PART 3 – BUDGET FAMILIES

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Revit Collection2Today I want to write about a topic that has been on my mind for some time. I am going to discuss some of the content (in general terms) that we have recently purchased from www.revitcollection.com for use at a global architectural firm.

I have hesitated slightly in posting about this specific range simply because I know that my post could be misunderstood and the intention twisted by the community if not read in the correct context. I have positive and negative feedback to give about the Revit Collection Revit content range but do not misinterpret my review as saying that the Revit Collection content is not worth buying. Because that is not what I am saying.

Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series were admittedly extremely long blog posts because I needed to be thorough in establishing the foundation and context upon which to present this and future Revit content reviews.

MY INTENTIONS

  • Let me be clear in advance. I have no interest what so ever in trying invalidate any efforts on the part of the Revit Collection content creation team. I admire the initiative that has been taken by this team to make content and to set up a website that clearly offers and an extensive range of budget interior design families.
  • I hope that this site continues to sell content but I also hope that perhaps some of my feedback will be taken on board to help make the content more user-friendly for large firms to use on projects.

WHY NOT JUST SKIP THE TOPIC THEN?BIMBBOMBAM_Revit_Unsure

I feel that it’s important to share my views in the hope that the industry receives the feedback needed to continually improve. Things to know and understand before I post my findings below:

  • I have outlined the legal licensing agreement which was current at the time when we purchased their content but you will need to confirm if any legal permission have changed by contacting Revit Collection directly prior to purchasing any content.

I am only going to highlight a few key points in regards to the Revit Collection range, in general.

PRO’S & CON’s

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Revit Collection3

FEATURE ADVANTAGE DISADVANTAGE
PRODUCT RANGE
  • The Revit Collection range in general would appeal to Interior designer the most. Most of the range includes content that is furniture or accessory based.
  • Revit families can be purchased individually and you are not forced to buy a large batch of content.
  • We did find that a small percentage of the Manufacturer specific Revit Content has been superseded and was no longer available. So please be mindful that the entire range might not reflect current Manufacturer ranges. I think that this is understandable to some degree since it would be hard for Revit Collection to keep up with the status of all Manufacturer Specific ranges.
FEATURE ADVANTAGE DISADVANTAGE
LICENSING

 

  • The Revit Collection has an excellent licensing agreement that makes it very appealing to large firms to purchase their content. There is no licensing limitation based on number of users. In other words each component is sold as a once of purchase.
  • BEWARE: Some content creators sell their content under quite stringent legal conditions that may even insist that if a model is handed over to the client that an additional copy of content or an additional licence is required for the client’s use. This type of legal agreement can be extremely restrictive for firms that want to hand over BIM models. Fortunately this is not the case with Revit Collection.
  • None.
FEATURE ADVANTAGE DISADVANTAGE
PRICE POINT
  • The Revit Collection families are extremely cheap to buy.
  • Most content ranges from $2-$10 per Revit family. (Initial purchase: Crazy cheap but see Disadvantage)

 

