Friday, December 19, 2014

Quick Tips - Disabled New Data Row Button and Pinned Element Selection

Two gotchas I've seen come up a few times lately.

Revit 2015 R2 provides a separate button for a new Data Row when we create a room, area or space (sheets too). It is disabled however when the schedule is not using the Itemize every instance option (un-checked). This means creating a new row might not be visible in the schedule, so it is disabled. I wrote a post about the new Data Row button when R2 became available.

Can't select something in your view? Did you pin it? Someone else pin it? Why do I ask? Because we can tell Revit we don't want to select Pinned Elements now. The trouble is we forget those settings easily and later we look clicking challenged when we repeatedly click on something and Revit ignores us. I previously wrote about the new since Revit 2014 Selection Options.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Creating Elevation Views and Finish Floors

If you use the finish floor approach to create individual floors for rooms they manage to confuse the Elevation tool. If you create an elevation view inside a room you will likely find that the view's crop boundary is very short.

These are two interior elevations I made. The crop region for the one on the left is good but it's floor is flush with the sub-floor (and level). The crop region for the view on the right is bad, too short because the finish floor is set so that it sits on top of the sub-floor. Quirky quirky.

Raff, a member at RFO, started a thread the other day and it reminded me that I'd created the video below, embedded here.

The video is based on Revit 2015 R2 and Update Release 5 installed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Revit 2015 R2 - Reveal Constraints

A new view override feature called Reveal Constraints is part of the subscription only R2 release for Revit 2015. It is intended to make it easier to see constraints that have been applied to the model but may have been obscurred in some way. For example it is possible to use a padlock on a dimension string and then delete the string, ignoring the warning message and clicking OK to accept it but retain the constraint. Clicking the sneaky little dimension string with a padlock icon on the View Control Shortcut bar reduces the model to gray/halftone and displays constraints in a burgundy color, like below where I've locked a couple dimension between Levels.

Even constraints that are related to elements within a sketch are displayed but they are also gray or halftone. You can double-click to edit the element, if you have that feature enabled, or edit the element and then remove the constraint(s).

I've embedded the following video, which you'll find within Autodesk's help documentation.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Gray Inactive Worksets

This feature is often overlooked but it can help ensure you are setting the Active Workset as you transistion between tasks. It is located on the Collaborate ribbon tab > Manage Collaboration panel and right underneath the Active Workset drop down list.

Let's say I need to start working on the interior partitions next. If I click to enable Gray Inactive Worksets it becomes more obvious that the exterior walls are still my focus.

If I change the Active Workset to Interiors then everything else becomes a light gray color instead.

Now all the interior work I do takes a visual priority compared to the rest of the model.

Such a simple yet easy to overlook feature, try to remember to take advantage of it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Revit 2015 R2 - Perspective View Changes

It is not uncommon for a new Revit user, that is already familiar with Sketch Up for example, to be a bit surprised that we can't do routine modeling work while using a perspective view, called a camera view. I liken Revit to having been raised by parents with different beliefs than other software's parents have. In this instance Revit's parents didn't think it was necessary or important to let their kid model around in perspective views. Most users react to this as if they've just found out their friend's parents ground them for practically any infraction. How sad, your parents are tough!!

Good news on this front, 2015 R2 begins reducing this restriction!

The following are available in perspective views now:
  • Editing tools: Move, Align, Pin and Unpin
  • Reset Target tool: Restores the position of the camera target to the center of the field of view
  • Toggle between the perspective and parallel representations of the 3D view

Reset Target is a new button when the view's crop region (perspective views) is selected. It places the camera target back at the center of the crop region. It may be useful if the changes you made switching back and forth between view modes has altered the view in a confusing way.

Toggling between view modes is possible through the View Cube and right click. CLICK TO find out more about these enhancements.

The online help documentation specifically notes these items when switching from parallel to perspective view modes.
  • If you add elements to the parallel view that are not supported by a perspective view (such as annotations or displacement sets), and select to toggle to the perspective view, a dialog displays.
    You have the option of duplicating the view without the non-supported elements and opening the duplicate view in perspective.
  • The Toggle to Perspective 3D option is only available from the parallel view if the Crop Region Visible property is selected for the view.
  • Some modes are not supported in the perspective view. For example, if you are in Reveal Constraints mode in the parallel view, this mode is automatically closed when switching to perspective.
  • Changes made to the View Scale in the parallel view are reset when switching back to perspective.

