Introducing mini-Revit with an added cool-factor: Project Vasari

Apparently Autodesk has been busy lately amalgamating its acquisitions into something useful. As announced a few days ago on their blog, Project Vasari is their newest tool/toy for creating early-design massing and energy studies of parametric building models. Here’s a video that gives an overview:

From what I can see so far, Autodesk reduced the Revit toolset to the essential modeling tools and added parts of some earlier acquisitions (Green Building Studio and Ecotect) and bundled all into a reasonably-sized package. When you download the full-functional trial, you’ll notice that as an added perk the entire 400MB software can be run from a single EXE-file (without any install). That is really a neat way to try out software!

So far, the reviews have been very positive. I’ll share my opinion after I had a chance to play with the software. In the meantime, here are a few of the opinions out there:

[…] if you’ve been trying to get into the whole parametric modeling thing, or love someone who is, and find Revit/GC/CATIA/ArchiCad etc too complicated/expensive/noFun, you should try Vasari. If you do energy modeling and find your software incomprehensible or incapable of handling geometry or noFun, come on in, the water’s fine. (buildz blog)

My personal view is that Vasari is a potential game changer! Whilst Sketchup is a great application, it has plenty of limitations when you are looking to use it within your BIM workflow. Vasari is a great tool for early concept work; it provides an easy to navigate UI, flexible parametric and geometric design tools, it’s so easy to learn and will fit happily into your BIM workflow. (autodesk-revit blog)

And here is what is behind the project from Autodesk’s view:

Vasari has become a platform to experiment and take some risks – something that has become difficult when trying to get the larger Revit out the door each year. So what’s different?

  • A smaller, less imposing user interface.
  • Access to massing tools is more streamlined. Were you asked to switch visibility mode when creating a mass? Were you asked to name your mass when you created it? Did you actually have to create the mass at first?
  • You can double click to edit an in-place mass and double click to stop editing it. My personal favorite.
  • When you are editing an in-place mass the background changes color and non-edited masses become transparent.  Notice I said reduced modality, not removed. We follow Jef Raskin’s definition of modality, that is, an interface is not modal as long as the user is fully aware of its current state.
  • Levels and reference planes are now visible in 3D in the project environment. This allowed us to keep the experience primarily in 3D, with little need for 2D views.
  • The product is delivered in a nice, compact, single executable. No licensing. No big installer wizard.
  • Realistic views have edges turned on by default.
  • And our dirty secret? Much of the look and feel was achieved using a plain ol’ Revit template.

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