Monday, 17 October 2016

What's New in Revit 2017.1

Autodesk recently released Revit 2017.1 - an interim release giving us new features as well as bug fixes.  In the last two years we had similar interim releases: 2015 R2 & 2016 R2; and now we get another change naming .  Like those two releases, what we do not get is a file format change - for which we are very thankful.  It also looks like we have one and only one upgrade file for all flavours of Revit - either just plain Revit or Building design suite - that is a big improvement on previous versions where it became very confusing as to which flavour to download and apply.

Those previous R2 releases were a big deal - they were chock full of small/medium enhancements that made it really worthwhile to upgrade as soon as possible.  In fact they gave a big push to those who had not yet upgraded to the major annual release, and made it worth going through the pain of a file format change.
This year I am not so excited by the interim release enhancement list.  There will be some things that are a big deal to some people but most of the enhancements don't happen to interest me much.  Here are a few comments on some of them - full list over at Inside the Factory:

New in Revit 2017.1

Dynamo Player

'Dynamo Player' has an icon on the ribbon that allows users to run scripts without opening Dynamo or knowing where the scripts are saved (providing you set it up correctly for them).  This promises to be extremely useful for all those Dynamo scripts that you have created and have floating around.  Now you should be able to get non-Dynamo users to make use of them very easily - providing your Dynamo scripts are robust of course.  This is the first iteration - it does not handle all situations yet:  scripts that require user input may work, depending on how they have been set up - refer to discussion over at DynamoBIM

Updated Dynamo

It is not clear whether that is just part of the ongoing process of improving Dynamo?  Would you still get the same functionality by just installing the latest version of Dynamo - or have there been some underlying changes to Revit that enable more functionality?

Import 3D shapes (Rhino/SAT files)

You can now import Rhino and SAT files directly, and assign a category to them, using the 'Import CAD' command.  You could previously import SAT files (not Rhino), but not assign them to a category.  This is available in the project environment or family editor, although many people would not recommend importing any CAD  files directly to a project (better to keep them within a loaded family).

This option is not available with 'Link CAD', although you can link SAT files as previously.
Assigning a category gives you better control than we had previously when importing SAT or DWG files (it does not apply to DWG now).
Choosing a category allows you to:
  • subsequently schedule imported files by category
  • Cut section properly (for cuttable categories) - previously you had to link the 3D CAD files within a family to make this work.
  • If you import into a family, you can change the category later on - this is probably better practise anyway.
The first Rhino file that I tried to import using this method failed, where the equivalent SAT file worked well.

Element Override has been improved so that an imported Rhino or SAT file can now have its surface pattern overridden (this was not previously possible for SAT files).   Surface pattern overrides does not work on imported 3D DWGs.

You can now dimension imported Rhino & SAT files directly - providing they have parallel edges or arcs.

What it does not let you do is:
  • Assign subcategories to imported elements (in family editor or in-place family)
  • Assign a material
Both of these would be very useful - let us hope it follows soon with further improvements

High-Resolution monitor support

If you use 4K monitors then this will be popular - otherwise it is of little interest to the average user? Something for the future for most people, I guess.

Repair Central Model Tool

New tool to fix the corruption in a central model and create a new central model - this sounds very useful for those rare occasions when a model gets corrupted.  You might be able to fix it right away instead of sending it to Autodesk.


Model in perspective views 

Add, move, copy, rotate, or align elements in a live 3D perspective view - many people will disagree with me but I think this is a complete waste of development time and energy.  The nature of Revit perspective views is such that they are so hard to navigate in that they are effectively static plotting views.  Until you can move around in perspective like you can in other 3D environments, I can't see why you'd want to actually work in perspective.

Stairs & Railings

Here are two very minor little stair and railing enhancements - neither will revolutionise the way you use the tools but just make your life a little easier.

Railings: Top Rail & Handrail Type Properties more accessible

The Top and Handrail properties can now be accessed directly from within the Railing Type Properties dialog - by clicking on the hidden link button to the right hand side of the property.
Previously there was a drop-down menu that appeared when you clicked in the 'Top Rail Type' property, which allowed you to choose a predefined Top Rail.  Now there is a link button - not to be confused with the Global Parameter associate buttons that could potentially be in the column to the right (but they are not activated here so the column is blank).

Click on the button and it takes you to another dialog box:  the Top Rail Type properties. 

This allows you to either just select a type from the drop-down menu at the top, or else duplicate to create a new type and modify it.

This may confuse users who are not familiar with this UI technique of linking from one type property to another (it does happen elsewhere in Revit, but not in every situation, sadly).  It would have helped to avoid confusion if they had automatically offset the dialog box so that you could see the other one is still behind - you can do this manually yourself.

Once you have chosen/changed the Top Rail type properties, click OK and it returns you to the Railing type property dialog.

