CAD vs BIM – The Single Source Of Truth

A common question we receive at CSD is “What is the difference between CS ArtisanRV for Revit and CS Artisan for AutoCAD?”. Our response speaks of the fundamental difference between a traditional CAD system and a fully informed BIM environment, with its focus on information.

The distinction between CS ArtisanRV (Revit) and CS Artisan (AutoCAD) is best illustrated by reference to the way planting is covered in each application.

Both CS ArtisanRV (Revit) and CS Artisan (AutoCAD) share the same Cloud based planting content (i.e. Palettes of individual plants &/or mixes). This (same) information, when downloaded into the two applications, is used to ‘dynamically create model content‘ (2D, 3D, section, schedules etc) in the Revit environment (ArtisanRV) and is ‘applied to CAD geometry’ as an additional layer of intelligence in the AutoCAD environment (Artisan). Herein lies the fundamental difference between a traditional CAD system and a fully informed BIM authoring system that is reliant on a robust centralised source of information.

By way of illustration, here is the result of a mix applied in Artisan (intelligent information overlaid onto ‘dumb’ CAD geometry)…

Here is the result of the same mix being applied in ArtisanRV (dynamically informing all views – 3D – section – plan – schedule)…

In a fully informed BIM environment, the ‘geometry’ is automatically created from the underlying information and can be displayed in either plan, elevation/section, 3D or schedule ‘view’. Modify content in any of these views and the same MODIFICATIONS ARE IMMEDIATELY VISIBLE IN ALL VIEWS.

In BIM, this concept is often referred to as the ‘single source of truth’ (SSOT)… “the practice of structuring information models and associated data such that every data element is stored exactly once” [D.Jellings, BIM+ (2017), Is a single source of truth a prerequisite for Level 3 BIM?].

Planting Visualisation in CS ArtisanRV

CS ArtisanRV in Autodesk LIVE

A common question we are often asked is: “Do the planting families in ArtisanRV offer a realistic representation of the species and can the tree and plant types be used for visualisation straight from Revit?”.

Our standard response is as below but this question is at the very nub of what BIM is all about. Clearly the focus is firmly on the underlying ‘information’, but it is sometimes difficult to decide on how far to push the ‘visuals’ within the modelling environment.

CSD has concentrated its efforts to date on ensuring that there is a robust system to place and size planting in its various guises accurately in BIM whilst recording all the essential, underlying specification and characteristic information. This ensures that planting is placed accurately on the topography (or floor, region) and is sized by defined specification dimensions. Plant material can then be grown via the Age utility which resizes individual plant species up to their ultimate height/spread based on the number of years to maturity. Here is a video showing the Age Planting in CS ArtisanRV –

The current graphical content is not intended to be photo-real but serves the intended purpose of illustrating an accurate general massing per species (type) and instance.

Our focus has been on production documentation such as plans, sections, elevations, which has been used actively in projects around the world, like the example from Arup below.

Investigation has started into VR products including Autodesk Live and a number of customers have suggested establishing closer links with the likes of e.g. Lumion or Enscape, that are clearly better suited to creating realistic experiences.

Inevitably though, the questions will continue: “just how far can we push our models visually in Revit?” and “just how realistic can we make them?”.

CSD Licensing System

Controlling your CSD licenses

CS Design software is controlled via a web licensing service and licences are activated on each computer and logged against an organisation’s account. Licences can be switched between machines by running the De-Activate utility.  This removes the local machine key and associated entry on our server and frees the licence back to your organisation’s account for re-authorisation.

Administrators are able to view active licences via the CSD Customer Login – My Account to help manage licence allocation.

1_licensing popup

CSD Buddy App

Licensing is handled via the CSDBuddy App that is also responsible for automating the process of delivering software enhancements and updates.

Right-mouse picking the CSD Buddy App from the Taskbar displays options to Check for Updates and Licence and Settings. Full and trial licensing for all CSD products is controlled from the same centralised Licence Request resource.


CSD Palette Builder

Software is installed on a local machine with some services (in addition to licensing) being provided via the Internet. This includes the CSD Palette Builder, which is accessed either via a browser through the Customer Login area or directly from the Palette Builder command within CS ArtisanRV. The Palette Builder provides a structured, searchable library that users access to create and manage selections (palettes); a Download Palettes utility creates a local copy of the file/s so that workflow can continue off-line within the Revit or AutoCAD environments. Users are able to display additional object information from the web repository that is not required locally to create model content (e.g. planting performance information, characteristics, photos) and this appears as a browser view.2_visualThe software can be installed on multiple machines but is authorised (Activated) on a machine-by-machine basis. Licences can be switched between machines by running the De-Activate utility that frees the licence back to the Organisation account. The De-Activate utility is available from the Licence and Settings area via the CSD Buddy App that resides in the Taskbar.


