BILT Speaker

BILT Speaker
RevitCat - Revit Consultant

Saturday, 28 April 2018

New in Revit 2019 - Levels in 3D Views

One of the new features in Revit 2019 is the ability to see Levels in 3D views.

Personally I don't like this enhancement!  Yes, I know that occasionally someone might have valid reasons to see a level in 3D, but I don't think it is worth the pain it will inevitably cause around the world over the next few years!
I can foresee levels being accidentally moved, copied and having their model extents inadvertently changed on a regular basis.

Reasons why I don't like it:

Cropping View Extents vs Model Extents

  • The grip handles for levels in a 3D view are typically model grip handles (a circle), not view grip handles (a dot).  It is not possible to adjust just the 2D view extents when levels are  uncropped in the view - so any changes you make to the levels will affect the model extents and therefore many other views. 
  • When I say 'uncropped levels' in a 3D view, I don't mean uncropped by the 'View Crop Region' because that has no particular relevance to levels in 3D - they just get partially hidden like all other elements at the crop boundary.  This is quite different behaviour to a section or elevation view where they would independently extend beyond the view crop boundary.  This behaviour in 3D is not unexpected or unwelcome as rotating a 3D view could cause havoc if they did extend past view crop regions.

There are ways to crop levels in 3D views, and to adjust view extents, but its a whole lot more complex than doing so in a section/elevation view:

Section Box

  • If you apply a section box to a 3D view then it will also crop levels, in a similar way as it does in a section/elevation view.  But not the same!
  • The levels will automatically be cropped to the section box, plus a default extension past the crop - much the same as a 2D view.  
  • But that means their view extents can be made smaller or bigger, depending on the size of the section box - if the section box is bigger than the original level model extents, they will be bigger in the view (sometimes dramatically bigger).  Yikes, that doesn't happen in section views!
  • There is an exception to this rule, and that is when the levels are controlled by a Scope Box - see next method.

Scope Box

  • When a level has a 'Scope Box' applied to it then all the above rules go out the window, and the Scope Box takes precedence, and it completely ignores a section box.
  • This can be good if you want the levels to be cropped to something small while the section box is large
  • Or it can be bad if you have a very small section box

This can be interesting to manage if you have two sets of levels in one model (eg. for different towers):
  • Starting without any cropping or scope boxes it looks OK in 3D
Two sets of split-levels; no section box, no scope boxes
  • Add a section box and all hell breaks loose:
Add Section box - view extents overlap for all levels

  •  Once you apply Scope Box properties to the levels it gets it back under control
Add Scope Box control to levels

  •  Until you make the section box really small - yuk!
Not so good with a small section box
  • I guess you'd have to then use a crop region on the view and start hiding the levels you don't want to see, to solve that one.

2D vs 3D Grip Handles

When a level is uncropped by either method described above, the grip-handles on a level in 3D only show model extents (circle grip)

  • Once the level is cropped (either by a scope box or a section box), the grip-handles become view specific (blue dot) - this is the only way I can see to get this to happen in 3D views.

  • Unlike a section or elevation view, you cannot toggle the grip handles between 2D and 3D (whether the levels are cropped or not)
  • When the grip-handles are view related, they do give you the option of aligning and locking the ends of multiple levels, so that you can adjust several at once - that is a good thing.

  • You cannot lock a series of aligned levels and drag their model extents all at once in a 3D view - Unlike a section or elevation view,where you can lock them. 
  • Yes, I know that most of the time you would not want people to be able to change the model extents of a level in 3D at all, let alone multiple levels;  however, a 'Model manager' may want to fix up levels in 3D since it is sometimes really tricky in section when they don't show up.  

  • Unlike a section or elevation view, when you drag the grip handles in 3D, the level extents do not snap to line up with other levels.  That is really irritating.
  • It will be a waste of time trying to align model extents of multiple levels in a 3D view by dragging the grip-handles (reasons above), as they will never perfectly align with each other.  OK, so use Scope Boxes instead!
  •  When a level is pinned (and cropped in a 3D view), you can still adjust its view extents without unpinning it - thank goodness.
  • Levels can be accidentally selected in a 3D view and then deleted, moved, copied etc  - previously this could only be done in a section or elevation view, where levels were much more obvious (hence less likely to be accidentally selected).  Now there are many more chances for people to mess up your model!

During beta testing I lobbied really hard to stop this feature being released in its current form (if at all), because of the reasons above.  I lost that battle, but a few good things did come out of the discussion - they gave us a new safety check feature:
  • We now have a new warning dialog box when you delete a level - it warns you that associated views and elements will be deleted.  This is a very welcome side-effect of the 3D Levels.

View Visibility

  • When you upgrade an old project to 2019, Levels will not be visible by default in existing 3D views - you would need to go to Visibility Graphics to specifically turn them on.
  • However, in new projects they will be visible by default in 3D views. Apparently Autodesk were keen for this new 'enhancement' should be more discoverable!
  • It appears that for new 3D views in upgraded projects, they will also be visible by default.   Aaargh.
  • Thankfully that does not apply to perspective views, where
    Incidentally there is a way to set up your projects so that new 3D views will have levels hidden, using a default 3D template - more on that in another blog post.


Over the last few years Autodesk have been slowly but surely giving us more ways to lock down our models and make them more secure.  And now they have opened another can of worms - largely as a response to significant user demand (on the Revit Ideas Wishlist, amongst other places).  

Ah well, that's the danger of listening to popular votes (open wishlists) instead of the experts!

So where does that leave us?  There are several things you can do to minimise the risk:
  1. Don't upgrade to 2019 until Autodesk fixes the issues described above (2019.1?   .2?   2020?) - but you'd miss out on the other goodies such as view control / multiple monitor support etc!
  2. Make sure that all levels are pinned all the time.  ALL THE TIME.   Make sure that your users understand the selection locks so they can prevent selection of pinned elements.
  3. Use Scope Boxes to manage the model extents of your levels. This would be good practise anyway in most cases, as it gives you better control and locks them down somewhat.
  4. Teach your users how to manage these issues and make sure they really understand the difference between view and model extents of levels (and grids, and sections), and between scope boxes vs section boxes.
  5. Set up a default 3D view template that has levels (and scope boxes) hidden, and set it to apply to all new 3D views.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Dynamo and Revit 2016 vs 2019

When I installed Revit 2019 recently, I uncovered a problem that will undoubtedly affect some other people - in fact there is already some buzz about this issue on the forums:

Dynamo Versions

The latest versions of Dynamo do not support Revit 2016. 
Refer to DynamoBIM blog

The theory behind this is that the Autodesk Dynamo team are working to a system whereby only three consecutive annual releases need to be supported by any version (2016, 2017, 2018  or 2017, 2018, 2019).  Typically Autodesk Revit licenses are set up that way, to only allow 3 years - but its only a license issue, not an inbuilt Revit limitation.  However, Autodesk realise that in the real world it is very difficult to manage a Revit installation in a company where you have multiple projects that need to be on different Revit versions to match up with varied consultants on each project.  Supporting 4 versions of Revit simultaneously is quite common in the industry - and Autodesk will supply licenses for this accordingly if you ask them (or your reseller).

There are two new Dynamo versions available:
  • Dynamo 1.3.3   which is virtually the same as 1.3.2, except in the versions it supports
    Dynamo 1.3.2 supports Revit 2016, 2017 & 2018 (but not 2019)
    Dynamo 1.3.3 supports Revit 2017, 2018 & 2019
  • Dynamo 2.0 is a whole new 'Major Release' - it is not backward-compatible with previous versions (dyn and dyf files are saved in a new format)
    Dynamo 2.0 supports Revit 2017, 2018 & 2019
That means there is no one version that supports both 2016 and 2019 - not even a brief overlap in time while you are updating graphs, custom nodes & packages.

Dynamo 2.0 graphs and custom nodes cannot be opened in 1.xx versions.  Some or most Dynamo 1.xx graphs and nodes will work in Dynamo 2.0 but there is no guarantee - see DynamoBIM Blog 2.0 and Beyond for more detail. 

It is possible to have two parallel installations of Dynamo 1.3.2 (or earlier) and 2.0 - both of which would run on Revit 2017 & 2018 (you get a choice of which to run when you start Dynamo) - but only one of those two versions would run on either Revit 2016 or 2019 (unless you have 1.3.3 and 2.0 which could both run on 2019).

