Showing posts with label content. Show all posts
Showing posts with label content. Show all posts

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Revit 2021 - W Shapes-Column Family is Missing

The stock imperial architecture template has the W Shapes-Column family loaded with two types: W10X33 and W10X49. I was experimenting with new features and noticed the family isn't part of the 2021 content deployment, weird. I had to reload from the 2020 version to add a size.


If it's not one thing it's another.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Revit 2018 - Insert Ribbon Search Field is Removed

When Autodesk Seek gave up on their mission and handed it over to BIM Object Revit 2017 started to redirect us to that site instead whenever we did a search. Prior to that it would take us to Autodesk Seek.


Notice anything missing from the 2018 Insert Ribbon image above? Well the post title gave it away but the search field has been stripped off. Remember this following image from way back when?


I realize it didn't make sense to leave references to Autodesk Seek in play. Now it's even less helpful to find external content. I guess it's more incentive to install BIM Object's Revit app? Probably what they intended.

No you're not imagining things, it's gone gone gone...

-- EDITED 5/2/2017 --

I installed the BIM Object Revit app.


Holy smokes that's a heck of a ribbon for the primary button I really want, Browse on the far left. Note if you launch any of the tools you can't do any work back in Revit until you finish interacting with their app. If you find that frustrating you could just open a separate browser.

It would be nice if there were some user settings to reduce the number of buttons to just those you're likely to use. I added the browse button to the QAT to get around accessing the ribbon tab each time.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Autodesk Seek is Dead - Long Live BIMobject

I've been busy, experiencing angst or lazy, you pick. Then again dear reader you may not have noticed that I haven't been posting as much lately. Apparently some readers are still hoping to be able to rely on me to try to stay current with things. At least that's what a few emails asking about this semi-recent change suggests to me. I do apologize if my reticence to post more often is disappointing. I have been busy as well as going through another spell of "What's it all about Alfie?". Oh I've given it away...or have I? (imagine Craig Ferguson was speaking).

Get on with it Mr. OpEd... At the moment the only place other than Autodesk sites that I recall reading information about this change is the Revit Add-Ons post on the day it happened, so well done Tim.

Specifically, you may have been, or will be, greeted by a message when attempting to search Autodesk Seek via Revit's Insert ribbon? The message begins with something like (I didn't capture the screen the first time) ..."As of January 18, 2017 Autodesk Seek has been transferred to BIMobject. At least I think the naming is BIMobject. It could be bimobjects because that's also on the site. I digress...yet again.

They've provided a transfer FAQ you can read but it's not really responding to any questions I have, as a user...UNLESS you are then careful to click the small link for User FAQ on the left side (link next paragraph).

I see they've set up a hotline for Autodesk Seek transition so look for that information there (via separate FAQ sections for User and BPM) too, it's the same telephone number for either category, user or BPM (Building Product Manufacturer).

I know nothing about BIM Object yet. I can say after arriving at their site via Revit once that the UI presented to us is a sight better than Seek. My first impression is that their customers are product manufacturers, selling the service of creating and hosting content for manufacturers, the same as for Autodesk Seek.

Assuming the somewhat jaundiced view of a Revit user, the user is the product they are selling to their customers, like Facebook for example. However attempting to be fair, users need good quality content to make quality building models so if these guys do well we BIM users ought to be winning.

Regarding my overall experience with Autodesk Seek, prompted by a post at RFO, I wrote this reply there a couple days ago, responding to Philip...(a bit more of the Opinion part of OpEd)

My own experience with Autodesk Seek began with hmm promising, let's see how this goes and ended with what's the point. If you consider RevitCity's content quality is ravaged pretty consistently by fellow Revit users, as such lately I have had the same dread reaction to resorting to searching Autodesk Seek. I even went there a couple times to pull down bad examples of content to show people I was mentoring on the subject...not a good recommendation eh? Inspiration for blog posts is one upside? Okay, getting snarkastic sorry.

My feelings changed sharply a short while after the Family Style Guide was published related to Seek. A great idea and initial effort but it was a bit plain to see the market/revenue generating bias of it toward Seek. ...and it too has died on the vine.

