Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Delete Sheets In Browser or Schedules

Rooms and areas can be deleted in model views like floor plans and ceiling plans. Revit warns us that they have been deleted from the model but they are still listed in schedules. To really delete them we have to open a schedule view and delete them there. That is intended to make it easier to place them elsewhere in the model without having to recreate them from scratch if their current location needs to be changed.

We can also create rooms and areas in a schedule view before there are any walls or boundaries available to define where they should go. Revit just reports "not placed" until we put them somewhere. We can do the same thing with sheets, they are called placeholder sheets.

The contrast or inconsistency compared with rooms and areas is that you can delete the sheet from the Project Browser and it is removed from the sheet list (schedule). It wouldn't be too unexpected to think that deleting the sheet should leave it in the database as a placeholder, kind of like rooms and areas?

Whadya think?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Win a Free VisDay Pass

This may be of interest to anyone already planning to attend RTC in Wollongong next month since you'll be in town already. RTC also hopes that if you are part of the visualization community you'll be interested too! RTC is running a competition to award a free pass to this new focused event, just have to put fingers to your keyboard and send a quick email to be eligible, read on if you are curious.

What is VisDay?


VisDay is the premier forum on advances in computer generated visualisation for the architecture, engineering and construction industries, and is collocated to the renowned RTC event. The powerful line-up of speakers includes Lon Grohs the Vice President of Chaos Group from Bulgaria, SHW group, HKS and VEO from the United States and local talent from Flood Slicer and Atomic 3D.

VisDay will be held on Wednesday 23 May at Novotel Wollongong Northbeach, NSW, Australia. Further details can be found on the WEBSITE

To be eligible for a single complimentary general admission ticket to VisDay we ask for your feedback on attending VisDay. i.e.

Tell us in 25 words or less... What aspect of VisDay are you most interested in?

The Prize includes registration to VisDay 2012 Australasia on Wednesday 23 May at Novotel Wollongong Northbeach. Complimentary scheduled transfers are available from Sydney city and Sydney Domestic Airport. Prize does not include other travel or accommodation.

All submissions are required by Monday 30 April, the winning entry will be decided by the VisDay Committee and will be notified on Wednesday 2 May.

Please email your submission to SECRETARY at RTC Events noting Revit OpEd as the source blog. Please ensure you check back onto the RTC blog as well as this blog after May 2nd to see if you are a winner. Winning comments will be posted on the blog site along with the winners name.

Beware the Double Click in Revit 2013

I've seen a post at AUGI now and received a couple emails disparaging the new feature, "Double Click a Family to Edit Family". Cool right? In the example at AUGI it isn't much fun when you click too quickly on your sheet's title block to edit a parameter and you end up opening the family instead. Slow down buckaroo! Click...pause...click

The emails were just asking me if this is supposed to happen, yep...new feature. This one may fall into the "Careful what you ask for." category or maybe the "Seemed like a good idea at the time." department.

Be careful double clicking out there folks.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Extents Greater than 20 Miles

This message appears when you import a DWG file that has geometry that makes the total extents of the file larger than 20 (33 km)miles horizontally or vertically.


That message is different from this message.


The second message occurs when all the geometry in the file is farther away from the origin than Revit wants it to be, but the extent of geometry is not large enough to trigger the first warning. What that magical distance or number is, who knows. I've spent quite a bit of time trying to pin that down. The closest I've come is that when I have some geometry that is between 43,500 and 50,000 feet away from the origin of the DWG file Revit will complain. The problem with pinning it down is that as soon as I think I've got it, I change it a little and then Revit doesn't complain about importing the file. Suffice it to say that if all the geometry is pretty far away from the origin, there is a pretty good chance that you'll see that message. It isn't as far away as the first error message though (20 miles), it's more like 8ish miles.

If a file is too large to import when you've selected the correct units you can technically circumvent it by importing with different units. For example if Inches are too big, try Feet. The file will like import. Then you can reset the Units of the file and reset the scale value to 1. The file will be the correct size again. It won't prevent the graphical issues that really large DWG import can cause though. Your mileage may vary.

