Thursday, August 20, 2009

Additive Views vs. Subtractive Views

Common Problem: When I place an electrical fixture or other family category it pops up automatically in other views I would rather not see it in.

Reason: In the default Revit tempate almost every category is unnecessarily turned on in all views so the same family shows up everywhere.

Solution: Create Additive Views instead of Subtractive Views for family categories that are only used in one or two views. By that I mean, start with most family categories turned off in your new view's visibility/graphics and gradually add the categories that you want to see.

Extra Tip: If you want future new views to be additive by default, create a view template. Then, when you apply the template to a view, check the option that reads "Apply automatically to new views of the same type."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Project That Almost Could

I feel a duty to report our failures as well as well as our successes over the course of our Revit implementation. We currently have 4 Revit projects under construction, but not all of our projects made it through the CD phase. We have one model that was started in Revit before we knew any of the challenges of Revit.

The project is an existing 30,000 square foot custom residence built in the 1920's. The task was to demolish a 1980's addition, restoring the building to it's original design, and then adding our own additions.

This project isn't as organic as Gaudi, but it did have a lot of organic characteristics. To add to the complexity, the as-built drawings we had on file were not accurate to the true construction of the existing structure because the original architect had improvised the design during construction.
Here are some of the characteristics of this project that made it quite difficult to model:
  • undulating cavity walls that would often not clean up in Revit
  • uniquely chamfered surrounds at windows and doors around every corner
  • 3 phases with a lot of partial wall, roof, floor, and ceiling demos
  • hand crafted and highly detailed vaulted ceiling designs
30,000 square feet of this added up to a project that was taking too long to model in Revit. The model is not clean enough to develop construction documents.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Brandon Pike has started a new blog called BIMtionary. His posts include tiers of BIM Implementation and a Revit Implementation Checklist. I look forward to his future posts.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Phases & Worksets

This blog started out as a blog for beginners. These days I mostly tend to cover advanced topics so here's a little tip for the beginners out there.

Always Be Phase Aware
In every project file your modeled components have a phase created and a phase demolished parameter whether you like it or not. And most views have phase and phase filter parameters. If you place a model component in a view that is set to the New Construction phase (under View Properties), that component automatically gets placed in the New Construction phase. So if you are doing as-builts, make sure you set all of your views phases to Existing. That way when you start placing your components they end up on the correct phase. This can easily be corrected in a 3D view if you skipped this step. As you start to model your proposed design distinguishing between existing and proposed content becomes ever more critical.

Always Be Workset Aware
On workset enabled projects every model component is place on a user defined workset (usually Workset 1). Make sure you check the workset toolbar and select the correct active workset. You don't want to place a whole lot of content on the Shared Levels & Grids workset. This can easily be corrected in a 3D view if you skipped this step.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Instance Parameters: The Double Agent

This is going to be particularly helpful to those of you working on large projects. Some of you may already be aware of it, but I haven't seen it documented anywhere so here goes...

I call this technique the Double Agent because the Instance Parameters discussed here will temporarily act like Type Parameters under the right conditions. Why would I want an Instance Parameter to act like a Type Parameter? you ask. Well, quite often, but not always we want to apply the same Instance Parameter value (like a comment that is repeated for MOST instances of a Family Type) to many of the same Doors, Windows, Sheets, or other families. Comments are typically Instance Parameters that you have to change one at a time. But I don't want to change comments one at a time when there are so many of the same comment value. I want them to update once and simultaniously like a Type Parameter would, without having to use a Type Parameter (because I may still want one or two comment values to remain unique. Well, how do you do it? The Answer: With Schedules

Here is the procedure. Go to your door schedule for example.

You'll notice that I have four door types (71,66,17,64). I need to add the Remark 1hr rated to types 66 & 64. Rather than enter the value one field at a time for the Instance Parameter called Remark, lets add the value to all 8 fields once and simultaniously. Here's how.

Go to View Properties... Sorting Grouping... Now make a mental note (or write it down if you wish) of the current Sorting/Grouping settings because, like a good double agent, you're going to have to restore the schedule to its original identity when we're all done. Now change the setting to what you see below.

You can isolate the From Room: Name (or Type Mark parameter). It is very important to uncheck the Itemize every instance option. This is what you'll see.

Now Type in the Remark 1HR Rated for all doors without a room name... then change the Sorting/Grouping setting back to their original state and You'll have added the Value 1HR Rated to the Instance Parameter Remarks for all doors without a room name.

These are the rules of the game: You have to sort the schedule by some Type Parameter or by some Instance Parameter with equal values already present.

Now that I have the value 1HR RATED for all of the 1HR doors, lets say I want to change the value to 1.5HR RATED. Just isolate the REMARKS parameter from the Sorting/Grouping settings and exchange the old value for the new value.

So once again, why not just make your Instance Parameter a Type Parameter? Because the Instance Parameter value you choose may not always apply to every instance of a Family Type. This is just a custom way to update multiple fields once and simultaniously.

I hope you'll enjoy exploring the many applications of The Double Agent technique.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Imported Images and Sheets

We often import hand renderings into Revit projects for plotting presentation sets.

I've noticed that when I import an image directly onto a sheet that if the image is even slightly outside of the scope of the titleblock then plots can come out centered incorrectly. The only solution is to place images in a drafting view (or legend view) first... then place the view on your sheet. If the view itself is outside of the scope of the titleblock Revit will plot the sheet fine.

Rescaling the image can also be easier from a drafting view once scale is established. Just change the scale of the view. Rescaling the image by eye on a sheet is less accurate.

Legend views can be placed on multiple sheets but placing these images in a legend view can crowd your project browser so I would stick to drafting views unless you absolutely need the added function of placing the image on multiple sheets like for key plans as an example.

If your image comes in solid black it's most likely a memory issue. You can change the resolution and image size to reduce file size if necessary. Rotating images can also cause them to turn solid black.

Images can be imported. Linking an image for easier updating is on the wishlist but is not yet an option.

Feel free to comment on the subject of importing images if you have anything you want to add.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Blogger: slo Arch

Check this out when you have some free time.

Tim Alatorre posts to his blog sloArch on a varaiety of subjects including but not limited to Artlantis, Revit, Sketchup, LEED, A.R.E., and other Architecture related subjects.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Filter Unplaced or Unenclosed Items

Every once in a while I discover something I didn't know was there. It appears this feature was added in Revit 2009.

After you've created a Room or Area Schedule and populated it with rooms/areas you have the option of filtering unplaced or unenclosed Rooms/Areas. The three options are: Show all, Hide unplaced, and Isolate unplaced.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

AEC EDGE Magazine

AUGI has published their first quarterly AEC EDGE Magazine. This has been reported on several blogs already but I really enjoyed it so I thought I'd post too.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Revit 2010: New Coordinates Icons

The new coordinate systems and icons have a lot of even the best users confused. Go to a floor plan view and hit the light bulb to reveal the two new coordinate system icons (the survey point triangle and the project base point circle). Now... you can draw a simple building and link in a simple building (by shared coordinates) and move these two icons around a bit (clipped and unclipped) to see how the two models react or.. here is the simplest way I can put it:

1. There are now 3 coordinate systems in Revit... the revit internal coordinates, the shared coordinates, and the new the project coordinates. There is no icon for locating the revit internal coordinates but there are two new icons for the other coordinate systems... the survey point, and the project base point.

2. Clipped or unclipped the Project Base point is always the origin of the new project coordinates system.

3. Clipping the Project Base Point... pins the project base point icon to the revit internal coordinate system so you can drag around the revit internal system (which the host model is always attached to).

4. Unclipping the Project Base Point icon from the revit internal coordinates system... allows you to move the project coordinates system separately from the revit internal coordinates system.

5. Clipping the Survey Point... pins the survey point icon to the shared coordinates system so you can drag around the shared coordinates system (which only linked models might be attached to).

6. Unclipping the Survey Point icon from the shared coordinates system allows you to move it freely without moving the shared coordinates system.

7. The Survey Point icon was created for the export to Civil workflow.

8. Both icons report their location relative to the shared coordinates origin at all times and you can rotate true north from the project base point icon.

If you are still confused go back to my original suggestion... draw a simple building and link in a simple building (by shared coordinates) and move these two icons around a bit (clipped and unclipped) to see how the two models react. Trial and error is probably the best way to learn these new tools.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Revit 2010: New Synchonize with Central

You might notice a few things about the new Save To Central features... and if you haven't... well, here are a few pointers.

1. Autodesk is now calling Save to Central (STC) a Synchronize with Central (SWC)

2. Some of the wording has changed in the Synchozine with Central dialog. The option now reads "Save Local File before and after synchonize with central."

What does this mean? Revit now saves the local file... then the central file... then the local file again when this option is checked. You might ask why... According to Autodesk, troubleshooting SWC crashes is easier if you give them the latest local (along with the usual journal files).

3. When you choose to open a workset enabled project you'll notice an option at the bottom of the dialog that reads "Create New Local" This option is checked by default to make local file creation more transparent. Once opened if you'll look at the title of your Revit window you'll notice that your username has been appended to the end of the filename. Revit is automatically creating a local file for you... all you have to do is open the central file and save to your desktop.

4. When closing a local file you have the option to discard changes and relenquish objects. Before you had to close the file and reopen to relenquish objects to accomplish the same task.

5. You can now set default worksets to open, during Save As in the Options button.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Revit 2010: New Spot Slopes

Go to Annotate... Spot Slope... and you might notice that Revit has a new slope annotation that works in plan and elevation view. Now try annotating a roof slope with a spot annotation triangle and you might notice something peculiar. Maybe your roof is 6:12 but the annotation read 4:12. Why the error? Because Revit is annotating the Hip not the face of the roof...

Try hiting the tab key while floating over the roof edge and you'll see that the slope tag can report the slope of the hip or the face. The tool just happens to default to reporting the hip first.

This tool does not yet work on ramps or railings.

Revit 2010: Resetting the UI

Autodesk has written a little vb script that will reset the Ribbon, QAT, and Project Browser to their default settings/locations, in the event that a user has totally rearranged the components of the User Interface.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Revit 2010: The Ribbon

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the new User Interface. Here are some of the arguments for and against the Ribbon.

The "Consistency" group:
Learning the new ribbon will make learning other Autodesk products easier because they all have a consistent user interface.

The "It's Inevitable" group:
We are going to have to get used to the ribbon because it's here to stay. So the question is not DO we learn the new ribbon but, WHEN do we learn it?

The "Hopeful, Let's Wait" group:
There is a lot of complaining about the new interface. In response to complains, Autodesk might make some changes to the ribbon between now and next year.

The "Productivity" group:
The new ribbon is less efficient than the old interface and not necessary for our firm at this time.

My Thoughts:
1. The first reaction is going to be frustration, "Where did my tool go? Why are the tools moving around on me?"
2. The second reaction is going to be surprise, "Is this a new tool in 2010? No, it's just more visible now because commands were shuffled around."
3. Every office is at a different stage of Revit Implementation. Regardless of how many new features there are you have to ask yourself, "Is the office ready for an upgrade? Now or later?"
4. The new ribbon is going to require more retraining than is usual for a new release.