Overall, very disappointing. Especially considering I've heard it was no small investment of time and money by companies to get their content hosted by Seek. But then that's the secret about content it takes time and both involve money even if we don't look.

Back to BIMobject, I'm going to keep an open mind, more open than my obviously skeptical comments above suggests is possible. Let's see how this goes. Oh, I'll answer the question that's probably on any user's mind for them (from their User FAQ):

Do I have to pay for the BIM objects I download?

bimobject.com is a free of charge web service for architects, engineers, specifiers and all other disciplines in the AEC and Infrastructure industries.


They offer a free Revit app to directly integrate their content search and access into Revit too.

Feel free to use comments to share your observations and experience with Autodesk Seek (in the past) or BIMobject if you've been a using their content already.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Kinship and Autodesk University

My friends Jose Fandos and Gary Sprague have been working tirelessly to develop a product they call Kinship. It offers an intelligent way to organize, search for and place Revit content and even more compelling to me is the project insight it can provide us. After a couple years of private testing they are opening things up for real.


They were kind enough to invite me along with them to Autodesk University (AU) this year. If you are attending AU please stop by to say hello and find out more about Kinship. If you're not here at AU then let me encourage you to visit their site to learn more.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Load and Place a Family

Perhaps it isn't obvious enough but Revit is designed to deal with loading and placing a family according to context determined by our actions. Did we start a placement process or an admin process?

The component tools like Door, Window, Component, Detail Component, Air Terminal and so on provide Revit with placement context. The Insert ribbon tool Load Family is an administrative task which does not presume placement as a priority.

IF we start the Component > Place a Component tool first. Choose Load Family from the ribbon. In this context Revit knows we intend to place something but using Load Family tells it we need something that isn't already loaded in the project yet. If we choose to load multiple families it is ambiguous to Revit so it chooses for us which family to offer as the family to place now.

When we use Insert ribbon > Load from Library > Load Family separately it is regarded as an administrative task, i.e. "I need to load some things so they are available to everyone." Personally I have had many situations where I need to load families in this way, not place them immediately. If I do want to place a loaded family right away then I start the Component (or Door, Window etc.) tool first.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Did you Load a Family - Synchronize NOW

ALWAYS use Synchronize with Central (SwC) immediately after loading new families or types (or duplicating system family types). Don't place any instances until you have!

This post is tagging on two earlier posts on the subject of loading content, restating the punch line to emphasize it on its own. If you're inclined to just take my advice just reread the first two sentences and behave accordingly. If you're a bit curious, need more convincing, you can read the FIRST and SECOND posts for more background info.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Revit 2016 Missing Content after Installation

If you've installed Revit and then found your library was empty you're not alone. I haven't figured out who is to blame for this yet because the people I've encountered with this problem so far haven't been very computer savvy, haven't been able to recall what they did during installation or they didn't install it themselves. When the Revit installation is underway it is important to select which content is installed. I suspect that this is either overlooked or something has prevented that task from being completed. During installation it is important to make sure you visit this section.


The content is a separate section below the Revit application itself. It is important to review the settings lurking within the Content section too.


Assuming that was done then we should find the content installed in the default location or where we decided to put the content ourselves. This is the default location with individual sub-folders within it for each unique library you've selected:

C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\RVT 2016\Libraries\US Imperial or US Metric etc

Still no content in this location, or the one you chose instead?

Revit downloads the content libraries you've selected to install so perhaps this task is being blocked by anti-virus, user permissions or internet access/restrictions? That's quite a conundrum for many people.

Making it a little more difficult, when you visit a related help document at Autodesk's Knowledge Network it describes the situation for 2015 and tells us to use the Control Panel Add/Remove feature. Fair enough for 2015 but for 2016 I find no such option for Content, despite the article specifically claiming it is similar for 2016. In fact I don't find such an option for 2015 either on my computer. FWIW, I only see an entry for Autodesk Content Service.


RAND IMAGINiT has made some of the content available via a blog post of theirs. It might help to try downloading it from their FTP site.

Autodesk Seek also hosts Revit content including its own library. If you visit the site, at the bottom of the page they have links for each disciplines library.


