Autodesk’s Revit, Butterfly and Google Maps

Usually I’m 100% focused on open source software, but couldn’t resist talking about this side project. A couple months ago Geoff pointed out the new Autodesk Butterfly project, allowing you to share and collaborate on drawings using only a web browser. They have some geospatial examples on there too. Here are couple notes about my tests on it lately.

More recently, in my spare time I’ve been learning the Autodesk Revit Architecture software, so was keen to try it out along with the latest Butterfly geospatial features – georeferencing to a Google Map background. It worked well for me and a tutorial drawing I worked on last night. Their latest blog post even mentions support for GDAL data formats used as backgrounds in the drawings (go GDAL!).

Why am I interested in any of this? The past several months I’ve been trying out various packages for doing architectural design. I’ve taken time to try out several general packages and a couple more building specific ones. Most notably, Blender 3D (open source), Sketchup (free) and most recently Revit (cost).

Albeit the most expensive of the three, in only a couple days, Revit’s 30 day trial had me up and running with some really cool features and ease of use. I’ve barely scratched the surface but I’m able to build pretty smart models, way more than just drawing lines and doing pretty rendering. So, when I learned about Butterfly and now had some DWG files to try out on it, I couldn’t resist.

I hope to dig into converting some DEM data into Revit’s topography format at some point as well. I also hope to see Butterfly supporting loading large rasters directly – at the moment they have to be include inside your drawing files.

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Tyler Mitchell

Product and marketing leader, author and technology writer in NoSQL, big data, graph analytics, and geospatial. Follow me @1tylermitchell or get my book from

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