Thursday, May 19, 2016

Tags Dimensions and Linked Files

I've mentioned this subject in the past. I'm writing to bring it up again and to focus on how Revit deals with tags and dimensions differently when we apply them to elements that are in linked files.

First as a reminder, when a linked file changes and a user reloads that link in their Local File other users are not necessarily seeing the same version of the Linked File. That's because reloading a link is a local change, a personal action, that doesn't get passed along to the Central File when we use Synchronize with Central (SwC).

Let's imagine User A has reloaded a linked model and they've placed tags on doors and rooms that they observe are now present in the link. User A uses SwC to share this new tagging effort. Now User B, who already has a Local File open, decides to use Reload Latest or SwC to share something they've done or see what work other users have contributed.

It's important to note that User B did NOT use Reload in Manage Links or via right-click on the linked file in the Project Browser FIRST. As a result User B gets the warning in the next image. Don't be confused by the mention of Coordination Monitor which can be confusing. It can make us think we're dealing with something that has been involved with the Copy/Monitor tools.

The Tags are Orphaned, they've lost their relationship with the linked file's elements they are supposed to identify. You can see one tag is highlighted in orange in the image above. In the next image we can see what the floor plan really looks like in the linked file (and what User A sees). It's not quite the same as what User B thinks it looks like is it?

Let's now imagine that User A continues to work by adding the dimensions you see in the image above too. After they finish doing that they use SwC.

User B now decides to use SwC or Reload Latest, AGAIN without using Reload on the linked file. Their reward is a larger collection of warnings (see next image). The first three warnings are dedicated to the dimensions User A added to their Local File. There are no equivalent elements in the version of the linked file that User B sees so Revit's only recourse is to delete them ... or ... choose Cancel ... which is actually a better choice. If User B cancels and then Reloads the linked file first that will eliminate the warnings entirely.

The remaining warnings are focused on the newly orphaned door and room tags that can't find their parent elements. If we select one of the orphaned tags we can either use Pick New Host or Reconcile Hosting. The former will need us to pick a door to associate the tag with. The latter will open the Reconcile Hosting browser which shows us everything that has been orphaned so far. We can select individual items and right-click to use Pick Host or Delete the tag if that's a better choice.

Keep in mind, once this orphaned status occurs it sticks. Merely reloading a linked file afterward isn't going to fix it. We'll be forced to deal with Reconciling Hosting. In some situations it might be faster to delete the tags and use Tag All to place them all over again.
This might be an opportunity for an enterprising developer to write a routine that looks at orphaned families and picks the closest possible host? Better still...Autodesk?
My recommendation, if you MUST use tags and dimensions on linked files?

Develop the habit of reloading the necessary linked files BEFORE using SwC or Reload Latest.

If you get the warning messages in the images above, use CANCEL. Make a note of the elements the warning(s) is(are) focused on. Most likely the warnings are being issued because you need to use Reload on the linked files first.

I'd also consider a moratorium on applying tags or dimensions to linked elements while the link is being changed aggressively. For example, if we know that the link is going to undergo some massive redesign we should just agree to stay away from tags and dimensions until it settles down again.

It's also a good idea to let other people know that you have changed an integral linked file so they can all use Reload (link) to catch up together.


RevitCat said...

Great post Steve - nice to see it so clearly spelled out. We often get orphaned tags and vanished dimensions - and no one quite knows why. Next time it happens I'll tell our users to read your post - but then again, that would probably do their heads in!
Maybe I'll just get them to follow your final advice and trust us that there is a good reason for it.

Steve said...

Glad you think so. I write these things and they seem clear to me ... but I wrote them. ;)

ning zhou said...

thanks Steve for this important clarification!

maybe it's too much for SWC to check and reload links? will be great if it can!!!
at least factory should provide more meaningful warning message, recommend user to reload links, and make Cancel as default.

Mark James said...

Good to see you've revisited this one Steve... it's the reason that we no longer annotate linked files.
All our annotation is now applied in the source file(s).

AnthonyB said...

Excellent post. Logical once it was explained to me, but I never thought of it that way.
I wondered when I would have the opportunity to test this - and it happened in a day. This just saved us 60 or so dimensions on our project. Happy now.
Thank you very much.

Steve said...

Great, glad it helped!

n8 said...

I'm a little late to the party, but do you think this behavior would also happen if you use keynotes on a linked model? Sometimes we place a user keynote on an element in the linked model so that we don't have to place a dummy element in our model just to place a keynote. Occasionally we notice orphaned keynote tags due to this.


Steve said...

N8 - Sure, any annotation element that relies on its relationship with its host element which also happens to be in a linked file is at risk.