When creating large Revit families which have a number of types / variations (e.g. size) of the same model, it may be useful to create a ‘type catalog’ to accompany the family in your project. In short, a type catalogue will reduce the amount of data going into your model when you import a new component / family. Rather than loading all 6+ types of the same family into the project, it will allow you to pick from a list (your type catalog) which size or modification of your family that you need loaded in this particular instance. This is particularly useful in families where you have 6 or more different types which could significantly slow your project down.
If you are using a family from the default library, you are able to export the families attributes as a type catalog, by simply exporting the family types as a .txt file as shown in the image below. As you will see, all of the work is done for you and every new family type you add will automatically update in the .txt file, proividing you re-export every time you make a change.
If you want to create your own custom type catalog rather than just exporting from Revit, then you will have to create your own .txt file which you will use as your type catalog. To get an overview of what information goes into this .txt file it could be a good idea to export some type catalogs from the families stored in the default Revit libraries and explore for yourself how different attirbutes are stored and named. Here are a few key points to consider when creating your Type catalog.
- Give your family a simple name, using no spaces or unusual characters. Use _ to connect words and – between a range of numbers.
- Ensure your Family and .txt file have the SAME NAME excluding the extension.
- Place your Family and the .txt file in the same folder on your computer.
- Be consitent and list parameters in the same way everytime you create a new catalog.
- Only create type catalogs for families with over 5 variations.
- TEST your family and type catalogs before sharing with others.
- If you are having problems defining parameters, check an existing family that is working correctly for tips.
Once you have your family created and all editable attributes added as parameters, it is time to start creating your type catalog. For every defining parameter you have, you will need to add this in the type catalog. Most parameters are names specifically, e.g. Length, but for the more obscure you would use the parameter ‘OTHER’.
Open up a notepad or your personal preference of .txt editor. The first line of your code, depending on your parameters should look something like this: ,Keynote##OTHER##,AssemblyCode##OTHER##,Depth##LENGTH##MILLIMETERS,Material##OTHER##,
This is storing Keynotes, Assembly Codes, Length, Width, Depth, Material and the units. Parameters in Revit are usually listed in the following way:
Parameter Name(Length) ##Parameter Value(100) ##Unit (millimeters) – Although it may look confusing to start with, once you understand the way they are formulated, it is easy to add and edit existing values using the above method. Use the ‘,’ parenthesis when seperating different parameters.
Once you have created your family and type catalog and try and load it into Revit, you may receive an error similar to the one listed above. This particular error is informing us that 7 values or parameters were expected, yet only 6 of them were found, or defined in the type catalog. If you receive a similar message, go back and review your family to check you haven’t missed out one or more of the types created in the catalog. Once your family has been created succesfully you will see a dialogue box appear similar to the one shown below when you load your family into your project, this is what you want to see!
Once again load your family into your project and check that each of the variations are working as you would expect. Once you have tested all variations, you are ready to share your family with the rest of your team. If you have any problems or more questions about type catalogs, feel free to get in touch and I will see if I can help. Hope that this will be useful for someone who is having problems with creating type catalogs.
Paul Aubin has recently released a video showing his progress with his Corinthian columns that he is trying to model as a fully parametric Revit family. The video to the right shows the process of him modeling the decorative leaves on the column, and the methods he has used modeling to achieve such an abstract form.
There are some great tips in this video for designing other abstract shapes in the Revit family environment. It’s slightly unfortunate that Revit does not have a better way to deal with massing abstract forms such as these. It is clear that Paul has put in a LOT of time to achieve the results that you see at the start of the video. The biggest challenge for him must have been making the seperate elements parametric.
View the first part of Paul’s blog posts here: ‘Revit does the Classics’ – I’d be very interested to see the progress and final results that he manages to achieve, be sure to check back on his blog for any updates. A big thanks to Paul Aubin for sharing his method with the rest of us.
When designing Revit families, you have to always keep in mind the level of detail you are putting in to your families, and the affect this will have on the performance of your project. When you have a large project with numerous families you may notice that your Revit starts to run slower, even when you are doing tasks unrelated to the detail of the project e.g. printing. One of the reasons for Revit “under-performing” could be the visibility settings setup or level of detail of families in a project.
