Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Project Browser View Organization

On projects and in my templates I have the different categories where views are organized. In this write-up I will explain how I use the project browser to organize views into three main categories. These categories are Working Views, Sheet Views and BIM Coordination Views. Also, this mostly applies to MEP but could apply to other trades as well.

Working Views are to be used for modeling. These typically have all elements and links turned on for coordination. They are set to wireframe so they refresh faster. These are usually floorplans, ceiling plans, sections and 3D views. It is important to tell people to model and adjust the model in these views.

Sheet Views are to be used for sheets. These typically have other trades turned off or halftoned so they don’t display on the sheets (there are exceptions to this). They are typically set to hidden line for graphical reasons on the plans. These are typically floorplans, sections and 3D isometrics. We typically do not put ceiling plans on sheets since they are only used for coordination. Also, drafting views go under the sheet views and these contain details, diagrams, etc.

BIM Coordination Views are typically used on larger projects but can also be used on smaller ones. Some views I use are set up for exporting 3D to Navisworks, coordinating levels and grids, shared coordinates, coordinating spaces and anything else that could be coordinated in the model by a model manager or BIM Coordinator.

Setting up the Browser Organization Properties in the Project Browser:

1) Add a project parameter to the model.

a. Go to the Manage tab and click on Project Parameters.

b. Click on Add…

c. Use the following settings:

d. Click ok and now you have added the project parameter

2) Set up Browser Organization Properties

a. Right click on the very top of the Project Browser where it says Views

b. Click on the Folders tab and use the following settings

c. Click ok and now the Project Browser will organize the views based on this order. Each view will have instance properties.

3) The following instance properties for each individual view will affect how things are organized in the project browser.

a. The View Type is where you will type Working Views, Sheet Views or BIM Coordination Views.

b. The Sub-Discipline is where you can type different disciplines. This will make another step with a pull-down. (HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, etc)

c. The Type is automatic depending on what type of view it is (Floorplan, Ceiling Plan, Section, etc.)

d. The View Name sorts depending on the name of the view. For example, I usually name my floorplans with a number before the level(00 Basement, 01 First Floor, etc)

Some additional Tips & Tricks:

· Use view templates to apply these properties to other views rather than selecting each individual view and changing them.

· You can use more than three main categories for the View Type. I have found these three work for my needs (Working Views, Sheet Views and BIM Coordination Views.

· Be sure to stress the importance of the difference between a working view and a sheet view to your staff. If you are using 2013 it’s a little better because they will not be able to change to sheet view properties if a view template is assigned to the sheet views.

· If there are several people working on the project it’s a good idea to have separate working views. I usually do this under the Sub-Discipline property. For example I would make a section called “Johns Working Views”.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Blog Topic Brainstorming

I have been brainstorming some ideas for future blog posts relating to general Revit and MEP Specific. Below are a few ideas I came up with. If there is anything you wish to see please send me an email or leave a comment.

1)       Project Browser View Organization

2)       Managing Links with Worksets

3)       Linking Autocad into Revit

4)       Quick Access Toolbar Customization (UIState.dat)

5)       Templates & Setting up models

6)       Weird Revit Workarounds

7)       Dependent Views & Plan Regions

8)       Duct/Pipe Rise & Drop Symbols

9)       Using Space information & Color Schemes to assist design

10)   Everything about System Connectors

11)   Piping System Workarounds (Vents & Heating Water Return)

12)   Everything about Sheets (Setting up Sheets, Batch Plotting, Titleblock Families, Drawing Indexes, etc)

13)   Setting up Tags & Annotation


Using Filters for Duct and Pipe Systems

Using Filters for the different Duct and Pipe systems can improve the way you view and manage the system information in the model. A basic understanding of Revit Systems, View Templates and Filters will be needed for this exercise. Below we will be filtering the System Abbreviation property of duct and pipe systems. Why System Abbreviation? I decided to use that since it’s a property that is different for each individual system type. Filtering by System Classification or System Type can get confused when systems contain the same word especially when you get into piping (ex. Hot Water & Hot Water Return). System Name can be different but often people are not using systems for what they are intended to be so they forget to name them properly (I guess this could force them to do it but with most things in Revit there are several ways for everything).

Revit Systems Basics – Mechanical Equipment and Plumbing Fixture family types have connectors in them to connect ducts and pipes to. These individual connectors have properties for different system types (Supply Air, Return Air, Exhaust Air, Domestic Cold Water, Domestic Hot Water, Hydronic Supply, Hydronic Return, etc). When a duct or pipe is connected to a connector on a family it will automatically be put on that system type. There can be multiple different system types associated with one connector (ex. Hydronic Supply could be Heating or Cooling, Supply Air could be used for Outside Air). There is a limited number of System Types that can be assigned to a connector so we create multiple Duct and Pipe Systems (See step 1 below) for the systems we need. Currently there are no system types in Revit for things like gas or compressed air so I use the ‘Other’ system type. For a list of system types see help menus or consult with Google.

Duct System Filters:

We begin by adding a System Abbreviation to each Duct System Type. We will then create filters for each Duct System Type.
1) Go to the project browser and expand Families – Duct Systems – Duct System. Out of the box there should be three options (Exhaust Air, Return Air and Supply Air)


2) Double Click on Exhaust Air to get to the Type Properties. Enter in an abbreviation for Exhaust Air (I use EA). Do the same for Return Air and Supply Air (I use RA and SA).


3) Open the Filters Settings and you will see the default Filters for Duct and Pipes.


4) Click on the ‘Mechanical – Supply’ filter and then check ‘Hide un-checked categories’. The following categories should display. If they do not then uncheck ‘Hide un-checked categories’ and check them (Air Terminals and Flex Ducts might not be checked). Also, note that I did not check mechanical equipment because it can be associated with multiple system types. Repeat this step for the other two Duct System Types (Exhaust Air and Return Air)

*Do not check Duct Systems. It will limit the options in the next step under Filter Rules


5) Under the Filter Rules change the Filter by to System Abbreviation Equals SA. Repeat this for Return Air and Exhaust Air. If you checked Duct Systems this in the previous step the option for System Abbreviation will not be available.


Pipe System Filters:
We begin by adding a System Abbreviation to each Pipe System Type. We will then create filters for each Pipe System Type. Piping can be a bit more to manage than Duct since there are many different system types.
Pipe System Type Breakdown (Plumbing & Hydronics) -
Hydronic Supply – Used for Chilled Water Supply, Heating Water Supply. Calculates GPM.
Hydronic Return - Used for Chilled Water Return, Heating Water Return. Calculates GPM.
Sanitary – Used for Waste/Sanitary and Vent. Calculates Fixture Units
Vent – Not Used. Does NOT calculate Fixture Units
Domestic Hot Water – Used for Hot Water and Hot Water Return. Calculates Fixture Units and converts to GPM
Domestic Cold Water - Used for Cold Water. Calculates Fixture Units and converts to GPM
Other – Used for other systems that Revit does not calculate. Compressed Air, Gas, etc.

1) Go to the project browser and expand Families – Piping Systems – Piping System. Out of the box there should be several options. Based off the breakdown above create the following systems.
Note: that you might need to add additional systems as needed depending on the type of projects you work on.

Note: I do NOT use the out of the box vent system. I duplicated Sanitary and named it Vent.


2) Double Click on Chilled Water Return to get to the Type Properties. Enter in an abbreviation for Chilled Water Return (I use CHWR). Do the same for the rest of the Piping System Types (I did not do Fire Protection in this exercise)


3) Open the Filters Settings and you will see the default Filters for Duct and Pipes. You will need to create a filter for each Piping System type you created.


4) Click on the ‘Mechanical – Supply’ filter and then check ‘Hide un-checked categories’. The following categories should display. If they do not then uncheck ‘Hide un-checked categories’ and check them (Flex Pipes might not be checked). Also, note that I did not check plumbing fixtures because it can be associated with multiple system types. Repeat this step for the other Piping System Types.

*Do not check Pipe Systems. It will limit the options in the next step under Filter Rules


5) Under the Filter Rules change the Filter by to System Abbreviation Equals SA. Repeat this for Return Air and Exhaust Air. If you checked Piping Systems this in the previous step the option for System Abbreviation will not be available.


Applying Filters to Views:
Now that you have created the filters you can add them to a view template and apply them to views. Depending on which version you use (2013 has some view template improvements that automate things a little more than previous versions). I am going to show how to add the filters to a plan view under visibility graphics which is the same procedure as applying it to a view template.

1) Open a plan view and go to Visibility Graphics – Filters tab. Currently there are no filters applied to the view. Click on Add to add the filters you created.


2) Select all the filters you want to add. I typically put the Duct filters on top and Pipe Filters on Bottom. Select the three Duct Filters and click OK. Then open the Add filters again and select the Pipe Filters to add. You can also change the order after you add them by selecting the filter and clicking on Up/Down.


3) Now that you have your filters added to the view you can apply Colors and Line Patterns. Below is what I typically use for Colors. Depending on what discipline I use for the view I might halftone everything that’s not being worked on. So in a Duct view I will halftone all the Plumbing Piping so the Duct Filter colors stand out more.


NOTE: In each Duct and Piping System Type Properties there is an option for graphical overrides. You can also change the color here for the system but keep in mind this is a global change. The filters in visibility graphics will override this setting. The graphical overrides in the Duct and Piping System Type Properties will transfer through if your model is linked into another file and there is no way to override this which is why I choose not to use it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Managing MEP Content Libraries on Large Projects & Creating a ‘Test Model’

I once heard a term for Revit called “dog piling”. This is where people put a bunch of families outside the building as kind of a library to copy from since revit doesn’t really have tool pallets of any sort. Why would a dog need to pile bones if he could right click and create another one instantly?!
In this writeup I am going to discuss some of the lessons I have learned over the past few years about managing MEP content on a large project. Some of this content I created from scratch and some I downloaded from manufacturers. On this project I was in charge of managing the HVAC and Plumbing content.
Sourcing Content

