Monday, December 17, 2012

Rooms and Synchronization

Have you seen this error message before (images from 2012)?

It is followed by its grumpy brother.

The more complicated the project, the more likely that it uses some sort of linked file strategy. If so then it is pretty likely that Revit will fail to complete a Synchronize with Central (SwC) the first time you try, thus the message.

If you are like me you enter a comment each time (using SwC) for tracking and troubleshooting purposes. It is a pain to get a message telling you your SwC didn't work. It's worse that what you typed is lost. I finally got slightly smarter. I try to remember to copy the comment text to the clipboard before clicking OK. This way I can just paste it back in if/or when the error pops up.

I thought I hit on a sure thing by using Reload Latest before using SwC. It seemed to work for a bit but then it returned anyway. Still haven't pinned down the exact cause in this situation. It would be great if Revit could figure out that it can't resolve a SwC beforehand, probably a catch-22 situation though.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Please Just Say No to 2D Only

If you make a Revit family and it is meant to represent something real, tangible, please don't make it 2D only. In 3D your family doesn't exist and that is usually a bad thing. Everything we put in a building is three dimensional, even wall paper has thickness. If you aren't prepared to model it faithfully in three dimensions, at least use a generic box form that is at least dimensionally consistent with the thing you are representing. If you are documenting clearance zones make it 3d too. You can't use Interference Check meaningfully if it is just lines on the floor.

Resist the temptation to just make it 2D.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Illegal Parameter Names

It is fairly well understood that we can, but should not, use characters in parameter names that compete with Revit's own calculations. These include the addition (+), subtraction (-), multiplication (*) and division (/) symbols to name a few.

We also need to be careful to not use the specific function names either such IF. IF is the same as iF or If as far as Revit is concerned, though normally it is case sensitive.

When creating parameters use names that are not going to confuse Revit's own mathematical and conditional functions.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tag All is Faster

No kidding you say. When rooms are involved the room tag feature is painful because it has to query all rooms in the view and turn on the special highlighting mode first. You can beat this if you select rooms first and use Tag All instead. You'll get much faster results, more responsive. That assumes you can effectively select them first.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Paste Aligned Won't Play Along

I recently encountered a situation where two Paste Aligned options did not work while the option for "Aligned to Same Place" did. In this situation I was moving elements from one building file to another because of a scope of work switcheroo.

Typical we can select elements in a linked file and then paste them into the host project. Ordinarily I can paste walls, for example, using "to Aligned to Selected Levels" or "Aligned to Current View". In this case the walls didn't seem to remember their level arrangement even though both models observe the same elevations and naming. Revit insisted on putting them on the level above or the level below.

I ran into the same disrespect using "Aligned to Current View". The only way I got what I wanted was using "Aligned to Same Place". I was in a hurry so I didn't back up and try to figure out what might be contributing to the issue. I've never had a problem using the other options with elements that were already part of the same host file, you know just pasting elements to other levels to copy them upward or downward. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that these elements were coming from the linked file?

Something to consider the next time you are copying and pasting elements from one file to another.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Personal Revit Milestone

I got an email asking about AutoCAD support the other day which set me thinking. I realized that I have been using Revit for as long as I used AutoCAD day to day. My journey with AutoCAD started in 1994 with R12 on DOS. I stopped seriously using it (ACAD/ADT) in 2003 and switched over to Revit. So that's nine years with AutoCAD and nine with Revit. Technically I was using Revit since 2000, but for this I am not counting the first two years since it wasn't my full time work. Some overlap existed naturally, but I've reached the "tipping point".

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Applying Visibilty Graphics Overrides

This might be obvious but you can apply changes to views much faster if you don't have any views open that show model elements. Now that it is possible to alter the properties of a view without actually opening it, because the Properties Palette will display a selected view's propeties when you select it in the Project Browser, this means we can edit its visibilty graphics settings even if it isn't open.

It is particulary evident when a project has many linked files. You can alter a view for the first floor but if another floor's view is open Revit seems to spend time thinking about that one too, even mention the linked files.

If you are in the habit of using a synchronize with central view or bulletin board drafting or legend view then open that view and close all others before you dive into overriding view graphics or applying view templates.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Viewer Mode and Worksharing

Read a Thread at AUGI the other day that ultimately boiled down to this gotcha, don't use the recently created Viewer Mode if you expect to save your work. The Revit user couldn't access the central file from his local file. The responses naturally focused on all the typical network issues that might prevent access, among other things.

Ultimately the original poster realized the user was running Viewer Mode. It is almost like asking if the computer is plugged in when someone's computer isn't "working". In this case the first question ought to be, "Are you using the correct version of Revit?"

Beware the viewer mode!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Views on Sheets

When you have to add views to sheets just the task itself can take a long time. You will find that trying to put a view on a sheet will take less time if there is nothing visible in the view. Try it. Close all the worksets and place a view on a sheet. Now do the same thing with all the worksets Open. Even a modest size project should see a difference. It isn't that surprising. Why don't more people think of it then?

If you are using guide grids to position views consistently you'll need to be able to see at least some grids or reference planes but not much else. Next time you find yourself waiting for views to generate as you place them on sheets remember to close worksets or at least reduce how much Revit needs to show while it is doing it.

Saturday, December 08, 2012


I wish Audit had more to say. I wish I had a clue what it was actually trying to do, what it cares about, why I should care about it.

The WikiHelp says this about Audit:
    Scans, detects, and fixes corrupt elements in the project. This option can greatly increase the time required to open files. Use this option only for periodic maintenance of large workshared files or when you are preparing to upgrade.

