Friday, 15 April 2016

What's New in Revit 2017

As Steve Stafford has compiled a comprehensive list of new Revit 2017 features over on OpEd, I will not write a list here.  Instead I will comment on a few features - especially since the Autodesk Help files are so sparse on detail.  We all need to know the benefits and shortcomings of each new feature.

I have previously commented on v2016 R2 features (in this link), which are obviously now included in v2017.

New in Revit 2017 (selected features)

Global Parameters

My initial description of Global Parameters as introduced in v2016 R2  is only relevant if you are still using v2016R2.
For more details on Global Parameters in v2017 click here

Improvements in v2017 are more significant than I first thought - they include:
  • Type Parameters can now be linked to Global Parameters (GPs)
  • Assign global parameters to groups within the list in the GP dialog box
  • Reorder GPs in the list
  • Filter a schedule by parameters that have GP associations - this should be invaluable for tracking down all those associations that are making unexpected changes to your model!
  • Show Label in View - hopefully useful, but that 'Cannot find view. . .' message is a worry when looking for other warnings and issues, so I don't know how useful it will actually be?
  • Transfer GPs between projects
All of these are very welcome additions to this exciting new feature.  However, we are still missing the ability to associate GPs directly to many system properties, although this has improved in v2017.

More on this . . . . Global Parameters in v2017 click here

Schedule Templates

Schedule templates now include parameters for Fields, Filters, Sorting/Grouping and formatting - previously it was only the Appearance that could be included in a schedule template.  This sounds wonderful, but in my opinion it is very dangerous in the way it has been implemented:
If you apply a schedule template to an existing schedule, it will entirely replace all your fields, filters, sorting, formatting.  This means that if you had all sorts of complex calculation fields in the original schedule, they will be destroyed and lost forever!  It is all or nothing - you cannot just include some things in the template without the others (eg. filters & formatting only, without fields).  I understand that it would be tricky to separate out what is contained in each template as the fields are interrelated - ie. it has to exist in the field list in order to be formatted or used in a filter.  However, I think we should have had a cleverer implementation that allowed us more flexibility and safer control.
Unless the final rollout of v2017 has changed since I last tested, there is no ability to "overwrite or append" to a schedule where fields already exist - it just replaces without so much as a 'by your leave'.  Mark my words:  There will be tears before bedtime!

So, a word of caution:  plan how you use this very, very carefully - set up some complex scheduling and save it as a template first so you don't lose the calculations!

Combine Schedule Fields

Steve Stafford described this very well in his blog over on OpEd, so I won't replicate the description.  While this is a great step in the right direction, it will only allow you to combine or 'concatenate' parameters in the actual schedule output.  This means that combined parameters are not visible in the element properties dialog, nor can you tag them, nor will they be exported (unless you export just the schedule).  So if you need to actually populate element properties with combined parameters, you will still need to use Dynamo, API or a third party add-in.

Calculations in Annotation Tags

Another very welcome addition to tagging capabilities, but again this comes with some serious limitations:   The calculations are defined in the tag in family editor - this means that you have to replicate identical calculations in a schedule if you want to see the same results in both schedules and tags.  That is asking for user errors.  In addition, when working in the tag, you will not be able to access any Project Parameters, Schedule Parameters, and some System Parameters only visible in projects (such as offset from Level) - depending on the category, some system parameters are available in tags, some are not.  eg. Base Offset for wall is not available; but Sill Height is available for windows.  This means that we will need to use more Shared Parameters instead of non-shared Project Parameters, although that won't solve the issue of System parameters - of course shared parameters can't be used in all situations anyway.

This is a good first step to fixing a problem with tags, but it needs to go much further by allowing us to embed the calculations back into the actual elements so they only need to be done once then be available everywhere (properties, schedule, tag, export).

Tangency Locks

[Edit] When editing a sketch in the family editor, we can now 'lock' the join between a line and an arc to maintain it as a tangent join.  I am very happy about this new feature - I have long struggled to control arcs in Revit.  Most of the time, in simple situations it works well.
In this example, the end of one line is adjusted so the line changes angle - and the arc is extended to maintain the tangency.

However, it needs to be used with a little caution until we all understand exactly how it works and what it does to overall sketches.  I tested the simple sketch above a little more by adding parameters to the radii, and it had some unexpected consequences.  Previously, if you moved/rotated a line that had a tangent arc at its end, it often just broke the tangency.  Now it can possibly have a knock-on effect all along the sketch:  It can completely move lines on the sketch way along the chain beyond the tancency lock.

 When the end of the right hand line is moved in, the radii change, and the left hand line moves in
When the end of the right hand line is moved out, the radii increase, and the left hand line moves left

Move the end of the line a bit further and the sketch goes crazy:

As the tangencies cannot be broken, something else has to give!  To prevent this sort of behaviour, every line would have to be dimensioned/constrained in location and angle.

This means that we will need to put more thought into controlling the whole sketch - not necessarily a bad thing, but it could cause problems if you add tangency locks to old sketches.  We have often been lazy in the past because we could get away without adding dimensions or constraints to many lines in a sketch - Revit would do the work for us with implied constraints (lines generally stayed parallel even if the moved, and they locked themselves to nearby reference planes).

More on this - click here, as it requires a careful analysis . . . .

Elevation Depth Cueing

I have done some testing of this new feature - read about Depth Cueing here for more detail.  Read about depth cueing on angled/curved walls here.
It seems that in order to display receding distance in Elevation and Section views in Revit, Autodesk have chosen the easy path of making lines lighter the further they are away, rather than allowing control of line weights, which is the old conventional drafting method.  It certainly does achieve an effect of 'distance' even if it has some limitations (like not working with line weights or anything worked over using the Linework tool).  You may not like the method it uses or the simple controls which are easy to use but will probably make consistent output very hard to achieve.  You may also not like printing all your elevations using the raster driver, although I hear that it is less of an issue than it used to be.

Installing Revit 2017

Installing Revit 2017 using a download is a whole new adventure (not a pleasant one)
Read about download/installation here - not much fun at all
Read about installing from DVD media here - a much pleasanter experience

New Revit Icon

I like the new Revit icon - it looks less like folded paper, and more like a carved sculpture that you could not possibly make using the massing tool, however hard you try.  I like to have a different icon each release so that you can easily tell which version is showing up in your windows taskbar - especially if you have multiple versions open.


This post is not meant to sound negative - I am just warning you about issues with new features that sound too good to be true!  They all have value but need to be treated with care.

Is Revit 2017 good value for all that subscription money you payout?  You might not think so, but I could not possibly comment.  For an architect there is not a huge amount to be excited about - many new features are relevant to other disciplines or might be of more benefit to others downstream.

There are no big standout features in v2017 that we must have now, so I will be a little cautious about rushing into the upgrade, particularly as there are a lot of goodies to be had in v2016 R2 already, without the pain of another file format change.  When you add the list of v2017 features to those in v2016 R2, it is a reasonable number of small additions and tweaks - but there are so many, many more to address, let alone some of the underlying structural changes that need to happen in order for us to be able to use Revit efficiently.


  1. The new text box looks much better than what we have been stuck with till now. One thing I found though is when I opened a current project in 2017 to take a look at some of the new stuff I noticed that some of my blocks of text are taking up more room than they do in 2016. We use Arial for most of our text and it seems that 2017 may be displaying it just slightly larger maybe causing it to take up more room. That makes it a bit harder and we have to be more cautious about just upgrading a project as we would have to go threw and be sure to fix and text that is now walking over other stuff.

  2. Autodesk have warned us about checking text when we upgrade to v2017. I understand that it was incredibly difficult to integrate the new text editing tools without causing minor changes to the text sizes. I think it is a small price to pay for what many people have been wanting for years - I am happy to put up with that inconvenience. I am constantly amazed at how many drawings are issued with unreadable dimension text, so this will just add a little more to the checking process that users should be doing (but often do not).
    Have a look at Steve Stafford's OpEd blog for more info on the text upgrade issues:

  3. Service pack 1 is already on its way - there will be a bug fix related to elements in the veiwport being mirrored when text is being edited.

  4. Has anybody noticed how dynamo creates color and graphic issues in the Quick Access toolbar?

  5. Has anybody noticed how dynamo creates color and graphic issues in the Quick Access toolbar?