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Sunday 9 August 2020

10 Years of Revit Architecture Enhancements

In this blog I have analysed and made comments on various Revit Architecture enhancements over the years.  With all the recent talk of subscription value-for-money, I thought that now would be a good time to list and analyse the yearly enhancements to core Revit and those specific for Architects (my field).

Major changes to the software occurred in v2010 with a radical change to the UI (the ribbon) and a whole new conceptual massing environment.  Further improvements have been made to the massing tools each year but no attempt has been made to bring the traditional Revit environment into line with the new Massing environment – they continue to diverge, which is problematic.

Here is a summary of enhancements to Core Revit and Revit Architecture only (API, BIM360/cloud, MEP & Structures enhancements are specifically not included):


This method of classifying the enhancements (by colour code) is subjective, and is based on how significant each change is to workflows and the impact it had on day-to-day usage.  Significant new features that only get used once or twice a year by most people do not count as major enhancements (“Shiny new toys”)

·      “Shiny new toy” – a  gimmicky tool of more use to the Revit marketing team than customers (not to say that we don’t ever use them)

·      Major Enhancements

·      Moderate Enhancements

·      Minor Enhancements

·      Follow up fixing & tweaking



·      The “Ribbon” interface – this was not requested by users, and was disastrous:  very clunky, slow and unstable

o   This was Autodesk’s attempt to modernise the UI and make it consistent with the new but "iffy" ribbon design by Microsoft.

o   The old Revit UI may not have looked elegant but it was very fast to use.

·      Conceptual massing – great new tools but hard to learn and incompatible with the rest of Revit

o   Refer:

o   The old massing techniques used the same 3D modelling tools as the rest of Revit – simple, consistent but limiting for complex curved geometry (No NURBS or lofting)

o   Autodesk tried to make the UI simple (like Sketchup) but that introduced its own limitations, which we still have 11 years later.

·      Numerous small enhancements, not listed here.



There were no major enhancements in this version, but a lot of work was done to clean up after the dramatic changes in v2010

·      Adaptive Components in the Conceptual massing environment – great new tool but not very compatible with the rest of Revit

·      Reporting Parameters – great but many limitations (in formulas)

·      Linked model & workset improvements

·      Conceptual massing improvements

o   Edit form and sketch mode

o   Dissolve form

o   Divide surface by intersecting planes & lines

·      Ribbon UI fixes – stable but still clunky

·      Modeless Properties Palette (and a few resizable dialog boxes)

·      Graphic display improvements (Direct 3D)

o   Realistic and consistent colour views

o   Ambient Occlusion

·      Minor enhancements including:

o   Rendering multi-core

o   Rendering image background

o   Select all instances by view

o   Dwg Export improved

o   Sheet Guide Grids - sadly this never solved the view alignment problem

o   Text boxes and better leader placement

·      Analysis – Sun path tool ported from Ecotect

·      Web-based help files - this was disastrously bad – and took several versions to fix



Nothing specifically for architects in this version


·      Parts and Assemblies – for the construction side of AEC

·      Revit Server

·      Citrix support

·      Linked model improvements – Tagging rooms and keynotes

·      Autodesk Vault collaboration

·      Point Cloud support

·      Materials format underlying change

o   This was confusing and required two more years of enhancements to fix

·      Wiki-help file - this was an improvement on v2011, but still no graphics

·      Modelling enhancements including:

o   Adaptive components available in project environment

§  Not very compatible with the rest of Revit – refer:


§  Not available for structural or MEP categories

o   Solid-solid cut tool in families

o   Face-based void families can cut host families in project (limited categories)

·      Conceptual Massing enhancements:

o   Sub-regions / Split Surface on non-planar surfaces in conceptual massing

o   Parameter values for hosted points allow formulas

o   Family Type:Divide Surface can be formula driven

·      Numerous small enhancements including:

o   Worksharing Visualization & Edit Requests

o   Workset visibility in View Templates

o   Starting View

o   Detach from Central allows disabling worksets

o   DWG Export customisation / standardisation

o   Graphic Display option improvements

o   Temporary dimension improvements

o   New ‘Rounding’ function in formulas



·      Stair tools completely revamped – Component based stairs.  Improvement, but not the quantum leap it could have been. 

·      Railing tools – minor improvements:

o   Toprails, Handrail supports

o   Edit rail

·      Conceptual massing improvements

o   Divide Path tool

o   Repeat (array) tool.  Refer:

·      Revit “One Box” – Architecture, Structure and MEP rolled into one product

·      Parts and Assemblies improvements – for the construction side of AEC

·      Materials data model changed – structural & thermal assets

o   Materials UI changes were disastrous – totally confusing!

