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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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 ;-)

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

Best file clean-up habit – ever!

Hi everyone,

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Busy1

Life is so busy right now for me. We moved sold our house and relocated about six weeks ago and I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed. I wanted to touch base to give you the best file management tip you’ll probably ever get.

While I was busy unpacking the endless stream of boxes in our new home in April I began to feel frustrated by the enormity of the task. It seemed that the unpacking and cleaning process was never-ending. Every time I walked into a room and unpacked another box I was left with more bits to put away, more to clean and a messier room. I started to dread opening another box because it seemed that all I was accomplishing was simply spreading the mess and chaos. In the midst of the mayhem I remembered my all-important cleaning/ organization practice that I usually do quite routinely at home and at work. I started implementing it right away and slowly, but steadily I started to see a difference.

BimBoomBam_Revit_Clean4

So what did I start doing differently? It truly is a simple practice and almost even too obvious to mention but as I was unpacking yet another box in my kitchen I thought that this might be a helpful blog post for some of my readers.

So here it is. I consistently and habitually left every room in a cleaner and more organized state than when I had entered it. Yes – it’s that simple – every time I entered a room I would scan to see if there was anything out-of-place and I would fix it right there and then. I would spend about 5 minutes tidying up, sorting things our or just making the room more presentable. I made sure that I never allowed my sprucing habit to distract me from my main purpose or task. I remained focused on my initial intention for entering that room in the first place but I just added on a few minutes here and there to improve the room order at the same time.

So how does this related to Revit files or project management? It’s easy. I suggest that you train yourself (and ideally your team) to do the following:

Every time that you open up a Revit project file spend the first or last 10 minutes cleaning up and re-organizing the project file. Make sure to manage the time that you devote to this practice. It’s best not to allow your file clean-up to blow out or take over doing the work required for that day.

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Clean1

Just start with the simple things.

For example:

  • Check your view naming or can the unused lines be removed?
  • Do you really need 300 materials in the file?
  • Slowly and surely start de-cluttering and refining the project file.
  • If you are working on a worksetted project be sure to discuss any significant changes with your team and see if they will join you in a regular daily clean-up routine.
  • Could the project specific families and type names be clearer or consistently named? (NOTE: Be mindful not to rename families that are being used from your library because it will affect your ability to re-load studio families in your project to receive updates or improvements.)

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Clean3

Work as a team to keep your file clean and organized and you will also find that you or your Revit leader will not need to ‘stop the press’ as often either and hopefully also not spend days fixing things after months of neglected file maintenance. Within a few weeks your Revit files will be noticeably easier to work in. Productivity will automatically increase because everyone will be able to navigate through the shared environment with more ease and efficiency.

Give it a go, and see what a difference this simple trick can make to your project files and libraries. It should not be the Revit/BIM Managers job to constantly be cleaning up after the drafting team members. Avoid sloppy work habits and remember to consider that other staff may need to work on your files in future too so take pride in leaving your work in a neat and well-managed state.

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Clean2

TIP: If you have a company standard make sure to adjust your changes or clean-up attempts to match it, thereby reducing the number of non-standard project settings and practices within your firm. The more consistently your teams can work to an agreed standard the less confused teams will be when moving on to other projects in your company.

BimBoomBam_Revit_Clean5

Happy juggling….

Michelle

ARE WE MAKING REVIT/ BIM TOO COMPLICATED?

I am greatly concerned about the general industry trend where firms are simply adding too much clutter/data/detail/ additional functionality to their families and models without enough rigorous thought about exactly why they feel the need to do this.

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_OopsObjects and projects are becoming overly complicated to interact with. A family with 50 or even 100 parameters is becoming the norm and parametric functionality is assumed as an almost automatic requirement. Almost every dimension can be scheduled in projects and the detailing levels of Revit families just seem to keep increasing. I think that this approach is a really bad idea. The more complex we make Revit/BIM objects or projects – the more conscious and subconscious decisions are required just to interact and navigate through the model environment.

Here are some thoughts on possibly rethinking how we evaluate why and how we choose to build company systems and Revit content:

TIP #1 – How is our Revit/ BIM content impacting project workflows?

BIMBOOMBAM_Revit_Productivity

Before following the BIM industry frenzy of adding more and more detail into projects, schedules and component libraries maybe ask this question:

  • Why are we adding more complex families to our libraries and what proportion of the drafting team does this impact?
    • If it solves a problem for one team member that does detailing but creates a headache for the remaining 20 people on the team then it might not be the best solution and perhaps 2D detailing in combination with simpler Revit families should be considered instead.

