Wednesday, 20 July 2016

More on Parameter Grouping in Revit

Following my earlier post on the sort order of parameter grouping, here is another tip:

Weird sort order of parameter group headings

If you have a lot of calculations going on in a family or in Global Parameters, there is an easy way to make your own titles to the parameter grouping:
Just create a text parameter, that has a name beginning with an underscore - that puts it at the top of  the group;  I have made these ones all Caps to make it really stand out.
You could even add a formula that is just text giving it a description, but I prefer to use a tooltip.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Power to the People - Global Parameters at RTC NA 2016

Here is a sneak preview of my upcoming presentation on  Global Parameters - "Power to the People" (Session 1.4 at 3.15pm) at RTC NA in Scottsdale, Arizona on 14 July 2016

This will be a presentation on how Global Parameters work, and how to use them for computational design - no Dynamo, API or any third party software involved - just 100% Revit 2017 and some brainpower:

View on Youtube

Understanding Parameter differences in Revit

As part of my upcoming presentation on  Global Parameters - "Power to the People" (Session 1.4 at 3.15pm) at RTC NA in Scottsdale, Arizona on 14 July 2016 I did a lot of research on exactly how each kind of parameter works in Revit.  It is a lot more complicated than I first thought (even though I knew from experience it was not simple).

I thought I would share some of my findings here, as they could be useful for reference generally - regardless of whether you are using Global parameters or not.  I will be referring to some of this research in my presentation, but won't have time to go into detail as the main focus will be the exciting possibilities Global Parameters.

Understanding Different Kinds of Parameters in Revit

System Family built-in Parameters – these are properties that are hard-coded into Revit software, and can be used where available. They can usually be scheduled and sometimes tagged, but not always. They can apply as instance (&/or type) data to:
  • system families: walls, floors, ceilings, stairs, railings etc
  • Project info
  • View and sheet parameters
  • Areas, Rooms and Spaces
Custom family custom parameters – user defined (type or instance)

Custom family built-in parameters – system defined (type or instance)

Project Parameters – exist only in the project; user defined; have to be assigned to categories, and hence to families; and cannot include calculations

Shared Parameters – derived from an external master list; can be scheduled and tagged
  • can be used for Family (custom) or project parameters, but not for Global or system/built-in parameters
Global Parameters – exist within a project; allow calculations outside the family

Reporting Parameters – extract a length or angle from a model, for use in calculations within families or global parameters; have many limitations within custom families

Calculated Value - these are properties (not real parameters) created within a schedule or tag family (from Revit 2017) - they can include formulas or just be static values for use in other formulas or scheduling;  they are not available anywhere else except the schedule or tag that they are created in.

Key Schedule Parameter - a special kind of schedule can be created that works like a lookup table;  a very few built-in parameters can be included in a key schedule, in which case they are available for tagging;  user created key schedule parameters cannot be Shared Parameters, which makes them of very limited usefulness.  If this latter functionality could be fixed, then Key Schedules would become a very important part of Revit, instead of languishing in the backwaters of arcane uselessness.

The Matrix

There are many limitations and inconsistencies in the way that each type of parameter works in Revit. Here is a matrix (or two) to help to understand the differences:

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Postscript to Parameter Grouping in Revit

Following my earlier post on the sort order of parameter grouping, here is another weird sort order issue:

There is a grouping that exists in the family editor (not in Global Parameters) called "Analytical Properties".  I am not sure if it exists for all categories but it is there for Windows.  However, it is not available for us to use - it does not show in the grouping list when creating a new parameter.  It is populated with some built-in (system) parameters that we cannot change, although the alphabetic sort order does work on the parameters within the group, as does the Move Up/Down function.

There is a small hint of alphabeticality about it though:  it does slot in just below 'Analytical Model', even if above 'Analytical Alignment'.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Revit 2017 Global Parameter Grouping Titles

Working with global parameters in v2017 has quite a number of advantages over doing so in Revit 2016 R2.  One of those is the ability to assign global parameters to groupings so that they are segregated in the Global Parameter dialog box under each grouping title - much the same as we can do with parameters in the family editor.
In the family editor this is really important because when you load the family into a project, those groupings are visible in the properties dialog - and the parameters more or less stay where you put them * 
(* there is a bug such that sometimes it does not move them to the desired grouping in a project even if you change them in the family editor and reload).

Global Parameter Grouping

With Global Parameters, you only ever see the grouping when you open the dialog box;  when associating properties to Global Parameters you just see an alphabetic list of the appropriate parameter type (Length, text, number etc).  When you have a lot of Global Parameters in a project it is handy to use the grouping to organise your parameters into related items - you may have numerous groups of different parameters doing completely unrelated tasks, and they all get jumbled up, making it hard to track a particular operation or sequence of formulas.

I have taken to using these groupings for purposes unrelated to the actual titles, in much the same way that people often use 'Other' to hide calculations in the family editor because it is always last on the properties dialog box.  You cannot rename the groupings - they are hard-coded into Revit;  nor can you change the order of them.  And what a strange order they are in!

After a while I got fed up with assigning global parameters to a particular grouping and finding them jump way up or down the list in a totally unpredictable way.  Anyone remember the 'jumping lechrechaun' ribbon when it first came out in v2010?  Well it isn't quite that bad, but is annoying.  So I decided to document the order of the grouping titles, so I would have some chance of anticipating the location when assigned to particular groups - and here it is:

And how logical is that? 
  • It isn't alphabetical
  • It isn't discipline related
  • It isn't logical
But what I do know is that Constraints and Construction remain at the top, as the always have;  'Other' remains firmly at the end, which will be comforting to many people.  I find it disturbing that 'Dimensions' is languishing down in 20th spot; and as for 'Rebar Set', how did that muscle its way into third spot?
Visibility is way down near the end, as befits its alphabetic status - much the same as I was always close to last for anything at school, with a 'W' surname.   But Visibility is actually a useful grouping, that I'd like to make more use of (in the family editor too), but since it is at the end, users are unlikely to ever find it.

Oh well, at least I now have this list to help me predict where the parameters will jump to.  I hope it helps other Revit users out there too.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Revit 2017 Elevation Depth Cueing Pt 2

A few weeks back I reviewed the new Revit 2017 feature of Elevation Depth Cueing.
I have since realised that I may not have been entirely fair in how I portrayed this feature, particularly in regard to line weights . . .

The whole concept of applying different line weights according to distance from the cut plane is not as simple as you might think.  If Revit tried to apply thinner lines in the distance, how would it handle angled walls?  Or curved walls?  Should the line thicknesses taper as the angled/curved wall receded in the distance?  That could be pretty tricky to achieve, and the rules would be very hard to decide, let alone implement.  Or would you like an angled wall to start off one thickness close up to you, then step to a thinner line weight further back, and then step again - certainly not, that would look terrible.

So, on reflection, perhaps Autodesk chose the right option, which was to fade the lines instead of messing with line thicknesses?  It certainly is a simpler solution, which follows obvious rules and it does so more or less as you'd expect - with the exception of not applying to anything modified by the Linework tool, which I would prefer it to do.

Angled Walls

Here is a sample elevation of an angled wall - it handles the gradation very well.  Just imagine how it might look with changing line weights.

The same goes for a curved wall:


This may not be the tool that you expected, because it does not follow traditional drafting conventions of using line weights to convey distance.  However, it does very neatly handle all kinds of situations and view types (hidden line, shaded, realistic, shadows etc).  The controls over how it manages and defines the changes in distance may be very simplistic, but they are simple to understand once you look at the help file diagrams.

If we wanted a more complex solution, it would have been a lot more complicated to use, and I suspect we might still be waiting.

Click here for comments on other Revit 2017 features.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

New in Revit 2017 - In-Place Stair Category

One of the new features in Revit 2017 that I do not like is the ability to create in-place families with the 'Stairs' category.  I pleaded with the Autodesk development team not to include this in the software but too many other people wanted it, so I lost out.

Do Not Use it!

Whatever you do, do not be tempted to use this new feature - it is a really bad idea.
  • In-place stairs do not host railings.
 You don't need any more reasons after that!  But here are some anyway:
  • You cannot use any of the stair features like stair numbers or arrows
  • You cannot mix and match in-place with component stairs
  • You can create unusual shaped stairs using the component sketch tool 
  • It was much faster for me to model the staircase shown above using the component sketch tools than it was to model it in-place by creating forms and cutting with voids. 
  • In-place families are a (necessary) evil in Revit - but they cause so many problems.  They should only be used as a last resort when absolutely nothing else will do the task.
  • If you move or copy an in-place stair, it does not move the elements (including forms) within it - so you have to edit the family to repeat the move process
  • In-place families included within groups just make duplicates of the family - they don't necessarily move when the copies of the group move;  they don't update in the duplicates if you update one
  • The list could go on . . . .
If you want to know more about how to create unusual shaped stairs using the component sketch tool, please attend my presentation 'Making Component Stairs Work For You' at RTC North America on July 16th 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona.