Friday, June 28, 2013

Coordinating Projects Using Shared Coordinates

This is the handout I prepared for a past RTC Session. It is also based on a class I did at Autodesk University in 2009. I decided to embed it here since I've already got quite a few posts that talk about shared coordinates but none that tackle it like this one does. Two approaches are described: Small Project and Large Project. Small and Large aren't literally based on size, more like complexity and specifically a focus on a single building on site (small) or possibly many buildings on a site (large).

If you're interested there is a video (50 minutes) that I did for AU Virtual in 2009, recorded by Autodesk. It's based on the text of the handout above but this one is the revised version for the later RTC event (2012).

If you want to work with the files the handout refers to you can download the files with the links below.

Large Project Dataset 01 (16.1 MB)
Large Project Dataset 02 (10.6 MB)
Small Project Dataset 01 (10.3 MB)
Small Project Dataset 02 (15.9 MB)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Schedules Can Include Linked File Information

My reply to a thread at AUGI this morning prompted me to post this. I've probably mentioned this in the past but it's easy to overlook. When you use a schedule that includes elements that are in linked files you can also include two parameters for the linked file. It starts by checking the option to Include Elements in Linked Files. Then you can choose the drop down list Select available fields from:

Choosing RVT Links will provide two parameters: File Name and Name (a value you can control/change). The following image is a little mockup of windows that are both in the host file and in a linked file. The issue expressed in the AUGI thread is figuring out which file incorrect windows are in so they can be replaced. In that situation there were many linked files so it wasn't as easy as opening up one linked file.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Type Catalogs and MEP Parameter Syntax

The formatting of type catalog parameters has been consistent until the introduction of Revit MEP features. The WikiHelp at Autodesk provides insight into many things but it still doesn't tackle this subtlety yet. It does offer a number of sample entries, all without a bias toward MEP settings however.

The syntax for Common and Structure data types is parameter name##datatype##units
The syntax for MEP engineering data types is parameter name##discipline_datatype##units

MEP focused examples

Structure and Common
Assembly Code##OTHER##

Each MEP related parameter type begins with the discipline it is associated with. In other words when you create the parameter in the family which one of the available disciplines did you choose the parameter from?

If you choose from Common or Structural it isn't necessary to specify them first. It seems to only have been added since the introduction of MEP categories. Another subtle difference is that you'll also find that MEP parameters use the underscore (_) instead of spaces between words in both the data type and the units used.

Examine the Discipline and Type of Parameter wording when you create a new parameter. When you are ready to create your own type catalog headers, refer to those again and as a general rule you can type:
  • Your parameter name
  • ##
  • Discipline
  • _ (underscore)
  • Parameter data type (with underscore between words)
  • ##
  • Units (with underscore between words)
When when I'm not sure what the correct format should be, I either open an existing family or create a new one from scratch that uses the parameter type I'm dealing with. Then I use the relatively new Export > Family Types feature to create a type catalog. If Revit makes it then it must be correct? Right? Better still using that feature can be a shortcut in itself, just clean out the extraneous parameters I don't really want to include in the type catalog. I wrote a post recently offering some advice on Working with Type Catalogs.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Can't Select DWG

With Revit 2014 came new selection filtering for linked files and pinned elements.

If you find yourself scratching your head when you can't select a DWG file you just imported...remember that Revit will often pin the DWG. If you've turned off both selection options that'll make selecting the DWG doubly difficult! Been there done that!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pipe Size Parameter Usage

This is pretty subtle, when you try to add a shared parameter directly to a dimension (even to the "radius" in a connector), ie select "add a parameter" instead of selecting from the list available, it will tell you it has to be a 'length' parameter.

If you load the parameter first using the Family Types dialog as a pipe size you can then select it from the list.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Apply versus APPLY and View Templates

When you right click on a view name in the Project Browser you see the option to Apply Template Properties. This takes the settings for the view template you choose and changes the selected view to match its settings.