While I can download specific families and templates from that location I don't see an easy way to just download the entire library. They used to provide a page where we could just browse for and download a library bundle, for any of the localised versions too. I've not found its equal yet.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Worksharing - Loading Content

I read Jason's post this morning and he describes a classic worksharing gotcha. Unfortunately he hasn't identified the true culprit. I'm referring to this part of his post specifically.
One of our most notorious examples is the infamous Break Line. Each drafting view we imported had a copy of the break line family. By the time anyone noticed, the project model had “Break Line (1)” through “Break Line (22)”.
What he describes is the result of worksharing and multiple users loading the same family in their own local files. Revit sees multiple versions of the same file being loaded from different local files (users) and seeks to protect them by renaming the other versions it encounters. We see this sort of message when it happens.


This error and situation is easy to replicate.
  • Two users open local files for the same project
  • Each user loads a new family and the same type
  • Each uses Synchronize with Central (SwC)
The first person to sync will be successful without an issue but the second person will receive a warning about the family being renamed. If this is repeated enough, and by enough users at the same time, we could end up with family22 like he described.

For example, if eight people all introduce the same new family to the project then by the time the last person uses SwC there will be eight versions of this family listed in the Project Browser. This is what the Project Browser looks like after just two users think they both need to load a new double door and type.


Jason's post is focused on cleaning up after oneself and it IS important but it is also important to manage the loading of content and harvested details. It is equally important that people understand why these extra versions show up in the first place. Each time someone uses Load Family or Insert from File they must reconcile the warnings that appear before anyone has a chance to begin using the wrong version of the families that are duplicated.

I think it is worth restating that the subtlety of this issue is that this only happens when more than one user is introducing the same new family to the project (via their Local Files).

Once the family is part of the project (defined in the Central File) Revit doesn't get confused anymore. Here's what happens when I introduce the Break Line family he mentioned to the project via two users. Keep in mind that there is no Break Line family defined in the Central File at the moment. Each user loads the family, into their Local File, unaware the other user is doing it too. The first person to use SwC is fine but the second user sees this message (I expanded the warning to see the family description).


When the first user uses Reload Latest or SwC they'll both be able to see this in the Project Browser, listed beneath Detail Items.


Subtlety compounded with yet another subtlety...if the family is already defined in the project (Central File) but a new TYPE is loaded by more than one user then we end up with this situation in the Project Browser.

How do we avoid this situation?

As soon as we think we need to load a new family or type...STOP.

Who (on our team) is responsible for ensuring the content we need is available to us? There ISN'T any ONE person assigned to this? There should be. All new content should be requested, requests sent to or asked of this person. That person can delegate the task.

The goal is to avoid the situation where more than one user is loading the same new content.

Only ONE person needs to load the family(ies)/type(s) and then use SwC to make it available to everyone else on the team (they use Reload Latest). We are working on the same project after all.

To close and return to what inspired my post, Jason went on to write that they've abandoned using Detail Components in their details because of this issue. Tragic. They (the detail families) aren't the problem; Revit's worksharing behavior and user habits are. I hope he'll revisit that decision.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Curtain Wall Panel Template - Reporting Parameter Error

If we attempt to attached a Reporting Parameter to a Curtain Panel Template we might see this error message.


It's the result of attaching the dimension to the reference level in the view.


If we are careful to attach the dimension to the reference plane that is lurking underneath it (the reference level) the reporting parameter will attach without complaint. I pulled the Level and the reference plane apart a bit so they can be seen more easily in the image.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Optional Instance Override Example Two

My post last Saturday reminded Daniel Stine of a situation where he used a similar technique.

Dan writes:

In an Electrical Equipment schedule, we want the Room/Space number to be listed automatically. However some items are not located within a room. So we use a Yes/No parameter (in the family) and a calculated value (in the schedule) to switch from automatic to manual. In the example below, the rooftop equipment is not within a room and would produce a blank cell if the schedule column just listed Space:Number. With the toggle, we can type in a custom value; a word in this case.