Sorting Planting Reports in CS Artisan

Reports are dynamic views of accurate information in a drawing or model. In CS Artisan, reports automatically reflect changes to Labels in the drawing.

We are often asked about how to sort, order or group planting records in schedules or reports. At the end of the day, it is all about the data and how you want to have it displayed. WHAT you want to include or exclude is determined by filtering; groups are assigned to separate reports into meaningful segments and records are sorted alphabetically or numerically by field.

Sorting a Report Alphabetically by Plant Name

Reports can be sorted by whichever field/s you require. The example below is grouped by Class (Bamboo, Herbaceous, Shrub, Tree) and then alphabetically by plant name.

The underlying Report Template for the above example is constructed as below…

The ‘Object Name’ (i.e. Plant Name) is selected as Order 1. Your example clearly is sorted by ‘Mix’ and then by ‘Class’ and then by ‘Quantity’ (Nr).

Displaying Mixes in Reports

If you include Mixes and Individual Plants in the same Report and arrange Grouping by Mix Name, all Individual Plants that are not included in a Mix will be displayed first in the Report as in the example below. All of the Mixes and their components are displayed under the Individual Plant listings and are sorted by Abbreviation in the example shown.

It may be preferable to have one report that includes Mixes and components (sorted by Mix and then alphabetically by Plant Name, if required) and then have a separate report that only includes Individual Plants (i.e. does NOT include plants in a mix.

Here is the Report Template to display only Mixes (i.e. those that include “Mix” in the ‘mix name’ field).

Here is the Report Template to display only Individual Plants (i.e. Plants that are NOT part of a “Mix”).

When the Report Template has been created to display the correct information, with records grouped and sorted as required, users can edit the Format to achieve the desired visual effect. Data is the key, but it still can look good!

CSD AutoUpdate Service and CSD Buddy App

Access the latest builds and features

CSD Artisan Buddy App

The CSD Update Service has been created to make it easier for users to access the latest builds and features without the need for manually checking, downloading and installing. This is particularly important when software such as CS ArtisanRV is continuing to be developed at pace in response to end user requirements as BIM for Landscape continues to mature.

The AutoUpdate utility is delivered via a CSD Buddy App that continually checks the availability of new builds as a background service.  It  is accessible via the CSD Downloads area after you have logged in.

The CSD Buddy App operates provides notifications from the Client Service that connects locally installed CAD and BIM Applications to the Web-based Update Server.

CSD Versions installed

Once installed, the CSD Buddy App continually monitors your installed CSD products and notifies you of any available updates.  These updates can then be run automatically without the need for separate downloads and installations.

CSD Available Updates

With one right-mouse-click, choose the CSD Buddy App and the Taskbar displays options to Check for Updates and Licence and Settings.  Full and trial licensing for all CSD products is controlled from the same centralised resource.

CSD License Transfer

From the CSD Buddy App, pick Check for Updates to install the latest versions of any CSD software installed on the current machine.  Pick Check for Update and first update the CSD Updater at the bottom of the list.  After this, re-run the Update facility and update the application (Artisan or ArtisanRV as appropriate). Once the most up to date CSD Auto Updater is installed, this ensures it is much easier to keep up to date with new versions as they become available.

Creating Reports of separate Areas/Phases using CS Artisan landscape CAD for AutoCAD

By default, ALL ARTISAN LABELS are included in a report, so you have to filter required labels by Data Fields to create separate reports within the same drawing project.

Your focus therefore must be to ensure that labels in the drawing contain sufficient information to enable reports to be filtered, sorted, grouped however you intend. CS Artisan includes a number of additional ‘data fields’ that facilitate this… Location, Objective, User Data 1, User Data 2.

By way of example, to separate a drawing project into ‘phases’, the Objective field would be appropriate (although, it honestly does not matter which field is used, but it is always best to have a logical system!).

To modify labels already placed in the drawing, Window select around a collective group of labels as required and pick Edit Selected Labels (highlighted with red circle).

From the Edit labels dialog, change the filter to Planting (if the selection includes mix headers or non-planting labels); highlight all items in resultant list, enter a value in the Objective field (e.g. Phase 1) and pick Apply.

Select and edit other labels as required or set the Objective value accordingly (e.g. Phase 2) for all new planting labels.

Create (or modify) a Report to include ‘Objective’ as a Data Grouping and Save/Apply.

The report above shows results sorted by Location first and then our new Objective field. You can clearly alter this as required to suite your particular requirements (e.g. by omitting Location). Make sure that you save the Report template to a new file if needed in the future by picking from the File menu (top left of the Report Designer dialog.