I don't think that you can have both 1.3.2 and 1.3.3 running in parallel like this - I have not tried it, but that is the word I see on forums.  I believe that one install messes up the other - and you can't choose which versions of Revit to install Dynamo to.

 If you do want to have two versions of Dynamo installed (one being 2.0), you will need to maintain two versions of all your graphs, custom nodes and packages.  And don't get them mixed up!

If you have any projects still in v2016, you will need to consider very carefully how you handle your Dynamo versions.  I would personally recommend that you hold off Dynamo 2.0 until you are quite certain you won't ever need to do anything in Dynamo in Revit 2016 - once you make that leap to 2.0 there is no going back.

It would be really helpful for us if Autodesk were to give us a version of Dynamo (1.xx) that is just like 1.3.3 but supports Revit 2016 too (ie. 4 consecutive Revit versions).  I believe there is no technical reason why not - its just a decision making process at Autodesk.  That would help us get over this tricky version management situation until things have moved on a bit - then we can all stop using Revit 2016 and the Dynamo 1.xx series, in our own good time, and move on to 2.xx series Dynamo.  Happy ever after.  Until the next major release, that is!

Dynamo & Revit 2019 Install

Last year the Revit 2018 installation automatically installed quite a several month old version of Dynamo - which caused all kinds of issues for people who already had newer versions.   For 2019, Autodesk have gone to the opposite extreme: the latest build of Dynamo was automatically installed:  1.3.3 with Revit 2019.  But of course it automatically removes old versions of Dynamo in the process - without any warning whatsoever.

When I fired up Revit 2016 after installing 2019, I could not find Dynamo.  The Revit 2019/Dynamo 1.3.3 installer had uninstalled it completely from 2016.

Prevention is Better Than Cure - a Dodgy 2016 Workaround

If you still need 2016, you should protect your older Dynamo install for Revit 2016 before you do the Revit 2019 install.  I tried this rather dodgy workaround - from what I read on the DynamoBIM forums:

Make copies of these files (assuming Dynamo 1.2 but just substitute 1.3.2 if that is your version):
  • Dynamo.addin file in the C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\Revit\Addins\2016 folder
  • These two folders:
    C:Program Files\Dynamo\Dynamo Core\1.2
    C:Program Files\Dynamo\Dynamo Revit\1.2\Revit_2016
Then replace those files where they were before the 2019 install stripped them out.  Of course it means that the uninstaller won't work for that version of Dynamo, so you'll have to remember to remove them manually later.

In my case, it was too late - I had already installed Revit 2019, so I found a Dynamo 1.2 installation on another computer and copied those files to the computer where they had gone missing - to my surprise it actually worked.

Warning:  be very careful messing around with deleting/copying files and folders in your Program Files directory - do this at your own risk.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Revit 2019 Installation

Notes on  installing Revit 2019:

I learnt a couple of versions ago that it is vastly better to change your install options for Revit to one of the two 'Download' methods, instead of the default 'Install Now'.   This gives you so much better control.  In fact you can change your Autodesk profile settings to default to Download instead of Install Now.  Despite this, the 'Content' is not included in that, and still gets downloaded during the install - but once you have the content from your first install you can uncheck that option for any future installs.

Once you have downloaded the software, you can run the install from your own network or C drive when it suits you, not as part of the initial download process.

The Install

The Autodesk install Help Files section on 'Changes to Installation' states the following:

If you are responsible for installing or upgrading the Revit or Revit LT software to a new release, learn about recent changes to the installation process.

  • Advanced material library: In addition to the standard material library, an advanced material library installs with Revit. This library provides new appearance assets that use physically-based definitions, optimised for use with the Autodesk rendering engine.
  • Microsoft® Windows® 10 must support .NET Framework 4.7: Older versions of the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system (Version 1507/Build 10240 and Version 1511/Build 10586) do not support .NET Framework 4.7, which is required for Revit 2019 and Revit LT 2019. Before installing the software on a computer that uses one of these versions of Windows 10, upgrade to a newer version of the operating system. 

Advance Materials Library

This is one of the new features of Revit 2019 - you may not use it yet, but it is sensible to install it anyway.  The default setting is to install it, but with no explanation of what or why - see the Autodesk help files for an explanation of 'Physically based appearance Assets'.

