Monday, March 31, 2014

Revit 2015 Pinned Elements

Revit 2015 won't be as compliant as it used to be when you attempt to delete elements that have been pinned, and that is good!

An exception to this is when you pin a hosted family like a door for example. If you pin a door and delete the host wall Revit will go right ahead and delete the door too. Not even a warning that the door was pinned. Face-Based families like light fixtures don't suffer the same fate as element based (wall, floor, ceiling, or roof) families. I'm not particularly surprised by this. Just be aware of it so you don't rely on it for every circumstance.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Case for Project Parameters Addendum

Daniel Stine sent me an email to offer these additional thoughts regarding my Project Parameter post the other day. Rethinking that post I should have given it the title "A Case for..." instead of "The Case for...". It's really just one example of a decent reason to take advantage of Project Parameters.

Daniel writes:

Project parameters are set as either Instance or Type. This can limit your options later. For example, we have some families that have HP as a Type Parameter, but others (for flexibility) are set to Instance.

Project Parameters trump the Instance/Type setting of the same parameter (if one exists) in the family. I have seen this a few times, where the family has a parameter set to Type, and when it is loaded into the project is becomes an Instance parameter.

We have several Project Parameters for cost estimating in our template, they are assigned to all categories. This ensures all content, no matter where it comes from, will have those parameters. We do limit the number of Project Parameters for the reason you mentioned, that irrelevant information shows up for some families.

I am not sure if you mentioned this before, but it is really great that we can hide Shared Parameters in the project environment using the “visibility” toggle in the SP file.

My reply: Thanks! I thought I've mentioned this (hiding a shared parameter) before but I don't find a post specifically about it. I guess I need to add one or point to someone else's post about it instead at least. It isn't common knowledge so using the technique can really damage a person if they are struggling to figure out why it doesn't show up in their project.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Feature List for Revit 2015

Here's a list of the items that are new to Revit 2015. I've put them into my own grouping.

Big Stuff
Sketchy lines - yep, create sketchy alteration to views
Family parameter order adjustments - reorder/control parameter position
Schedules/material takeoffs - Access to Additional parameters and Grand Total customization
Revision improvements - Delete Revisions and more sketching options
View references - Reassign view reference to different view
IFC linking - Import IFC on Insert ribbon, IFC tab in Manage Links, no RFA process
Pinned element enhancements - Harder to delete pinned elements
Reinforcements for parts - Parts can host rebar (Structure)
Enhanced multi-rebar annotation - Grouping, sorting and updating of annotations (Structure)
Structural Disallow Join - Disallow/allow Joins framing and Braces (Structure)
Calculation methods for pressure drop - Haaland or Colebrook Equations, custom equations (MEP)
Tapped duct and pipe tags - Tag airflow along ducts (MEP)

Other Stuff
IFC imports - Better visual fidelity and performance and Options dialog revisions
Anti-aliasing improvements (related to Sketchy Lines)
Images in schedules - Instance and Type Image parameters can be used in schedules
Shared parameters in view titles - We can add our own parameters to view titles
Manage links dialog - Add links from Manage Links
Assembly code settings - 2010 Classification file provided or use our own
Enhanced hidden lines - View setting to govern hidden line display (Structure and MEP)
Building element analysis - Improved surface analysis and calculations (Subscription Only)
Tag improvements - Leader behavior mimics text leaders
Presentation rebar sets - Create sets to document rebar conditions better (Structure)
Reinforcement numbering - new numbering options (Structure)
Single fabric sheet placement - easy to place one sheet (Structure)
Shape Handles and Snapping - Improvements (Structure)
Setback for Structural Members - Improved adjustment (Structure)

Subtle Stuff
Ray trace usability improvements - faster, better quality and smoother
Views on sheets - Double click to Deactivate View (compliments 2014's Activate View)
Duplicate views - New naming of duplicate views
Keynoting settings - Keynote settings access easier, more obvious
Trim - Use selection box to trim extend multiple elements
Tool tips for family parameters - Create our own tool tips for parameters (max 250 char.)
Formulas - Logarithm syntax and calculation - New ln(x) Old exp(x)]
Assembly code setting - Use alternate assembly code files
Attached Detail Groups - Clipped now, not pinned due to pinning enhancements
Tags can include new Elevation at Top Parameter (for Foundations)
Enhanced analytical model - Local Coordinate System, Loads and analytical links (Structure)
Location Line Visibility - New Graphics (Structure)
Graphical Justification - New control (Structure)
Structural section properties - Catalog for profiles allows for easier analysis(Structure)
Electrical API enhancements - Create wires, add/modify wire properties and remove vertices (MEP)
US AWWA content - New Waste Water project content(MEP)
Japan Localised electrical content (MEP)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pick New - Changing a Host

Shawn at RFO shared a cool tip to help deal with orphaned MEP families when their host goes missing in the linked file they were depending on. When a ceiling is deleted and new ceiling is placed in the same location instead of switching ceiling types MEP families will end up as orphaned elements.

If these orphans really need to stay in the same location but be associated with a new ceiling (or other host surface) the Pick New tool is biased toward moving them to another host. When you attempt to click on the same host they often end up changing their position.

Shawn offered a simple fix. Just use the Pin tool to put a stake in them first. Then when you use Pick New they won't move and you can select their new host. Nice!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Case for Using Project Parameters

Project Parameters are most effective when the information stored with them has no direct geometric impact on the families and categories they are associated with. For example if you expect the information to alter a family's size it can't be a Project Parameter, it needs to be part of the family itself.

One example of a Project Parameter could be the horsepower rating for a motor. A family might get larger when its designed to provide more horsepower but that value alone seldom drives a specific dimension. A manufacturer will provide dimensional parameters for that and HP (horsepower) usually happens to increase as the capacity and physical size of the motor increases.

With this in mind, we can create a Project Parameter for horsepower it can be applied to one or several categories, such as, Mechanical Equipment, Electrical Equipment, Generic Model and others. Every family that we load into our project and belongs to one of those categories will inherit that parameter without first having to edit any families to add it manually. The project adds it to each family that is loaded for us. If we edit a family, apart from the project, the parameter doesn't exist.

This is a benefit but it also has a cost. All loaded Mechanical Equipment, for example, will inherit the parameter (Horsepower for example) even if it is irrelevant to some of the mechanical equipment families. Generally the benefit outweighs the cost though.

A Project Parameter can be created isolated within a project or based on a Shared Parameter. Shared Parameters are like definitions stored in a dictionary. The Shared Parameter file (dictionary) provides a common single location to store parameter definitions we are likely to reuse. That means Project Parameters (and Family Parameters) can be created from a Shared Parameter (definition) stored in the dictionary (shared parameter file) or just created and stored in an individual project.

Whenever we want to create a parameter in families and/or projects AND apply a tag to display the same parameter value and/or include it within a schedule we must create and use a Shared Parameter. If you'd like to read older posts about parameters check out my SUMMARY POST.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Revit Worksets Error - Element has been Deleted

David Baldacchino shared an issue with me that he's run into recently.

Here's how he described the issue.

As a standard, we create our central files with the option "Specify" so users are prompted to pick which workset to open/close when creating a local file. If a user is in a local RVT 2013 file AND THEN another user tries to open a detached copy in Revit 2014 to upgrade it (whether doing this directly from the central file or a local file), the Revit 2013 user/s will start getting errors stating that elements were deleted from the central file when they try to edit. They are also locked out of touching anything until the upgrade process finishes. This issue does not happen if the Specify option is not used. This behavior is not expected and undesirable.

Sounds like it can be avoided, if the file needs to be upgraded, by keeping people out of the active project file. I'm not sure I'd want someone to upgrade a project that someone is actively adding new work to with the previous release. Regardless if it occurs it explains why the error message Elements have been deleted appears.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Revit INI UI Calculator

When Revit 2014 offered a single installation (just called Revit) with all of the discipline specific Revit features included (aka "one box") the development team provided a calculator to determine the correct variable to assign a parameter value in the Revit.ini. This value is used to configure the user interface according to the disciplines that we want users to see listed on the Ribbon tabs. Since there are numerous combinations that are possible they are using "bit" logic to arrive at a single unique value that defines how the ribbons should be configured. The calculator provides a simple way to arrive at that number. Check the boxes and use the value at the bottom.

When the help documentation team began migration to the present online help delivery software (moving from the previous WikiHelp format) they decided to abandon the calculator since it seemed few people were really interested in it or using it. I complained that as software developers they ought to realize that it was already serving a niche among niches in the first place. It remains a niche item and I'm grateful they've recently taken the time to restore/re-code it to work in the new help documentation system. It's subtle but every little bit helps.

It can be seen HERE.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Revit MEP Family Wisdom - Family Origin

Another tip snipped from the Revit Family Editor Tutorial for Revit 2008 as mentioned in the previous post. You can download the PDF copy HERE.