It doesn't tell us what it did, if there was anything to do or fix or that our file was too excellent to do anything at all. That's all I want for Christmas. Okay, that's not true but I'd still like it for Christmas.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Emergency Designation for Families

Electrical panels and light fixtures are just a couple items that often show some shading to make their use for emergency conditions graphically stand apart from the rest. While some shading techniques people use are quite specific (such as shading half or quarters) if an overall shading or color would work you can consider using a Filter instead of editing any families. Here's a screen capture of applying a filter to make an electrical panel look like an "emergency" panel instead of a regular one. Just a thought that popped into my head the other day.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Upgrading and Reloading Families

I overhead a conversation the other day at Autodesk University. One person suggested to the other that we should always upgrade families to the latest release and then reload them all into our project after it has been upgraded. They theorized that Revit was having to "upgrade" them each time we open a project, like the message we see when a linked file is still based on an earlier version. Assuming that is true they went on to say that upgrading the families and reloading them would avoid this repeated upgrading of content when you open a project.

My gut feeling is that is not true after the project is initially upgraded. I believe that the process of upgrading a project is taking into account the content that is part of the project as well. If I'm correct then the content inside the project is effectively upgraded as well. Saving a family out of the project results in a new family based on that version of Revit too, not the previous one.

Only a developer or product designer/manager could say for certain though.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Create a Type Catalog

There is a relatively new feature available to create a type catalog automatically. Anyone who has tried to deal with this task using Revit MEP can relate to the awkwardness of trying to define the units for each parameter properly. The syntax and names used don't necessarily leap to mind.

If you visit the Application Menu > Export you'll find the Family Types option.

This does not create a perfect type catalog. By perfect I mean it may provide more parameters than you really intend to use in the catalog. That's because it will export them all. We often only provide the critical or most relevant values in a type catalog and leave others as default settings that all types will share. It works great if you want them all though.

Just to quibble though, I think that the name of the command ought to be Export > Type Catalog instead of Family Types. It would be more consistent with what the resulting file is called and used for, a Type Catalog.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Associate Family Parameter

I've written about Revit's sneaky buttons in the past (see the three links below). I find the button for the Associate Family Parameter feature particular frustrating.

First of all it's tiny and second it has no tooltip, both of which mean it is not particularly obvious. I find myself wishing for a different way to interact with this concept. I can't say that I have a better solution in mind. I just know that this one feels awkward.

Keep in mind that I'm coming from the point of view of someone who has spent about eighty hours clicking on those tiny buttons about a thousand times recently. There are many tasks in Revit that seem quite fine when you think of them as occasional activities. When you start to think of them as your 9-5 job, doing them over and over and over and over all day almost anything can start to wear on you.

Perhaps a clear cut button on the ribbon that says Associate Family Parameter and opens a dialog that lists the parameters that qualify. Even better perhaps a mapping methodology that allows us to define a series of native parameters and then map them to the nested family or the connector's parameters?

Here's links to three past Sneaky Button posts: POST 1, POST 2, POST 3

Monday, December 03, 2012

Boost Your BIM

Harry Mattison has joined the API blogging world for Revit with "Boost Your BIM". He's started out with a practical project dealing with the tragic Duplicate Mark Value error we receive on projects that use worksets. Each post is a step in and through the process. He's only just begun with a few of the steps (posts) so far. I believe the intention is to take it slow and easy enough that even I can do it! Here's hoping Harry can keep at it!

Pick New Host for Connectors

I find myself wishing that I could pick a new host for a connector every now and then. It's a bit of a drag when I redesign something (or make a mistake) and have to recreate connectors all over again just because there isn't an equivalent process to define a new host like for other hosted elements. For the programming team it's probably not a particularly hard thing to accomplish, so it's just another subtle thing to add to the list of desirable Revit refinements.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

OmniClass as Criteria

I heard mention of Omniclass during Autodesk University a few times last week. Each component (loadable) family in Revit has a pair of parameters built for OmniClass. What is that you say?

Lifted directly from their web site:
    The OmniClass Construction Classification System (known as OmniClass™ or OCCS) is a classification system for the construction industry. OmniClass is useful for many applications, from organizing library materials, product literature, and project information, to providing a classification structure for electronic databases. It incorporates other extant systems currently in use as the basis of many of its Tables – MasterFormat™ for work results, UniFormat for elements, and EPIC (Electronic Product Information Cooperation) for structuring products.
Revit supplies the OmniClass Number and the related OmniClass Title for each family category.

It hasn't quite reached full citizenship in Revit because system families do not yet offer an option for assigning them OmniClass values, neither do rooms or spaces. You can certainly add your own shared parameters to do it but there won't be any linkage to the same table of values as provided in the image above, that's only for component families.

Revit has also always offered the UniFormat Assembly Code and Description, not for rooms or spaces either though. These two systems both provide a way to classify the essence of an element in the model, like the Dewey Decimal system helps to organize books in a library to some degree. If we are careful to assign appropriate values to the content we create we'll find we can harness them to enhance our experience with using schedules and filters. That's completely apart from the downstream possibilities of using it to help define specifications with tools like e-SPECS or BSD LinkMan.

Try hard to remember to assign a value for OmniClass and the Assembly Code so you and others can take advantage of them later.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Set Calculations to Stun

Attending sessions at a conference is always a good way to come up with ideas for new blog posts. This post was inspired by David Butt's session at Autodesk University 2012 about Pipe and Duct Systems. I was working as one of his lab assistants and he mentioned this so I made a note to myself to mention it again, here.

By the way sorry about the title, I was thinking of the Star Trek "Set phasers to Stun" command that Captain Kirk often uttered. Literary license, I was just rhyming Stun with None.

In Revit MEP you can create systems for pipe and duct, meaning just the act of sketching one of them assigned to a particular system will impose certain design properties and graphical qualities to that element automatically. In the past the only way a duct or pipe could behave this way was to connect it to a component or to another duct or pipe that was already. That made it harder to just sketch pipe or duct (schematic design) and use it to represent different uses, like supply or return air, or hot versus cold water.

