Archive for the ‘Families’ Category


Shared Parameter – Aligning Older and Newer Content

June 14, 2014

Ever get that stubborn shared parameter that seems to have a dual personality. This is especially true if you’ve inadvertently used a shared parameter in some families, deleted it from your shared parameter list and then started using it again. It’s also common when you get a file with a shared parameter name that is the same as one you are already using. A common occurrence with manufacturer’s content or consultants content. Consequently you will probably have to reconfigure any incoming content parameters to your shared parameters to get your schedules to read them.

The problem is that Revit assigns the parameter a unique GUID (Global Unique ID?). So your schedule column is looking to match the GUID assignment it has with the various families you are bringing in, not the parameter name.

I believe the default shared parameter file is located at:
C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit Architecture 2014\IFC Shared Parameters.txt

You can read this txt file by just double clicking on it and MS-Notepad should open it. You’ll notice the second line “# Do not edit manually” Good advice if you don’t know what you’re doing. For some of us this is like throwing down the gauntlet of a challenge. A challenge I was willing to take and was successful enough to write this post about.

I had a lot of complex content I didn’t want to reconstruct just for a single parameter so I wanted the version of the parameter that was in my shared parameter file to align with my older content’s GUID of the same parameter. The following procedure assumes you haven’t created a lot of content with the parameter that is currently in your shared parameter file. If you have then you will have to go back and delete this parameter and add the new version to that content.

> So let’s start with the schedule and use the GUID it is looking for as the baseline value we want.

> Now we need to find a family that has the parameter that is working in this specific parameter column of your schedule. That will assure us that the family has the corresponding GUID that the schedule is looking for.

> Once you find one, open the family and export the shared parameter to your share parameter file. Place it in the ‘Exported Parameters’ folder. If you need help on exporting a file try this,

> Now open the .txt file for the Exported Parameters folder and scroll down till you find the parameter name you just exported. To the left will be the good GUID you want.

> Now open the .txt file where you were originally pulling the shared parameter of the same name. Scroll down till you find the parameter and you should see that the GUID is different.

> Select copy the GUID from your shared parameter folder for this parameter and paste it into a Word document just in case you need to back out of this procedure. This way you can return the .txt file to its original value if necessary.

> Select copy the GUID from the ‘Exported Parameters’ folder and overwrite the GUID in the shared parameter folder. Save the .txt file.

This shared parameter will now be aligned to content the schedule could not read and you can use the new version of this shared parameter in your new content by deleting the parameter and adding the new version of the shared parameter.

In this image you can see the ‘Exported Parameters’ file has the older GUID for the ‘A’ parameter and the ‘Equipment Properties’ and another family which I exported its parameter of the same name to ‘General’ are using the newer version of the GUID for ‘A’. I over wrote the ‘Equipment Properties’ GUID with the ‘Exported Parameters’ GUID to align my content and schedule.


I typically keep my shared parameters in a folder with my Revit library content so if you are doing the same then the path I gave you earlier in this post will not be applicable. Just go to that location you are currently using for your shared parameters instead.

Hope this helps.


Revit – Annotation (Weld Symbol)

January 26, 2014

I’ve just added a “Weld Symbol” annotation to the A.I. Dropbox.

You can access it by requesting to be added to the A.I. drop box here (

The family link, “How to Use” descriptive and Weld Symbols legend can be found here,

The Youtube I posted on this family can be directly accessed here,

Although we don’t do much in the way of welding, as architects, the complexity of these symbols can be a graphic pain-in-the-backside when we do need to make these callouts.  Hopefully this little gem will make that process a little easier.

Cheers to Detailing



Symbolic Lines in Nested Families

October 27, 2011

I ran into an interesting glitch in Revit 2011 while I was creating a nested family.  The primary family was categorized as Specialty Equipment which was then nested into a Specialty Equipment Wall based family.  This piece of equipment typically is mounted above the plan cut  elevation so I wanted some symbolic lines to represent the family as hidden above.

For some reason none of the symbolic lines would show up in my project, so after some head scratching I decided to throw in some model lines.  All of a sudden I could see both model and symbolic lines.  I then took out the model lines and all the symbolic lines disappeared, go figure.  Consequently I had to leave a very small model line discretely hidden in the family to get my symbolics to activate.

Also if you are interested in how to develop a nested family, Patrick at CADsoft posted a nice how to at this link.



Locked to a Reference Plane?

May 18, 2011

In an effort to reduce file sizes and bridge staff 3D family construction inexperience and time limitations on projects we often use 2D symbolic line representations of kitchen equipment in lieu of full 3D families.  One of our staff happened to create a 2D family of grouped lines that was somehow locked to the reference level of the family that is used as the finished floor.  Here are things to look for when this happens and how to break the lock.

1.  Check to make sure the group is not locked to the reference level.  Click on the group and look for the lock symbol. Click on the lock symbol to toogle between locked and unlocked.