Another technique that has worked is to link the big file into another file as an Attached overlay. Then import the file that hosts the big one. Revit doesn't look at the Xref and doesn't complain.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Reset Shared Coordinates

There isn't an easy button to just eliminate shared coordinates in a project. You can move the Survey Point back to the same spot as the Project Base Point and then use Specify Coordinates at Point to reset the coordinates the file is using. Sounds like I just countered my first statement?

I'm referring to the relationship between files when you use Acquire Coordinates or Publish Coordinates. Once two files are sharing coordinates you can't really remove this relationship. If you remove the link and import it again (Auto - Origin to Origin) the relationship survives. For example you can try to Acquire Coordinates from the file again to "reset" them and Revit will say that it is already sharing coordinates with the file.

To remove (really more like replace) the relationship I use a new (empty) file that is based on the stock Revit template default.rte. I import this file and Acquire Coordinates from it instead. Revit can only acquire coordinates from one source file so using a different file resets it to match this new file. Now it is possible to acquire them from the original file after removing the C/M relationship.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Layer Function Setting

System families have a Function setting. That's true for Walls, Floor, Roofs and Ceilings. I've written about this in the past. Here's what they look like now.


I think the wording of a couple of the functions ought to be revisited, to something like this instead.

Finish 1 [4] = Finish Exterior [4]
Finish 2 [5] = Finish Interior [5]

If changed I suspect people would have less trouble deciding which function is appropriate. I run into wall types quite often that have these wrong or inconsistently applied. If you didn't realize this is how it's meant to work then check out the earlier post.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How Many Worksets Do I Need?

I'll borrow a concept from "You May be a Redneck if..." comedian Jeff Foxworthy.

"You may have too many worksets if..."
  • You have to scroll the Workset Dialog
  • You have a regular Tuesday morning Workset meeting
  • You have a workset for Sheet A101, A102 and so on
  • You have a workset for Doors
  • You have no idea what Workset "XXLLR21LRX" is for
  • You don't know the difference between Owner and Borrower
Okay enough humor. How many worksets is enough? Too many? You probably realize the answer is truly, "it depends". Worksets are meant to make it easier to collaborate. If they turn into a weekly Tuesday morning meeting then they aren't really working for you or the team.

Technically just one workset will suffice for Revit to function. Several will make it easier to define what your computer is loading into views and RAM. The whole model is still there, just not visible, that'll provide some relief for performance sake. How tangible or detectable that performance gain really is will depend greatly on the scope of your project. Recently I was working with a team, their building is a million square feet overall, and opening the whole file took considerably longer than selectively focusing on a single sector's workset.

This means each project should have its own workset structure based on its own conditions. There may be some worksets that many projects have in common, but it isn't the same thing as a Layer standard.

These are some examples of worksets. They might end up in your project or not.
  • Building Shell or Envelope
  • Vertical Circulation
  • Grids - Structure
  • Grids - Architecture
  • Wing West
  • Wing East
  • Wing South
  • Wing North
  • Floors Retail
  • Floors Condos
  • Floors Rental
  • Floors Residential
  • Floors Examination Rooms
  • Floors Laboratories
  • FFE (Fixtures, Furniture and Equipment)
  • FFE NIC (by owner that may be easier to manage alone)
  • Mechanical AHU1 (all connected equipment related to AHU1)
  • Mechanical AHU2 (all connected equipment related to AHU2)
  • Telecom
  • Security (this scope usually has "need to know" restrictions)
  • Linked Files - Architecture (Revit)
  • Linked Files - Structure (Revit)
  • Linked Files - Mechanical (Revit)
  • Linked Files - Plumbing (Revit)
  • Linked Files - Electrical (Revit)
  • Linked Files - Telecom (Revit)
  • Linked CAD - Architecture
  • Linked CAD - Mechanical Contractor
  • Linked CAD (etc... a separate workset for each intrisically related DWG file may be advisable)
Obviously you don't need all of these in one project, they are just a sampling of some you could use or consultants might be using. My intention is to focus on connected relationships. Who is working on this stuff (workflow)? Is this part of the building separated obviously from another part and could easily be grouped separately? When I mention performance I don't necessarily mean that the file will suddenly be 10x faster. I mean that Revit won't waste any time displaying information that I don't need to see right now, not here in this view or any view until I choose to Open that workset(s) again.

