Monday, 27 April 2015

What's New in Revit 2016

This year there is no fanfare about the release of Revit 2016 – not even from Autodesk.  In fact it is almost impossible to find out what is actually new in Revit 2016.  In past years there have been a number of blog posts that gave detailed reviews and lists of new features.  Since I can’t find much out there, I will attempt to fill the gap – although this is not likely to be a comprehensive list.

The process is made more complicated by the interim release of 2015 R2 in October 2014 – this was made available to anyone on subscription.  I imagine that most Revit users are on subscription by now, as it is very difficult to operate otherwise – that means most of you will already be using the features in 2015 R2.

There are also a great number of stability and bug fixes, which are buried away as cryptic lists in release notes – so there may be all kinds of hidden goodies and issues that we don’t know have been sorted out.  Autodesk do themselves a disservice by not making more of the bug-fixes - as they could sometimes make huge differences to workflows if users knew that they could abandon clunky workarounds.

So here is my attempt at a list of what is new in Revit 2016 – based on the Autodesk Revit 2016 Help pages (in italics), with some of my own comments and what I can glean from other blog posts such as Revit OpEd & Revit Rants.   Let me know of anything missing and I will add to it.

What's New in Revit 2016 R2
What's New in Revit 2017

Revit 2016 Core Features (Multi-Disciplinary Enhancements)

Revit Speed: There is a general push to increase the speed of Revit, and each release includes some sort of improvement.  However, they are not always easy to document as enhancements, so we, as end users may not be aware of how much underlying work has been done.  Over on the Autodesk 'Inside the Factory' blog they have tried to explain some of the improvements.
Project Performance part 1
Project Performance part 2
Project Performance part 3
Project Performance part 4
Project Performance part 5   
Project Performance part 6
Here is one change that can be described:
Allow Navigation During Redraw: To improve performance when navigating a view, use this new option to interrupt the display of model elements as you move through the model. This feature allows you to navigate the model smoothly and continuously, panning, zooming, and orbiting around the view without waiting for the software to finish drawing elements at each step. This option is enabled by default
 This enhancement only shows its worth on large models, especially with linked files, so don’t expect anything dramatic on a little test project.

Rotate Project North: In addition to rotating model elements, this tool also now rotates view-specific detail elements, including text notes, detail lines, filled regions, revision clouds, and more. The tool is enabled for plan views only.

I have not tested ALL detail elements, but it seems to work as described.  It rotates elevations and sections and their associated annotation ok – so it seems logical that it is only enabled for plan views.

Well, this is a long overdue fix – this could mean that people no longer need to get the project north 100% set up before they start documenting.  I have “Set up project north” as number one on my check-list for a new project, so maybe I can relax that rule now?   
Before Project North rotate - detail elements orthogonal to view
After Project North Rotate by Pick Model Line - detail elements rotated with model
Open sheet view: To quickly open and identify the sheet on which a view is placed, in the Project Browser, right-click the view name, and click Open Sheet. The Open Sheet option is disabled in the context menu when the view is not placed on a sheet, or when the view is a schedule or a legend. (Schedules and legends can be placed on multiple sheets.)

Nice little feature.  Aside from being a time-saver, It will save us from looking at the confusing Sheet properties to see if a view is placed on a sheet (the option is greyed out if view is not on a sheet).

Revisions: The following enhancements are available in the Sheet Issues/Revisions dialog:
The ability to select multiple rows in the dialog makes it easy to delete multiple revisions at once. You can change the starting number for a numeric sequence to zero or any positive number. Alphabetic sequence type is now "alphanumeric," and it can accept any custom sequence of characters. Each value in the sequence can consist of more than one character. Add a prefix and/or suffix to display with values in a sequence

Selection Boxes: you can now quickly isolate selected elements in an 'unobstructed' 3D view -  by clicking on a new feature on the Modify tab on the ribbon.   Great new feature, previously available in a couple of Add-ins. If you select objects in a 3D view, then this feature enables a section box, and crops it around the selected elements;  from any other view type, it takes you to a cropped 3D default view.   It might be annoying if you have a section box already in your 3D view - because it resizes the existing section box that you might have spent hours getting just right

View States: When you save a model and exit Revit, the pan and zoom states for each view are remembered. When you launch Revit and open a view, the view opens to the same pan and zoom states. This feature improves performance when working with complex models.
I am not sure if this might be more annoying than useful – for example when you open a view and find it zoomed into a piece of text, when you need an overview.  we will have to wait and see on this one.

Incidentally, when you change the view scale, it no longer does a 'Zoom to Fit'.  I am not sure when this was changed (2015?) but I am very happy about that.

Multiline text: This is a really nice new parameter type that allows you to force text 'values' onto multiple lines.  I have not really thought this through yet but it seems like it could be a big deal, so it is a mystery why Autodesk have not listed it as a new feature.   It works in printed schedules and tags (if you make them shared parameters).  Refer to Steve Stafford’s blog post for more detail.  In the properties dialog box you need to click to the right side of the text field to get to a separate dialog box.  [Watch out - apparently if you add a multiline text parameter to your shared parameter file it causes problems, so don't try it without reading this post on OpEd.]

