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.


  • 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.


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



  • 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.



“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…”


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.”


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.


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








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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


 happy clients, happy life


FAMILY EDITOR GLITCH: Catalog files that use formulas



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


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


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.


Please remember to click LIKE or SHARE if this has been a useful tip or a good reminder.

“Change is the only constant” ~ Bashar


For a few years I have been focused on other key projects in my life including motherhood. As a result this blog has been quiet for a while but I will endeavor to make a few posts every now and then that cover key conversations that I constantly having with professional content creators, Suppliers and manufacturers about Revit content and project implementation impacts.

I will also cover some Revit glitches along the way.

And one day… if I really run out of fun things to do I might share my view on BIM and the hurdles that I think stand in the way of the industry’s progress, as a whole, in mastering BIM (both at a company and project level, and globally).

I wish you all the best for 2015. I expect it will be a year that will be crammed with change, some turmoil but also much inspiration.

Regards, Michelle

ANZRS – Version 3 Pack released

Well, this post is overdue, for sure. Please forgive the short posts on this blog these days. I am juggling several projects at the moment and the ANZRS project has taken up much of my spare time for the past few years.

The good news: We made a lot of effort to make sure that the most recent ANZRS, version 3, pack would be easier to use, better presented and had more checklists than all previous released versions. The pack can now also be viewed as  in iBook on ipad. In order to download the latest version of ANZRS pack you will need to formally register as a member of the site. The instructions are easy to follow so please do register and get access to the latest version of the content creation standards. We have received great feedback in the ast year and we were surprised and delighted to learn that the pack has now been downloaded in 72 countries. Given that we only thought we could impact Australia and New Zealand when we first started, it is certainly great news.


Here’s the link.

Have fun and if you wish to be on the committee or to assist further with Discipline specific content requirements please contact us through the feedback tab (link below)

Take care, Michelle

ANZRS Pack, Version 2 was launched today.

What fabulous news to finally be able to have this project ready for public launch! (Two years of hard work and thousands of hours shared trying to build these standards.) We hope this is a useful solution that adequately responds to our industry’s needs. Our aim was to create something that reflects our integrated industry experience and insight. Thank you so much to everyone who has provided feedback and the countless hours of volunteer work along the way. We welcome your support. THANK YOU. Today is a GREAT day!


Revit Family Standards for Australia/ New Zealand – UPDATE

Hi everyone

This is just a quick update. I know in my previous post I had suggested that the Peer Review set for the ANZRS (Australia, New Zealand Revit Standards) project was almost ready. Well…. I was wrong…. we worked on it for hours, and then some, and now… I can say that we have finally issued our first formal Peer Review set to selected members who were originally part of the project. We have reached a huge milestone in this project and we have had more than 100 people contribute during the past 20 months on this project. (To varying degrees of course.)

Because the new ANZRS document set is at the Peer Review stage I can’t share them, just yet. We will run this set through this 6 week Peer Review process, respond to all feedback and then formally launch our proposed solution at the next Australian Revit Technology Conference this year, on 21 May 2011. I would expect that the documents will then also be available shortly thereafter to all of our industry at the following website:

Thank you for your continued patience and support. It is my hope that all this effort will certainly have been worth it and that we would hope that these standards will become a common and useful resource for best practices when creation Revit content.

Please note that the is no longer active and you will be re-directed to our new website, as listed above. More information will be listed on the new site, once it can be released to the public.


Regards, Michelle Van Kolck (Co-Author and Project facilitator of ANZRS)

Revit Family Standards for Australia/ New Zealand

Some of you may know that I have been leading a project that involves defining content creation standards across Australia/ New Zealand. The truth is it has taken so much longer than I ever imagined it would take and in fact the process has been tedious and frustrating at times. But at the heart of it I believe in the mission and in the project goal.

Many of us won’t use any shared or sold Revit content because it has been made poorly and often with little discipline and consistency.

Well…. the peer review draft of the Family creation Compliance standards is almost ready for release. I am working hard to try get them ready by end of October and I have a few helpers that are jumping in to help finish it.I will post a copy of the package or a link for download within the next 6 weeks and look forward to your feedback/ responses. Please note that at present the WIKI site which we used for collaboration of ideas and for collating targeted feedback is not the most up to date version of the evolving protocols.

I look forward to sharing the standards with you all shortly and hope that all the hard work that has been put into this project will at the very least contribute to a new, improved level of shared and sold content across Australia and New Zealand.

I will keep you posted. We are almost there!!! I can’t wait to have it all done.


Cheers Michelle

Revit Technology Conference 2010


Hi everyone

I am snowed under at present with several things, and Revit blogging is just not my priority at present ;-p. (No offence) The main cruncher of my time has to be the development of the Revit Content Guidelines for Australia and New Zealand. We will be presenting our first peer review at the RTC but we still have so far to go. The project itself has great potential but we are lacking in community support and effort from other Revit leaders in assisting in generating these guidelines.

