Friday, November 30, 2012

The Revit Family Guide

The family guide document that has been available for download is now part of Autodesk's WikiHelp site. The PDF is still available and has not been updated (that page at WikiHelp is the same) but the content and spirit of that document is now part of the WikiHelp site itself. Kudos to the ongoing effort of the team. Each time I return I find explanations that better serve us.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

System Inspector Language

Yes, I'm picking on the poor inspector again, sorry! Have you ever noticed the tooltip?

The Latin text is a common placeholder for web site developers, writers and programmers alike. They need to show something until another person provides the correct wording. In this case it never got changed I suppose, or maybe somebody decided it really didn't need more accurate information to convey the idea.

This fits in my Dept.of Subtle quite nicely.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Revit Does Power Point

Years ago I wrote about using Revit to help me coach my son's soccer team. Since I seem to have an unhealthy focus on using Revit for things that might not make any sense it should be no surprise that I'd find a way to avoid using Power Point. When Revit 2013 came out it expanded on what we could do with the View Reference tool (wrote about that before too).

Well since then, at the last few conferences I've been a presenter for, I've been using the view reference as a way to move forward or back through a "slide deck", a Revity slide projector. I did use Power Point to create the slides since that's what the templates were using already. I used a screen capture of each slide as an image inserted into drafting views.

Here's what my intro slide looks like for my session later today at Autodesk University 2012, it's called "Sharing Work with Worksharing Using Autodesk Revit".

See the little arrows on either side of the image? Those are my back and forward buttons, they are just referencing the previous and next drafting views (slides). Instead of showing the sheet reference information that it would normally show I just added the back and forward facing arrow graphics.

It's just the sort of Power Point that this Revit guy likes!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rounding Length Values

When you create formulas in the Family Editor or perhaps in a schedule you can use the relatively new Round, Roundup and Rounddown options. They are designed to be used for unitless values. How often do we use unitless values? Click if you want to read the info at Autodesk's WikiHelp.

The other night I wanted to divide a panel height but round off the result. Take a door panel that has 6 lites that are defined by equal height from the top of the panel for example. One approach would be to just make the spacing equal. In this case the last lite is where the "slop" is supposed to go by making the upper lites equal in size. This means that the last lite is a little different size but then the bottom rail can be changed regardless of the lite sizes, without altering them.

The formula ended up looking like this:

In plain English, I add the top and bottom rail height together, subtract that from the panel height, divide by the number of lites. The rounding is applied to that result and divided by the desired rounding unit (1") and finally to satisfy Revit's quirkiness multiply the result by 1" to redefine what the units are. A bit round about (pun intended) but got where I wanted to go in the end.

Quick tip: When you add a parameter, click Apply before trying to fill in a formula. Revit needs to "save" the parameter before you can start using a formula in it. You'll typically get a message: "Can't find solution for formulas for type", wrote about this back in 2009.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Click in Empty Space to Reset

Using the Align tool, if you pick the wrong reference element just click away from everything. Revit resets the selection sequence, Align tool stays active.

Same is true for Trim/Extend to Corner, Trim/Extend to Element, Trim/Extend Multiple, Cut and Uncut Geometry, Join and Unjoin Geometry, Dimensioning and some others that don't come to mind.

The split tool is a bit quirky. I find that if I use a tool like copy or trim and then click on Split to use it instead, but then miss an element when I click Revit returns to the previous command. Try it, select Copy and then click on Split, click in empty space and you should see it return to Copy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Creating New Types

We have a few options when we need a new version of a door, wall or window etc. System families (wall, floor or ceiling for example) are created in a project while component families (door, window or furniture for example) are separate files, created in Revit's family editor mode.

If you need a new wall type you can choose door number one or two to make it. Door number one is using the Project Browser. You need to expand the Families category in the browser, then expand Walls and finally expand either Basic Walls, Curtain Walls or Stacked Walls.

When you select the wall you'd like to edit, or in this case duplicate, a right click will provide a list of options, one of which is Duplicate.

You can also double click on the name in the browser to open the Type Properties dialog. Once that is open you can click the Duplicate button.

I usually double click because I can duplicate and then immediately edit the type. The right click approach will still involve opening the dialog to edit its properties as well as renaming it. I figure the double click approach is a slight shortcut.

Once the new type is created it is available to use but not actually in use. Keep in mind that when using Worksharing it is only available in the local file we are using, we need to SwC to make it available to others.

Door number two is to select a wall you see in the drawing area and then click Edit Type on the Properties Palette. Once the Type Properties dialog is open you can duplicate and edit its properties. The significant different between these two doors is that this one alters the wall we selected, unless we reassign the wall back to the previous type first.
    Worth restating, creating a new type by selecting a wall placed in the model will result in changing that wall to the new type unless you remember to reassign the selected wall to the original type before closing the dialog.
Another mistake we can make is to just edit the properties of the selected wall instead of remembering to create a new type first. This usually results in cries of anguish after all the walls change in the model. Fortunately if you catch it quick using undo will usually fix it.

With component families (aka loadable families) we can use the same approach in the project, either door number one or two. However this does not alter the original family in our project, office or stock libraries. If the new type really ought to be part of the library version then that family needs to be opened and have the type created there. Then you can reload the family to add the new type to the project.

Here's a two minute (ish) video if it helps.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

BIM Blog Plug - Practical BIM

Just a quick post to plug another blogger's effort. Antony McPhee has been using Practical BIM to document his thinking on the subject of BIM; design and construction project planning. Apart from researching the various documents available today he's been trying to express what he thinks the process could or should look like based on his experience. Some of his recent posts include:
Back in September he did a series of posts to review the "BIM in Practice" document from the Australian Institute of Architects.

If you and your firm are wrestling with BIM you ought to read through his posts and add them to your considerations. Worth a read even you aren't...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Clean the Nested Content Too

Just a little reminder to myself as much as anyone, remember to purge and cleanup nested content as much as the parent. This includes materials and object styles. If you clean up the parent family but don't pay attention to the nested parts you'll find some of those things polluting the parent.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Three Minutes with Guide Grids

This feature is often overlooked or dismissed but it does deliver a consistent way to mark locations to help us keep plans aligned from one sheet to the next. Check out the video demonstration at You Tube.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Remember the Status Bar and Think Edges

Two little practical tips or reminders for Friday morning.

Tip One - Revit doesn't see things until you place your cursor near the edge of an element. There are some exceptions but for most elements you've got to move the cursor near an edge. Not sure if Revit sees it? Is it highlighted? No, then Revit doesn't see it. No point clicking to select something if Revit doesn't acknowledge it. The highlighting is visual confirmation that Revit thinks "this" is what you want to select.

If it isn't the correct one, remember the TAB key cycles through alternate elements that Revit could see in the same spot. I imagine sonar radiating from the tip of the cursor. If an element is close enough to bounce a signal back to the cursor you can "sink the battleship". No "Disco Tabbing", that happens when you hold the tab key down instead of just pressing once or twice as needed. I say disco because elements flash at you when you hold the button down. Thanks to Cyril Verley for that, I heard it from him first.

Okay that was three tips already; Edges, Highlighting and the TAB key.

Tip Two - When you are busy remembering edges don't forget to remember the Status Bar. It tells you what Revit sees or wants from you. When you place your cursor near an element you get the highlighting, you should see a tool tip AND the Status Bar offers you some info too. It's like a read-only command line, sssh.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Two Minutes with Constraint Quirkiness

Okay it's a little more than two minutes but less than three. I've been running into a few things lately that I don't recall being an issue in the past. Then again maybe my memory isn't what I thought it was? Take a look at this image. Seems pretty straightforward.

I've got a pair of Reference Planes that I want to keep positioned on either side of a rail (as in stiles and rails for a door). In the past I could do what you see and then use the dimensions on the right to shift the collection of reference planes up or down a bit. Now I find that I can't unless I select all three together. In the past I just grab the one in the middle and use the referencing dimension to shift it up/down. Doing that now gives me some weird results. It's probably better and easier to explain it with a video so here's one at You Tube.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Are You Red - Worksharing Monitor

Overheard the other day, "Hey Englebert, you are all red dude!" (name changed to protect the guilty or course). What he's referring to is the color a user's name becomes in Worksharing Monitor when they are working in the central file instead of a local as expected.

Don't be red! You might get this baby telling you off?

See Floyd? He's playing along nicely.

If you do get caught in the central file, no worries. Just use Save As to create a local copy the manual way (old timer way). Put it where your local files usually go and save it like your other local files. You'll be able to Synchronize with Central (SwC). If you don't do this Revit will end up telling you to do it when you try to SwC. The only time Revit doesn't care if you are working in the Central File is when you are alone, or the other people working in Local Files have not used SwC themselves. As soon as they do the next time you try to use SwC you'll get the message.

Revit's developers added this to avoid creating data reconciliation conflicts when someone does end up working in the central file. Just don't get caught "red handed".

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Insert 2D from File

I read another post this morning that prompted me to mention "another door", another way to get where we want to go. In this case James mentions using the Display Model setting for a view to only show the annotation (2D stuff) that's been added. The intention being to then copy/paste that useful stuff to another project. It's a harvesting exercise and one the developers created a specific tool for, "Insert 2D Elements from File".

This tool allows you to browse to another project, select from the views of that project and choose those that have 2D information that you'd like to use in this project. If you've ever thought, "I know there is a great detailing in a wall section in XYZ Project, I wish I could just grab it", you can!

It's brother (or sister) Insert Views from File allows us to harvest drafting views, schedules and sheets that contain either.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

System Inspector Inspect

Using Revit MeP, this feature makes me think of Monty Python's Dept. of Redundancy Department every time I use it. When you have elements connected together well Revit's System Inspector icon will be available.

Reading between the lines, that means if you don't see it when you think you should, something is wrong. The part that gets me is as soon as you activate it you get a little ribbon panel like the one we get for Groups. To inspect a system what's the next thing we have to do?

Yeah, tell Revit we want to Inspect. Department of Inspection Inspector?

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Family Editor Thought and Tips

There are many great ideas for improving the family editor experience "out there" already. Here's another thought prompted by some Shared Parameter loading.

When you first enter the Parameter Properties dialog, after clicking the Add button, the radio button for Family Parameter is selected and the Select button is disabled.

Seems to me the button could be enabled. This would allow me to click on the button to select a shared parameter without having to first change the radio button selection to Shared Parameter instead. It's just one click different but if you load a series of shared parameters repeatedly now and then one less click is one less x number of parameters involved.

Seems reasonable to for a couple tips.

Here's a little data entry tip in the Formula field, click past the value to select everything faster. If you click "on" part of the formula entry the cursor lands there. If you click past it looks more like this.

If you click on the formula then it ends up like this.

Once you click in the field the "tip" is "off", you have to click elsewhere (outside the field) before it will work that way again. If you are already in the field the Home and End buttons work nicely to move to the beginning or end of the formula. I find CTRL + A (select All) doesn't work there so I tap Home and then Shift + End to select the whole line. Then again I don't usually do that at all, I use my tip and click past the text. You can also select all the text (in the value or formula column) if you are careful to left click on the field and then drag your cursor out of the field before you let go of your mouse button.

Okay, one more really subtle one, as if that wasn't subtle. Ever notice how the information in the family types dialog can "jump" when you click in a field, like in the formula column? That happens when the column is wider than what the dialog can display. Easy to fix, just squeeze that column so it's entirely visible and Revit won't jump (scroll over to the right usually is what I mean by "jumping").

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Filter Pesky Levels

Need another way to manage the Levels of linked files? Sure we can assign them to specific worksets and have matching worksets in our model. Sure we can edit the V/G settings of the link in views (and view templates). Here's another, use a Filter and the criteria "Structural" that is available for levels.

When you examine the properties of levels you should find the parameter Structural. If the engineer uses that for their levels and you don't, then this concept works.

Now build a Filter that hunts for levels with the Structural parameter.

This is before the filter is applied.

This is after the filter is applied.

They can do the reverse by reversing the logic of the filter, Structural = no.

Happy Filtering!