It’s not often that I am truly pleased by what I see when I open up Manufacture made Revit content, but this time I was pleasantly caught off guard, to say the least. This batch of content is the best manufacturer content that I have ever seen to date in terms of the measures that I consider important.
Now before I go into detail in terms of my review please note that this post only covers the specific ranges listed below. The Capral Aluminium family ranges that we recently integrated into our Global library include:
- CAPRAL_R1409_CurtainWall_CW-150 (Single and Double Glazed)
So why was I so impressed? It’s simple. When I look at Manufacturer’s content that may be suitable for Regional or Global library integration I always look at the amount of work that it is going to take to convert the content to a customized company standard. At Woods Bagot we spend a lot of time investing in Revit System Development and as a result we always need to adjust line weights, pen patterns, subcategories, materials and key data fields to ensure the new content does not disrupt our current documentation system.
Here are the top features that made this content specifically easy to update to our company standards.
TIDY REFERENCE PLANES
- The Reference Planes were all appropriate, extremely tidy and there were not too many of them, especially for non-parametric content.
- One of my few criticisms of this range was that the default Centre Left/Right and Centre Front/Back were left to be their original family template length. This is generally not a good idea because it causes all thumbnail views to zoom out to extents and the thumbnail reference becomes meaningless.
- This meant that I had to tidy the Centre Left/Right and Centre Front/Back reference planes in every family but considering the neat state of everything else it really was a minor inconvenience.
AUTODESK LINE WORK TIDIED UP
- All unused Autodesk default line patterns had been removed from all the family files. (This means that no Autodesk default line work would contaminate our projects.)
- I also appreciate that they used the Autodesk default line work where they needed to and that they did not create their own custom line patterns. (That way if a company did forget to swop out the line patterns at least they only end up with two Autodesk default line patterns in their project files.)
PERFECT FILL PATTERN MANAGEMENT
- All unused default Autodesk filled regions and fill patterns had been removed.
- The fill patterns that remained were consistently named across all the families in the various ranges and the fill pattern naming was simple and appropriate. There was no excessive or needless use of dashes, underscores and manufacturer references in the naming.
- I renamed the filled regions to match our company standard but this was reasonably quick and easy to do and it was a delight not to have to step over unused filled regions.
- The subcategory naming was clear, well-considered, consistent and SIMPLE !
- The way that these subcategories have been named shows that they have taken into consideration how their clients might need to control the line weights and visibility of the elements within the project environment. They have taken a high-level approach in defining the subcategories in terms of items that are visible in section (They called “Extrusion”) as opposed to item that would display uncut and as “Elevations” elements. I do not mind their naming strategy since I think it allowed them to keep the number of subcategories across the various ranges to a minimum.
- All the families had only 3-4 custom subcategories which I think is an excellent benchmark to aim for with Manufacturer’s content. It allows some range of graphical control without being excessive. With 4 custom subcategories in each family it was reasonably quick to update to our company standards.
- It was magnificent not to see any Manufacturer names in the subcategory naming. (My pet hate…. e.g. “Capral Glazing” etc.) It shows that whoever made this content actually understands how View Templates are used in a project environment. (How refreshing!)
- I converted their subcategories to match our company standards but I believe that it is very reasonable for BIM or Content Managers to expect to do that when adjusting Manufacture content to their Revit/BIM system standard.
AUTODESK MATERIALS REMOVED FROM ALMOST ALL THE FAMILIES
- A few families were missed in the auditing process but overall these Revit families had no used default Autodesk materials in the families. This was great to see and saved me a few hours of clean-up.
- In the few cases where the materials had snuck through the families had used nested families and I imagine that the re-loading of the nested family at some stage of the auditing process might have caused the materials the sneak back in. (Since the Detail Item Family template does not start off with materials loaded.)
- On the whole a great effort though, and the effort was much appreciated.
- Since these families are Detail Items it makes no sense to have materials in the file but unfortunately Autodesk Revit will automatically add the default materials, fill patterns and line patterns back into any file that is nested and edited directly from the family. So beware of this trap.
- Always save out your nested families onto your server and edit them directly. This will avoid all the Autodesk shrapnel from being pushed back into crisp, clean Revit families.
- This was the best surprise of all. There was no excessive data and needless parameters that overloaded the menu. All the data was simple, easy to understand and relevant.
- I definitely prefer the concise approach taken with this Manufacturer. I appreciate that Manufacturer’s want their products specified in projects but I think that Manufacturer’s sometimes mistake overloading Revit families with excess data as an act of service. I think this is inaccurate perception of added value. In my experience excess use of data and parameters in Manufacturer’s content usually results in drafter’s getting irritated by the excess visual noise/ data that they have to fall over for the remainder of the project life-cycle.
- A product website URL that is kept live and up to date is far more useful than rows and rows product data parameters that are forced into our Revit project files and libraries.
- Room for improvement: A few families had their family Type name missing but almost all the families had a type name defined.
- All nested Family File names were well named. There were a few nested families that had Family Type names that were the same as the family name but in general most nested families had a type name of “Type 1” or similar, which is recommended best practice in my view.
- Some of the families did use family nesting. It did not bother me that much since all the nested families were only one level deep, they were simple, very tidy and it was less than 15-20% of range from memory that had much nesting.
- I think there were a handful of families in the one range that had up to 4 simple and clean nested families (this is a bit much for my preferences, generally) but the host families still worked well and the file size was not excessive.
- I would naturally prefer that Revit families have as little nesting as possible, if practical of course.
- Any nesting choices that I make are always subject to the “future editability rule”. I.e. “How hard is it going to be for me to fix, tweak or edit a family (that was not made by me, or that was made by a Manufacturer) if it’s too complex and if no nesting is used?”
The Family Type name get’s duplicated (as shown in image above) when a nested family is added to a host family BEFORE the Family Type name has been defined in the nested family file. Simply rename the Family Type name of the nested family in the host family and remember to save a copy of the nested family onto your server for quick and efficient future editing and reloading.
“RVT” – SYSTEM FAMILY FILES
I have not integrated these Curtain Wall (system families) into our library or company sample files yet because we will probably go the extra step and test importing the details directly into the system families for automatic detailing functionality in the Project environment. That being said these sample files are made with the same attentiveness as all their detail files and I feel certain that the same quality will follow through all their RVT sample files. We will most likely invest the time to go the extra step but I have a few other things to juggle for a few weeks ;-)
- This content was immaculately audited. It was professionally made and I am pleased with the result.
- The content was not overly complicated or smothered in endless and inappropriate Manufacturer labels. (E.g. where subcategories, fill patterns, line work patterns and parameter naming actually contain the Manufacturer’s name.)
- We don’t expect a Manufacturer to be able to guess our preferred naming in terms of subcategories but keeping it simple and non-branded shows class and suggests that the Manufacturer understands the nature of our documentation and design workflows/ data management and Revit modeling business.
- It is apparent to me that whoever made this range made an effort to ensure that their Revit content would solve more problems than they would create. I imagine their content creator/s either have experience documenting on projects or make a concerted effort to understand the context within which their Revit content would be used.
Well done Capral Aluminum. We would love to integrate all your content in to our Revit Library if the quality stays this high and consistent!
QUICK LINK FOR CONTENT DOWNLOAD
HMMM…. SO WHAT’S NEXT?
Till next time….. I trust this review was helpful