It seems everyone else is busy and can’t do it in work hours! (That response always surprises me. Hmm… What do they think the rest of us are doing? Anyway – I will refrain from ranting about the lack of industry input of late and look forward to some Revit leaders raising their hands this year to help with this project and to be part of defining a standard that reflect the industry’s needs and requirements.) LOL!

We have had support from both KarelCAD and Benn Design (two of the most dominant content creation companies in Australia) and they have both said that they will support the guidelines once they are issued. We do however also need to consider Seek’s existing guidelines too (particularly in regards to Shared Parameters and GUIDS) as they are likely to influence some of our proposed solutions. We have more work to do and welcome energetic contribution, feedback  and support ;-D

I am assuming that most of you will know about the Revit Technology Conference which is in May, in Manly, Sydney, but if you don’t – here is a quick link to register or find out more. See you there.

Cheers-a-roo    Michelle

TEETHING PROBLEMS – GC to Revit – My response

QUESTION FROM READER: I’ve integrated the GC tool (thanks to the Revit conference contacts!) into an elective class starting early next year and am working with some Masters students using this and Rhino’s Grasshopper tool.
There are still teething problems with the integration back to Revit (or into a BIM workflow is more accurate I guess) and would appreciate and comments on this.


Hi David

I will just quickly respond to your question – in brief – and say the following:

I am okay with the GC model remaining in DWG format with the Revit model. (I know this is technically not best practice – but I think in this instance the pros out way the cons. I would say in response to your question that I am also okay with GC generating all the required BIM data for the GC part of the model. whilst the Revit model generates the data for all Revit related model.

In that sense I do think that we need to reconsider the purist approach/ ideal that so many have clung to for so long…

The more I get to grips with BIM the more I believe that BIM should not be so much a single model driven solution as much as it should be a database- associated-with-a-collaborative- collection-of-models-solution.  (Ha-ha … A new term for scrabble fans ;-p)

My point being that the ideal of cramming every single bit of information into a single model environment (even per discipline) might – potentially- be too idealistic given the current limitations within software’s from various sources to integrate fully.

I hope this answers your questions in some form.

  • Essentially my approach would be to build a Revit model where appropriate
  • Import a GC model (in DWG) where Revit cannot generate the require form and complexity
  • Generate automatic Fabrication plans (AMEN!!!!!) through GC and import into Revit to keep documentation output set tidy. (This will become an ongoing management task – since the GC will not remain live if changes are made. But I think it can be managed with good ol’ fashioned communication ;-)
  • Schedules for Revit model obviously come from Revit
  • Schedules for GC model from GC- Since the GC form could not be generated in Revit (And if it could you would obviously do it in Revit – unless GC fabrication plans where still a requirement) So in that case import schedules into Revit or even better… export all relevant data into a neutral database environment.

That would be my plan of attack… which I’m sure might ruffle a few feathers – but hey there’s always more than one way to achieve an out come.

I hope that was helpful and has answered your question for the most part.

I would just say that I would not waste hours of my life converting a GC model into Revit massing (Apply by face) unless it was really-really worth while. And I can’t imagine when it would be…mmmm… Sure it means you will need to dimension the GC model every time you re-load but my response to that would be – dimension the GC model in detail only when it’s resolved!

GC is a very specific software that should be used to generative a unique range of forms that currently Revit and other 3d modeling software’s currently cannot.  Sure – there is some time lost in rework of dimensions… but hey – I wouldn’t be game to try model some of the GC forms in Revit. Apart from the fact that you must remember that the BUZZ about GC is it’s ASSOCIATIVE, LIVE and can generate new forms based on new formulas or constraints. Use it’s strengths and adapt your BIM solution accordingly. That would be my approach.

I’d be happy to approve your comments and findings if you wish to share them on this blog in future. Mm… I did say it was going to be a short response – I cant seem to help myself sometimes!!! Have fun.

Cheers for now



Great Generative Component links – Explore some more

To All

I am adding this reply as a seperate post as my blog tends to hide replies in a logical place (below original comment ;-p) ….. but some of these useful links may not show up instantly to a new reader – so forgive any duplication.

Hi David

I’m glad to read that you are exploring GC!

To be honest I’m a bit snowed under right now to add much more on the Revit and GC challenges and benefits. Testing and learning more about GC has gone on the back burner for a while since I am working on an international project that was nominated at the RTC this year.

As you would know I am part of the committee that is working towards trying to define some best practices & standards/ guidelines for Revit content across Australia and New Zealand.  The project is proving to be a bit of a beast but we are making some progress ;-)

Fergus or Sean (from Bentley) have offered to be of assistance to anyone wanting to explore GC in more detail. Here are some links they sent me a few days ago that I hope may prove useful to curious GC fans….

You are most welcome to add any finding of your testing to this blog as I’m sure other readers would be excited to hear what you discover along the way. I have also invited Sean to comment to any of your responses on my blog should they pop up.

The video from the RTC GC demo is now up on the Bentley website at

The direct link to the GC demo video stream (which we covered at RTC in my talk segment this year) is:

To contact Fergus or Sean please email Fergus at and he will direct emails accordingly.

Best of luck and please let us know how it all goes!