You don't need a workset for something that is already assigned a category, like doors or windows. That's what the category is for. It is rare you don't want to see any doors. It is more common to think I don't really need to see the doors on the west side of the building. The exception would be levels and grids. There is a little known technique for managing these using worksets when dealing with linked files and their levels and grids.

Worksets aren't meant to be fixed or rigid. You can expand their number if necessary and you can collapse into fewer if the need no longer exists. I let Revit and a team "speak" to me. The conversations I hear help guide me into more or less.

Time to transition to the other thing that worksets get used for, Visibility. This purpose causes a fair number of worksets, even some of those in the list above are motivated by "seeing" elements or not. In my case I'm interested in closing their worksets, "hiding" their elements globally until I need them again which is still "seeing" but not from a documentation standpoint.
    The visibility control over elements that Worksets provide is really a collateral benefit. It is not their purpose. Their purpose is to allow multiple users to concurrently work on the same project.
Filters were added for controlling visibility of elements on a view by view basis. You'll get a lot more mileage and options with them than using Worksets for visibility. If you reach for a workset to manage element visibilty you owe it to yourself to consider a deeper look at Filters.

For Revit MEP users Filters are much more necessary because many disciplines share a few categories that each other don't wish to see in their views. A water heater for example is Mechanical Equipment. I may not want a water heater visible in my HVAC floor plan and the plumbing views probably don't want to see a condensing unit in them. Both are assigned the same category. Filters will let us deal with that reasonably well, assuming the content is organized well. A workset might be tempting but we've got to remember to assign every element to the correct workset for it to be reliable. I've been using Revit a long time and I still forget to do it.

The single advantage that a workset has over a Filter is the ability to affect an entire project with a single change either while you are opening a project or when you need to transition to completely different portion of the project. The effectiveness of worksets hinges on users remembering to correctly assign the Active Workset as they work. Easier said than done.

With Revit 2013, and the changes to View Templates, Filters get sharper teeth because of the greater integration between Views and their Templates. Aaron Maller describes a method for controlling linked files with filters that begins with putting placeholder linked files in your project template (really just a project file to get started with).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Content or Content

Dave writes: "Does it seem to your readers that it's often more efficient to create separate families than try to make one that "flexes" correctly to make all the possible types we need? It seems that way to me at times."

So what do my readers think? Post a reply in a comment and let Dave know.

I do remember an interesting discussion at one of AU's Un-Conferences. A few of us remarked that we were seeing a trend away from trying to create super-families. I can relate to Dave's comment, which seems, to me, like voicing some specific frustration perhaps. I think that it is natural to be inclined toward building very parametric families. As soon as we see what is possible, why not?

However, as fast as some design solutions change a single solution family might get built quicker than the one we make trying to anticipate how it might change. If the family is rendered irrelevant as soon as the design changes then investing a lot of time in making it parametric may not make sense. This is where our intuition and experience make a big difference. These will help us decide when we know enough, are confident enough that it is worth putting the effort in.

Keep in mind that a family can evolve. It can start out simple, singular and then grow into a much more parametric version as the design evolves, settles down. I see designers focus on the big picture and then seconds later fret over the smallest detail. That's the nature of design, back and forth from macro to micro. It's hard to be general and at the same time be highly specific. That's the tension we are dealing with, transitioning to Revit.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Two Minutes with Beams and Columns

Brian Mackey recently wrote on his blog about a subtle feature that seems to have crept into the product without much fanfare. You can read his account. I decided to capture it in video format to pass along to a client who was asking about the concept (having beams aware of column ends) so I've posted it here too.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Workset Posts Summary

I've written about Worksets quite a bit over years. Here's a compiled list of those posts.

Updated: 08/20/2014

Workset Focused: (52)
2005 Take Me to Library
2012 Basic Worksharing Guidelines
2008 Central File in Four Easy Steps
2007 Workset Terminology - Quick Reference
2012 How Many Worksets do I Need?"
2014 Workset Names
2014 View Worksets
2011 Worksets Case of Person is No Longer
2012 Not Editable or Not Edible
2009 Revit 2010 Local Files
2006 Why a Local File?