2.  Was the family constructed using model lines?  If so they were referenced to a specific plane when created.  Select all the 2D lines and use the “Edit Work Plane” button in the tools bar found under the Modify Tab.  Upon selection the program will prompt you to I.D. the reference plane you want them associated with so make sure you have a reference plane in place you want to use as your target.

To unlock the group use the mirror function and mirror the group about another reference plane.  Sometimes a parallel reference plane won’t work so try a 45 degree reference plane to mirror about.  Of course this will change the orientation but once it’s unlocked you will be able to rotate it and lock it to another reference plane.  In our particular case the staff member wanted to lock to a reference plane they could control the height of with a parameter.  Also be aware that if the group of lines was locked to reference planes to control type properties of length and width mirroring out of plane, as would be the case with the 45 degree reference plane, will unlock these control properties.

This mirror trick also works with 3D extrusions and sweeps in families and in the in-place families in a project that have been associated with a reference plane for construct purposes.  Once you free the 3D form you can delete the original locked version of the shape.

Reference Free in 2 & 3D


Deciphering Revit Light Intensity

May 1, 2011

Light fixtures and the light they produce can be somewhat of a mystery.  When you enter into the ‘Type Properties” of a light fixture the primary control for the light intensity can be found under the button to the right of the Initial Intensity parameter.

Once you’ve activated the dialog select the “Wattage” radio button.  You are now faced with two inputs.  You will need to know three things to complete these inputs. 

1.  The number of lamps in your fixture.
2.  The wattage of each lamp.
3.  The initial lumens produced by each lamp.

The first value “wattage” is achieved by multiplying the number of lamps times the wattage to get the total fixture wattage.

The second value “Efficacy” is acheived by dividing the lumen value for a single lamp by the wattage for that individual lamp.  So a 17 watt lamp producing 1275 lumens has an Efficacy of 75.

If you are creating a light fixture, you want to make sure the color temperature matches the lamp type and the light source is of a similar light distribution pattern that matches the lamp configuration.

Here are some sources for lamp data.

Light-em Up


Revit Families – Manufacturer’s Content Grows!!

March 26, 2011

Plumbing Fixtures:
…Toto –
Just navigate to the product, select “Downloads & Resources” and the BIM
Families (Revit Only) will come up. Be aware these are faced based families so you will need to select Place on Face or Place on Workplane in your Tools ribbon assuming your workplane is set to the appropriate face.

…Solatube –
You can find the Revit families under the BIM menu on this page. The family places well on roofs but is without a curb component so you will need to construct a separate family or modify the Solatube family. The family does cut a round hole in the roof component but I haven’t determined if Revit sees the family as a window portal yet. I’ll post an update after testing.

If you are on our Linkedin Discussion group you’ll notice this is a repeat notification.  Sometimes content like this gets bridged between the two resources and sometimes it doesn’t so if you want to montior the Linkedin Discussion group please feel free to join Linkedin and search out our group under “SARUG”



Wall Based Families-Controlling their Height and Project Placement

March 19, 2011

Things to know in order to control the height of wall based families such as light fixtures are as follows:

  1. The family should have a defined origin.
  2. The family should have an elevation parameter to control post placement height.
  3. Revit 2011 likes to use the last value used for “Elevation” and subsequently overrides the default elevation for the particular family. (an annoying idiosyncrasy).

Item #1  Typically you want to define a critical reference plane in your family as the origin, this may be the light source as in the image example below or the top or bottom limit of the family.  Select the preferred reference plane and in the properties dialog to the left check the “Defines Origin” box.

Item #2   To add a height control parameter place a dimension between your floor reference to your critical reference plane.  With the dimension selected click the drop down “Label” in the Options Bar, select <Add Parameter>, Give it a name and set it to “Instance”.

Item #3  Occurs in the project during the placement of the family.  Select the wall based family and drag it over to the wall you want to place it on. Click it down and immediately go to the “Elevation” parameter of the “Properties” dialog and set the elevation you want subsequent wall based objects to set themselves to.  You can change this during the placement of any wall based family using this same process.  Just be aware that it will become the default elevation for all subsequent wall based families.  An annoying little quirk I hope they resolve in the 2012 release.

I found the Origin control and Project Elevation issue while trouble-shooting my wall based families which were not placing properly inside my rooms and subsequently were not scheduling in the luminaire schedule based on room location.

Unraveling the Revit Mystery

Follow up March 26, 2011:
For families that have a preset height that you want to conform to like an ADA setting, in your project set the “Elevation” parameter to 0′-0″ and your family should set itself at the preset elevation from it’s referencing level.


Want to schedule a Family by Room in Revit?

March 14, 2011

As I understand it, the ability to schedule a family by room is limited. Furniture, plumbing fixtures, lights and specialty equipment are some of the categories that are room aware. 

To get the room parameter into your schedule you will need to go to the Fields tab of your Schedule Properties and in the lower left corner the “Select available fields from” drop down has the “Room” field.

