Monday, October 31, 2005

Ignore Good Advice

I've written a number of articles about parameters now and I’ve made the “blanket” statement at least twice now, “Don’t put shared parameters in a family unless you are changing geometry.” While this is accurate there is a reason to ignore this advice. And that is, when you create content apart from an actual project environment.

My advice has been from the myopic viewpoint of an architectural firm working through a project and building their own content. They know what they want or need to schedule and build accordingly.

What if you make content for other people like a window manfacturer or playground equipment manufacturer? What if you want parameters that are specific to the products that you're building content for? What if the stock system parameters don’t suffice? Shared parameters to the rescue!

When you use one to establish the information in your family the user will inherit the information when they load it into a project automatically. Better yet they’ll be able to schedule it even though they don’t have the shared parameter file you used to create it. They won’t be able to put that information in a tag unless you provide them with one too, which is a pretty a good idea.

Now switch sides…do you (the user of this nice family) want to add that parameter to your shared parameter file? Yes? Perfect! Playing along nicely!

There are two ways to get to this shared parameter, the family or in a schedule. Either way you need to be able to “touch” the parameter so you can use the Export option for shared parameters. Revit will add the parameter to the current shared parameter file you are using.

In a family you need to open Family Types, select the parameter, choose the Modify button.

In a project schedule you need to take a look at the view properties for the schedule, view the fields, pick the parameter, then click Edit.

In either case you just need to click Export and Revit will warn you that it will add it to the current shared parameter file you have. If Export is not active you don’t have a shared parameter file selected yet. You’ll need to do so first. Use menu item File > Shared Parameter to browse to find it or create one from scratch.

The only family type that doesn't play along with this scenario is titleblocks. Shared parameters that are used in titleblocks must be "connected" to a project by adding the shared parameter to the project as a project parameter, since titleblocks are sort of a "tag" for views.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Seeing Backwards

When is a front elevation really a back elevation? When you are using a generic model family template. When you open a door family template the elevations behave “normally”…meaning the elevation of the door is as if you are standing in front of it and looking at the door.

When you take a look at the generic model template the view is as if you are standing behind the “door”. Since there is no “wall” you can see everything.

I suppose this could be partly because there is no host? Nah, more likely it is just the elevations are named backwards. Not as obvious since there isn’t any real sense of Exterior/Interior with a generic family. If you treat the "bottom" of a plan view as "front" and the "top" as "back" the views are named correctly. This just happens to be the opposite of how hosted families are setup. It isn't consistent and that can lead to confusion eh?

As such, the wall based family templates have “normal” elevations while the other templates do not.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Shared Parameters - Part 4

Time flies...It is well past time to connect the shared parameter to the door family. Just to refresh our memory, the only reason we need to used a shared parameter in a family is when it will change geometry. Otherwise a project parameter (based on a shared parameter or not) is a more efficient way to propagate a parameter to all objects of a category.

We will:
  • Add Reference Plane to a door family
  • Align and Lock the door panel solid to this plane
  • Add a dimension
  • Add a label (using the shared parameter)
Let’s do it:

  • Open the stock door family Single Flush.rfa
  • Open Elevation View: Front
  • Sketch a new Reference Plane two inches (50mm) above the Reference Level
  • Select the panel geometry, choose Edit (to edit the sketch)
  • Align the bottom sketch line to the new Reference Plane, Click the Padlock
  • Finish sketch
  • Add a Dimension between the new Reference Plane and the Reference Level
  • Select the dimension, Add a Label

  • Click Radio Button: Shared Parameter

  • Choose Group: Doors and Parameter: Undercut

  • Click: OK
  • Group: Dimensions

  • Click: OK
Should look something like this now!

Now when this door is loaded into a project Revit brings along the parameter, it will appear in the type parameters for the door and can be scheduled, no more effort required.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The ol' Edit Type then Instance gotcha!

(Edited: 12/30/05 - New build of 8.1 20051214_2200 fixes this bug)

A little nasty bug lurks waiting to nip at you. If you edit a family's properties by first changing a type parameter and then immediately change an instance parameter. Revit will give you this unpleasant message.

Give an example? Okay, take a door family, you add an instance parameter. It doesn't even have to do anything, it can be text or length...doesn't matter. What matters is, in a project, that you change a type parameter and then change an instance parameter in the same property editing session. It only affects instance parameters that you add to the family, not those that are built in.

Fortunately the fix is like going to the doctor, telling him/her that it hurts when I do "this". They reply, "Don't do that!" If you change one or the other, close the editing session and then edit the family a second time, all is well.

Seems to affect hosted families as opposed to furniture for example. I was able to reproduce it in doors and windows but not a desk.

Yes this is true for the latest build (8.1 - 20051017_2000) as well. I've reproduced it as early as release 7.0. I don't have earlier versions installed to test, not that it really matters at this point.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

New Revit Blogs!

A couple new blogs started by Revit users in South Africa! They are:

Family Man and Revit Implementation

The first has several posts already while the second didn't have one yet. Be sure to check them out!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Revit Can Coach Soccer

Not your typical Revit tip…

So I was thrust into coaching my son's U-10 boy's soccer team last weekend. We’re still looking for our first season win. A bunch of really nice kids that just can’t catch a break so far. So I needed to do a little planning for the positions each would play. So what did I do?

Did I use a pencil and paper? Started to but then I thought, hmmm...

If I use Revit I could pretend a room was a player/position and using phases I could simulate the quarters they play. The end result used the same collection of "rooms" (players) and I assigned them to different locations on the "field". I made it easier to see all the quarters at one time because I put four views, each quarter/phase, on sheet. Then I put all the players (room tags) on the sidelines and dragged them into a position, for each quarter. With this age group, AYSO doesn't want a player to sit out for more than one quarter of a game. That's the tricky part and what I struggled with using paper and pencil.

Bizarre? Yes! Did it work? Very nicely!! Revit is clearly becoming as important in my household as duct tape. Hmmm, I wonder how I could use it to change the brake pads on the car?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Wiki See Wiki Do

The Revit Wiki at Beau Turner's Triple D Design is active now, ready for each of you to contribute your writing, editing (SPELLING) and research skills. We've got a rough draft started but it needs much more information. It is living document and we will see it grow, as Beau says, "One edit at a time". Also the current structure is not written in stone so please add your ideas.


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Blog news: BLAUGI is Here!

I quietly added a link to a new blog a week or so back, because it wasn't formally released until now. AUGI (Autodesk User Group International) has been working on a Blog and it is now open and ready for you! A contraction of Blog and AUGI, if you missed that, it is intended to provide a variety of author's articles relating to many of Autodesk's products and AUGI events/features. Check it out and let AUGI know how you like it?


Friday, October 14, 2005

When is a Room A Room...Already?

As I wrote my most recent post about rooms I wrestled with the fact that the title was a nice sequel to the post before it, yet the subject was not really the same topic, dealing with room errors. Thus this post was born…

So when IS a room a room, already? Since room tags are view dependant, only show up in the view you place them in, you will routinely add room tags to many views. As a design change occurs you are likely to make a change that will put your rooms and their tags at risk.

An example? You got it! Here’s my “BIG” office according to plan…

If my office gets cut in half into two smaller spaces, it is very possible that a room tag on one view is positioned in such a way that the same room is now in two different places according to the tags. After sketching a wall to cut the office in half, Revit shows this error.

When this occurs Revit stops displaying an area value (assuming the tag shows area at all) and offers “Ambiguous Location” instead.

If you select this ambiguous room tag you’ll see a button on the options bar, “Explain Error”.

This button will present you with a dialog box that offers the chance to fix the problem if you click Reconcile Tags. You can also get Revit to show you the tags involved, by clicking the “Show” button.

If you pick the view, from the list, that is correct,the tag that is wrong will move to the match the position of the correct tag.

I think this is really cool! Except for the part about my office getting so much smaller!!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Property Boundaries and Setbacks

Revit's Property Line feature works well to define the boundary of a project's site. It also works very nicely to define the required setback for each boundary. The trouble with this is you can't specify a different linetype for the setback because you can't assign the property line to different subcategories. Or can you?

The linework tool works very nicely for this, create a new Line Style, called Property Setback, assign a dashed line pattern and then use the Linework Tool to change the setback "property lines" to this new line style.

You can apply property tags to each property line object to display the overall property area and the "buildable area" defined by the code required setbacks.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Revit Structure: Miter a Steel Corner Connection

A feature I'd really like to see in Revit Building is lurking in Revit Structure.

From the help file:
"You can use the Cut Geometry tool to cut a structural member with a plane. For example, use Cut Geometry to cut a column to a certain height, or use Cut Geometry to stop a beam or bracing at a wall."

Another example, if you overlap two beams or channel and sketch a reference plane across the intersection you can use this command to miter the corners. Very cool! Now why didn't that make it into Revit Building I wonder?

If you own both, you can do this in Revit Structure and return to Revit Building and it preserves the condition. No guarantees how stable it would be if you modified it later though.

Monday, October 03, 2005

To Wiki or not to Wiki?

Beau Turner has started a Wiki project for ADT and Revit Building. If you aren't familiar with Beau he has a catchy titled blog, "Will Render For Food". There's a link to his blog on the sidebar of this blog.

I recall the notion of making a wiki for Revit came up just before the Zoogdesign based Revit community joined with AUGI. A member using the moniker, MAWI, suggested it first. As far as I know nothing came of that discussion. The subject came up again recently in the forums and it still sounded like an interesting project, but no traction again.

That is till now, apparently Beau is the kind of guy to do things instead of talking about them. Nice one Beau! Kind of like another guy I know, Chris Zoog. Gotta admire "can do" spirit! Even though I CAN feel jealous he actually started it, right? That's okay isn't it? Get over it you say...I'll try!

His site says if you are interested in helping to get it going to email him. If you are, what are you waiting for? Always wanted to be a writer? Here's your chance!

Here's a link: ADT/REVIT WIKI

It will be interesting to see how quickly everyone can build it? Maybe we should challenge the ADT Wiki? Hehe...

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When Is A Room Already A Room?

Revit room schedules are unique among other Revit schedules. They allow you to create a new room even though you may not have placed a single wall.

What are the implications of this?

Probably most significant is that you can enter the details of your client’s program into Revit early on, right at the beginning. Yes! Often the province of spreadsheets, you can do programming inside Revit. With the right collection of parameters you can replicate this kind of report inside Revit and as you start to work out the design you can assign these rooms from the program. When you run out of rooms, you’re done, you’ve “hit” the program, at least literally.

Another possibility is that you can set up a typical collection of rooms in your project template(s). Doing so means you don’t have to type them in every time (or at least as many). It might be a subtle attempt to standardize naming? It might be a subtle way to improve productivity and consistency. You be the judge!

If you are a “whiz bang” programmer you can even import the room data from an existing excel spreadsheet to fill out the Revit Schedule using the new Revit API. You can import values like names, the required/desired room area, budget expectation for each room, material requirement, department, occupant, use etc.

Some things to consider! Just create your room schedule, when done, notice the NEW button on the options bar while viewing the schedule. A new room is added for every press of the button!