Project Spark was recently released to Autodesk labs. It is essentially a cut down version of Autodesk Revit Architecture. I say Architecture because it focuses on the similar tools that would be available under Revit Architecture.
Project spark can be downloaded http://labs.autodesk.com/utilities/spark/ and will be available to use until July 7, 2012.
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Obviously Autodesk are going to cut down the functionality of a free piece of software like this so let’s get the bad points out of the way first.
Project Spark is based on the Revit Architecture code base but is a newer version making it incompatible with the current versions of Revit. You can't open Spark files with Revit or vise versa, However, Revit 2012 files can be linked into Project Spark
(Eh there is view filters??)
That’s a pretty long list by anyone’s standards, but to the less advanced user and especially to the beginner or someone who is trying to get there head around the whole BIM-volution it is a solid place to start.
You get all your basic modelling tools, walls floors roof and floors, although you can’t modify sub elements in the latter two. You can use all three types of families (system, loadable, inplace) and you also get a full family editor without the conceptual massing.
You use the same principals to create a model in Spark as you would in Revit, data rich elements logically connected. You enter sketch mode and learn the perils of creating closed loops and overlapping line. I find that sketch mode is one of the elements that new students struggle with.
You use your Visibility/Graphics and Object Styles to control your project visually or hide elements in view etc if you prefer. All good lessons to learn before you make the step up to Revit,
The procedures for creating content are the same. Duplicate and change some parameters to make a new type or create content from scratch using the family editor.
You can place windows, doors, furniture, rooms and create legends for your designs. Once your components are placed you can go ahead and schedule them.
You get some nice essentials skills videos for beginners on start-up.
System Requirments for running spark can be found here
In summary Project Spark is a cut down version of Revit that, for now, is free in the Autodesk Labs,. It remains to be seen where Autodesk want to go with this. Will it graduate from labs to be a free version to learn Revit on? I very much doubt it. But if there is a low cost alternative I can see its real potential coming from Content Creators or manufactures.
For now though I recommend you check it out if you are new to Revit and want to practice your Revit skills in an affordable manor. For the more advanced user it will frustrated you too much if your used to Revit.
Feel free to comment below. Best of Luck.