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FormIt v17 now has Dynamo integrated on it so we can include more data in our pre-design strategy.
Just a reminder, FormIt is included in the AEC Collection.
How to use Dynamo in FormIt
Dynamo can be launched with no graph open by clicking at the Dynamo symbol or editing an existing script by clicking at the drop-down arrow beside the script.
Be aware that when we save changes to this Dynamo script will modify just the file but will not modify any Dynamo geometry already placed in FormIt.
If you are creating you own node, make sure you add the node BakeToFormIt so FormIt can read the script.
You can also add local Dynamo files by clicking on
in the Dynamo panel and then (+) to select a folder to link to FormIt.
After you linked the directories, use the drop-down to switch between different folders.
To place Dynamo geometry in FormIt click the thumbnail of the graph you want to run or click in the drop-down arrow and select Bake to FormIt. Move the mouse to the work place. The geometry will be attached to the mouse.
Once the geometry is placed, it will function like any other group in FormIt. You can modify the geometry and paint surfaces. Just be aware that any changes inside the group will be lost when running the Dynamo script again.
You can add a Material from outside the group and that change will persist if runs the Dynamo script again.
Modifying the Panel Grid geometry in Dynamo
After placing the geometry, double click on it and then click in Edit in Dynamo under Properties.
Make your changes editing the panel sizes, the number of panels and the space between them.
Then close and save the file to update the geometry.
Join me for the screencast
Parametric sketches using FormIt and Dynamo - YouTube
1. 80% Rule: if you use something 80% of the time, it should be in your template file.
Avoid putting everything in your template file, especially if you work on multiple project typologies. You just end up filling your project with items you do not need and it’s not easy to go through and purge them out without taking everything. Save your staff the hassle by putting in items that they use all the time and store other project specific items in another file that they can copy/paste from. This keeps your project nice and lean.
2. Starting Page: if you zoom extents and you can’t read it, you have too much information in it.
This is the first thing people see when they open the project. If it’s a blur of information they will move on. Keep it clean and concise, you only have seconds before staff move onto other tasks, what do you want to stand out to them?
What it should be:
A quick reference for important information like next deadline
Give staff a heads up if there is a unique setup (design options, phasing)
Model Coordinator: who is in charge of the well being and setup of the model, this is who staff can go to if they have an issue
What it should not be:
A training outline for Revit
A list of all the linestyles / symbols / text styles / dimension styles etc. in your project
3. Make use of View Types
By creating view types, you allow your staff to select what kind of view they want to create beyond just a section, elevation etc. They can select from the type selector that they want to create a ‘Interior Finish Plan’, it will automatically assign the correct view template and place the view in the correct location in the project browser. It’s a huge timesaver and should be in every template file.
4. Use a generic parameter like Folder and Subfolder for your Browser Organization
Avoid the use of specific parameters like View Folder, Sheet Folder, Schedule Folder. Just call it Folder and assign it to Views, Sheets and Schedules. There is no need to have duplicate parameters to differentiate between views, sheets and schedules.
5. Sort your schedules
Don’t forget that you can now add a browser organization to your schedules. Make use of it, it’s a great way to sort schedules by project phase or use QA/QC schedules vs ones that go on sheets.
6. Add Print Styles to your Template
Take the time to add Print styles to your template file. You should have one set up for full size and 11×17 prints. This saves your staff from having to set these up themselves, or worse, selecting the options every time they print. It’s seconds, but we do a lot of printing throughout the life of a project and that can add up.
7. Avoid placeholder elements in the views and model – you shouldn’t have to cleanup before starting your project
Have you ever come across full sets of grids in template files, with a section in the middle of nowhere, maybe a callout as well… are they ever in the right spot where you need them to be? Not unless you do some very consistent modular work. Leave your template file as a blank canvas for people to create their own grids, callouts and views. They shouldn’t have to do a bunch of cleanup before getting started.
