Expanding Vasari, my personal installer breakthrough, and flogging a dead bitmap


I’ve dedicated way too much space in this blog to the “Parameter Values From Image” plugin for Revit, partly because the results can be so cool, partly because it’s a nice general illustration of the power of generic API tools to expand Revit’s capabilities. So here is one more. I have a Vasari specific installer for this plugin that you can download from here. There are also some example files and the readme from the Revit SDK where the original C# code lives. While this is only for Vasari, I will do my best to make one for Revit sometime soon.

What has changed? I finally got my hands on a lovely little installer application called Inno Setup by Jordan Russel, and got a starter file from the illustrious Dr Andrew Marsh. Between these pieces I have managed to cobble together an installer for the .dll plugin from Harry the API Guru.

To briefly summarize the functionality: Conceptually this particular API tool is dead simple. You have a bitmap that is, say, 12x12 pixels named yourFile.rfa_grayscale.bmp. You have a divided surface that is 12x12 cells in a file called yourFile.rfa. The panels in your divided surface contain a parameter called Grayscale, and the API will write a value from 0 (white) to 1 (black) based on the pixel values of the image. What you do with that parameter is up to you. There are other posts on it here, here, here, and here. There is also a readme in the zip file.


Using these little plugins has been greatly hampered by the crankiness of Revit API and just getting the damn .dlls into the right place on your hard drive. With the installer, folks should be able to get up an running with this plugins much easier.

So try my maiden voyage with an installer. I’ve checked it out on XP and Win7. If someone wants to do a little trial on Vista and let me know how it goes, that would be awesome.

Thanks again to Jordan, Andrew, and H.API-G.


Get Vasari

Get the Plugin


Once upon a time . . .

(or maybe twice) there was an unearthly application called Vasari.


80,000 lines of code beneath the hood (probably more, I’m not too sure . . .).

Full disclosure: I’ve been involved with Project Vasari at the day job for a while now, so I have nothing like an objective perspective on it. It’s fun, it’s parametric Revity goodness without the UI overhead of the full document production pipeline of Revit, and it’s a streamlined way to get into both parametric design and building energy analysis. It writes rvt and rfa files. It takes about 5 minutes to download and get it up and running on your machine (depending on bandwidth).

I can also tell you that the project has a funny way of provoking people to say what they think it OUGHT to be. “It should be subdivision surface modeling!”, “It should be Grasshopper!”, “It should have the text editor and stair tools I’ve always dreamed of!”, “It has to Ferberize your baby!” Well, it doesn’t, and it isn’t, and IMHO it should hold your baby and comfort it.

But 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.


For full subscription users of Revit, who are versed in all aspects of Revit and have already gotten onboard the BIM train to nirvana, it’s pronounced “Ve-Ree Saa-Ree”. It will not give you much functionality that you don’t already have. Energy analysis and Conceptual Modeling, you’ve already got that. If you are accustomed to all the dialogs and back alleys and minutiae of Revit, the simplified UI might just make you angry. Yes, Autodesk went and put a few resources into something that you might not use. But hey, you can at least drop the 390mb stand alone executable onto that little netbook you take on the train and parametrically model away on your commute. Put it on the home machine to catch up on some of the 2011 features that you haven’t gotten to at work while you watch “Top Chef: Just Desserts”.

For BIM managers who have been struggling to get designers off of mesh modelers and onto something that can feed downstream BIM workflows it is pronounced “Vaz-Oh-Leen”. You can give it to those office hipsters with the tiny glasses that are always talking about “space” and “form” to smooth their entry into BIM. No shared coordinates, no questions like “what the hell does ‘relinquish all mine’ mean?”, just modeling and analysis. Give them a usb drive with the .exe, tell them to watch the 7 little videos that pop up when you start it, and go get some coffee.

For non-Revitized designers, students, and architects who are looking to explore building concepts and make things like this


or this


or this


. . . we hope it is “Ve-Ree Su-eee-t”.

For people looking at energy modeling that need/want/like a robust geometry front end for iterative design analysis, it’s called, uhm, “Va-sar-ee”.

We hope you like it.


And if you have never seen “Yellow Submarine”, you are living an impoverished life.


Halloween Hangover II


Sorry so long to post my follow up on the pumpkins.  Crazy busy at the moment with new super secret sauces and such over at the Factory.  More soon, stay tuned.  In the meantime, here’s my pumpkin patch for the season.