These are the two manual parameters associated with the content:


Calculated value in Electrical Equipment schedule:
if(Enter Manual Room Number Name, Manual Room Number Name, Space: Number)

The follow parameters need to be added to the schedule, but hidden:
Space: Number
Enter Manual Room Number Name
Manual Room Number Name

Thanks Daniel!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Optional Instance Override

Twice in one week I've seen people asking about using a Type Parameter for a door swing and wishing they could occasionally override it without making a new type for the door. That jogged my memory a bit and I remembered that Aaron Maller had told me about a technique he's used on the content he has built for Beck Group. It's quite clever, thanks Aaron!

These are the parameters you need (parameter names are italic - pick better names if you want):
  • Type parameter (Angle: Swing - this the standard angle you want to use)
  • Instance parameter (Angle: Swing Override - this is the default value for the override)
  • Instance or type parameter (Yes/No: Override Swing - this is the switch to flip)
  • Instance parameter (Angle: Swing Applied - Formula: if (yes, instance, type)
It looks like this in the Family Types dialog.


This is what it looks like applied to two door types; two are set according to their type and the other two are overridden to different angles.


This is what it looks like in the Properties Palette when a door is selected. Check the option and change the value or leave the default value.


Yes! You can have your Type and Instance too!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Revit 2016 - New Door Content

The What's New documentation for Revit 2016 doesn't mention this but if you look closely you'll find that it provides new door families separated into Residential (19 each) and Commercial (16 each) folders. The residential doors all use Type Catalogs except for the two garage doors (you can see them in the second image below). Revit 2015's Doors folder has 31 doors and Revit 2016 provides 35 (and another 12 you'll see below, for total of 47).


The Single-Flush family you can see in the image above is the same one we've had in past door content. Interestingly I don't see it in the library so I imagine it's a left-over from the stock template. This is what the residential doors look like in 3D with Detail Level: Medium.



The new doors feature nested hardware (visible with Detail Level: Fine) and new options, such as Swing Angle (doors that swing), Panel Open (pocket doors), Show Grill, Masonry Frame, Threshold and Masonry Inset. Those are just the ones I've noticed so far. They aren't available in every door, just those that the options make sense for. For example, in this image you can see a pocket door is selected and it has a Panel Open parameter, the image shows it is open.


This image shows a couple options for the single full glass door; Swing Angle and Show Grill.


When you switch Detail Level to Fine you can see the hardware and some families have additional trim. This image shows the hardware and a pair of separate sidelight families. I didn't take the time to see if I could make them fit the adjacent doors better.


These are the new Commercial door families, there are Type Catalogs for all but one of them (Door-Passage-Uneven-Flush).


This is what they look like in plan and 3D views. I've loaded and placed one type from each family.


There are door families (12 each) on their own within the Doors folder and several use Type Catalogs (6 each). You'll also find the three Curtain Panel Doors we are used to seeing in the library though they've been renamed a little. In fact all doors now include Door- as a prefix to declare their category. The curtain panel doors are always a source of confusion because they are doors in a door folder that can only be placed in the model by swapping them for a curtain panel.


They've also provided Hardware families in a separate folder, which are the families used on the doors that feature hardware.


I think they overlooked the Bi-fold (closet style) door families that are in the previous library, I don't see an equivalent version among the new doors.

I should also mention that these new doors don't resolve the Copy/Monitor issue with Walls and Openings. You can see in the upper wall at the right end that the pocket door has generated a much larger opening in the wall than it really should.


The only door families that create proper openings with C/M are those that use nested families for all the geometry and only the opening is defined in the host family. These new doors aren't built that way.

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, October 15, 2014

Stage Curtains

Back in January of 2004, about eleven months before I started blogging and a couple months before moving to California, I shared a couple stage curtain families at AUGI. They were made using Revit 6.0. I recently got a message thanking me for them which made me curious how well they'd upgrade to Revit 2015. I downloaded them from AUGI too since I'd lost track of the files since then. They upgraded fine. Well, without a warning message but they didn't retain all their parametric behavior unfortunately.

If you're like me, you can't help but second guess the things you did when you get to take another look at something you did in the past. This is no different. I didn't like my choice of parameter names and the logic I used to allow for them to be reconfigured. So I spent some time re-working them in Revit 2015.

Here's what they look like in play now, the main setting is a burgundy color, the olio setting is a lighter shade and the cyclorama legs, borders and rear traveler are just black (though they look gray). If you aren't familiar with theater terminology, the olio setting is traditionally fancy or at least a different color. It is typically used (closed in front of the stage set) as the background for the opening act of a show, comedian, magician etc., far enough forward to leave most of the stage for the primary production (hidden from view), close behind the main curtain setting but leaving some stage space for the intro act.


And in plan view


And in Section


If you'd like to download them here you go:

2015 Stage Curtain Border
2015 Stage Curtain Traveler

If you need them in an earlier version than 2015 these are the Revit 6.0 files. You'll probably have to tweak them a bit to retain their parametric relationships, such as changing the height of the curtain or length of the batten etc.

Revit 6.0 Border Curtain
Revit 6.0 Traveler Curtain

I'll close with a rendered view using some stage lighting fixtures that Andrew K shared at RevitForum.org (works with ARCAT) and a couple saxophones that Michael Anonuevo shared with me back when he was working on his family editor book.


I did consider rebuilding these using the new Adaptive Point divide and repeat concept. Perhaps another day. It would be interesting to compare the performance of that technique against these. These do put a bit of a drag on a model because of the blend array that makes the curtain.

Okay, now I'm just having fun...

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Lock Down a Family

Projects that use Worksets have four kinds of worksets: User-Created, Project Standards, Families and Views.


User-Created worksets are the bookshelves we create to organize building elements logically (read How Many Worksets...). The other three are always there but ordinarily we can pretend they don't exist. Each family that is loaded into a project is assigned its own Family Workset. It happens quietly behind the scenes. We don't have to do anything at all.


Ordinarily we don't wittingly or intentionally interact with a Family Workset at all. For example, we can place hundreds of doors and not affect any doors's Family Workset. However, if we assign a value to a door's Type Comments parameter we'll find we are the Borrower of the door's Family Workset. Altering Type parameters affects the Borrower status of a family's workset.


Occasionally we find it desirable to lock-down some families. Users might get unruly and make changes we've agreed not to make without approval or someone can accidentally reload a family from the wrong library. I'm positive we can come up dozens of other examples.

We can deliberately become the Owner of any families we'd like to prevent users from altering significantly. Select the family workset and click the Editable button. Our username will appear in the Owner column. It's for this reason that most people create an alter ego like "Family Manager", "Model Manager", "Model Admin", or "Bubba"... you decide which is best. This alter ego only opens a local file when they need to deal with updating families or whatever other task they are reserving for certain roles.


This will prevent users from easily reloading and changing type parameters. They can still alter instance parameters. They can also move, swap the family for another with the Type Selector or even delete the family. There are still plenty of things that can go wrong. We've just made it a little bit harder to do a couple specific things wrong.

Be careful with Editing Requests, making them or granting them, when you lock-down worksets. Users can become the borrower unexpectedly, as THIS POST describes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Finding and Loading Content

Dan Stine wrote the other day,more sharing somewhat related to your post…

Finding content: staff often call me asking if we have a “this” or a “that” family. I do a quick search at the highest reasonable folder level in Windows Explorer. Of course, I tell them how I found the content so they can do it themselves next time.

Windows-based previews: Windows Explorer and “File Open” dialogs (see images below) we can Ctrl+Scroll to increase the preview size. [this does not negate the need to clean saved previews as you mention]. Here are some examples.




Friday, December 27, 2013

Creating Door Families

Long post warning!

I wrote supporting documents for two presentations I did about using the family editor and creating door families, they are:

Autodesk University 2005 Session BD21-1L: Autodesk Revit Building Family Editor: From the Beginning (using Revit 8.0) - Download It
Central States Revit Workshop 2013: A Door's Life (using Revit 2013) - Download It

I also wrote an earlier post here and shared A Door's Life as a Box embedded document.

I recently responded to questions about the techniques the older handout describes and then, as the thread grew, later criticism at RFO that my second document does not live up to their experience with the original. The following stream of consciousness is, for the most part, my reply there. I have rewritten parts of it so hopefully it makes sense here apart from the thread at RFO.