It's not quite the 60's, the era of free modelling, but it's a start.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Family Orientation

It is quite common to find the orientation of families confusing, both when we make them and when we attempt to place them in a project. What we consider front, back, left and right doesn't seem to follow consistent logic. Okay, there is some consistency it just seems opposite of what we might expect. What do most of us expect? Speaking for myself at least; Front is the bottom of a plan view, Back is the top of a plan view, Right and Left are the right and left sides of the plan view.

If we examine every family and family template in the stock content we'll find that Front IS at the bottom of every plan view in all of them. The View Cube also matches that convention. The thing that confuses us is that a portion of the stock content has been modelled in the reverse. That which we think of being the front of the object being modelled is the back. Even in those families however, upon closer inspection, we will find that the reference planes are oriented correctly (if they are named at all), the geometry orientation is wrong. The direction the geometry is facing is wrong.

If we consider a chair family most if not all of them are modelled with their front toward the top of the view (which is Back). If we compare that with a desk we'll find that it is modelled with the drawers (can we agree that they'd be the front?) toward the top of the view. These two families oriented this way don't allow the user to place a desk, horizontally for example, and then a chair horizontally so that they are oriented correctly with respect to one another. In the case of this desk there is no visible clue to know which way the desk is facing during placement. We'd be rich if we got a dollar every time we noticed the desk was backward when we open an elevation view later.

Looking at the View Cube the chair looks wrong, but only if we happen to agree the front of the chair is the side our legs are on. In the context of being placed next to a table or desk it means that the chair is facing the wrong side of the desk or vice versa. They had to pick an orientation but in the case of a desk that has drawers they picked wrong. Other work surfaces and tables might not matter nearly as much. It would make more sense to me if the desk were modelled with the drawers facing front, the bottom of the plan view. This would allow us to place a desk and chair and their orientation would make sense regarding each other.

Another apparent mismatch of orientation logic is base cabinet and wall/upper cabinet casework. Base cabinets are modelled with front facing the bottom of the plan view but the wall hosted upper cabinets are facing the back, the top of the plan view, opposite of base cabinets. Placing them in a project however defies the apparent orientation mismatch because the origin of the base cabinet is at the back and it is for the upper cabinet too. This means they orient logically when used together despite being modelled facing different directions in the family editor.

Also contributing to confusion is that the original content for doors and windows all assume that their Exterior side (and Placement Side) is what Revit considers the back side of the family. I've always thought of the exterior side as the Front of a door or window, the side that faces people as they approach the house. A door was the very first family I made with Revit. Afterward I believed that Front was the top of a plan view in the family editor. At least until I encountered enough other families to realize I was wrong.

To appear more consistent, while working in the Family Editor, Autodesk would need to revise most if not all of their hosted content (and others) so that the geometry orientation respects the bottom of a view being the Front view. The placement logic it uses must compensate for the placement side orientation of the geometry not being consistent with the notion of Front. If they revised the orientation of content to please Family Editors then they'd have to be careful to also revise the placement side logic.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Detailing and Circles

If using a Detail Line and drawing a circle Revit doesn't much care for attaching a dimension to the "side" of it, in this case it is a conduit, when they are sketched that way. We can sketch a short straight line segment and place a dimension that references that instead.

If we create and use Detail Items for 2D versions of real things then we'll find the dimensions more accommodating. The advantage of being a component is it can be re-used, provide a variety of sizes as types and they can be tagged. Lines have never been quite the equal to components in Revit's world. I do think it is a bit silly that the dimensions don't work on a detail line used to create a circle. We can only dimension the diameter, radius or from center to another element.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New Canadian CISC Standard 9.2 Structural Shapes Available

If you rely on Canadian size structural shapes for your work then you'll wish you had a valid subscription if you don't. The Canadian Structural Content Extension for Autodesk® Revit® RST 2015 software provides the latest CISC standard 9.2 hot rolled structural steel shapes is available in the Subscription Center for you to download. This extends the current out-of-the-box content offering, reducing the need for users to seek alternative sources of content.

This was announced via the BIM & BEAM blog earlier today.

I have to admit my first reaction was that it ought to be available regardless of subscription status. I'd prefer that anybody using Revit Structure and relying on accurate structural shapes also has the latest shapes to use. If it is truly supplemental, as opposed to updating critical existing shapes, then perhaps it is a subscription benefit?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Revit 2015 R2 and Shaft Openings

Another subtle change within the new R2 release (only available to active subscription customs) affects Shaft Openings. These now assume a Base Constraint equal to the associated level of the view you create it in. They also changed the order of the parameters so they are the same as the parameters as other elements that have a Base Constraint, Base Offset, Top Constraint and Top Offset.