All this means that you no longer have to go searching in the project browser to chnage or create new Top Rails and Handrail types.  A welcome change, but I would like to see some more significant tidying up of the Rail/Top Rail/Handrail train crash - so that we don't have multiple ways to create these things, and that the workflow is clear and predictable.  Currently the old Rail definition works quite differently from the new Top Rail definition, and the end results are not consistent.  Neither of them is capable of turning a tight corner at a landing!!

Stairs Parameters Tooltips

"New detailed tooltips include illustrations and helpful hints for stair elements settings and controls" - this is of minimal usefulness in my opinion.  It only works if you have Tooltip Assistance options set to 'High', which most people would disable due to irritating videos that fly out over the ribbon and get stuck there.  So, most people will never even see this new feature.
These new tooltips only explain a little about individual properties, not how the whole matrix of properties relate to each other - that is where most people struggle.

I would much rather that the Factory spent time fixing things that affect us daily - like the bug that prevents us copying and pasting stair arrows.

Structural & MEP

For the full list go to Inside the Factory:


As always, any enhancements are welcome, but you will need to decide if the ones here are compelling enough for you to make the upgrade.  If you are already running v2017, then it is a minimal disruption upgrade, and you might as well go ahead.  If you are still on v2016, holding out for all the goodies in v2017 R2 (.1), then it would only be worth the disruption if you see something here that will dramatically affect your workflow.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

How to Find Linework Overrides in Revit

The Linework tool is much misused in Revit - it seems like a quick and easy way to make individual lines look the way you want.  In reality, it wastes much more time than it saves - this is because it is so hard to undo or change later on.  My advice to Reviteers is to use it as a last resort when every other method cannot or will not work - instead you should use sub-categories, filters, view visibility overrides or even object styles.

What does a BIM or Model Manager do to figure out when the Linework tool has been used?  Well, it is basically guesswork.  All you can do is set the linework linestyle to <By Category> and then hover the cursor over any lines that you suspect might have been tampered with using the Linework tool.

Why is this inconsistent with so many other Revit tools that have a 'None' option that sits at the top of the list?  Who knows - it is lost in development history, but it makes training harder.
And why is <By Category> not automatically at the top of the list?  I guess because it sorts alphabetically - but it is very irritating trying to find it in a list.

Once you have managed to select the linestyle of  <By Category> you then hover the mouse over the line and it will probably turn dark blue - which is not easy to spot on a large busy view.

Tip to speed up the search

I know of a quick tip that will help you in the search for overriden lines:
All you have to do is change the 'Pre-selection' colour to something brighter.
  • Go to Revit Options
  • Choose 'Graphics'
  • Spend 30 seconds wondering why 'Selection' and 'Pre-selection' colours are the same, and why dark blue, which is very hard to distinguish when most lines are black in Revit.
  • Spend another 30 seconds wondering which $#&*%$#* at Autodesk thought it was a good idea to make the default setting colours both dark blue.
  • If the colours are not both dark blue in your options, then you probably need to praise your BIM Manager for changing the Revit.ini file that is rolled out in your company.  Give them a gold star or buy them a drink
  • Change the 'Pre-selection' colour to something really bright like red (unless you are red/green colour-blind, in which case choose something else).
  • I like to change the selection colour too, although it is tricky to get a good selection that is not the same as sketch lines, and all the other special line types like Area boundaries.

Now when you hover the cursor over any line that has had a linework override applied, it shows up red (or whatever bright colour you chose) - don't forget that it only works when you have set the linestyle to <By Category>

I hope this saves someone, somewhere in the world a few minutes, and eliminates some anguish

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Link Global Parameters to Built-in Revit Properties

During my research on Global Parameters in Revit, I have compiled a list of built-in (system) properties that you can directly associated to Global Parameters.  For each category, there are certain parameters that have the little 'link' button to the right of the property value - this is used for linking.  If there is no button, then it cannot be directly linked.

This list is not something that we have any control over - each parameter has to be 'enabled' by the software developers.  Below is a list of built-in parameters that I have found, which can be directly associated to Global Parameters (in v2016 R2 & v2017 in red). This list only shows the categories that appear when the discipline is set to Architecture;  there may be other structural and MEP parameters that are also available (but not listed here);  there may also be other parameters that only show up when you change certain settings - so I might not have discovered them:

Category                             Parameter
o   Areas                   -
o   Area boundary    -
o   Casework            -
o   Ceilings                            Height Offset From Level
o   Columns                           Base Offset (v2017)
                                             Top Offset  (v2017)
o   Curtain Wall Grid            -
o   Curtain Panel                   -
o   Curtain System                -
o   Curtain Wall Mullion       -
o   Door                                 Sill Height    (v2017)
                                             Head Height   (v2017)
                                             Height   (v2017 instance or type parameter)
                                             Rough Height  (v2017 instance or type parameter)
                                             Width   (v2017 instance or type parameter)
                                             Rough Width  (v2017 instance or type parameter)
                                             Thickness  (v2017)
o   Electrical Fixtures  -
o   Floor -
o   Floor Slab Edge    -
o   Furniture     -
o   Generic      -
o   Level                                 Computational Height
o   Lighting Fixture      -
o   Line  -
o   Mass -
o   Mechanical Equipment -
o   Parking       -
o   Planting      -
o   Plumbing    -
o   Railings        -
o   Railings: Supports -
o   Railings: Handrails -
o   Railings: Top Rails -
o   Ramp                                 Width
o   Roofs           -
o   Roof Soffits                      Height Offset From Level
o   Roof Fascia           -
o   Roof Gutter           -
o   Room          -
o   Room Separation  -
o   Shaft Opening      -
o   Site   -
o   Site: Property Line -
o   Specialty Equipment  -
o   Stairs                                 Actual Tread Depth
o   Stair Run                           Extend Below Riser Base      (only on lowest run)
o   Stair Landing         -
o   Stair: Support         -
o   Struct. Column                Base Offset (v2017)
                                               Top Offset  (v2017)
o   Struct. Framing              Start Join Cutback
                                               End Join Cutback
                                             y Offset Value
                                             z Offset Value
o   Structural Truss      -
o   Str. Beam System            Elevation
                                               Fixed Spacing / Maximum Spacing / Clear Spacing
o   Struct.Foundations             
o   Toposurface          -
o   Wall                                   Base Offset  (v2017)
                                               Top Offset  (v2017)
o   Wall Reveal                      Offset From Wall
                                              Offset From Level
o   Wall Sweep                       Offset From Wall
                                              Offset From Level
o   Window                            Sill Height  (v2017)
                                              Head Height  (v2017)
                                              Height  (v2017 instance or type parameter)
                                              Rough Height  (v2017 instance & type parameter)
                                              Width  (v2017 instance or type parameter)
                                              Rough Width  (v2017 instance or type parameter)

There is one parameter missing from this list that would be invaluable to be able to associate:
      Floors                            Height Offset From Level

If you would like this one to be enabled, please put in a change request to Autodesk (the more requests, the more likely it is to be done).  Alternatively you could use the latest method of voicing your opinions or wishlists - currently the Autodesk Revit Ideas forum  .  I have posted a wishlist idea here - please vote for it

Monday, 25 July 2016

Revit Stair Path Arrows at Different Scales

My blog post on Revit Stair Path Arrows has had more hits than any other topic; and it continues to be near the top of the list each month - so it is obviously a problem issue for many people.

One thing I did not really cover in that post is how  to handle stair arrows at different scales.

Stair Arrows and Scale

Stair path arrow types need to be set up for each different scale that you want to use – because the arrowheads behave like symbols or tags (they change with scale); this is unlike the old arrows, which behaved like model lines (not affected by scale).


First you need to set up the arrowheads for each scale:

  • 1:50 or 1/4” to 1’0”

  • 1:100 or 1/8” to 1’0”

  • 1:200 or 1/16” to 1’0”

Text Size

Make sure you have suitable text types set up for each required stair path arrow scale


Stair Path Arrow Types

Then set up a different Stair path arrow type for each scale – these will reference the preset arrowheads and also text styles:

The important things to change for each scale are:
  • Arrowhead Type (system families as described previously)
  • Distance to Cut Mark – I usually make this a calculation of “Tread depth/ Scale factor”, so that the arrowhead stops on the first riser line beyond the cut mark, if that is what you prefer graphically.
        250/50 = 5mm
        10” / 1/4” to 1’0” = 27/128”
        250/100 = 2.5mm
        10” / 1/8” to 1’0” = 27/64”
        250/200 = 1.25mm
        10” / 1/16” to 1’0” = 7/128”
  • Text Type – adjust this so that it is the smallest readable size (unless you want larger text). Set up from Text panel of Annotate tab on ribbon

Duplicate types for each scale, and change the 3 properties:
  • 1:50 or 1/4” to 1’0”

  • 1:100 or 1/8” to 1’0”

  • 1:200 or 1/16” to 1’0”

Things that typically do not need to be changed include:
  • Start from Riser &  End at Riser   - unticking these would cause erroneous locations for arrowheads if your stair starts or ends with a tread (but will not affect stairs that start/end with runs).
  • Show Arrowheads to Cut Mark    - causes arrowheads to disappear on views where cut marks are shown (but they still show when the full run is displayed)

Properties that you might want to change include:
  • Start Symbol Type   - if you want to put a dot or circle to indicate the start of the stair
  • Full Step Arrow   - makes the arrow the full width of the run
  • Line Shape at Landing Corner   - can be straight or curved on angled landings
  • Draw for Each Run   -  creates a separate arrow on each run, which may be useful on unusual stairs such as 'T' shaped stairs where the path arrow is not created correctly:

Refer to Revit Stair Path Arrows for more information on using stair path arrows