2011 Don't Ever Work in a Central File
2008 Working in the Central File - Breaking the Rule
2006 Workset Visibility in Linked Files
2010 Workset Visibility in Linked Files
2013 Workset Visibility and Linked Files
2012 Working from Home
2012 Working in the Central File
2012 Why Does my File Name Include the Word Central?
2013 Synchronize with Central and Referencing Elements in Linked Files
2013 Recent Files and Worksharing
2013 Reloading Linked Files and Worksets

2011 Local Files How Often
2010 Can't Create a Local File Clue
2009 Worksharing Monitor are You Using It
2009 Backups Save As Is a Local File
2009 Central File Naming
2006 But I didn't Do Anything, Yes You Did!
2006 Which One STC or STC
2012 Remember the Active Workset
2006 Detach from Central
2008 Workset Save to Central Key Message
2010 Worksets Tip Add Extension
2012 Linked Files have Instance and Type Parameters
2012 Working at Risk
2013 Closing Worksets with Specify

2012 Surprise You are Now the Borrower
2012 Improve Your Borrowing Experience
2012 Revit and Drop Box
2011 The Central File is Being Accessed
2010 Workset Post Updates
2008 Avoid Save to Central
2008 My Username in Revit
2013 Concealing Your Workset Username
2006 Stand Alone or Central File - How Can I Tell?
2012 Are you Red - Worksharing Monitor
2013 Worksharing Display Users
2014 Deleting a Workset and Open Worksets
2014 Active Workset Display does not Refresh
2014 Worksets and Editing Things
2014 Matching Workset Naming with Linked File Worksets
2014 Specify Worksets and Save

Workset Related: (23)
2013 Show History and I am Working in Central
2013 Worksets and Project Browser Sorting
2012 Load Classifications and Worksets
2012 Ready Made Selection Sets for Navisworks
2007 Visibility of Grips
2007 Quirky Stair Sketch Issue
2008 Workset and Hardware Matching
2008 Worksets as a Security Guard
2008 Save and Save to Central Error Message
2011 Point Clouds and Worksets
2011 Delete Workset's Contents
2010 Dept. of Errors Action Caused Deletion
2008 Worksets and Purge Unused
2012 Undo History Gone
2008 Local Files and other Workset Thoughts
2012 Viewer Mode and Worksharing
2013 Lock Down Shared Coordinates
2013 Show History
2013 Show History and Rogue User Name
2013 Hide Workset Backup Folders
2014 Revit Workset Error - Element has been Deleted
2014 Worksharing and Windows Operating Systems
2014 Review Warnings Show and Worksets

Friday, April 13, 2012

Revit 2013 Downloads - Please Hold

Open the floodgates. People trying to download 2013 products are overwhelming the resources at Autodesk. A visit to the subscription site now offers this apology.


What's that over there? A bird? (clicking download while you are distracted...) no... I guess not.

Seek and Ye May Still Not Find

...may not find "Contentment"...

In the continuing disappointment that is Seek, please stop making it so easy to pick on you. This is the tale of a lowly pipe fitting, a vent cap. It was encouraging when I typed the criteria "Vent Cap" and it returned one result and it matched!


I downloaded the bugger right quick. Loaded it into the project and was met with "nope you can't use this fitting Steve" messages whichever way I tried to use it. I took a closer look at the family. Oh, it's looking for a lookup table file called SV-159.csv. Funny, Seek didn't offer me that (note above image again).

The fitting is from Charlotte so I wandered over to their site and found their original version.


I downloaded the zip file that contains these files.


I put the .csv file in the Lookup Table folder, still no joy. Turns out that there is an error in the family, how the revolve is defined. While editing the family, when I try flexing the diameter I get this error message.


When I look more closely at the revolve the axis and the sketch is just slightly past the Center (Right/Left) Reference Plane.


Move it over every so slightly and test, it works. Really subtle. So a novice Revit MEP user's experience with this family? It was a pain in the butt to track down for me...and I've got a few years experience under my belt. If this was a 1:100 experience I wouldn't even bother to mention it. It isn't. :(

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Revit Extensions for Revit 2013 Posted

The Revit Clinic mentioned today that these extensions have been posted for the latest version of Revit 2013.
  • Globe Link for Autodesk Revit 2013
  • Batch Print for Autodesk Revit 2013
  • Worksharing Monitor for Autodesk Revit 2013
  • Autodesk Revit Model Review 2013
  • Autodesk Revit DB Link 2013
  • Space Naming Utility for Autodesk Revit MEP 2013
I need some Ibuprofen, the Space Naming Utility is still an extension? Silliness... What is this AutoCAD's precious Express Tools all over again?? This one should have been burned into native Revit the very following release but here we are three releases later now???