The settings we see above are the result of creating the shaft in the floor plan view for Level 1, before I extend it any higher. If you create a Shaft Opening in a 3D view it will assume the Base Constraint of the view's active work plane.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Guide Grid and Pin

We can assign a Guide Grid to sheets which provides a way to make sure selected views are lined up from one sheet to another. If you aren't familiar with this tool then have a look at this older post for an overview.

If we're concerned about someone moving the guide grid we can use the Pin tool to make it a little harder to move it accidentally. Then we can make it even harder if we un-check the Selection tool Select pinned elements.

Just keep in mind the Pin tool does not prevent the Guide Grid spacing from being changed. Methinks it should.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Autodesk Subscription Concepts Changing

If you were at Autodesk University last week (I wasn't) or at least watching the social media feed from the people you follow on Twitter, Facebook etc. you probably saw something about Autodesk changing how subscription will work in the future. This is anticipating more cloud based software use.

Scott Shepard shared (with Autodesk and blogger for "It's Alive in the Lab") a transcript of a Q&A session regarding what these changes are likely to mean to Autodesk's customers.

This is the text he shared within his blog post:

I (Scott Shepard) attended an internal Autodesk OnAir presentation where VP of Industry Strategy & Marketing, Andrew Anagnost, provided additional information. Here it is in question/answer form:

Q: What does "moving away from perpetual licenses" mean?
A: We will stop offering customers the option to purchase NEW perpetual licenses of Autodesk software. Customers will continue to have several other purchase options, including Desktop Subscription.

Q: Why are we making this change?
A: We are ahead of most of our competition in harnessing cloud and mobile to give customers superior user experiences and to provide more potential customers access to our products through lower prices for many of our products and term payments.

Q: What will be the impact on existing customers?
A: Customers who are on Autodesk Subscription will not be impacted by this change. Customers not on Autodesk Subscription will need to purchase Desktop Subscription to access the latest Autodesk software releases.

Q: What does this mean for customers on Maintenance Subscription?
A: Existing subscribers will continue to have the option to renew their Maintenance Subscription contracts and receive access to the latest Autodesk software releases and other Subscriber benefits. Any new software received as part of a maintenance contract will have perpetual license rights.

Q: What are we taking away?
A: The ability to buy NEW perpetual licenses.

Q: Does this mean customers will lose their perpetual rights?
A: No, if the customer previously bought a perpetual license in the past, that license doesn't go away.

Q: When will we stop offering perpetual licenses?
A: We anticipate it will be sometime in the next 12 to 24 months. Details will be shared as decisions are finalized.

He (Scott) then provided a few additional statements from the Autodesk PR team:

"We are aware of multiple conversations regarding Autodesk’s ongoing business model transformation and move to Subscription. In an effort to provide clarification, we would like to provide some specifics about changes in the sale of perpetual licenses."

"Over the next 12-24 months, Autodesk is planning to gradually discontinue sales of NEW perpetual licenses, and will make NEW seats of our software available through Desktop and Cloud Subscription only."

"Existing customers with perpetual seats will be able to continue using those products per the terms of those licenses. Customers with perpetual licenses that are current with Autodesk Subscription will continue to benefit from product updates and other benefits of Autodesk Subscription."

"We recognize that these changes will impact our customers and that you will have many questions. We plan to provide additional details about our plans as the information becomes available and will provide sufficient advance notice so you can plan for these changes."

Friday, December 05, 2014

Changing Column Types and Copy Monitor

Using Copy/Monitor Revit does not complain when we change column families or types. It does complain if the column is moved. This is different from other elements like grids and levels. My understanding is that the way they expected Architects and Engineers to use the feature is a little different for columns, something like this:
  • Architect places schematic architectural columns (different from structural columns)
  • Architect sends model to engineer
  • Engineer uses copy/monitor to create structural columns where the architects schematic columns are
  • Engineer sends their model to Architect
  • Architect adjusts their columns to be masking only (unless they are left uncovered)
The disparity between column types is intentional because an Architect's needs for the column are often different, masking a structural element versus designing/engineering the column itself. It can also be argued that it would still be better to complain when the column family is changed or swapped for another type (size). Even if, as the Architect, I've shifted my focus to wrapping structural columns it is likely worth being warned if the structural column has changed.