·      View templates applied as a view property (instead of one-off).  A good improvement that streamlined workflows

o   Included View types; Discipline; Underlay; Colour Schemes etc

·      Graphic Display / Visualisation improvements

o   Surface Transparency controls

o   RPC supported in Realistic Views

o   Anti-aliasing to all views

o   Sky images and gradients

o   Lighting in Realistic Views

o   Ray Trace View style

·      Small enhancements include:

o   Delete dimension segment

o   Diameter dimension tool

o   Dimension Equals controls

o   Search in Project Browser

o   Double-click scroll-wheel to zoom to fit

o   Double-click to edit many items added (whether you like it or not)

·      Import / export enhancements

o   DWG import / export improvements

o   DWG link/import correct lines off axis

o   MicroStation v8 support

o   IFC Import / Export improvements



No major enhancements in this version - tidy up after stairs and materials changes.


·      Stair tools – minor fixes.  (Should have addressed significant shortcomings of new v2013 tools, but did not)

o   Landing shape-handle behaviour modified

o   Precast stair runs join floors

o   Additional location lines by Supports

o   Snaps improved, and some temporary dimensions added

o   Extra riser line on landings no longer displayed

·      Railing tools – Nothing!  There should have been a major follow up after new stair tools.

·      Displaced Views – shiny new toy!  Gimmicky marketing tool of limited use, albeit well executed.

·      Materials UI debacle of 2013 fixed up (although underlying structure is still confusing)

·      View templates – temporary view template override

·      Point Cloud improvements

·      Options to control Double-click to edit functionality

·      Non-rectangular viewports

·      Schedules revamp – lots of small fixes:

o   Additional schedule categories enabled (architectural columns, detail items, entourage, generic models, grids, levels, pads, roof soffits, structural beam systems, structural area reinforcement, structural path reinforcement and structural fabric area)

o   Schedule Phase created or demolished

o   Text Styles to control formatting of schedules

o   Cell text overrides

·      Minor enhancements:

o   Explode imported solids in a family, allowing limited manipulation of elements

o   Conceptual massing – Align tool works on U/V angle on surfaces

o   Project Browser & Properties palette dockable in same window as tabs – really only useful on a laptop where screen real-estate is extremely limited.

o   Room calculation point

o   Selection locks – allow/prevent selection of Links, Underlays, pinned elements, by face (NB. The default for “Drag elements on selection” is still “Allow” – Autodesk stubbornly refuse to change this dangerous setting!)

o   Split Elevations (as per Split Sections)

o   View regeneration suspended during view navigation option – to speed up working in Revit

o   Bring to Front / Send to Back – for 2D items

o   Dual units in dimensions

·      Import / export enhancements

o   DWG improvements

o   IFC improvements



This was a very “lean” release, particularly for architects


·      Sketchy Views – Shiny new toy, created because competitor software can do this (better).  It more or less works, but is a flawed solution that needs improvement (never happened).

·      Stair & Railing tools – Nothing!  Still no follow up to new stair tools.

·      Performance Enhancements

o   Faster view redraw

o   Faster selection graphics

·      Can no longer delete Pinned Elements - the best feature of this release!

o   Warning when multiple pinned elements selected

o   Attached Detail Groups behave as ‘Clipped’ instead of ‘Pinned’

·      Revisions:

o   Revision clouds by drawing tools (lines, rectangles etc)

o   Can delete revisions

·      Family Parameters sort order

o   Tooltips for family parameters

·      Schedules

o   Walls heights (NB. Warning: wrong values if wall is 'attached' - never fixed)

o   Images in schedules

·      IFC Imports improved

·      A handful of small enhancements – some useful and some badly executed:

o   Anti-aliasing (smooth lines) by view or by project

o   Duplicate view automatically adds “Copy” suffix to name

o   Allow to change view reference after ‘Reference Other View’

o   Trim/Extend multiple elements

o   Tag leader behaviour consistent with Text leaders

o   View Titles allow more parameters

o   Manage Links Dialog has ‘Add Link’ button

o   Can display all hidden lines in a 3D view (by category instead of by discipline)

o   Ray trace interactive rendering view improved

·      Help files changed yet again!

  • "Site Designer" add-in released as a Revit extension (purchased by Autodesk from EaglePoint) - unfortunately this add-in was not intuitive and most people could not get it to even function, so it was effectively useless.  It never lived up to expectations, nor was it updated or modified by Autodesk at all.

V2015 R2

From mid-2016, Autodesk started releasing enhancements as part of point releases during the year – these were often things that were under development for the following year but did not require a database change, so they were released early for those on subscription.  For the sake of compiling a year-by-year list, anything from 2015 R2 is listed as part of 2016; 2016 R2 is listed as part of 2017 etc

V2016 (and 2015 R2)


This version did not have any major enhancements – although it was noticeably faster than previous versions;  and had a reasonable list of minor enhancements, only a couple of which were specifically for architects.

·      Reveal Constraints - extremely useful tool that came out of 'Global Parameter' development

·      Performance Enhancements

o   Faster regeneration after toposurface editing

o   Multiple Processors for GPU

o   Synch with Central speed improvements

o   Faster updates to views that contain multiple instances of families

o   Improved performance where Revit link instances are loaded but not visible in the view.

o   Allow navigation during redraw option

·      Minor Revision enhancements:

o   Select & delete multiple rows at once

o   Change starting number for a numeric sequence

o   Alphabetic is now Alphanumeric

o   Add a prefix or suffix to values

·      Minor enhancements:

o   “ Remove Repeater” tool for dissolving a repeater (Array in Conceptual Modeling)

o   Search capability in Type Selector

o   New option to ‘Load a family into project & Close Family’

o   File upgrade version notification message

o   Properties Palette remembers last scroll location

o   New Pin/Unpin icons for hosted elements (curtain wall panels, mullions etc)

o   Import/Link position default changed to ‘Auto – Origin to Origin’;  Revit remembers previous settings

o   Revit Link in closed worksets show that in status

o   Wall Joins – can now select multiple joins;  multiple Allow/Disallow joins

o   Shaft openings – base constraint defaults to active view level

o   More editing capabilities in perspective views

o   Reset target tool in perspective views

o   Toggle between parallel and perspective views in 3D views

o   Search during Reference Other View

o   View tags become hyperlinks in exported PDFs

o   Add data row to some schedules (Rooms, areas, key, spaces or sheets)

o   Select host tool for tags

o   Allow default text properties for stair numbers before placement (still not a Type property, which would be a better solution – so this is only a marginal improvement)

o   Thin Line setting remembered between Revit sessions

o   DWG export coincident lines – new tidy up option

o   Adaptive Point Orientation – new naming (as utterly confusing as the previous naming)

o   IFC link assigns elements to default phase

o   Solon integration for building performance analysis

o   Energy analysis reduces memory usage

o   Dynamo built into Revit

o   Rotation of detail elements during ‘Rotate Project North’ function (Bug fix)

o   Open Sheet by right-click on a view in Project Browser

o   Selection Boxes – to get to selected elements in 3D

o   View states remembered between Revit sessions

o   Multiline text in printed schedules and tags

o   Floor Elevations – new parameters for scheduling and tagging (Top, core, bottom etc)

o   IFC links can define room boundaries

o   Place Rooms automatically (no control over sequence)

·      Rendering – Choice of Mental Ray or Autodesk Tracer

·      New Energy analysis mode, ‘Use Conceptual Masses and Building Elements,’


2017 (and 2016 R2)


·      Global Parameters – showed great initial promise but sadly did not turn into the game-changer we had hoped – largely due to its limitations, which have not been addressed yet: 

o   each global parameter had to be individually enabled, and some vital ones are still missing: 

§  Array numbers not enabled;

§  Floor ‘Offset from Level’ not enabled;

§  Material properties not enabled;

§  Global Parameters for Shared Parameters not enabled;

§  Access to linked model Global parameter properties not enabled

·      Family Editor

o   Visibility Preview – great new feature

o   Tangency locks – another good new feature

o   Filter voids and solids in Family Editor

o   Search facility in Family Types dialog

·      Revit Links Positioning

o   Base Point to Base Point

o   Reposition to Project Base Point and Internal origin

·      Revit Links ‘Unload for Me’ option

·      Text

o   Can enter unnumbered or non-bulleted text in lists

o   Multilevel lists

o   Text Size parameter changed to accurately represent capital letter height  - NB. Most users won’t notice an improvement but will notice that text strings are wider when projects are upgraded, requiring a detailed checking process.

o   When rotating Project North a new option allows you to specify whether text notes should rotate with the model or maintain their current orientation in the view

o   Can specify text editor to display an opaque background and a border when editing

o   Text notes directly in canvas

o   New text editing tools in ribbon

o   All text is visible while editing

o   Text wraps, scales, and scrolls as you expect

o   Improved export text fidelity.

·      Schedules

o   Combine Parameters – only works in the schedule – cannot be tagged

o   Calculations in tags – has to match similar calc in the schedule – result is not a property

o   View templates for schedules and assembly views

o   Schedule Properties dialog improved

o   Can now display minimum values, maximum values

·      Performance

o   Only visible walls regenerated

o   Occlusion culling

o   Export DWG (multiple RevitWorker processes)

o   Color Fills as background process

o   Background processes status bar

·      Revisions:

o   New Revision Number column

o   Revision Description

o   New Date column

·      Minor Enhancements include:

o   Cancel Print/Export

o   Object Styles – select and delete multiple subcategories

o   Detach from Central – renames file with suffix “_detatched”

o   View range dialog box improved information

o   Underlay properties clarified

o   Filter dialog – list alphabetical

o   Reference Plane names in drawing area

o   Reference Plane Subcategories

o   Reference Planes in View Filters

o   Dynamo more integrated – on Manage menu.

Architectural Enhancements:

·      Depth Cueing – good new architectural feature for elevation presentation
        o   It has limitations, which have never been addressed (Lineworks tool, detail items etc)        Refer:

o   Railings hosted on floors, walls, roofs

o   Railings – preview pane (fixed length 5’ or 1500mm)

o   In-Place stair category enabled (dodgy quick fix to address restrictions of component tool)

o   Perspective Views – Copy & Paste enabled

o   Spot Slope annotation on linked models

o   Wall Allow/Disallow join during placement

o   Select multiple wall joins and change join configuration

o   Point Cloud visibility controls

o   Autodesk Raytrace Rendering  - used for all rendering (upgrades convert settings from Mental Ray); used for exports of render views; define custom render property; render material previews; new transparent background style

o   Energy Analysis - Advanced thermal zoning; Accuracy and appearance improved; export to gbXML improved

2018 (and 2017.1)

This version was even more ‘lean’ than 2015 !!


·      Import 3D Shapes (Rhino & SAT) – underlying import engine totally different (2017.1)

o   Only allows import (not link);  not consistent import UI; many import options missing; many Rhino shapes fail to import – needs more work.

o   Cut edges of shapes can be dimensioned

·      Underlay Navisworks files

·      Tag imported objects:  IFC; 3D Shapes; some imports from 3rd party add-ins

·      Export material and hatch pattern colours to DWG/DXF (2017.2)

·      High resolution (4K) monitor support (2017.1)

·      Repair Central Model tool (2017.1)

·      Model in perspective views – add, move, copy, rotate, align (2017.1)

·      Stairs:

o   Tooltips added (2017.1)

o   Old stair Sketch Tool removed – finally!

o   New Multi-storey stair tool – Good start but not without problems (needs more work)

·      Railings:

o   Top Rail and Handrail type properties UI tweak (2017.1)

o   Railings host on Topography – great news for doing fences.

o   Control of start and end points of railings

o   Overlapping railings on Multistorey stairs work better – still needs more work to fix this.

·      Schedules:

o   Schedule Links and Groups as categories - the best new feature in this version

o   Links and Groups have new system & user defined properties

·      UI Ribbon de-clutter – to make it look more modern, but actually not consistent, and harder to read!

o   Parameter tooltips added to some elements

·      Text

o   Quick input of special characters

o   Rich text format in labels

o   Tag text height updated to match Text elements – Tags may get wider during upgrade, requiring checking; still not included: Dimensions, colour legends.

2019 (and 2018.1 & 2018.2)

Another very short list of enhancements.  This version had two new features that should have been considered major – but both fall short of expectations;  neither has been addressed since.



·      Minor point release enhancements (2018.1,2,3):

o   Browser organization for schedules (2018.1)

o   Dynamo Player supports input for scripts (2018.1)

o   Scope boxes sort alphanumerically (2018.3)

o   Expand/collapse the Project Browser with right-click commands (2018.2)

o   Streamlined family loading – remembers last folder (2018.2)

o   Remember column widths in the Family Editor (2018.2) – nice but the ‘Lock’ checkbox column width still plays havoc (needs more work).

o   Fill Patterns dialog reorganised (2018.2)

o   Section box shape controls improved (2018.2)

o   Sketch of a railing that has been re-hosted to an element will be displayed on the level of the host when editing. (2018.1)

·      Tabbed Views – great idea but needs serious work to improve it: needs a way to manage/separate multiple project & family tabs (eg. Colour coding).  Until such basic functionality is fixed this cannot count as a major enhancement

·      Secondary monitor support – a good start but view arrangements are lost if Revit is minimised/maximised.  Until such basic functionality is fixed this cannot count as a major enhancement

·      View Filters ‘OR’ conditions enabled – very useful functionality, but not applied to schedules yet

·    Double-fill patterns

Minor Enhancements:

·      Levels in 3D – a most unwelcome enhancement that appears in all 3D views by default!  Ok – a few people want this but it should not have been a default setting.