Content via Revit Furniture

Revit Furniture is another venture focused on making Revit content. They recently wrote to me offering some tips to getting quality renderings. One of the tips involves using higher quality entourage and furniture...surprised? Nah, I didn't think so. Here's the tips:
  • Camera location – You will notice that in professional design magazines most interior shots are taken at an angle from one corner of the room to the other corner. This makes the space look grand and shows as much of the room as possible.
  • Lighting – Photographers call the first and last four hours of the sunlight the golden hours. This is because light is softer (more diffuse), warmer in hue, and casts longer shadows. Be sure to adjust your sunlight to the appropriate time in order to make your images shine.
  • Entourage - Renderings with boring, unrealistic or minimal furniture/entourage can come across as unprofessional, plain, and uninspiring. Use entourage to tell a story and liven up your image. High quality furniture and entourage can instantly add value to your space, and make the rendering look more realistic, attractive, and inspiring.
  • Photoshop – After exporting your image bring the file into Photoshop for some final adjustments. Play with individual adjustment to find the best setting. Sometimes the default setting is the best. The adjustment you need to tweak with are: Brightness/Contrast, Auto Contrast, Auto Levels, and Curves. Play with each one of these located under Image > Adjustments to fit to your liking and aesthetic. Another hint – ALWAYS Photoshop people into your renderings!
Someone once told me that all good renderings are taken from about knee level looking up. Agree? I'm not sure any such claim as "all anything" is reliable. I do know that a fair number of compelling images I've seen since do seem to be from lower than eye level. As for the Entourage focus, a sure give away that a image is a rendering is the lack of messiness. The telephone cord, a pen and note pad on the counter, a garbage can...the stuff of life. If your rendering includes such subtle things it will be much more believable, convincing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder though.

Revit Furniture's approach is dedicated to providing consistent high quality Revit families at a low price of $.99 that they say will never change. Their priorities are content creation and rendering. They currently offer a variety of chairs, sofas, couches, tables, beds, fans, lights, dining-ware, vases, wall accessories and a dynamic flexible outdoor pergola.

They've been offering this free Barcelona chair on their site.




They are offering readers of this blog (in exchange for me writing about them) an extra free family. At $0.99 it might not seem too intimidating to download something anyway? If you are interested in this modern table and magazine family, EMAIL me and I can send you the link and code.






Wednesday, April 11, 2012

RTC USA Registration - Hurry Up!

The next 25 people that register for RTCUSA 2012 will be able to choose a registration prize from a selection of books and videos. Go HERE to learn more if getting a book or video is an added incentive to lock in your spot now?

Wall Floor Interaction and Linked Models

When we have architecture and structure in separate Revit models we end up with somewhat clumsy graphics in wall sections. This is more pronounced if the structural slab is in the structure model only. It could look like this.


The wall continues past the floor as if it isn't there. One possible solution that allows us to keep the structural slab in the separate file and avoids the copy/monitor scenario is to place a Reveal on the interior side of the wall. The profile needs to be equivalent in size to the slab thickness and the wall thickness (inside surface plus however far the slab extends toward the exterior). This approach creates a bit better result.


I should mention that this works the other direction too, since the reveal is part of the wall it will leave a "hollow" space for the structural model's floor slab to occupy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Finish and Cancel Inequity

In the past Aaron Maller and I have had long conversations that oddly enough focus on Revit. He mentioned the inconsistency between the way some elements that are sketch based are finished and the way shape editing for floors and roofs finish. He recently reminded me of it, for example he put forth this list.

Floor, roof, stair or ramp Sketch Creation = Finish and Cancel
Edit Profile = Finish and Cancel
Model Groups = Finish and Cancel

Floor or roof Shape Editing = Accidentally hitting the escape key and getting kicked out of it. We are supposed to click the Modify button to finish Shape Editing.

