Friday, September 13, 2013

Filter Criteria Order Matters

Taylor wrote to me to say that he noticed a subtle quirk when he wanted to filter pipe in a schedule. He needed to focus on Mark values that contain M15 and M16 for example. He discovered that the filter would work if he put the criteria in that order but that if he happened to reverse them like this, M16 and M15, Revit no longer found the M15 pipes.

Definitely subtle.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Family Not Shared vs Shared

This isn't about sharing things with others. This about the concept that Revit 7.0 provided to families in 2004. It presents itself to us in Family Category and Parameters dialog or just in the Properties Palette if nothing is selected.

Shared or Not Shared means nothing unless the family is then nested into another family. There is really no reason to make a family shared at all if it isn't going to be nested in another family.

Most content is Not Shared, not checked. You can nest families that are not shared and you will see them when the host or parent family is loaded into a project. You see them but they aren't really there, they are just symbols. Revit has not loaded the definition of the nested family(ies) into the project. You can confirm this by scanning through the list of families in the project browser, you won't find it there.

When a family is Shared, checked, something special happens when the host family is loaded into the project. The nested family is loaded into the project too. You'll find it IS in the Project Browser now. Since it is now "real" that means Revit can include the nested shared family(ies) in schedules. You can tag them too. You can use the 2014 Displace Elements on nested shared families too.

You can also place an instance of the nested family separately if desired. By the way, nested families, whether shared or not, "kill" temporary dimensions, they don't show up automatically when you select the family. You need to click the Activate Dimensions button (Options Bar) to get them to appear.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mass Floor Area vs Volume

I managed to trick myself into believing that area and volume for a "floor" should be the same whether a mass has one or several mass floors. To help explain my delusion, I created a mass that is a 50x50x50 cube, with five levels.

If I remove two levels from the mix (levels 2 and 5) I get twice the volume for floors at Level 1 and 4

Looking at the 3D view it immediately made sense to me. Looking at the schedule I found myself thinking something was wrong. Why is there double the volume? Why would the floor think it is so much bigger? The real problem was my perception. I was thinking floor, the thing I walk on, instead of a "floor", where I am in the building.

If it isn't obvious, the Mass Floor area is the surface area of the mass floor element. The Mass Floor Volume is the volume between mass floors or the top and bottom of the mass if there are no other mass floors.

Btw, you can select and delete a mass floor, like in a 3D view for example, and that's the same as opening the Mass Floors dialog and un-checking a level.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Learn to Program the Revit API

If you are interested in learning the Revit API Harry Mattison (Boost Your BIM) created an online course hosted at Udemy (The Academy of You).

It's delivered in 33 video segments which vary from a few minutes to a little over fifteen minutes. It's also very reasonably priced at $149.00. Maybe I'll see you on campus?

Learn to Program the Revit API

Monday, September 09, 2013

Paul Aubin Book Survey Seeks Input

Paul Aubin recently mentioned that he's working on a new book, title TBA. The title is one of the things he's asking about in the survey.

If you are interested in the subject and can spare a few minutes to

Click to Take the Survey

Friday, September 06, 2013

Project Base Point Manipulation

I written before that I occasionally experience something that feels like a "Revitary alignment" regarding features in Revit. I'll see a post at AUGI or get an email or two from friends or clients asking about the same thing or theme. I recently ran into a user that manipulated their project by moving the Project Base Point. Then a post at AUGi meandered into a related conversation.

General Statements
  • The Survey Point allows us to show where an imported CAD file's origin is relative to your model (CLIPPED)
  • The Survey Point allows us to identify a benchmark location on the site instead of referencing source file's origin (UNCLIPPED)
  • The Project Base Point does not ever "need" to be moved (CLIPPED) normally (my opinion/belief/preference)
  • The Project Base Point will allow us to move our project on the site to reposition it (CLIPPED) but the file origin isn't changed
  • The Project Base Point (UNCLIPPED) will let us identify an alternate location that Spot Elevations and Spot Coordinates can reference
Applied to a Project

Let's say you design a house, import a survey and it's off to the right and above your building. If you use Acquire Coordinates on the survey file you should find the Survey Point (CLIPPED) moves to mark the origin of the source survey data file (sometimes this is quite far away). The Project Base Point (CLIPPED) can be used to reposition the building over the site. Just drag or move it with specific values. What you see moving is the "Project". The file origin is untouched and you should see that the linked survey file isn't moving either. If you import a small origin "marker" file using Auto - Origin to Origin you'll find that it lands at the Project Base Point. Now if you move the Project Base Point (UNCLIPPED) you see that you can move the icon to another location but it still references the "file origin" (see image).

