Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Type Catalogs

Type Catalogs are nothing new to Revit, but are something I recently dove into. So, I thought I'd share some information about Type Catalogs for those of you who may not be familiar with them.

First of all, a family type is a subdivision with a family of elements. For example, a supply diffuser family might have various face and neck size combinations (or types) defined for the family file. Each diffuser type may vary in size, but share the same parameters and have a similar graphic representation. Therefore, it is logical to group these together in one file as opposed to creating a family file for each size. There are two ways to define family types. The first is to create the family types within the family file itself. When you load this type of family into a project, all of the family types that are defined within the family are loaded. This results in many unwanted family types that become part of the project file, thus increasing the file size. The second way is to use Type Catalogs. According to the Revit MEP help glossary of terms, a Type Catalog is a "list of model elements that belong to a particular family type but that differ in size or other characteristics". Using type catalogs allows you to only load the sizes, or types, you need from a list. By only selecting the types you need, you reduce the project size and limit the number of items listed in the type selector for that family. A Type Catalog is a comma-delimited text file that defines parameter values for each family type. You can use spreadsheet or database software, such as Excel, to define family types and their parameter values to automate the process of creating the comma-delimited text file. This is a much more efficient method than defining the parameter values within the family file itself.

Below is an example of at type catalog list that will appear when you load a type catalog family:

You can sort by any parameter to help narrow down your choices. Then, simply select the family types you want to load into your project:

When you go place an instance of the family in the project, only the family types that you loaded will appear in the type selector (shown in Revit MEP 2011):

A few important things to note about type catalogs:
  • The type catalog text file that is associated with a family must have the exact same file name. For example:
      Supply Grille - Louvered - Rectangular Neck.rfa
      Supply Grille - Louvered - Rectangular Neck.txt
  • Family files and their associated Type Catalogs must be located in the same folder.
  • Instance parameters are typically not included in Type Catalogs.
I won't go into how to create a type catalog in this post. However, the Revit MEP help section has a very good explanation of how it all works and gives a good example you can use to get started.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays!

I want to wish all of my fellow Reviteers a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Maybe Santa will bring us new Revit MEP features in 2010.

-Revit Garage

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Phillips Day-Brite

Phillips Day-Brite has introduced an initial offering of Revit families for some of their products. These include:

  • FBF fluorescent high bays
  • HCE product, including acrylic, aluminum and glass refletor units
  • UltiMIN products
  • Attune
  • Attune Air
  • Surface Attune
  • High Performance Industrial
  • Industrial Kinetics
  • LP3Paralouver
  • Microslot
  • Perform
  • SofTrace
  • SofTrace Air
  • TG Products
You can access these on their website Day-Brite Lighting. Locate the fixture of interest and if a Revit family is available, there will be a link in the list of downloads. I have also added them to my list of manufacturers who are providing Revit content.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Taco pumps

Taco has some of their pumps and accessories available in Revit format. You can access these on their website using their "CAD Wizard" or by searching on Autodesk Seek. I have added them to my list of manufacturers who are providing Revit content.

Taco CAD Wizard

Autodesk Seek

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Victaulic grooved piping components

Victaulic is now providing grooved piping components in Revit MEP format.

From their website...
"Victaulic has worked directly with Autodesk and a certified Autodesk content provider to create grooved piping components for use with this building information modeling (BIM) software. This is the only grooved content available for Revit MEP that is Victaulic certified and approved."
You have to complete a one-time registration form in order to access the library.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Revit MEP Coordination Memo

In order to be successful on a Revit project, or at least lay the groundwork in hopes of success, there must be good communication between the project team members, specifically between the architect and the MEP engineer. Most architects don't realize the impact their actions have on the MEP side of things. An architect sees deleting a wall as no different as a Revit MEP user deleting a piece of ductwork. Little do they know that simply deleting a wall can wreak havoc on a Revit MEP model. To help avoid this and other possible complications, I’ve devised a memo that the MEP user can send to the project architect before the project begins. The following items included in the memo address issues that myself and other Revit MEP users, who are part of a Revit MEP Customer Research Google group, have encountered while using Revit MEP on actual projects. If you have suggestions on how to improve the memo, please feel free to post a comment. This is the first draft of the memo and I'm sure it will evolve over time.

