Thursday, January 29, 2009

Aligning Views between Sheets

This is a common question that the answer, for some, causes angst. Stated in the words of one user, "whaddya mean I can't align the view on one sheet with the view on another sheet exactly??!!??"

With other software people are accustomed to orienting their work with a notion of a Cartesian coordinate system (X,Y,Z) even for a sheet. With Revit the sheet is a bit nebulous. This is just a view that a title block family is placed in automatically when you create it AND can also host other views, a special version of a regular view. There isn't a coordinate system in this view, there is, but it isn't obvious to us. The title block family provides this reference for us but if it were to be deleted you'd be lost with no way to determine where you really were looking relative to another sheet.

Technically Revit just uses the outer boundary lines of a title block family to define the scope of the view to print. I'm referring to the rectangle boundary lines you find in the title block templates provided by the installation. It really doesn't matter where you put the views on the "sheet", well....not to Revit.

What is the objection? People want a floor plan on one sheet to sit directly above the floor plan on the next or subsequent sheets so that it doesn't "walk" back and forth or shift its location as you flip from page to page. Revit's "attitude" on this has been..."close enough is good enough". This is the characterization that drives some people crazy. I too was a bit perturbed years ago. I guess I've mellowed some since.

Here's my take on it. In a set of many sheets the portion of the set that will benefit from such precision is probably a relatively small number. Plans of the same scale certainly ought to be positioned on sheets so you see the project from the same "viewpoint" for each. As soon as you start showing partial, enlarged or other plans the relevance of the alignment between sheets is lost or at least less relevant.

That might seem an excuse to not bother to provide the ability to align them? I suppose at some point it might have been a factor in the decision to devote time to it from a software developer's perspective. In the scheme of things they probably thought that a roof tool would bring more value or importance than aligning views between sheets, so it dropped somewhat in the "To Do List". I imagine somewhere, in some office, they are wrestling with this sort of "can we do this or can we do that" argument every day.

What are your options then?

A view placed on a sheet is very much like a piece of paper on your desk. You can slide the paper around your desk (assuming it isn't cluttered) but there really is no point of reference between the paper and the desk. On the real desk eventually the paper will fall to the ground if you push too far. In Revit there is no real edge except for those lines in the title block family, outside of those Revit stops trying to print your work.

Two sheet views are a lot like two separate desks with their own paper and no real relationship between the two at all.

If you want these views to "stack" on these sheets you need to provide some point of reference and that reference can be the title block family itself. Some users will draw a detail line from a fixed point on their title block (in the sheet view) to a location on the sheet where they'd like their plan view to "sit". This line is then copied to clipboard and then Paste Aligned/Current view in the next sheet view. This gives you the same point for reference. Unfortunately the model visible in the plan's view port will not snap "through the view port" to this line so you are back to "close enough is good enough". If you zoom in you can get it so close that it won't be noticeable unless you export to dwg and then externally reference those files together, which does happen now and then.

Another technique is to provide a set of lines in the title block family itself that can be turned of by using a yes/no parameter associated with the Visible parameter for the line(s). Imagine the detail grid of the NCS/UDS (National Cad Standard / Uniform Document System). You can also store a "cross hair" somewhere or in several locations for this purpose. Think a little outside the proverbial box and you can get much more satisfying though not precise results.

Remember that "close enough is good enough" happens all the time...our tolerance for it just changes depending what the activity is.


Brett Barkman said...

I have added invisible lines in our titleblock family at certain locations. After adding a view to a sheet, you can hover (but don't click) on the title block. This allows you to temporarily see the invisible lines. With your cursor stationary over the titleblock, these lines remain visible while using the arrow keys to nudge the view to the desired location. When you're done, move your cursor and the lines disappear.

I chose this method so that the user won't need to remember to turn off these "guide lines" or set a yes/no parameter before printing.

Anonymous said...

After 9 years of Revit use, I have not mellowed on this issue. I remains in the top three of my wish/hope list, year after year. The problem isn't just alignment sheet-to-sheet, but also the lack of a functional quick-and-accurate placement of views (details, model views, notes, schedules. etc.) onto a modular sheet grid. And compounded by the re-shuffling of views on those sheets as the project progresses.

I want a "handle" of sorts on all views that can be placed at a known location in each view, that is snap-able to the sheet line work. I also want to be able to move a view from one sheet to the same location on another sheet -- a special view clipboard, if you will. Existing paste-aligned commands would work, but for the duplication of views problem.

The lack of these functions is a Revit shortfall that I don't think users can ever ignore. Like you said, after a while, we just learn to accept that it is not possible -- in this release.

Anonymous said...

First off let me say thank you for continuing to update this blog regulary. This particular post is not entirely correct though. There is a method I have in place that allows you to natively snap views to pre-specified locations. In example that means detail 5 will always snap to detail 5's location and partial plan A will always snap to partial plan A's location etc. I am refining a workaround/how to later today and I will try to send a copy but I think my posting abilities are blocked from work...

Steve said...

I'm all ears...tell me all about it!

djh said...

This is one of my big annoyances too, as I have to explain this to every new person working in Revit coming from AutoCAD, (which in my office is a lot) who all expect there to be a way to snap between "paper space" and "model space". With document sets that can get several inches thick by the time you add in all the engineering sheets, having to manually reposition views on sheets can get really tedious. For people looking for an excuse not to learn new software, this is just evidence that Revit isn't ready yet.

Another problem with this lack of functionality is when you're creating presentation or pin-up sheets, and you'd like to keep lines continuous across several sheets, while still keeping the sheet edges aligned on the wall.

In a similar vein, I would like Revit to be able to align annotations(ie, grid heads, notes, boundaries of schedules, etc) between views and sheets. These kinds of things have been in drawing standards for a very long time, and I'm actually quite surprised that the Revit development team hasn't gotten enough feedback to make implementing these a priority yet.

Steve said...

Thanks for the comments and feedback!

Anonymous said...

i'm itching to know how to get "detail 5 will always snap to detail 5's location" as mentioned by anonymous. as for lining them up from one sheet to another, yes, it would be nice to get section A of a plan to be the same location everytime. However, i have no qualms what so ever with the fact that it might be off a little. it's not like we sit there and try to see through one sheet to see something lined up below, and when you flip the sheet over, the fact that it might be 1/2" off placement is never noticed. if people want me to believe that it makes a world of a difference, then have at it, but i'm not going to cry over that.

What irks me, and will till the day we get it to work, is the idea that we can't align views on a SAME sheet. i know grids and levels snap to one another, but that's the extent of it.

so, as mentioned, i'm just looking forward to hearing about "anons" method of lining things up.

Anonymous said...

I transitioned to Revit in ~June 2001. I've never missed the alignment trick - not the end of the world to define/paste a grid or crosshair, whatever - compared with the ridiculous hoops one needed to jump through in AutoCAD, to do the simplest things.
For my part, I have not mellowed on the waste of young talent that I've seen, year after year, cramming their brains with exotic procedures to become AutoCAD masestrs, while having their talent and knowledge of design, detailing, estimating and sane tradeoffs in the production of the built environment, held hostage to the cumbersome procedures of old Acadosaurus.
'Scuse the rant...

Anonymous said...

You can snap to reference planes through a viewport. What I do is draw two intersecting reference planes at one corner of my building. I position my first plan where I want it and then draw a line from the closest corner of my title block to the intersecting reference planes (which Revit will snap to). Then copy and paste to same location in all other plan sheets and move the other plans by snapping to the intersecting reference planes and then snapping to the end of the line.

Steve said...

The newish Guide Grid essentially does the same thing as sketching reference planes, except you can create different versions for different sheet types. I usually shrink the guide grid down so it leaves behind "one" important intersection where I want it. Easier to move a major grid intersection to that spot than trying to count x over and y up.

Someone said...

@ Steve - Guide Grids is a bit tricky. What I found out and describe afterwards is my workaround using Guide Grids

There is this also - Extensions/Modeling/Grid Generator but how does that actually work?

@ Anonymous - nice technique.

Here's my technique:

1 - (1) In title block family add a few extra guidelines and then reload title block family into project, or (2) go to View/Sheet Composition/Guide Grid and create a grid for each sheet and specify its spacing.

2 - Draw key reference planes into the project. They remain visible and snap-able while view is a viewport placed onto sheet. Then use move command and, as starting point snap to ref. planes from viewport, and then, as end point, click onto guide grid or guidelines part of title block family. When done aligning views onto sheets:

 Hide or delete, but do not leave Guide Grids visible onto sheets!
 Edit titleblock family again, delete guidelines, and reload back into project, thus leaving no trace of the guidelines.

3 - Print away

NB - If using detail lines in the title block family as guides they would be visible and snap-able when titleblock family is in project file environment. If using reference lines in the title block family as guides they would NOT be visible but will be snap-able when trying to move a viewport to their crossing point.

Anonymous said...

This allignment failure is what Archicad makes better software. In archicad, close enough isnt good enough. It has to be exact!

Gr. Bert

Steve said...

Fwiw, the post is from 2009. This so called "failure" isn't an issue anymore, Guide Grids have been added to provide a solution. We can now be assured that one plan is actually aligned with the same location of another plan on a different sheet. Technically there were several ways to get around it before, not necessary now.

It both a blessing and curse for software, time marches on and eventually they get to what we want. :)

Anonymous said...

Detail lines drawn on a sheet will not snap to any model element, but they will snap to Grid intersections! This is what I use to align my plans at the same place. I place the first plan on the sheet and then draw a detail line starting from a common grid intersection. I can then copy and paste align that detail line on multiple plan sheets of the same scale and I can snap the gird intersection to the end point of the pasted line. Now the view title is a different story. For those I have 6X5 and 5X5 reference grids on my sheets and each of the grid box has a cross hair to give an approximate start point for the view title.