It is very important when creating your families to keep this in mind, and to set up visibility settings for each one as you make it (One for coarse, medium and fine levels of detail). Once it becomes a habit to do this it is a quick process. Although going through all your old families and tidying them up may be a large job if they have not been designed correctly in the first place.
The idea is simple, how you decide to implement and set rules for detail is your decision. For this example, I am going to take one of the furnishings in the default Revit library called: Dresser – Detailed.rfa. Despite the name, this is a fairly simple and “undetailed” family – but for example purposes it will work just fine.
Open the family in Revit – by default the family does not have any visibility settings applied aside from the default sketch for plan view. We now want to begin to setup the family so it is suitable for each level of detail in the project. First thing you want to do is to decide how you want the family to be split up, for this example I am not applying any rules, just setting it up with 3 levels.
As you can see in the image above, I have selected the drawer fronts of the desk, selected visibility settings in the Mode tab and unticked Coarse and Medium. This means that when you are in a Revit project, the draws will not show up unless it is set to Fine detail.
Go through the rest of the family and split the elements up in to levels. When I am working in Revit 90% of the time I am working with Coarse detail set as this will leave only the bare bones of my families – just for a geometrical representation. I have found that switching from Coarse to Fine significantly slows down my projects, especially when I have a huge projects with thousands of families.
Above you can see how I have set out my desk family with 3 different levels of details. For a family which is as simple as the above desk, creating 3 distinct levels of details like this may be slightly over the top. In a normal case I would have kept Medium & Fine detail at the same level due to the lack of difference between them.
Although for representation purposes you wouldn’t want to have displayed the desk on the right in any sort of small scale elevations where you can actually see the details of it – It comes in useful for example in a 1:200 cross section where the desk would only be printed as a small block of colour, but Revit still has all those details stored in it when you zoom in – Therefore using resources which do not need to be used.
This is not only a good exercise to implement in all your future Revit families, but is well worth doing on old families which you regularly re-use. You will notice a increase in performance on large projects where you have the same families repeated hundreds of times.
Autodesk have created a Revit model style guide. In this guide are various guidelines to follow via documents which can help you to develop and quality assure your Revit models. The following information was taken from the Autodesk Seek website. I have been roughly following this guide while developing my Revit families for a while now, and just wanted to share this information with anyone who may be looking for some direction.
I should add that I was advised by Aaron Maller on Twitter that this was not a good guide to use for creating your Revit families, infact it was a very bad one, geared towards computer performance rather than project performance. The reason I am posting this is because I have yet to find a better solution and am hoping someone else will be able to share their knowledge on QA for Revit models.
Create your own BIM-ready product models based on the Autodesk® Revit® Model Content Style Guide to ensure that your models are:
- Complete, consistent, and accurate.
- Optimized for use in Revit Architecture®, Revit Structure®, Revit MEP®, andAutoCAD®-based software products.
- Easy to find and download through the Autodesk® Seek web service.
- Compliant with standard conventions in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry.
To ensure the portability and performance of your organization’s BIM-ready product models and fulfill the necessary syndication requirements for Autodesk Seek, follow the guidelines and standards in this helpful manual.
Autodesk developed this guide in close collaboration with AEC industry leaders from the Revit user community, product manufacturers, the internal Autodesk Revit team, and the Autodesk Content Services team. In addition to general guidelines and standards, the Guide also includes detailed information that can help product manufacturers create and test high-quality, category-specific product models optimized for use in the Revit family of design applications. Categories include:
- Air Handling Units
- Furniture Systems
- Plumbing Fixtures
For organizations with limited capabilities for in-house product model development, our Autodesk Seek Content Services offering provides complete expertise and resources to help author high quality BIM-ready product models.
This blog has been translated into English from a French post on the Revitez blog I saw a translation request from Lukey Johnson on Linkedin. Although I’ve forgotten most of the French I once learnt many years ago in school, with a little help from Google translate it goes something like this (I hope!):
In Revit 2012 we only had 1 stair system family that we could use, with all the parameters loaded into a single system:
With the new method of creating stairs in Revit 2013 we now have 11 family systems:
All of these new systems are connected together via different relationships to make a staircase. The diagram below, which I have translated from the original shows the relationships between these systems. (Click on the image to see a full preview.)
For example, the family “One Peice Stair” or One Peice Run is used in the following systems: Assembled staircase, Cast In-Situ Staircase and Prefabricated Staircase. Which can only be modeled via the “Stair by component” tool. But a variety of “One Peice Stairs/Runs” may be shared between several different versions of these families. This item is an extract from the course material: Mastering Revit stairs. Being prepard and coming soon.
You can view the original un-translated version of this entry on the Revitez blog here.
Part Three of my Revit architecture family series will be about creating simple parametric windows. If you missed the First part or the Second part, follow the links to bring you up to date. These tutorials are starting from the very basics of family creation all the way up to detailed advanced families. If you are having problems with windows or new to window familes, use the tutorial below as a guide.
The first task you need to perform, is to open up a ‘Generic Window template’ as a new family in Revit. Once you have this template open, you should see, in reference/plan view an image similar to that you see above. In this case, I am not going to be tiling my screen as it will be easier to work with the views as we need them for a window family.
Now you want to navigate to 3D mode, as shown in the image above. The first bit of sketching you need to do, is to create a solid sweep following the path of your window opening. (NOTE: If you do not want your window to defined by height width, then it is essential to edit your window opening before you proceed, in this case we’ll keep it simple). Use the pick path tool and create a closed loop. The green square is representing the workplane/area that you will be creating your profile on.
Once you have finished your sweep, and BEFORE you click the green tick to end the command, you will want to click on ‘Edit Profile’ as shown in the image above. It will now be a good idea to go into a Left or Right elevation view to create your window frame / profile.
As shown in the image above, I am creating my blend profile in a Right elevation view. This is the most important step in creating a basic window family. The profile / sketch you draw now, will define how your window will look. Sketch a profile similar to the one I have shown in the image above. It is your choice how far you want the edges of the frame to extrude from the wall etc, so play around with this profile if your not satisfied.
In the above image, you can see I have created two new aligned dimensions. The first, set by me to 120mm is for the internal frame of the window, and will define the thickness of that. The second dimension, with the EQ property is very important. We are measuring from the outer edge of the profile, to the MID-Point reference line and then to the outer edge of the profile. Once we have done this, click the small EQ sign above the dimensions to give an equal dimension to both measurements. This step is crucial, as this will mean we can use this window on walls of varying thickness, and not just this exact size of wall. Once you are satisfied, click the green tick twice to end the profile and sweep.
Once you have finished editing your sweep, you should go into a 3D view and check you are satisfie with the frame that you have created. As you can see, I have chosen to design a window with a LARGE surrounding frame, what you do is your choice. The next step is to create some glass to go into our window, but before we do this, we need to make sure we are working on the correct workplane. To do this, follow the steps in the above image, click Create > Extrusion > ‘Set’ Work Plane. You want to select the Reference Plane: Center (Front/Back). This happens to be the same reference plane that you have created your EQ dimension to. This should help you understand the importance of those dimensions.
We now simply use the ‘Pick Line’ tool in the create extrusion ribbon and make sure the ‘Lock’ option is ticked and selected. Choose the inner edge of the frame and create a closed loop as shown in the image above. You can also change the ‘Depth’ (thickness) of the extrusion here, alternatively use the element properties to define the size.
You will now see a solid extrusion filling the space of the window, so of course, what we want to do is to change this extrusion mass to a ‘Window’ or ‘Glass’ material. We can be fairly sure that in any case we want to use this window, this layer will be Glass. For the frame, we may wish to choose a custom material depending on our project, If you don’t know how to do this by now, then simply follow the steps from the image above. Now you will be able to define the material of the window frame in a project environment.
As when creating any family, it is a good idea to include a few extra design options as standard. This can save time and means you don’t have to go in and edit the family every time you want a different dimension of the window. Create 3 or 4 different sizes following the steps above and then save your family. It is a good idea to save all your families in the same place, once you start to create many different families it is a good idea to organise them with a good folder structure.
Finally, load your family in to a project. As an example, the above image shows 4 of custom windows I just created. As you can see on the left of the image in the element properties dialogue, there are various design options, e.g. Sill height and ‘Window Frame’ material. And that is all, another very simple window family. I hope that this gives anyone wanting to create a custom window family some good tips and direction. Look out for part 4 in the Revit parametric families series coming soon!
