Friday, May 31, 2013

Hide Workset Backup Folders

If you ever work on a project where there quite a few central files it can be bothersome that the _backup folders that Revit uses are presented first in the dialogs that provide access to files. I've found that I can use the "Hidden" file flag to get rid of them assuming I can live with my Folder View settings assigned to hide hidden files and folders.

In the properties of the Workset project's backup folder I check "Hidden".

Then in the settings that govern the display of files and folders in Windows Explorer I use the "Don't show hidden..." option.

Personally I find I need to be able to see hidden files or folders fairly often so it ends up being a bit annoying when I've made the change. I tend to flip back and forth and decide how long I'm going to be working a certain way before committing.

Something to consider...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

One Minute with a Pipe Trap

Placing a pipe trap can be counter-intuitive or maybe just awkward until you "know how". The pipe trap family is built with the origin at the vertical or riser connection. That means you need to attach it to the bottom of a riser, the bottom of the pipe that is leaving a sink for example. Want to watch? It's just about a minute...

If you'd like to avoid placing pipe traps entirely you can consider incorporating them into plumbing fixture families that use them. Just do all the subtle plumbing work under the counter in the family and put the connectors at the wall face. I wrote a post that discusses the concept of rough-in families if you're interested. These are the links:

First mention of Rough-in Families
Follow Up Post

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tag Slope of a Ramp

We can apply the Spot Slope annotation to a ramp but it isn't very useful because, while Revit does acknowledge the ramp element, when you attempt to tag it you see [no slope] (image using 2014).

Alfredo replied to my previous post with a tip in his comment:
    If you first place the spot slope tool on a floor and then move the slope annotation to a ramp, it works!

In this image I've dragged a slope annotation from a floor element over to a ramp element and it recognizes the ramp's slope!

Definitely quirky and subtle but at least it is possible after all. A word of caution, it will probably be necessary to check the slope value before printing, for example if Revit regenerates information because the ramp is altered. The tag could could start to report [no slope] again. Fwiw, in my casual testing so far it hasn't broken the slope value even after altering a ramp's parameters. Your mileage may vary...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Revit 2014 New Categories in Schedules

Earlier this month I mentioned that we can create schedules for grids and levels. Those two categories are just a few of the categories that a schedule can see now.

These additional categories: Generic Models, Entourage, Structural path and area reinforcement, Structural Fabric Area, Structural Beam Systems, Detail Items, Pads, Levels (see previous post), Grids (see previous post), Architectural Columns and Roof Soffits.

In addition to new categories we can also include the parameters “Phase Created” and “Phase Demolished” in our schedules of model elements. It has been frustrating that such an important aspect of Revit has been overlooked for so long in schedules. Glad to see it is overlooked no more...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Our Model is Clash Free

Offering a "clash free model" is a bit like the car ads on television that offer a 100k car for $299/month. When we read the tiny print we realize that the monthly cost is more like $1600/month and mere mortals won't qualify for the financing terms. Like the car ads, we have to carefully declare/define what a clash is. What sort of clashes are acceptable (and therefore not considered a clash) and those that are not (and therefore are a clash).

One simple example, pipes pass through walls. If they don't cut a hole in every wall at every location where a pipe intersects with a wall then technically we've got a clash. If it is a poured concrete wall that requires a sleeve it is a bigger deal (even bigger deal if precast) than a wood/metal framed wall with gypsum wall board. By the time we are done defining clashes our client and/or team will feel like they are getting "nickel and dimed" to death. ...and that's just for our work...

We can't offer a clash free model if everyone else working on the project isn't working toward that goal themselves. Our model might be "perfect" (according to our fine print) but if they aren't coordinating their work with ours...and vice versa...we'll still have clashes. It's not a one way street.

It is also a moving target as a project moves through design phases. Are we promising "clash free" when people start swinging hammers or is it clash free within two weeks after receiving an architect's model, at the end of each design phase?

"Clash Free" - It's a worthy goal and one every client and project team would love to achieve. It's not possible without considerable commitment by everyone and can't be achieved in a vacuum by one part of the team. In my view someone casually offering "clash free" suggests to me that they may not have enough experience yet. Anyone who has been part of weekly clash review sessions can attest to it not being a trivial matter.

