BILT Speaker

BILT Speaker
RevitCat - Revit Consultant

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Display Priorities of Solid Fill in Revit Materials

Back in Revit 2012 Autodesk changed the way materials work - so that they had separate graphics and appearance properties.  This was the start of much confusion for many users - and still to this day it catches people out.  You know the drill:  duplicate a material;  change its appearance properties and suddenly a hundred other materials change too . . . .

Well, I am not going to address that issue directly.  Instead I want to look at a more subtle confusion that some users encounter:  Exactly how do the different material properties display in each 'Visual Style' - it will not always be what you might expect or consider to be logical

Material Properties

In order to analyse this issue we start with two very simple material definition examples, applied to two elements in a Revit project:

Material 1 - Demo Generic

  • Light grey shading 
  • Light Blue appearance (different colour to shading)
  • no surface patterns


Material 2 - Demo Green

  • Light green shading and appearance;  
  • no surface patterns


Visual Styles

These materials display as expected in the various 'Visual Styles' in Revit - because we know that the graphic 'Shading' colour property matches the 'Appearance' colour property in material #2 but not in #1 

Material #1 on left,              Material #2 on right

Hidden Line Visual Style

Shaded Visual Style

Consistent Colours Visual Style

The colour displayed for material #1 (left) in Realistic and Ray Trace visual styles is different to shaded and consistent colours because the material properties do not match - this is to be expected.

Realistic Visual Style

Ray trace Visual Style

Material #1 on left,              Material #2 on right


Lighting

These views are lit with default sun and lighting settings (ie. light source over the right shoulder of the viewer)


 

Use Render Appearance

One thing that users often forget to address is consistency between the 'Graphics' and 'Appearance' colours.  If the colours are dramatically different, then materials look completely wrong, particularly in 'Shaded' views.

There is a quick and easy way to deal with this - it is the 'Use Render Appearance' checkbox to make sure the shaded colour matches the appearance colour.

 

This property can be used as a one-off operation - ie, tick the box to change the colour, then untick it.

Or you can just leave it ticked if you want the shading to update when the appearance property might change in the future.

  • NB.  Make sure that the appearance colour is correct first - as there is no 'Undo' so you might lose a shading colour definition.
  • Do not use this method if the shading colour is correct but appearance wrong


Surface Patterns in Materials

When you add surface patterns to materials is where things get more complicated . . .

We will make two more materials, based on the light green shaded material - these will use the same light green 'Appearance' (unchanged).

Material 3 - Demo Green Line Hatching

  • Light green shading 
  • Light green appearance;  
  • Line Cross-Hatching foreground surface pattern

Material 4 - Demo Green Solid Hatching

  • Light green shading 
  • Light green appearance;  
  • Line Solid Fill foreground surface pattern

Visual Styles

Hidden Line

  • Cross-hatch pattern is displayed as you might expect
  • Solid fill displays with solid colour - but without any lighting effects
Material #3 on left,              Material #4 on right

Hidden Line Visual Style

Shaded

  • Cross-hatch pattern is displayed on top of the shading colour
  • Solid fill displays replaces the shading colour - it is completely obscuredthis can be confusing if the user has not studied the material properties carefully
Shaded Visual Style

Consistent Colours Visual Style

Realistic (and Ray Trace)

  • Cross-hatch pattern are not displayed at all - unless a hatching pattern is defined within the material appearance (not a simple thing to achieve)
  • Appearance Colour replaces the Solid fill colour this is the reverse of what happens in a Shaded visual style - so it can be confusing
Realistic Visual Style


Background Hatching

Just for the record, here is what happens with background hatching - it follows the same rules as Foreground hatching.  [NB. This capability was added in Revit v2019]

Material 5 - Demo Green Line Background Hatching

  • Light green shading 
  • Light green appearance;  
  • No foreground hatching surface pattern
  • Line Cross-Hatching background surface pattern

Material 6 - Demo Green Line Foreground & Solid Background Hatching

  • Light green shading 
  • Light green appearance;  
  • Line Cross-Hatching foreground hatching surface pattern
  • Solid Fill background surface pattern

Visual Styles Materials 5 & 6

Material #5 on left,              Material #6 on right

Hidden Line

Shaded

Consistent Colours

Realistic


Conclusion

Solid Fill surface patterns are the one part of this Visual Style issue that cause display inconsistencies.

You may have good reasons for using Solid Fill surface patterns as part of a material definition - in which case go for it.  Otherwise, they are to be used with caution in normal Revit use.

Another approach to avoid the inconsistencies would be to make sure the appearance, shading and solid fill colours all match up.


Don't forget to check how many materials are sharing the Appearance asset before you change it - it is the number above the hand on the Appearance tab.


Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Filtering Filters in Revit

The term "Filter" is much used in Revit - and it means different things in different situations.  Filters also follow varied and confusing rules depending on what you are doing.  Below are some of the rules and exceptions:

Coffee Filters

The 'Filter' icon in Revit probably makes good sense to most Americans, but others around the world might be a bit puzzled - it is a historical image, much like the Floppy Disk for 'Save'.

In the USA, coffee filters are still quite common:

Many American restaurants have a coffee filter machine, with a pot of brown liquid sitting on a hot-plate for hours after it has been dripped through a paper filter.

 

In Europe you might find various different machines for making coffee - plungers (French Press) used to be quite popular:


In Greece or Turkey, traditional coffee was made in copper pots.  now of course, there are updated electric versions available.


In Australia coffee-plungers are now a rarity, while filters can only be found in antique and junk shops.  Nothing less than a full-on espresso machine will do in even the smallest cafe.  A restaurant with a coffee filter would be laughed out of town:


There ends the 'Filter' icon history lesson.  I have to say that I do like the coffee filter as an icon because it is neat and distinctive - but it might puzzle the younger generation.  I can't see an espresso machine making a good icon.

Jeff has pointed out that the filter icon is probably derived from laboratory funnel filters - probably true, and much more logical than my coffee filter theory!


Selection Filters

When you select a number of elements in Revit, two Selection Filters icons are activated:

Status Bar Filter Icon

The Status Bar icon (lower right of screen) shows the number of selected elements; and the coffee filter icon, which gives you access to the Selection Filter dialog box.

 

Ribbon Selection Filter Commands

Ribbon Selection Filter commands allow you to:

  • Save, Load or Edit element selections
  • access to the Selection Filter dialog box

 


This is an invaluable (but underused) tool for filtering down your selection

It is really important to check the selection filter to make sure that you have not accidentally selected partially hidden items (eg. floors, section lines) before you delete, modify or copy them.


View Filters

View filters are created and saved in each project, and can be applied to:

  • individual views
  • multiple views or
  • view templates

View filter rules allow AND and/or OR

  • OR filter capability was added to Revit in v2019, which made our lives so much easier
  • OR filter rules are pure gold (as the French would say)

View filters can be used to:

  • Hide/show elements (Visibility) or 
  • To override their appearance

 Filter Overrides are not part of the View Filter:

  • Overrides are part of the view definition - meaning they are tricky to maintain or duplicate
  • Overrides can be part of a View Template


  • One of the annoying restrictions in View Filters is that Shared Parameters created in loadable Families are not available for use in View filters - unless you also add them as Project Parameters - refer to this blog post

More on View Filters in another blog post . . . .


Schedule Filters

Schedule Filters are quite different to View Filters in many ways:

  • Schedule Filters are an integral part of each schedule - they cannot be separately applied to other similar schedules - this is entirely different and inconsistent to View filters
    • However, Schedule Filters can now be included in View Templates that are then applied to multiple schedules (since v2017).
    • Be warned that if you create a complex filter as part of a schedule, then apply a view template, your filter could be overridden by whatever is in the template - never to be retrieved.
  • There is a huge list of system parameters that are not available for use in Schedule Filters - way too many to list here.  Autodesk are slowly adding new ones with each release, but it is a very slow feed, rather like an old-fashioned coffee filter that is clogged up with coffee grounds.
  • Shared Parameters created in loadable Families are available for use in Schedule filters - this is a good thing (but not consistent with View Filters).
  • Schedule Filters do not allow an 'OR' rule - this is a really bad thing (and not consistent with View Filters);  they only allow 'AND' rules.
  • Schedule Filters have a fixed number of 'AND' rules - currently 7 (this was increased to 7 a few years back).

 


More on Schedule Filters in another blog post . . . .


Browser Filters

Project Browser has its own filtering system:

  • It is limited to 3 'AND' rules, which includes some System Parameters and Shared Parameters

  • A few years back Autodesk added "Family" and "Type" as separate parameters for filtering, which is much better
  • Unfortunately the default filter "all" is by the combined "Family and Type" parameter, which cannot be edited - I would prefer the "all" filter to be by "Family" and "Type" as two separate rules.


Parameter Search Filters

A few years back (v2017) Autodesk added a new filtering function to a couple of dialog boxes.  They referred to them as "Search" capabilities but really they are just filters - which adds to the confusion.

Global Parameters Dialog Box

There is a 'Search parameters' box at the top of the dialog.

If you type in a word or part of a word, it does not search for parameters containing that (part)word.  What it does is to filter the parameters in the dialog so that it only displays those containing the (part)word in any of the columns (parameter, value or formula);

  • Any parameters not matching the filter are hidden


I seldom use this capability - partly because the way it was implemented is quite confusing.  No doubt there are people out there who love it!

