Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Edit dimension text at view breaks

If a dimension spans a view break (split view), Revit does not allow the dimension or text to be edited. Here is a view break and a selected dimension:


The DIM text cannot be selected / clicked (we want it to say “VARIES”). To make it editable, we had to move the crop line first like,


and there after the dim text is editable.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Network maintenance of Autodesk service packs

If you have to manage a lot of Revit versions over many computers over a network, things can get messy. It is difficult to keep track of which computer has which software and which service pack installed, etc.

Autodesk gives a nice tool called “Autodesk Product Manager” to keep a tab on this. You have to install it from any Autodesk software DVD as a part of the Utilities / Tools.


You can run this tool and do a search on just “Revit” or all Autodesk software. The tool gives a list of computers along with the version / service pack information like:


You can download the Autodesk product manager tool or get more info from here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Structural Framing and Plan display

When we link a Structural Revit file that has structural bracing into an architectural RVT project,
Revit does NOT show the true cut section in the floor plan (based on the view range settings). For eg. the bracing looks like this in plan:


However, if we cut a detail section or callout, it looks like:


which is the correct representation based on the cut plane and view range.

This is unacceptable. Revit should also show the bracing in plan view types correctly. This can lead to lots of coordination issues. To make Revit display the bracing correctly, ask your structural engineer to

  • Open the steel bracing family.
  • Go to Settings > Family Category and Parameters.
  • Clear the checkbox for "Show family pre-cut in plan views".
  • Reload the family back into the project.
  • After this is done, Revit show the bracing in plan like:


    Even though the architect can edit the structural family to make this change, Architect’s edits in the structural file will be overridden when the structural file is updated next time by the architect. So, it is better if the structural engineer makes the edit it.

    Thanks to Autodesk Subscription team for this tip.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    Show History and Backups behavior

    Someone asked me a question if the File menu > show history command could be restricted to show only certain parts of the saved history of the RVT project. Typically a Revit project keeps the history of all the saves along with the comments (if any). Here is chart that shows the RVT behavior in various scenarios.

    File type Show History Backups
    Central File All STC info since its beginning No of backups based on the number entered while doing the first save as. (default 20)
    Local File All STC and local save info since its beginning ditto
    “detach from central” option while opening a file copies history from original file all backups lost from original
    “save as” Retains only STC history info. all backups lost from original
    “save as” with “Make this a central file after save” option Loses all history all backups lost from original

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    Print PDF to exactly 50% scale

    May be there are easier ways to print PDF files to exact 50% scale. Adobe Reader does not have this print to scale feature. We tried using the scaling feature built in with the printer. But this resulted in non standard size sheets, which we didn't want.

    We found a very easier method. Just open the PDF using Autodesk Design Review 2010 (free software) and this software has amazing capability to print to any size / scale. Just wonderful!

    1. Go to File menu > Open Autodesk Design Review 2010. By default it shows only dwf /dwfx files. But you can select other file types (including PDF) from the ‘Files of Type’ drop down.
    2. The print window has far better options than Adobe Reader / Acrobat.  

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    Switch on and off elements and invisible text

    In one of our projects we had some ‘owner furnished contractor installed’ (OFCI) equipments. We didn't want to show these elements in our contract drawings, but also wanted the ability to show them for client meetings, etc. The building is more than 10 floors, and there were 100s of such equipments strewn around.


    The best way to achieve this would be to create a separate workset for these equipments, and when you switch off the workset (File menu > Worksets) these elements, along with their tags, get turned off.

    The problem is our project was not setup this way. Even though we placed all the objects in a new workset, the tags didn't get turned off, because they were not really tags but dumb texts!!  Text objects belong to the view workset and so, could not be placed in the newly created workset.

    So, we were looking for a workaround. One solution was to create a new text style with almost white color (254, 254, 254) and no leader.


    We assigned all the texts related to these OFCI equipment to this text style to switch them off!  We have to just redefine the text style to make them visible again.

    It still would have been better if we were aware of this requirement while setting up the project!