It seems to me that's just the sort of promise that keeps lawyers busy...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Three Minutes with Floor Sloping

I wrote a reply to a thread at the other day so this is really just an echo. In the context of choosing a method for sloping floor slabs (or roofs for that matter) see which approach best fits your current situation.

1) Slope Arrow - This is very effective when you know what sort of offset is required from known points but they are not necessarily at the start and end edges of the slab or in the same direction as any slab edge. Slope is defined by the location of the tail and head "endpoints" of the slope arrow. Revit will slope the entire floor according to the offset/slope parameter values you provide, between those points. It is perhaps the most versatile method other than shape editing but it is also a bit harder to become comfortable with.

2) Define one edge as slope defining - This is very easy for slabs that slope consistently overall in one direction, from one edge, and you don't really care where the other edge "ends up", it is what it is. You just pick one edge, set a slope. It is just like roofs except we are limited to one edge defining slope with floors.

3) Defines Constant Height - This too is very easy when the start and end edges of the slab also define the floor's lowest and highest elevations (and what we see as the slope value isn't the priority). You just set two parallel floor sketch lines to the appropriate elevation values, whatever values define the required offset.

Fwiw, for structural floors/roofs - Pick Supports (shape editing) - This will slope a roof according to the structural elements you select.

I took a few minutes to record a video of each approach, embedded here. It also touches on using the cantilever settings to extend the edges of a floor slab beyond the structural support members.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Point Clouds in Revit 2014

The underlying engine for Point Clouds has been redesigned and implemented in Revit as well as in other Autodesk products. This effort is the result of integrating other technology acquisitions Autodesk has made (Alice Labs primarily and RealViz) in the past year or so. You’ll also want to check out Autodesk ReCap when you get a chance, image below.

The new point cloud engine uses RCP/RCS formats. The RCP format is a project file while an RCS file is a scan file. A RCP file is a group of multiple RCS scan files. If you have raw data in other acceptable formats Revit will index it in the background and let you know when the indexing is complete. It is also possible to run the indexing apart from Revit using Autodesk ReCap which is included as part of the Building Design Suites (image above).

There is a command line approach available too, using the “AdPointCloudIndexer.exe”. This application is stored along with other installation data in the Program folder. Ben Malone (BIMopedia) wrote about this shortly after 2014’s release. This is a link to Ben’s original post.

We can now control the colour mode for each point cloud import using Visibility/Graphics.

They enhanced Revit’s sensitivity to points and planes within the point cloud data. This should make it easier to sketch model elements using the underlying cloud data. Revit will detect planes that are perpendicular to the current work plane and very close to the cursor. Zooming in the view will cause Revit to reset the view and it will be necessary to detect a plane again. Snapping directly to point cloud data is a low priority in snapping order. Planar snaps are the initial focus for detection. You can use the TAB key to cycle through other possible snap options.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Adaptive Point Family and Ramps

Luke (What Revit Wants - original URL to blog site was lost) wrote a post the other day that shows how to use the "scary" adaptive point family to tag a ramp's slope, since the slope tool doesn't work on ramps.

I used them to identify sloped "ramps" that are really floors for a client last summer. We used a three point family that allowed us to click on a corner of the start of the ramp, then at the midpoint of the end of the ramp and finally at the other corner at the start of the ramp. The resulting triangle is what they wanted to see. Using model lines allowed us to see them in many views without having to resort to placing many annotation families in all sorts of views.

Don't be afraid of the adaptive point family!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Keynoting Sheets and Worksets

Ryan wrote a post yesterday at The Revit Clinic describing a couple scenarios that result in borrowing sheet views while keynoting views. These affect versions 2012 and 2013 in particular. If you've encountered some quirkiness on your project using keynotes it is worth a read. A subtle point made at the end of the post reveals that 2014 has been tweaked to help resolve these issues. Ryan wrote:
    For Revit 2014 keynote and revision functionality has been improved. Sheet view worksets are no longer borrowed during the same process, which should give larger project teams additional flexibility (especially during documentation-heavy project phases).

