Saturday, May 31, 2014

Revit 2015 - Parameters and View Titles

We can include any view parameter in view titles now. We can also create shared parameters and use them in our view title annotation. I was reminded by Lee Miller (a VP with HOK), while attending RTC in Melbourne this week, that this addition means they can include another language for the view name far more easily with this seemingly subtle change. It is a welcome change for anyone doing international work.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Insert using Auto-Center to Center

Whenever we insert a linked file we find that Revit is wired or biased to using Auto-Center to Center. It doesn't matter if we've just used another placement option Revit faithfully returns to its favorite.

The reason for this preference or bias stems from the reality that DWG files are a perfect storm of chaos that we cannot reliably expect that the elements in the file are located near the origin of the file. Floating Point math calculations rely on constraining the size of the world we work in to a practical scope so that calculations can be "accurate" enough to roughly 12 decimal places. Revit uses double precision which technically extends to 16 decimal places but it only displays 12.

When elements in the imported/linked file are very far from the file's origin then Revit's ability (of all CAD software by the way) to accurately display and describe information begins to suffer. The Revit development team is a bit more fussy about this than how other software confronts us with this concern. One visual clue that this is affecting your project is snap icons fail to appear directly on the element it is related to.

Using Auto-Center to Center is safer from the developer's mindset, protecting us from BadCAD and or ourselves.

Now we've been bringing this up for years, asking for Revit to remember what we've used before and/or letting us set which option we prefer. The good news, from my perspective, a recent conversation with someone at Autodesk has made me optimistic that we will get our way sooner than later.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Revit MEP - Choosing a Panel

This is a quick tip I picked up eavesdropping on a conversation with Martin Schmid (Autodesk). When you create a circuit and use Select Panel the list of panels in the drop-down on the Options Bar sorts the panels based on their proximity to your circuit's elements. That's pretty subtle and I never paid close enough attention to notice. I love subtle stuff!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Revit is Crashing

You're suffering with a file that is crashing on your computer. Have you attempted to work with/recover the file on a different computer? Doing so will help rule out the possibility that there is an issue with the PC you've been using.

Revit can be a grouchy bugger with too little RAM or an incompatible Video Card/driver. If you have very little RAM then it could be that Revit is running out of RAM before it can process the file properly during the save which can increase the RAM it requires to function. You can also try to disable the graphics options in the Options dialog > Graphics to see if that makes any difference.

I'd start by eliminating the PC itself, try to restore it using another. If that makes no difference then you need to consider the project file itself. Yet another thing to consider, linked files. You can move any linked files it is looking for to another folder temporarily so it can't find them to load them. If a link is really causing the problem then this file crashing is just a victim of a different problem. I've seen a link crashing the host several times in the past. It's a drag spending a lot of time trying to fix a file that didn't have a problem when a link really did.

In 2011 (my post about it) The Revit Clinic's Kathryn Langan wrote a post about a journal file parser she wrote.

Monday, May 26, 2014

That Thick Boundary on my Sheet

A conversation about our title block is inevitable when working through implementation. If we're going to produce a drawing we'll need one unless we've arrived at the day when a model is the only deliverable which, unless I've become Rip van Winkle and woke up twenty odd years in the future, isn't the norm yet.

One recurring theme is a thick boundary line. A polyline is often used for this in AutoCAD. Sorry, there is no equivalent element (AutoCAD polyline) in Revit, namely that a polyline's thickness can vary along it length. To replicate a thick boundary we need to use Revit's own lines to sketch thick lines. We also need to keep in mind that Revit's lines do not square off at the ends, an option that AutoCAD developers added to it in the past. Revit's developers designed it thinking that the tip of pens/pencils are round and when you sketch with a them you get rounded edges, consistent with "reality".

If we need a thick (or very thick) boundary with squared edges then we accomplish that with a Filled Region (solid black). It is sketched like two rectangles, inside and outside edges of the thick line, using a thin line. When the filled region is finished it will look just like a thick "line".

Hopefully the same result, just different technique.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Past its End

If you see this message, it's not a good message, sorry.

