BILT Speaker

BILT Speaker
RevitCat - Revit Consultant

Monday, 3 February 2020

Room Bounding Structural Column Materials in Revit

I recently discovered yet another obscure, hidden away setting in Revit - when I was investigating the "Room Bounding" property of different elements.

It seems that some structural columns have a "Room Bounding" property - but not all.
This has to be one of the weirdest, arbitrary decisions made by the Revit programmers:

Material for Model Behaviour

Structural columns have a weird property - so obscure and arcane, not to mention hidden away.
'Material for Model Behavior'

This property that can only be set in the Family Editor – in ‘Family Category and Parameters’: ‘Material for Model Behaviour’.

It can be one of 5 settings, each of which enables different properties and behaviour in the model:
  • Steel
  • Concrete
  • Precast Concrete
  • Wood
  • Other
Depending on which one you choose, it will enable properties in the family.
  • Steel has Connection properties
  • Concrete & Other have Rebar properties

These settings are hidden away behind the 'Family Category and Parameters' settings - in the project there is no way to tell which setting the family has, apart from the specific properties displayed.

You would have thought that this only affects structural engineers?

But wait.  It affects architects too . . . . .
  • Concrete has ‘Room Bounding’ properties (it is the only one that does)

Why, oh why are wood and precast concrete not room-bounding?  There are a huge number of timber structures around the world that provide perfectly good enclosures.
Wouldn't it just have been easier to make all columns potentially enclose rooms, instead of hard-coding someone's bizarre ideas about how a building might work?


When working in a project, and you discover that a 'Room' is not enclosed when you expect it to be, this is one of many things to check.
There are some other quirky Room-Bounding behaviours in Revit, to be detailed later  . . .

Monday, 13 January 2020

Levels By Scope Box Hidden in Section Elevation

Lost your Levels in Revit?

Here is some weird Revit behaviour that you may need to know about Scope Boxes and Level/Grid visibility - to help you find invisible Levels:

Example: Multistorey Building with podium and  two towers 

A common situation in Revit occurs when you have two sets of levels, that do not align - perhaps you have a building with two towers that have different floor to floor heights.

NB. In this example:
  • All levels are displayed with 3D extents (so it ignores the effects of 2D view cropping of levels). 
  • Same behaviour applies to grids as levels, but only levels are shown here.

Level Visibility

  • From one direction the levels look good in elevation or section
South Elevation - Levels
  •  Looking from the side, the levels might overlap each other (depending on the view extents) - a mess where you can see both sets of tower levels mixed together.
Side Elevation - all levels visible

  • To make the side elevations and cross-sections look better, you need to adjust the view extents -

  • Typically you should set 'Far Clipping' to 'Clip without line' and set the offset so that it extends into the levels that you want to see, but not the distant ones
South Elevation - Far Clipping through levels
Section - Far Clipping through levels

  •  If the clipping is too short you won't see the levels
South Elevation - Far Clipping too short
Section - Far Clipping too short
  • If the far clipping is too long, and extends through both sets of levels, they will both be displayed (usually - see Weird Stuff below)
  • If Far Clipping is set to 'No Clip', you will see all the levels
No Clip
Far Clipping Options
South Elevation - No Far Clipping
Section - No Far Clipping

  • Interestingly, when you set a section or elevation to 'No Far Clip', you can actually see levels behind the view.  In the example below, the section line is between the towers.
South Elevation - Section between towers; No Far Clipping
Section between towers - No Far Clipping

Where Are My Levels?

If some (or all) of your Revit building levels are not showing up in a section or elevation view, you can use the above 'No Clip' behaviour to your advantage:
  • Check all the usual visibility settings, such as Category On; no filters; Not hidden in view etc.

  • Set the view extents to 'No Clip'
  • Set the view to 'No Cropping', so that you can see the 3D extents of all levels

If the levels are still not visible, it may be due this next quirk of Revit behaviour:

Weird Scope Box Properties

  • If any of the levels (or grids) have a scope box applied to them, not only will the scope box crop their extents, it will also prevent levels from showing in a section or elevation unless the cutting plane of the section/elevation actually intersects the level.
  • This means that 'No Far Clipping' has no effect on visibility

To resolve this:
  • you have to set the Scope Box properties back to 'None'

  • The level extents will not change, but they will no longer be controlled or locked by a scope box.
  • You have to make a decision about which is the worst of two evils!