  • On face value this seems like an absolute bargain but unfortunately the content itself needs work so be mindful of this when purchasing it.
  • That being said – I still think it has some value to the industry if buyers are made aware of what they are buying and for some firms it will work out moderately cheaper than building it from scratch. (Depending on how much clean-up or standardization needs to done.)
FEATURE ADVANTAGE DISADVANTAGE
FACE-BASED  
  • I have to say it is THE one feature that would almost put me off this range because it is so problematic, costly and time-consuming for firms to convert such content to be Non-Face-Based.
  • When we purchased this content we literally converted almost all of the content to be Non-Face-Based because we have very specific standards within our firm regarding Face-Based content use.
  • We find that the time and money invested in removing the Face-Based functionality outweighs the project and management issues/ risks that can arise from using Face-Based families blindly for no good reason. This expense which we have had to wear could however been completely avoided if the content creators were more mindful and respectful of the need for flexibility within the industry in terms of Face-Based preferences instead of imposing Face-Based workflows on their potential clients.
  • Unfortunately I found that Revit Collection was not open to my feedback in this regard and they were unwilling to consider making their content Non-Face-Based. So be mindful that their content might take some significant investment if your firm is more particular about where Face-Based content is used within the project environment.
FEATURE ADVANTAGE DISADVANTAGE
MATERIALS
  • Families have been assigned materials for the most part.
  • My second biggest surprise with the Revit content was in terms of materials. The website boasts images of families that seem to display really well in rendered views the families that we purchased do not include the same render materials settings even though they contain Manufacturer specific materials.
  • The material naming is inconsistent across various products and be careful to check that some families have materials included that are not part of the actual model or range.
FEATURE ADVANTAGE DISADVANTAGE
GENERAL
  • These are extremely cheap Revit content that can be useful if you don’t have enough content creators in your firm to be producing interior design content.
  • It could also serve companies well who are less stringent about Revit or content standards and who are willing to use the content directly in their projects without cleaning up the content.
  • Large firms may be able to afford reworking the content to justify a boost within their library of interiors accessories and furniture.
  • Many of the items listed in Part 2 of this blog series have not been consistently applied across their content range.
  • I would consider the content to be problematic from a standardization and quality point of view but most of the content can be cleaned-up.
  • We will have to rebuild some content from scratch but simply because we have very high standards in terms of how we build and approach parametric family creation within our company standards.

IT MIGHT NOT SUIT EVERYONE – BE MINDFUL OF EDITING COSTSBIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Revit Collection4

Whilst this content can be useful for quick solutions on a project or to fill a gap in your company library please be mindful that the Revit Collection family range will take some significant investment to incorporate into your company if you have medium to high company or project library standards. After fixing each family the cost per family was on average $45 – $60 per family (some were more) but in most cases it was marginally cheaper than building it from scratch (but that was not always the case). So please be mindful of the appearance of it being super cheap.

I think my biggest frustration around this range would be that so much of the items that needed repairing were things that could easily be done well in the first place and the Face-Based feature adds so much extra cost to the end-user, when making it Non-Face Based would make so much more sense. For clients who prefer Face-Based content – they could alter the Non-Face based content in less than 2 minutes by using a simple (a) nesting solution or (b) add work plane based functionality. (This would be far more cost-effective for their clients!)

BimBoomBam_RevitCollection

Please be respectful to The Revit Collection if you discuss this topic afterwards within the industry. Be mindful that as an industry we should foster a space of open learning and improvement and that is the only purpose for my continued blogging on the topic of Revit families.

In summary, I appreciate the efforts made by Revit Collection and I know that the purchase price is incredibly cheap but my best feedback to Revit Collection would be that I would much rather pay more for this content upfront ($15-$20 per family) and have it be Non-Face-Based, but only if was made consistently so that we did not have to wear such a high post-purchase clean-up cost.

I trust that this blog post series was helpful in some way.

Cheers, Michelle

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PART 2 – BUDGET FAMILIES

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Surprised
Hi everyone, as promised here is my follow on post from post Part 1 of Budget Revit families that covers a list of what I might expect to see in budget Revit content.

My comments below might look like a steep list of considerations but please remind yourself that budget Revit content is usually built to be sold multiple times, for years on end and to a global audience.

All screen grab images below are based on real-life budget family examples that I have sourced from content that is being sold to the public. Please understand that I am not trying to personally attack or embarrass anyone.

SUBCATEGORIES
THE PRIMARY GOAL: Make it easy for your clients to re-use or rename subcategories to their company standard by:

  • Being consistent in subcategory naming across all of your ranges.
  • Assigning all geometry and line work to a subcategory (Max 3-4 custom subcategories in a family)
  • Apply good naming conventions (E.g. no Manufacturer specific subcategories)
  • Don’t define one subcategory to represent more than one object type. See example #3 below.

EXAMPLE # 1 – Not assigning geometry to a subcategory.

BimBoomBam_Assign subcat

EXAMPLE #2 – Manufacturer specific subcategories don’t work
This is an example of how subcategories from content can clutter a project file very quickly. I loaded in several families into a test project and my Object Style menu of subcategories expanded out of control. In a real project situation this amount of imported subcategories would be a big disruption to the project team. That means that all these subcategories would have to be renamed before they could be added to a company library (assuming the company Revit library is well-managed.)