8. Avoid a lengthy view list from the start
Avoid creating views for every possible project phase and approval (SD, DD, DP, CD, CA etc) It makes it confusing for users to know where to start. They can create these views when they are ready to. All you need are the source views, 2 working floor plans (I like to have 2 levels max to start with) and 4 working elevations. If you are making use of view types like I mentioned above, it’s really not that much extra work.
9. Line styles – keep it simple
Even though lines seem to be a dirty word in the BIM world, it’s a reality that we still need them and use them. I’m not a fan of the OOTB line style. What is the name for a line that is in between Thin and Medium? A Thin/Medium line? What about a line between Thin and Thin/Medium, a Thin2/Medium… you see my struggle. Leave those alone and keep it simple. I’m a big fan of 1,2,3,4, etc that matches the corresponding lineweight. Let the user make the call on how thick the line should be, that’s why we have the thin lines button.
10. Make sure default tags are set properly
It’s definitely inconvenient when you go to tag a room at the beginning of a project and the default is set to a finish tag and you’ve barely created spaces so far. Take the time to set the default tags to be the ones used most often or used earliest in the project.
Let’s talk about data corruption in Revit. In this post I will look at these 4 points:
File crashes before opening
Crashes when opening a new view
Looking for corrupt families
Higher level investigation
As always you should make sure you save a copy of your file for testing while trying to resolve corruption issues.
Digging deeper into Revit data corruption - YouTube
File crashes before opening
Sometimes a file cannot open because of a simple issue that can easily be overcome. Each of the following actions have the potential to get past a different issue. If your file crashes when you try to open it ask yourself:
Can the file be opened with or without audit checked?
Will the file open without the worksets loaded? Can I narrow it down to a specific workset that keeps the file from opening?
Can I open the file in a different build, or a newer version of Revit?
Sometimes new name allows you to bypass the issue, copy-paste file to new location
Isolate the file from the network save to a location where the links cannot be accessed.
Crashes when opening a new view
If your file crashes when you try to open or create new views, try these suggestions:
Turn off hardware acceleration try each location one at a time.
Reset Revit settings
Customized settings are stored in the app data folder, when removed from this location the defaults are regenerated.
Repair the installation
This won’t change any user setting.
Open Revit without add-ins
Locate the following folder: C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\Revit\Addins\[Version].
Temporarily move the add–in files from the folder above to another location.
If any of these work for you take note, this is where the issue resides and you’ll want to know the exact cause whenever possible.
Looking for Corrupt Families
Sometimes the behavior you see in a file is caused by corrupt families follow this process to identify corrupt families.
Save a copy of the corrupt file
Open and save all families as a library, this process will fail when it reaches the 1st corrupt family.
Record the family named on the bottom left hand corner of the screen & delete the family and run again, repeat until the process completes successfully.
Open the original corrupt file and reload all the families on your list with versions that predate the corruption. If you’ don’t have a previous version of the family, you’ll need to recreate them.
Higher level investigation & troubleshooting
Many issues can also be fixed by returning to Revit’s original settings. Try these steps one at a time, testing the file after each change.
Rename the .INI file (_old) which is in the AppData Roaming folder.
When these folders/files don’t exist, they are recreated the next time the user opens Revit. Be sure rename and not remove these files/folders, as they will server as backups for the user original setting including keyboard shortcuts and font maps.
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:
First steps to resolution
What if you can’t resolve it…
So you think your Revit model is corrupt... - YouTube
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
3 times to get it all
This writes a new file omitting lots of miscellaneous junk that is no longer required
Seek Support – Summit or Autodesk
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
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
Even Specialty fonts sometimes
These cause instabilities in the file which can result in crashes and the inability to complete the following actions.
Open/create new view
Access V/G overrides
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
Be sure to check out my next video in this series for more information.