Windows 7

I guess that means that Autodesk does not support Windows 7.  Many large companies have not yet switched to Windows 10 (thankfully - I am not a fan at all, for many reasons, not to be discussed here) - but it should not be a problem.  We hope!
 .NET Framework 4.7  was released for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 10 in May 2017, so if you have updated your copy of Windows 7 since that date, you should be OK?

Install Settings

The first thing to do (after confirming the install language, which apparently I could not change), is to configure the install settings - particularly the first section below 'Autodesk Revit 2019'


The word 'Discipline' has many meanings in the English language.  There are two relevant meanings here:
1.  Which sector(s) of the construction industry do you work in?  The default setting is 'All'.  As an architect, I'd like to be more specific, so that I only install stuff relevant to me, so I choose 'Architectural'.  Therefore I am not remotely interested in MEP Fabrication.  A structural engineer might feel the same way, as might a landscape architect or urban designer, or interior designer (oops, they don't even get an option here).  For the third year running, MEP Fabrication has two install options - metric and imperial - both are ticked by default, which means that I have to be on my toes and manually untick the options (unless I happen to be an architect who designs/fabricates duct or pipe installations in both the USA and almost any other country you care to name).

2.  Discipline can also mean adherence to defined standards and procedures; or following through to make sure that your work is neat and tidy, and does not adversely affect others.  When I choose a construction industry discipline, I do not expect to have to manually follow through to prevent getting redundant stuff installed on my computer.   Who knows what else is being installed that I don't want?  Clearly whoever has been managing the installation software at Autodesk for the last three years does not understand the second meaning of discipline.  Perhaps they need to be administered a severe dose of the third meaning of discipline (which I won't elaborate on here!).

Talking of 'Neat and Tidy' I like my local files to go somewhere other than 'My Documents' - so this is a good chance to set that rather than messing about with Revit.ini files.


By default, you should get your own country content.  We used to get a choice but now the installer is obviously burrowing into your computer to figure it out for you.  However, you can change that.  In fact you can choose more than one set of content.  Last time I did that, I found an amazing wealth of component libraries in some other country contents - but you need a lot of time to sort through that stuff, so I would only recommend doing it once during your BIM manager career!

Shared Components

Shared with other Autodesk products like Inventor & 3DS Max, I guess?  The 'Medium Image Library' now has an advanced version for 'Physically based appearance Assets', which is a new feature in Revit 2019.

Pretty Pictures

Autodesk obviously expect us to sit and watch the install process so they have kindly provided a series of pretty pictures of things that bear almost no relevance to the construction industry, with only one exception - you figure it out.  None of them could possibly have been created in Revit, that is for sure.  Yes, I know that this part of the installer is not controlled by the Revit team, but it says something about Autodesk as a company.

Autodesk Desktop App

This pretty picture is a special treat - because it happened to pop up while installing a piece of software that I absolutely do not want, and was not given a choice about!  Autodesk Desktop App.

Autodesk describes it as: "A powerful cloud-centric software delivery solution that helps you discover and manage updates for Autodesk products".  That says it all as far as I'm concerned - "Out damned software".  In the last few years the general consensus has been that it doesn't work well, so I shall leave it to others to test it out, while I remove it.  I find that social media is a more reliable way to find out about Autodesk updates anyway.  As a BIM Manager in a multi-license office you almost certainly don't want this software on all computers, as you'll want to control when updates are pushed out rather than allowing a free for all in the office.

Installation Complete

On completion, all the things I selected were successfully installed, along with one item I did not select (as described above).

Launch Now

 I clicked on the 'Launch Now' button, and it asked me to select a license type (fair enough), then prompted me to log in.  Why?  I don't want to log in when I start up Revit - not unless I'm using BIM360 or whatever it is now called (it will most likely be renamed by the time you read this).   So I cancelled the log in and launched it from the desktop icon.  No log in prompt this time, thank goodness - just the license dialog.  Activation went smoothly, using my license number & key.

Dynamo - Warning

Unlike the Revit 2018 installation, the latest build of Dynamo was automatically installed:  1.3.3
Refer to DynamoBIM blog

Be warned:  this version of Dynamo will not work with Revit 2016.  When I fired up Revit 2016, I could not find Dynamo.  Could the Revit 2019/Dynamo 1.3.3 installer have uninstalled it automatically?  Yes, it could, and it did.

