Friday, August 31, 2012

Linked Files have Instance and Type Workset

Linked files are assigned to the active workset, when worksets are in use naturally. When you select the link you can see the Workset parameter in the Properties Palette. Less obvious is that they also have a Type Property called, you guessed it, Workset. This can trip you up when you are trying alter visibilty graphics because they need to match.

The reason they have both is that the Type Parameter is for the definition of the link in the database and the instance parameter is for the actual link. There is a row in the Visibility Graphics dialog for each link as well as a single row beneath it for each instance of the link.

I say each instance because a link can be copied. If you import a file it is both the definition and the instance. If you copy it and put the second instance elsewhere you'll see that another row will appear beneath the first one and both will be under the primary entry. This is done to make it possible to alter each instance of the same linked file differently via Visibilty Graphics.

Experiencing control issues with a link? Remember to check the workset assignments.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Egress Post Summary

As with my recent Worksharing, Site and Reference Plane summaries, I've added a link to this post which will serve as my summary landing spot for Egress Path posts. It's been about six years now since I demonstrated the new line based family as an egress path. The subject is still going strong and there are more options to choose from now.

Summary of Egress Path Posts

(2012) Egress Path Options
(2011) Bending Railings To Your Will
(2011) Stair Headroom Clearance
(2009) Egress Path Update
(2008) Egress Family Video
(2008) Egress Path Tags New Versions
(2008) Egress Math Error Bug Report
(2008) Egress Family Arc Version
(2008)Egress Example Update
(2007) Egress Path Of Travel Uh Oh
(2007) Egress Regress
(2007) Egress Path

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Railing as Egress Paths

I've written about this before, egress stuff seems to be popular at times. A railing is a path and profile based element is easy to sketch something like the path to an exit. Straight and arc segments as well as even sloping conditions. Some of the other methods that I've written about here have the advantage that they can document the total length easily. A railing schedule will report the total length but we can't tag them with their total length.

Case-Apps to the rescue!

They've written a little application that is part of their larger suite of free, subscription and beta software for Revit. It's called "Send Railing Length to Selected Parameter".

Create a shared parameter called "Egress Path", add it to your project and assign it to the railing category. Sketch your railings disguised as egress paths. Now tag them. Oh right you can't show that value. Edit the tag family to create your own and use the same shared parameter. Reload the family and still nothing. Now use the Case app. It will let you select the parameter to use and plug the total length into each railing and that value will appear in your tags!

It's not automatic or fool proof. But it does make it a lot easier to consider a railing. If you like special graphics at the beginning and end of your egress paths then a railing is a bit fussier because you need some special "balusters" to get unique "symbols" at each end. Not impossible just a bit more work. Not necessarily more or less work than the other techniques, pick your poison!

While you are at it you should consider the rest of the pile of apps they have. You'll get their apps manager application which really makes it pretty easy to get and install them. I had both 2012 and 2013 installed in a few minutes after registering.

Thanks Case-inc guys! (wearing my T-Shirt as I write this, they gave me a shirt at RTC in Stone Mtn. in the interest of full disclosure)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Use the Front Door

I find myself looking for metaphors as I help people learn Revit. We rely on them all the time, work them into our speech without even thinking about it. Lately I've settled on another to describe the various ways Revit lets us do things. There are usually at least a couple ways to start something or solve something in Revit, like life.

I'm frequently asked which "way" is the best or the correct "way". It seems to me that Revit provides any number of "doors" to access information and tools.

Let's take the notion of working with materials. I have a desk and I'd like it to have a specific material. These days I can select the desk, click Type Properties and, assuming the person who made the family provided a parameter to manage its material, I can click on the material value, which exposes the sneaky "Browse" button. This is a "side door" that lets me select and possibly alter material settings. If I don't find a material I want I can make one while I'm here, click my way back out of the dialog and have a desk that looks great (hopefully).

In the past, if I didn't like the material and there wasn't one listed that sounded like one I wanted I'd have to bail out. Once out of the family's Type Properties I'd open the material dialog and create it. Then I could go back to the desk and assign the material. They created the side door access so we could avoid that inefficient back and forth process.

I run into people that think the side door is the only way to create materials. That's how they learned to do it and they keep doing it that way. The "front door" for materials is really on the Manage tab, the checkered globe button. This front door is the administrative task minded entrance while the side door is more the "spontaneous task" minded access point.

Another example is changing the number of a sheet. We can select the sheet view name, right click and rename. We can open the sheet view and select the title block family which in turn let's us select and edit the sheet number. We can select the sheet number parameter in the properties palette too. Then again we can deal with it in a schedule instead. Keeping count? That's four "doors", a front, side, back, and "secret" door to accomplish the same task.

That might seem like too many options, which one should I use? Easy, which one is the closest to you? Where are you? In the back yard? I'd pick the back door then. Not in a sheet view and needing to renumber a bunch of sheets? I'd pick the "secret door" and use a schedule.

Nearly everything you need to do has at least a front and back door, and very often more. Pick the one that best fits your circumstance. When one door closes another opens...or something like that...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Can't Alter Create New Local Selection

Said another way, the "Create New Local" option is disabled (gray'd out).

I've written about this in the past. My post focused on the network relationship between local and central files. It boils down to the central file being created by a user whose computer is mapped to the server and project folder in one manner and the person who can't manipulate the "Create New Local" option is mapped differently. As long as this condition exists this "rogue" person won't be able to synchronize their work, sadness ensues.

Daryl wrote about this occurring because of different software versions and Luke echoed his post later. While this certainly can and does happen we just need to take care that we don't actually save a file that has been opened in a newer version of Revit unless everyone is prepared to upgrade their project files too (assuming a large team all using Revit).

It's been my experience that the network path conflict is the more frequent culprit, or at least the one with the greatest "danger". Remember if you don't know why the option isn't available to you, check with someone to make sure you can continue safely. Said another way, "Be afraid, be very afraid".

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Workset Post Summary Updated

In April (2012) I wrote a post that provides links to workset and worksharing related posts I've written over the years. I've discovered that there were some more that I'd missed in my previous attempt to round them all up. I've revisited that post and added them so the total is now forty four.

I've also provided a set of links on the right sidebar of the site to make it a little easier to find them.

You'll see I've added the text (Updated 8/26/12) next to the Workset summary link. I'll try hard to remember to do this as I add future posts or discover some other ones that I've buried in the past.

Vasari Update

This information has been sitting in my inbox for a week now. Busy makes blogging even harder at times, but it's a good problem right!?! I've written about this product before as well as the Vasari Talk web sessions that have happened nearly each month. You can check those out HERE.
    Project Vasari has reached a tipping point in its evolution. As you probably know, its been a very popular project on Autodesk Labs. They've seen more than 60,000 downloads over the last 1.5 years and it has dramatically exceeded their expectations. Doing this work via Autodesk Labs has allowed them to quickly test out new ideas as well as respond to user requests.
Attendees of RTC and AU have probably heard Matt Jezyk present sessions (with Zach and David) devoted to Vasari and he wrote, "I'm happy to announce that based on customer demand we are graduating Vasari from Autodesk Labs and are launching a Public Beta on our new site Autodesk!"

Just in case you haven't heard much about Vasari yet, Matt provided the following descriptive summary.
    Autodesk Vasari Beta 1 is a slimmed down version of Revit 2013 focusing on conceptual modeling and early analysis. It is meant for architectural designers and energy analysis who are not necessarily using Revit. The new Beta 1 is file-format compatible with Revit 2013 and also contains all the features from previous versions of Project Vasari. The main new features of Beta 1 are Revit 2013 file-format compatibility, Cloud Rendering and Repeat/Divide features. A less restrictive End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) is also in place to allow firms to further test this pre-release product in their environments. Access to Autodesk 360 Energy Analysis is still available via a free Autodesk ID login. The Beta 1 release will expire on January 31st 2013.
Some firms have been leery of putting their project's design data in software that is in a "lab experiment" state. Put another way, as long as Project Vasari was a lab experiment there was no assurance that it would survive long enough (or ever turn into an actual product) to let a firm finish a project that is relying on the Vasari modelling effort throughout. This experimental nature, while providing a great way to see things develop quickly and early, meant uncertainty about its future. This is a step in the right direction so that those concerns can be assuaged.

You can join their forum site and be part of the ongoing conversation and help get the word out too, here's how: Invite your friends to join you and/or Add Content and finally Tell your Twitter followers.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Constraining Tangents

I read a post at AUGI the other day which originated with a post in July (2012). The goal was to create a rebar shape for detailing purposes. A few people offered ideas even a file or two. It seemed simple enough to do but digging into it I found several variations in a theme to constrain the geometry works. Here's my exploration captured in these images.

This image is the overview of what parameters are desired: Length, Depth, Fillet Radius and Angle.

Simply sketching the "bones, muscle and skin" is often enough. In this situation, as you flex the parameters the tangent arc starts to distort eventually. Revit does not understand how to respect the arc and line end points, keeping the lines tangent to the arc. That means it needs more constraints. One way to see how well Revit understands our intentions is to turn on Automatic Sketch Dimensions (ASD's).

When you see little blue dimensions you know that Revit doesn't understand you, you need to be more explicit. If you look closely at the very last image you'll a single ASD (showing 0'-0") along the vertical reference plane. Unfortunately just getting rid of ASD's with better constraints isn't a guarantee for success.