This is quite different from the button that appears next to View Template in the Properties Palette when a view is selected (or just active with nothing selected). Click that button (says None initially) and you get the same dialog called Apply View Templates but the template you choose becomes "in charge" of the view. The parameters that the view template controls will become disabled in the properties of the view as well as the Visibility Graphics dialog.

The dialog will report how many views are affected by a selected View Template.

You can also set a View Template in a View List (schedule), just include the View Template parameter. Click the little browse button and the Apply View Templates dialog will open up.

Pro Tip: If you know the name of the template you can just type it instead, but you've got to spell it perfectly. If you don't you'll get an error message.

Apply = match view template settings but the view remains independent
APPLY (better word is ASSIGN) = View Template is in charge of the view

In Action
Apply =
  • Right Click on View in Project Browser
  • View ribbon > View Templates > Apply Template Properties to Current View
  • Properties Palette View Template parameter button
  • View Template parameter in View List (schedule)
In response to a comment on a later post about using Temporarily Apply View Template I wrote this:

I describe them this way now:
Apply is passive (this is how they've only worked in the past)
Assign is aggressive (View Template button in Properties Palette)
Override (only relevant and necessary when a VT is Assigned, otherwise we can't alter a view without changing its template first)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Conduit Connector Gone Rogue

I created a conduit connector "disc" that let's me attach conduit to any surface. I place the connector and then add conduit, easy. It's based on the other connector families that Revit provides in the library, these:

When I loaded the connector into a project and select it I find a bizarre value offered. I get the same value no matter what size I enter. This image is after trying 3/4", 1", 1.5" and finally 2".

I tried creating the parameter as a Common/Length as well as Electrical/Conduit Size. Doesn't matter...same bizarre result. The connector's size changes when I change the parameter in the Family Types dialog so it works. You can't enter value on screen. Fwiw, it happens to pipe connectors too. I added a pipe connector to a transformer (I know it's probably a bad idea to put water in a transformer, unless it is water cooled?)

Weird, just weird...looks like a bug that needs some squashing!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Copy Monitor and Name Changing

I use the monitor part of Copy/Monitor to create a relationship between my existing levels and levels in a linked model. There is no need to use Copy because I've already got a couple levels to work with. In this scenario I'm using Revit MEP and linking an architectural model. I'd like my level name to match the architects. If you use Monitor first and then decide to make your level names match the linked levels you'll get a message like this.

Revit isn't really evaluating or comparing the names. If it was it would realize that I just changed it to match the monitored level. Instead it's just reacting to the fact that the name (my level's name in my file) is now different.

Moral of the story is, if you intend to use the same names it is best to change them before you start using monitoring. If you don't then you'll need to stop monitoring, change the name and then restore the monitoring.

Monday, June 17, 2013

View Templates are Mean

If you do something that prompts Revit to pop up this kind of warning (this one is about Spaces)...

You'll be tempted to answer Yes with the expectation that Revit will show your spaces. Well you'd be wrong if your view is assigned to a view template. As in this example if you place a space (using Revit MEP features) you'll get this warning next.

Aggressive view templates will deny the override that the warning dialog implies. It's like asking your mother if you can do something and she says yes but then your father says no. It makes sense but the warning message can be confusing, at least initially. You still have to edit the View Template so it will show whatever category you really want to see.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Schedule Name and Header

A few years ago (Aug 08) I wrote a post that explained how to break the relationship between a schedule's name and its header. With Revit 2014 that approach is no longer necessary. I can just use the new Clear Cell button on the header text.

Now the schedule header can be something else and the name we see in the Project Browser can be something else. If you rename a schedule the header will match that name at first, or vice versa. If you click in the Header cell, click Clear Cell and the value is removed but the view name is not. Now put the name you really want in and you can alter either without affecting the other.

We can't use Project Browser organization on schedule views yet but we can control the naming a bit more easily now with this technique.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

This Family uses a Type Catalog

A family that has 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.

If you don't select at least one type from a catalog Revit will load the default type, don't do it. Select at least one type to reload or load. Don't drag and drop from Windows Explorer either.

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 Edit Family (from inside a project) with families that have type catalogs, it puts all the loaded types from the project in the family. If you edit a family that uses a Type Catalog and it has a bunch of types "inside" it either wasn't cleaned up well or someone used Edit Family from a project. Related to this is, do NOT use Load into Project while working on the family, it does not look for or offer the type catalog and you end up with the default type in the project.

An earlier post included most of this but I decided it bears repeating, separately.

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.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Family Templates and View Orientation

An exchange of posts at with Alfredo regarding family templates prompts this post. The thread began with a question about orientation. I've written about this in the past. I was confused by the use of Exterior/Interior labels then.

I find a fair number of new Revit family editors seem to start out with door families. If that's your first foray into content you might starting thinking the top of the view is "front". It's labeled Exterior. I tend to think of the exterior side of a door panel as the front side when making one. This tripped me up for awhile. I wrote the post thinking the other templates were wrong when compared with the door template, at the very least different. Technically they are all the same, front is at the bottom of the page.

I recently examined every imperial family template (release 2014) that is used for 3D geometry. They all respect the notion of orientation where the bottom of the view is front, the top of the view is back, the right side is ride and left is left. Some templates have labels like Exterior/Interior and Placement Side. In the thread at RFO Alfredo noted that the Generic Model Adaptive template does not respect this orientation. In my view it does but when the template was created the front and back views were named incorrectly. The front view is really the back. If we examine geometry using the view cube we'll find every family will show the geometry the same way when we manipulate the cube.

He also mentioned the Profile Mullion template. They've provided labels to help orient yourself when you sketch your profile. In this image you can see that I've created a bullet shaped mullion profile and applied it to a curtain wall. The bullet ends up on the exterior side.

What is curious is that if the profile is not symmetrical the result is a mirrored condition when applied to the mullion in the project. That's a little unexpected.

If, in an elevation view, I place a detail section that looks up the profile matches what I see in the mullion family.

So we have to twist our perspective around a bit to get a sense of orientation. The short story is that mullion profile is a mirror of what we see in plan with respect to right/left orientation. Exterior and interior are displayed as the labels imply.

Definitely quirky...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Autodesk Revit 2013 Does Get an Update

Last Friday I asked if Revit 2013 was going to get an update. It may have just been aggressive timing on my part but when I was looking there wasn't. A little bit later a reader provided a link, via a comment, to the Design Suite location for the web release update. Over the weekend I received an email letting me know that it is also listed under the Revit "pile" of versions too.

So the short answer is YES, Revit 2013 does get an update too!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Autodesk Revit 2013 Doesn't Get Web Update?

Autodesk has released a web update for Revit Architecture, Structure and MEP 2013. They each have their own web update files. If you don't have one or all of those versions installed, like me, and only have Revit 2013 installed, then we seem to be out of luck at the moment. If you're thinking, "I'll just download and install those other updates and I'll be good!" Nope you'll get this message.

At the moment there is no web update release 3 offering for Autodesk Revit 2013? I guess it is immune to what ails it's less endowed brethren? I sure hope they didn't forget they've got a fourth version of Revit?

You can check out the updates for each discipline focused version here:
Autodesk Revit Architecture 2013
Autodesk Revit Structure 2013
Autodesk Revit MEP 2013

There is a place for Autodesk Revit 2013 but there's no web update release 3...yet... fingers crossed.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Scaling Revit Families

Every now and then there seems to be a convergence in the "Revitverse". A series of events, themes and user attitudes and desires emerges. Lately it seems to be the notion of scaling families. Revit has not permitted the arbitrary "make this 2x bigger" unless we could provide all the constraints and parameters that allow that kind of input and result. For example we don't usually ask for a desk or chair to be twice as large. A chair becomes too big to use if so. I believe that this logic prevailed in their choice to be more restrictive about scaling things as arbitrarily as other software allows.

A common thread in scaling lately has been classical architecture and columns. These are defined by ratios and rules to some extent while the sculpting applied to them seems to have much more freedom. Reading other blogs and attending the Revit Technology Conferences and Autodesk University made me plan to write a post that provides some links to the various places that you can find intriguing information on this subject. With the many bloggers focused on Revit it really didnt come as a surprise that somebody beat me to it. That someone is Mark Cronin, who I chatted with in Auckland at RTC. He wrote a summary of resources that you'll find useful, techniques that capitalize on new features as well as one that recalls a longstanding feature that we've all managed to forget about.

Please let me encourage you to read Mark's post for the details since he took the time to compile it in the first place, you really should.

Thanks Mark!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Thin Lines and Printing Sheets

Reading reports (at of the Thin Lines feature affecting the output when printing from sheet views. In my own quick test I'm seeing the lines of the titleblock being printed respecting Thin Lines being on which isn't good.

The model views appear to be printing correctly, just the title block's own lines seem to be affected. When I printed a model view using Thin Lines the result was the same as with Thin Lines off. In other words, working as we've come to expect, the Thin Lines feature had no impact on printing. Or, we've not noticed it before.

When we use Temporary Hide Isolate we get this dialog to ask how we want the feature to be regarded. If Thin Lines is meant to be able to get printed then perhaps the same sort of warning/option ought to be offered?

Any readers that can confirm this too? Seems like an undesireable "feature".

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Revit Journal Folder and Saving Files on Network Drives member "Cellophane" dropped this reminder/tip recently.

When you save project files that DO NOT use worksets and family files on a network folder Revit stores a copy of the files in your user Journal folder. Since release 2012 Revit has been using this location for the Journal folder and files:

C:\Users\\AppData\Local\Autodesk\Revit\Autodesk Revit "version"

While chatting with support they gave him this explanation:
    "This happens when saving directly to a network location as a data security function, i.e. if the network save fails, the data can be recovered from the local journals folder. If you save locally you will not populate the folder. The reason behind it is saving non-worksharing files to a network introduces a greater possible of failure, so dropping a copy in the journal folder is a way of recovering them."
If you don't keep an eye on this you'll end up with quite a lot of files there. If other people use your computer and Revit then they've probably been "stealing" some disk space from your pc too. As tedious as it might seem to have to clean this out from time to time, the feature came in really handy recently when I managed to kill a few families that I thought I no longer needed. The next day a change came along and I needed them back. No, I didn't archive them for some reason...still not sure why. Regardless, the copies in the Journal folder sure came in handy though! I'm glad I didn't clean them out the day before.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Revit 2014 API Languages

Revit 2014 has added a couple new language options for people who can speak to Revit through its API (application programming interface). If you have a long history with CAD you might have spent more than a few hours "Lost in parenthesis" (LISP)? In Revit we can get lost in them when we deal with conditional formulas in the family editor.

In Revit 2013 the API supported two languages C++ and C# (technically any language). Revit 2014 has added Ruby (aka Ruby on Rails) and Python. If you have no programming experience they are not gems or reptiles, just alternatives to the far more widely used C++ and the much newer C# (and supposedly "easier to learn").

The dialog is a little smaller too (really subtle eh?).

If you are looking to get started with the Revit API you might consider Don Rudder's book:

Instant Autodesk Revit 2013 Customization with .NET How-to

Looking for some hands-on training with a sherpa? Get in touch with Harry Mattison (Boost Your BIM), he's gone from deep within Autodesk working on Revit and its API to the life of a freelancer who shares his knowledge on his blog and creates applications for hire. He's started offering some online training too.

Don Rudder and Case-inc have also offered API focused training in the past and are always considering hosting another so keep an eye on their site for a future class offering.

I've also written a couple blog posts before about getting started with the API (though I'm still remiss in taking it seriously myself).

Getting Started with the Revit API
My First Revit Plug-in

Years ago when I did some programming more seriously I found the book "Code Complete" by Steve McConnell quite helpful to help understand the process and concepts.

Happy coding!