Today I will be posting the 2nd part in my Revit family creation series. I started last week with the very basics of parametric family creation, and will be going more in depth over the coming weeks, starting with part 2 today; Creating a simple table in Revit Architecture 2013. I have avoided repeating the basics that I covered in part 1, so if there is anything that you are not clear about, watch part 1 now.
Firstly, you will want to open a new Revit family template. For this instance, we are going to use the ‘Metric Generic Model’ template. The first thing we are going to do, like in any family creation is to set out the boundaries, or in Revit, the ‘Reference planes’. You will see 2 reference planes, 1 on the X-axis and 1 on the Y-axis. You will want to create 2 new reference planes to start with. Once you have created the new reference planes, you should add 2 aligned dimensions as shown in the image below.
You have now set up your reference planes for your table top surface. To make these reference planes into the boundary lines of our surface, we will need to add labels to and lock the dimension lines in place. We do this by adding a parameter to our dimension in exactly the same way as we did in part 1. This time, we are going to call the 2 dimensions ‘Table Height’ and ‘Table Width’ both of these should be ‘Type parameters’. You do not have to worry too much about the actual size of the table at this point. Be sure to lock your dimension lines in place.
Once your dimension lines are locked, labled and in place, you are ready to begin some actual massing. We are going to add geometry by using the Create > Extrusion tool. There are many ways to create this extrusion. My prefered method is to draw a rectangle roughly in the middle of your reference planes. I now use the Align tool, to align my extrusion edges to my reference planes. By doing this, we can make sure to manually lock our mass to the reference planes on each line of the mass.
You should now refer to an elevation view. You will see that you have only 1 default reference plane, where our table top is hosted. We will need to create a new reference plane here which will host the desktop of the table. To o this, we create a new reference plane and name it ‘Desk Height’. Once the reference plane is created, we can click on our desktop mass and click ‘Edit Workplane’. We can now select the new ‘Desk Height’ workplane as the host. Create an aligned dimension between ‘Ref. Level 1’ and ‘Desk Height’ and be sure to lock it in place..
Once we have our desktop in the correct position, we need to think about adding some legs to the table. We should now switch back to the plan view of the project. Again, we will need to use reference planes to define our table legs. Offset all of the reference planes which you have created by 100mm (or the desired thickness of your tables legs) using the ‘Pick lines’ tool. You should now see something similar to the image above, with 8 reference planes.
We will now, of course, add dimensions to our reference planes to lock them in position. We will again add a parameter to each one of these dimensions, but this time label it as “Legs Width”, this should again be a ‘Type’ parameter. Once you have labeled and locked one of the dimensions in place, you can then highlight all the other dimensions and use the same “Legs Width” parameter. You should now have 4 new dimensions with the “Leg Width” parameter, as shown in the image above.
Using the exact same method we used to create the desk top, we are going to now use to create the tables legs. Create > Extrusion and draw a rectangle roughly around where you want to have your tables legs. Align each edge of the table legs to the reference planes, and LOCK them in position. It is very important to lock your dimensions or you will end up with a strange looking table! Create your 4 table legs and hit, the tick to finish your extrusion.
Refer back to your elevation view and add a dimension for the height of the table. I have choosen to label this ‘Type’ parameter as ‘Desk Height’. Once you have this dimension set and labeled, you will now be able to select the legs of your table, and constrain the ‘Extrusion End’ to ‘Desk Height’ as shown in the image above. You will now see your legs attached to the desk top of the table.
You should now hopefully see an object which looks like a basic table, as shown in the image above. Now, the great thing about creating families like this, is that we can set different design options, and sizes very easily. I will make 3 different default sizes to save me time when I am using the family in a project. To do this, we click on the ‘Family Types’ Icon in the top left of our ‘Create’ ribbon. It is now possible to add new types of the same table. Click new, call your family something appropriate E.g. ‘Table 1×2’ and then change the dimensions accordingly.