TIP #2Beware of creating unnecessarily complicated Revit content

BIMBOOMBAM_SkillLevel

Bear in mind:

  • The more data your families hold, the more data drafting teams will have to manage, maintain and update.
  • The more complicated your families are (in model, detail or data form) – the more advanced the drafters will need to be in using Revit in order to be able to interact with or edit your content. These families will also be more likely to break as well when drafters try to edit them.
  • If you have a high staff turnover (this requires honest reflection) then consider building a Revit/BIM strategy that caters for inexperienced to intermediate Revit users instead of needing advanced Revit users. Basic to intermediate Revit users are cheaper and easier to replace than trying to find ‘Revit guns’ for every project.
  • You will also need a highly skilled content creator to manage your library if it is very complicated to edit and maintain. Such specialized skills might be harder to find.

TIP #3 – Avoid creating Revit content that is designed to step over training issues within your firm.

BIMBOOMBAM_TrainingRequired

It can be very tempting to create families that do some of the more complicated tasks automatically for the drafters simply in the aim to reduce risks and improve accuracy. To some degree this can be smart and in other ways it can also result in families that are possibly too detailed and cumbersome to work with because they are doing so much.

  • Try not to absolve drafting teams from all accountability. Sometimes making a few conscious decisions along the way can be helpful prompts to assist drafting teams to make informed design decisions.
  • Whilst highly detailed Revit families can be used to overcome shortcomings in staff knowledge I would suggest that firms instead invest in (1) a well-considered and thoroughly audited details library and (2) technical drafting training for their staff instead.

BIMBOOMBAM_UHmmmm

“Just because we CAN doesn’t mean we SHOULD…”

Hope that this has been useful food for thought.

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…”

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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.

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 happy clients, happy life

FAMILY EDITOR GLITCH: Catalog files that use formulas

Glitches_HMMM

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A simple detail item has been created that is using a formula.In this case it’s a detail item intended to represent a 2D downpipe. The radius parameter controls the circle size for the various type sizes but I wanted drafter’s to have the option of editing the diameter value as well if that was easier for them.

STEP 1: Create the masking region and assign radius constraint

Catalog family - formula glitch1

STEP 2: Create parameter link using a formula in Family editor

Catalog family - formula glitch7

STEP 3: Create Catalog text file:

Catalog family - formula glitch6

STEP 4: Load family into projectCatalog family - formula glitch2

STEP 5: Test sizes are correct based on family types created

A = 100mm Diameter

B = 150mm Diameter

Catalog family - formula glitch3

RESULT: INCORRECT

STEP 4 REVISITED: Edit Catalog file to include Radius (Since diameter and radius values are interlinked)

STEP 5 REVISITED: Import family into project file

Catalog family - formula glitch4

STEP 6: Test sizing

Catalog family - formula glitch5

LESSON SUMMARY:

If you wish to control a Revit Catalog family with a parameter that is affected by any formula then all associated parameters that relate to the primary parameter need to reside in the catalog text file.

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GENERATIVE COMPONENTS – DWG EXPORT TIPS

DWG> GENERIC FAMILY > INTO REVIT PROJECT

  •  Massing cannot be applied to surfaces
  • But there seems no need to be able to do that
  • Cuts in all views
  • Can dimension. Aligned dimensions work best – since twist can cause elements to no longer be parallel to screen work plane. Arcs can be dimensioned if cut, like Revit. Create point as work around.
  • Better when updated, since massing is not reformed.
  • Obviously changes made on reload will mean dimensions are lost. Small price to pay for flexibility and re-generation speed of form
  • Fabrication plans can be imported into Revit
  • Fabrication readings of x,y and z co-ordinates can be reported in schedule format through GC.
  • Layers can be switched off in VG to create various set-out drawings – like structural versus glazing etc.

 GC Export

Here are some tips of best settings from Sean Dodsworth (Bentley Solutions) when saving the GC model into a DWG format that is best for Revit®

BIG REVIT FAMILY SIZES – SO WHAT?

When a Project file increases unreasonably it can affects productivity, output speed and sometimes even file stability.