·    Uncropped perspective views

·   Scope box improvements

·   New library of physically-based appearance assets

·      Split tool on railing elements outside of the sketch mode

·      Dimensions for cut curved elements

·      New warning when deleting levels

·      Slow double-click to rename views in Project Browser – another unwelcome irritation


2020 (and 2019.1 & 2019.2)

Minor enhancements – point releases (2019.1 & 2)

·      New Home Page – clicking on a file opens a local copy by default

·      Site collaboration with Civil 3D (2019.1) – not considered useful for architects because they need simple site manipulation tools within Revit, not links to an unwieldy external program.

·      Move Pattern to top of wall (2019.1)

·      Import Double Fill Patterns (2019.1)

·      Perspective View enhancements (2019.1)

o   Duplicate perspective view keeps view attributes

o   Locked perspective views cannot change view attributes

o   Zoom in region moves camera, not zoom on uncropped region

o   Reset crop region enables crop visibility

o   Keyboard modifiers improved

o   Navigation in uncropped views faster

·      Section views – snapping and align tool works on section lines in plan (2019.1)

·      ‘Go to View’ and ‘Add view to sheet’ dialogs resizeable (2019.1)

·      Zoom enabled in Schedules  (2019.2)

·      Move objects small distance warning removed (2019.2)

·      Highest resolution textures used automatically during rendering (2019.2)


Architectural Features:

·      Route Analysis ‘Path of Travel’ – a good idea but first version had too many limitations to be useful

o   Cannot handle changes of level in buildings (split level or stairs)

o   Cannot be adjusted after placement

·      Elliptical Walls and Curtain Walls


Core Revit Features:

·      PDF Import as underlay – good but does not support linked PDFs

·      Sketchup 2018 import support

o   Various minor Sketchup import improvements

·      Dynamo install fully integrated into Revit (version locked to Revit upgrades)

Minor enhancements:

·      Copy and Paste legends across sheets

·      Improved Multi-Category ‘OR’ functionality in View filters

·      Scope Box parameter in View List schedules

·      Create ‘Parts’ from Direct Shape elements

·      Various Energy Analysis enhancements

·      Scope Box tool improved

·      Materials – 5 minor enhancements


2021 (and 2020.1 & 2020.2)



·      Path of Travel enhancements

o   Adjust end/start points (2020.1)

o   Reveal Obstacles (2020.1)

o   To and From schedule properties (2020.1)

o   Waypoints (2020.2) – this finally made the tool useful

·      Improved Edit Floor “Attach Walls” dialog box (2020.1) a small but valuable option to make models more stable

·      Schedules

o   Striped alternate rows (2020.1)

o   Freeze Header in schedules (2020.2)

o   Active row highlighted in blue (2020.2)

·      Support for Link/Import Sketchup 2019 format (2020.1)

·      Expose Survey & Project Base Point (2020.1)

·      Expose Internal Project Origin Point (2020.2) – this caused all kinds of problems and should never have been included in an interim release.

·      Improved keyboard View and Fly-through navigation in Perspective mode (2020.2)

 Architectural Enhancements:

·      Generative Design in Revit – since this is not available to mere Revit users I can’t comment on its value to architects (it is not available to those still on Maintenance or those who do not have AEC Collections).

 ·      Slanted Walls –

o   This only includes sloping walls with parallel sides, not tapered walls, thus it is not particularly useful yet.

o   There are still a number of unresolved issues with joins in plan and angle controls.

·      Enhanced Realistic Views

·      Link PDF Files or Images – a big improvement on the previous “Import” tool

 o   Several improvements to Manage PDF & Images capability

 o   Manage PDF & Images dialog incorporated with Manage Links

o   Several improvements to Manage images dialog and capability

o   Convert PDF Link to import capability

Minor Enhancements

·      Enable / Disable View Filters

·      Customised Workspace

·      Display contrasting rows in schedules

·      Rotate Text in tags and section heads

·      Performance improvements

·      Design Options sorted alphabetically

·      Cuts Geometry parameter for voids in families

No doubt I have missed something from this compiled list - it is remarkably difficult to verify exactly what was released when.  However, it should be close enough to give us a good history of the changes to Revit Architecture over the last decade.  Of course this list does not include all those other streams of parallel development:  other disciplines and related software (MEP, Structure, Dynamo, API, BIM360 etc).