Revit Family Guide – Master Revit Families in 10 Steps

By , AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD           

A Family is a group of objects that form a building component such as a door, a wall, a window or a chair. All families are associated to a specific category and contain a set of properties (parameters) and a graphical representation associated to these properties.

Understanding how to create and edit Revit Families is a must if you want to take your Revit skills to another level. Revit’s Family Editor has all the tools you need to create custom components for your Revit projects, and here you will learn 10 steps to master this environment.

#1 – Understand family types

There are different Family Types in Revit:

System families – Generally, assemblies (walls, roofs, floors, ceilings, etc). Our flexibility here is limited, we can create different types of system families, but we can’t add parameters to control their graphical representation.

Component families – Families we can create from scratch and load into the project. Can be extremely flexible and customized based on your needs. In this blog post, we are going to focus on them. They can be hosted, free standing or work plane-based.

In place families – ‘One-off’ families created inside the project environment that do not require geometrical flexibilization. Should be used with caution, as they can increase the size of the file and impact model performance.

#2 – Understand the use of parameters

Parameters are used to define and modify elements in Revit. They give flexibility to project components. By changing the parameters assigned to a family we can create different versions of the family, called types. Each family type has an identical set of parameters called “type parameters”.

When placing a family type in a project, you create an instance of that element. Each instance has a unique set of parameters called “instance parameters”. By changing these parameters, you can apply changes independent of the family type, that will only apply to that specific element in the project. Keep in mind that if you make any changes to the family type parameters, the changes apply to all element instances that you created based on that type.

It is up to the person creating the family to define its parameters, and to determine if a parameter is going to be applied to the type or to the instance level. The following pictures are a good example of that statement. These two doors are very similar graphically, but each one has different instance and type parameters – for example, one door has a parameter called “Door Material” and the other “Panel Material” with, essentially, the same function. Why? Probably just because they were created by two different Revit users.

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New in Revit 2019 – MEP Engineers improvements to primary/secondary hydraulic

By , AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD                                   

Revit 2019 has arrived, and with it comes a number of great new features and enhancements for different uses.

• BIM 360 Design is the re-branded C4R
• Open Dialog Enhancement to show version of the Revit file
• Publish Settings Dialog changed
• Multi-Screen Support & Tabbed Views
• Graphic Filters – added “or” variable in the view filters
• Levels in 3D
• Uncropped perspective views
• Double fill for complex graphical rendering
• Split Railing
• New Steel Design Tools
• Dimensions for Curved Objects
• Vertical Text Alignment in annotation tab
• Hydraulic system loops separation
• Parallel Pumps Sets (Duty/Standby)
• Analytical connection

The main improvement for mechanical engineering is in flow and pressure drop calculations for hydronic piping networks in hydraulic system loops and Parallel Pumps Sets (Duty/Standby). With this new version of Revit, complex networks can be separated into primary/ secondary loops using the Hydraulic Separation feature. In this post we will take a look at how this hydraulic system separation feature works, how to enable visibility and how to set up parallel pump sets for these calculations.

Hydraulic Separation for Hydronic Piping Systems (Primary/Secondary)

Hydraulic Separation is a continuation of the improvements added for closed-loop hydronic networks. The pressure drop is calculated independently for each loop. The “Add Separation” Button and the Loop Boundary parameter has been added to pipes assigned to hydronic systems. This is the read-only parameter and was added to the pipe parameters to indicate whether it is a boundary for the loop.

In the process of design, you need to configure primary/ secondary loops and understand where to input data when defining the piping system. This is an important step because without it, separation of primary and secondary loops will not work. However, when designed properly, Revit can calculate flow and pressure drops in the network.

In order to take advantage of this new separation feature, you need to configure your system as a real working system. Also, you must check the “Enable analysis for a closed loop hydronic piping network” property in the Mechanical Setting dialogue to enable this feature. By default, Revit will calculate the pressure drop using the Colebrook Equation. However, the Haaland Equation is also an option if selected in the drop-down menu in the Pressure Drop tab.

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Implementation and BIM

What is this thing we have been calling BIM “implementation” for so many years? As a professional who has been working in and around the move to Building Information Modeling for over 15 years, I am appalled at how few people I have seen that would really consider themselves successful with the change to it.

Why is this? I would suggest that it is because of this elusive word – implementation. Everybody talks about it, but what they really want is a quick fix to a very complex challenge – a little bit of training here, creation of a little bit of content there, a pretty rendering, some “clash-detection”, some “how to’s” – the challenge of taking a bunch of disparate participants and bringing them all together into one cohesive environment.

So, let’s have a quick look at the meaning of the word implementation and see how it applies to the move to BIM and a true digitally deliverable that provides value to all participants.

“The process of putting a decision or plan into place”

Process: Everyone seems to talk of how BIM is a change in process, so let us agree that successful implementation depends on understanding what that process is. Let us also agree that we cannot possibly gain consensus on exactly what the definition of that change is, but that it IS a change. Some would say that it is the use of a model to aid in design; others would say that it is the amalgamation of data and the mining of that data to improve decisions at every stage of design, construction and management; still others would say that it is the use of a single source of information to guarantee a coordinated result. Regardless, one must at least have an objective of what that process means to you, your organization, your project team and/or your project owner.

Decision: This one is simple – somebody, or a group of people (which takes away the simplicity) must make a decision regarding what this process is going to do for that particular group.

Plan: This is the key. Everybody talks about a plan, but few take the time to define the steps of the plan, monitor the plan and ensure that the plan is meeting the initial goals of the process.

Once we have agreed that an implementation requires a process and a plan, we can move onto the more intricate parts of that plan – the requirements of each stakeholder, the scope one wishes to cover with the plan, the customized information that needs to be created to support the plan, the ability to take these steps and integrate them for all participants to use, the standards and protocols that will be adopted, and finally a way to disseminate all of this information to the stakeholders through a learning process of some kind.

This will be for another time. For now, let’s just agree that an implementation is necessary, and an implementation is complex – the more one expects out of the process, the more complex the implementation will be and the more important it is for a well thought out plan to be put in place.

4 New Features Architects should know Revit 2019.2

By Michelle Ovelson, AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD                                   

Autodesk’s release of 2019.2 included some interesting features that Architects should be aware of.  There were a couple minor improvements to the program itself, but it seems like a larger effort is being placed on improving the functionality of Revit alongside BIM 360.

Day to Day improvements: 

1. Zoom functionality in schedule views.

This is pretty handy for large schedules or if you are using a hard to read font style.

How to Zoom in/out for schedules:

CTRL +  = Zoom in

CTRL – = Zoom Out

CTRL 0 = Zoom Reset

Alternatively, you can hold down CTRL and use your mouse wheel to zoom in and out.

 

2. Removed “Element is too small on screen” warning

Gone are the days of having to move something far away so you can move it to the right spot just to avoid this warning.

If you are working with BIM 360:

1. Easily save non-workshared Revit files to the cloud

Rather than uploading non-workshared files onto BIM 360, you can now save them directly to the cloud.  This will be really handy for smaller linked files that may not need to be workshared.

 

2. Better collaboration with Civil 3D and topography

With the release of 2019.1 you could Link topography from a Civil 3D drawing (that has been published) to your Revit project.  In 2019.2, they increased the functionality and you can now add building pads and sub-regions to that Linked Topography.  Keep in mind that you need Autodesk Desktop Connector installed to get access to that link through BIM 360.

For more information on the release, visit the Revit Blog – Revit 2019.2 new features connect data, cloud, and customers.

Ever wonder how new features make it into the program? Revit Idea’s Page  is an Autodesk forum where they capture feedback and requests from users.

CUI command in AutoCAD

By , AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD                                   

In this post I will show you how to Customize User Interface and how CUI command allows to customize drawing environment to suit your needs.

The Customize User Interface (CUI) Editor in AutoCAD provides a wide range of options to create and modify all the content that can be displayed with a workspaces. The Customize User Interface allows user to not only create new user interface elements and commands from scratch, but you can also copy existing user interface elements and commands to modify them.

When customizing the CUI file that come with AutoCAD or creating your own CUIx files, the Customize User Interface (CUI) Editor creates a backup copy of the file when you first start making changes to the CUI file.This file stores the settings you’ve configured in your AutoCAD customized user interface. Customization files located in the user’s appdata folder (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Customization Files Location

First of all, check which layout tab is set current when a drawing is opened.
In workspace settings check Automatically save workspace changes option (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Workspace settings

Open the Customize User Interface Editor by typing CUI command (see Figure 3).
Once the Customize User Interface (CUI) Editor have been opened, user can view the contents of the loaded customization files by expanding the elements in the tree structure and viewing the properties of the elements. By selecting the Customize tab user will be able to modify interface elements such as Ribbon Tabs, Menu Tabs, create new Custom Tabs or add Commands. 

Figure 3. Customize user interface menu

After changes were to workspaces were finished, set newly created workspace to Current and hit Apply and OK buttons. On return to your screen have a look if you got what you wanted. If you are satisfied with the result change Workspace Settings back to Do not save changes to the workspace option.

Watch the video below that demonstrates the entire process.

So you think your Revit model is corrupt

By Elyse Hatch, AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD                                   

I am going to talk about file corruption in Revit. To keep things brief I will be doing a few separate posts on this topic. Today I will touch on 4 points:

  • Initial Investigation
  • First steps to resolution
  • Common causes
  • What if you can’t resolve it…

Initial Investigation

When you encounter an undesirable action or message from Revit is it important to take note of a few things. Ask yourself:

  • What action did I attempt?
  • What response did I get from Revit?
  • Can you audit file?
    • Make sure you save a copy of the file first as you will need to reopen to perform the audit action.
  • If your file cannot be opened, can you open a previous version of the file?

To pinpoint the origin of the issue you need to ask yourself a few more questions:

  • Can you complete the action in another file?
    • The issue most likely originates with this file
  • Can another user complete the action in that file on a different machine?
    • Issue most likely originates with this machine
  • Can another user complete the action in that file when logged in on your machine?
    • Issue most likely originates with the user’s setting

Armed with this information you can look for other likely culprits:

  • Take note of any major changes that have recently occurred in the file
  • Take note of any major changes that have recently occurred in linked files
    • Check each linked file for similar behavior
  • Look for recent changes to Revit
  • Make sure your Revit install has the latest updates
    • Use the Manage Account webpage
  • Check is all users on this file are on the same Build Number
  • Find our how much free space you have on your machine
    • Clear out old temp and journal files (keeps most recent 3-5)
  • Are you using a certified video card?
  • Do you have the most recent Driver Update?
  • What about windows dot Net Updates? Are they current?

First steps towards a resolution

  • Audit
  • Selective Purge
    • 3 times to get it all
  • Save as
    • This writes a new file omitting lots of miscellaneous junk that is no longer required
  • Read Journals
  • Seek Support – Summit or Autodesk

Common causes

Knowing some of the common causes can give you hints on where to look for possible solutions. Autodesk has an article about data corruption on the knowledge network, linked below but here are a few big ones to get you started.

  • Users have different Revit builds
  • File Size
    • This includes temporary files. They can be huge; and they don’t go anywhere.
  • Nested families and groups in excess
    • Connection error during save, sync/load latest
  • Error when writing to storage location
  • Previous crash during an action
  • Database is incorrectly modified
    • Add-ins
    • Even Specialty fonts sometimes

These cause instabilities in the file which can result in crashes and the inability to complete the following actions.

  • Sync
  • Audit
  • Open/create new view
  • Access V/G overrides
  • Save
  • Purge
  • Edit object
  • Open file

The answer we all dread

Sometimes there is a bug in the program, something that requires a repair or reinstall of Revit. This will preserve the registry. While a clean reinstall will fix registry issues, to do this follow the alternative uninstall directions in the knowledge network.

Unfortunately, this happens and when the problem truly is the program there is only one solution.

Submit Autodesk Customer Error Report with your email

When the CER dialog appears be sure to fill in your email address and submit the report. The more instances of a CER for the same issue the better visibility it has for the development team at Autodesk. Its even better if you can include details. This information helps the development team, and if they have your email then the following actions are possible.

  • Emails are sent if there is a known solution, ie missing update etc
  • Emails are sent when a solution is found
  • When a case is opened Autodesk cross references for CERs submitted referencing that email

How to reuse Revit content to supercharge your BIM infrastructure & standards

By , AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD

Looking for efficiencies when it comes to enhancing BIM infrastructure and standards? Repurposing Revit content from completed projects is a smart, efficient method of updating your template and warehouse or content folders on an ongoing basis. It also provides the opportunity to check how well your current processes and standards are working in real project situations.

In this video, you will learn how to identify and extract valuable content from completed projects. We will identify the items to look for, how to extract them from the model efficiently and then how to get these items into your templates and content folders.

At the end of this video you will:

  • Learn what to extract from completed projects to build out templates and content folders.
  • Learn how to extract content efficiently from previous projects.
  • Discuss how to set up a process and checklist for your company to complete these project closeouts on a regular basis.
  • Understand how to compare completed projects up against current processes and standards.

Why every project needs a BIM Execution Plan

By , AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD

In this video, you will learn why a BIM Execution Plan (BEP) is important for a project of any size. Whether you’re working on a big “full BIM” IPD project or a smaller project, a properly created and developed BEP can answer a slew of questions on your project before you even knew they were going to be questions.

We will briefly review what a BEP is, before launching into a discussion of why you should be creating a BEP and the everyday benefits to be gained. We will walk through how execution plans can help to clarify project scope, help to define the processes required, and clearly define the goals for the project. We will also go through common questions about execution plans and how they work, their set up and format.

At the end of this webinar you will:

  • Understand the benefits of using an execution plans on every project.
  • Discover the dangers of not having an execution plan and learn how to avoid them
  • Learn how to make an execution plan clear and concise
  • Learn how to keep people involved in an execution plan throughout the project

Using Curtain Walls for Wall Panel Systems

By , AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD

This video examines one of the best features Revit has to offer: curtain walls. We will look at how to use curtain walls for exterior finishes – like metal panels – that are not curtain walls.

During this video we will go through two examples that demonstrate how to use curtain walls for panel systems:

  • How to set up a curtain wall to have it schedule and tag like a real wall.
  • How to gain the benefit and flexibility of the curtain wall grids and panels.
  • How to create a curtain wall for an exterior louvre façade.

Tips & Tricks: Increase your productivity in Revit

By , AEC Technical Consultant at SolidCAD

Have you ever wondered if there’s a better way to do something in Revit, join us for this short video that focuses on how to improve your productivity.

This video will review:

  • The best way to use 3D View Cube
  • How to be faster when working with pick lines
  • How to place families
  • What to do if you placed the drawing on the wrong sheet
  • Assuring the room height
  • Shortcut to type dimensions