Saturday, 30 January 2016

Finding Your Families in Revit

When Revit 2015 ‘R2’ update was released (subscription only) it gave us an extremely productive tool, “Search”. The search tools are now available as standard in Revit 2016 giving us the ability to search in the following areas:
  • Type selector
  • Properties palette
  • Drop down list from the 'Reference Other View' option
  • Drop down lists for values in tables such as object styles

This is great as it makes looking through a very expansive group of families and views (especially on larger projects) so much easier and faster. (Recently I have been working on a project on Revit 2015 without the R2 update and its been a real drainer trying to find families without it).

Did you know though, over on the Systems ribbon, you can isolate this list to a select few categories thanks to some tools available to the HVAC team. On the Systems ribbon you will notice Mechanical Equipment (ME), Plumbing Fixtures (PX), Electrical Equipment (EE) & Lighting Fixtures (LF) as separate tools. So if you choose plumbing fixtures, then you will only see a list of families that have been designated under that particular category.

You can also select and place your families using the 'family browser'. (The family browser I am referring to is the list of families in the project browser). Here you will see all the types available and I often go to this area of the project browser to modify type properties for multiple families.

If you are still not satisfied, you may be interested in an add-on fit for purpose. Kiwi Codes having been releasing their own family browser for a number of years now. The beauty of their product is the ability to customise palettes of families. You can create project specific tabs, favourites, as well see the family thumbnail. 

There is plenty of other functionality as well, to learn more visit their website. They also have other tools that may be of use to your everyday work including a completely custom project browser.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Using the 'CTRL' Key in Revit

The ‘CTRL’ key on your keyboard can be a very useful tool in Revit. One of the first things we learn is how to use the CTRL & SHIFT keys to add or minus from selections.

You can also use the CTRL key to temporarily toggle option bar choices when using various modify tools in Revit.

For example, when using the align tool, you will notice in the options bar ‘multiple align’. If we were to tick this, Revit would remember this choice for the next time you were to use the tool, and if you didn’t want to 'multiple align' again, you would have to once more, untick this next time you used the tool. Instead, you can temporarily activate this option by holding down the CTRL key while using the tool. This will avoid your choice being saved to memory during your session.

This also works for other modify tools that have a ‘copy’ option, such as offset, rotate & mirror.  

A nice little trick for smoother operation while using Revit.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Revit Selection Box vs Coins Auto-Section Box

I have said it once, and I will say it again, I love my add-ons. Top of the list would have to be COINS Auto-Section Box. I recently had to go without this tool for a week and let me tell you, I really noticed it.

It makes sense that in a 3D environment, we are able to quickly and easily view any aspect of the model to analyse & navigate up close and Coins Auto-section box allows you to do just that.

For Revit 2016, Autodesk has had an attempt at the same idea with the new ‘Selection Box’ (SB) tool found on the Modify ribbon, View Panel. So I thought a comparison was in order…my verdict…install COINS.

The reason is simple, versatility, and in the case of Autodesk’s attempt, it has none. Don’t get me wrong, the tool does work, but there are no options to speak of and you’re left feeling a little underwhelmed.
Revit 2016 Selection Box Tool
The tool works by simply selecting a component in a Revit view and clicking selection box (SB) on the view panel. It then surrounds the object/s using a section box much the same way COINS version does. In Revit 2016, the SB tool uses the default {3D} view and it appears there is no choice in the matter, which is sort of inconvenient because it means multiple uses will have to share the same view. Coins on the other hand, allow you to name a view, which Coins remembers and will always use this view until you rename a new one. This allows you to setup visibility graphics specifically for this view and each team member can make one if desired.

Autodesk’s SB provides a section box offset around the object of around 300 – 400mm (I took a few measurements and they all varied, from top to side) again, no options to configure this. Coins refers to this offset as ‘buffer’ and allows you to configure this buffer to just about anything you want from 1 unit to more than you will practically ever need (I tested what equates to 100 metres).

In terms of options for Autodesk’s SB, that’s it, hence that underwhelming feeling where you sort of ask yourself, why did you bother? With Coins, it just keeps on going with the ability to create multiple views allowing you to select them from a drop down list. You could then configure multiple views with varying visibility graphics and filters, (think coordination and presentation reviews all at the same time). You can set windows to arrange side by side that window tiles the plan and 3D views next to each other. Coins provides you with a toggle for the section box too so you can jump between the full 3D (to help you gauge your surroundings) and the previously selected, as well as a ‘Quick Auto Section’ which bypasses the options dialog and jumps straight to a section box using the previously configured settings.

Add in the ability of Coins to allow you to section box elements inside a link as well as grids and other annotation elements (for example you can select an internal elevation tag and Coins will create a section box around the view extents) and it becomes blatantly obvious that this really is a no contest.
Internal elevation tag produces the selected views extents

I have no doubt Autodesk have planted a seed and overtime this tool will likely expand, but for the foreseeable future I will still be installing Coins Auto-section box tool.

If you would like to download COINS Auto-Section Box, visit the Autodesk app store to add this 5 star app for free.

Revit Link is not affiliated with COINS in any way shape or form and I have not been approached by COINS to write this review. I simply think COINS have done an excellent job with this tool and give credit where credit is due.  

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Happy New Year!!!

Photo by Cameron SpencerCity of Sydney
Happy New Year everyone!!! Are you excited?! I sure am…. super excited! Why you may ask? Well if you’re at all into technology & communication then you may have noticed 2016 is shaping up to be the year of some really exciting technology, including virtual & augmented reality. Both Oculus Rift & Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets are scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2016. 
Microsoft latest demonstration of the HoloLens is very cool and the gaming community must surely be on the edge of their seats.

We are only 9 days into the year and already we have had our first major technology show with The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) recently taking place in Las Vegas which show cased some very cool tech coming to the market.

Let’s not forget about drones either. The end of 2015 saw an explosion of drones onto the market of all shapes and sizes and capabilities (you may have got one for Christmas!) & 2016 should be no different. I myself plan on making my first purchase of one of these nifty tools.

What will I be bringing you this year on Revit Link I hear you asking? Well in Australia, it is Summer at the moment, so whilst I spent a bit of time at the beach over the break, I have also been busy exploring various software packages including Lumion, Autodesk’s Showcase, Vray for Revit(Beta), a few new Revit add-ons and of course Dynamo! I have also finally gotten around to watching a few Autodesk University presentations that have been on my list.  

For me though, using Dynamo to complete practical tasks in Revit will be top of the list and I will keep you in the loop as I learn more about this seemingly simple, yet complex coding world.

Another thing I will be focusing more on is the theme “Revit tools repurposed”. Before the end of last year, I posted about the structure ribbon and the structural beam system tool being used to create decked floors. Well I will continue to explore tools on the other discipline ribbons because the great thing about Revit is that tools may be designed for one thing, but nothing is stopping you from repurposing these tools for your own benefits.

My love of a good add-on is no secret, having posted about it a few times now, so I will leave you with this final thought to kick off 2016…

Think of Revit as your base operating system, much like your mobile phone. Your phone off the shelf is great, but what really makes it a productive tool is the countless apps you install on your device, right? Well Revit is no different. To really get the best out of it, you need to add to it (installing add-ons/Dynamo/Macros). Only then, will you start to get Revit working just how you want it & begin to see the real productive power behind this 3D modelling tool.