3D visualization is an essential part of architectural illustration today. Renders allow you to communicate your vision and intent to clients and colleagues. This is why models or drawings are often sent out to be professionally rendered. This is an expensive but usually necessary process. However, it is possible to make high quality renders in-house using Revit or through the cloud.
What makes a beautiful render? Like many things, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is in the nuance of the materials you select, the lighting, the details you choose to include, and any post-production editing.
Here are a few thoughts on how to start making more beautiful, detailed renders in Revit.
I’ve wrapped them all up in a short video at the bottom of this post.
Materials are the foundation of every Revit render. They are what gives an element in Revit its color, context, and texture. They are part of the scene and should be adjusted accordingly.
The default color in Revit is grey. Leave the materials on their default setting and when you hit the render button, you will get a series of grey blobs with no information or appeal.
Luckily you can easily change this by adding texture to the material. Look in Revit’s image library or Google JPEG’s or PNG’s with your desired texture. Remember that you can also experiment with attributes like reflectivity and transparency to get the textures looking just right.
It is the details that make a render feel realistic. Buildings do not sit in a vacuum. Neither should renders. The more detail you are able to add to your render, the more more realism there is to your images especially when you work with real-life details. Beautiful renders are photo-realistic. As in photos – trees, people, and other outdoor elements – create the scale and real-life feel. Real pictures are never perfect and a hundred percent clean so neither should your render be.
Sun and Artificial Light
Light is the most important aspects of a rendered image. The lighting of your building should match the lighting of your surrounding. Everything should look like it works and is meant to be together. The shadows should look good and the lux, luminous or wattage should be correct on the artificial lights you are using.
Although you can adjust the exposure afterward rendering you don’t want to be spending all your time doing adjustments. Try to set up the image correctly from the very beginning. This becomes even more important if cloud credits are involved.
Tip: It’s a good idea when trying to render your design to have lights hidden away from the building. This will add some hidden light in the hidden corner or in the back of the camera to give some illumination to the building, just make sure to delete them where they are not needed.
Scene I: Render has context
Scene II: Figure in the foreground; not much lighting
When rendering goes wrong…
Editing the Render
You can adjust the render after you have rendered it. This is a good way to make minor changes without having to render all over again. You can make things darker or lighter. Change the color make it warmer or cooler. It is sometimes essential to work on some area of the scene to add some dramatic shadow or to correct some texture. You can do this within Revit without having to export to another software like Photoshop and it will hopefully save you time and money.
Recently we recommended the Properties+ addin for Navisworks which was updated to support Navisworks 2019. In addition to consolidating properties that may exist across different tabs in the properties window, it also provides a straightforward and consistent way to extract information from a model viewed in Navisworks. Recently, we used this method to extract element property information from Civil 3D elements so that we could recreate such elements inside of Revit. This method assumes that it is possible to first extract the location information from within the file or element. In our case the location information (x,y,z) is available as data fields of each element (northing, easting, elevation) when exporting the file as a 3D DWF. If your purpose is only to extract information, that is definitely a use case that is easier to implement using Properties+. The workflow was as follows:
Export to a Navisworks-friendly file – Open the Civil 3D file (or other file that can be exported to a Navisworks supported format). The goal of this step is to use the native application to get either a Navisworks file or a Navisworks supported file. In our case, we found that various export options dropped key data that we were seeking to extract (in our case these elements were Civil 3D structures and appurtenances). In the end, we were able to export a 3D DWF which maintained properties for the elements we were seeking.
Use Properties+ to customize the information you want to export – A basic function of the Properties+ addin is that you are able to create templates for viewing the properties of elements that you want to see consolidated. In our case, we were seeking Eastings, Northings, Handle, Object ID, etc. Once ready, you are able to use the Navisworks Selection Tree to select multiple objects. When you do the top of the window will show 1/186 (assuming here that you have selected 186 elements). Then you can use the export button to save out a CSV (which can be easily opened in Excel), where the properties you selected will be the columns, and the 186 elements will be individual rows for each element.