Btw, Ryan is also one of the author's of the Revit Essentials book I mentioned the other day.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Revit 2014 Family Template for Two Level Relationships

The collection of Generic Model templates has grown a little bit with this new release, one new template called "Generic Model Two Level Based.rft".

Monday, May 20, 2013

Case App Delete Sheets Views and Links

This application will strip a model down so that just the 3Dness of the model is left. I feel it is a bit too aggressive in that it even removes all floor plans. There are lots of unnecessary views to be sure but having at least one floor plan for each level can be helpful. Also there are many who end up using "By Linked Views" to make sure what they are seeing is the same as whomever provided the model.

I am not convinced that removing views is really worth doing routinely. I'm inclined to think that only the super large projects might warrant resorting to doing so in order to reduce linked file size and loading times.

Odd quirk with the User Interface is the pair of OK buttons.

I hear Pee Wee Herman saying, "Okay okay..."

Sunday, May 19, 2013

BIM is Full of Holes

I took Seth Godin's recent blog post title and plugged BIM in instead. His post said "Life is Full of Holes". His perspective and observations are always welcome and happily sometimes (often) they plug right into my own life and work.

In particular these lines resonated with me and what a friend once essentially asked his company during their deliberations regarding "To do Revit or not to do Revit"...

Seth wrote: "I don't think the right question is, "is the path perfect?" It's probably, "Is this somewhere I'd like to go?"

In the context of Revit the question is, "Do we want to continue to work this way or that way". Do we want to keep doing what we already do or see where and how we can benefit from using Revit instead?

The Revit path isn't perfect, no "path" is... but do we need to keep waiting for it to be perfect, or even have that expectation? Keep in mind it never WILL be perfect...nothing is.

Stop prevaricating about the bush, make a decision!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Autodesk Revit Architecture 2014 Essentials

The release of this book introduces a new team of authors; Tobias Hathorn, Tessa Reist Hathorn and Ryan Duell. They have taken over the book from the team that first introduced it a couple years ago; James Vandezande, Eddy Krygiel, and Phil Read. You are probably already familiar with their other book, "Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 20##", the bigger brother to Essentials and the "Introducing" book that was discontinued after the 2012 release.

The Wiley site for the book tells us:

Beginners will get comfortable with Revit's core features and functions. Current users will have a valuable reference to refresh and hone their skills. And everyone can use this practical book to help prepare for the Revit Architecture certification exams. Essentials gets readers up and running on Autodesk Revit Architecture 2014, Autodesk's industry-leading building information modeling software:
  • Explains core Revit tools, features, functionality, real-world workflows, and BIM concepts
  • Covers schematic design, modeling, families, views, creating drawing sets, and more
  • Features best practices, rendering and visualization, worksharing, documentation, and annotation
  • Provides downloadable starting and ending files, so readers can compare their work to that of the pro's 
Autodesk Revit Architecture 2014 Essentials is your perfect introduction to the powerful industry-leading BIM software.

Useful Links:
Table of Contents
Author Information

If you are just getting started out with Revit this book may be just what you need. If you have an office of Revit users it might just be a great addition to your library too!

Congratulations to the new team on the release of their book!

Friday, May 17, 2013

User Interface Configuration Calculator

EDIT: December 30, 2013 - This calculator appears to be missing during the migration from the older wikihelp system Autodesk Help was using. I don't know if it will be restored or not.

If you are a BIM Manager working on deployments and want to configure the Revit.ini file to turn on or off specific discipline options when you use Revit (not the discipline specific installations like RAC, RST or RME) they’ve provided a User Interface Configuration Calculator.

Check of the things you want and the calculator provides a value that you enter for the DisciplineOption setting in the Revit.ini file. For ex-AutoCAD managers this is similar (eerily) to the numbers that result from different OSNAP settings (and others), remember?? The same "bit" method is probably used to create unique numbers for each possible combination settings.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Displaced Elements Views and Path Wish

With the new Displace Elements feature in Revit 2014 we can use either straight or jogged "Paths" to show where displaced elements came from.

Methinks that straight paths tend to look best when the elements are displaced in one direction while jogged paths help more when the elements have been displaced in two axes.