So once you add the appropriate “Room: Name” parameter to our schedule you may notice some objects don’t schedule properly.  Typically it’s due to the fact that the family is not residing inside the room boundary.  Intuitively you think the room boundary is everything within the surface envelope of the space.  Unfortunately Revit isn’t intuitive so its boundaries are different.

In particular some floor based families present a challenge.  Here’s a excerpt from a recent post I made to AUGI addressing a Plumbing Fixture Schedule that sorts by Room location.

The particular plumbing fixture families that are presenting a problem are floor based. When I check the room boundary settings in the project (mouse over room name>tab once>select X-box) the properties dialog indicates the Base Offset = 0’-0” it’s not until I push the Base Offset down below -1’-0” to -1’-1” that the floor based families properly see the room they are in and schedule properly.

In doing this I discovered that the base offset has to be equal to or less than the floor thickness minus 1’-0” so a 4” concrete slab has to have the Base Offset of the Room boundary set to -1’-4” or less (since we are into negatives that might be -1’-5”).

So the resulting question is where is the 1’-0” coming from? Upon investigating the families the default floor thickness in the floor based family is 1’-0”. So you would think changing this value to something less than 1’-0” would change the resulting value in the project. It doesn’t.

This offset is unique to each Room Boundary so you have to do a select all (Select room boundary>type SA) and change them simultaneously.

Area & Volume Computations (under the Home Tab>Room & Area drop down) doesn’t appear to give you global control of this value.

This also raises the question of the Base Offset value affecting room volume computations.

The only reason I can see for having a Base Offset for defining a room would be if you had a step down area of a room like a sunken living area or bathing area, which points out Revit’s shortcomings in computing this boundary buy giving only a planar offset.

Regardless you need to be spatially aware of the structural thickness of your room when using the Room Name parameter in your schedules, specifically the floor.

Roomless in Revit!!

Conversations with Jake: A follow up on this post.

I had a toilet family I down loaded from TOTO that was being identified by the room parameter in my schedule so I sent it to Jake for comment.  Here’s his response:

“Your toilet family is a face based family and is not hosting to a floor, but any face. This is most likely why it is functioning better than your floor hosted families. Another advantage of the FB families is that they will not be deleted if the host is deleted. To create one you can start with the generic model face based template. You can then change it to any family category desired. Disadvantage as you noted as you could end up with a toilet on the ceiling or a wall.  Might make for a great art installation.”

Thanks Jake!

That disadvantage Jake is referring to occurs at the initial placement of the object. In the image below you can see how the toilet wants to place it self on the wall. Note the ribbon “Placement” options.  You need to select “Place on Face” or if your work plane is assigned to the floor level the “Place on Work Plane” to get the object to orient correctly.


To model or not to model: That is the question.

November 17, 2010

There was much talk at last night’s meeting about how much modeling should be done in a BIM project.  Revit will let you model everything. That can become a pitfall for most new users. That type of creation consumes a vast amount of time and ultimately slows down your model.

The AEC (UK) BIM Standard for Revit, on page 27, Section 7.2.1, offers some good advice and a visual to help with this particular issue.

At the outset of the project, consideration shall be given to the maximum level of detail to be included in the BIM. Too little and the information will not be fit for purpose; too much and the model may become unmanageable and inefficient.

  • The BIM Co-ordinator shall dictate the point at which 3D geometry ceases and 2D detailing is utilised to prepare the published output.
  • Intelligent 2D linework shall be developed to accompany the geometry and enhance the required views without undue strain on the hardware. 2D linework is not exclusive to detailed/fabrication information.
  • Detailing and enhancement techniques shall be used whenever possible to reduce model complexity, but without compromising the integrity of the model.

3D modelling is carried out to an accuracy of approximately 1:50

…so imagine the level of detail needed for a physical 1/4 inch scale model.

As discussed last night, the different disciplines have different needs. Sometimes that level of modelling detail must be there in order to reap the benefits of using BIM.

Using BIM demands an open line of  communication. So  before going into the modeling portion of the project, have the team discuss what families are needed. If they are needed, to what level of detail do they need to communicate design intent. Do they need a lot of fancy parameters? There needs to be a ‘stay on task’ conversation to make sure the project is focused on the end result.

I’m sure as more usable family content becomes available, the hardware gets beefier and the sharing of models becomes more routine, this issue may go away. Until then…To model or not to model: That is the question.


Revit Based B.I.M. Content

October 25, 2010

Washroom Fixtures:

   Bradley Products –

Wall Assembly Generator:

“The free DuPont BIM Design Studio gives you all the information you need to quickly and easily create wall assemblies to spec with high-performance DuPont products. Compare energy use for walls with or without Tyvek® weather barrier. Generate custom BIM objects, CAD drawings and guide specifications for your project.”  excerpt Dupont web site

Enjoy Carl