That approach works for a single building on site but is not very effective for multiple buildings on site. The approach I advocate where we create a site file that is coordinated with survey data and serves as the master coordinator for multiple buildings which are linked into this master site file is much more effective and versatile. Since this subject can be confusing enough I advocate using the same approach for any project so I can learn one technique and use it over and over, since it works for any project.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Revit 2014 Update Release 1

An update for Revit 2014 became available recently. It has been blogged and tweeted many times already but I chose to echo it now because I've encountered questions about it a few times this week. This applies to all Revit versions, Architecture, Structure, MEP and Revit (aka "one-box"...all Revit disciplines in a single Revit install). These are update links for each version:

Revit Architecture 2014
Revit Structure 2014
Revit MEP 2014
Revit 2014 (one-box, only available as part of BDS)

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Families with Nested Families and MEP Connectors

While trading some emails with Aaron Maller recently he mentioned that he observed that he could create circuits for nested shared electrical families. I don't recall Autodesk publicly taking credit for adding or allowing this behavior but I find that it has been possible as far back as the 2012 release. I'd try earlier releases too but I don't have them installed anymore. Since I started preparing this post I've discussed it with Jose Fandos and he confirmed that it is possible in 2011 too.

I'm a bit frustrated because I thought I tried to explore this possibility a couple years ago while making some electrical content. Rather than dwell on what I thought wasn't possible I'll focus on what IS possible instead.

Experience tells us there are many components that have a variety of options or configurations that can prove difficult to include connectors in, for example a boiler with its electrical panel available either on the right side OR the left side. When a single connector is placed we are inclined to placing it in the "middle" so we can "connect" it to a power supply. That's easier to accept for electrical connections but not as easy for piping or duct.

When the connectors are native, placed directly in a family, it isn't possible to put two connectors in place but disable one or the other. Revit sees both even if we only use one of them in the project. With two connectors in the model we can define where connections take place more accurately but ultimately we end up with one valid connector (connected) and another lurking as "unassigned" within the system browser. It might not a big deal but Revit's developers encourage to assign everything to systems so this approach means there will always be some we can't assign properly.

If the connector is part of a nested shared family and this nested family is assigned a Yes/No parameter to control its Visible parameter we gain control over not only when it is visible but also whether or not Revit sees a valid connector in the host family when it is loaded into a project. This is a crude example with connectors for pipe, electrical and data circuits, offering a conceptual right and left configuration.

When I use a yes/no parameter to control the visibility of the nested families it is interesting to find that the system browser responds to their condition. As can be expected Revit will delete a circuit or system associated with a nested connector if we choose to turn it off.

So far I find that I can create systems, connect pipe and duct, draw wires as well as tag the nested shared families. This means that it may be a bit easier now to define a component that has multiple circuits. This can help counter the limitation that a family can only report circuit information (in a tag) for the primary connector when multiple connectors are in a family.

It isn't perfect...naturally.

Nested families with connectors are harder to see and therefore are harder work with. The connectors are only visible when you hover over the location where they are when you are using the appropriate tool, like duct, pipe or wire. That also means we can't use the convenient right click "create pipe/duct/wire" options because we can't see the connectors.

It may also confront us with a need for sub-categories for connector geometry, not for the connectors themselves but any forms we use to host them. It can be easier to find the connectors if we can see the hosting forms but we may not want to see them in every kind of view.

Ultimately I think it's worth exploring further. Perhaps you'll agree?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Schedule Linked Files

We can schedule elements that are in linked files but there isn't a schedule that is only interested in telling us what linked files there are. We can determine which files are linked easily enough while working inside Revit. What if we want to document what files are linked into our model and include this information on a sheet? We can take advantage of the addition of Grids and Levels as elements we can schedule in Revit 2014.

If we assume that all projects will have levels and probably grids a schedule that is assigned to one of those categories can be manipulated to look like it is just a schedule of linked files. Then we can combine that with a Starting View if we want to see it each time our project is opened. Add the schedule to a general information sheet and it can be part of our documentation too.

I created a schedule that includes the fields for RVT Links and at least one for Grids. In this example I used Grids to drive the schedule but Levels are probably a better choice.

When we load a linked file we can supply a unique "Name" value. When we use Reload From or Reload later to update the model we can revise the "Name" parameter to show the current version/date.

Make a custom titleblock family and add the Project and Client related parameters as desired. Load the family and create a new sheet using this special titleblock. Add the new schedule to the sheet. To use this as a starting view activate the Manage ribbon and click the Starting View button. Choose our special sheet view as the starting view.

I used the Clear Cell tool, new in Revit 2014, to remove the link between the schedule name and the header text. This allows us to call the schedule something meaningful in the project browser and show something else in the header of the schedule on the sheet, as shown in the first image in the post. Since schedules can be on any number of sheets it is an easy matter to place it on additional sheets if desired.