My wish: I'd love to be able to choose which style of Path I want BEFORE picking elements to generate a path. AsferasIno we can only assign the style after we place them. The Path's style is a parameter that we see once we select a path in the view.

A little tip... it is really easy to put many paths on top of each other. Every time you click on an element in the same spot Revit happily drops another path. I was trying to delete a path and thinking that I must be missing something because no matter what I did I couldn't delete the bugger. Turns out I happened to pick a spot I apparently dropped six paths down. The first five tries at deleting the "one" path resulted in nothing happening. Take care out there...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Associate Family Parameter Button

Hey the little stuff makes me smile, what can I say? This little bugger has been a secretive button for ages and in Revit 2014 it gets real, it has a tool tip now!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Working with Type Catalogs

I recently replied to a question about type catalogs at RevitForum with this stream of consciousness set of comments. I thought it made sense to drop them here too since they mostly work outside of that of context too. I have altered (and added) a bit here and there to make more sense outside the context of that conversation. Here we go:

Many people like to use Excel to edit type catalogs though it is not required to do so and I usually don't bother. You can just edit the information in a text editor, Notepad ++ is a cool free one.

A Type Catalog does not technically need all the parameters that are part of the family, only the ones that vary from type to type. Values that are not in the Type Catalog will be passed on to the family from the default family type. For example you could put height, width and depth in the type catalog only if those are the only values that really change for each type. A type catalog can be quite simple to manage (without involving CSV files) when you only include the necessary values.

The new export family types feature is quite nice to make sure you have the parameters and units properly defined, especially for MEP content. It does not put parameters in a logical order, at least not one that I find satisfying. It also exports all the parameters in the family types dialog and I don't always want them all but it is easy to remove the ones I don't need.

A Type Catalog can include instance parameter values, these are the default value assigned to the parameter, the user can still change them once they are in the project, like any other instance parameter.

If 24 inches is a more useful input value than 2'-0" a type catalog will allow that even if the units in the family or project are assigned to feet and fractional inches. Just change the ##units from Feet to Inches.

Earlier I wrote that Excel is not necessary and that I don't usually use it. I do use Excel (and CSV files) to change column order because that IS a lot easier to do with it. A friend says that we can see the "matrix" when we look at the .txt file, so we don't need Excel. I save the work as a CSV file and then change the extension to .TXT. You have to delete the older txt file first. I don't bother to keep the CSV around. If I need a CSV again I just open the TXT type catalog file directly with Excel and set the delimiter options. Revit only cares about the .TXT file so no point confusing others with a pile of "irrelevant" files in the library folder.

I put the parameters (reorder them) that match the family type name in front of the list (first columns) in the catalog in the order of the naming in the type name, like 600H 800W 150D. So 600,800,150 are the very first values after the type name. I only include values that we want to set during loading and put dimensional values before informational values (text).

Related Family Interaction Advice

A family using a type catalog must be loaded properly, either with Load Family while placing a component or via Load from Library, or using a right click > reload in the Project Browser.

Do not use Edit Family (from inside a project) with families that have type catalogs, it puts all the loaded types from the project in the family. A family that has a type catalog really ought to only have one "default" type. Lately I have settled on using the name: "This family uses a Type Catalog". If I find that type in a project I know it has been loaded at least once improperly. That type will never appear in the project if the catalog is used.

Do not use Load into Project while working on the family, it does not look for or offer the type catalog.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Options Bar and the Mouse Wheel Zooming

In past releases we needed to be careful about using the mouse wheel button to zoom in and out after entering a value on the options bar, in particular with Revit MEP users. When we selected a duct or pipe and set the dimensions on the Options Bar and then rolled the wheel on the mouse the dimension values changed instead of zooming in or out in the view.

I am happy to report that I’ve observed this is fixed in 2014. When entering an offset value for walls though the Options Bar still keeps the focus so it is necessary to use the "pan with the mouse in the view" trick to return the focus to the drawing window.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

RTC AUS 2013 Auckland

Today I am heading to Auckland, New Zealand to attend the Revit Technology Conference. On Tuesday night I'll be hanging out with fellow American Aaron Maller in Christchurch at a local Revit User Group meeting. It's my first trip to NZ so I'm looking forward to it naturally!