Architectural Features 2016

IFC links and rooms: When creating rooms in the host model, you can use many IFC-based elements to define room boundaries.  Autodesk seems to be pushing a lot of new IFC changes – I haven’t had a need for IFC yet, but I’m sure those that do will appreciate any improvements.

Floor Elevations: To improve annotation and scheduling of architectural floors, the following fields are now available: Elevation at Top, Elevation at Top Core (Multi-layered floors), Elevation at Bottom Core (Multi-layered floors), and Elevation at Bottom.  This seems to be only partially working.  It shows Elevation at Top and Bottom, but not the other two, even when you do have multi-layered floors with some plies outside the core.  I have seen it reported that it works for structural floors, but I'm not sure about that.   
Regardless of this, we typically separate floors into structure and finishes (two separate elements) and we never need to check elevation of plies within those - so the working parameters are just fine.

All four parameters appear in schedules but the core ones schedule blank.  Great new feature for quality control of models!
Change the floor offset or level, and the elevation values update
The two important parameters show in schedules (all 4 available)

Place Rooms: Use the Place Rooms Automatically tool to quickly place rooms in all closed and bounded areas on the current level.  Shotgun placement of rooms in every enclosed space! – I cannot see that this would be at all useful as it would take longer to fix everything than to manually place rooms where we actually want them.

Rendering: When rendering a static 3D view, you can now choose between 2 rendering engines: NVIDIA mental ray and Autodesk Raytracer. Raytracer rendering does not support some quality and background options that are available with NVIDIA mental ray.

Note: Autodesk Raytracer is an option for rendering a static image only. Revit continues to use the NVIDIA mental ray engine for functions such as: walkthrough export, FBX export, and previews (material appearance, RPC appearance, light color temperature, and decal).
Right now I don’t know how useful this will be as it is just adding yet another way to do things.  Maybe down the track when it is fully implemented for all situations it might come into its own?  Refer to Dan Stine’s article on AECBytes

Energy Analysis for Autodesk® Revit® : (for Subscription customers)
Tools for Use Conceptual Mass Mode and Use Building Element Mode have been moved from the ribbon to the Energy Settings dialog
-  A new analysis mode, ‘Use Conceptual Masses and Building Elements,’ allows you to perform energy analysis on a model that includes both types of design. This mode can be helpful, for example, when a design is partially detailed and partially conceptual, or when you have modeled conceptual masses to represent additions to an existing building.
-  When you select an analysis mode that includes building elements and then show the energy model, Revit creates 3 views: 3D Energy Model (a 3D view), Analytical Spaces (a schedule), and Analytical Surfaces (a schedule). Use these views to examine the analytical model and make adjustments before running the energy simulation.
-  The Energy Cost Range dashboard provides new analysis tools
in the Results and Compare window to understand the current energy cost of the analyzed building model, and how changes to identified variables can reduce the overall cost.
-  The Potential Energy Savings chart has been moved from the Energy Analysis Results to the Energy Cost Range dashboard. 

Revit Repeaters
There was a new feature "Remove Repeater" introduced in Revit 2015 R2 - so that is now available to you all in v2016.  I believe it should have been called "Dissolve Repeater" see this post for a detailed description

MEP Features 2016

Piping flow units: When you define project units for piping, you can now specify values for Flow in liters per minute (L/min). 

Performance and Volume Only settings for calculations:
To improve performance while working with most duct and pipe systems, a new setting, Performance, has been added to the Calculations drop-down. When this parameter is set to Performance, no system-level calculations are processed. When it is set to None, the system still maintains the logical sections in the system.
To improve performance while working with large Fire Protection, Vent, and Other classification system types, a new setting, Volume Only, has been added to the Calculations drop-down. When the Calculations parameter is set to None, the Volume parameter is not computed. When the Calculations parameter is set to Volume Only, the Volume parameter is calculated. Upgraded projects will have the Calculations parameter set to Volume Only for existing systems in which the Calculations parameter was set to None.

Improved snapping behavior: While working with large system models, you may notice an improvement to snapping behavior. Remote snaps include only the objects in the visible portion of the view, rather than the view extents. In addition, snap filters are now based on the zoom level: when the zoom level is greater, fewer elements are included for remote snapping. When Snap to Remote Objects is disabled, snapping to connectors in linked files is excluded.

MEP fabrication detailing: You can now use LOD 400 content from Autodesk Fabrication products (CADmep, ESTmep, and CAMduct) in Revit to create a more coordinated model. This functionality provides greater certainty for detailers in construction firms that the model accurately reflects the intended installation

Structural Features 2016

Steel profiles: The Structural Section category for structural columns and framing elements provides new dimension parameters for columns and framing elements.
-  Hot Rolled Steel Section Shape Detailing Dimensions
-  Cold-Formed Steel Section Shape Dimensions 

Elevation parameters: To improve annotation and scheduling, the following fields are available:
- Elevation at Top (beams, braces, structural floors, and foundation slabs)
- Elevation at Top Core (multi-layered structural floors, and foundation slabs)
- Elevation at Bottom Core (multi-layered structural floors, and foundation slabs)
- Elevation at Bottom (beams, braces, structural floors, and foundation slabs)
- Reference Level Elevation (beams and braces) 

Release and member forces: To facilitate documentation and connections design and detailing, you can specify member end forces for columns, beams, and braces. This data can be scheduled and added to annotation labels.