    Thursday, July 23, 2009

    Instance grips stop working

    When you are working on a big project, once in a while, Revit gets tired off doing all the calculations, all the coordination and shows its anger on simple families that have instance parameter grips.

    For eg., here is a very simple extrusion family with an instance grip.


    Pulling the grip after working on the project for some time would not change the geometry of the family. If you go to the properties of the family and change it’s instance value, it works fine.


    But still, one cannot pull the grips to modify.

    However, if you use the align


    command to extend (change) the geometry, the grips become alive again!

    I don't know why this happens.

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Vista file deletion problem

    I had written about a vista file deletion problem some time back. Vista would not allow a certain file to be renamed / deleted / moved. This happened to mostly DWG and RVT files that are more than 3 years old.

    The happy news is that if you installed the web update 1 for the Revit 2010 versions, this problem should go away. If you still have this problem, please file a support request with Autodesk.

    Monday, June 8, 2009

    Vista: cannot delete, move, rename and copy files

    Update: 20090715

    After installing the recently released web update 1 for the Revit Architecture 2010, this problem went away. Thanks Autodesk for solving the problem and letting me know!

    Original post below:

    Sometimes vista keeps calculating the time remaining to delete or move or rename or copy a file. This happens even if the file is very small. (This problem was prevalent with Autodesk files – RFA, RVT and DWG… and most of the time, these files were atleast 3 or more years old!) Vista just keeps calculating and nothing ever happens. We could not even get the property dialog box to show for these afflicted files. The never ending dialog box looks loke:


    Pressing cancel does not do anything apart from graying out the cancel button.


    Clicking on the red “close” button closes the window, but the operation does not succeed.

    If we access the same file in Windows XP through the network, XP does not have any problem changing the file.

    There has been lots of posts on the web that this was a Vista indexing problem; antivirus problem; Windows defender problem, etc. We tried stopping all those processes to no avail.

    Then our IT guru unchecked this option to show thumbnails (in the Folder Options dialog box in the Windows Explorer – Tools menu > Folder options) and restarted the machine.


    The problem went away!

    It looks like Vista is trying to show the thumbnails of certain files, but the DLLs associated with these filetypes cannot find the thumbnails because of the old nature of the files…. and so the DLLS make Vista go on a loop. (just a guess)

    However this is not an acceptable solution and you would want to see thumbnails of pics and other files.  :(

    Monday, May 18, 2009

    Blue dots in structural columns

    A very simple issue came up the other day. Out of no where, suddenly, all our structural columns in a view started showing a thick blue dot at the center in plan. This ‘thing’ even got printed and was an annoyance.


    Revit switches on the blue blob (and the green lines for walls) if the ‘analytical model’ subcategory for these elements are turned on in the visibility graphics. This sub-category does not show up by default in the VG:


    However, if we switch on the “Show categories from all disciplines” check box, the sub category shows up:


    Turning this sub category off removes these unwanted elements from the view. So far so good. But, how did these ‘analytical model’ elements get turned on in the first place, ‘so’ suddenly?

    Accidentally, the visibility of the link was set to use a ‘linked view’, which incidentally had all these analytical model elements turned on!


    Thursday, May 14, 2009

    Structural columns not visible in Detail views

    Recently we had an issue with a particular column from the linked structural Revit model. The column showed up fine in the architectural floor plan. The column also showed up fine in the FLOOR PLAN callout view. When we created a DETAIL callout view, the column would not show up. (see pic)


    However, when we changed the detail level of the DETAIL callout view to “COARSE” the column showed up as a flimsy stick object.

    This was an OOTB structural column. Yet, we checked the family to see if the visibility setting per detail levels was set incorrectly. Nope. Incidentally, other instances of the same family were showing up fine in other detail views.

    After some irritating moments, it looks like Revit does not show structural columns in detail views if: (1) the structural column spans more than 1 floor (2) and the detail view is taken from any of the intermediate floors.

    In the above example, the column spans from Level 1 to Level 3 and the detail views are taken from Level 2.