  • All of these items could have been placed on 4-5 subcategories (As shown on the right in image below)

BimBoomBam_Example_Subcats

I recommend using the ANZRS subcategory list or some other industry Revit subcategory list (regardless of the region that you are creating content for) if helps keep things more consistent in the industry.

EXAMPLE #3 – A subcategory should not represent multiple object types
Option 1: Assign the bench and stool to separate subcategories in the same or separate families.
[ Left Column = Original subcategory, Right Column = My suggestion ]
BimBoomBam_Example_Subcats2
Option 2: Place all movable furniture into one subcategory for all your content ranges.
[ Left Column = Original subcategory, Right Column = My second suggestion ]
BimBoomBam_Example_Subcats3

MASKING REGIONS & SYMBOLIC LINE WORK
THE PRIMARY GOAL: The client should not have to go through your content and assign line work (Symbolic or Sketch) to a subcategory. It can be very time consuming for your client to fix this oversight.

  • All Masking region sketch line work and symbolic line work must be assigned to the appropriate Subcategory and not to the Family Category.
    [ Left Column = Original subcategory, Right Column = My suggestion ]
    BimBoomBam_Assign subcat4

MATERIALS
THE PRIMARY GOAL: To ensure that the family already has a material representation as a starting point and to make it easy for the client to integrate your Manufacturer-specific-materials into their library.

EXAMPLE #1 – All geometry in the host & nested families must have a material.
BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-20

  • Use Autodesk materials where it’s appropriate. E.g. If the Autodesk ‘Glass’ material works well then use it, but don’t rename it or make your own custom version.
  • Where a Manufacturer-specific product is available in a specific range of colours make the effort to match the RGB values of the shading and basic render colour so that the object colour is aligned with the colour of the actual product.

EXAMPLE #2: Manufacturer’s material naming and colour setting

BimBoomBam_Manufacturer Materials
TIP: I find using a prefix of ‘Z_’, “XX_’ works well because it helps to sort the Manufacturer-specific-materials towards the bottom of a project material list and won’t interfere with company specific materials. I also like putting the manufacturer’s name in CAPS because visually it easy to scan.

Question: What if a Manufacturer’s product comes in too many material options?

  • (a) For budget Revit families I think it’s acceptable for the content creator to pre-create 5-8 materials at most. After that your client can add the rest if they wish.
  • (b) Or if a product comes in more than 8-10 material options the I think it could be created in ‘concept-white’ but only if this is stated clearly on the family description on the website that the family only has one material, namely white.
  • I would prefer option (a) if possible.

EXAMPLE #3 – Unused Autodesk default materials should be removed

  • All unused Autodesk materials should be removed from the host and nested family. BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-4

Question: What about generic Revit content?

  • White works wonders on generic content. (Please avoid using ‘Default’ Grey – it looks awful and it means that your family will need immediate editing before it can be used.)
  • It must be clearly stated on the website that the family only has one material, namely white.

EXAMPLE #5: Material as instance or Type parameters
If a family is available in 5 frame colours and numerous fabrics then there would obviously be far too many types to define in terms of variable combinations.
BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-32

  • In example above the family was changes so that the frame colour was a Type Parameter and the fabric option as an instance parameter.
  • See my Manufacturers Page on this blog site to understand more about some common pitfalls if you are a Manufacturer reading this post.

LINE PATTERNS AND FILL PATTERNS

  • Use the Autodesk default line patterns and avoid custom line patterns.
  • Don’t change the names of the Autodesk line patterns.

EXAMPLE #1 – Keep it simple.
[ Left Column = Original line patterns, Right Column = My suggestion ]
BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-22

EXAMPLE #2 – Remove all unused line patterns from the family.

  • Remove all imported line patterns.
  • Your clients should not be cleaning your families for you!
    BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-15

TYPE NAMES

  • All host and nested families must have a Family Type name defined.
  • A Family Type name should never be a repeat of the family name.