If you work through each document, or have already, the following describes what I experienced writing the newer version; why I didn't find it practical to just "refresh" the original, though I did start out thinking I could just do that. I started by opening the AU 2005 BD21-1L handout word documents and using Save As. Fwiw, that document was created using Word's Master and Sub-document concept (think Xref's for Word), each section is a separate document linked to a master for formatting, style setting and page numbering.

When I first started pondering (over 18 months earlier) what became "A Door's Life" I was thinking about a session for RTC in Europe. Coincidentally I received two suggestions via email within a couple weeks of each other recommending the AU 2005 handout should be updated. One even said he'd do it and submit it as a class for AU, asking if I'd have any objections. I wrote back that I didn't have any objections. I don't think he did it though, at least not that I'm aware of.

Reviewing the original outline I added the section about nesting hardware because its more common outside the USA to include hardware in door families (thinking about RTC EUR). I decided to remove the section devoted to creating the nested variable lite panel family with voids because, during the eight years of work and travel I've done since the lab at AU, I've never met anyone actually using it (until the thread at RFO). It's a relatively complicated and labor intensive part of the document too.

In its place I described creating two simpler nested panels, one derived from the first since that's how many firms actually end up going through the process. This also meant I could put the more relevant (especially in 2013 than 2005) clearance form (part of the nested swing) and hardware section in without increasing the page count too much. When CSRW submissions were requested I was already restructuring the handout (it is in imperial units) and I decided to use it for their workshop instead and took a different direction with the RTCEUR session. After a bit of reformatting it became a CSRW session and I finished it.

As such, the final form of A Door's Life is based loosely on the CSRW template, I started with it but I took some liberties. The AU 2005 BD21-1L handout is 48 pages and the font is primarily Arial 11 and based on the AU 2005 template. In contrast A Door's Life is 80 pages (3 pages are the Table of Contents, no ToC in AU BD21-1L) and uses the fonts; Calibri 11 and Cambria 10 (for lists). As a result the appearance is certainly different (see next image).


The tips (and additional comments) are a burgundy color to fit the color of the CSRW template graphics (see left image).


Doing the writing and editing I was immediately confronted with images of the Revit Building 8.0 user interface that included the Design Bar, Menu and Toolbars. When I finished the work I'd ended up replacing nearly every image. Even images that didn't need to be looked so out of place against the new interface that I often chose to replace them anyway. It's like remodeling a room that is connected to others. Improvements in the room make the other rooms look shabby.

There are also the feature and language changes from 2005 to 2013. Every instruction and description that referred to Design Bar tab, Menu or Toolbar had to be replaced with references to ribbon tabs, panels, buttons, properties palette, and other subtleties. There are also new, perhaps better, choices for how to offer some instructions, via right click, palette, view control shortcut bar etc.

There are changes in Revit itself like the behavior of the nested swing family. Between 2005 and present day the swing technique described in the 2005 handout doesn't work anymore. It's necessary to constrain it a little differently, the text of the old process had to go. The nested swing in A Door's Life has more features to describe as well. The clearance form section nearly takes up as much space as the panel/void section did in the AU 2005 handout. The clearance form describes a much more valuable lesson, in my opinion, about constraining sketches as well as the whole concept of clearance forms which isn't part of the original at all.

I think its worth mentioning that over eight years I've changed. I've been affected by the people I've met, taught and all the work I've done since. I've learned a lot more about Revit, this business, writing, editing, document formatting etc. I've done technical editing for two Revit books (beginning another now) and contributed chapters to two editions of another. My opinions and approach to writing and describing things has changed, evolved. I'm a different person than I was in 2005 and I learned a LOT from doing that lab too. I find it hard to imagine I could look at work I did eight years ago and be satisfied with "Save As"...and I wasn't. I also did not intend or expect either document to define a singular process to build "your" perfect door family. I hoped to describe the techniques that can be used together or separately to help organize anyone's own door library and all the concepts apply/extend to any other content easily too.

I closed my response in the thread with "I am grateful that you've found the original document useful and worthy of the praise, that it deserves to be updated. I won't hide my disappointment that you find the newer version not as worthy of your praise. I guess what they say about sequels is really true."

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Families with Nested Families and MEP Connectors

While trading some emails with Aaron Maller recently he mentioned that he observed that he could create circuits for nested shared electrical families. I don't recall Autodesk publicly taking credit for adding or allowing this behavior but I find that it has been possible as far back as the 2012 release. I'd try earlier releases too but I don't have them installed anymore. Since I started preparing this post I've discussed it with Jose Fandos and he confirmed that it is possible in 2011 too.

I'm a bit frustrated because I thought I tried to explore this possibility a couple years ago while making some electrical content. Rather than dwell on what I thought wasn't possible I'll focus on what IS possible instead.

Experience tells us there are many components that have a variety of options or configurations that can prove difficult to include connectors in, for example a boiler with its electrical panel available either on the right side OR the left side. When a single connector is placed we are inclined to placing it in the "middle" so we can "connect" it to a power supply. That's easier to accept for electrical connections but not as easy for piping or duct.

When the connectors are native, placed directly in a family, it isn't possible to put two connectors in place but disable one or the other. Revit sees both even if we only use one of them in the project. With two connectors in the model we can define where connections take place more accurately but ultimately we end up with one valid connector (connected) and another lurking as "unassigned" within the system browser. It might not a big deal but Revit's developers encourage to assign everything to systems so this approach means there will always be some we can't assign properly.

If the connector is part of a nested shared family and this nested family is assigned a Yes/No parameter to control its Visible parameter we gain control over not only when it is visible but also whether or not Revit sees a valid connector in the host family when it is loaded into a project. This is a crude example with connectors for pipe, electrical and data circuits, offering a conceptual right and left configuration.


When I use a yes/no parameter to control the visibility of the nested families it is interesting to find that the system browser responds to their condition. As can be expected Revit will delete a circuit or system associated with a nested connector if we choose to turn it off.


So far I find that I can create systems, connect pipe and duct, draw wires as well as tag the nested shared families. This means that it may be a bit easier now to define a component that has multiple circuits. This can help counter the limitation that a family can only report circuit information (in a tag) for the primary connector when multiple connectors are in a family.

It isn't perfect...naturally.

Nested families with connectors are harder to see and therefore are harder work with. The connectors are only visible when you hover over the location where they are when you are using the appropriate tool, like duct, pipe or wire. That also means we can't use the convenient right click "create pipe/duct/wire" options because we can't see the connectors.

It may also confront us with a need for sub-categories for connector geometry, not for the connectors themselves but any forms we use to host them. It can be easier to find the connectors if we can see the hosting forms but we may not want to see them in every kind of view.

Ultimately I think it's worth exploring further. Perhaps you'll agree?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Three Laws - Family Content

This is repost of a post that I wrote in September 2008. I thought of it as I was working through some content tasks.

Not to be confused with Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics", I first heard of the so called "three laws or rules" of software development from my father who spent many years working at IBM. These so called laws simply represented a philosophy about how to get something accomplished as efficiently as possible for the least cost (not always in terms of cash either). When I read Code Complete by Steve McConnell he mentioned the "Buy-vs-Build Decision" that developers should consider as they design/develop an application. It might seem radical to buy a solution when you are focused on making something yourself.

I've personally kept these in mind when thinking about content for Revit and even AutoCAD/ADT/Microstation before that.

Law One - Borrow
Law Two - Buy
Law Three - Build

Law One - Borrow
I can hear the cynic saying, "you mean steal". I'm sure that has happened too often. However the idea of borrowing what has been shared made the early adopters of Revit very special to me. Their willingness to make something that took them several, many hours in some cases, and make it available to others was and remains refreshing, altruistic. Guys like Chris Yearick (Yman), Scott Brown (sbrown) and Chris Zoog (czoog) to name just a few, their AUGI usernames in ().

Have you used the "All Windows" families found at Revit City? Chris Yearick (Living Places part of The Pilari Group) made those many years ago now and posted them freely at RUGIE (no longer in existence) and they found their way into the Revit City content as well as AUGI's Exchange and other places I'm sure.

Scott Brown (now with Beck Group) shared his office template as well as many standard office/product detail components and views which short circuited the time someone need to spend on their office template substantially.

Chris Zoog (now with HOK) started Zoogdesign and created a vibrant community resource for Revit discussion. It eventually merged into the Revit community forum at AUGI.

More recently an AUGI member known as CadKiller has made an ftp site available to share templates in the same spirit.

Law Two - Buy
There is something to be said for the education of making something yourself but if you can't perform billable work during that time it may not make economic sense to do it yourself. It may not make sense to have anyone in your employ do it either for the same reason. Worse yet all too often I find that a firm's different offices have made the same content themselves without realizing that someone in their own organization already made it or bought it. So communicating what is available is pretty important too...and another topic entirely.

Law Three - Make it yourself
Like I wrote above there is nothing quite like making something yourself for both satisfaction and reaching a fuller understanding of the Family Editor. At times this is the best solution or perhaps the only "affordable" way to get precisely what you want. Just be prepared to apply these same "laws" to how you acquire any knowledge you lack, maybe in a different order?

Here's to being "Law" Abiding!

Edit: Realized that the people mentioned are with new firms now, revised.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

BlueBryk and Content

I recently spoke with Bruce Madsen. I had the pleasure of sharing a dinner table with him and his wife at RTC in Auckland. One of the things he's struggled with (we've all struggled with) in his work at HOK is finding and keeping up with all the places that we can find content. He's been quietly compiling his own lists and keeping track of this stuff and finally decided it was time to do this in a more formal way, organized and in a way that allows for broader participation.

This is where BlueBryk comes in.


I should take a quick step back and explain that until now Bruce has been working quietly in what he called a private beta. I asked him if he was worried about word leaking out... Since I'm the leak, he's really hoping to get more feedback about what he's built so far, to see how well it fits and meets our needs. I really need to remember to ask him about the inspiration for the name but I'll ignore that for later.

The site is not a place to find and examine a specific cabinet or pipe fitting, at least not at the moment. It is a place to find recommended places to find content. It is a compilation of all the places that he's documented as providing content, not the specific content that is available.

If you visit the BlueBryk site you'll find a clean organized place (a bit of expected blue here and there too). At the very top is a button called "Why Register". That was my first question too, with a cynic's mindset, "Why do I care?". The first reason offered is access to advance searching criteria, which is certainly valid. I think the biggest reason is to give me access to voting on content providers. After all if I really want to make the site work we all need to give feedback into the quality of the content we find. Autodesk's Seek, the more or less obvious "competing" resource, doesn't really deliver on real user rating systems (we can submit feedback), at least not in a "social" way.


After submitting the info as shown above the results are organized alphabetically and the BlueBryk rating appears on the far right.


Links provide access to the websites for each provider, which belong to any one of these categories: Content Exchange, Consolidator, Content Building, Content Store or Manufacturer. In this way the site is a much more elegant delivery of the kind of information my own Revit Inside blog has been doing for companies that use Revit.

The goal of the site is to do a great job of keeping this information current, relevant and reliable...useful. At the moment Bruce reports over 1200 resources are to be found within BlueBryk. If I'm hunting for the perfect supply grill for Revit MEP there are a lot of manufacturers, the question is who provides Revit content? Ideally BlueBryk will make it easier to see which companies or sites provide a matching range of content AND see which ones are highly rated by BlueBryk AND us.

Now that I've mentioned his site, Bruce hopes you'll check it out and help him make it a very valuable resource for all of the Revit (and the broader BIM) community. Have a look for yourself and click the Contact Us button to offer up your thoughts. He's incorporated a blog into the site too so he can provide timely information. Look for him to write posts that help explain what his vision is and where he hopes we will help him take BlueBryk.

Fwiw, another product called Unifi also takes on this problem with at least one big difference, its integration into Revit as an application. BlueBryk is solely a web resource. I don't know if that is a negative or a positive for either but my gut instinct is that not being an app makes it a bit simpler to use it as intended, as a resource, instead of adding yet another thing to manage during deployment for Revit.