BILT Speaker

BILT Speaker
RevitCat - Revit Consultant

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Architectural Ceiling Plan Hidden Categories in Revit

A while back, someone asked me why some model elements remained visible when they turned off ALL Model categories in Visibility Graphics.

The list of categories that show on the Visibility/Graphic dialog box varies depending on the Discipline filters applied to the dialog box. If you are preparing a set of architectural reflected ceiling plans, you may want to show lights, sprinklers, security etc. However, not all relevant categories are shown if you only have ‘architecture’ ticked.

Watch out for hidden categories in this situation. Each user may have different discipline filters applied on their computer (it is per user in Revit, not per view).

This means that some MEP categories may not be shown in the Visibility/Graphic list – therefore the user will not be able to show/hide or override those categories.

If the user has only the Architecture discipline showing, then clicks on ‘All’, it does not include the hidden MEP categories, including:
  • Data devices
  • Fire Alarm devices
  • Nurse Call Devices
  • Security Devices
  • Sprinklers
  • Telephone Devices
I have encountered situations where frustrated users have turned off all categories, and wondered why the sprinklers remain on.  For this reason I recommend that architects should consider using only  the following categories for Ceiling and Electrical fixtures in their libraries - for architectural Revit models:
  • Electrical fixtures
  • Lighting Fixtures
  • Mechanical Equipment
  • Specialty Equipment 
Architecture Discipline Only

However, for multi-disciplinary Revit models you probably need to stick with the correct categories - obviously MEP engineers should use the correct categories for their models, because they have specific behaviour that is important to them.  In the case of separate, linked MEP models, the services engineers may be modelling their own fixtures, and using the architectral model just for coordinating ceiling fixture locations.
All Disciplines

For architects working in multi-disciplinary models, where you do need to use the correct categories for all fixtures, then you need to educate your staff about changing the filter list to show all relevant disciplines. 

What a pity that we don't have all the categories that we need - Signage for example (amongst many others missing).  However we do have at least one redundant category: Roads - we'd like to be able to use it but we have no tools to model roads with.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Inconsistent Units Settings UI in Revit

There are several very different ways of getting to Units Settings in the Revit User Interface.  Most of them are not very intuitive - and certainly they are totally different from each other.

Project Unit Settings

There are 3 different icons on the 'Manage' ribbon, depending on your screen resolution and size:

Largest resolution or screen
 If you are operating on a laptop or low resolution, the icon automatically reduces in size, and you may or may not get a text description:
Medium resolution or screen

Smallest resolution or screen

Once you click on the Project Units icon it takes you to the units dialog box, which has a list of different kinds of units:

Once you choose a particular unit type, it gives the project-wide 'Format' settings for that type.  Since this is the project settings, the checkbox at the top is greyed out.   Some of the checkboxes are related only to imperial measurements so would always be greyed out for metric users.

This dialog box is the one common UI that appears for all methods of accessing units - but different items are greyed out in each situation that the dialog box appears.

Dimension Units

  • Select a Dimension in the project 
  • Click on Edit Type

  • Click on the Units Setting property
  • This takes you to the Units Format dialog box where you can override the project settings
Alternatively you can access this units dialog box from the Annotation ribbon:
  • Click on the Dimensions drop-down arrow
  • Select the kind of dimension you want

Schedule Units Settings

  • In the Schedule Properties, go to the 'Formatting' tab
  • Select a field (on the left)
  • Click on the 'Field Format...' button on the right

  • Once you click on this, you get the standard Units dialog box
  • Typically the 'Use default settings' checkbox is ticked 
  • You can untick it if you want to over-ride the project settings

Tag Units Settings

Refer to Revit's Most Hidden Commands (part 2) for more detail on this.  It is quite tricky to find this setting:

  • Edit the tag family
  • Select and Edit a label

  • The parameter in the label may look like it is selected (on the left), but it is probably not
  • Select the relevant parameter (on left, even though it shows on the right)

  • The 'Properties' icon (a hand) will be enabled
  • Click on it

  • Finally you get to the units settings, which is normally defaulted to 'Use project settings'
  • It is not possible to get to this unit override setting within the project environment (unlike dimensions and schedules)


Here we have at least 4 completely different ways to access Revit units settings:

Method 1 (Ribbon in the project ):

Method 2 (Dimension Type properties in the project ):


Method 3 (Schedule formatting properties in the project ):

Method 4 (Tag properties in the Family Editor ):

Why does something so simple have to be so inconsistent, and complicated ?

