Thursday, December 18, 2014

Creating Elevation Views and Finish Floors

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

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

I made a video to demonstrate the issue, embedded here.

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Revit 2015 R2 - Reveal Constraints

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Gray Inactive Worksets

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

Revit 2015 R2 - Perspective View Changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Family Orientation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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