You may also want to check the 3D extents of levels in a 3D view by turning the Level category on in Visibility Graphics.  Refer to 3D Levels

Another Scope Box Quirk

 Scope Box visibility behaves differently to Levels and Grids:
  • A scope box will always be visible in a section or elevation view only when the view cutting plane actually intersects the scope box.
  • You cannot make distant scope boxes visible by changing the section/elevation Far Clipping property to 'No Clip' - unlike Levels, it makes no difference.

More info about Scope Boxes: 

Monday, 6 January 2020

Preventing Levels and Internal Origins appearing in new 3D Views

How many times have you seen a Revit 3D view obliterated by Scope Boxes?
Well, now we have Levels visible in 3D (2019) and Internal Origins in 3D (2020.2), which can also be visible by default.

There is a simple solution to prevent this happening:

Default 3D View

Typically, when you create a new 3D view, it has almost all categories visible, including Scope Boxes, Levels, Room Separation lines, Base Points and now Internal Origins. These can be very annoying in 3D views - particularly the Origins in perspectives.

Here is a procedure to prevent this:

  • Go to a default 3D view 
  • In Visibility Graphics, turn off the visibility for Room Separation lines in model categories

  •  Turn off all three Origin sub-categories (Internal Origins visible in 3D from v2020.2)

  • Turn off the Scope Boxes and Levels category (Levels are visible in 3D from v2019); 
  • [Optional] turn off other datum and view control categories like grids, reference lines, sections, elevations (in case they become visible in 3D views in the future)
  • Create a new View Template from the 3D view – called ‘3D Default – do not delete’- [NB. “do not delete” part of the name is to prevent accidental changes later]
  • Untick all the ‘Include’ boxes except for V/G Overrides Model & Annotation

  • Click OK to close and save the View Template
  • Go to the Type properties of the 3D view

  • Set the ‘View Template applied to new views’ property as your new 3D Default view template 
  • Untick the ‘New views are dependent on template’ property – this means it just turns off those categories, without permanently applying a view template;

  • You will subsequently be able to change other category visibilities;
  • All new 3D views and perspective views will have those categories turned off by default (scope boxes, Levels, Origins,  Room Separation lines etc).
This should obviously be set up in your project template as well as all current projects.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Revit 2020 Install Postscript

I recently tried to install the latest SP2 update to Revit 2020, and had some difficulties:

The dialogue box above did not give sufficient information about which file it could not modify - but it is apparently part of the unpacked install files.
The problem was nothing to do with Administrator privileges.

The advice I received from Autodesk was to do a full uninstall of Revit 2020, and then reinstall.  It turns out that may not have been necessary - but it did eventually work . . . .

Hard Disk Space

My computer has a solid state drive (SSD), which used to be very expensive, hence it is only 200Gb.  That means that disk space is valuable - not an uncommon situation.  This is apparently of no significance to Microsoft or Autodesk - every version of their software consumes more and more disk space.  200Gb gets eaten up very fast by their software, but also by their upgrade/install process.

Space Junk

Each time that Windows has an upgrade, it often demands at least 10 or 20Gb.  Autodesk is not much better.  What this means is that I frequently need to remove junk files that have been installed or are part of the installer software.

  • The Revit 2020 download is 12.2Gb
  • When unpacked it expands to 15.7Gb
The unpacked software has many files for various different languages.  Having chosen English as my install language, I assumed that the installer would have no use for any of the other languages.  Wrong!
I like to keep a copy of the unpacked installer file on the disk, in case I need to fix or reinstall.  In order to minimise the "Space Junk" I often remove all the other language folders from the installer (but I keep a full copy elsewhere, just in case).

During the reinstall process that I had to go through recently, I discovered that Revit actually does need some of those different language files - it will not proceed until you put them back into the install folders.

  • It needs some dll files from every single language folder
German dll files missing (and all the 13 other languages)

  • It needs every single rfa Steel Connection family template  from every single language folder
Czech Steel Connection Family Templates missing

  •  It needs all of the Sample files, even if you choose not to install any content.