The last thing we are going to do in the family environment is to allow custom materials to be set for the table. In this case, we need to set a parameter for ‘Leg Material’ and ‘Desk Material’. We do this by click on the small grey box in the material properties, once we click on an element. Click on the legs of the table and then the small grey box. A new window will open, where you should click ‘Add Parameter’. This time we should name it ‘Legs Material’ make sure it is in the Materials and Finishes group, and set it as an INSTANCE parameter. Do the same thing for the table top, and we are just about ready to load this family into our projects. Save the family and close.
We can now open a new project and enter our new family as a component. When you load the family, you will see there are 3 variations to choose from. (Depending on how many uniquely dimensioned tables you choose to create.) You will also be able to click on ‘Edit type’ in the properties panel to change the dimensions, also notice that you have customisation options for selecting ‘Leg Material’ and ‘Desktop Material’. Choose the options that you need, and your new table family is complete. As you can see, creating basic families like this in Revit is very simple, and the same basic rules apply for creating more advanced geometry. Stay tuned for part 3 of the ‘Creating simple parametric families in Revit’ tutorials.
Click here if you missed Creating simple parametric families in Revit – Part 1
View Part 3 here – Creating simple parametric families in Revit – Part 3 Window
Today, I will be showing you how to create simple parametric families in Revit. This tutorial is for anyone learning Revit who hasn’t yet got into creating families. I will be continuing to post more family tutorials so keep checking back over the coming weeks for more. This tutorial will show you how to create a simple ‘cube family’ with a fixed elevation height with parametric width and height as well as material options.
The first thing you want to do, is to create a new generic family template. When deciding what template to use, you should take into consideration what kind of family you are creating. For example, if you are creating a light fixture, you would of course use the light fixture family template. Be sure to think about where the family will be hosted, if it will be hosted on the ceiling, make sure you also use a ceiling based family.
Once you have your generic family template loaded, you will want to tile the windows. (Be sure you have no other active projects open) The reason you want to do this is to give you a good overview of all relevant views when creating your family. Plan view, Elevation front, Elevation left (or right) and 3D view.
Now you should see 4 equally sized windows fitted to your screen. In case the view has been obscured, zoom to fit in each window (double click mouse wheel). Now the most important part about creating families is using reference planes. Reference planes are crucial when designing families, as these will act as your control dimensions / constraints. Create a square with 4 seperate reference planes as shown in the image below. Always remember to draw your reference planes clockwise, this will be important for future developments.
Now you have set constraints to the floor plan view of the project, it is now time to set some elevation height constraints. We do this with the use of dimensions (di), by adding a dimension line to our elevation view. If you have a certain height you want your cube to be, then measure it off here, otherwise, for now just follow the example shown in the images below.
Once we have set some dimensions on our reference planes, we want to give these dimensions a parameter. Parameters are used to give custom or fixed assets to our families. Now you want your elevation view, where you have just created a dimension to be active. Highlight your dimension and click on the dropdown menu next to label, as shown below. To start with, the only option you will see is ‘Add parameter…’
We are now going to add a parameter to this dimension line, constraining the elevation height of the cube. As shown in the image below, we will create a name for this dimension parameter ‘Height of cube’. Be sure the ‘Group parameter under’ option is set to ‘Dimensions’ In this case, we will keep it as a ‘Type’ parameter. This means that we can use this parameter to constrain the height of the family to the ‘Height of cube’ parameter, which you can see is ‘2214mm’.
Once you have created a parameter for your ‘Elevation left’ view, you will want to do the same thing for your dimension lines you created on the ‘Floor plan’ view. Click on the dimension defining the height and add a new parameter label. This time we will call the dimension ‘Height’ again checking it is set as a dimension. This time we will use an ‘Instance parameter’ so click the ‘Instance’ checkbox. Instance parameters will give the user of the family the option to define custom settings, in this case height for the cube. Follow the exact same steps mentioned above for your ‘Width’ dimension on the ‘Floor plan’ view. You will now have 3 dimension, with 3 new dimension labels.
Now, once our template is set up and constrained we are going to start creating some actual physical geometry. We do this of course with the Revit massing tools. As shown above, navigate to the ‘Design’ tab and click on ‘Solid Extrusion’. You now want to draw a box with the square line creation tool, covering the reference planes you have set, as shown in the image above. Before you finish your extrusion, you want to edit some of the extrusion properties.