It would be great if Shape Editing were consistent with the others!!

Monday, April 09, 2012

A Small Collection of Family Editor Advice

I included the following tips and advice (edited a little in this version) in a door tutorial I wrote for my Autodesk University 2005 lab called "Autodesk Revit Building Family Editor: From the Beginning". It wasn't necessarily a really better door as it was a chance to explore a number of different techniques using the family editor. Such as nesting families, Variable swing features 2d/3d, Alignment for adjacent walls and creating a variable multi-lite panel. You can download the PDF HERE.

General Advice and tips
  1. Use snaps and snap overrides
  2. With dimensions and align/lock make sure you select the correct element, as a reference, that you intended.
  3. Use temporary hide/isolate to make sure only the objects you want to reference are visible.
  4. Alter dimension style(s) so it/they work(s) better for laying out your family, remove extension line offset, decrease text size etc.
  5. Dimension only to reference planes, align/lock solids/voids to reference planes
  6. If you ignore #5, don’t do both “inside the sketch” and “outside the sketch”
  7. Don't move the "origin", check the location of the origin by importing a dwg with linework representing 0,0, and use “Origin to Origin” if you think you did. A little background, if you move the reference planes defining the origin you will think the placement origin is moved. In fact the reference planes don't really define the origin anymore because Revit maintains the original origin is actual the internal 0,0 for placement. [This was a bug and has supposedly been fixed in the releases following 2005.]
  8. Don't use "-" in parameter names because it turns into a minus if you use the parameter in a formula, in fact don't use any characters that double as "math" symbols.
  9. Change the scale of the view to make it easier to constrain, select geometry.
  10. Be sure to test the family at various scales including for line weights, graphic performance and particularly if nested annotation are included.
  11. Add additional types to the host in hosted families. This makes it faster to test for different host thicknesses.
  12. Don't define materials in families, define material parameters instead (or possibly sub-categories) as much as possible so materials can be assigned in a project, where they really matter.
  13. Don't include parameters in families that don't change geometry, instead put them in project templates and apply them to the categories they affect.
  14. Don't dimension objects inside a sketch and then constrain the object outside the sketch, either all in or out. The exception to this is the depth of an extrusion which you can constrain outside of a sketch because you can’t constrain it with dimensions elsewhere. It is safer to align/lock to reference planes.
  15. Angles and arcs are hardest to constrain because Revit deals with them using orthogonal dimensions. Examine the Automatic Sketch Dimensions (ASD's see below) to see how they constrain endpoints of lines and arcs. Save them for last and use Hide/Isolate and remove unnecessary objects from view so it is easier to ensure you constrain the right parts.
  16. Window and Door families use the cut plane (view range) defined in the family, not just the project's view setting for view range.
  17. Make a system type parameter into an instance parameter, select dimension with a label in view, check instance parameter in option bar.
  18. Shared families can only pass (forward) instance based parameters
  19. Voids don't allow visibility on/off or level of detail
  20. Mirror tool does not pass along locked relationships, need to establish them for each copy.
  21. (added) Remember Revit is work plane focused, use reference planes and name them. Then use them wisely. There is a head and tail and they define positive and negative depth values for solid/voids.
  22. (added) Reference Lines are for angular relationships. Reference Planes are NOT. Reference planes don't have real endpoints, they are infinite in length but have grips so we can control how much we have to see.
  23. (added) The conceptual massing environment (CEA) is VERY different from all other component family editing you'll do.
  24. (added) A family doesn't "have to" be hosted if it doesn't "need" to "cut" the host or in other words, create a hole in the host. It must be hosted if it does.
  25. (added) Build "bones" first, then add "muscle" and finally the "skin".
    • Bones = Reference planes/lines
    • Muscle = Dimensions/parameters
    • Skin - solids/voids and model/symbolic lines
If you are interested in some additional reading and curious about Automatic Sketch Dimensions (ASD's), these are some earlier posts.

Locking Stuff (January 2011)
Railing Encore (August 2008)

Friday, April 06, 2012

Reference Plane IsReference Parameter

This post reiterates concepts I wrote about many years ago, regarding the IsReference parameter assigned to Reference Planes. The last post was titled "Is you Is or Is You Ain't", paying homage to Louis Jordan's tune.