If you still need 2016, you need to protect your older Dynamo install for Revit 2016 before you do the Revit 2019 install.  I tried this rather dodgy workaround - from what I read on the DynamoBIM forums:
Make copies of the relevant files - I think it needs to be these files (assuming Dynamo 1.2):
  • Dynamo.addin file in the C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\Revit\Addins\2016 folder
  • These two folders:
    C:Program Files\Dynamo\Dynamo Core\1.2
    C:Program Files\Dynamo\Dynamo Revit\1.2\Revit_2016
Then replace those files after the 2019 install has stripped them out.  Of course it means that the uninstaller won't work for that version of Dynamo, so you'll have to remember to remove them manually later.

Just to make your life even more complicated, Dynamo 1.3.2 does not support Revit 2019.  That means there is no version that supports both 2016 and 2019 - not even a brief overlap while you are updating packages and code.  So if you are still running Revit 2016, don't even think of installing Revit 2019 until all your projects are upgraded to some intermediate version - or you go straight to 2019 and spend 24 hours fixing all your Dynamo stuff!  That doesn't sound like a recipe for a peaceful life to me.


It looks like we have the same Addins automatically installed as in v2018:
  • Batch Print
  • eTransmit
  • Model Review
  • Worksharing Monitor
  • Dynamo
  • Formit Converter (Optional)


All in all, this was a relatively painless installation process now that I know the tricks and pitfalls (apart from Dynamo pain).  It did not vary greatly compared to the 2018 install, which is nice for once.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Donate to RevitForum Now

How often do you use internet forums to help solve those tricky Revit issues?  Do you rely on other people's generous donation of their time to answer questions?  If the answer to that last question is 'Yes', then maybe you could consider helping to keep those Revit forums up and running . . . .
If I have a Revit question, my go to place on the internet is because it usually has the best quality information, generously donated by a lot of real Revit experts.  It is also focused specifically on Revit, so you don't waste time trawling through peripheral stuff that is actually related to other software.

RevitForum is funded solely by donations, which means that they have an annual fund-raising drive

A week ago I organised a substantial donation on behalf of the Revit User Group of Sydney (RUGS), as we have closed our own forums - it is better to focus all that information (and management) in fewer forums than being dissipated among many.   RUGS is the longest running Revit user group in the world (although New York may dispute that!).  Since we made the donation, the total has crept up from the 68% mark oh so slowly in the last week - I was hoping it would have reached the required total by now.

So all it needs is a few of you to head over to the RevitForum fund-raising drive and donate a small amount each to ensure that they keep going for another year.

Monday, 9 April 2018

To Pin or Unpin? that is the Revit Question

Following on from several recent posts about 'Pinning' elements in Revit, there are a few more subtleties to mention.  There are also some exceptions to the general rule of not being able to edit pinned elements.

Refer to these other posts on Revit Pins:

Modifying Pinned Elements

A pinned element cannot be moved or rotated, but it can be copied
  • If you try to move a selection that has any user-pinned elements, Revit will attempt to move them all (graphically showing the move) then warn you that they cannot be moved – so it puts them back and nothing happens.  This is a time-waster, so it is better to check for pin icons before moving large selections - and use the selection filter to check for hosted subcategories. 
  • NB. It is not sensible to just click on the unpin icon on the ribbon before moving the selection - if you had any curtain walls or handrails, it would also unpin all the chain-pinned (type-driven hosted) curtain grids, panels, mullions and handrail supports - thus destroying the integrity of the model.
A pinned element cannot normally be deleted;
  • If you try to delete a selection that has any pinned elements, Revit will behave quite differently to trying to move them:  If some elements in your selection are pinned, and some not, it will delete the unpinned elements and warn you about not deleting the pinned ones
  • Revit will warn you about what is happening, but it is sensible to stop and think about what it has just done - and your next steps:  The undeleted elements are no longer selected, so it may be tricky to reselect the same ones?