371Mb of sample files

  • There are 761Mb of Steel Connection family template files in your installer.  If you delete any of them, any future re-install will fail.
761 Mb of Advanced Steel Connection Family Templates

Installed Files

  • There's 1.37Gb of steel connection files installed, whether you want it or not.
1.37Gb of Advanced Steel Connection Files

During the install process you can stop Revit from including MEP Fabrication - but you have to actively search for the settings and disable them (Default is to install).  It seems that you cannot stop it from installing Advanced Steel - and if you try (like I did), your install will fail.

What this means is that you have all those unwanted 14 language files and MEP/Advanced Steel files in your installer (several Gb);  And then you get exactly the same files installed in C:\ProgramData\...   its  "Double Space Junk"

If you ask me, this is very sloppy programming from the people handling the install software.  I believe that this is outside the control of the Revit team - but it sure as hell makes life difficult for the end-users.  If one person at Autodesk had written some more careful code that checks your chosen install language, and only uses that language to install the relevant files - just think how much disk space would be made available around the world.

All the hard work by the Revit programmers trying to speed up Revit is being undermined by the Installer team who are slowing down your computers.

As it is, we all need to spend time removing unwanted files.  Or we have to buy more hard disk space - not so easy if you have to retrofit a laptop with SSD.

If you need 700Mb space in a hurry, and you don't use 'Revit Steel Connections', look right here:
C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\Revit Steel Connections 2020
Remove all the languages except your own (which will be about half of the whole lot)

(NB. Be careful! and make sure you have a backup somewhere before you start removing Space Junk - its at your own risk).

Edit:  If you don't want all these different language files to be installed, please vote for Dave Plumb's Revit Wish over on the Autodesk Revit Ideas website:
Stop Installing Other Languages

Monday, 9 December 2019

Internal Origin Visible in All Views in Revit 2020.2

For anyone thinking of upgrading to Revit 2020.2, here is some advice to avoid a bit of pain in the upgrade process:

Autodesk have introduced a new feature in the point release Revit 2020 SP2 that should really require a database change (but does not do so):

Expose internal point of origin

This is a marker that indicates the true origin of the project (internal coordinates 0,0,0), which may be different to the 'Project Base Point' if that has been moved.

It is indicated by a 2 or 3 axis  X,Y,Z symbol in red, green and blue

  • The symbol cannot be selected;
  • It will cause you problems during 'Zoom to Fit' if it is outside your building;
  • It also shows up outside your view crop boundary - more Zoom issues and irritation;
  • It can be hidden/shown in Visibility Graphics, as a subcategory of Site.

This is a useful feature, as we sometimes need to find out where that point is - however, it will initially add confusion to anyone who does not already understand the coordinate system in Revit (as there will now be a third origin point to deal with).  

The real problem with it is 'Visibility' and in the upgrade process that you make to get to 2020.2:

Upgrade Process

  • If you upgrade from Revit 2018 (or 2019) directly to 2020.2, the internal origin will be OFF by default in all views (which is good).

  • If you upgrade the project to 2020 or 2020.1 then subsequently open it in v2020.2, the internal origin will be ON in all views - this is a total pain. Even though it won't plot, it is annoying. 
  • Even worse - it will be visible in all newly created views, including 3D Iso and perspectives.
The reasons for this:
  • The upgrade process from 2018/2019 to 2020 (or 2020.1) does not know about the new feature so it does nothing to prepare for it.  
  • There is no upgrade process from 2020.1 to 2020.2, so the software cannot do anything to the files and view settings. 
  • The upgrade process from 2018/2019 to 2020.2 does have a component built in that hides the new subcategory in all views.
Autodesk really should have put this new feature in a major annual release, and not in a point release, as it will create a lot of extra work for users.


So, my advice is to go straight from v2018 or v2019 to 2020.2 - then you won't have an issue.
i.e. make sure you have SP2 installed on all 2020 computers before upgrading any projects to any version of 2020.

Interestingly, I created a new project in 2020.2 from the Autodesk supplied 2020 (Aus) project template and the internal project base points are OFF in all views.  I was not expecting that to happen as the template was pre-2020.2.  There must be something in the software that deals with this issue when creating new projects?

Too Late

If it is too late, and you already have some projects in 2020 or 2020.1, then you need to turn off the subcategory in all those views . . . . .
  • It is not so bad in View Templates, but its annoying
  • Individual views is a total pain - see below for automation
  • Create view templates that will hide the subcategory in all NEW views (especially 3D);  edit the Type properties of any 3D view and set the view template to be applied as a one off to all new 3D views.


One option is to track down some code to hide the new subcategory in all views - either Dynamo or an API.

There is also an issue with the paper clip being removed from the Project Base Point symbol. 
For more information on this, refer to Revit OpEd Blog

Steve Stafford of Op Ed has also tracked down various Dynamo options for turning off the internal origin:

NB. I have not tested any of these Dynamo scripts, but others have (with comments):
OpEd Dynamo Graph
OpEd Dynamo Redux
Follow Up with a later Dynamo script

Autodesk really ought to fix this properly, but it seems that it is not possible for them to put anything into a point release, as that does not actually upgrade the project files.  And if it did, what would happen when you opened an upgraded file in 2020 or 2020.1?

[Edit.  John Pierson of Parallax Team has very generously given us a free tool for hiding all those pesky internal origin symbols in a project in 2020.2.  Its on the Autodesk App Store:
Internal Origin Hide-ifier

Thanks John for picking up after  Adsk's dog! ]

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Weird Reference Callout Rules in Revit

Over many years of struggling with Revit's numerous quirks, I have never quite figured out what the hidden rules are for Callouts.  Here are my latest thoughts after some detailed research:

Reference Callouts

When you tick the box 'Reference Other View' you get a list of possible views to reference.  That list of views is not predictable (so I thought) - however, I've narrowed down some extra rules about which views might be available:
  • A plan, section, elevation or detail view will only show in the list if it is cropped  (This caught me out at first).
  • A drafting view cannot be cropped - so the above rule does not apply.
  • A so-called "Rendering" view, which is actually like a drafting view with an image on it- so it cannot be cropped
  • Certain view family/types are available depending on the active view being placed in - see the list below.
  • If you apply the first two rules to the list of view types below, you might just be able to predict what can be referenced when.

Rules for 'Reference Other View' Callouts:

In a floor plan view, you can reference callout to:
  • Any drafting view
  • A detail Plan view (but not a section detail view)
  • A floor plan view (including Area plan and RCP)
  • A Rendering view

In a detail plan view, you can reference callout to:
  • Any drafting view
  • Any detail view (Plan or section)
  • Any section or elevation view
  • Not to any floor plan - (this is a big limitation)
  • A Rendering view

In a section view or section detail view, you can reference callout to:
  • Any drafting view
  • Any detail view (Plan or section)
  • Any other section or elevation view (But not to a floor plan)
  • A Rendering view
In a drafting view (or a rendering view), you can reference callout to:
  • Any drafting view
  • Any detail view
  • Any floor plan view (including Area plan and RCP)
  • Any other section or elevation view
  • A Rendering view

However, the choice of view type is not always that simple . . . .

In a previous post (about stair path arrows) I described the relative benefits of making your plan callouts 'Plan Views' vs 'Detail Views'.

You may also want to display your stairs differently in plan (compared to the standard 2D representation in plan views):

Friday, 22 November 2019

Travel Path Update in Revit 2020.2

Hooray - with the release of 2020.2, we finally have something useable in the Revit 2020 Path of Travel feature!

The initial release in Revit 2020 Path of Travel and Follow Up and the improvements in 2020.1 actually gave us a feature that was unusable in almost every situation.

It still has a number of limitations but at last we can make use of it to some degree.  What makes the big difference is the ability to add "Waypoints" anywhere along the path of travel.

You may remember (from my earlier descriptions) that when you place a 'Path of Treavel' by clicking the start and end points, Revit calculates the path for you - and you had little control over that, apart from choosing which elements form obstructions (or not).  Hence, in the standard Autodesk sample file, the path calculation was not able to determine that a sofa at a lower level should still be an obstruction:
Path or travel in v2020

In 2020.2, the calculation seems to have been slightly rationalised to give a more sensible path through the corridor to the north, but it still goes over the sofa in the split-level living area.
Path of Travel in 2020.2

Add Waypoints

We now have the ability to add (or remove) 'Waypoints' - this allows us to nudge the path to a more sensible course around the sofa.

If you need to make your path of travel orthogonal (as required in some jurisdictions), it can be done by adding enough waypoints - rather laborious but at least it works.

This is a very welcome addition to this feature.  However, it is still taking longer than the Daleks to learn how to manage stairs and changes of level in the building.
There is still no way to control the minimum width of a gap between obstacles (about 430mm or 17")