Archive for the ‘Tips and Tricks’ Category


Revit 2014 performance with VMware

July 27, 2014

I’ve been running Revit on a Mac for some time now. I run it though VMware Fusion and every once in a while things don’t go as smoothly as I would like. Revit 2013 for example had such poor performance I skipped using this release in it’s entirety.  2012 worked just fine and I was elated to find that 2014 worked just as well as 2012.  For the most part I attribute the hit in performance to the emulated video drivers that VMware provides.  Autodesk Revit does not recognize this generic driver as an acceptable video card to run Revit with the “Use Hardware Acceleration” setting.

At some point I played with tweaking the Revit.ini and possibly another file to override some of the settings.  I don’t recall exactly what it was but it made performance even better.

Now, just recently Revit 2014 issued Update Release 3 and I figured no harm could come from what will likely be the last update for 2014.  Well, I was wrong.  I installed it and started working on projects but the program took another performance hit.  Zooming, panning, selecting were all slower.  This lead me to think that my Revit.ini was reset to factory settings.

After digging around for a few minutes on the internet I ran into this post on the What Revit Wants Blog. I followed the instructions to rename the specified file and bam! the performance is now back. I can even turn on “Use Hardware Acceleration”.

I will likely try the same settings for Revit 2015 in the near future.

Your results may vary, I am currently using:
OSX 10.9.4
VMware Fusion 6.0.4
Revit 2014 UR3
Windows 7 Pro Service Pack 1

Revit 2014 hardware acceleration



June 14, 2014

So you have a 2’ x 2’ lay-in ceiling with 2’ x 4’ light fixtures and that ceiling grid line runs right through the fixture. How do you get rid of it? Now this may sound like that joke about whiteout on the computer screen but in Revit that’s doable.

So your grid lines are probably a #1 thickness so create a #2 white line and place it right over the line crossing your light fixture. You’ll never notice the white line break on your light fixture. Now let just see if it prints right.

I can’t stop white’g about Webit!



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 Hatch Patterns – Hatch 22

October 4, 2013

Below is a nice hatch creation tool for Revit

Download the 3 files and place in your C:/ProgramData/Autodesk/Revit/Addins folder and it’ll show up in your Addins ribbon.
Follow the instructions below and its pretty self explanatory.

Thanks Tim Kauffman for this tip.



Globally Hide Specific Levels w/ Referencing Spot Elevations

May 5, 2013

The Need: 

When working on a large project I needed to create a level that allowed me to set a base level of 0’-0” for a stair tower that did not share the same level as the ground floor of the building.  I was then going to provide spot elevations from this 0-0 reference for each landing and level as a means to providing fabrication reference points for the overall 6 story stair assembly.

The Problem:

In a drawing set which contained 100’s of drawings that would inherit the new level (that no one wanted to see) let alone have to hide in every drawing where it appeared, I needed a way to control a single level’s visibility throughout the project.  In my case I had two separate stair towers so I needed to hide two independent levels.  I needed these levels to give my spot elevations for the towers a base reference.

The Caveat:

You only get to utilize this solution if you have created Worksets for a Central project file.  For those one man firms not using a central file approach it’s probably not such a big deal to hide the level in the few drawings where they will appear.

The Solution:


  1. Go to the Collaborate Tab and select Worksets to the far left to enable worksharing.
  2. At the Worksets Control Window create a new Workset, mine was named Hidden Levels.  It’s important to uncheck the “Visible in All Views” box where you enter the new Workset’s name.
  3. At the prompt to make the Workset Active select “No”



  1. It’s important to use the spot elevation type that is using a “relative” reference.
  2. Spot elevations are under the “Annotate” Tab
  3. Once you select the spot elevation make sure you are using the Target (Relative) type which shows up in the properties dialog at the top. If not selected go to the drop down arrow to the right and select it from the drop down list.
  4. Place the spot elevations as desired.  The spot elevations will reference to the “Current Level” by default.
  5. Select the spot elevation you want to reference to the   level you are going to hide.  In this case it will be the “stair base elev ref.” then go to the “Relative Base” drop down shown in the image below.  Note: I have spot elevations referenced to Level 1 and the Stair Base Elev. Ref. as well in the plan level 1 view.
  6. Revit-Relative Spot Elev
  7. You can hide the level at any time and without affecting the ability to select the hidden level in the Relative Base drop down.


  1. You need to assign the level to the “Hidden Levels” workset you’ve already created above. Select the level to be hidden and in the Properties dialog set the workset to “Hidden Levels”
  2. Revit-Hide Level Step 1
  3.  Now in the visibility graphics control interface (Key stroke “vg”) go to the Worksets tab and at the far right drop down for the “Hidden Levels” select hide.  As shown in the image below the level disappears globally throughout the project but the spot elevations retain their reference to the hidden level.
  4. Revit-Hide Level Step 2

Now all those team members won’t be screaming at you when you add that extra level.



AutoCAD in Revit – A Bizarre Linked File Approach

March 5, 2013

Sam Swegle and I recently worked through a problem he was having with linking an AutoCAD file into his Revit Project.  He specifically wanted to link the file rather than import it since the file was still being updated by the mechanical engineer.