EXAMPLE #1: Type name in the Project environment
If a Family Type name has not been defined Revit will simply duplicate the family name as a type name when loaded into your client’s project file. This looks unprofessional.

BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-23

EXAMPLE #2: Family Type name in the family Editor of a nested family
The sample applies to nested families. Make sure to define the Family Type name of the nested family and double-check the naming in the host family.

BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-24

COARSE, MEDIUM AND FINE VIEW SETTINGS

  • If the Revit family is placed in the Revit project then I believe that it should be visible and occupy some graphical space in all views, regardless of view scales.
  • Leave it up to your clients to customize their own Visibility setting preferences over and above the basics of adding detailed elements to only be visible in ‘Fine’ view.

EXAMPLE #1 – No geometry in Medium of Coarse View settings 

  • It is far more time-consuming for your clients to redefine the visibility if you have adjusted the default visibility settings on every geometry or line work element in your family. BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-25

EXAMPLE #2 – Avoid customizing the visibility of the family too much
Be careful of oversimplifying too much. In this example the cushions need to still consume some space in Coarse and Medium views otherwise it will look silly.
BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-11
DATA INFORMATION

  • Define content creator source or contact details as a bare minimum.
  • The Revit default parameters should not be used to define content creator information.

EXAMPLE # 1

  • Keep the Autodesk URL for product/ manufacturer website information.
  • Keep Type comments blank or use it to describe the product but don’t use it to define content creation information.
  • Add your own parameters for Content creation information.
    BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-2

REFERENCE PLANES

  • Ideally all Reference Planes in all views should be set to 3D in all views unless there is good reason to override a Reference plane to be 2D in a specific view.
  • Clean and tidy reference planes are not essential but boy-oh-boy they certainly leave a lasting impression. A clean family that looks planned out and neat makes your client feel that they received value in purchasing your Revit family and that care was taken in making it.

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Clean

THUMBNAIL VIEW

  • Keep to the industry standard of using ‘View 1’ as your thumbnail View in all 3D Revit families.
  • Use the default views and their default view names.
  • Don’t add extra Views to families. * Exception: Some family templates only have the one {3D} view. If that is the case duplicate the {3D} view and rename it to ‘View 1’ or ‘Thumbnail view’.

EXAMPLE #1 – Adding custom views

  • By adding extra views your client may need to delete the view and reset the thumbnail settings. this is unnecessary re-work for your client.
      BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-16

EXAMPLE #2
Please define the Thumbnail preview as part of your final content creation audit.

.BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-34

SHARED PARAMETERS

  • The wonderful thing about a lot of the Manufacturer specific content is it does not always NEED to be parametric. So only build families to be parametric if its appropriate! See Example 1, below.

EXAMPLE #1 – Is that dimension label really needed?

  • E.g. The sofa arm height will not be scheduled out by Interior Designers as a general industry practice. So in this example this parameter label is not required at all because the family is representing a Manufacturer Specific object that should not be built to have this specific parametric functionality.
    BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-18BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-17

PARAMETER NAMING

  • The parameter naming should make sense.
  • Refer to ANZRS for some guidelines is unsure of how to approach parameter naming. This post is not about necessarily following ANZRS standards but there are some checklists and guidelines that you will hopefully find useful.
  • Avoid using codes or single letters to define a parameter name. The only exception in my view is structural families where some manufacturer catalogs have dimensions defined specifically by letters or specific code abbreviations.

EXAMPLE # 1

  • The ‘S’ and ‘C’ parameter below was used in this family to define if the table was a ‘Circular’ or ‘Square’ table.
  • The ‘C’ or ‘S’ abbreviation is not immediately obvious to the Revit modeller and it means that the Revit BIM Manager will probably have to rename all your parameters before adding your families to their library.
    BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-3BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-26

MAKING A FAMILY MORE COMPLEX THAN IS NEEDED
In the next family you can see that the content creator really meant well. He built all the various options into a single family so that drafters would not have to rotate the family themselves within the project in order to build their unique bookshelf system.

EXAMPLE #1
This is the Revit family that represents the ‘L shape’ of this bookshelf range.

BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-28

Whilst I admire the content creator’s keenness here I think that the end result is less user-friendly for the client from a content library maintenance point of view. Essentially we have four pieces of geometry (identical in sizing) that represent the same object. So keep your client’s general library maintenance requirements in mind too.

MANUFACTURER PRODUCTS & SPLITTING INTO SEPARATE FAMILIES
Below is example of another real budget family where the family is trying to do too much.
BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-30
This family was later slit into three separate families by our firm in order to make it usable for our drafting team.

BIMBOOMBAM_Anonymous-Budget-31

BEWARE OF MAKING ONLY FACE-BASED FAMILIES!
Admittedly the whole debate about whether to use Face-Based or Non-Face-Based families is a controversial subject that I am not going to cover now. But, as a content creator it’s important to realize that some firms use Faced-Based families whilst many will simply refuse to use them.

  • So I suggest that you either offer (a)  Non-Face-Based families or (b) Face-Based  and Non-Face-Based family options for the same object. This an easily be done by nesting the Non-Face-Based version into a Face-Based template. (It means a slightly larger file size but I think the industry will see that you mean well by offering both versions.)
  • It is very time-consuming for your client to convert a Face-Based family into a Non-Face-Based family. But it takes 2 minutes to change a Non-Face Based family into a Face-Based Family with simple nesting.

That’s about all I wanted to cover as key features that I would like to see in all Revit content that is being shared or sold to the industry. This is nothing new. ANZRS already covered all of these topics in detail many years ago. We are beginning to see signs of improvement but I would like the improvement to be really noticeable. I hope that the industry will provide more feedback to professional content creators and Manufacturers about the content that they are receiving so that we can all benefit from Revit families that are far less time-consuming to integrate into specific company standards.

NOW, NOW – NO POUTING!
The bottom line as I see it is: Content creators that go the extra mile will sell their content easily, even if it costs a bit extra. Budget content can still be made well and sold repeatedly to justify the effort required to make it. *

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Pouting

I hope that many Content creators find this post useful. I will be doing a review in Part 3 on some budget content that we recently purchased. That will be released in a few weeks time.

If you find a good range of Manufacturer’s Revit content or budget Revit families please contact me – I’d love to know about it ;-)

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Please click “Like”  and Share if you enjoy these blog posts. It makes my day a bit brighter and it helps make it feel like the effort taken to prepare these posts might be worth it ;-)
Take care, Michelle

PART 1 BUDGET REVIT FAMILIES

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_GoldclubThis post is the first of a 3 PART SERIES where I discuss the concept of budget Revit Families that are currently available for purchase on the web.

  •  In this blog post (Part 1) I want to begin the discuss budget Revit families, in general terms, and reflect on what might be fair to expect from a Revit family that can cost as little as $3 or $5, up to $25 per family.
  • Part 2 – I will outline the technical considerations that budget Revit families should take into account in my view.
  • Part 3 – In the last post of this series I will review a specific range of budget Revit content that is currently available for purchase on the web.
  • I will release the entire 3 PART BLOG POST SERIES over a period of about 4-6 weeks to allow readers to have time to read and digest the content of each post before publishing the next associated blog post.

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Dissapointed

CONTEXT
So how has this topic come about in that sweet busy head of mine?
Recently we purchased a large batch of Revit content from a company that specializes in budget Revit content that are in fact Manufacture specific. It was certainly not the first range of budget content that I had come across over the years, nor would it be the last. I saw a lot of room for improvement across a range of more than 250 families and it got me thinking…..

How do I review a batch of content on my blog that is so cheap to purchase without coming across as an absolute tyrant? After all, most of the Revit families that we had purchased had cost the same as a single hamburger.

Initially I felt bad for my noticeable irritation as I started to audit some of the budget families that we had purchased. Most of my frustration stemmed from the time-consuming ramification and unnecessary re-work that would be needed to integrate these families into our library. There was a lot of clean-up to be done simply because these families were made in a way that seemed to suggest that the content creator/s had not been not aware of the subtleties of the Revit system integration process.