It is a database phrase for the file was not saved properly and the software can't figure out where the beginning and end of the file are correctly, which is a more complicated way to say the file is corrupted. When you get this error it could just be a one time thing. It might be an indication that there are network issues with latency which means that the saving process isn't able to complete reliably. If you get this error frequently it's time to have it checked closely to look for hardware problems.

If you are fortunate you'll be able to open and save a backup version of the project, you need to determine which kind you've got: Stand-alone or worksharing.

If your file is a stand-alone project there will be a project file like this: MyProject.rvt and additional files like this MyProject.0003.rvt, MyProject.0004.rvt and MyProject.0005.rvt. The extra four digits indicate they are backup files. Three additional backup files is the default. Revit writes over the oldest file, never using more than three files for a backup. This is something that can be changed but only when the file is saved initially or when you use Save As. Notice the Options button when you are in the Save dialog next time.

These backup files can be opened just like a regular project file. They represent the state of you project when you saved it, corresponding to the time stamp shown in the file properties. You'll need to use Save As when you do open the file because Revit will ask you if you really want to save a file, as a backup, using the backup file format.

If the project is using Worksets/Worksharing then there is a folder named something like MyProject_Backup. Revit stores all the backup history and data it needs to restore a file in there but you don't do anything with the files inside it directly. You need to open Revit, but don't bother to open a project file, and activate the Collaboration ribbon tab > click Restore Backup. You browse to the location of the project and select the project's backup folder. Revit opens a dialog that let's you choose from a history of saved versions you could choose to recover with.

You should use the Save As button. Pick an earlier version and click Save As. Save the file in a different folder temporarily. The resulting file is technically a local file that is expecting to connect to the central file that isn't working. Revit will ask you if you want to open the file, don't. You'll need to open the file using Detach from Central so that it breaks the relationship to the central.

In either case, hopefully Revit will be able to open the most recent backup file and you won't lose too much work. If the most recent file fails then try the next older version until you get the project open again. Save the file back into the correct project folder and carry on.

If you want more background on worksharing I've got a summary of posts I've written on the subject.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Starting my Project after Receiving a Model

From a Revit MEP or Structure perspective getting a project started, without delving into subtlety, should look something like this.
  • Link the architecture model - Auto - Origin to Origin
  • Examine an elevation - Make sure your levels match theirs (it's also helpful to get a better sense of the scope vertically)
  • Use Copy/Monitor to create (levels you don't have) and watch the levels for coordination (optional but a good idea)
  • Room Bounding (MEP) - The arch link has a Type Parameter called Room Bounding, this should be checked if/when you are using Spaces
  • Create views for each level after you've made sure yours match theirs
  • Repeat this for each discipline, HVAC, Plumbing etc...
  • Phases between files should be mapped (same place as Room Bounding, and to truly work they need the same names too)
  • If you need your own grids to adjust how your documents look - use Copy/Monitor to get a watched set of your own grids

As I alluded to in the beginning, there are other subtle things like worksets that can factor in as well, but assuming the above is all done, you're ready to start adding your own work.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Or We Could Do That

I read Bob Borson's blog post this morning and it made me think of a something that happened to me years ago.

Timmy and I were busy packing up our truck for yet another theater rigging installation in some other city in yet another state. I grabbed our Ramset gun and started checking our ammo. I saw that we were out of the smallest charges so I told Timmy that we'd need to stop by our local supplier to grab some more. He said he didn't think we'd need it. I replied, "What if we need to use it (Ramset gun) on wood?" He replied, "uh, Steve we could use a hammer?"

Yeah I suppose we could do that!

Monday, May 19, 2014

2014 Revit Technology Conference Plug

If you've been reading this blog for long you've probably heard of the Revit Technology Conference. It's blossomed from an event happening far away in Australia each year to an event that happens three times a year on three continents. I've been fortunate to be part of the crew that helps see that it does.

I'd like to encourage you to make it to RTC again this year. If you are already, Excellent! I look forward to seeing you there. If you can't, I'm disappointed, maybe next year. If you have friends, associates or anyone that you think would enjoy and benefit from attending RTC please pass along the good word to them. Let me know if you need some help telling them.