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Reveal Obstacles in Path of Travel - Revit 2020.1

Revit 2020.1 Enhancement

If you place a 'Path of Travel' using the new (in Revit 2020) feature, you may encounter a situation like that shown below, where the path appears to go through an object that should be an obstruction - such as the path through sofa example below:


In addition to other Revit 2020.1 enhancements to the Path of Travel feature  - Move Start/End Points, we have a new tool that may help you out:

Reveal Obstacles in Path of Travel -

This is useful for figuring out why your path of travel is not behaving as expected. 
  • On the Analyze toolbar, click on 'Reveal Obstacles'

  • This temporarily changes the view display to show in orange all categories that represent obstacles to the path.
In the example below (Autodesk sample file), some items are not shown orange
  • The doors are not obstacles because that category is excluded
  • Some furniture is not shown in orange (obstacle) because they are below the cut plane for calculation.  The reason is that the model is split level, and the living area is 500mm lower than the rest of the house - refer to Analysis Zone follow up for more detail on Split Levels and calculation heights.
  • In the case of the large sofa family, one part of the component shows orange - this is the high back.  This demonstrates that Revit actually analyses the geometry of elements, not just a bounding box for each component - which is a good thing.

As the sofa is much lower than the main floor level, only the back projects up into the analysis zone.
  • If the sofa is raised by 200mm (8"), then the sides of the sofa also project into the zone - they become obstacles, and hence turn orange (it may not be immediate - see glitches listed below).

However, the path itself does not change - you have to select it and click on 'Update Path' for that to happen;  then the path will go around the sides of the sofa.

Obstacle Settings

If you go the the Route Analysis Settings, you can add or remove obstacles by category - for example add Furniture and Casework categories to the list that are not obstacles

Initially nothing happens, but when you update the path it will no longer avoid those categories.  These will no longer be highlighted in orange by the 'Reveal Obstacles setting

Furniture no longer an obstacle

Casework category no longer an obstacle - path not yet updated

NB. There is some unexpected behaviour that can occur with the 'Reveal Obstacles' feature:
  • If you already have 'Reveal Obstacles' mode on when you go into the 'Route Analysis' settings, then change the categories - Reveal Obstacles does not update the categories displayed orange/grey (you need to turn it off then on again for a refresh).
  • If Reveal Obstacles mode is on, and you try to select an element:
    • Initially it will highlight all of the obstacles as one item;  select it and you get Analysis results Properties (see below for more details)
    • if you tab select, it highlights a component, but still considers it part of the analysis result;  Select it and you get Analysis Result listed but without any properties;
    • Tab again and it finally selects just the element - you can then change its properties;  However, the Reveal Obstacles highlighting is not updated even when it should be - eg. if the sofa height is changed to 500mm so that the whole sofa becomes an obstacle, the sofa does not turn orange (when it should).
  • If you select the whole analysis result, you get shown properties for the Analysis Result.
  • It is not immediately clear what these properties are for.
  • If you click on the 'Edit..' button (Results Visibility), as you would be tempted to do, you get some more mysterious properties
  •  Make the dialog box a fraction wider, and one of the headings shows in full:  'Analysis Display Style' - it has a hidden button to the right of <By View>

  • Click on the hidden button to reveal the Display Style dialog

  • You can play around with the text and arrowhead settings
  • And go to the Legend Tab
  • Click on 'Show Legend'
  • The end result means not much to me, but I'm sure it has a purpose
Arrowheads and legend displayed
  •  You can move the legend on the view, if that is what you need

I am guessing that these analysis display settings are for some other kind of analysis, but have been enabled here too?
  • I am not going down that rabbit hole today!


Sadly, useful as this new feature is, it does not address fundamental shortcomings - such as what you need to do when Revit fails to generate (or update) a path at all.

We need more help to be able to deal with that situation, as the Warning dialog box is not at all helpful!

Friday, 30 August 2019

Travel Path Update in Revit 2020.1

Following on from my posts about Revit 2020 on Path of Travel and Follow Up :

With the release of Revit 2020.1, we have been given four minor improvements to the new (2020) 'Path of Travel' feature in Revit.  Welcome as they are, these improvements do not address any of the fundamental shortcomings of the tool, which seems like a missed opportunity:
  1. Start and End Points of travel paths can be dragged.
  2. Reveal Obstacles toggle.
  3. To and From Room properties have been enabled (these were previously just blank instance properties in 2020).
  4. Two new Dynamo nodes for Travel Paths (presumably new API capabilities allow this?)