I noticed myself justifying the possible reasons why some short cuts might have been taken. “Don’t be so harsh, after all it only cost $5 Michelle!” I thought. I knew full well that some families would have taken an hour or perhaps even a few hours to make so $5 was still great value. But how much work would it take to get them up to our company standard?

I reflected some more as I cleaned up yet another family….BimBoomBam_Revit_Burger

IS BUYING A $5 REVIT FAMILY THE SAME AS BUYING A HAMBURGER?
Comparing a budget Revit family purchase with a hamburger was perhaps a gross simplification on my part. After all the burger could only be sold once and my comparison did not take into consideration the true income potential of selling the same Revit family multiple times to different clients.

HOW MANY TIMES CAN YOU SELL A $5 REVIT FAMILY?
I appreciate that with this type of business model the content creator assumes all the risk. He or she has no idea if they will in fact sell their family 1, 5, 20 or 100 times.
I thought to myself ,“I imagine that the trick of course is to secure repeat business and social media could be used to boost sales if your content is well made and cheap”. 
Don’t get me wrong – I am not proposing that it’s a get-rich-quick scheme. In fact I suspect that the effort in building a website and making the Revit content under such conditions of risk might not always be worth it. But perhaps it could be lucrative – if your product was renowned for being consistent, excellent quality and offering good value and benefits for integration?

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Onlinesales

So, if I take into account the fact that these families can be re-sold multiple times – can I then justify my personal expectation that even budget Revit families must meet a bare minimum quality/ benchmark or standard?

I feel that it is safe for me to suggest that if a content creator becomes known for consistent quality content  then there should be enough money to be made, per family, over time to warrant to additional time that may be required in creating a professionally made product. After all buying something that has been well made and at a cheap price can be more time efficient and cost-effective (most of the time) than having staff create the content themselves in the midst of project deadlines. But if the budget content is made with little understanding of how Revit system design is actually meant to work then the process of buying such cheap content might potentially become counter-productive.

Part of my frustration about the quality of budget Revit content arises from the fact that many of the details that take time to repair on budget families would take very little extra time for the content creators to do ‘right’, the first time round. ( E.g. Defining a Subcategory, Material or Family Type name takes as long regardless if you name it poorly or not.) In my experience the time that it takes to make a Revit Family half heartedly is not much less than making a Revit family well. BUT if a Revit family has been made with competence and Revit System empathy the added value to the consumer is ENORMOUS!

MY POTENTIALLY CONTROVERSIAL ‘TRUTH’
So, I would like to declare that I think ANY Revit content sold should at least meet a minimum quality standard regardless of price per unit.

BIMBOOMBAM_REvit_UhmmmNotGood

WHAT IS FAIR TO EXPECT FROM A BUDGET REVIT FAMILY?
So you ask… “Michelle, what do you think is a bare minimum that any content should have in order to be a product of professional integrity and great value?”

In PART 2 of this blog post series I will try to cover some of the basics of what I would consider my personal bare-minimum-benchmark for any content that is said to be professionally made – regardless of the purchase or commission price that is paid. It is my hope that more industry experts will begin to realize that they can secure commercial leverage from creating Revit content that is consistently made that is specifically designed to be easy to integrate into customized company Revit systems.

“As I see it Design, Documentation and Engineering firms are becoming more informed about how to customize their own company Revit and BIM standards. They are becoming increasingly selective about the content that they allow into their projects and libraries. Sure – we still have many Revit cowboys in the industry who are ‘just winging it’ and allowing any quality families into their projects and libraries.

BUT….THE GAP between the Revit cowboys and informed Revit/Bim firms (who are investing in customized Revit systems)  is INCREASING.

And in my view: It is that ever-increasing GAP that will give high performance Revit/BIM firms commercial leverage in years to come.  ”

~ Michelle Van Kolck

It is for this reason very reason that I believe that is becoming more important that Manufacturers and Professional Content Creators educate themselves about what the industry truly needs in terms of Revit family functionality. Overcomplicated content that is problematic to use or integrate is simply not what our industry needs or wants in terms of representing Manufacture specific content in our project models. Professional content creators that are paid to create content that will be publicly available should focus on improving the speed and efficiency with which Design and Engineering firms can integrate and tweak their content into their company specific Revit/BIM systems.