Use Dynamo or other software to translate or recreate the spreadsheet elements in another platform (optional) – Our use case required us to create Revit elements, but the reality is that once you have the spreadsheet with all the information, you could use other platforms and their native API (Rhino/Grasshopper) to transfer the information or create new elements using the properties from the spreadsheet. In our case we created a Dynamo script that would extract the information, use the Northing and Eastings to place the elements and then set all the parameters to the values reported in the spreadsheet. To accomplish this we first created a parametric family with the appropriate shared parameters to match the spreadsheet column headers.
The screenshots in this post illustrate the data extraction process using the Arboleda Mechanical IFC file. A sample template created specifically for this file for Properties+ can be downloaded here. Overall, this is a valuable workflow to extract to a spreadsheet structured data from intelligent models which can be opened in Navisworks.
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.
#3 – Plan before you start
Planning is a key process to successfully create a family in Revit. Sketch you family in a piece of paper, to make sure you don’t get carried away in the process. It is common for new Revit users to feel that they should “model everything” in full 3d, but following this road usually leads to over modelled elements that are hard to use and manage.
Answer the following questions before you go to the next step:
Is there a family in Autodesk’s library that is similar to the one you want to create? Consider copying, renaming and modifying the existing family to save time.
Where will the family be viewed? Is it only showing in plan? Is a 3D representation required? Will it be rendered? Can we get away with 2D lines? Only model in 3D what is necessary.
How do you want it to graphically show in different views? What is the level of detail you need based on the scales of the drawings in which it will be represented? Consider setting visibility controls.
What is the level of flexibility you need? What properties do you want to be able to control? What parameters must be created? Is a property dependent on another? Consider creating formulas to create relationships between parameters.
Will the family be scheduled? Is a parameter going to be scheduled? Consider using shared parameters.
#4 – Select an appropriate template
Revit comes with a variety of templates based on object categories. Go to File > New > Family and select an appropriate Template for your family.
Categories will determine the behaviour of the family – for example if the family goes from level to level, or if it is hosted in another element. If you are not sure what category the object falls under, then create it as a generic family and you can modify the category later going to Create > Properties Panel > Family Categories and Parameters. Be aware that object categories are what control the display of objects in Revit and several categories are “non-cuttable” in Revit.
#5 – Create the family framework
Most templates come with, at least, two pre-defined planes. The intersection of these two planes defines the origin of the family. If you want your family to be able to change in size, you need to build a framework using reference planes and/or reference lines (used to constrain angles).
Use reference planes to set critical positions in the family. Later, we will constraint the geometry of the family to these reference planes so when they move, the geometry follows.
The picture below shows the reference planes you would create if you wanted to create a table – reference planes in plan view for the table top, and reference planes in an elevation to set the top and underside of the table top.
#6 – Dimension the framework
Go to Modify > Measure Panel, select a dimension tool and dimension your framework. Then, create constraints defining both flexible and static conditions.
Select and lock a dimension.
Select and set a group of dimensions as equal with the “EQ” option.
Label a dimension with a parameter to be able to control its value dynamically. Select a dimension, go to Label Dimension Panel and click Create Parameter. Give the parameter a name, a group and define if the parameter will be applied to type or instance (you can change this later). Notice that if you select a dimension, the dialogue defaults the parameter type to dimension, and length.
In our example, the table top length, width and thickness are flexible and labeled with parameters. Equality constraints have also been included so when Length and Width change, the center remains in the same position. The Height of the table, on the other hand, is fix and locked as 970 mm. No parameter was created, because there was no need to make it flexible.
After setting your parameters, you can edit them inside Modify > Properties panel > Family Types.
The blue heading bars in the picture above are the groups under which you can create each parameter. Make sure you group your parameters in a logical and ordered manner (you can move parameters up or down and edit their groups if you need).