  • Deleting architectural elements: To the largest extent possible, please modify host elements (walls, floors, roofs, ceilings, etc.) rather than deleting them and replacing them with new elements. Some MEP objects such as light fixtures, diffusers, wall devices, etc. are hosted to these elements. If these elements are deleted, MEP objects can become orphaned and require a considerable amount of time to re-host. If an element must be deleted, please inform the MEP project team member so that appropriate actions can be taken.
  • Altering building location and orientation: Once the architectural file has been turned over to the MEP engineer for their use, the building model should not be moved, rotated, mirrored, etc. from its original location and orientation. This includes changing the plan location, elevation, and shared coordinates. Altering the location and orientation of a building model can severely affect MEP objects already present in the MEP model.
  • Rooms: In order for Revit MEP users to utilize an architect’s Revit model for building analysis and scheduling, all rooms must be defined correctly and properly enclosed with bounding elements. All rooms must be uniquely named and numbered.
  • Coordinates: Always Publish Coordinates. This is especially important on a project that contains multiple buildings on a common site.
  • Design Options: Although the MEP users can access an architect’s design options through a linked file, the design functionality within Revit MEP in conjunction with design options is not yet fully developed. Wall devices, diffusers, light fixtures, etc. can be shown for design options but they cannot be included in the MEP design in regards to circuiting of electrical devices, duct connections to diffusers, piping connections to fixtures, etc.
  • Grids: It is common practice for Revit MEP users to utilize the column grids included in the architect’s model. If the structural engineer is also working in Revit and the structural grids are to be used instead, that information needs to be relayed to the MEP engineer at the start of the project.
  • Phasing: If phasing is going to be used in a building renovation project, it needs to be coordinated between the architect and MEP engineer at the start of the project. Phase mapping will need to happen between the MEP model and the linked architectural model in order for phases to appear correctly in the MEP model.
  • Worksets: It is common practice for Revit MEP users to set their views to “By Host View”. This allows us to easily create and modify views to fit our requirements. Therefore, when creating a workset, please keep in mind that if the “Visible by default in all views” option is not checked, any object placed on that workset will not be visible by default in the views created in the MEP model when the architectural file is linked. Therefore, for such elements to appear in views within the MEP model, the MEP project team member has to take extra steps to create views that are linked to views present in the architectural model.
  • Revit model updates: At the start of the project, the architect and MEP engineer should agree upon how frequently their Revit models are to be updated and uploaded to the project FTP site.
  • Links: Please provide the MEP engineer with any required files that are linked into the architectural model (Revit or AutoCAD).
  • Border/Titleblock family: As a convenience to the MEP engineer, provide a copy of the project border/titleblock family along with the building model. If changes are made to the border after it is initially sent to the MEP engineer, please send an updated border family or inform the MEP engineer what changes need to be made.
  • File names: As a convenience to the MEP engineer, the architectural model file name should remain the same throughout the entire project. Avoid using user names or dates in the file name.
  • Ceiling Heights: As a convenience to the MEP engineer, please provide ceiling height tags on all ceilings.
If you would like the memo in Word document format, click here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Architectural objects not appearing in your MEP model?

If you link in an architectural model and notice some elements are missing, first check your Visibility/Graphics and View Range settings. If those setting are correct and the elements still aren't showing up, there is a good chance it is a workset issue. When worksets are created, there is an option to make them "visible by default in all views”. If an architect creates a workset and unchecks this option, any object he or she places on that workset will not appear when the model is linked into a Revit MEP model (when the MEP views are set to "By Host View"). If the architect did this unintentionally, he or she will need to create a new workset with the “visible by default in all views” option checked, transfer the objects over to the new workset, and send you the updated Revit file. Same goes for us MEP guys. If we create a workset not visible in all views and place objects on that workset, those objects will not be visible when an architect links our model into theirs (when the architect's views are set to "By Host View"). Keep in mind that once a workset is created, there is no way to change that visibility setting.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

All I see are grid lines!

Is the top floor plan level of your linked model not showing up in plan view? Are you just seeing grid lines and no walls or doors? Is there a roof level, and if so, did you create a floor plan for that level? If not, that is the problem. Go to the View Range settings for the level in question. Most likely, the top is set to "Level Above". If you didn't create a plan view of the roof, then technically there is no "level above" and nothing will display in plan view. To fix this, either copy/monitor and create a floor plan view of the roof level, or set the top range of the floor plan level to "Associated Level (Level #)" and enter an offset value of 10'-0", or whatever is required for the visibility of your plan view.