    If the column is changed to go from Level 2 to Level 3, it shows up correctly in all views like


    Current workarounds: Plead with the Stral Engr to split the columns (highly unlikely) or create FLOOR PLAN callouts instead of DETAIL callouts.

    I have filed a support request. But, I hope there is an easy tweak to resolve this issue in a big project that has lots of spanning columns and detail views!

    Thursday, May 7, 2009

    Free software for the AEC IT

    Here is a list of software available for free. I hope this list is useful. Please add a comment if you come across a free software that can be used in the AEC industry.

    Autodesk DWG Trueview: View, Print and Convert any version of Autodesk DWG files.

    Autodesk Design Review: View, Print and Markup DWF files.

    Autodesk Revit viewer: This is the full blown Revit software. To view and print Revit files you DON’T need a license. However, after making any changes, you need a license to print or save. 

    Sketchup Home use: Amazing modelling software

    Blender: Animation software similar to 3DS Max

    Gimp: Amazing image editing software

    Open Office: similar to MS Office

    PDF Creator : Creates, appends PDF files.

    Jing – screen / video capture tool

    Historic Urban Modeler

    Freeconference call: Most probably for non-commercial use.

    Winmerge: Display differences and merge files and directories.

    eraser: secure data removal tool for windows

    Added based on visitor comments:

    Skype: Online chatting / file sharing / desktop sharing…

    Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    Export AutoCAD MEP to Revit

    Autodesk has a white paper on effective collaboration between Revit (Structure) and AutoCAD MEP which talks about exporting Revit objects to AutoCAD MEP as intelligent entities. If you want to import AutoCAD MEP entities into Revit, the whitepaper recommends to use the “Export to AutoCAD” feature within AutoCAD MEP. No intelligent entities here.

    Autodesk has another white paper on exporting Revit elements as ACIS DWG objects, to be imported into AutoCAD MEP which does not work for us, since we want the conversion the other way.

    We are examining the pros and cons of bringing in the AutoCAD MEP entities as IFC objects into Revit. The irony is that the MEP consultants typically work on separate DWG files for each floor and each disciplines (M, E and P). This means that we get around 30 IFC files for a 10-floor-project! Hmmm... So here is the best practice we are experimenting with:

    1. Create a master file:
      1. In AutoCAD MEP create a new DWG.
      2. Xref all the floors and discipline DWG files. The project navigator should do this very easily.
      3. Save the file, say as, “MEP Project.dwg”
    2. Export to IFC for architects using Revit:
      1. Open the “MEP Project.dwg”
      2. Save as the file as “YEAR MM DD - MEP Project.dwg”
      3. Bind and explode all xrefs. Now the DWG should have all MEP elements for all floors and disciplines.
      4. Export to IFC.

    The best part of creating a master file (“MEP Project.dwg”) is that, this DWG is still linked to all the other DWGs and will automatically get updated. The consultants have to just open this DWG and saveas, bind and explode and export as and when needed.

    The Revit does not work 100% perfectly with IFC. However, it should  work fine.

    All this is theoretical for the time being. This page will be updated as and when things unfold. Please add your comments if you have a better method.

    Monday, April 27, 2009

    Save to central not completed successfully

    We have a shell and core project linked into a Fitout project. The shell  and core link is set to be room bounding and bounds many rooms in the fitout project. When we STC, temporarily something happens to the link and many rooms become "non enclosed" for a brief period of time (they even show up as "non enclosed" in the schedule.) All these happen while the STC is in progress. Then, Revit gives a warning that the STC was not completed because of some problems with reloading the changes. The warning also says that the error has been rectified and we can try STC again. When we retry the STC again, Revit completes it successfully.

    We spent quite a lot of time and tried different options, but could not figure out the reason for this.

    Autodesk subscription replies to say that: This is a known issue which can occur in Revit 2009. In Revit 2009 links can unload briefly when you're saving to central. This will cause the “Not Enclosed” error you are receiving, and can halt the Save to Central.

    They advise not to choose “Move to Room” or delete rooms options.

    STC the second time is the workaround.

    The good news is that this seems to be resolved in RVT 2010!