WHAT INCREASES FAMILY SIZE OR FILE PERFORMANCE IN PROJECT FILES

It has been well documented by several experienced content creators internationally that the following items, when used in families, can negatively affect file performance. Please do your own research at Autodesk University for more information on these points. I won’t be justifying these comments in this document at this stage. (Too time consuming)

Finding your way in Revit

  •  Avoid Nesting – where appropriate and relevant
  • Avoid voids in families, where appropriate
  • Trigonometry formulas can slow down projects due to demanding families that require quite a bit of computing power to edit in Projects. Not always – but sometimes it may be better to have more parameters but simpler formulas.
  • Arrays affect family performance dramatically but sometimes they can’t be avoided. Avoid parametric arrays in the rare instances where you know you won’t need to formulate or adjust the family and it represent a fixed size etc.
  • Hide 3d geometry in plan views for large projects. Some even do it for elevations. Does improve performance.

TIPS FOR SUBCATEGORIES [SC]

Water Tank Revit Family

  • Don’t overcomplicate sub categories.
  • Keep SC’s generic, across Family categories – where appropriate. E.g. Clearances, 3d model, Plan Rep etc
  •  Be consistent. Create a spreadsheet of when certain Family Categories & Family Subcategories are to be used.
  • Manage and monitor all content
  • When you want to change a Family’s category you must first clear any existing subcategories otherwise Revit® will load the Subcategories into the Project file under BOTH family categories in Visibility Graphics. This is almost impossible to remove from a project file once it has happened because you need to know exactly which family caused the problem and… what family category it was before it was changed to current family category. GOOD LUCK with that one. (I imagine a smart API’s…could solve this in future)

 HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND IN THE VISIBILITY  GRAPHICS MENU?

I am still amazed how many people still do highly repetitive tasks manually, over and over again. Use view templates for output views and to speed up documentation processes!!!  If drafters are always switching off the same things to complete a specific task then create a View template for it. Use subcategories to give users control over families and how they appear.

REVIT TYPE CATALOG FAMILIES – ANOTHER EXAMPLE

A Catalog family is a family that relies on a .txt file to define the values for certain parameters within a family. When loading the Catalog family into a Project file Revit® will automatically read the matching “txt” file and create the appropriate family types within the Project file, based on your selection. Catalog families do not save that much file size in my opinion. Their benefits are more about only having the relevant types listed in the Type pull down menu, within the Project file, if appropriate.

The .txt file will tell Revit® what values to apply to the various Type parameters within each family type so that the family types match the properties in the .txt file. A Type Catalog family is used when there are many types within a family and allows the Content creator to edit the defined values directly in the .txt file easily without even going into the Revit® family editor.

NOTE:

  • The Catalog .txt file must match the family name exactly and be in the same folder location as the family in order to work. E.g. Family Name: Sculpture_cat.rfa and Catalog File name: Sculpture_cat.txt
  • These families must be loaded into a project file using the “File> Load from Library> Load family “option.
  • The user does not have to load in all the types within a family and can select which they want to load from the menu list which is automatically displayed by Revit®.
  • You are not limited just to length parameter type, you can use text, yes/no and more. 
  • When defining a text or using a Yes/ No parameter then use this parameter type and unit format   ##Other##
  • Yes/ No parameter values are defined by a numerical value of  0 (Which equates to No)  or 1 (Which equates to Yes)
  • ‘_cat’ is a suffix naming conventions that I use to indicate to myself quickly that it’s a catalog family. See example below.

EXAMPLE OF CATALOG FILE FORMAT

E.g. Family name: Sculpture_cat.rfa, Type name: Refers to sculpture type.

STEP 1    

Create a type Catalog file in Notepad where top row lists the relevant catalog parameters. The first parameter is always the Type name which is not entered by any identification, but is followed by a comma, thereafter followed by other parameters. Each parameter is separated by a comma with no space either side of comma. (You can use Excel to create csv file format to copy parameter value script)

Parameters are defined in the following format: Parameter Name##Parameter Type## Unit (If applicable)

See example below.

 STEP 2    

Associate values to each type (One type per row) See example below.

Catalog Family txt file

 

STEP 3    

Save the Catalog file as txt file.

E.g. Sculpture_cat.txt and must live in same folder as the Revit® family to work.

 

STEP 4   

When importing the Revit® family the following menu window (above) will pop up allowing you to select which types to import into the Project file.

 This example has a parameter called ‘Top cube’ which is a Yes/ No visibility control. It was defined in the catalog file with 0 & 1 values.

Catalog Family - Import