Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Finding and Loading Content

Dan Stine wrote the other day,more sharing somewhat related to your post…

Finding content: staff often call me asking if we have a “this” or a “that” family. I do a quick search at the highest reasonable folder level in Windows Explorer. Of course, I tell them how I found the content so they can do it themselves next time.

Windows-based previews: Windows Explorer and “File Open” dialogs (see images below) we can Ctrl+Scroll to increase the preview size. [this does not negate the need to clean saved previews as you mention]. Here are some examples.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Reducing Family File Size

We can use Purge Unused on a family as well as a project, assuming Revit finds anything that it thinks can be purged. A family can inherit size from imported CAD data and nested families too. Importing and exploding a CAD source file will add object style sub-categories, line patterns, materials, fill patterns, text styles etc. There may not be any in the family right now but if you didn't create the family from scratch yourself and know everything that it went through until you noticed its size, anything is possible.

I ran into some families recently that were all more than 15 MB each. I first used Save As to create a new family with a new name. This reduced the file size quite a bit. Then I used Purge Unused and between both actions the biggest final file was about 600 KB. If you use Save As on a file and it only decreases in size by about 10 KB then it's about as small as it can get. That's been my observation.

If I really want the original file name to carry on, I just rename it to something like MyFamily-temp.rfa and then rename the original and rename the new one to use the original name again. The key part is the Save As to a different name initially. I've never just overwritten the original though technically I suppose I could do that. I prefer to keep a copy of the original intact, just in case.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Revit 2015 Help is Online

I saw a tweet this morning that said the Revit 2015 Online help is ready to go. I noticed this bit regarding the eTransmit for Revit add-in.

When you transmit a model, you can now select to:
  • Include supporting files such as documents and spreadsheets
  • Disable worksets
  • Delete sheets
  • Include only views that are placed on sheets
  • Include or exclude types of views such as detail views or sections

Luke (What Revit Wants) provided links to download the various versions of Revit 2015 as well as the fact that there is already a web update 1 for Revit 2015. If you want to use a custom Assembly Code file you'll want to make sure you install the update (per Aaron Maller).

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Family Thumbnail View

One little thing you can do to improve the user experience when choosing and loading a family is to prepare the thumbnail view nicely. Revit will use the view that is open (has focus) when you save and close the file to generate the preview we see in the Open Family dialog or in Window's Explorer. Here's an example of a preview for a family in the stock pipe fittings folder.

I really can't tell what it is at all. The connector graphics are making it impossible for me to tell what sort of fitting I'll get when it is loaded. Here's how it looks after I tweak it a bit. Now it is a lot easier to tell what it is.

Most of the stock Revit content already has a 3D view called View 1. If I make a family from scratch I create one too. I make sure I open this view and close others before Saving and Closing the file when I'm done working on it. I caution users to be wary of content that does not have a clean preview, at least if they are using anything I've made. Messy means not done or not ready. Ideally content that isn't ready shouldn't be in a live folder at all but sometimes we get distracted and our own rules or habits aren't followed.

To clean up a family's preview:
  • Use Temporary Hide/Isolate to control what is visible in the view.
  • Use Thin Lines. (I hide host walls and faces for example)
  • Use Detail Level setting to show off the family.
  • Use Zoom Region to maximize the important geometry we see in the preview.
It's all meant to make it easier to understand what the family is and decide if it is the one they really want.

If you examine the stock door folder you'll see that most of the families have been oriented so that View 1 is a Front or Back elevation so you can see the panel design head on. I usually prefer a 3D axon orientation because it can give me a better sense of the frame and other proportions. Try to pick an orientation that best describes the family from the user's perspective, whatever will help them decide that this family is the correct family to load.

A cool feature of KiwiCodes Family Browser is that you can use your own custom Thumbnail images. This means you can set your custom library up in a project setting and take advantage of Graphic Styles like shadows and ambient shadows. This image is a sample of Aaron Maller's handiwork for Beck Group. His thumbnails include context and it really helps to understand what the family is, what features it has. He's put more effort into this than anyone I know of so far and I really like it.

It's the little things in life, every little bit helps the end user experience.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Hidden Parameters

Hey we missed an undocumented feature in 2015! Hidden Parameters! Notice the column for Hidden in the dialog?

Maybe a product manager will see this and blink? Sorry it isn't real, it is a mock-up. Yes, it's a few days late for an April Fool's joke.

Daniel Stine and I traded a couple emails recently and part of that conversation included the concept of making parameters hidden. He passed along this image to illustrate his idea.

For background, if we edit a Shared Parameter file with a text editor, something that we are warned not to do in the opening paragraph of the file itself (see the link for Walking on Thin Ice below), we can set a value that causes a parameter to be hidden from the user when the family is loaded into a project.

This technique only works for Shared Parameters and is really only practical for loadable (component) families. You have to set the parameter to hidden BEFORE you use it AND you can't reverse your decision without removing and replacing the parameter. The parameter remains visible while editing a family. It is not visible to users in their project. By not visible I mean it does not appear in the Properties Palette or Type Properties dialog.

I think it IS desirable to have more control over user interaction with parameters. I'd like to be able to make it more obvious which parameters are for their input versus derived from other parameters. Color coding, locked, hidden, and many other ideas have all been discussed over the years. It seems to me that adding a Hidden column would be an interesting way to define how a parameter should be regarded by a project. Certainly less secretive than the existing approach.

Related Posts:
Walking on Thin Ice
Ignore Good Advice
Making Shared Parameters Hidden (from What Revit Wants)