Monday, November 18, 2013

Creating Family Templates

Revit does not permit us to use Save As to create a Family Template unlike projects which can be saved as either a project or a project template. It's a bit like a strict parent that insists we go to bed at 8 PM no matter what, even if a TV show we really really want to watch is on at 8 PM.

Along the way, many years ago, someone noticed they could just rename the family to use the template extension .RFT instead of .RFA (family extension). The technique works as long as you don't have a desire to alter its structure (the file that changed from .RFA to .RFT) once you've started to create a family with it.

This means I can rename a family extension from .RFA to a template extension .RFT. Once it's changed I can create a new family by clicking New Family and choosing this special family template. While working on this new family (based on the template) I cannot delete any reference planes/lines or dimensions I created while it was a family (not a .RTE). When Revit opened the file it took ownership of all of "my work" while it was still just a family (using .RFA).

This means that if I want to start a new family based on this template but realize I need to alter the format a little, I have to return to the original "template/family" to do so. Once I've changed the extension to .RFA again I can alter the template's format freely. Any families I've created using the template can't be changed as extensively or freely.

There is no going back to a less well prepared format, at least not with the resulting family(ies). I can move and copy reference planes but I can't decide I don't need them any longer. Revit locks down the reference planes in the same way that the stock templates have done for the reference planes we find there. It protects those parts of the template file. This can be particularly confusing for other people when they come across a family and think they can reverse engineer it or start with this family to create something similar. It's confusing when they can't get rid of so many reference planes and dimensions.

Since I frequently have different things asked of me I just leave families assigned to the .RFA extension, those that I think of as templates. I add the word "template" to the name. This way I don't have to deal with switching the file extensions back and forth, which I find confusing. Which ones did I change, which ones did I leave alone? I just keep my templates in a separate folder. The hardest part for me is remembering to use Save As before I start messing with one. I could make the folder read only to make it a little harder on myself.

I recall slightly different results using past releases. This post is based on using Revit 2014.

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