The problem he was having was that the HVAC components needed to be located so that they appeared to be partially concealed by a lower ceiling as viewed in his (RCP-reflected ceiling plan) with a portion of the HVAC system being exposed and fully visible where there was no ceiling.

Our initial solution was to link the AutoCAD file into a separate Revit file that would then be linked into his active project.  We opened both the active project and the empty Revit file that would receive the AutoCAD file in the same instance of Revit and copied the ceiling and then pasted it into the empty file to get a registration component to which the AutoCAD file could be aligned to.  Once the AutoCAD file was linked in and registered we applied a masked region where the ceiling was and deleted the ceiling.

The hope was that the masked region would block out that portion of the ACAD file we didn’t want to see, leaving only the visible portion of the HVAC and the ceiling that was present in our active project file.

The results were that the masked region effectively covered our ceiling in the active project.  Not what we wanted.

Now I’ve done some counterintuitive things in Revit before with mixed results and thought I would test an off the wall approach.  I had Sam override the visibility setting for the masked region and make it transparent, in the linked file, and then update the link.  For some baffling reason the ceiling could now be seen and the ACAD file was properly masked where the ceiling was.

The only thing I can figure is that the override to transparency was carried through to the active project revealing the ceiling but the masked region was still seen as a masking element as it related to the ACAD file.

Go Figure.
Still Scratching my Head on This One


Free Revit Apps from CASE Inc

April 27, 2012

CASE Inc is a group of BIM consultants based out of New York. They offer some free downloadable apps from their site, case-apps.

I’ve known about their apps for some time now. I put one them into play yesterday. That was “Import Images to Drafting Views”.

This tool will launch a dialog that allows you to import multiple images to individual drafting views. The drafting views will be named the same as the image that they originate from. This tool is handy on large renovation projects where photographs of existing conditions are documented in the model. You can tag your floor plans showing where the photograph was taken from (that part is manual of course 😉

If you have tried to import images from the Revit Insert tab, you can only do so one at a time. A blackhole for billable time. There is no shift-select process to load in more than one. An added bonus with this app is that you can specify the image dimensions before loading. (Those width and height fields are inches, for those who try the app out.)

One thing that would be nice (seems to be more of a Revit issue and not the app itself)…If you edit an image already loaded in Revit, same file name, in an image editor like Paint, and reload into Revit, it doesn’t overwrite what’s loaded. Revit will create another instance of the image, like so:

  • FileName.JPG
  • FileName.JPG(2)

Not very helpful if you have images already placed on sheets in Revit and you need to tweak them externally. It would be nice to have the option.

Hope you find this useful. There are other interesting apps from CASE I want to try out, but haven’t experimented with yet. When I do, I’ll write about it here.

PS: Be mindful of your image file sizes before loading into Revit.



Autodesk Wiki – Valuable Resource

April 11, 2012

Launched in February of 2011 the Autodesk WikiHelp is a valuable information and training resource you should take a look at.

Specific applications include Revit

The Video gallery on 2013 is full of clips

Consider being a contributor.


View Range and Walls

December 10, 2011

After a bit of frustration today on a project, I asked the kind folks at for a bit of help. The short of it is that walls that are unconnected at 6′ or less will get a projection line regardless of the View Range setting. Once you constrain the top of the wall to a level then it abides to the View Range settings. Not sure why this is, but its just the way it is.

From Revit Architecture 2011 User Assistance:

Walls shorter than 6 feet (approximately 1.83 meters) are not cut, even if they intersect the cut plane.
The 6 feet are measured from the top of the bounding box to the bottom of the primary view range. For example, if you create a wall with a sloped top face, when the top of the wall is 6 feet away from the bottom of the primary view range, the wall is cut at the cut plane. When the top of the wall is less than 6 feet, the entire wall shows as projection even where it intersects the cut plane. This behavior always occurs when the Top Constraint property for the wall is specified as Unconnected.

Here’s a graphic of my quick comparisons:





Starting View

November 24, 2011

Let’s face it. In a team environment, BIM requires communication. To support that statement, a great new feature in Revit 2012 is Starting View.

Our team has used it to much success. We developed, and loaded into our office template, a 11×17 titleblock that gives the user information upon opening the project file. We specified this sheet & titleblock to be our Starting View. Some points to about this approach:

  • Once set as a Starting View, the file will always open on this sheet (and not a 3D view that has shadows turned on)
  • This sheet is pinned, but at the beginning of a new project we temporarily unpin to enter the project information (except for the address, you still have to go to Manage> Project Information> Address)
  • Our construction documents titleblock uses a lot of the same parameters, so that information gets pushed out to all those condocs sheets from the Starting View
  • In the sheet properties, make sure you uncheck the parameter: Appears in Sheet List…that way the Starting View sheet will not be a part of your Sheet Index
  • The info off to the left includes a date stamp, file location, a template revision tracking number and the discipline of the project (our office is Arch and Struct and we all use the same template to start with)
  • We have a space in the lower half to have team member communicate upcoming deadlines, major workings or reworkings of the model elements, etc…
  • We used to save and sync-to-central from a drafting view, but a titleblock/sheet is much more effective because you can enter it right there without going to the Manage tab
  • It’s a quick glance & verification of the info before beginning your work


Happy Thanksgiving!