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Thread: Should I learn RCA or ACA

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    Default Should I learn RAC or ACA

    Let me start by giving a little background about myself.

    By trade, I am a network engineer and computer programmer and I have very little architectural design skills. I am capable of physically building small structures such as sheds, or room additions and miraculously keeping them within building codes (including NEC) but I've never drawn up a “real” design plan. I want to broaden my skill set to build larger items such as corporate data centers and unfortunately plans for those aren't usually visualized that well when they are in Visio format or on a cocktail napkin so I think it’s time to start learning an engineering package.

    I have been using AutoCAD LT2009 for about 7 months and I am getting pretty comfortable drawing with it but I have come to a crossroad and would like someone to help point me in the right direction. I want to be able to draw concepts and not necessarily finalized - city approved plans. For instance, I would like to be able to draw a 150’ x 75’ pole barn that I can render to show what it would look like from the outside as well as the inside and I would like to be able to record walkthroughs that can give an animated impression of the finished design. I really like working on top down (iso plane top?) designs to draw up walls, floors and doors and that has been my primary focus within ACAD LT but I am coming to find that there are limitations in the LT version and it’s time to upgrade.

    I have the trial version of both ACA and RAC but I can’t decide which one I should learn. I understand the Revit parametric concept but I don’t think I will ever be designing the apartment building of the future or a 60 story office complex so I don’t want to overkill all my drawings. On the flip side, I am not sure if ACA can do all things that RAC can such as walkthroughs and I don’t want to get started down the ACA path if it won’t work for me.

    I can already see that drawing in RAC is different because I’ve gotten used to CAD commands such as ‘l’ for line or ‘c’ for circle and I’ve actually become good at drawing walls using line, offset and fillet (no mline in LT) which doesn’t seem to be supported in RAC.

    Right now, I am leaning towards ACA and if it can do the 3D rendering and 3D walkthroughs I might continue on that road but you are the experts here and have the insight I need to help make the decision so any input you can give me is greatly appreciated!!

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by Brian Mitchell; 2010-01-10 at 08:39 PM.

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    Thumbs up Re: Should I learn RCA or ACA

    Easy. Revit is the future.
    You don't draw in Revit. You model. So it takes a while to learn and get your template set up. You'll be hard to find anyone who has learned the program wanting to go back. If you can, continue to learn AutoCad and Revit. With both you'll have experience employers will be looking for. I don't think I would recomend trying to learn ACA. I design and build mostly light commercial and residential work (no 60 story buildings here either)

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    I could stop if I wanted to rmejia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should I learn RCA or ACA

    Quote Originally Posted by MagellanTX View Post
    I have the trial version of both ACA and RAC but I can’t decide which one I should learn. I understand the Revit parametric concept but I don’t think I will ever be designing the apartment building of the future or a 60 story office complex so I don’t want to overkill all my drawings. On the flip side, I am not sure if ACA can do all things that RAC can such as walkthroughs and I don’t want to get started down the ACA path if it won’t work for me.

    I can already see that drawing in RAC is different because I’ve gotten used to CAD commands such as ‘l’ for line or ‘c’ for circle and I’ve actually become good at drawing walls using line, offset and fillet (no mline in LT) which doesn’t seem to be supported in RAC.
    Don't worry about the apartment building of the future or a 60 story office complex, RAC would actually be better for designing regular buildings. RAC supports shortcuts (not the same ones as ACA) as well as offset and fillet. To me the difference between the two is in the way they handle 3d. AutoCAD is coordinate based, Revit is object based. To me RAC is easier and more intuitive when working 3d. I tried ACA and Revit a couple of years ago; it took me about a month to go through the ACA tutorial, and a week to go through the RAC tutorial to do the same thing, a 3 story house. I went the Revit way, and have not regretted it since.

    If you have the time, it would be good to try out both demos and do their tutorial project.

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    Certifiable AUGI Addict twiceroadsfool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should I learn RCA or ACA

    I would focus your efforts on deciding exactly what you want to draw versus exactly what you want to model, and id go from there.

    The two programs work very differently from one another. Both extremely capable, and both limiting in different ways. if youre prone to using lines (Circles, arcs, lines, etc) to do dataline layouts and system wiring/pathing, you may want to stay in ACA. Its use of *model* space and *paper* space with DRAWING elements may serve you better. On the other hand, thats also assuming you dont mind the drawings staying flat, while you build a model around them. ACA can certainly model a building, and it can certainly render, so thats of less importance in the distinction.

    In Revit, if you want to DRAW the systems with lines, the view to view coordination is tiresome, even using Detail Groups. Of course, if you MODEL it, now this is a non-issue, and you have all the other benefits of a model.

    But if youre going to MODEL it, you also need to think about the connotations. It doesnt mean you have to model everything in 3D with thicknesses.... Line based families can simply be model lines. People get hung up on what "BIM" is about. Its about information and coordination, it doesnt mean you NEED everything to have exact nuances of the real world element. But, that also means getting the parts and pieces set up so you CAN model. And Models dont go together like drawings do. You have to make nice with the revit, or itll kick you in the behind.

    Of course, the same is true for MODELING in ACA.

    They also manage sheets/views/objects entirely differently. So id make THAT the consideration when youre picking and choosing. ACA does a lot of nice things for systems layouts, plus the tool itself is really customizable... which has its up and its downs.

    Revit is- of course- my tool of choice, but i spend a great deal of time in ACA as well (implementation and support for the ACA and C3D users here as well) and ACA does have some features that are very nice.

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    Default Re: Should I learn RCA or ACA

    Thank you all for responding!
    Based on your answers it appears that Revit is the way to go so I’ve purchased the CADClips series on Revit 2010 and am on my way to learning it.
    I did decide to keep AutoCAD as well a Revit so I can switch between them if I ever have the need plus it keeps my skills up, which in today’s economy: The more skills – the better.

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    Default Re: Should I learn RCA or ACA

    Learn how to create families. As a network programmer/computer programmer guy, you should find this easier that doing the drawings. In our area every largre (25+ people) firm has at least 1 person that just creates content and fixes content.

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