a number 6 if you leave English as a language when scanning in Catalan or Spanish.

The Output is here called "Searchable Image". This is actually a great feature, because it keeps the image almost intact, while allowing you to search for the document on a full text search query.

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SketchUp Plugins: Export 3D PDFs

Export your SketchUp models to 3D PDF format to share them with people that doesn't have Sketchup
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If you want to share your 3D model with someone that doesn't have SketchUp installed or you simply want to integrate your 3D model in a 3D presentation, you might be interested in this commercial plugin.
SimLab 3d PDF from Sketchup allows you to directly export 3D PDF from SketchUP. There is a free trial for 30 days. The license costs 95$.

Click on the image below to see a PDF created with this plugin

The free trial doesn't allow full control of the advanced features though. WIth a more complicated model, I also found some bugs (duplicated elements on the wrong position).

On the positive side, the plugin can export the section planes and it will add a buttpon to toggle them. So it really becomes like having sketchup (without editing tools) inside your pdf file. You can also select geometry and switch it off and on depending on what is it that you want to see.

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Book of the Month: Location-Based Management for Construction

A book about a better way to Schedule and Control construction projects.
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On the lecture I am following about Schedule Management we've been taught so far only CPM (Critical Path Methodology) and PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique). These are the mainstream methodologies nowadays to schedule and control projects. These methodolies could be described as "activity-based" methodologies.

Because a possible job opportunity I was asked to get into an alternative way of Scheduling projects. What it is known as Location-Based Management Systems (LBMS). To learn about this there are many sources online, but the best way is with no doubt with this month's "Book of the Month". "Location Based Management for Construction. Planning, Schedulling and Control" by Kenley and Seppännen is the new "Bible" to learn about Location Based Techniques.

or or

The idea behind Location based techniques is that they allow a better continuity of tasks, they let you see if different crews would interfere with each other and allow you to get forecasts of the project evolution (based on controlling and reviewing project status) and to see if deadlines will be achieved or not. LBMS are also very much related to techniques such as Model Based Estimates (Quantity Estimations from BIM Models) and Virtual Construction Techniques.

The book is not only good to learn about LBMS, but it also gives a good introduction to Critical Path Method (CPM), Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT), the Arrow Diagram Method (ADM), Precedence Diagram Method (PDM) and other mainstream Schedulling techniques. It is expensive, but half the way though it I think it is worth every Dollar/Euro you invested in it.

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MS Office: Collaborate using Google Docs

Use Google Docs collaboration features from your MS Office desktop interface.
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Collaboration is one of the key words in my opinion to improve efficiency. It might be collaboration between team members in the same office, collaboration between members of the same company sitting in different locations or collaboration between consultants to produce common documents.

Collaboration is not only important when we talk about producing drawings or models or BIM. It is also very important when producing documents where more than one stakeholder has to contribute in their production. I am talking about spreadsheets with area calculations or word documents containing technical specifications and so on.

Google Docs is a collaboration tool by Google that allows this sort of multi-party edit and sharing of documents. It can handle spreadsheets, word documents and presentations. In the business environment though, MS Office is the leader in creating this sort of documents, so many might not want to use Google Docs to share their docs because they are used to the better functionality and editing features of the Microsoft proprietary software package. But soon this might change.

There is a new tool to use the best of both platforms. It is called OffiSync and it is intended to allow you to use MS Office desktop programs to create and edit your documents and to use Google Doc sharing and collaboration features to share them and edit them together with your collaborators. See the intro video below.

OffiSync can be downloaded here. There is a free version and a Premium one with different level of features. Try it. Better collaboration is the future.


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AutoCAD: Know the properties of a Nested Object

What is the layer of an Object in an Xref? Does it use color byLayer? List the properties of a Nested Object with this easy to use command.
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If you need to know the layer of a nested object (to switch off that layer for instance) or other of its properties, you might want to use the XLIST command.
This command allows you to see the Object Type, the Block Name (in case the object is neted in a Block), the layer, the Color and the Linetype properties. The image below is an example of the results of using the XLIST command.

