BILT Speaker

BILT Speaker
RevitCat - Revit Consultant

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):

Weirder and Weirder

For more details on Callout weirdness, refer to:

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")

Saturday 9 November 2019

Scope Box View Property Greyed Out in Revit

Here is a little software trick to catch out the unwary Revit user:

There are some situations where the Scope Box property of a view is greyed out - so you cannot assign a Scope Box to the view.

The answer may be to do with the Crop Boundary - and it may not be obvious, especially if the crop boundary is hidden.

To track this down:

  • Make the Crop Boundary visible
  • It may or may not be apparent that the  Crop Boundary has been edited
  •  Or it may not be obvious - if only a minor edit is done to the boundary
  • Select the crop boundary
  •  If it has been cropped, the Ribbon will show the 'Reset Crop' icon available
  • Another way to check if it has been cropped is to look for the shape-handles on the crop boundary - extra dots indicate segments in a boundary
  • Click on 'Reset Crop' - the edits to the boundary will be removed (along with the extra shape-handles)
  • The Scope Box property will now be available for use.
  •  The 'Reset Crop' icon will now be greyed out - indicating the crop is no longer edited.

This behaviour is quite logical once you know what is going on - but it can be confusing when you first encounter it.  Of course you do not want people to accidentally remove a Crop Boundary just by applying Scope Boxes - without realising what they have done.

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Architectural Ceiling Plan Hidden Categories in Revit

A while back, someone asked me why some model elements remained visible when they turned off ALL Model categories in Visibility Graphics.

The list of categories that show on the Visibility/Graphic dialog box varies depending on the Discipline filters applied to the dialog box. If you are preparing a set of architectural reflected ceiling plans, you may want to show lights, sprinklers, security etc. However, not all relevant categories are shown if you only have ‘architecture’ ticked.

Watch out for hidden categories in this situation. Each user may have different discipline filters applied on their computer (it is per user in Revit, not per view).

This means that some MEP categories may not be shown in the Visibility/Graphic list – therefore the user will not be able to show/hide or override those categories.

If the user has only the Architecture discipline showing, then clicks on ‘All’, it does not include the hidden MEP categories, including:
  • Data devices
  • Fire Alarm devices
  • Nurse Call Devices
  • Security Devices
  • Sprinklers
  • Telephone Devices
I have encountered situations where frustrated users have turned off all categories, and wondered why the sprinklers remain on.  For this reason I recommend that architects should consider using only  the following categories for Ceiling and Electrical fixtures in their libraries - for architectural Revit models:
  • Electrical fixtures
  • Lighting Fixtures
  • Mechanical Equipment
  • Specialty Equipment 
Architecture Discipline Only

However, for multi-disciplinary Revit models you probably need to stick with the correct categories - obviously MEP engineers should use the correct categories for their models, because they have specific behaviour that is important to them.  In the case of separate, linked MEP models, the services engineers may be modelling their own fixtures, and using the architectral model just for coordinating ceiling fixture locations.
All Disciplines

For architects working in multi-disciplinary models, where you do need to use the correct categories for all fixtures, then you need to educate your staff about changing the filter list to show all relevant disciplines. 

What a pity that we don't have all the categories that we need - Signage for example (amongst many others missing).  However we do have at least one redundant category: Roads - we'd like to be able to use it but we have no tools to model roads with.

Monday 23 September 2019

Inconsistent Units Settings UI in Revit

There are several very different ways of getting to Units Settings in the Revit User Interface.  Most of them are not very intuitive - and certainly they are totally different from each other.

Project Unit Settings

There are 3 different icons on the 'Manage' ribbon, depending on your screen resolution and size:

Largest resolution or screen
 If you are operating on a laptop or low resolution, the icon automatically reduces in size, and you may or may not get a text description:
Medium resolution or screen

Smallest resolution or screen

Once you click on the Project Units icon it takes you to the units dialog box, which has a list of different kinds of units:

Once you choose a particular unit type, it gives the project-wide 'Format' settings for that type.  Since this is the project settings, the checkbox at the top is greyed out.   Some of the checkboxes are related only to imperial measurements so would always be greyed out for metric users.

This dialog box is the one common UI that appears for all methods of accessing units - but different items are greyed out in each situation that the dialog box appears.

Dimension Units

  • Select a Dimension in the project 
  • Click on Edit Type

  • Click on the Units Setting property
  • This takes you to the Units Format dialog box where you can override the project settings
Alternatively you can access this units dialog box from the Annotation ribbon:
  • Click on the Dimensions drop-down arrow
  • Select the kind of dimension you want

Schedule Units Settings

  • In the Schedule Properties, go to the 'Formatting' tab
  • Select a field (on the left)
  • Click on the 'Field Format...' button on the right

  • Once you click on this, you get the standard Units dialog box
  • Typically the 'Use default settings' checkbox is ticked 
  • You can untick it if you want to over-ride the project settings

Tag Units Settings

Refer to Revit's Most Hidden Commands (part 2) for more detail on this.  It is quite tricky to find this setting:

  • Edit the tag family
  • Select and Edit a label

  • The parameter in the label may look like it is selected (on the left), but it is probably not
  • Select the relevant parameter (on left, even though it shows on the right)

  • The 'Properties' icon (a hand) will be enabled
  • Click on it

  • Finally you get to the units settings, which is normally defaulted to 'Use project settings'
  • It is not possible to get to this unit override setting within the project environment (unlike dimensions and schedules)


Here we have at least 4 completely different ways to access Revit units settings:

Method 1 (Ribbon in the project ):

Method 2 (Dimension Type properties in the project ):


Method 3 (Schedule formatting properties in the project ):

Method 4 (Tag properties in the Family Editor ):

Why does something so simple have to be so inconsistent, and complicated ?