Next week I'll be writing via the RTC Blog. I've managed to get some OpEd stuff scheduled to post while I'm away, just on the off chance somebody might miss my rambling. :)

If you haven't committed to attending the conference in Auckland yet...reconsider there is still time. There are a number of options for registration if time and/or budget are concerns. Hope to see you there!!

If NZ can't be part of your plans... remember, there are two other RTC's to consider, North America's event in Vancouver (July) and Europe's in Delft, Holland (September). Don't be a stranger!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Switch Between Palette and Browser with Keyboard Shortcut

With the new dockable window feature that supports hosting the Project and System Browser (MEP), Reconcile Hosting Dialog and Properties Palette comes the slight awkwardness of never having what you really want open (having focus) when you want it.

This video shows how assigning a keyboard shortcut to the Properties Palette gives me the illusion of switching between the Project Browser and Properties Palette quickly. I write illusion because the Properties Palette is really closing but then reopening within the dockable window framework. Try it, like it...mileage may vary.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dockable Windows and Double Clicking

I noticed the other day that when I double click on the tab of an active docked browser or palette that Revit will "pop" the window out of the docked position. It will land somewhere on screen, probably near the middle of the Revit window. If you move it somewhere else Revit will remember that the next time.

If you double click on the title bar of the "popped out" window it will dock again. Activate a tab, double click...pops out...double click on title bar pops in. Interesting... here's a video, no audio.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Dutch Revit Standards and Template

Luke mentioned this the other day but it bears repeating to help spread the word for the Dutch Revit community at large.

Dutch Revit standard (template) is now available for download:

Download -
A Translated Version
This is made available using Creative Commons licensing.

There is a link to download version 0.8 from Dropbox at this page.

The download includes:

  • Project Template
  • Families
  • Family Templates
  • Materials
  • Resource Files (CAD import / export maps, Shared Parameters and more)

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Grids Generator Extension

While I seem to be in whine mode this week I might as well suggest that the long standing grids generator extension get full Revit status. I think it could live on the ribbon alongside the Levels and Grids tool on the Datum panel. It might actually get used more if it were part of application and where's the harm in that??

Again, like the Space Naming Utility, awareness is the issue. People just don't know it exists. Instead of "hiding" it away on Autodesk Exchange put it in Revit! By the time they find out about it they've already put their grids in. If it was on the ribbon poking you in the eye when you look for grids and levels to begin with you might be more inclined to remember to use it. Hey, I thought the ribbon was better for discovering tools than the old fuddy duddy menu and toolbars approach? :)

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Autodesk 360 Kills my Internet Connection

Each time I let Autodesk 360 sync it seems to block all my other internet activity and my PC goes back and forth repeatedly between reporting access and no access to the internet. Very annoying. For this reason, I tend to log out and exit the application, not very 360ish, sad to say.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Revit MEP 2014 Space Naming Utility

This is still a separate download and installation but it is available now from the subscription center.

Why should it be part of the software?
    Essential Tool - It is impractical to manage the relationship between architecture and engineering models without it. Many of the other extensions that are available (2014 versions available now too) are idiosyncratic, a small percentage of users will tend to use them. I don't think this one is. The fact that several other companies offer similar solutions as add-ons suggest that this one is at least solid enough for general use.
    Development Plans - The utility has gone unchanged essentially since its inception. If it has been kept separate because they are going to do something else really wonderful and make it irrelevant, they've had years to do it. Until it really is part of the next release planning, put the one that works in.
    Awareness -  Many people don't know it is available, because it is hiding at the subscription center, and therefore just suffer with room/space management. Most users I meet don't have access to the subscription site let alone know of its existence. Even when it is installed it is not in an obvious place so users who haven't been told about it either stumble on to it or don't use it until someone does point it out.
    Complaint Dept. - If it remains an extension because of the fear that users will complain that they've "lost" one of their extensions...well... I sure hope that's not a reason.

I say put it on the Analyze Tab with the other Space tools, call it Space/Room Matching, like this:

Just do it!

