Monday, December 17, 2012

Rooms and Synchronization

Have you seen this error message before (images from 2012)?

It is followed by its grumpy brother.

The more complicated the project, the more likely that it uses some sort of linked file strategy. If so then it is pretty likely that Revit will fail to complete a Synchronize with Central (SwC) the first time you try, thus the message.

If you are like me you enter a comment each time (using SwC) for tracking and troubleshooting purposes. It is a pain to get a message telling you your SwC didn't work. It's worse that what you typed is lost. I finally got slightly smarter. I try to remember to copy the comment text to the clipboard before clicking OK. This way I can just paste it back in if/or when the error pops up.

I thought I hit on a sure thing by using Reload Latest before using SwC. It seemed to work for a bit but then it returned anyway. Still haven't pinned down the exact cause in this situation. It would be great if Revit could figure out that it can't resolve a SwC beforehand, probably a catch-22 situation though.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Please Just Say No to 2D Only

If you make a Revit family and it is meant to represent something real, tangible, please don't make it 2D only. In 3D your family doesn't exist and that is usually a bad thing. Everything we put in a building is three dimensional, even wall paper has thickness. If you aren't prepared to model it faithfully in three dimensions, at least use a generic box form that is at least dimensionally consistent with the thing you are representing. If you are documenting clearance zones make it 3d too. You can't use Interference Check meaningfully if it is just lines on the floor.

Resist the temptation to just make it 2D.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Illegal Parameter Names

It is fairly well understood that we can, but should not, use characters in parameter names that compete with Revit's own calculations. These include the addition (+), subtraction (-), multiplication (*) and division (/) symbols to name a few.

We also need to be careful to not use the specific function names either such IF. IF is the same as iF or If as far as Revit is concerned, though normally it is case sensitive.

When creating parameters use names that are not going to confuse Revit's own mathematical and conditional functions.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tag All is Faster

No kidding you say. When rooms are involved the room tag feature is painful because it has to query all rooms in the view and turn on the special highlighting mode first. You can beat this if you select rooms first and use Tag All instead. You'll get much faster results, more responsive. That assumes you can effectively select them first.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Paste Aligned Won't Play Along

I recently encountered a situation where two Paste Aligned options did not work while the option for "Aligned to Same Place" did. In this situation I was moving elements from one building file to another because of a scope of work switcheroo.

Typical we can select elements in a linked file and then paste them into the host project. Ordinarily I can paste walls, for example, using "to Aligned to Selected Levels" or "Aligned to Current View". In this case the walls didn't seem to remember their level arrangement even though both models observe the same elevations and naming. Revit insisted on putting them on the level above or the level below.

I ran into the same disrespect using "Aligned to Current View". The only way I got what I wanted was using "Aligned to Same Place". I was in a hurry so I didn't back up and try to figure out what might be contributing to the issue. I've never had a problem using the other options with elements that were already part of the same host file, you know just pasting elements to other levels to copy them upward or downward. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that these elements were coming from the linked file?

Something to consider the next time you are copying and pasting elements from one file to another.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Personal Revit Milestone

I got an email asking about AutoCAD support the other day which set me thinking. I realized that I have been using Revit for as long as I used AutoCAD day to day. My journey with AutoCAD started in 1994 with R12 on DOS. I stopped seriously using it (ACAD/ADT) in 2003 and switched over to Revit. So that's nine years with AutoCAD and nine with Revit. Technically I was using Revit since 2000, but for this I am not counting the first two years since it wasn't my full time work. Some overlap existed naturally, but I've reached the "tipping point".

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Applying Visibilty Graphics Overrides

This might be obvious but you can apply changes to views much faster if you don't have any views open that show model elements. Now that it is possible to alter the properties of a view without actually opening it, because the Properties Palette will display a selected view's propeties when you select it in the Project Browser, this means we can edit its visibilty graphics settings even if it isn't open.

It is particulary evident when a project has many linked files. You can alter a view for the first floor but if another floor's view is open Revit seems to spend time thinking about that one too, even mention the linked files.