Truss chord rotation: When rotating a truss, you can specify whether truss chords rotate with the truss or stay aligned with the truss placement plane.

Local coordinate system: The following Local Coordinate System (LCS) enhancements are available when working with analytical loads
- The LCS widget now displays on curved beams and arc walls.
- When you place hosted loads oriented to the host LCS, the LCS widget displays on the element to show the load direction.
- Loads display properly for curved linear analytical elements oriented to the LCS. 

Area loads: The following enhancements are available when you place area loads.
- You can place hosted area loads on the surface of an arc wall.
- You can apply projected surface loads. Select the Projected Loads parameter to apply correctly scaled loads to a projection angle value. 

Rebar display performance: To improve performance so that views open and update faster, Revit regenerates reinforcement only for what is visible on the screen. In addition, if reinforcement appears very small on the screen, it is displayed as simplified lines, regardless of the detail level assigned to the view. 

Rebar placement: The following enhancements are available when placing rebar.
- Rebar Offsets: In the Rebar Constraint dialog, you can now specify rebar constraints to the host and an offset distance from the cover.
- Rebar Constraints dialog: You can now zoom, pan, and adjust your view without closing the dialog.
- Rebar rounding: When specifying reinforcement rounding defaults, you can round to the nearest increment, the next higher increment, or the next lower increment.
- Lock rebar parallel to host face: You can now place rebar parallel to any host face with precision using the Shift key during placement. 

Rebar shapes in paths: To improve reinforcement detailing of concrete, you can assign rebar shapes to the primary and alternating bars in a path reinforcement system.

Rebar scheduling: To improve rebar documentation, you can now include the following parameters and fields in schedules and tags:
- Host Mark displays the name of the structural element hosting the rebar.
- Host Count displays the number of identical structural elements hosting the rebar.
- Quantity by Element displays the calculated value of the total number of rebar per host.

Structural Analysis Toolkit for Revit: The following enhancements are available:

  • Gravity analysis: Apart from static analysis, you can perform gravity analysis. It is the analysis type which by deducing the flow paths of loads lets you determine how vertical loads are transmitted from the top to the foundation of the model.
  • Result Explorer: You can display and explore types of results for gravity analysis.
  • Perform analysis: You can perform a batch of analyses simultaneously. In the Analyze in Cloud dialog, you can specify a type and parameters for several analyses.
  • Website - 3D Structure Viewer: You can display results for static analysis and gravity analysis in 3D Structure Viewer. Moreover, you can display detailed results. Results for members and surfaces are presented in the Local Coordinate System (LCS).
  • Website - 3D Structure Viewer: On mobile devices, you can zoom in/out, pan, and rotate a model using gestures.
  • Website - project page: You can share an analysis with collaborators. Collaborators cannot edit results and cannot download them to the Revit project. They can view analysis results, view a report, and download the Robot model with and without results.
  • Website - dashboard: You can open the Autodesk® 360 Structural Analysis dashboard on the website from Analyze tab.
  • List of messages: You can toggle on and off the list of messages containing information about performed analyses.
  • Revit - Robot Integration: When updating a Revit model with changes in section sizes, the link checks compatibility between the section size from Robot and family types loaded to the Revit project. If it identifies a family type compatible with a Robot section, it updates the Revit model with it.
  • Revit - Robot Integration: You can specify which levels to transfer as story levels and which levels as structure axes to the Robot model.
  • Revit - Robot Integration: During the Revit - Robot link process, orientation of loads is transferred. Loads are presented in the Local Coordinate System or Global Coordinate System, depending on how they are defined in Revit

File Format
Every year we see a new file format for Revit, which is not backward compatible.  Usually we can see a reason for this - some new parameters or a feature with significant changes to how Revit might work.  This year I do not see anything that might justify a file structure change - but I guess there must be something.
Just once I wish we could have a yearly upgrade without a file format change - but of course I still want lots of new features and bug-fixes (like we got with R2 as an interim release).

Revit 2015 R2
A significant number of enhancements were also included as an interim release 2015 R2 - these were made available to subscription members only, in October 2014.  Most of these features are now available to all users of Revit 2016.
I will not list these enhancements here as this post Revit Rants covers pretty much everything, although it does not distinguish between what is exclusive to 2015 R2 vs entirely new in 2016 (listed above).

What's New in Revit 2016 R2
What's New in Revit 2017

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the breakdown! You mentioned not yet having a need for IFC; we've found it to be the only way to work with firms using previous versions of Revit. Any improvements to IFC will be welcomed!