Modifying Unpinned Elements

Once an element has been unpinned, you might think that it could be freely edited - but of course that is not true of 'Chain-Pinned' or type-driven hosted elements such as curtain panels, grids & panels.  there are some tricky rules and exceptions here:

Deleting Chain-Pinned Elements

  • Unpinned type-driven Curtain Wall Mullions can be deleted;
  • Unpinned type-driven Curtain Wall Grids cannot be deleted (but segments can be 'removed', laboriously, one by one);
  • Unpinned type-driven Curtain Panels cannot be deleted - but you can change them to an 'Empty System Panel' (if you haven't purged the last type from your project, that is;  if you have purged it, you can't just create a new type of empty system panel, you have to copy one from elsewhere);
  • Unpinned Railing Handrail supports can be deleted

Moving Chain-Pinned Elements

Chain-Pinned elements can only be moved within the constraints of their relationship to the parent element.  For example:
  • Unpinned type-driven Curtain Wall Grids can be moved in one direction only;
  • Unpinned type-driven Curtain Wall Mullions and Panels cannot be moved except by changing their properties, such as Offset;
  • Unpinned Railing Handrail supports can be moved along the handrail - but there are some extreme weird behaviours when you try to do this.

Editing Chain-Pinned Elements

 The only Chain-Pinned elements that can be edited after unpinning are curtain panels – using the ‘Edit In-Place’ functionality.  In fact this allows you to do some crazy stuff with panels, which is quite surprising given all the other restrictions that prevent you from creating buildable elements!

Editing Pinned Elements

You would think that you cannot edit any pinned elements, but you would be wrong!

Floors (and other sketch based elements)

Pinned floors cannot be directly edited – the Edit icon is greyed out

Pinned floors can be modified (without editing the boundary) – by moving associated walls, depending on how the floor edges were defined:
  • If the floor edge is defined by ‘Pick Wall’, the floor edge will move with the wall, even when the floor is pinned

  • If the floor edge was done using ‘Pick Line’ or just drawing a line on/near the wall, when the wall is moved, the floor edge may still move with the wall, even if the sketch line was not locked to the wall.  The rules are not clear on this.

  • This happens even if the floor sketch lines themselves are pinned when editing the floor. 
  •  If a floor is moved, any pinned sketch boundary lines will just move with the whole floor - rendering the pin command inside a sketch pretty useless.
  • Other pinned sketch-based components such as roofs, ceilings etc behave like floors.
This means that Wall Associations are stronger than pins in Revit.

Moves With Nearby Walls

An element that has been pinned, and has its property 'Moves With Nearby Elements' ticked will completely ignore the pin and move when a nearby wall moves

Wall associations win again!


Pinned Groups can be edited (without unpinning) - this is not the same behaviour as floor sketches.  However, it is not a bad thing in itself, as it means you can pin all groups all the time.
  • Pinned elements inside a group will be moved or deleted when the parent group is moved or deleted, without so much as a 'By your leave'.


Instance & Type properties of pinned elements are generally editable - this means that such things as Base level or offset could be changed, thus rendering the 'Pin' less effective than you thought.

Modifying Pinned Datums

When a datum element (grid, level or reference plane) is pinned, you cannot change its 3D extents - not surprisingly.
  • However, you can change its 2D extents in each view - which is a jolly good thing, because you can pin them, and leave them pinned!

Section Line

When a section line is pinned, you cannot change either its 3D or 2D extents.  In fact it does not display the extents or depth of view in plan when you select it.  This is an immensely frustrating and dangerous inconsistency in Revit.  It really ought to behave just like datums so that you could change its 2D extents, and at least see its depth of view - it is ironic that you can change the depth of view of a pinned section using the properties dialog box.

As soon as you unpin the section, you can adjust 2D, 3D extents and depth of view graphically in plan.  The big danger here is that you might forget to repin the section line, and some other fool may then move or delete your section line (along with all its carefully lined up 2D annotation).

For this reason it is wise to use the pin icon on the section line itself to unpin it - that way it retains the unpinned icon as a reminder to repin it immediately afterwards [If you use the ribbon unpin icon, it does not retain the unpinned icon on the section line itself]

Please go to the Revit Ideas forum and vote for 'Allow us to change 2D extents of pinned sections'

I am sure there are plenty of other examples of pinned elements in Revit that can be edited when you do not expect to be able to do so (or vice versa).