The name of a parameter is also very important. Use short but descriptive names and don’t use ‘-‘ signs because Revit may confuse them as formula values. Also keep consistency for naming conventions – will they have first letter cap, all caps or all lower case?
Notice that parameters can also be driven by formulas. In the example below, the Width was set to be half the Length. It is also possible to insert conditional statements. Conditional statements can contain numeric values, numeric parameter names, and Yes/No parameters.
Before going to the next step, test your parameters and see if the reference planes are moving the way you expected. Insert new values and hit Apply. Use values outside the anticipated range. If your framework has a glitch, now is the time to fix it.
#7 – Model and constrain the geometry
After creating the framework and the constraints, and making sure they are going according to plan, it is time to add the geometry. Go to Create > Forms Panel and select an appropriate massing tool – Extrusion, Blend, Revolve, Sweep, Void.
Draw the geometry and constrain its edges to the reference planes using the align tool. Finish the sketch and align/lock the geometry in other views if applicable.
Avoid creating addition dimensions and reference planes inside the Sketch Mode. They will not be visible once you leave the sketch and will make it hard for you to manage the family in the future. Additionally, avoid constraining modelled elements together – always prefer to constrain modelled elements with reference planes instead. This will reduce the risk of having family crashes and corruption down the road.
Once you have locked the geometry to all applicable reference planes, it’s time to run additional tests to see if the family is working properly.
Repeat the process to include all the geometry you need in the family – create a framework, constrain the framework, add geometry, constrain geometry to the framework, test it. Keep in mind that creating a family in a slow-paced manner, running constant tests, is the best way to succeed. If something goes wrong in your parametrization, you might have a hard time to find and fix the problem if you implemented several untested changes all at once.
#8 – Improve your family
Improve your family by creating additional geometry, parameters and relationships.
Add shared parameters for information you need to schedule or tag in your project.
Set materials to your geometry. If the material of an element will always be the same, select the element, go to Material field and hit the “…” to select a material. If the element may have different finishes, create and apply a parameter by clicking on the box on the right side of the Material field (marked in yellow in the picture below).
Set visibility yes/no parameters to elements if you want to be able to control if they are visible or not. To do that, select the element and define a parameter by clicking on the box on the right side of the Visible
Use nested families to make changes more efficient and shift from one family type to another using a “Family Type” parameter – see how leg types are controlled in the example below.
#9 – Add visibility controls
By selecting each element and setting a Visibility Setting, you are able to control the level of detail and the view types in which your elements will be visible. This can be useful, for example, if you want to use simplified 2D lines to represent a family in plan and elevation but wants to see all modelled components of that family in a 3D view.
For greater control and flexibility, Revit allows you to create subcategories of the any category in the family editor. Go to Manage > Object Styles and create a new subcategory. Then, select the element and apply it using the Properties Window.
#10 – Create Family Types
Before you load your family into a project, go to Modify > Properties Panel > Family Types and create default types. Use descriptive names that reflect the type parameters that are part of the family.
Now it is your turn
In this blog post we covered the main concepts and tools for you to create powerful and flexible families for your Revit projects. Now it is up to you to create your first family. Start with a simple family and go through all the steps listed above.
Creating Revit families can be intimidating at first but, once you understand the concepts and get used to the process, you will be able to explore endless design possibilities without depending on 3rd parties’ content.
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.
If you have searched through the Autodesk App Exchange, you may have come across many exciting new tools that make life in Navisworks easier. One such tool is Properties+ which is a recently updated add-in that I have now found to be completely indispensable when working in Navisworks.
As you know, here at Summit we are all about data, so if you have ever experienced frustration because the properties from an element that you are interested are spread across multiple properties tabs, then Properties+ is for you. It helps create a template of the properties that you are interested in, so that they are presented to you automatically in a consolidated window for your review. Best of all it is free, and was updated to support Navisworks 2019 (and is supported all the way back to 2016).