This image is the messiest solution, I used a circle to "see" how the geometry moved around and then used it to create enough constraints so that it flexes correctly.

This image is a variation on the previous theme but using Reference Lines as the underlying "bones", pretty "messy" too eh?

This is yet another approach. I used a pair of model lines (assigned to Invisible) to govern the location of the arc and line endpoints.

This final one is the simplest in appearance but it has two line segments instead of one along the angled segment. I noticed that connecting the end of the angled line would break the relationships. I tried pulling the end of the line away from the end of the arc, leaving them apart, and flexing geometry worked. That led me to try a second line between the end of the arc and the end of a smaller line and it worked too. Not obvious at all. It also means that the family will break if one of these segments is flex too far, assuming the changes result in a zero length segment. The family will break easily anytime the angle entered creates a zero length segment of the vertical line too (all of them, not just this one). Fragile but the family works.

In the thread at AUGI the member that started it all replied that he figured out how to solve it after reading a post at BIM & BEAM. I tried using the formulas as well but found it was necessary to play the "two lines instead of one trick" to get it to behave.

If you'd like to play around with the families I created doing this I've posted them HERE. I'd be interested if anyone can find simpler solutions.

[Edit 08/20/2012: Alfredo Medina shared a solution at the AUGI thread that uses formulas to define the relationships consistently. CLICK to watch his video of it flexing. CLICK to download his family. (You'll need to log into AUGI to download it most likely)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Egress Path Options

In 2006 I demonstrated (at Autodesk University) the then new line based family type by explaining how we could use it to document egress path requirements also known as exiting plans. Since then a couple other options have come along.

One is the notion of using a railing type. They are also derived from a path and we can use a profile to represent the form of a person traveling through a corridor. That's not a requirement but it does make it easier to visualize it in 3d views.

Another is to use the newer adaptive point concepts in a family. Initially we could only use them in the massing category. As soon as they opened them up to more categories it made it more palatable to consider them for this purpose.

Defining the requirements for documenting exiting are naturally going to affect the success of any solution we try to provide. Ideal we should be able to provide a total length of travel from one place to an exit, identify the length of any segment of the path and provide a clear descriptive way to show how our design meets codes in plan views, at a minimum.

The new adaptive point approach requires building a family that provides however many segments are required in advance. It isn't possible to tag individual segments though a tag could display a summary of each segment as well as the total (Edit: there is nothing to prevent us from creating a two point family and using the chain placement approach, that would support tagging individual segments). Adaptive points don't permit nesting detail components so the annotation used to display special nodes at the beginning, end or at nodes along the path requires geometry that will take more work to scale according to a view scale.

Sean Burke shared a You Tube video of the adaptive point approach in action, check it out (embedded below). At least now there are more options to choose from. Pick the one you think best fits your requirements!

Sean Burke's example

Afredo Medina shared a You Tube video of his LBGM approach.

Summary of Past Egress Posts (a summary)
Egress Path
Egress Path Update
Egress Path Tags - New Versions
Egress Path of Travel Uh Oh
Egress Example Update
Egress Regress
Egress Family Arc Version

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Calling All Superhero Imaginations

This is the text from the latest competition from DesignbyMany.

With the rise of superhero movies dominating the movie screens, we need a permanent place of celebration to honor these great characters and their awesomeness. We propose building a Superhero Theme Park! Designing an entire theme park is way too big of a task to tackle for this scope, but luckily every park has an element that embodies the ethos of the park.

This challenge is to design the central landmark of your Superhero Theme Park. The landmark will serve as the iconic image of the park and the primary means of orientation for the park.
The Superhero Landmark can be inspired by a single character or group of characters. We encourage you to invent your own characters and design a landmark around them! The more creative the better!

Being the focal point of a Theme Park, the Landmark will be a primary venue for performances. The Landmark is required to have a “stage” element to entertain the park guests and should be partially covered. The immediate context, pathways, and landscaping are encouraged to be addressed. At a minimum, submissions should show how guests can “interact” with the Landmark AND/OR navigate around it. The program of the landmark is completely optional. If the theme of your landmark requires the need for a specific “ride”, look out pavillion, restaurant, etc, please do not refrain from adding program. If your landmark is more powerful without any additional program, that is perfectly acceptable as well. Extra attention will be given to those submissions that incorporates the use of the software prizes!

All final model submissions must be in a “.rvt” or “.rfa” format

A central location within a hypothetical Theme Park.
Sometime in the near future.

Provide performance “stage” that is partially covered/shaded.
Provide immediate conceptual circulation & site plan.
Design should creatively use/expand the repertoire of tools available in Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Project Vasari, IronPython, and/or Dynamo.
Design should be beautiful!

Visit the competition page for more details

All designs must be submitted by Monday, Sept 10th, 2012 @ 11:59 PM (GMT -4)
Community voting will end on Monday, Sept 17th, 2012 @ 11:59 (GMT -4)

Personally I'm hoping somebody does something based on my personal favorite superhero "RevitMan"!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Case for User Keynotes

I wrote the following (April 2012) in a reply to a thread at It is one example of how a user keynote can be applied effectively to reuse instructions and avoid stating them differently in different places, as is easy to do with regular text elements.

Imagine a data receptacle plan. The data receptacles are essentially all the same (lets pretend they are all 2 drops) except for where they are installed. Some are mounted in a wall, some in a cabinet at a sales desk, some in a kiosk (free standing display), some are available for visitors to use and others are not. As far as a schedule to summarize them, then purchasing and installing them is concerned the faceplates and back boxes are potentially identical. To apply a keynote to define how they are different in use we'd have to consider separate families or separate types so we could get different keynote values.

If we create four or five unique keynote entries we can apply them to the data outlet according to their use as User Keynotes. The keynote legend would display the information for each condition on the sheet and/or in the master keynote legend. The same information could be displayed using a tag showing a custom instance parameter but not summarized in a list on the side of the sheet as easily. Nor could we avoid different values being entered by different people.

An example User Keynote might be:

"Kiosk mounted data receptacles are to be mounted at 12" above counter surface. Provide one extra run of CAT 6 cable without terminations, for future expansion."

The same device could also have a User Keynote that says:

"Data faceplate color selection must be coordinated with interior design final material and color selections with owner."

In the plan view we'd see one device and two keynote tags with different numbers adjacent to each other. If I needed to do the same thing for other receptacles I'd have to create new types every time I needed a keynote to say something even slightly different.

Keynotes as a practice is derived from the desire to reduce clutter on the sheet and reduce the chance of writing instructions differently on different sheets. Using types to control the information is still risky because we could type different information in different types and in different families. If we are going to supply instance parameter values routinely we run the risk of similar mistakes while trying to be consistent. Since User Keynotes are pulled from the same source, as long as we all click on the same keynote the information will be the same everywhere.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Importing AutoCAD File Fails

When you try to import AutoCAD data you might have seen this series of messages before? First we get a complaint about Elements lost during import.

If it is a Civil3D file that might not be too surprising if they created AEC elements like contours or road elements. Then we get this message.

It's especially confusing if you just were looking at the file in AutoCAD and know there are elements there. Worse you'll probably see the first dialog again if there isn't any data in Paper Space to import either. Even worse is when you find out it is all "your" fault. Well at least in this case it was my fault.

The culprit is saving the DWG file and then attempting to import that DWG file, which happens to be using a newer format than the version of Revit that is being used. In my case it was a AutoCAD 2013 file that I was attempting to open in Revit Architecture 2012. I keep forgetting to save it using the 2010 format. Once the file is saved in a compatible format Revit works much better. Too bad the messages don't give you any clue it is a version thing.

So if you see such messages remember it might just be the file format/version.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Quick Revit Launch Tip

Windows shortcut tip: If you have a shortcut to Revit on your taskbar you can press the Windows key and the number equivalent to the placement of the icon along the taskbar. For example if your Revit icon is the third such icon next to the Windows button pressing Windows + 3 will fire up Revit. In the image below my third icon is Google's Chrome, part of my browser array.

It's the little stuff...

Friday, August 03, 2012

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Sheet Button is Disabled

Trying to make a new sheet but the button is disabled? Using Design Options? When you are editing an option the Sheet button is disabled. Same for the right click option over the Sheet category in the project browser. Can't make a sheet while editing a Design Option, sorry!!

As you were...

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Undo History Gone

Recently learned of a couple reasons that you can find that your undo history has been cleared out. It involves projects that use worksets. When you do something that causes Revit to take ownership of a workset first, in order to do what you want, like deleting a view, Revit clears out its Undo "stack".

In the case of a view if you borrow the view first and then delete it the undo stack remains intact. To borrow it first you'd have to select the view's annotation symbol, right click and chose Make Workset Editable. You can do the same thing in the project browser over the view name, choose Make Workset Editable too. You could also alter a parameter and reset it or use the Workset dialog to make it editable.

Same thing happens if you delete a family from the project browser without borrowing it first. To do that you can click Make Workset Editable via Right Click on the family in the project browser too. A component family will Make Workset Editable while a family's type will offer Make Element Editable. The workset it refers to is the family workset found in the Workset dialog when you select the Families "Show" filter.

It isn't really intended to happen that way. Optimistically we could see a fix in a future update but more likely not till another release.