It can catch the unsuspecting user out - if you don't realise that the focus is in that Search box, and you type something in (say a value that you are trying to input in a parameter), then all your parameters may disappear.  This could be very disconcerting.

I think it would have been easier to understand if the Parameter grouping titles did not get hidden.


Family Types Dialog Box

The same capability is also available in the Family Types dialog in the Family editor (since v2017).

The same gotcha/confusion is also available in the Family Types dialog in the Family editor.

 

 

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Family Types Dialog Column Widths in Revit

Does anyone find trying to control the column width in the Family Types dialog box annoying?

The "Lock" column in particular, has been driving me mad for the last 16 years!

About 7 or 8 years ago (?), Autodesk made a partial improvement to that dialog box: 

  • Revit remembers the size of the dialog box when you open or close the dialog - previous to that it always reset to a small default size & layout.  
  • However, it still behaves in an unpredictable way, which is intensely irritating.

I just discovered a trick that helps to get around the problem - so I spent a while analysing exactly what is going on:

Family Types Dialog Box Size Behaviour

  • When you close the Family Types dialog, and subsequently reopen it, Revit remembers the overall size and location of the dialog box.
 
  • This also happens between sessions:  When you close Revit, the next time you start Revit, it remembers the size and location of the dialog box.


Family Types Dialog Column Widths Behaviour

If you adjust the column widths in the dialog box:

  • When you close the Family Types dialog, and subsequently reopen it, Revit remembers the widths of the columns in the dialog box (even if you are editing a different family).
  • Not so between sessions:  When you close Revit, the next time you start Revit, it RESETS the widths of the columns in the dialog box to defaults below (albeit within saved overall width).

Default Column Widths:

    • Parameter = 26%
    • Value = 22%
    • Formula = 40%
    • Lock = 12%

Adjusting Column Widths

If you adjust the column widths, it follows strange and annoying rules:

  • Adjust between Parameter/Value:  It changes Parameter and Lock Column widths
    • This is not helpful as the lock column is wasted space!

  • Adjust between Value/Formula:  It changes Value and Lock Column widths
    • Even less helpful as the Lock column gets enormous

  • Adjust between Value/Formula:  It changes Value and Lock Column widths

When adjusting Value/Formula columns, be careful:

  • If the right-hand "Lock" column vertical line disappears, it means the Lock column no longer fits in the overall width - this will cause much irritation (see below)
  • This makes a horizontal scroll bar appear at the base of the dialog box - yuk!
  • If you subsequently put the cursor in anywhere in the "Value" column, as soon as you type a value and press enter, your dialog box may do a "crazy leprechaun dance"*
    • The focus moves into the Formula Column
    • In its infinite wisdom (/stupidity), Revit wants to display the column to the right in full - so it moves to show the whole of the Lock Column
    • You will probably no longer be able to see the Parameter name and/or Value

[*NB. this is what the first iteration of the ribbon menus in Revit 2010 was referred to as doing]

NB. This does not always happen - I think it depends on the overall dialog box width and the Lock Column width


Clever Trick

I only discovered this a couple of days ago:

  • Adjust the Formula/Lock column widths as close as you can to desired

  • Select the right-hand vertical line of the Lock column, drag it to the left until the cursor aligns with check-box
    • Nothing appears to happen
    • However, in its mind, Revit is actually making the column width smaller (it just doesn't show the change)

  • Adjust the Formula/Lock column widths again - to the right
    • it lets you get the Lock column width much smaller (without losing the right-hand line)
  • You can make the Lock column tiny - check-boxes will shrink

Once you have made the Lock column very small - it remains proportionally small when you increase the dialog box size - which is really useful.

Workaround to Avoid the Problem

If you always follow these rules, you are less likely to have a problem:

1.  Adjust your dialog box size to exactly what you will need for the entire Revit session - so if you are working with formulas a lot, then allow for a large width

2.  Adjust the column widths in this order:

  • Parameter/Value  <

  • Value/Formula  <
  • Formula/Lock (keep the right-hand line visible) - move to the right  >
  • Right-hand side of Lock column - move it to the left  <
  • Formula/Lock again - move to the right  >


3.  Make sure you never have the horizontal scroll bar visible 

  • If you ever adjust the Parameter or Value column widths, check the right-hand side of the lock column title - make sure it is visible (and no scroll bar).


Conclusion

If anyone tells me that they have known about this for years, I'd like to know why they never informed me before!


If you would like Autodesk to fix this problem, please go to Revit Ideas and vote for the wishlist item that Dave Plumb recently posted.