If you are in the habit of using a synchronize with central view or bulletin board drafting or legend view then open that view and close all others before you dive into overriding view graphics or applying view templates.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Viewer Mode and Worksharing

Read a Thread at AUGI the other day that ultimately boiled down to this gotcha, don't use the recently created Viewer Mode if you expect to save your work. The Revit user couldn't access the central file from his local file. The responses naturally focused on all the typical network issues that might prevent access, among other things.

Ultimately the original poster realized the user was running Viewer Mode. It is almost like asking if the computer is plugged in when someone's computer isn't "working". In this case the first question ought to be, "Are you using the correct version of Revit?"

Beware the viewer mode!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Views on Sheets

When you have to add views to sheets just the task itself can take a long time. You will find that trying to put a view on a sheet will take less time if there is nothing visible in the view. Try it. Close all the worksets and place a view on a sheet. Now do the same thing with all the worksets Open. Even a modest size project should see a difference. It isn't that surprising. Why don't more people think of it then?

If you are using guide grids to position views consistently you'll need to be able to see at least some grids or reference planes but not much else. Next time you find yourself waiting for views to generate as you place them on sheets remember to close worksets or at least reduce how much Revit needs to show while it is doing it.

Saturday, December 08, 2012


I wish Audit had more to say. I wish I had a clue what it was actually trying to do, what it cares about, why I should care about it.

The WikiHelp says this about Audit:
    Scans, detects, and fixes corrupt elements in the project. This option can greatly increase the time required to open files. Use this option only for periodic maintenance of large workshared files or when you are preparing to upgrade.

It doesn't tell us what it did, if there was anything to do or fix or that our file was too excellent to do anything at all. That's all I want for Christmas. Okay, that's not true but I'd still like it for Christmas.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Emergency Designation for Families

Electrical panels and light fixtures are just a couple items that often show some shading to make their use for emergency conditions graphically stand apart from the rest. While some shading techniques people use are quite specific (such as shading half or quarters) if an overall shading or color would work you can consider using a Filter instead of editing any families. Here's a screen capture of applying a filter to make an electrical panel look like an "emergency" panel instead of a regular one. Just a thought that popped into my head the other day.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Upgrading and Reloading Families

I overhead a conversation the other day at Autodesk University. One person suggested to the other that we should always upgrade families to the latest release and then reload them all into our project after it has been upgraded. They theorized that Revit was having to "upgrade" them each time we open a project, like the message we see when a linked file is still based on an earlier version. Assuming that is true they went on to say that upgrading the families and reloading them would avoid this repeated upgrading of content when you open a project.

My gut feeling is that is not true after the project is initially upgraded. I believe that the process of upgrading a project is taking into account the content that is part of the project as well. If I'm correct then the content inside the project is effectively upgraded as well. Saving a family out of the project results in a new family based on that version of Revit too, not the previous one.

Only a developer or product designer/manager could say for certain though.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Create a Type Catalog

There is a relatively new feature available to create a type catalog automatically. Anyone who has tried to deal with this task using Revit MEP can relate to the awkwardness of trying to define the units for each parameter properly. The syntax and names used don't necessarily leap to mind.

If you visit the Application Menu > Export you'll find the Family Types option.

This does not create a perfect type catalog. By perfect I mean it may provide more parameters than you really intend to use in the catalog. That's because it will export them all. We often only provide the critical or most relevant values in a type catalog and leave others as default settings that all types will share. It works great if you want them all though.

Just to quibble though, I think that the name of the command ought to be Export > Type Catalog instead of Family Types. It would be more consistent with what the resulting file is called and used for, a Type Catalog.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Associate Family Parameter

I've written about Revit's sneaky buttons in the past (see the three links below). I find the button for the Associate Family Parameter feature particular frustrating.

First of all it's tiny and second it has no tooltip, both of which mean it is not particularly obvious. I find myself wishing for a different way to interact with this concept. I can't say that I have a better solution in mind. I just know that this one feels awkward.