Below are the cursory details (click the links in the name for more info) for each event this year, Melbourne's RTC is NEXT WEEK!! RTC in Schaumburg, Il (near Chicago) is NEXT MONTH! If you feel like some royal treatment RTC Europe is being held in Dublin Castle. Something for everyone this year! See you there!?!

RTC Australasia 2014
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Venue: Pullman Melbourne Albert Park (same as VisCon)
Dates: May 29 (Thursday) - May 31 (Saturday), 2014

RTC DTS JUNE 2014 (Design Technology Summit)
(Invitation Only)
Location: Schaumburg, IL (Greater Chicago)
Venue: Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel (same at RTC NA)
Dates: June 16 (Monday) - June 17 (Tuesday), 2014

RTC North America 2014
Location: Schaumburg, IL (Greater Chicago)
Venue: Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel (same as RTC DTS II)
Dates: June 19 (Thursday) - June 21 (Saturday), 2014

RTC Europe 2014
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Venue: Dublin Castle
Dates: October 30 (Thursday) - November 1 (Saturday), 2014

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Revit 2015 Tag Leader Snapping

Revit 2015 has changed how tags and their leaders behave. They are more similar to text and their leaders. Specifically Revit respects the length and position of the leader's shoulder. When we drag the tag, using the move/grip, the leader's shoulder stays intact, follows the tag.

In the past, Revit left the grip for the end of the shoulder in the original location and we had to move it, an extra step, to revise its position relative to the tag. Unfortunately I've noticed that tags don’t seem to snap into alignment with each other as well now.

You'll see in the video above that when I move the tag it doesn't see the other tags. I find it unfortunate and a bit ironic that I have to purposely move the shoulder away to get the tag to snap into alignment with another tag and then fix the shoulder.

Ironic since I have to use the extra step to get the snapping behavior I want, the extra step the new feature is suppose to eliminate. This could be limited to my computer and its graphics card and driver. I'm curious if others can confirm this is happening for them too.

2014 Revit OpEd

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Revit 2015 Double Click Deactivate View

The new companion to double-click to activate a view on a sheet is pretty simple. Just double-click outside the extent of the viewport to deactivate it. Double-click to Activate View works on schedules too, it opens the schedule editing window. Hopefully it's pretty obvious that double-click to Deactivate View won't work, in reverse, on the schedule once you are editing.

By the way, it (double-click to Deactivate View) can't be turned off. There is an option to disable the Activate View behavior. If you happen to change it to Do Nothing. If you use right-click to Activate View you'll find that Double-click to Deactivate View works regardless.

Deactivate View just don't care.

2014 Revit OpEd

Friday, May 16, 2014

Deleting Spaces or Rooms in Schedules

Want to delete all the Spaces or Rooms you see in a schedule? Take these steps:
  • Scroll the bottom of the schedule
  • In one fluid sequence click to select the last row (left mouse button) and...
  • Drag your cursor UP until it is over the ribbon (yes, beyond the schedule)
  • Let go of the left button
  • Click Delete
Revit will prompt with a total number of elements that will be deleted. It should match however many was listed in the grand total. Wherever you put your cursor in the schedule and drag up to the ribbon, Revit will let you delete all rooms from there to the top of the schedule even though it is off screen

If you try the same thing from the top down you only get as many rows as are visible in the schedule window.

2014 Revit OpEd

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stair Cut Mark Zigzag

There are two types of zigzag graphics that we can apply to stairs, single and double zigzag. It is a Type Parameter of a stair. When you click on the parameter (Cut Mark Type) to choose one or the other a little sneaky browse button appears.

You can't just switch from one to another, it's not a drop down list box. You have to open the properties of the zigzag type to choose it. If you do, don't be tempted to change the parameter Cut Line Type at the top of the list under the graphics group. If you do you'll be changing the graphic for the Type, not changing the type. To change the Type you've got to look at the top of the dialog and change the Type with the drop down list box there. If you don't pay attention here you'll end up making your single a double or your double a single. That could get confusing!

Here's a plan view of the pair in action: Single and Double Cut Mark.

It is also possible to edit the Stair Cut Mark types via the Project Browser under Families. It's a category listed under stairs.

If you elect to change the setting for Cut Line Extension here you may notice something weird. If you change the value for the single zigzag it will update immediately (when you close the Type Properties dialog) in the drawing window. Try to do the same for the double zigzag and nothing happens.

You can ensure immediate success if you only alter the settings via a Stair's Type Properties dialog. If you click the Edit Stairs button and then immediately click Finish Edit Mode it will force Revit to refresh the cut mark. It will also update if you close the project and open it again. There may be other conditions that will force it to regenerate the cut mark but I haven't stumbled into one yet.

The Stair Cut Mark is governed by Object Styles. There are separate sub-categories for Cut Marks and Cut Marks.

Here's the same stairs after messing around for a minute.

2014 Revit OpEd

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

No Print Text

A fairly common request is a special text that won't print. This would let us add comments to various places in the model for other people to act on. Filters don't see annotation categories either, at least not Text.

One approach we can take is to use a Detail Item family because Filters do work on them. This means instead of placing red text, we place a Detail Item family that has a red text formatted label that we can enter whatever comment is necessary. Then we can apply a Filter using the Family Name as its criteria to find all of them and turn them off in Visibility/Graphics.

A bonus is that Detail Items can also be scheduled since the release of Revit 2014. This means we could schedule them to provide a summary of comments or remarks that have been placed in the model for action. Add a parameter for "Resolved, Resolved By and Resolved Date" (and perhaps more) and users can indicate when the comment has been acted on, by whom and when.

It is also possible to create Saved Selection Sets. Select all the Red Text, Save a selection Set. Then that selection set can be used to create a Filter. For example in the following image, I've created a Saved Selection Set of text called No Print Text and then created a Filter to control it in the view.

If you've got a Saved Selection Set you can Load or Edit them via the Manage ribbon > Selection Panel. If you select multiple elements then the Selection panel appears and you can also Save your selection set.

Be sure to check out the Selection Set features and not just for this!

2014 Revit OpEd

Basd on a comment I've edited the post and added the following (March 27, 2015)

If you'd like to experiment with a sample of this click the links to either download the family or a project with the family and a schedule in place to see it wall working together.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Where are the Constraining Dimensions

When you edit a family that someone else created you may encounter a situation where the constraints that control it aren't readily visible. Yeah, it could even happen to you with content you created. These are a few things to consider when you start hunting for them.

Inside the Sketch - It is possible to add dimensions and parameters to control solids/voids while editing their sketch. If that's been done you won't see them unless you edit the sketch for that solid/void.

Associate Family Parameter - The little sneaky gray button (that has a tool tip since 2014) allows us to constrain some things without an actual dimension in canvas. We just connect the dots between the parameter of the form with a parameter.

Automatic Sketch Dimensions - These kick in when you start creating parameters and elements without tying them to anything specific. Revit guesses what you have in mind. They'll usually only be visible while you are editing a solid/void. They are definitely off by default in Visibility/Graphics. You'll find them under the Annotation Categories tab. I've written about these in the past.

Choice of View - Sometimes the dimension isn't in a view that we'd expect it to be in. For example the stock door template has the width parameter in an elevation view instead of the plan view. I certainly wouldn't expect to find it there. I try hard to put X/Y oriented dimensions in plan views and Z oriented dimensions in elevations, usually Front but occasionally Right.

Visibility/Graphics - Sometimes dimensions are just turned off in the family's views.

2014 Revit OpEd

Monday, May 12, 2014

Post Scraping

I think Revit OpEd is part of a pretty narrow slice of life on the internets. Having that opinion, I find it bewildering how much comment spam it receives. Even more so that there is another blog out there that just scrapes off my stuff here and posts it on their own as their own.

I used to have a link on my list of BIM blogs that pointed to the site, removed it today. Beginning in 2013 it has apparently shifted from writing original work to just using mine. There isn't any older work, copied or original, there now either.

Since the comments are most likely generated by web-bots I imagine this is also true of the blog in question. I'm writing this to see if they scrape this post and add it to their own too. If they do it will prove to me that there isn't an actual person doing the work of creating the replication of my work.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Viewport Title Line

The line that appears along with a Viewport, when you place a view on a sheet, is a property of each viewport type. You get to decide whether you want it to show up or not. It is also the reason you must select the viewport to alter the length of the line, not the view's title annotation, a common mistake or assumption.

Revit will make the line as long as the length (horizontal distance) of the viewport when you place it on a sheet. If you're not careful to clean up a view before adding it to sheet you'll end up with a title line that's far longer than you really wanted.

In some cases people only want the line to be as long as the length of the text in the title. There is no correlation between the title value and the length of the line. It's a close enough situation. You can take a different approach. The font assigned to each view title annotation family can use the Underline option.

Turn off the Viewport title line and alter the viewport's view title family. Reload and you'll get something like this automatically, every time.

Keep in mind the above only deals with the line, not the length of the label itself which affects how soon the text will wrap. You might be able to get away with making the label really long to avoid wrapping at all. More often we need to nest a few labels of different widths to all for short, long and longest title situations where the text should or should not wrap. We then create parameters and types to define which label should be visible. Each type is then associated with a specific Viewport type in the project.

Remember, new to Revit 2015, we can include our own Shared Parameters in Viewport title families. This means we can easily include other kinds of information in a viewport title now. This was a bit more cumbersome in the past.

Testing a plageriser's feed...

2014 Revit OpEd

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Space Naming still a Utility

Yes, sadly the Space Naming Utility for Revit MEP 2015 is STILL a utility, as in a separate download AND installation from the Subscription site.

It's just wrong, wrong, wrong...

2014 Revit OpEd

Friday, May 02, 2014

Revit MEP - Wish for a Secondary Option

When we select an electrical panel (Electrical Equipment category) Revit will display the Distribution System parameter on the Options Bar to make it easy to assign one.

I think the Options Bar is suffering from an ongoing case of nobody loves me anymore or at least an identity crisis of sorts. The persistence of the Properties Palette means that there is some redundancy between it and the Options Bar. We can change parameters in either place, Revit doesn't care. It's just a little confusing at first glance, at least for new users...but I digress.

Transformers have a parameter called Secondary Distribution System. I think it is fair to say that this parameter is overlooked easily and often. That's because it is hiding in the Properties Palette in the Electrical - Loads group, along with a bunch of read-only parameters.

Later when we attempt to use Select Panel it pokes us in the eye when we can't choose the transformer. I'd like the Options Bar to respond like this when we select a Transformer. Subtle change but adding it here would make this less subtle.

2014 Revit OpEd

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Standards are Unicorns

Pointed to it by Don Rudder (with Case), I read this post titled Programming Sucks on the blog Still Drinking yesterday and loved it, I particularly liked this line:
...The first few weeks of any job are just figuring out how a program works even if you're familiar with every single language, framework, and standard that's involved, because standards are unicorns... (bold is my emphasis)
I can attest to standards are unicorns even in the work I do, let alone programming. I'd be rich if I had a nickel for every time I heard, "Oh, we just use the standard symbol for this".

Another favorite is...
...There's a team at a Google office that hasn't slept in three days. Somewhere there's a database programmer surrounded by empty Mountain Dew bottles whose husband thinks she's dead. And if these people stop, the world burns...
And another, I've not seen this particular approach to WTF, reminds me of my habit of using EyeTee instead of IT.
...You're all up to date, so that's cool, then everything breaks. "Double you tee eff?" you say, and start hunting for the problem...
After reading his essay see if you understand why Revit is different from AutoCAD, and Microstation, and ArchiCAD, and... See if Tom and Harry's feud over units resonates?

I've mentioned it before that Revit and AutoCAD had different biological parents and then Revit got adopted by AutoCAD's parents. Except we need to factor in the world that Still Drinking's author describes.

okay, back to work, here's to hoping those people don't stop and the world doesn't burn!

2014 Revit OpEd