One of the properties of these systems is called Calculations and you can choose between None, Flow Only or All.

Since Revit only does fluid based calculations (piping) it doesn't make much sense to "waste" any CPU cycles on trying to do calculations on pipe systems for gases like oxygen or nitrogen. Same is true if you really aren't going to rely on Revit for pipe sizing or related calculations either. Any system that isn't going to need this ought to be assigned to None.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Revit Family Guide

The family guide document that has been available for download is now part of Autodesk's WikiHelp site. The PDF is still available and has not been updated (that page at WikiHelp is the same) but the content and spirit of that document is now part of the WikiHelp site itself. Kudos to the ongoing effort of the team. Each time I return I find explanations that better serve us.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

System Inspector Language

Yes, I'm picking on the poor inspector again, sorry! Have you ever noticed the tooltip?

The Latin text is a common placeholder for web site developers, writers and programmers alike. They need to show something until another person provides the correct wording. In this case it never got changed I suppose, or maybe somebody decided it really didn't need more accurate information to convey the idea.

This fits in my Dept.of Subtle quite nicely.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Revit Does Power Point

Years ago I wrote about using Revit to help me coach my son's soccer team. Since I seem to have an unhealthy focus on using Revit for things that might not make any sense it should be no surprise that I'd find a way to avoid using Power Point. When Revit 2013 came out it expanded on what we could do with the View Reference tool (wrote about that before too).

Well since then, at the last few conferences I've been a presenter for, I've been using the view reference as a way to move forward or back through a "slide deck", a Revity slide projector. I did use Power Point to create the slides since that's what the templates were using already. I used a screen capture of each slide as an image inserted into drafting views.

Here's what my intro slide looks like for my session later today at Autodesk University 2012, it's called "Sharing Work with Worksharing Using Autodesk Revit".

See the little arrows on either side of the image? Those are my back and forward buttons, they are just referencing the previous and next drafting views (slides). Instead of showing the sheet reference information that it would normally show I just added the back and forward facing arrow graphics.

It's just the sort of Power Point that this Revit guy likes!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rounding Length Values

When you create formulas in the Family Editor or perhaps in a schedule you can use the relatively new Round, Roundup and Rounddown options. They are designed to be used for unitless values. How often do we use unitless values? Click if you want to read the info at Autodesk's WikiHelp.

The other night I wanted to divide a panel height but round off the result. Take a door panel that has 6 lites that are defined by equal height from the top of the panel for example. One approach would be to just make the spacing equal. In this case the last lite is where the "slop" is supposed to go by making the upper lites equal in size. This means that the last lite is a little different size but then the bottom rail can be changed regardless of the lite sizes, without altering them.

The formula ended up looking like this:

In plain English, I add the top and bottom rail height together, subtract that from the panel height, divide by the number of lites. The rounding is applied to that result and divided by the desired rounding unit (1") and finally to satisfy Revit's quirkiness multiply the result by 1" to redefine what the units are. A bit round about (pun intended) but got where I wanted to go in the end.

Quick tip: When you add a parameter, click Apply before trying to fill in a formula. Revit needs to "save" the parameter before you can start using a formula in it. You'll typically get a message: "Can't find solution for formulas for type", wrote about this back in 2009.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Click in Empty Space to Reset

Using the Align tool, if you pick the wrong reference element just click away from everything. Revit resets the selection sequence, Align tool stays active.

Same is true for Trim/Extend to Corner, Trim/Extend to Element, Trim/Extend Multiple, Cut and Uncut Geometry, Join and Unjoin Geometry, Dimensioning and some others that don't come to mind.

The split tool is a bit quirky. I find that if I use a tool like copy or trim and then click on Split to use it instead, but then miss an element when I click Revit returns to the previous command. Try it, select Copy and then click on Split, click in empty space and you should see it return to Copy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Creating New Types

We have a few options when we need a new version of a door, wall or window etc. System families (wall, floor or ceiling for example) are created in a project while component families (door, window or furniture for example) are separate files, created in Revit's family editor mode.

If you need a new wall type you can choose door number one or two to make it. Door number one is using the Project Browser. You need to expand the Families category in the browser, then expand Walls and finally expand either Basic Walls, Curtain Walls or Stacked Walls.

When you select the wall you'd like to edit, or in this case duplicate, a right click will provide a list of options, one of which is Duplicate.

You can also double click on the name in the browser to open the Type Properties dialog. Once that is open you can click the Duplicate button.

I usually double click because I can duplicate and then immediately edit the type. The right click approach will still involve opening the dialog to edit its properties as well as renaming it. I figure the double click approach is a slight shortcut.

Once the new type is created it is available to use but not actually in use. Keep in mind that when using Worksharing it is only available in the local file we are using, we need to SwC to make it available to others.

Door number two is to select a wall you see in the drawing area and then click Edit Type on the Properties Palette. Once the Type Properties dialog is open you can duplicate and edit its properties. The significant different between these two doors is that this one alters the wall we selected, unless we reassign the wall back to the previous type first.
    Worth restating, creating a new type by selecting a wall placed in the model will result in changing that wall to the new type unless you remember to reassign the selected wall to the original type before closing the dialog.
Another mistake we can make is to just edit the properties of the selected wall instead of remembering to create a new type first. This usually results in cries of anguish after all the walls change in the model. Fortunately if you catch it quick using undo will usually fix it.

With component families (aka loadable families) we can use the same approach in the project, either door number one or two. However this does not alter the original family in our project, office or stock libraries. If the new type really ought to be part of the library version then that family needs to be opened and have the type created there. Then you can reload the family to add the new type to the project.