IsReference settings break down like this:
    Not a Reference - ignored by Revit in the project environment, still useful in a family to create "the bones".
    Weak Reference - Seen in Project by dimensions, align tool, Revit favors Strong over Weak
    Strong Reference - Seen in project by dimensions, align tool and Revit sees these first. (the black lines you see during dimensioning or using the align tool are the weak and strong references in action)

The nice IsReference names like Right, Left, Top, Bottom are all Strong IsReference choices. A reference plane should be named so it is clear why it was created, to you and anyone else later. Programmers comment their code, as much to help them remember why they did what they did as well as what the code is supposed to do. Same concept for these reference planes properties.

The names don't have to match but if the nice names do match what you think they should be, then great. If your families are meant to be interchangeable for other families, like from the stock library you should examine them to see how they are done. I've seen doors that were built opposite when compared with stock Revit doors and when users swap a stock door for theirs, the door panel flips over...ouch.

When Weak and Strong references are combined with instance parameters you see grips in the project environment. You can drag the grip to alter the family dynamically. If you use the Align tool on a weak reference the family "moves" toward the alignment edge. If you use the Align tool on a Strong reference the family "stretches" instead.

Last, these help Revit maintain orientation and two intersecting reference planes can define the X/Y origin. One reference plane in elevation can define a vertical origin. Theoretically a reversal of Right and Left reference planes in two different families would flip their orientation if exchanged for one another. Haven't tried that in a really long time so I don't know for sure that condition still exists.

Not finished apparently. Alex quite rightly reminded me in a comment that I forgot a goody! So he wrote:
    "Another advantage of naming your reference planes using the preset Named Planes is that in a project, it will allow you to pick on the dimension grip and bounce between the Left, Right, and Centre options and ditto (depending on orientation) for Front and Rear, Top and Bottom."

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Book Jinx

A little off topic today. I'm developing a complex. I've been involved with two books that are no longer getting published. The first book is Mastering Autodesk Revit Structure 2010 (Wiley/Sybex). I did the technical editing for it. The following year (and version of Revit) Wiley chose not to continue publishing it. The sales were too slight to justify the effort and expense unfortunately.

That could mean structural engineers are too smart for it, or just weren't interested in a book, or that the authors, editors and publisher didn't do a good enough job marketing it, or that it just wasn't very good. The authors were no slouches, the material was solid, the publisher has a little bit of experience so it seems to me that the only possible conclusion is me....that I'm a book jinx!

The second book is Introducing Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012 (also Wiley/Sybex). I contributed four chapters to the 2011 and 2012 editions. The sales were too slight for this one too, the 2012 edition (2011 year). Same story as the other book, I've jinxed another book! It did take me longer to "kill" this one though. I wrote the foreword for the 2010 version and then contributed to 2011 and 2012.

If I try to deflect some blame I think Wiley's product offering for Revit Architecture is a bit crowded now. They offer Mastering Autodesk Revit 2013, Autodesk Revit 2013 Essentials and Autodesk Revit Architecture: No Experience Required. I don't see a 2013 version for "No Experience..." yet so I'm not sure there is one right now.

In this case (for Revit Architecture) it may just be that the strongest books survived. Can't deny that the Read/Vandezande/Krygiel team plus their supporting cast of specialty chapters and authors make a pretty formidable product!

Books that "expire" to some degree every 12 months because of new versions of Revit generates a cycle of create/sell that only leaves a very short window to sell before the next one needs to be ready. Frankly I'm amazed that any get published at all.

Feel like living dangerously? Like testing theories? Ask me to help with your book! It might be the best way to stop being an author. ;)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Happy Birthday Revit

A bit belated, meant to write something but didn't. Revit's 10th anniversary of joining Autodesk was on April 1st. There were several mentions of it on Twitter and in other blog posts. The 12th anniversary of Revit as a product is this year and the 15th anniversary of it getting started from scratch is in October this year.

Too cool not to echo, the Inside the Factory blog shared a great photo of the people who both started working with Revit before joining Autodesk and are still part of the product team! I imagine it can be hard to get them all in the same room at times. Congrats on another birthday and may there be many more, for both software and the people involved!


How many can you name?