The command can also be called on the command line bar, using the -XLIST version. LazyDrafter reported recently that this helps when having very long XREF or Layer names, as the dialog box is sometimes too small to allow you to see the layer name complete.

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Revit Basics: 3D Orbit with Scroll Wheel

3D Orbit in Revit can be done like in AutoCAD... don't panic!!
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Ok, this is another tip many might consider dumb, but since I am learning slowly I am sure there will be people learning like me. It is about using the 3D view and rotating it easily to visualize your model.

At first, I got pretty frustrated when I though I would have to use the View Cube to rotate a 3D view. The View Cube has some nice features that will be explained soon, but rotating the view its not its best one. It works, but being on the edge of the scree makes it a bit uncomfortable. Luckily, I remembered how you can 3D Orbit in AutoCAD and thought: "it must work here too, it's also Autodesk's software". And it does.

Simply press the Shift button and the central mouse button (scroll wheel) and move your mouse. You'll be able to Orbit your model better than using the View Cube. Dumb tip?

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SketchUp Plugins: Better Unfold Tool - Flattery

A new Free Plugin to unfold your Model in SketchUp.
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Some time ago I posted about the Unfold Tool Plugin for SketchUp. Recently I found out throught the Daily CathUp that Pumpkinpirate has released a better Unfold tool called Flattery. I set myself to try it and produced this quick video about it.

The Plugin an be downloaded through the Pumpkinpirate website. Great Job.

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Potoshop: CS5 New Feature - Content-Aware Fill

An amazing new feature that will be available in the new CS5 version.
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Ever wanted to erase some element from a picture using photoshop? Depending on the image, this might take ages, because the background might be very complicated to duplicate. Adobe is announcing an amazing new feature called Content-Aware Fill that apparently makes this a piece of cake. See the video below...It even seems to good to be true...

To read more about the new features of Potoshop CS5 go to the PCWorld Article about it. Photoshop CS5 can be preordered at, it will ship around mid-May 2010.

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SketchUp Plugins: Make your Model 3D-Print-Ready

A Plugin to help you turn your models into STL files ready for 3D Printing
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With the evolution of 3D printing technology, 3D Printing is becoming more and more common during the design process. To get good results with 3D printing we need to be sure that our model is ready for it. Sketchup is a great design tool, but you will agree with me that sometimes a model might get quite messy if we are not paying too much attention to the way we model.

CADSpan has a free plugin to convert your model into what is called a "water tight" model. Water tight models are needed for the 3D printers to be able to produce the physical model in one piece. The Plugin also eliminates duplicated and overlapping faces. It basically cleans up the model and lets you export it to the STL file format system that's the standard. See the video below by CADSpan.

The Plugin can be found at the CADSpan website. There is a Free and a Pro Version of it.

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BIM and Real Time Sense-Making

The importance of Real Time Data to imporve efficiency.
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I just stumbled upon this post and video from Jeff Jonas from IBM.

I think it is important for the construction industry to keep track of these new methods and ideas being developed by other industries. BIM, as a process, can help implement in the Project Life Cycle what Jeff Calls "Real Time Sense-Making". No more having the MEP engineer working on an old outdated version of the project, no more calculating costs on lasts months design. If we manage to achieve a full collaborative process, we will be able to share the information right away and be much more efficient.

The process might take a while, I recently talked to my cousin who just finished a big project in Germany, (one of the first projects done entirely with Revit in his company) and he told me that they found a out of limitations and performance problems due to the size of the project. At his office, apparently they found that over 5000 square meters, Revit still has problem handling files (even with 16Gbs of Ram and 64bit machines). For better performance, they had to split the files. The whole BIM idea of ONE central model with all the info was then broken by hardware/software constraints.

I guess it is just about time that computers will be able to handle almost any project size, detailing will be easier and more features an functionality will be added to BIM software packages. By then, Architects, Engineers and Contractors must be already familiar with BIM as a process, because those who don't will be left behind.

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Le Corbusier and SketchUp

Le Corbu recommends SketchUp...
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This is just a silly funny piece of work put together by Paul from Viewsion (Sketchup Ireland blog) to promote the use of SketchUp. I thought it was funny enought to share it here. Enjoy

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