Tree Roots in Revit for Clash Detection

Tree Roots Revit Tool in CS ArtisanRV

A new Tree Roots Revit tool is available for clash detection and avoidance in BIM processes.

The new utility has been created by CS Design Software to further enhance its BIM for landscape solution, CS ArtisanRV and has been created in response to specific requests from landscape professionals needing to provide fully informed 3D model content for collaboration on projects with other disciplines including architects, civil engineers and service providers.

3D Root Zones

3D root zones are based on species’ ultimate spread + 2m (so a tree that would achieve a spread of 6m would end up with a root zone of 10m diameter).

Root zones (generated as Revit floors) accurately follow the underlying terrain.

Tree Roots Revit Clash Detection
3D Root Zones

Direct output to Navisworks

Clearly, the purpose of creating root zones is for clash detection/avoidance and coordination with other disciplines, so there is direct output to Navisworks (BIM Reader/checker from Autodesk) as an integral part of the workflow for this purpose. The Create Root Balls tool opens up a Navisworks session by default and then links this model back into Revit.

Tree Roots in Revit for Clash Detection Navisworks
Direct output to Navisworks

Automated Clash Detection

Within Navisworks, it is possible to run automated clash detection to identify any issues of conflict with underground services or features (road/paving construction, utilities or features).

Tree Roots in Revit for Clash Detection
Automated clash detection

Functionality has been built in to enable Root Barriers to be placed as required to protect services and/or underground features. The example below shows the result of a wedge being cut from the Root Zone when a barrier has been placed to protect the kerb edge.

Tree Roots in Revit for Clash Detection

Working with Manufacturers

Root Barriers (created as Revit line-based families) are constructed at a depth defined by users and CSD is working with leading tree pit system manufacturer, Green Blue Urban, to establish links to centrally available product information.

Tree Roots in Revit for Clash Detection Green Blue Urban
Working with Green Blue Urban

Find out more now and sign up for your free CS ArtisanRV trial today or subscribe to stay at the forefront of BIM for landscape.

Manipulating topos in Revit – Game Changer!

Accurate ground modelling with 3D content and triangulation

You asked. We listened

“This ArtisanRV new Topo tool is a real game changer… All our path gradients etc. are normally designed in Civil 3D but what you have produced there pretty much negates the need to do that!”

– Landscape Digital Development Manager, Arup

Revit is not recognised for its array of topography tools… Fact!  Up to now, there have been a multitude of ways of ‘getting a topo surface’ into Revit.  You can import from another program or create content using the basic topography tools within Revit.

But how is an existing topography modified in a Revit environment?  The answer is: With difficulty!  Seasoned Revit practitioners will either manually edit points or resort to re-importing a new topo from another program.

New Terrain Tools with CS ArtisanRV

A new set of Terrain Tools has been developed by CSD that are designed to automate the process of manipulating a topography within the Revit environment.

The Terrain Tools enable easy manipulation of the topo within Revit by selecting model lines, arcs, splines and defining a required gradient that is cut through or built up from the underlying topography.

ground modelling revit 2D and 3D Cut_Fill ManipulateTopos1 Schedules

Read more about these new terrain tools and all CS ArtisanRV’s product features.


New Features for CS ArtisanRV: Import Existing Tree Survey Information

Existing Tree Survey information

“This has the potential to show both current and proposed landscapes in a far more realistic manner aiding the decision making process.”

Accurate survey information is critical through construction project phases and to establish the starting (access) point for the whole life-cycle focus of BIM workflows.

Trees are important elements of green infrastructure, contributing to urban cooling through evapo-transpiration and providing micro-climatic effects that positively impact on energy demands in the built environment.

In the UK, BS5387:2012 is intended to assist decision-making with regard to existing trees in the context of design, demolition and construction. Root systems, stems and canopies are needed to be taken into account in all projects along with allowance for future movement and growth and the early provision of physical protection is critical.

The beauty of the above British Standard is that it follows a logical sequence of events that are wholly appropriate for BIM.

  • Initial tree survey and categorisation
  • Identification of constraints and Root Protection Areas (RPAs)
  • Identification of trees for retention and removal
  • Identification of pre, during and post-construction operations

So how can this be done?

New Import Tools

Tree surveys are carried out by arboriculturists using hand-held devices in the field, recorded in a standard file format.  CS ArtisanRV enables this source survey information to be imported directly into a Revit environment via a mapping utility that associates survey fields with Revit family parameters.

But that’s just the start.  Read more about this new import functionality and all CS ArtisanRV’s product features.

Find out more now and sign up for your free CS ArtisanRV trial today or subscribe to stay at the forefront of BIM for landscape.