Start and End Points

If you select an existing 'Path of Travel' element (which behaves like a polyline detail line) it now displays a blue grip-handle dot at each end.
  • Select the grip-handle and drag it to a new location - while doing so, Revit displays a moving straight line directly between the cursor and the other end of the path.

  • Once you let go the grip-handle in its new location, Revit recalculates the path of travel

  • Associated properties, schedules and tags will also be updated.
This is a very welcome little change to behaviour - if you tried this with the original vesion (2020), it just moved the whole path of travel.  However, this is only a small usability enhancement.

The fundamental issues it does not deal with include:
  • Still no ability to choose, change or control where the actual path goes (apart from adding/removing obstacles).  In order to do this, we would need to be able to somehow nominate additional points along the path, which it must go through.
  • No ability to make the path orthogonal (in Australia I have never needed that, but comments on my last blog post indicated a requirement for this in North America)
  • No ability to deal with sloping floors, level changes (split level), stairs.
  • No ability to prevent the path going through a very narrow opening (430mm or 1' 5") - more on this in another blog post.

NB. Given that the default selection colour in Revit is dark blue, and the grip-handles are mid/dark blue, it is pretty hard to even notice this new feature.  I would recommend changing your options for selection (and pre-selection) colours to something other than blue. 

Incidentally, which *!@*&#$ at Autodesk thought it was a good idea to make the selection and pre-selection colours the same (both dark blue)!

Reveal Obstacles toggle

This is a useful new tool for figuring out why your path of travel is not behaving as expected.  Again, this does not address fundamental shortcomings - such as:
  • What do you need to do when Revit fails to generate (or update) a path at all.

This new feature has a few quirks in behaviour - to be detailed in another blog post . . .

Friday, 23 August 2019

Dynamo Version in Revit 2020.1

Autodesk have just released Revit 2020.1, which is great news for MEP Revit users.  For the rest of us there are a few goodies (to be dealt with in another post), but there are implications for which version of Dynamo you are using:

As of Revit 2020, you (BIM Manager) don't get to decide which Dynamo version to use in that software, as it comes packaged in the Revit install, and subsequent upgrades.  However, in the real world, we are all still using and supporting Revit 2019, 2018, 2017 and if you are unlucky, 2016 & 2015 . . .

The compatibility between different Revit versions and Dynamo versions is quite complex.  Refer to my previous Revit 2020 Dynamo Version posts on this matter.
You can also refer to John Pierson's Sixty Second Revit matrix of compatibility

Installing Revit 2020.1

I have just installed Revit 2020.1.  It now automatically includes Dynamo 2.2.1

Logically you would want to have this same Dynamo 2.2.1 version installed in Revit 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020.

I would have assumed that the moment Dynamo is updated in Revit 2020, it would also be available to install in all previous Revit versions that support it?  In fact you would expect the dynamo version to be available well before it is pushed out in the latest Revit 2020 service pack/upgrade?

Well, is it?

I'm not entirely sure?

If you go to the Dynamo BIM downloads site, it lists all the versions available

Yes, it lists 2.2.1 - but hang on, that is only the 'DynamoCoreRuntime' version, not the full install, which only seems to be 2.0.3 (which is many months old).  My understanding is that the Core install is  only available for Sandbox (ie. Geeks, not average Revit/Dynamo users), which runs outside the Revit environment - so we can't install that in Revit?

Refer to Dynamo Core 2.2 Release
or A new way to get Dynamo Sandbox, which explains what it is:
         What is Dynamo Sandbox?     "Dynamo Sandbox is for package developers and other folks working with Dynamo code who want to stay up to date with the latest and greatest stuff coming out. Sandbox is Dynamo’s “Core” functionality distributed in a way that doesn’t interfere with other Dynamo installations and doesn’t require any other applications (except for a few windows components and some optional extras)."

So, how do we keep all our versions of Revit running with the same version of Dynamo?  Can someone at Autodesk help to explain this, please?

Could the Dynamo folks please have an explanation on the downloads site?  And maybe separate the Sandbox stuff?

Other New Features in Revit 2020.1 include: