BILT Speaker

BILT Speaker
RevitCat - Revit Consultant

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).


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.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Revit Family Error Automatically Resolved

Some of you may not be aware but Autodesk sneaked in a new "Feature/Enhancement" in about version 2018 (I think?) - I do not remember any discussion or announcement about this in the testing/release process:

Warning:  "Family Error Automatically Resolved"

When you try to place or modify a component using parameter values that break the family (eg. cause impossible geometry), Revit will now try to "Fix" the family.

In reality, what is most likely going to happen is that you (the BIM or Content Manager) will be in a "Fix" or "Fixed Up" . . . . .

So, what is going on here?  

 When Revit tries to "Fix" the family, it seems that :

  • Revit makes the requested change to the values
  • Gives a warning to the user
    • As we know, most users ignore the warning and keep going
    • User clicks on OK or presses Enter

  • Revit omits the elements that it cannot create
    • Nested components are particularly prone to this
  • This results in a component that is missing some (sub)elements
  • The end user may not know what has happened
    • They may not knotice that something is mssing
    • They may not care!
  • If the user makes further changes to the values that still break the family, Revit gives another warning - this one requires no user intervention.

  • If the user changes the values to something that no longer breaks the family, it appears to reinstate the elements that it could not create.  
    • When I first encountered this, I was sure that once it happened, Revit would never reinstate the missing elements - but on re-testing this it appears to work ok.



  • It seems that when Revit "Fixes" a family for you, it does NOT retain a warning in the list
  • I think that is a serious failing with this feature, as the BIM Manager has no easy way to find or track the problem

Old Revit Versions

Prior to this "enhancement", Revit would just give a message saying that it could not create the family:

This meant that the user had to either choose values that did not break the family, or else get the Content Creator to fix the family so it did not happen.



What do you think of this "Enhancement"?

  • As a BIM, Model or Content Manager I don't think I like it much because it means I often don't get told about the error - so it goes uncorrected.
    • It is not easy to find later on
  • As a Revit User, you might think it is great as you can get on with my work and not be interrupted by having to seek help from the Content Creator
    • It may or may not come back to bite you - chances are that it will become someone else's problem.  
    • If it goes unnoticed for a while the ramifications of the problem could become more significant.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Cut with Voids When Loaded - 'Cuts Geometry' Postscript

Following my earlier blog post on Cut with Void When Loaded in Revit, I have discovered another subtle exception to the rule:

It does not work properly with the new Revit 2021 feature "Void Cuts in Family Geometry" that allows you to turn the 'cutting capability' voids on/off in a family.  NB. This is sometimes referred to as turning off Void visibility, which is misleading.

Void in Family Editor

Here is a workflow that demonstrates the confusing behaviour:

  • In the family editor, create a new Generic Model family
  • Tick the 'Cuts with Void When loaded' family property
  • Create a solid with two more intersecting solids
  • Change the two outside solids to voids 
  • The voids will not cut the solid - this is a deliberate technique to carefully control what cuts what
  • Use the 'Cut' command to cut one of the voids from the solid (only one)
  • Select the visible void and link its 'Cut Geometry' property to a parameter - say "Cut Rect"
  • Select the invisible void (that is cutting the solid)
  • link its 'Cut Geometry' property to another parameter - say "Cut Cylinder"
  • In theory, this should allow you to turn off 'cutting capability' of each void independently, once in the project - and hence whether they cut or not.

Test this in the Family Editor

  • With both voids 'cuttable', the cylinder cuts but the rectangular void does not (as expected) - this is because the rectangular void was never told to cut the solid, so it has no effect in the family

  • Turn off the 'cutting capability' of the cylinder - it no longer cuts the solid;  it actually becomes visible, which may seem contradictory - but that is typical Revit behaviour (voids not cutting anything show orange;  voids already cutting a solid disappear)

Switch the cutting properties around so the cylinder can cut but the rectangular cannot - visually it looks the same as having both properties ticked.

 Voids in the Project

From my earlier blog post on Cut with Void When Loaded in Revit, we know that in order for it to work in a project, the cutting void must be set to not actually cut anything in the family - as the rectangular void is set up.
  • Load the family into a project

  • Place the family onto an element that it intersect with
  • Both 'Cut Geometry' checkboxes ticked

  • Untick both checkboxes, so the cylinder void is no longer cutting the family solid (rectangular void does not cut it regardless)
  • Both voids are ghosted when the family is selected, or in pre-selection

  • Use the project 'Cut geometry' command with the host element and family
  • Both voids will cut the host element (neither void is cutting the family solid)

  • Tick the 'Cut Rect' checkbox -
    • The cylinder is not cutting the family solid, so it cuts the host element in the project (this may not be what you want, but it cannot be avoided!)
    • the rectangular void is not cutting the family void, so it cuts the host

  • Tick both boxes - only the rectangular void cuts the host (as it is not cutting the family solid)
    • The cylinder now cuts the family solid but not the host (and is no longer visibly ghosted)


  • If the void cuts a solid in the family, it cannot cut an element in the project using the 'Cuts with Void When loaded' family property
  • If the void cuts a solid in the family,the new (in v2021) 'Cut Geometry' property has the potential to work in a project
  • If the void does not cut a solid in the family, it can cut an element in the project using the 'Cuts with Void When loaded' family property - but only when you use the 'Cut' command in the project
  • If the void does not cut a solid in the family,the new (in v2021) 'Cut Geometry' property has absolutely no effect in the project

This probably makes sense if you think really hard about decisions the programmers had to make about what is possible and how it might work.

However, it is mighty confusing for the end user.

To make matters worse, we now have two entirely different 'Cut Geometry' functions in Revit:

  • 'Cut Geometry' property in the family - a checkbox
  • 'Cut Geometry' command:
    • in the family- where you actively select which elements cut each other
    • in the project - where you actively select which family cuts which element but the results depend on all kinds of things in the family (as described above).

All clear now?  Or still confused?