Saturday, January 17, 2015

2014 – Year in Review

Happy New Year everyone!

2014 was a busy and productive year here on Revit Add-ons because there were a lot of exciting developments in the area of Revit add-in applications. Still, for the first time since this site debuted in 2011, the number of posts declined from year to year – from 234 in 2013 to 206 in 2014, a decline of about 12%. I was heartened to see that, even so, pageviews still showed a modest uptick of about 2%, from 336,888 to 343,615.

In compiling the stats for the above image, I discovered something rather amazing – I began this site in April 2011, and the total pageviews for that entire year was 5,767. Nowadays Revit Add-ons typically receives that many pageviews in just a single workweek! (If you look very closely at the graph, you can see the slight bump in 2011 representing the modest beginnings of this site.)

Some notable changes took place to the site in 2014, including the debut of product reviews.

In August, I set up accounts for the site on Facebook and Twitter, and added corresponding widgets here. With just 22 likes on Facebook and 25 Twitter followers to date, these social networking efforts are still nascent, but I welcome different ways to reach you, the readers.

The first weekly post about new and updated Revit add-ins on Autodesk Exchange Apps went up in September. These roundups have proven to be quite popular, and offer welcome new fodder for this site.

In December, I made some changes to advertising on Revit Add-ons intended to add additional value to advertisers, as follows.
  • The standard discount for 6-month pre-purchases increased from 10% to 15%, and the 12-month pre-purchase discount from 15% to 25%. 
  • New customers receive an additional 10% discount.
  • A new customer referral program extends advertisers ads for 2 months when their referrals purchase ad space.
  • Top banner advertisers now receive a complimentary sidebar ad when their ad is rotated out of the top banner space.

If you'd like more information about advertising on Revit Add-ons, please drop me a line.

Lastly, I gave the site a little refresh in December; I tried to make it a little cleaner and "flatter," and a little easier on the eyes by reducing contrast between the page and the text. I hope you like the changes. Feedback is always appreciated.

There are some new things coming up soon in 2015 too, including interviews with key Revit add-in developers and a new .com URL for the site.

And what of the add-ins themselves? 2014 was a banner year and if I had to describe it with a single word it would be "maturity."

I've long thought that Revit add-ins could not reach their full potential until they could be integrated seamlessly into the native Revit interface, such as on the context-sensitive Modify tab in the Revit ribbon. In September, I posted about Jeremy Tammik and Frode Tørresdal accomplishing just that, when Tammik posted about how to add custom context-sensitive tools to Revit's Modify tab on his outstanding The Building Coder blog. Sure, this was an unofficial, non-Revit API solution using the .NET UI Automation library, but still – it was progress, and I was happy to award Tammik and Tørresdal, of Norconsult Informasjonssystemer, an Editor's Choice Award.

Speaking of Editor's Choice awards, I gave a lot of them out this year. In fact, at one point, it felt like I was awarding one for every other add-in I posted about. That's a credit to the community – the add-ins have simply been getting better and better, more and more advanced, useful and polished.

In March, I recognized Harry Mattison of Boost Your BIM for his free File Version Reporter. Finally, I way to bail out of an unwanted Revit file upgrade! Autodesk apparently thought it was a good idea too, because they rolled out similar functionality in Revit 2015 R2. This shouldn't diminish the work that Mattison did though. In fact, I have to wonder, would we now have this functionality natively in Revit if Mattison hadn't shown that it could be successfully implemented?

In May I recognized CGS plus for their suite of Revit Tools, which is value-packed. In September, I posted a supersized product review of this same suite of tools, which includes BIM Manager, Analysis, Annotate, Modify, View and Select groupings of tools.

In June, in what was a bit of a departure, but a welcome one, I recognized a hardware device – 3Dconnexion's outstanding offhand input device, the SpaceMouse Pro. I expected it to be great for navigating 3D model views, but I was pleasantly surprised by it's utility in 2D workflows, and in non-design applications such as Microsoft Office. If you've only ever tried a 3Dconnexion device with just a central controller (or knob), you might be amazed by the productivity-enhancing user-customizable buttons on the SpaceMouse Pro. And the industrial design is simply perfect – the hand rests just right on the device. Bravo!

Throughout the year I posted about updates to the CAD Technology Center's award-winning Revit Express Tools, including their BIM Project Suite, which includes 6 free tools, and their BIM Manager Suite, which contains 4 free tools. I was very favorably impressed by how CTC continued to add new tools to these suites throughout the year.

In July I recognized Archisoft for their Isolate Warnings add-in, which enables the user to quickly highlight or isolate warning-generating elements. Simple, elegant and free!

In August I recognized INVIEWlabs for their outstanding redesigned Unifi product. Owing to it's QA/QC features, it became only the second true Revit content management application that I know of. Really nice work here.

Also in August, I recognized Simon Moreau for sharing  his source code on his BIM 42 blog for tracking Revit file performance over time.

Again in August, I recognized Jeremy Tammik for a second time in 2014, this time for collaborating with Matt Mason of IMAGINiT Technologies to create va3c, a free, open source, light-weight Web viewer for Revit and other source model types.

Yet again in August, I belatedly recognized Kiwi Codes for their Bonus Tools, a veritable cornucopia of productivity-enhancing tools that's available at a very reasonable price.

In September, Autodesk was recognized here for the first time for the 2015 iteration of eTransmit, which allows you to reduce the size of models before handing them off to collaboration partners by deleting sheets, views not on sheets, and specific types of views, such as drafting or detail views. The Factory went above and beyond with this one.

Also in September, I recognized Kyle Morin for his free, open source NWC Real-Time View Exporter. It watches for Revit model changes and updates the corresponding .nwc file associated with a Revit view automatically and in real-time. Stellar.

Returning to the theme of maturity, 2014 was the year that Dynamo, the open source graphical programming platform for design, not only picked things up, but took things to a whole new level. For that, I was happy to award the team of contributors an Editor's Choice award, also in September.

Speaking of Dynamo and, again, September, I recognized the BIM Troublemaker for posting a step-by-step tutorial on establishing a bidirectional link between Revit and Excel using Dynamo in a little piece I titled Practical Dynamo – Linking Revit with Excel. The BIM Troublemaker's example was subtle and nuanced, and completely out-of-the-box.

In October, I became aware of Lazcad. They only have two Revit add-ins presently, but I liked each so much that I recognized both of them with awards.

The free Workshared File Notification serves two valuable functions – it can prevent users from opening central files, and it can be used to enforce the best practice of users routinely recreate their local files.

LazJS is one of the slickest concepts that I've seen. It allows one to assign Javascript formulas to element parameters. It also works on Revit objects and on the entire project. For instance, imagine generating door tags with Javascipt. Very slick, very forward thinking.

Also in October, I became aware of BIM One. Like Lazcad, their offerings may be small in quantity, but they're high in quality. In fact,I awarded two of their three Revit add-in offerings awards, and had to exercise personal restraint to not honor their third in like fashion.

The free Color Splasher allows the user to visualize and verify the information in a model with color based on the values of a user-selected parameter.

The Clash Sphere Generator add-in imports clashes from Navisworks to Revit, helping project coordinators communicate clash locations more efficiently to the design team.

Finally, a year in Revit add-in awards would be incomplete without a winner from CASE. In December 2014, I recognized CASE for seeing corollaries between bug tracking in their software development business and issue tracking in their AECO business, and adapting JIRA tracking software for AECO workflows.

That's a lot of awards for a single year, and yet I feel as though I'm giving so many others short shrift. There were many innovative Revit add-ins in 2014, many more than I've cited here, and the developer community at large is to be applauded for their efforts on our behalves.

And what of you dear readers? What posts did you most view in 2014? Not considering posts about Autodesk-authored add-ins, the following are the top 10-ish posts for 2014 – the extras are due to a couple of statistical ties. Several have already been covered in this article, but some others are real surprises.

The pie charts show the relative percentages compared to the top finisher.

People's Choice Award Winners

Free Rename Elements Add-in
Product Review: The 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Pro
Free Revit File Performance Tracking
Free Room Finishing Add-in: Automatically Create Skirting Boards
Auto Join All Add-in

Honorable Mentions

Integrated Training Environment for Revit
Unifi for Revit: "Discover a Better Way to Optimize Your BIM Content Library"
ColorByNumber Add-in for Revit: Color, Isolate & Select by Parameter Value
Vertical/Horizontal Brace Generator Add-in
CGS Revit Tools: BIM Manager
Free Workshared File Notification Add-in for Revit Prompts Users to Update Local Files!
Lyrebird: A Free, Open Source Grasshopper to Revit Add-in

Interestingly, to me at least, a couple of op-ed articles, What are Your Favorite Revit Blogs? and What's the Difference Between Revit Add-ins and Macros?, received as many pageviews as those at the bottom of the list above. This is interesting because these were just a couple brief, quick articles that I wrote when things were a little slow. It just goes to show that, as a blog author, it's sometimes hard to know what will most appeal to the readership.

Lastly, I would like to thank my advertisers for the past year. Advertising revenue on Revit Add-ons also matured in 2014, and I've truly appreciated it.

Congratulations to the award winners!

Related –
Award-winning add-ins
Annual Roundups

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