Streamlining Local File Creation

In my Revit MEP project setup procedure, I reference a script file that streamlines local file creation. This script was created by Dave Baldacchino and here is the link to his blog...

Here is the link to where you can download the file...

The key thing when using this script file is naming the central file correctly. Then you just copy the Revit Make Local.exe file into the same folder as the MEP central file. You can then create a shortcut to that particular Revit Make Local.exe file and place it on your desktop. Double-click the shortcut and you're done!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Space Naming Utility not showing up in 2010?

If you had previously installed the add-on Space Naming Utility for Revit MEP 2009, you may have noticed that you can't access it in Revit MEP 2010. The utility is compatible with 2010, but needs to be uninstalled and then reinstalled in order for it to be accessible in 2010. Once you have reinstalled it, an Add-Ins tab will appear in 2010 which is where you access the tool.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Revit MEP 2010 enhancements

Below are a few enhancements that have been made in Revit MEP 2010 that you may have overlooked...

Printing halftone as thin line

In the Print Setup dialog box in Revit MEP 2010, there is a new option which allows you to Replace halftone with thin lines. This is a major improvement if you have been having problems seeing your (linked) floor plans when printing Revit MEP sheets to a large format printer. In AutoCAD, we are used to creating plot styles which control how lines will appear when printed. This is not the case with the Revit family of products. The print output in Revit is WYSIWYG, or “what you see is what you get”. If a line in your Revit model appears grayscale on the screen, it is going to print grayscale as well. The printer in my office prints grayscale lines so light they hardly show up on the paper. By checking the Replace halftone with thin lines option, grayscale lines will instead print as thin solid lines. This results in (linked) building objects printing darker and more defined in floor plan, section, and elevation views.

Customizing the Quick Access Toolbar

Similar to AutoCAD, Revit now has a Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) along with the new ribbon user interface. The neat thing about the QAT in Revit is that you can easily add additional tools to the toolbar. Do accomplish this, simply right-click on a tool icon within the ribbon and select Add to Quick Access Toolbar. Voila!

Halftone/Underlay Control

New in Revit MEP 2010 is the ability to change how halftone/Underlay objects appear on the screen. You can change the line weight and pattern of underlay lines and the brightness of halftone lines. To edit these settings, go to Manage > Settings > Halftone/Underlay.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You might struggle with Revit MEP

We’ve all heard Jeff Foxworthy’s 'you might be a redneck' jokes. Well, here is my take on it, but with Revit MEP. Although, they are not as funny, you’ll get the idea.

  • If you can't get over the fact that you can’t use the Romans.shx font in Revit, you might struggle with Revit MEP.

  • If you’ve been relying on custom LISP routines and macros for so long that you can’t function in vanilla AutoCAD, you might struggle with Revit MEP.

  • If you think Revit is “super AutoCAD”, you might struggle with Revit MEP.

  • If it never crosses your mind to use Google or online discussion forums to help find quick solutions to technical problems, you might struggle with Revit MEP.

  • If you only put in enough effort to keep your job and no more, you might struggle with Revit MEP.

  • If your first reaction is “No!” when someone offers an alternative, yet better way of completing a task that you’ve been performing for years, you might struggle with Revit MEP.

  • If you can’t get over the fact that your Revit drawings won’t look exactly like your AutoCAD drawings, you might struggle with Revit MEP.

  • If you don’t like change, you might struggle with Revit MEP.

  • If you can’t think for yourself, you might struggle with Revit MEP.

  • If you have no desire to learn new things, you might struggle with Revit MEP.

  • If you are not good at problem solving, you might struggle with Revit MEP.

  • If you have no knowledge of MEP design, you might struggle with Revit MEP.
  • Monday, April 6, 2009

    Price HVAC Revit Families

    Price HVAC has joined the list of manufacturers providing Revit families for their products. You can download their Revit families here...

    Friday, February 6, 2009


    Welcome to the Revit Garage!

    I have been using Revit MEP since the day it was released as Revit Systems. It has been a challenging learning process and there is still much more to learn. Many people won’t touch the software with a ten foot pole, but I immediately saw its potential and was eager to dive in and learn how to use it. The purpose of this blog is to share my opinions and experiences (good and bad) with Revit MEP.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy my blog entries and feel free to leave comments. I’ll try to update the blog on a regular basis but can’t make any guarantees.