To be warned requires me to have a copy of the column to monitor, which I'd prefer to avoid ordinarily. In general, I encourage Architects to remove their own columns (structural or otherwise, if they use them) in their model as soon as the Engineer is hired and they send them their structural model. Now the architect can focus on using walls to wrap columns as required by Design Development and Construction Documentation. I resist the natural temptation to have my own copy of elements if at all possible, striving to avoid redundancy. Using copy/monitor (the monitor aspect only) can still alert us to major changes to location of the grids/columns.

For now Revit doesn't complain if we change the columns, as long as that change isn't its position/location. If that doesn't fit our model view then we need to let them know.

I wrote this post in part because of a thread at the Autodesk Revit Structure online user group. I wrote this suggestion to work around the lack of warning.

Since Revit is sensitive to movement, we could agree to move columns that are changed like this. If the architect is redesigning a column they can swap out the type for a new type but also move it off grid by a specific value. This will prompt a coordination review when the file is refreshed in the other discipline's file. When they examine the column they'll see the change is more about the size than position. They can respond to the change and move the column back into position, which will prompt coordination review upon return. We could agree that such trigger movement would always be East to West and always a specific distance or something like that so each team knows what to expect.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Revit 2015 Release Update 5 and Terminology

Autodesk released another update for Revit 2015 yesterday, it was formally announced via The Revit Clinic and tweeted. THIS PDF is the published list of things that this update, as well as past updates, have dealt with. I hesitated to post this yesterday because I was a bit confused by what I read at the links below.

Revit 2015 UR5
Revit Arch 2015 UR5
Revit MEP 2015 UR5
Revit Struct 2015 UR5
Revit LT 2015 UR5

For many years an update meant a fresh installation, replacing the previous installed version. This eventually changed in favor of updates that could be applied to an existing installation of Revit. That meant a smaller file to download (usually) and it could be installed (or deployed) more easily. For many of those earlier years we just referred to these updates by their build number, as in, "What build do you have?" We still have a build number to reference.

More recently they began including the phrase Update Release and a number. For Revit 2015 it was easy, through Update Releases 1-3, until Revit 2015 R2 became available, introducing new terminology. The R2 release, which delivers brand new features, is only available to customers who have active subscription accounts. As it happens R2 also includes things that an Update Release would include, as such installing R2 meant we were technically installing Update Release 4 at the same time. For customers that don't have an active subscription it is necessary to make Update Release 4 available to them too.

Distinctly different from R2, an Update Release fixes things within the existing product. It does not provide new features. These shouldn't be confused with a Hotfix, though having a similar intention, which tends to repair a relatively tiny part of the software. They are both delivered via a download from the Autodesk site too. We should be alerted to them becoming available via the Communication Center and/or the Autodesk Application Manager (if deployed/enabled).

In contrast, the R2 release does provide new features that we might normally expect to be delivered as part of a brand new yearly release. In this case it was delivered as part of our subscription benefits, only to those with valid subscriptions in place. It also does not incur a file format change as we see with the yearly releases. As we've seen in the past it could have been delivered as Revit 2015.1 instead. Language and terminology is fun!

Such was the confusion initially that The Revit Clinic offered up a post called What is the Difference between Revit 2015 R2 and Revit 2015 UR2? As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I found myself confused when I visited the download pages for Update Release 5. This section seems to suggest there is a separate update to download via the Subscription site?

Note: If you are an Autodesk Subscription Customer and have installed Autodesk Revit 2015 R2, please install Autodesk Revit 2015 Update Release 5 for R2. Refer to the Autodesk Revit 2015 R2 subscription download page.

If you follow the link they provide it brings you (if you log in) to the original Revit 2015 R2 subscription download page. There is no mention of a special Release 5 update for R2. I wouldn't have been as confused if it said what I now believe it really meant: "If you haven't installed Revit 2015 R2 yet you can download it via this link".

I gambled and downloaded the update for Revit 2015 (first link above). My Revit is delivered as part of the Building Design Suite and I was able to apply this update successfully. In the past it was necessary to download a unique BDS delivered version of Revit 2015 updates. In this case they appear to have dispensed with that subtlety.