    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    Where is my command in RAC2010 update

    I posted a blog about an incomplete ‘where is my command in RAC 2010?” tool we had created. We have completed the tool as far as we could. Now it works for Design Bar, Tool Bars and Menu commands.
    You can use the “Where is my command in RAC 2010?” tool online here.

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    Where is my command Revit 2010 Flash movie

    Updated Post:
    “Where is my command” is updated. You can use it online. Now it works for Design Bar, Tool Bars and Menu commands.
    Original Post:

    One of my friends and myself are working on a “Where is my command” interactive tool for Revit Architecture 2010 for Revit Architecture 2009 users. This tool is *similar* to Microsoft's Office 2007 ‘where is my command’ tool.
    You can use the tool online here.
    The tool is 1275 x 850 pixels and needs a high resolution monitor.
    This tool is a work in progress. Currently this tool works for all Design Bar commands and Tool Bar commands. Menu commands are being added and should be up in a week.
    Please add comments, bugs, thanks, etc <in the comments section. I hope this tool is useful to you.

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Window and wall cleanup - Join

    A very simple tip, (based on an online q)

    Here was a window at the junction of two walls like:


    The goal is to get a display was like:


    1. Go to the Wall Joins (image )tool in the tool bar.
    2. Select the wall joint.
    3. Keep pressing the Next button in the option bar until Revit shows something like:
    4. Click on Modify to exit the command

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Not compatible local file

    What do we do when we get an error message that says, “The file you are attempting to save is NOT compatible with the Central File…”


    This error is followed by:


    Usually, one gets this error is the Central file was ‘saved over’ with another file. It does not sound plausible. But it happens!

    The best course of action would be STOP working on the local file and create a new local file. Most probably, the one would lose the work since the last Save to Central.

    Trying to copy from the old local and paste into the new local can work if the new edits are copy/paste friendly. Changes in schedules can be copied using scripts.


    Friday, April 10, 2009

    Updated scripts

    I wrote about a script I had written to copy values from an excel (or open office) spreadsheet to a Revit Schedule. I have updated the script and the prep work needed to run the script have been minimized drastically. The script also allows you to select the cell in Excel / Revit to start copying / pasting. The updated script, the script code, and the readme file are here for Revit 2009 and here for Revit 2010.

    I also wrote about another script that can copy values from one Revit schedule to another. This script has also been enhanced to need minimal prep work. The updated script to copy a revit schedule, the code, and the readme file are here for Revit 2009.

    Please add a comment if you find any bugs or if you have any requests. Thanks.

    Thursday, April 9, 2009

    Free Autodesk Revit Architecture software

    I got an email from Autodesk saying:

    “If you are one of the people that have been let go recently, you might be able to avail this free software offer from Autodesk. You can visit here to Sign up today and get more info!
    Autodesk also offers Autodesk® Inventor® Professional, and AutoCAD® Civil 3D® software free.
    You might be able to get free online training too at vBooks

    Thanks Autodesk for this wonderful opportunity!

    Thursday, April 2, 2009

    duplicated dependent view loses some detail callout tags

    When we duplicate a view as dependent, Revit does not show all the detail callout tags / detail section view tags in the dependent view. For eg. when the follwoing view


    is duplicated as dependent, we lost the left (shorter)detail tag as shown below.


    The culprit is the combination of annotation crop and reference view tags!
    Even though the primary view has its annotation crop turned off,


    Revit switches ‘on’ the annotation crop for the dependent duplicated view as shown below.


    To bring back the lost detail tag, we just need to make the annotation crop a bit bigger. (Revit is a bit unforgiving here – even if the annotation crop is big enough to engulf the tag extent, Revit hides it. We need to make the anno crop bigger to make it show.)


    The annotation crop only affects the tags that represent Reference Views. Other normal view tags are not affected because Revit does not consider them ‘strictly’ annotation objects! But Reference view tags are considered as annotation objects (Only duplicating with details brings the reference tags! Duplicating a view does not; In this case the reference tag is NOT hidden, it just is NOT there! )

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    Architects detail lines not visible

    We, the architects, are not lazy. We use detail lines sometimes to avoid modeling. This does not sound good. However, the mantra we have, is that if the objects is not visible in multiple views, and is not scheduled, tagged, used for cost estimating, etc., and IF it saves time (now and over the course of the project), then “detail line” it. (Sorry! This still sounds bad!)