Friday, May 03, 2013

Dominant Elements in Concrete Joins

This information is "ripped" from the WikiHelp topic...

Whenever elements that use concrete for their material interact with each other one element retains its geometry while the geometry of the other element sharing the join is cut to create the appearance of a single form. For example structural floors and walls possess dominant geometry characteristics and always maintain their geometry when sharing a join with other elements. Because of this, they will not automatically join with one another. These other concrete elements behave as follows.

These join behavior rules cannot be changed and it is not possible to disable the automatic joining of geometry. It is possible to manually change this condition using the UnJoin Geometry tool.

While were at it these are the valid combinations for concrete elements to join, in other words they may automatically join with one another.
  • beam to beam
  • beam to column
  • isolated foundation to isolated foundation
  • isolated foundation to wall foundation
  • structural floor to beam
  • structural floor to column
  • structural floor to slab edge
  • wall to beam
  • wall to column
Remember that joined geometry may have an impact on project performance.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Project Unit Rounding Matters

Let's say for example that you need a metric dimension value in your family and it should be 6.35mm. Let's also say that the family's Project Units are set to zero decimal places. When you enter 6.35mm in the Family Types dialog Revit will round the value to 6.4mm.

When you change the family's units to show two decimal places the value that was stored in the parameter is still the single decimal value (6.4mm). Revit did not store the 6.35mm value but shows the rounded value instead, it stored the rounded value.

If you override the dimension style to show two decimal places (as shown above) but don't alter the Project Units of the family you can enter the correct value (in the dimension string) and the Family Types dialog will still report the rounded value. If you change the parameter value in the Family Types dialog it won't respect a two decimal entry and you'll see the dimension value return to a rounded value.

Short and sweet, if you really want a value like 6.35mm to be honored you need to set the family "Project Units" accordingly.

Fwiw, this is different from the project environment where entering a value that uses two decimal places is honored even if the project units and/or dimension properties do not.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Model Elements on View Worksets

The gang in Autodesk Support and Development seem to have isolated at least one clear cut cause for this quirky situation where a model element is associated with a view workset. It shouldn't be possible ordinarily. Apparently this sequence can be blamed:

1) The user selects and enters an edit mode for an element on a view workset, for example this might include plan regions, detail groups, or filled regions.

2 )Instead of using ‘Finish Edit Mode’ or ‘Cancel Edit Mode’ the user instead clicks Undo to exit edit mode.

3) Now back in the project, the user starts adding model elements, such as walls. The walls are placed on the current View workset instead of the active User-Created workset (until the user opens the workset dialog or changes the active workset).

Ryan reports that 2014 has been worked on to help address this situation better, if a user takes the steps above Revit will reset the active workset properly now.

The fix for these poor elements has been (and remains) to use Cut to Clipboard and then Paste > Aligned to Same Place. Just make sure the correct workset is active.

You can read the original post at The Revit Clinic, thanks Ryan!

It also explains how to fix the issue in older versions of Revit.

Spelt Chuking Dialoguess

While experimenting with the new Non-Rectangular Crop Regions I noticed this subtle spelling eror.

The dialog title says "Invaild Integer", the correct spelling should be "Invalid Integer". Now we have a solid reason for the first web update! ;)

Btw, a inscribed or circumscribed polygon of 36 straight segments is very nearly a "circle". Jay Zallan made a point of it during a Revit user group meeting last month. That means you can create a "circular" callout now.

Revit 2014 - Schedule Grids and Levels

Revit 2014 has added grids and levels as valid elements that a schedule can be based on.

I've not personally needed to schedule them for documentation purposes but I have wanted to do so many times just so I could analyse a project's datum. For example when someone says their level has "gone missing" a schedule of levels will quickly tell me if it is still there. Now I know that it is an issue with the extents of the level as opposed to someone deleting it entirely or perhaps assigning it to a workset that isn't open or visible.

I've seen a few offices that provide a "Storey" summary of their project on their general sheets, along side code compliance information. A level schedule can help provide this without resorting to text and lines that are not tied to the model data at all.

Mentioning worksets, it is worth noting that is not an available schedule field for a level or grid, it would be if it could be part of their schedule too.