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Mime_grassLet’s see if the grass is greener in my next post…..

Cheers, Michelle

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Please click LIKE and/or  SHARE this post if you enjoy these blog posts. It makes my day a bit brighter and it helps make it feel like the effort taken to prepare these posts might be worth it ;-)

IT FINALLY HAPPENED !

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.

BBB_Comic_Surprise

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_419-Flushline_DG-100mm
  • CAPRAL_419-Flushline_DG-150mm
  • CAPRAL_419-Flushline_DG-150mm_50Pocket
  • CAPRAL_R1406_400-Narrowline
  • CAPRAL_R1409_CurtainWall_CW-150 (Single and Double Glazed)
  • CAPRAL_R1411_600-Narrowline

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.

BBB_Capral_Ref Planes1

AUTODESK LINE WORK TIDIED UP

BBB_Capral_Linework1

  • 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

BBB_Capral_Fill pattens

  • 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.

SUBLIME SUBCATEGORIES

BBB_Capral_Subcategories

  • 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

BBB_Capral_Materials

  • 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.

TIP

  • 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.

PROPERTIES MENU

BBB_Capral_Properties

  • 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.

NEST NAMING

BBB_Capral_Nest naming1

  • 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?”

TIP

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

BBB_Capral_RVT 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 ;-)

BimBoomBam_Revit_Comic_Wink

IN SUMMARY

  • 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

Print

http://www.capral.com.au/CAD-Drawing-Library

HMMM…. SO WHAT’S NEXT?

BimBoomBam_Revit_Coffee

Till next time….. I trust this review was helpful
Cheers, Michelle

SUBCATEGORIES – Really?

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_SurpriseGirl

I’m sure some of you might be rolling your eyes and thinking “I can’t believe she’s actually posting about something as simple as subcategories!” But strangely enough most Manufacturer content creators still don’t seem to realize how much their subcategory choices affect companies who would potentially accept or reject their content. So I am taking the time to help clarify why I think better practices will help Revit/ BIM Managers to integrate your families into their studio or global libraries.

WHAT CONTENT CREATORS SHOULD ALREADY KNOW

  • Subcategories are used to control the visibility of specific geometry or linework in a view.
  • They can also be used to define Object Styles within a project for standardized line settings, per family category and family subcategory. These settings are then enforced as the default and preferred graphical representation within the entire Revit project or template file.
  • The Visibility Graphics Menu is completely dependent on the subcategories in a project and is used on a very regular basis on projects to control view settings where no View Template is being used.
  • Many companies use View Templates in their projects which rely on a fixed list of subcategories.
  • When new families are loaded into a project all NEW subcategories which were not originally in the project file prior to loading the family will automatically be set to be visible in all predefined project View Templates.
  • As a result loading families with new subcategories will automatically disrupt all the existing View Templates in the hosting project file.
  • By adding subcategories to projects that are ill-considered the project organization become inefficient. Revit modellers and drafters become increasingly irate with trying to hide, display or override objects using Visibility Graphics, Object Styles or View Templates.
  • See below for a simple example of the impact that only 3 Manufacturers families can have to a project when loaded into a project.

BEFORE LOADING A SNIPPET OF A PREDEFINED VIEW TEMPLATE IN PROJECT

  • This View Template example was designed to display fixed furniture only for plan views.
  • All loose furniture had been set to be automatically hidden.

Subcats1

AFTER LOADING 3 FAMILIES FROM MANUFACTURERS INTO PROJECT

  • Notice how cluttered the Visibility Graphics menu has become with all the additional subcategories.
  • Note: These subcategory examples are from REAL Manufacturer’s content that I downloaded this evening. (The only thing that I have done to them is replace the Manufacturers name with a person’s name to avoid any public embarrassment for the Manufacturer or content creation company.)
  • With so many new subcategories that are added just with 3 families it becomes easy to see why effective Revit system management requires that all Manufacturer’s content be cleaned up routinely.
  • It is common practice to have to modify some subcategories in families but the goal should always be to minimize the amount of re-work that is imposed onto the end-user by creating and assigning subcategories appropriately in the first place.