Kitchen Equipment - RW Smith BIM Booklet

Here's a post doing a little bragging about Taylor. I've known him for many years now. We met first at the South Coast Revit User Group (SCRUG). He has been doing some pretty satisfying work after landing a gig with R.W. Smith. I mentioned him awhile back when he shared a video of some work with me.

The company recently finished up their BIM Services booklet hosted by Issuu. It helps them have a meaningful conversation with their clients. I can see why, polished presentation as well as high quality modeling work. I've embedded it here so you can take a peek. Check out the full size version. Something to strive toward or perhaps raise the bar from for your firm?


Tuesday, April 03, 2012

RTC has a Blog Now!

I'm pleased to write that there is a Revit Technology Conference News Blog! I begged and pleaded with Bo to get it up and running before the planned website update work that is under way so we can use it to keep people in the loop right on the conference site itself. Actually I only had to ask once. Bo is THE MAN!


You can still follow the conference on the social sites of course, such as Linked in, Facebook, You Tube and Twitter (RTCAUS, RTCUSA...and RTCInEU...hint).

Revit 2013 - Content Folders

Following on yesterday's post regarding Doors and Openings, Daniel Stine wrote to mention that the opening families that we used to find in the door folder along with other doors are now in a new folder called Openings.


The opening families are still assigned to the category Generic Model. That was done purposely so they don't show up in door or window category schedules. It is fairly common practice here in the USA anyway to exclude them. This was more appropriate in the past before the introduction of Filters. Perhaps it would be better if these openings were part of the category that fit their behavior now. We could use filters to exclude them just as easily with more graphic control as well.

The "new" version of Revit called...Revit (secret code name "One Box", not so secret now though?) has created some new conditions for content. First you'll find some folders that include sub-folders for Architectural versus MEP.


Revit MEP users are used to all the electrical content being located under a single folder and then broken down by usage. Now we'll find Electrical and Lighting and these are further broken down by Architectural and MEP. Just when you thought you knew where stuff is..."Who Moved my Cheese?"


As for other subtle library changes we will now find some categories separated by Internal and External, interesting language choice versus Interior and Exterior.


Perhaps these new terms have better equivalent translations in other languages?

Just a few things to look forward to!

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Missing Door

There are two situations that trip up new users when it comes to doors. I wrote about about one of these Reviteristics in April 2010. That post is about Openings and this one is about curtain wall panel doors.

When people first make a curtain wall that is supposed to get a door they quite naturally assume the door tool is the right place to start. Wrong. Curtain walls are special and they are made up of curtain grids, panels and mullions. A curtain wall door is really a curtain wall panel. They are a panel because Revit needs to keep their width and height flexible, to accommodate any changes we might make. A regular door family can vary in size but it can't respond to curtain grids being moved. We can't even put a regular door in a curtain wall. That's not entirely true but I'd have to get into yet another Reviteristic, using other wall types as curtain wall panels.

We need to understand that a door in a curtain wall isn't a "door", at least not to the Door tool. To make matters a bit more confusing Revit treats this curtain wall panel, pretending to be a door, as a door in schedules and in Visibility/Graphics.

    It would be better if we could click on the Door tool and have the option to place a "regular" door or a "curtain panel" door. At least this way it would become immediately apparent that there is a difference!

Curtain wall panel doors are found in the Doors folder within the content library. That seems slightly logical, in the same way that Opening families are found there. When we want to load a curtain wall door family, browse to the door library (stock content location).

Placing a curtain wall door is a bit different than a regular door in a wall. We don't use the Door tool. We have to swap out the panel that should be a door with the curtain wall door family that you loaded. To do this we need to use the TAB key to select the panel and then use the Type Selector to choose the curtain wall door family instead.

Once you do this you'll have to make sure that the curtain grids and mullions are adjusted to report the desired size. If you set the grids and mullions before the door is in place you'll find that the size is not quite the clean numbers you probably wanted. You can resolve this with mullions that use different offset values or just re-position the curtain grids until you get a cleaner door size.

I captured another video in the "Five Minutes with..." theme.



If you want to create a new curtain wall door family you ought to examine and/or reverse engineer the stock one first. You can start from scratch with the family template (Door - Curtain Wall.rft)