Keep in mind that I'm coming from the point of view of someone who has spent about eighty hours clicking on those tiny buttons about a thousand times recently. There are many tasks in Revit that seem quite fine when you think of them as occasional activities. When you start to think of them as your 9-5 job, doing them over and over and over and over all day almost anything can start to wear on you.

Perhaps a clear cut button on the ribbon that says Associate Family Parameter and opens a dialog that lists the parameters that qualify. Even better perhaps a mapping methodology that allows us to define a series of native parameters and then map them to the nested family or the connector's parameters?

Here's links to three past Sneaky Button posts: POST 1, POST 2, POST 3

Monday, December 03, 2012

Boost Your BIM

Harry Mattison has joined the API blogging world for Revit with "Boost Your BIM". He's started out with a practical project dealing with the tragic Duplicate Mark Value error we receive on projects that use worksets. Each post is a step in and through the process. He's only just begun with a few of the steps (posts) so far. I believe the intention is to take it slow and easy enough that even I can do it! Here's hoping Harry can keep at it!

Pick New Host for Connectors

I find myself wishing that I could pick a new host for a connector every now and then. It's a bit of a drag when I redesign something (or make a mistake) and have to recreate connectors all over again just because there isn't an equivalent process to define a new host like for other hosted elements. For the programming team it's probably not a particularly hard thing to accomplish, so it's just another subtle thing to add to the list of desirable Revit refinements.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

OmniClass as Criteria

I heard mention of Omniclass during Autodesk University a few times last week. Each component (loadable) family in Revit has a pair of parameters built for OmniClass. What is that you say?

Lifted directly from their web site:
    The OmniClass Construction Classification System (known as OmniClass™ or OCCS) is a classification system for the construction industry. OmniClass is useful for many applications, from organizing library materials, product literature, and project information, to providing a classification structure for electronic databases. It incorporates other extant systems currently in use as the basis of many of its Tables – MasterFormat™ for work results, UniFormat for elements, and EPIC (Electronic Product Information Cooperation) for structuring products.
Revit supplies the OmniClass Number and the related OmniClass Title for each family category.

It hasn't quite reached full citizenship in Revit because system families do not yet offer an option for assigning them OmniClass values, neither do rooms or spaces. You can certainly add your own shared parameters to do it but there won't be any linkage to the same table of values as provided in the image above, that's only for component families.

Revit has also always offered the UniFormat Assembly Code and Description, not for rooms or spaces either though. These two systems both provide a way to classify the essence of an element in the model, like the Dewey Decimal system helps to organize books in a library to some degree. If we are careful to assign appropriate values to the content we create we'll find we can harness them to enhance our experience with using schedules and filters. That's completely apart from the downstream possibilities of using it to help define specifications with tools like e-SPECS or BSD LinkMan.

Try hard to remember to assign a value for OmniClass and the Assembly Code so you and others can take advantage of them later.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Set Calculations to Stun

Attending sessions at a conference is always a good way to come up with ideas for new blog posts. This post was inspired by David Butt's session at Autodesk University 2012 about Pipe and Duct Systems. I was working as one of his lab assistants and he mentioned this so I made a note to myself to mention it again, here.

By the way sorry about the title, I was thinking of the Star Trek "Set phasers to Stun" command that Captain Kirk often uttered. Literary license, I was just rhyming Stun with None.

In Revit MEP you can create systems for pipe and duct, meaning just the act of sketching one of them assigned to a particular system will impose certain design properties and graphical qualities to that element automatically. In the past the only way a duct or pipe could behave this way was to connect it to a component or to another duct or pipe that was already. That made it harder to just sketch pipe or duct (schematic design) and use it to represent different uses, like supply or return air, or hot versus cold water.

One of the properties of these systems is called Calculations and you can choose between None, Flow Only or All.

Since Revit only does fluid based calculations (piping) it doesn't make much sense to "waste" any CPU cycles on trying to do calculations on pipe systems for gases like oxygen or nitrogen. Same is true if you really aren't going to rely on Revit for pipe sizing or related calculations either. Any system that isn't going to need this ought to be assigned to None.