Subcats3

SOME CONTENT CREATORS MAY SAY

“Michelle, It’s really not our problem. We can’t be expected to try to cater for all the Manufacturer’s clients and guess what everyone would name a subcategory! That’s simply ridiculous…”

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_SoWhat

And I’d reply “Your client, the Manufacturer, deserves the best uptake of their content range – so actually – it is your problem/ challenge. It’s reasonably easy to come up with a strategy for subcategories that would require at least the minimum amount of re-work for anyone who wishes to use your Revit families. Besides if your content proves to be popular and easy to integrate into company libraries then you will have a delighted client and a great reputation. So everyone wins.”

SUBCATEGORY NAMING GUIDELINES

Fortunately this is one example where there is already a baseline of subcategory examples that are commonly used by many content creation companies as well as some Design and Drafting firms. Yes, in this case I am promoting the ANZRS subcategory list, regardless of where in the world your content is being made. The list is generic and not region specific. It is comprehensive and at least a well-considered starting point for most content ranges. If a company has not adopted these subcategories they could still easily transfer these over to their company specific preference with minimal fuss. If you prefer to use your own naming conventions then that is perfectly fine provided that you don’t make the following mistakes.

CAN YOU SPOT THE ERRORS?

Let’s see if you can spot the issues below before I outline them and elaborate below the images.

Subcats_A

Subcats_B

Subcats_C

Subcats_D

WHAT DID YOU NOTICE?

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IMAGE A

  • Avoid assigning any geometry or line-work to the main family category.

IMAGE B

  • Too many subcategories have been used.
  • Simple families might only need 1-2 subcategories.
  •  E.g.
    • One for geometry
    • One for linework or masking regions
  • More complex compliance families may require a few additional subcategories.
  • E.g.
    • Clearance lines or for set-out lines
    • This is only on rare occasions since Manufacture based content should be  less specialized in terms of personalized graphic control settings. Erring on the side of less is always best.
  • Use visibility parameters to control visibility if type based. E.g. With Arms or Without Arms but do not use subcategories to control this option.
  • Only display what is essential in a plan or elevation view.
    • Use a masking region and symbolic linework, if needed.
    • Always think of what your families will display like at a scale of 1:100 keep your plan and sectional representations simple.
  • Where possible use a simple subcategory descriptor that can apply to items of a similar grouping that you would expect drafting teams to want to control together.
    • E.g. It is highly unlikely that drafters will want to display sofas and not chairs. In this case ‘Seating’ as an appropriate subcategory will suffice.
    • In some cases it might make sense to make a distinction between loose and fixed items but this is solely driven by general industry documentation expectations.

IMAGE C

  • It is essential to ensure that ANY geometry and symbolic line work be assigned to an appropriate subcategory.
  • Edit the masking regions to assign the sketch line work as well.

IMAGE D

  • And finally – my pet hate….
  • Never, never, never use a Manufacturers name in the subcategory, line pattern or filled region naming. (I’ll discuss Shared Parameter naming for Manufacturer content another day too)
  • Imposing a Manufacturers name into any project template settings is a very dominating and inconsiderate act. It is simply not appropriate and will only result in you alienating the end-user. There is absolutely no reason why ‘Mary’s coffee table’ can’t be included under the general ‘Table’ subcategory.
  • No drafter will want to display Mary’s content in isolation. And…. if they ever did want to they could use a View filter (using the Manufacturer parameter value) to do this far more effectively with no negative impact on the project or template file environment.
  • And finally using Manufacture specific subcategories only serves to communicate to all Design and Drafting firms that you (the content creation firm) do not understand how Revit family subcategories or Revit standards are intended to be used.

I could discuss even more things to do with subcategories but I think that’s more than enough for now. Hopefully this means that we can look forward to some new Manufacturer Revit ranges soon with much better subcategory settings and naming.

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Perfecto

 happy clients, happy life