We are now going to modify the ‘Extrusion End’ constraints, otherwise known as the elevation height, or extrusion height. Click on the small grey box at the end of the ‘Extrusion End’ bar. You will now see the ‘Associate Family Parameter’ dialogue appear. You will also see the 3 new paramaters you have just created. As we are now trying to define the extrusion height of the cube, we will select our ‘Height of cube’ parameter. Click OK. You will now see that the ‘Extrusion End’ bar is greyed out.
The final parameter we are going to add is to be for a material. The reason we do this, is so that the user of the family, in a project environment will be able to choose which material they want the family to be. For more detailed families it is possible to split the materials into different sections, but I will be discussing that in another post. For now, we want to add a parameter for the material. Simply click on the small box at the right side of the materials bar and click on ‘Add parameter…’ We will name this parameter ‘Cube Material’ and make sure it is set as a ‘Material and finishes’ parameter and set as an ‘Instance’.
You can now finish your extrusion by clicking on the green tick in the modify extrusion ribbon. You should now be seeing something similar to the image above. If not, make sure all of your views are active and zoomed to fit. You can now save this family. Revit > Save As > Family – I like to add all my custom families to a new folder I have created in the Autodesk library, that way they are all stored together, but you can choose to save it wherever suits you best.
Once you have saved your family, Use the Revit > Close button. You can now open up a new architectural project file template, or the project where you want to add your newly created family. You can now add your family the way you always would > Place component, locate your family and load it. You will now see your cube in a project view. Here you will be able to set some custom parameters, such as material, width and height. And that is it! Extremely simple, and good foundation knowledge for creating Revit families. I will be posting part 2 in my Revit familys series soon. Hope this has helped someone who is having trouble, or someone who is just starting to use Revit. Any problems or questions, just leave a comment!
View Part 2 here – Creating simple parametric families in Revit – Part 2 Tables
Hey guys! So, I have been playing around in Revit over the last few days, making a design for a friend who wanted a 3D commemorative plaque with the Manchester United logo on it. Now I am fully aware this is not what Revit was designed to do and I’m sure there are other programs which could do the job more efficiently, but as I love doing basically everything in Revit, I thought I’d give it a go and see how the results turned out!
The photo to the right is the basic badge which needs to be added to a wooden plaque and a metal tag added to it. I plan to design all of these elements as families, and render the model in Revit/3Ds Max. I will post the final results here and a small step by step guide to what I did and how I did it. This brings up the question I often find myself asking, is there anything Revit can’t do?! I found this experiment pretty fun, and the fact I love Manchester United and Revit made it a perfect match!
More coming soon!
Good morning all! Below you will find a list of websites, which offer external solutions for Revit. All of these I have tried out myself and would recommend. I’ll try to keep this post updated as the sites change or new ones are created. If there are any other programs/websites which you would advise, then drop me a line, and I will add it to the list. This list was compiled mainly from the All things BIM blog.
BIM content for Revit
Project Vasari – Mass model, generate detailed energy analysis. Also comes with a wind tunnel analysis tool, and various other tools which will aid in your BEM process.
RevitCity – downloadable user content, no quality control; free, registration required for downloading content.
SmartBIM – manufacturer-specific content; modeled by SmartBIM, high quality control; free, no registration required.
Autodesk Seek – content aggregated by Autodesk; contains default Revit families as well as manufacturer-specific content, low to moderate quality control; content in a variety of formats, search can filter for specific formats; free, no registration required.
ARCAT – generic and manufacturer-specific content; modeled by ARCAT, high quality control; free, no registration required.
Sweets – manufacturer-specific content, modeled by manufacturers, quality control unknown; various formats, can’t filter by format type; free, registration required for download; much of the 3D content is in SketchUp format.
RevitComponents – manufacturer-specific and general content, mostly modeled by site author; quality control unknown; free, registration not required.
ArcXL – Revit and CAD details (2D); drafted by ArcXL, quality control unknown; free, registration required for download.
RevitForum – downloadable user content, no quality control; free, registration required for downloading content.
BIMstore – manufacturer-specific content; modeled by bimstore, high quality control; free, registration required for downloading content.
Hope you all have a great week!