To summarize I believe this is accurate - see if you can stay with me:
  • Original release of Revit 2015 for which they have provided Update Releases 1-5.
  • New Release of Revit 2015 R2 which is available to subscription customers only, to which Update Release 5 also applies.
  • Update Release 4 became available at the same time as R2 was introduced but it was necessary to provide a separate update for customers that were not eligible for Revit 2015 R2.
  • If you installed R2 you also received Update Release 4.
  • If you install Update Release 5 today you also incorporate all previous Update Releases.
It is not clear to me at the moment if there is a different build number when Revit 2015 R2 and Update Release 5 are installed as compared with Revit 2015 installed and Update Release 5 applied. I'd expect a different build number since Revit 2015 R2 has features that are not part of Revit 2015. Shall we compare build numbers? Mine is in the image above, R2 installed with Update Release 5.

As always, be sure to carefully read through the Readme documentation provided at each download page. Clear as mud? I sure hope so!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Our Revit Username and Signing into A360

When Autodesk began introducing Autodesk 360 based tools and services they provided us with a place to sign in to our account within Revit too. We can sign in via the Info Bar.

Regarding using worksets, when we are using Revit 2014 we can sign in to our A360 account and it leaves our current Revit username alone. When we are using Revit 2015 logging into A360 will attempt to change our username to match our A360 username. If we are already working in a Local File with a different username we'll get this warning message and signing in to A360 fails.

If we are working on a project that doesn't use Worksets we will be able to sign into A360 but it will change our username in the process.

If we attempt to open an existing Local File later we'll encounter this warning.

If we intend to work on a project, that uses worksets (as many of us do), then we need to make sure we've already logged into A360 before we create/open our Local File to avoid this issue. In Revit 2015 we can sign into A360 via the Options Dialog too.

I'm making a habit of checking my username before starting any work AND logging into A360 first if I intend to use it. That's the tricky part, will I and when? How many people this affects right now compared is another question. The concept of Autodesk 360 poses EyeTee with an interesting problem, creating and managing separate user (other than their own domain) accounts at Autodesk.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

By Sketch Stairs and using Stair Path and Tread Number Annotation Tools

Since they revamped the stair tools in Revit 2013 and tweaked them slightly in 2014 and 2015 we've had two annotation tools, Stair Path and Tread (or Riser) Number, to place view specific stair annotation.

Sadly the Stair by Sketch method of creating stairs is not recognized by these relatively new stair annotation features.

You'll find Revit is unresponsive when you attempt to apply them to your stair. They only work with Stair by Component. However, we can create a Stair by Component and then use Convert to turn each run/landing into a sketch based component and the Stair Path and Tread Number tools continue to work.

I assume this limitation has something to do with built-in locations within the component stair elements to define where the annotation can appear. There is no way to provide equal representation within the sketch. For them to work on the sketch based stairs I imagine it would be necessary to add another type of sketch element like Stair Path and/or RiserTread Path, like we already have for Run, Boundary and Riser. Using Convert on a stair component allows for sketch based modification but retains its componentness, at least enough for the annotation tools to keep working.

For now it may suffice to start with Stair by Component and then use Convert to modify the sketch as required. Worth a try.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Setting Yes No Parameters with Formulas

Peter boards a train in Philadelphia bound for NY. Joe boards a train in NY bound for Philadelphia. If both trains... oh I don't care when their trains pass one another. Next question?

I want Revit to automatically check a Yes/No parameter but only when two other parameters are checked already. I read a post at RFO asking how to accomplish this. That member's issue was Revit complaining about inconsistent units, as it does. I replied that Revit doesn't accept 1 or 0 as a valid true/false value. The formula was written like this for parameter C:

if (and (A,B), 1, 0)

Since Revit doesn't like the 1 or 0 used in that formula we can use this instead:


Revit reads that as, "I (Revit) can only check C if both A and B are checked too". In the Family Types dialog it looks like this.

If I'd like the opposite to happen it looks like this instead:


Revit now reads it as, "I (Revit) can only un-check C if A and B are both checked too." In the Family Types dialog it looks like this.

Greg replied (in the RFO thread) that the formula would accept valid math statements for the true or false result. That means that the formula could be written like this, using the original formula above.

if (and (A,B), 1=1, 0=1)

It looks like this in the Family Types Dialog.

Either approach provides the same end result. Programmers often compete to write the leanest code, complete a task or tasks with the fewest instructions, fewest lines of code. My formula is leaner code but not by much. Regardless, I think it does help to see different solutions to help us solve the problems we encounter later.