    When the engineers link the architect’s model, these detail lines are not visible in their model by default. For eg. the roof plan done by architects with some detail lines will not look complete without gutters; etc. To make these detail lines visible:

    Go to VG > Revit links tab and click on “By Host View” (which is the default option)


    Select the “By Linked View” option and then select the Architect’s view in which they have drawn the detail lines.


    Now you can see all our detail lines. We typically create a separate view for consultants for this purpose to make things easier.

    This change affects only the current view. You cannot hide individual objects from the architects model in this view. For more info you can check here and here.

    Monday, March 23, 2009

    Show Meters in Level Dimensions

    If the project is in MM and you want to show the dimensions in M in certain views, you can create a new dimension type that has its units set as M.

    However, to change the Level dimensions in Elevation views to show in Meters, you have to edit the Level head family (look for it in the Project Browser > Families > Annotation Symbols > Level Head…).


    In the family editor, select the ‘Elevation’ label and select in the ‘Edit Label’ button in the option bar.


    Select the Elevation parameter in the RIGHT side of the Edit Label dialog box. (If you select the label in the LEFT side, the “Edit parameters Unit format” button - small hand like thing at the bottom – won’t become available.


    In the format dialog box, you can uncheck the ‘Use project settings’ and change the units.


    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    Copy values from one Revit schedule to another

    Here is a script I wrote in Autohotkey that copies values from one Revit schedule to another. This is not done through Revit API. Instead this uses the crude Windows copy/paste commands.

    It expects the cells to be contiguous. The cell values need to be instance driven (as opposed to type driven). Trying to copy similar “Mark” values for different instances might trip an “Elements have duplicate 'Number' values” error in Revit.

    The executable file + the code + readme file is available as a zip file here for Revit 2009. I have also posted the file at augi (login required.)

    Thursday, March 5, 2009

    Script to copy values from Excel to Revit Schedule

    The evaluation copy of the updated script for Revit 2011 is available at:

    Here is a script I wrote using Autohotkey to copy cell values from Microsoft Excel or Open Calc into a Revit Schedule. You can download the zip file here for Revit 2009 and here for Revit 2010. I have also posted the zip file at augi (login required)
    The script copies a bunch of cells (rows x columns) and pastes them into a revit schedule (contiguous rows x columns).
    1. he script works well if all the fields in Revit schedule are EDITABLE. (A normal schedule has lots of ‘read-only’ fields like Family name, Area, etc where this script will fail.)
    2. The script does not create blank rows for data in Revit (yet). You need to create as many rows as you might need using this button in the Revit option bar before running the script.

    Thursday, February 26, 2009

    Delete a curtain grid

    To delete a curtain grid, all one has to do is to select the grid line (by TABbing) and then press delete.

    If the grid line is pinned, you have to unpin before deleting.


    If the grid is part of the “type driven curtain wall”, Revit does not allow you to delete the grid line and does not give any warnings nor indication. (However, if you select the gridline and the mullions along the gridline of the “type driven curtain wall” and try to delete them, Revit gives this warning. )


    You can use the ‘Add or remove segments’ in the option bar, after selecting the grid line, to remove segments of the grid line.


    If you try to delete all the segments, using this command, Revit gives a warning:


    The resultant curtain wall has split mullions because of the existence of the ghost grid line like:


    Sometimes this split mullions can create cleanup issues in the elevation. This can be solved only by deleting the grid line. To do this, select the CW and change its type to “Curtain Wall: Curtain Wall 1”


    This is a default CW type that is fully customizable and does not have many ‘type driven values”. After you change the type, Revit gives this warning:


    Press OK. (If you select “Delete Gridline” Revit will remove your existing grid lines and mullions!) You should not see much changes in your CW. Now the CW is not a type driven element and so, Revit will allow you to delete the ghost grid line.