AEC Tech News (#223)

19 Mar, 2008 By: Heather Livingston

The Wikitecture Revolution in AECp>

Architects are using open source solutions to try to solve humanitarian crises.

By Heather Livingston

Scott MacKenzie photo

For those of us with an interest in technology, Web 2.0 is an often heard buzzword, but what does it mean? Is it a new operating system or a global update to the World Wide Web? Tim O'Reilly, technology writer and founder of O'Reilly Media coined the term "Web 2.0" at a conference in 2004. His "short" definition is this:

Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an "architecture of participation," and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences.

Whether you knew O'Reilly's definition or not, you're already using Web 2.0 applications through Web sites like Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, and Flikr. What Web 2.0 provides is true interactivity between user and provider because all users can upload data as well as download, without owning proprietary software. How does this relate to the realm of AEC? I'm glad you asked, but first, we need a primer in 2.0 lingo.

Wikipedia defines a wiki as "software that allows users to easily create, edit, and link pages together." Wikis are used to create and power collaborative community Web sites such as Wikipedia and others that are based on user-provided content. Open source is defined as "a set of principles and practices on how to write software, the most important of which is that the source code is openly available." In addition, the source code should not only be available, but anyone should also have the right to use it. For example, at YouTube, anyone can upload video and anyone can view it. The site is merely a platform for content. It doesn't generate content -- the user does. Likewise, for open source architecture. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Heather Livingston is a Vermont-based freelance writer specializing in design, sustainability, and architectural technology. She can be reached at

ArchiCAD Insights Tutorial:
How to Display Elevation Values Relative to Sea Level

By Laszlo Nagy

You may want to show elevations relative to sea level in certain projects. For example, you might want to show heights relative to sea level in the terrain surrounding a building, or you might want to show the elevation of certain building elements relative to sea level. ArchiCAD has the Reference Levels feature to create level dimensions (in floor plan views) and elevation dimensions (in sections/elevations) that show values relative to sea level.

Using the Gravity feature allows you to easily achieve these results. When you create dimensions on the surface of slabs, roofs, or meshes, the marker will display the actual level of those elements. More important, it will remain associated to these elements, so when their elevation values change, the level dimensions will continue to display the correct values. Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

AutoCAD Civil 3D Test Drive
Through July 7, 2008
Various U.S. Cities
See how to intelligently link design and production drafting, reducing the time it takes to implement changes and learn ways to streamline office processes, increase project capacity, and improve customer service. Sponsored by Synergis. Read more »

AutoCAD Architecture Test Drives
March 18 - July 17, 2008
Various U.S. Cities
Experience how creating and sharing accurate drafting and construction documents is made more efficient with the system's familiar environment, flexible implementation options, and architectural drawing and design tools. Sponsored by Synergis. Read more »

AutoCAD MEP 2008 Test Drives
March 20 - July 11, 2008
Various U.S. Cities
Learn to lay out duct systems and place wire devices and become introduced to the new piping functionality in an improved operating environment. Sponsored by Synergis. Read more »

Revit Structure Test Drives
March 20 - July 24, 2008
Various U.S. Cities
Learn to use building information modeling to do higher value tasks and produce fully coordinated construction drawings. Sponsored by Synergis. Read more »

BIM and Sustainability with VectorWorks Architect
March 27, 2008
Santa Monica, California
Michael Heacock, a pioneer of green building projects, will present an overview of BIM technology in VectorWorks Architect. Sponsored by Nemetschek. Read more »

Using the Functionality of AutoCAD MEP
April 3, 2008
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
At this lecture-style event, Autodesk trainer Jim Law will show why users should make the move from AutoCAD to AutoCAD MEP. Sponsored by Synergis. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on