Fittings (duct, pipe, conduit and cable tray fittings) expect the instance origin of the family to be the (projected) intersection of the connectors. In most cases for fittings, there is a point on the fitting where all of the connectors (if extended into the fitting) will collide. Fittings expect this collision to be placed at the original intersection of the Center (Front / Back), Center (Left / Right), and Reference Level work planes. For this reason, it is good practice to pin these reference planes before beginning to build the family.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Revit MEP Family Wisdom - Shape Handles

Another tip snipped from the Revit Family Editor Tutorial for Revit 2008 as mentioned in the previous post. You can download the PDF copy HERE.

Shape handles are not used for Revit MEP system families but they display by default when you create a new family. If shape handles are not hidden and they are inadvertently dragged during your modeling session, the geometry or placement of the family will be adversely affected. This can create unexpected results, especially for duct fittings. This is because, unlike pipe fittings, duct fittings use formulae that reside in the family rather than in an external lookup table file to determine size.

It is highly recommended that you hide all shape handles for Revit MEP families before using them in a project. To hide the shape handles in a system family, you need to open the family in the Family Editor and specify the Is Reference instance parameter as Not a Reference for all reference lines and all reference planes that are used for that family.

Before on the left / After on the right

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Revit MEP Family Wisdom - Connector Arrows

Another tip snipped from the Revit Family Editor Tutorial for Revit 2008 as mentioned in the previous post. You can download the PDF copy HERE.

Connector arrows indicate the direction of a duct or pipe (extrusion) when it is being created to complete a connection. It does not indicate flow direction. In most instances, a connector arrow points outward away from the object to which the connector is associated. Otherwise, the duct or pipe when created will pass through the object geometry instead of away from it. You can modify the connector arrow direction by selecting the connector and clicking the flip arrows.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Revit MEP Family Wisdom - Connector Orientation

This is snipped from the Revit Family Editor Tutorial for Revit 2008 as mentioned in yesterday's post. You can download the PDF copy HERE.

Connector rotation is a critical part of connector placement. The connector orientation determines the correct orientation of the objects that are automatically inserted on the part. Although this is not as important for round connectors, it is extremely important for rectangular connectors such as those on rectangular duct fittings. Remember that for rectangular connectors, the rectangular connector must be oriented so that the width is assigned to the face that is on the X and Y axes. The height is not on these axes. If rectangular connectors are not rotated properly, the rectangular duct fitting will be inserted improperly, creating an unexpected result. You may find it easier to rotate connectors in a 3D view, where the part geometry is clearly visible.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Revit MEP Family Wisdom - Connector Placement

This is snipped from the Family Editor (Imperial) Tutorial provided with the Revit MEP 2008 release. I don't believe there is a more recent version of it unless they have incorporated some or all of it into the current help documentation online. Some of it certainly was part of the previous WikiHelp site but I haven't checked to see if everything is now part of the new online help yet.

You can download PDF copy of the tutorial HERE.

When you place fitting connectors, the primary connector must be placed on the face that is on the X-axis. You can verify this by viewing the face in a floor plan view. Unexpected behavior can result if the primary connector is not properly placed relative to the other connectors, and that if all connectors are not properly rotated and linked.

The primary connector is the one that has the crosshair or "X" in the connector graphics. You can also Reassign Primary on the ribbon when the connector is selected.

This pearl of wisdom also appears at the beginning of the Creating an Elbow Family topic:

Fittings are among the most complex families to create. It is recommended that you methodically follow the steps and periodically check your work against the exercise. It may take a longer to complete this exercise as compared to other exercises in this tutorial. Even if you have created parametric families before, creating system families typically takes more time to complete.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Revit MEP Annotation Scale

In the settings dialog for duct, pipe, conduit and cable tray Revit provides a parameter called Use Annot. Scale for Single Line Fittings. There is also a second related parameter called "XXX Fitting Annotation Size" where "XXX" is the element involved. As the parameter names suggest they are related to single line views, where the detail level is either assigned to Coarse or Medium for their category (duct/pipe/conduit/cable tray).

When the first parameter (previous image) is checked Revit will check (turn on) the parameter that each fitting or accessory has, called Use Annotation Scale, each time they are placed in your project.

The purpose of these related settings is to provide a consistent symbol size regardless of view scale (in single line views). This way the symbols don't suddenly become much larger or smaller in different scale views than the symbols we show on our legends. When you see this occur you'll need to double check the settings and the individual parameter values for each affected family.

If the option is off in the Settings dialog then every fitting or accessory you place has its own Use Annotation Scale setting unchecked (off). It's a global on/off switch to enable the feature. You can still interact with each fitting or accessory's own parameter to enable the annotation scaling feature or vice versa. When you change the view's scale you'll find that the annotation symbol graphics will not remain the same printed size.

The following image shows one ball valve accessory that has had its Use Annotation Scale turned off. It's larger than the other fittings and accessories in the view, they adjust their symbol size so they are the same size when the views are printed on a sheet. The lower plan view is using 1/4"=1'-0" scale and the upper one is assigned to 1/8"=1'-0" scale instead.

This image is both views placed on a sheet for comparison.

Each of these MEP element has its own settings; Duct, Pipe, Conduit and Cable Tray. I think the most appropriate setting for each is checked (on). The second parameter XXX Fitting Annotation Size is usually 1/8" ( or 3.0 mm) (stock setting in templates) and that's probably a good starting point. You may find it necessary to adjust it slightly by increasing or decreasing the size to get the ideal symbol graphics.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the single line graphics in these families are defined by Model Lines that are set to be visible in Coarse and Medium Detail Level but to not be visible in Fine Detail Level. This makes it possible to generate the single line diagrams in 3D views too, otherwise there would be nothing to see. It also makes it a bit trickier to get the same graphic size when comparing one fitting or accessory with another.

This is quite different from electrical families by comparison because those primarily use nested annotation symbol families for their symbolic graphics. Those already conform to Revit's annotation behavior of maintaining their printed size. It also explains why, for electrical components, 3D views (and elevations/sections) do not show the plan graphic symbols we are accustomed to seeing.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Which Phase Filter?

There are several phase filters that stock templates come with. Sometimes people aren't certain which ones to use or why they exist. There are three options that affect how elements are influenced by Phase Filters: By Category, Overridden and Not Displayed.

By Category - Project Object Styles and/or view's Visibility/Graphics Overrides govern.
Overridden - Revit will change the appearance of elements based on the Phase Graphics Overrides settings (see next image). Note that a Filter (View not Phase) applied to a view can still influence an element affected by a Phase Filter.
Not Displayed - Yes, this means elements are not displayed in the view.

What does it take for Revit to regard an element as being New, Existing, Demolished or Temporary? It varies according to the Phase of the view we see it in and which Phase Created and Phase Demolished parameters values are assigned to it. The following conditions define which Phase Status an element belongs to in a given view. For the following images assume this view is assigned to Phase New Construction and that we are looking at the Phasing parameters of four different walls.

New - Element's Phase Created parameter is assigned to the phase of this view and the Phase Demolished parameter is set to None.

Existing - Element's Phase Created parameter is assigned to an earlier phase than the phase of this view and the Phase Demolished parameter is set to None.

Demolished - Element's Phase Created parameter is assigned to an earlier phase than the phase of this view AND its Phase Demolished parameter is assigned to the same Phase as this view.

Temporary - Element's Phase Created parameter is the same phase as this view AND its Phase Demolished parameter is also assigned to the same phase as this view.

Any given element can belong to one of these four Phase Status in any given view according to the Phase parameter of that view AND its own Phase Created and Phased Demolished parameter settings. Phase graphics depend entirely on creating views for each appropriate phase and creating elements so they are assigned to the correct phase and then altered so their Phase Demolished parameters are assigned as required, if required.

Getting to the title of this post finally, each view has a Phase Filter parameter. What follows is my take on why I'd use each of the stock Phase Filters.

None - It's not a Phase Filter in the dialog, it's a choice in the list of Phase Filters within a view's properties. We use this when we don't want any Phase settings to affect the elements in the view. Everything is displayed according to either Object Styles or Visibility/Graphics Overrides.

Show All = This filter can't be altered or deleted. It means show us everything WITH Phase graphic alterations applied. NEW elements are governed by Object Styles (or possibly Visibility Graphics overrides) AND it overrides Existing, Demolished and Temporary elements. Use this filter to help see everything mixed together AND altered so each Phase Status is obvious. It is NOT a typical way of producing traditional documents but it CAN help explain relationships very well.

Show Completed = We're done! We don't want to see any graphical bias toward new or existing work, they should look the same. We don't want to see any demolished or temporary elements. We want to use this to show the finished design after construction is done. We could think of it as a view of "As Built" conditions if the model is kept current through construction.

Show Previous and New = We want to show new construction information in context against existing features but without Demolished or Temporary elements. This is ideal for New Construction views.

Show Previous and Demo = This is the filter to use for typical demolition documentation, existing features altered to show where demolition occurs. New work and Temporary work are not shown.

Show New Only = This is useful when we want to give a hint of future work. We can isolate and override graphics in a view to prepare a view for overlaying over another view on a sheet. When we overlay this on top of a new construction plan we'll see how they relate to each other despite the fact that Revit has no "future" phase.

Don't be fazed by phasing!