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.  


  1. Great post! I was just thinking of writing a review to COINS great (free!!!) plugin, but I wanted to investigate the matter with the Autodesk attempt to create the same tool.
    First of all, no need for me to write anything now, since you've already covered everything there is to it. Just one question - do you know what is the legal aspect of a situation, where someone provides a free work for Autodesk to benefit from, and then Autodesk create the same thing without any courtesy whatsoever? I mean, surely they must have been aware of the existence of the most popular 3rd party plugin on their market .. what's the point of ripping off the idea so bluntly? Shouldn't they have bought off the code and just provide the full COINS functionality to their new 'Section Box Tool'? Without wanting to ruffle anyone's feathers, I wonder if you have an opinion on that.

    1. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the read. It is a great plugin. To your question about the legal side of things, I don't know much about software law, never really looked into it to be honest! If I had to take an educated guess, I wouldn't think so unless the code was identical.

    2. Thanks for your reply!

      Still not fair though. I would expect some sort of credit for the guys at COINS. It's that kind of effort that moves the software forward, in my opinion.

      Thanks again for the great post!

    3. No problem! Just keep in mind, COINS isn't the only plugin for 3D selection. I personally know of half a dozen, all offering varying degrees of features and functionality.

    4. You are of course correct and it is my fault for not considering this aspect. I suppose the best way to look at the relationship between Autodesk/External Developers is as one of symbiotic nature and leave it at that.

      Thank you for your comment!


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