Here's a two minute (ish) video if it helps.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

BIM Blog Plug - Practical BIM

Just a quick post to plug another blogger's effort. Antony McPhee has been using Practical BIM to document his thinking on the subject of BIM; design and construction project planning. Apart from researching the various documents available today he's been trying to express what he thinks the process could or should look like based on his experience. Some of his recent posts include:
Back in September he did a series of posts to review the "BIM in Practice" document from the Australian Institute of Architects.

If you and your firm are wrestling with BIM you ought to read through his posts and add them to your considerations. Worth a read even you aren't...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Clean the Nested Content Too

Just a little reminder to myself as much as anyone, remember to purge and cleanup nested content as much as the parent. This includes materials and object styles. If you clean up the parent family but don't pay attention to the nested parts you'll find some of those things polluting the parent.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Three Minutes with Guide Grids

This feature is often overlooked or dismissed but it does deliver a consistent way to mark locations to help us keep plans aligned from one sheet to the next. Check out the video demonstration at You Tube.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Remember the Status Bar and Think Edges

Two little practical tips or reminders for Friday morning.

Tip One - Revit doesn't see things until you place your cursor near the edge of an element. There are some exceptions but for most elements you've got to move the cursor near an edge. Not sure if Revit sees it? Is it highlighted? No, then Revit doesn't see it. No point clicking to select something if Revit doesn't acknowledge it. The highlighting is visual confirmation that Revit thinks "this" is what you want to select.

If it isn't the correct one, remember the TAB key cycles through alternate elements that Revit could see in the same spot. I imagine sonar radiating from the tip of the cursor. If an element is close enough to bounce a signal back to the cursor you can "sink the battleship". No "Disco Tabbing", that happens when you hold the tab key down instead of just pressing once or twice as needed. I say disco because elements flash at you when you hold the button down. Thanks to Cyril Verley for that, I heard it from him first.

Okay that was three tips already; Edges, Highlighting and the TAB key.

Tip Two - When you are busy remembering edges don't forget to remember the Status Bar. It tells you what Revit sees or wants from you. When you place your cursor near an element you get the highlighting, you should see a tool tip AND the Status Bar offers you some info too. It's like a read-only command line, sssh.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Two Minutes with Constraint Quirkiness

Okay it's a little more than two minutes but less than three. I've been running into a few things lately that I don't recall being an issue in the past. Then again maybe my memory isn't what I thought it was? Take a look at this image. Seems pretty straightforward.

I've got a pair of Reference Planes that I want to keep positioned on either side of a rail (as in stiles and rails for a door). In the past I could do what you see and then use the dimensions on the right to shift the collection of reference planes up or down a bit. Now I find that I can't unless I select all three together. In the past I just grab the one in the middle and use the referencing dimension to shift it up/down. Doing that now gives me some weird results. It's probably better and easier to explain it with a video so here's one at You Tube.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Are You Red - Worksharing Monitor

Overheard the other day, "Hey Englebert, you are all red dude!" (name changed to protect the guilty or course). What he's referring to is the color a user's name becomes in Worksharing Monitor when they are working in the central file instead of a local as expected.

Don't be red! You might get this baby telling you off?

See Floyd? He's playing along nicely.

If you do get caught in the central file, no worries. Just use Save As to create a local copy the manual way (old timer way). Put it where your local files usually go and save it like your other local files. You'll be able to Synchronize with Central (SwC). If you don't do this Revit will end up telling you to do it when you try to SwC. The only time Revit doesn't care if you are working in the Central File is when you are alone, or the other people working in Local Files have not used SwC themselves. As soon as they do the next time you try to use SwC you'll get the message.

Revit's developers added this to avoid creating data reconciliation conflicts when someone does end up working in the central file. Just don't get caught "red handed".

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Insert 2D from File

I read another post this morning that prompted me to mention "another door", another way to get where we want to go. In this case James mentions using the Display Model setting for a view to only show the annotation (2D stuff) that's been added. The intention being to then copy/paste that useful stuff to another project. It's a harvesting exercise and one the developers created a specific tool for, "Insert 2D Elements from File".

This tool allows you to browse to another project, select from the views of that project and choose those that have 2D information that you'd like to use in this project. If you've ever thought, "I know there is a great detailing in a wall section in XYZ Project, I wish I could just grab it", you can!

It's brother (or sister) Insert Views from File allows us to harvest drafting views, schedules and sheets that contain either.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

System Inspector Inspect

Using Revit MeP, this feature makes me think of Monty Python's Dept. of Redundancy Department every time I use it. When you have elements connected together well Revit's System Inspector icon will be available.

Reading between the lines, that means if you don't see it when you think you should, something is wrong. The part that gets me is as soon as you activate it you get a little ribbon panel like the one we get for Groups. To inspect a system what's the next thing we have to do?

Yeah, tell Revit we want to Inspect. Department of Inspection Inspector?

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Family Editor Thought and Tips

There are many great ideas for improving the family editor experience "out there" already. Here's another thought prompted by some Shared Parameter loading.

When you first enter the Parameter Properties dialog, after clicking the Add button, the radio button for Family Parameter is selected and the Select button is disabled.

Seems to me the button could be enabled. This would allow me to click on the button to select a shared parameter without having to first change the radio button selection to Shared Parameter instead. It's just one click different but if you load a series of shared parameters repeatedly now and then one less click is one less x number of parameters involved.

Seems reasonable to for a couple tips.

Here's a little data entry tip in the Formula field, click past the value to select everything faster. If you click "on" part of the formula entry the cursor lands there. If you click past it looks more like this.

If you click on the formula then it ends up like this.

Once you click in the field the "tip" is "off", you have to click elsewhere (outside the field) before it will work that way again. If you are already in the field the Home and End buttons work nicely to move to the beginning or end of the formula. I find CTRL + A (select All) doesn't work there so I tap Home and then Shift + End to select the whole line. Then again I don't usually do that at all, I use my tip and click past the text. You can also select all the text (in the value or formula column) if you are careful to left click on the field and then drag your cursor out of the field before you let go of your mouse button.

Okay, one more really subtle one, as if that wasn't subtle. Ever notice how the information in the family types dialog can "jump" when you click in a field, like in the formula column? That happens when the column is wider than what the dialog can display. Easy to fix, just squeeze that column so it's entirely visible and Revit won't jump (scroll over to the right usually is what I mean by "jumping").

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Filter Pesky Levels

Need another way to manage the Levels of linked files? Sure we can assign them to specific worksets and have matching worksets in our model. Sure we can edit the V/G settings of the link in views (and view templates). Here's another, use a Filter and the criteria "Structural" that is available for levels.

When you examine the properties of levels you should find the parameter Structural. If the engineer uses that for their levels and you don't, then this concept works.

Now build a Filter that hunts for levels with the Structural parameter.

This is before the filter is applied.

This is after the filter is applied.

They can do the reverse by reversing the logic of the filter, Structural = no.

Happy Filtering!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Not on Sheets

Let's imagine you've been working on your project for awhile now and your project browser seems a bit out of control. It's pretty likely it doesn't take all that much imagination.

How can you tell which views are properly assigned to sheets and which aren't? I read a post today that offers one solution using a View List, a schedule of views.

You can also use the Project Browser sorting features. All the stock Revit templates include a browser configuration called "not on sheets". It's got a filter looking for views that don't have a sheet name parameter assigned.

If that's true the view remains in the views portion of the project browser. Those that are assigned to sheets are hidden from view. If you are thinking you could do the reverse to see those views ON sheets, really no need. You can just review those by expanding the Sheets portion of the project browser instead.

In fact this segregation lends itself to the notion of using working and production views that I wrote about the other day.

If my role is documentation I can focus on the sheets part of the browser. If I put on my modeler hat then I can move up to the views part of the browser instead. The "not on sheets" browser configuration will strip out all those documentation views for me.

There is also nothing wrong with some naming conventions to help declare their purpose. I like to see user names in working views so we can chase down the person who needed it to see if we can safely remove it. I've met some who manage such things with a scheduled Monday purge of so called working views. Ever run across a project with 200 sections views, all un-referenced? Nah, I didn't think so, your project teams are far too organized and careful.

Many people also use more formal naming for production/sheet views compared with working views. Something like PLAN - OVERALL - FLOOR SIX sure looks more formal than Level 06. If you use the Title on Sheet parameter then it gets a bit harder perhaps. For those just the presence of Uppercase versus lower case can be a subtle clue to their intended use for the team.

A hat tip to a little browser organization!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pay Content Forward

One aspect of sharing content freely is seeing where things you make turn up. I made a Viewsonic inspired LCD computer monitor years ago and posted it at Revitcity (May 2004 believe it or not!). I routinely see it in models, blog posts, images online etc. Since I made it, it is recognizable to me, but not really distinctively "mine".

It was built with the philosophy of "pretty close is close enough" in mind. No confusion when you see it in a model and few if any challenge it's accuracy or role in a model. It even shows a blue screen and gray "task" bar color when you switch to shaded. Sorry, there is no rendered decal of a Windows desktop, though technically possible. It might be fun to put a Revit 1.0 screen capture on it though?

You may not want to share stuff you make but go ahead share something, not everything necessarily. You may not be able to or your livelihood is derived from selling content. No worries, you'll still get to see your hard work in play. Just get it out there!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Family Editor Please Respect Visibility Settings

[rant mode on]

I really really really really really wish the family editor would honor the Detail Level settings, as well as Yes/No parameter assignment relationship to elements. It is magical enough working in the family editor environment. When you have complicated geometry meshing with lots of visibility controls and options it would be so helpful if we didn't have to drop it into a project to see if they are working correctly.

Yes the elements turn light gray when Yes/No parameters govern or Detail Level settings, but often it would be so much more helpful if it actually turned OFF!

[rant mode off...maybe...]

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why Use So-Called Working Views

When I get to work with people that have recently joined a firm that has been using Revit for quite some time the notion of working and sheet (or production) views is often confusing to them at first. When I first started to use Revit it was just me working on models alone. I didn't compete with anyone for other views.

Enter worksharing (worksets) and now we are sharing all the views of the project with any number of other people. The first view we fight over is the Default 3D view. I want it to show shadows in hidden line with ghost surfaces and Tony wants it in wireframe with all the walls off. The first one of us to make these changes will become the borrower of the view. The other will lose out, sort of. They'll get to see their changes (some kinds of changes, not all) too but Revit won't let them save the changes. They'll see a message declaring this too.

Revit was changed to deal with this conflict better by giving us our own 3D view, adding our Revit username to the default 3D when we create one, by clicking on the Default 3D button. They saw that users were creating and specifically naming their own 3D views that way so they figured, "Hey we can code that in!".

Over time we've learned that having some specific views for modeling activities versus those that we want to rely on for putting on sheets worked to our advantage. It also led me to write about the notion of Revit Roles that I've discussed here before (Modeler, "Documenter", Detailer, and Content Maker)

If I want to change the way a specific floor plan looks I really don't want to have to remember everything that was done to make it correct for the sheet it belongs to. It is easier to just work in a separate floor plan view instead, after all a floor plan is nothing more than a specialized report of the model. Of course View Templates make it much easier to restore a view's settings.

With 2013 View Templates get more aggressive too because they can be assigned to a view and take over many of the things we can alter, forcing users to edit a template instead of just using Visibility/Graphics overrides directly. The change actually enhances or increases the likelihood that working (modeling or personal) views will be useful. Working views don't need to be assigned to a view template because they aren't intended for sharing with others, putting on sheets.

Do you have to use working views and sheet views? No. Can it help improve your project experience, sharing it with others? Probably. It is more complicated, more views to deal with (check out the post by Phil Pleiss about managing views in the project browser), but it does provide the freedom to do certain tasks without the fear of messing up things that people often feel.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Surprise You are Now the Borrower

I've run into this in the past but was reminded of it this morning. Using worksets, lets assume you encounter a user that has already borrowed something you want to work on. If you create an editing request but then close your local file before the request is resolved you can end up the borrower of an element, regardless of the fact that you chose to leave.

This happens if they just Synchronize with Central (SwC) instead of dealing with your editing request directly (meaning Deny your request). The SwC resolves the request internally, which grants your request, making you the new borrower, even though you aren't actively working in the project anymore.

This can be avoided if the person you make the editing request from just denies the request before using SwC. So...yes you can be the borrower even if, "But I didn't do anything and haven't even been in the file for awhile".

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rendering and Revit MEP

I received an email the other day from a Revit MEP user that would like to render some equipment rooms. The wrinkle is that when systems are assigned to pipe and duct and their related equipment the relatively new feature called Pipe Systems (and Duct Systems) override the appearance of connected equipment.

If the equipment you use has material parameters to define what the equipment should look like then it is possible to show both the materials assigned to pipe and duct systems AND what the equipment should look like. Not all equipment has either materials or material parameters though. You like my 4" blue tile covered boiler??

Then you run into equipment that "Breaks Into", like a valve into pipe. The pump and valve in the image above look different but it's really just because I assigned a solid color override to the material. That works for shaded views but you end up with the system imposing the material on the equipment and accessories when you render.

Ideally it would be nice to have an option to tell Pipe and Duct Systems to respect the material assignments of connected equipment. Guess it's a candidate for future wish granting.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Watch for Web Update 2

Looks like an update is out, at least for Revit Structure at the moment, the blog BIM and Beam mentioned it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why Does My File Name Include the Word Central

The practice of adding the word "central" to a project file name came about in the early days of Revit to help users see the difference between any stand alone project file, their own local file and the actual central file for their project. Unless you notice a folder with a matching name plus "_backup" there isn't anything obvious to tell us that a file is "special" (central or local file). We used to copy the central file to our own computer and change the name to include our username to identify our local file as different from the central file. With the extra "-central" in the project file name it was easier to see its "specialness".

Since Autodesk changed how to make a local file it is less desirable to add the "-central" to the name. This is because when Revit creates the local file it adds our username to the resulting local file. If we use "-central" in the name we get something like this:

1234 BigProject-central.rvt (the central file)
1234 BigProject-central_Username.rvt (local file, including the -central part)

What made sense then doesn't now.

There are firms that still use a customized process to generate local files (there are other threads about that). For them it may still be advisable or desirable (even required) to continue including the "-central" in the project file name. If you just use the Open and check the "Create New Local" option it isn't as desirable or necessary.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Load Classifications and Worksets

The early releases of Revit MEP didn't have a method to manage load classifications, they were hard wired (pun intended). It does now.

One downside of various sources of content is the way the family editor (person) assigns the load classification. It can be hard coded into the family (not nice), it can be assigned to a parameter instead (nice) and it can also be assigned a value in advance too (nice or not nice depending on who you are).

Load classifications are part of the project standards workset.

If you choose to be the "owner" of the electrical related project standards and not relinquish them there is still a back door that lets a new family introduce a load classification you may not approve of. Revit only seems to acknowledge ownership if you attempt to alter the existing settings, and that's only true if someone else has decided to make themselves the owner of the workset (Electrical Load Classifications). Loading a new family that has a classification like "Steve's Favorite Motors" will bring it along and add it to the load classifications.

This means trying to keep a handle on your load classifications can be a little troublesome has the project progresses. The electrical design team might behave but all it takes is a rogue HVAC user to load a new single duct VAV, that has its own notion of load classification, into the model (assuming multiple trades in one file).

Further, I think its odd that when I create a new Load Classification (like Steve's Favorite Motors) none of the electrical setting worksets show me as the borrower, especially the one called Electrical Load Classifications! If I change the load classifications I still am not considered a borrower, odd. What is odder still is that the worksets for Cable Tray Settings, Cable Tray Sizes, Conduit Settings, Wire Settings and Wire Sizes DO show me as borrower.

I understand that it might be better to let a family load completely and "sneak" in a new load classification than confront the user with a message about not being able to make a workset editable and refusing to load the family.

Best bet is to require content to be vetted for load classifications before they are added to the project model(s). Provide a list of classifications that the project electrical engineer wants to document. Also provide a set of "in this case, use this classification" examples to make it easier to tow the line.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Backup File Numbering

We are familiar with Revit's standalone backup file process. Each time we save it creates a new backup file, based on either the stock setting of 3 backup files or as many as we've chosen instead.

I've never run into a file that used more than the four digits that appears in the file name of a backup file. The other day someone asked what happens at MyProject.9999.rvt. As it happens Revit keeps on numbering and adds a new digit; MyProject.10000.rvt.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Interface Inequity - Modify Size

Revit MEP features Duct, Pipe, Conduit and Cable Tray all have a dialog that permits us to edit their information, chief among them is their sizes. Unfortunately the younger brothers, Conduit and Cable Trays, have a extra button, the Modify button that lets us easily change a setting for a size. The older brothers Duct and Pipe don't, pity! It's just like parents to let our younger siblings stay up later and easily modify their size!

In the must be nice category, the Cable Tray size portion of the dialog.

In the wishful thinking category, the Duct sizes.

Also in the wishful thinking category, the Pipe Sizes.

I wish it was as easy to add this sort of functionality into Revit as it was to copy and paste the modify button into these images!! I vote for component size equity!! Let us modify them, let us modify them!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Linked Files with Linked Files

Ran across a recent situation where a good number of units were modelled as linked project files and combined into a "master" file. This master file was then linked into another model. As attached links that meant they would automatically show up as long as the source file was "found" (in a folder it could find).

It may have seemed like a good idea when they started, but the down side is nearly zero control over the nested linked units. About the only way to control what they look like is if every (and I mean every) sort of view configuration you might need in other files that host the combined file are preset in the "master file". The display of nested links can be configured to use the Linked File settings. Unfortunately, this is hard to really accomplish because we might not be able to imagine everything that will need to be done. That means an awful lot of back and forth to get it all to work.

My recommendation? Don't go there...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Family Types Dialog - Lock Parameter

This concept showed up a couple releases ago if I recall correctly. I'm referring to this bugger:

The help file says:
    "You can maintain the parametric relationships between labeled dimensions by locking them. To lock a dimension directly in the drawing area, click next to the dimension."
    "When a labeled dimension is locked, all of the associated parameters also lock. This means that as the dimensions are moved in the drawing area, the associated parameters are constrained and the dimension value is preserved."
    "Note: Locked dimensions and their associated parameters cannot be changed in the drawing area. Use the Lock column in the Family Types dialog to change them."
    "When a labeled dimension is unlocked, all of the referenced geometry unlocks and is unconstrained."
    "To lock a labeled dimension from the Family Types dialog
    • Click a dimension in the drawing area.
    • Click Modify | Dimensions tab | Properties panel Family Types.
    • Select Lock to constrain a parameter."
I find that this part isn't true:
    "Note: Locked dimensions and their associated parameters cannot be changed in the drawing area. Use the Lock column in the Family Types dialog to change them."
When I select a dimension string that has been locked I CAN change the value and flex the geometry. What I CAN'T do is drag a reference plane to alter the parameter value "in Canvas". The text is misleading. It sure sounds like I can't alter the parameter at all, except by opening the Family Types dialog.

Another thing that is a bit confusing. In the project environment we can't change the position of elements by selecting a dimension string first and then editing the value. We CAN do that in the family editor. Inconsistent user "feedback" when transitioning to and from. In the project we keep stressing that we must select the element and then edit the dimensions. Exactly the opposite when a parameter is attached to the dimension in the family editor. Uh oh, I just saw a student's head explode...sorry.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    Column Shading Gets Obstinate

    Working with a client the last couple evenings I found a quirky condition with a column family that has a nested detail component to manage masking the way they like. When the column is playing nicely it looks like this.

    Unfortunately they all, nearly all, look like this now.

    After pressing many buttons, clicking even more and checking, double checking joy. Then I tried changing the column to use the Column Style settings: Slanted - Angle Driven and Slanted - End Point Driven. They all report Vertical now but changing the value and then changing back made no difference. So I tried placing another column fresh, it works. At least that's something. Then I tried to break it. More button pressing etc. and then I come back to the Column Style settings.

    After changing from Vertical to Slanted - End Point Driven it won't shade/mask anymore. Hmmm... Well I've manage to break it, that's something I suppose.

    I tried to swap all the columns out with a completely new type from a different column family. Then I deleted (purged) the original family and loaded one fresh with a new name even. Swap joy :(

    It sure looks like the only option is to place new columns carefully where the original obstinate ones are thumbing their noses at us. Yuk...

    Fwiw, it isn't actually necessary to include a nested detail component. Usually assigning a solid cut pattern and altering the color to gray is sufficient. These images are actually showing that approach, no nested detail component. That just means the problem is more intractable, not related to the nested component at all. I suspect that the angle column settings "rotate" the "shading" out of plumb and then the columns lose the ability to do it anymore. Much like annotation graphics in lighting fixtures won't show up on sloped ceilings, just the 3D geometry.

    I did find that I could swap out good for bad if I used Groups. I created a group out of one good column, with the group origin at center. Then I made individual groups of the bad columns. I just made sure the origin faced the same direction for each. This wasn't fast... Then I selected all the rogue "groups" and swapped them all for the single good group definition. All fixed...ungroup. ugh

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    Only One Book is Allowed

    I wrote a tweet the other day asking,"I wonder why the question, "Which Revit book should I buy?" seems to imply that we are only allowed one, one choice, one on our shelf?"

    We all learn a bit differently, so options are good. I think it is a disservice to all of us to assume one source is sufficient or that we must only pick the "best" book. I learn stuff from all the things I read, even if some parts are useless to me personally or perhaps poorly delivered. We are talking about someone's living. Spending a few hundred dollars in the interest of making a better living seems easy math to me, and I'm not even very good at math!

    Don't restrict your opportunities to learn! My $0.02

    Monday, September 24, 2012

    Who is the Owner

    Melanie wrote a nice post earlier today. She asked:

    Question: What does an owner want from BIM?
    Answer: The same thing they wanted from CAD.

    Which she says begs another question: Who is the Owner?

    It isn't usually a simple answer like: "Let me introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Smith. We'll be designing their house." They are the owner and you've got to please them, unless they give their kids any say. If so you know which rooms will be the biggest!

    She lists a bunch of people that the software and design industry may overlook too often, or at least focus on others too often, in their quest to satisfy this "owner" person.

    Nice job Melanie!

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    RTC Europe Site and Details are Live Now

    It’s live!! Click the images to visit!

    Following the success of the Revit Technology Conference series in Australasia and North America, industry demand has once again led to us to cross continents! We are very excited to announce that the inaugural European Revit Technology Conference will be held in Delft, the Netherlands on 27 – 28, September 2013. The conference will be presented in English and will showcase a selection of our premier speakers from the Australasia and North America events as well as industry heavyweights within the European market.

    • Experience the benefits you gain from a successful BIM implementation by talking to experts in this field
    • Best of breed invited speakers only, of both European and International origins
    • Share ideas and insights with an international community of your peers
    • Explore the latest trends and technologies
    • Network with your peers
    • Cultivate important business and professional contacts that can benefit your company and your career
    • Come to learn from the experts and leave with a wealth of knowledge, practical methods, and new ideas
    • Unlock the potential of BIM to streamline the building procurement and construction process
    • Overview of new features, Best Practice methods, Tips and tricks from experts

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    EdgeWise MEP for Revit

    If you use Revit MEP and laser scan data then hopefully you've heard of ClearEdge3D and the new EdgeWise for Revit MEP? They recently announced that they're offering a software solution to bring 3D as-built models of pipes and other cylindrical MEP elements directly into Revit. It automatically extracts pipes, elbows and other features from point clouds and exports them to Revit as fully functional pipe objects. You begin by using their software to analyze point cloud data (the result of conducting laser/lidar scanning on-site). Once processed you can export this interpreted data to several software products including Revit MEP now.

    If you are interested in a demo then check out when Beck Group’s Kelly Cone and Autodesk’s Kyle Bernhardt present it, via webinar, on Wednesday, September 26 at 1pm EDT. Beck Group was one of the early testers of the software and Kelly is quite fond of it. There will be a live demo of it too so you can see for yourself how much time it can save. Click here to sign up.

    I received an email from them recently and I wrote back to ask a couple questions:
      "Is the success of the export and functioning in Revit natively dependent on additional Revit families or based on the what is available in the stock content (US imperial for example)? I ask because I imagine there are elements that can be captured via a laser that your software can understand that might not have an equivalent Revit family element to use. What happens then?"
    Christopher Scotton (President & CEO) responded with this:
      "Thanks for Reaching out. The success of the import is not dependent on additional Revit families because Revit assigns the imported pipe objects to its stock pipe families, in this case Schedule 40 PVC along with the correct type diameter, elbow bend, etc. The centerlines come in as pipe placeholder. However, the accuracy and utility of the model is greatly enhanced by the use of custom families. In essence, EdgeWise imports cylindrical elements that are spatially accurate to the as-built conditions. Once in Revit, the elements need to be changed from the stock pipe family (if not Sch 40 PVC) to the correct pipe family.
      Right now, EdgeWise MEP for Revit only extracts cylindrical features—pipes, round ducting, elbows and conduit—so we’ve not run across many elements that we extract that are not represented by a stock family type. But in those cases, Revit will place a PVC pipe and a placeholder that corresponds to the size, dimension and location of the unrecognized element."

    If you are using point cloud data and Revit MEP (even if you use other software) you should check it out!

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    2012 Central States Revit Workshop - Omaha, Nebraska

    If you are within driving distance of Omaha, Nebraska hopefully you've heard about the Central States Revit Workshop? It runs this Friday and Saturday at the Mid-America Center (September 21 & 22, 2012). If you'd like to read their flyer you can download it HERE. Then again for the price (see below) maybe flying in to attend isn't a big deal either!

    This is the schedule/agenda for the two day Revitganza.

    Carla Edwards with Leo A. Daly, among others, has been championing this affair since being inspired by the Revit Technology Conference she attended in Huntington Beach, CA in 2011. Unlike many people who think about doing such things she IS doing it. She and her fellow committee members are doing the hard thing, bringing a Revit workshop to your region.

    The CSRW committee is comprised of:

    Matthew Kuhn, Bill Allen, Nick Meek, Craig Thomas, Barbara Tozser, Carla Edwards, Heath Thompson, Dave Benscoter, Brett Grell, Todd Shackelford, and Casey Eckhard.

    The featured speakers are:

    Paul Aubin, Joe Eichenseer, Zach Kron (a virtual presentation), Shawn C. Zirbes, Brian Johnson, William Spier, Doug Evans, Michelle McCarthy, and Jason Gardner. You can read more about them at the workshop sessions web page.

    Curious how much for two days of Revity goodness?

    $200 For CSI and RUGON Members
    $250 For Non Members

    All registration will be done via Paypal for Conference attendees.

    If you have questions, contact Carla via EMAIL.

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    ecobuild's National BIM Conference Seeking Application Demo Experts

    George Borkovich is looking for people to demonstrate BIM applications at ecobuild's National BIM Conference, December 3-7, 2012.

    THIS LINK will get you to the Ecobuild home page, and THIS ONE will get them directly to The National BIM Conference page.

    He also has a special offer for readers: Register as a LinkedIn colleague and they'll extend a 20% discount off the full conference. All you need to do is go to THIS LINK. When prompted for the discount code, enter the word LINKEDIN. If you only attend the Keynote and Expo, passes are free with pre-registration.

    If you are interested in demonstrating the BIM software you are an expert with then he'd like to hear from you. EMAIL him!

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    Invalid References

    Ever see this message?

    There are a number of reasons why it occurs. This is one example that can occur when swapping families. Not all families are created equal. Shocker I know...sorry. When you swap one family for another after applying dimensions you run the risk of confusing the dimensions. Let's take this simple family, GM01.rfa.

    The Right and Left reference planes have corresponding names and IsReference settings. Now lets look at GM02.rfa

    In this family I've made a mistake (on purpose of course), the Right reference plane has a different IsReference setting, it is set to Weak Reference. Technically the family is also a little bit wider than GM01, but that won't matter. If I've added dimensions that reference this family, as soon as I try to swap GM01 for GM02 I get the message I mentioned at the beginning.

    The essence of the warning is that something has changed in a way that Revit can't transfer the dimension reference to the new object. The tricky part is figuring out what that "something" is. Sometimes it is how the family is made.

    [Edit: Btw, I wrote, and scheduled this to post ahead of time, in response to an question via email and a last night I read a post at that asks why almost the same thing is happening. Serendipity.]