Creating content from scratch:
Custom content will need to be created since there are still manufacturers that are not providing content. This will probably always be an issue with BIM especially if the project requires custom equipment. Autodesk has a good tutorial on this but it’s pretty outdated. It would still be valuable to go through it and get the basics so you can build on it. There are also other sources: blogs, youtube, etc.
Link to Autodesk Revit MEP Family Tutorials:
Downloading content from manufacturer’s:
There are many manufacturers providing Revit families these days. I have a list in a previous blog post with links to all the website of manufacturer’s providing content. (The link to AUGI is probably more up to date)Some manufacturers have better content than others but it is often easier to start with these than it is to start from scratch.
Below are a few things to watch out for with families in no apparent order:
*AIA-E202: Some projects are required to be modeled to a certain level of detail based on this document.
*Level of detail: Families with too much detail can drastically slow down a large model. Especially if you have a hundreds or thousands of instances. On small projects this is not as big of a deal. Find a balance between modeling all the details of a part or just modeling the general shape. Also, round shapes take more PC power to calculate than square shapes!
*Display in Medium vs Fine Detail: Sheet views are typically set to Medium Detail. If the manufacture has not taken this into consideration then it might not show the proper symbol on plan (Valves, Diffusers, Lights, etc.)
*Connector properties: Test the duct and pipe flow to make sure these are calculating in the right direction. Also that they are on the right system. (see image)
*Flow Arrows: I put flow arrows on equipment that only show up in fine detail so the designers don’t put them backwards. This way the will not plot on the sheets that are set to Medium Detail. (see image)
*Maintenance Clearance: I used the same Mechanical Equipment Sub-Category name for all my maintenance clearances. This way we only had to uncheck one place to turn them all off in Visibility Graphics.
*Hosted vs Non-Hosted: The big hosted vs non-hosted debate saga continues…. My personal preference is non-hosted and if we have to use hosted use a reference plane over a linked surface. There are many sources on the internet where this issue is debated heavily so go there since I’m not looking to get involved :)
*Navisworks: If you are using navisworks keep in mind that each extrusion becomes an element that is clashed. For example, if you have a pendant light family that has 4 horizontal extrusions for the light shape you will get 4 clashes if its intersecting a duct. There might be a way to filter these out in NW.
*Materials: Are you going to be rendering this model? If so you might need more detail in your families and materials applied so the renderings turn out better.
*Model Category: Depending on how you are controlling visibility and how you want the family to work the Model Category could be pretty important.
*Type vs Instance Parameters: Be sure to think through where you use type and instance parameters. Some of the manufacturers might not do this how you will need it in your project since it can vary.
i. Type Catalogs: More family types will make your working model larger. Only bring in what types you need!
Connector Properties and Flow Arrows
Test Model
I decided it would be a better idea to create a blank project and set up a view where you can layout the different families and family types. The purpose is to test families before they are distributed to the team and inserted into the project models. You can put all the families for the project into one test model or split them up by discipline depending on project size and the amount of content.
It is probably a good idea to use the same template used for the project models rather than the out of the box template.
HVAC Test Model
Plumbing Test Model
Things to test:
*Display at different detail levels on plan, in section and 3D
-Medium Detail is typical for sheet views
-Fine Detail is typical for working views
*Parametric families should flex properly
*System connector properties calculate flow and be on the right system type
*Hosted/Non-Hosted families host properly
*Tags display properly – I input some of the type parameter data the tags are reading before I distributed them. For example diffusers and the GRD schedule.
*Setup a small room with a ceiling to test hosted families if you are going this route. Otherwise reference planes will work. (ex. diffusers, receptacles, etc)
Create Library documents for designers:
*Create PDF’s of the different families and family types for the engineers to reference. This is helpful on a large project with hundreds of different families. Sorting through them in the properties pull-down can be a daunting task. If they have a PDF to reference they can go to the project browser and find the type name to insert. (see image)
*Be sure to communicate to the designers that they should not change Type Properties without notifying you!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Creating Detail Libraries (Updated)

Below is an example of how I took a CAD detail library and converted it to Revit. You might need to do a few things different depending on how your CAD detail library is set up but this should point you in the right direction.
Line Types & Text Style:

I started with a blank Revit project. First I created the Line Styles in the image below in Revit. I matched the colors with the layers in the AutoCAD files I will be taking the details from. Also note that I created a separate Line Style for dashed lines.
Line Styles
I created a text style in Revit for the detail text. This way it will not interfere with any text styles in my template and all the text in details can be isolated if needed.
Text Style

Converting Files from AutoCAD:
1) Create a Drafting View and set the scale to 12” = 1’=0”
2) Import CAD - Select CAD File
a. Everything in CAD has to be in the same place (Paper Space or Model Space)
3) Import CAD Format Settings
a. Colors: Black & White
b. Layers: Visible
c. Import Units: Auto-Detect
d. Positioning: Auto – Center to Center
4) Select the CAD element and Explode - Full Explode
a. Repeat this until it will not explode any further
5) Condense the Lines and Text to the Line Styles created.
a. Easiest way to condense lines is to draw a window around all the objects and filter out each Line Style individually.
b. Easiest way to condense text is to right click on it and select all instances in view.
6) Separate each individual detail into its own view. Easiest way to do this is to duplicate with detailing and delete the details except the one that needs to be isolated.
7) Name each view with the title needed when it’s inserted on a sheet.
NOTE: Leaders and Hatch Patterns will not convert to Revit. Lines shorter than 1/32” will not convert to Revit.
View Organization:

In order to get the details to organize in the project browser when inserted you will need to match the ‘Views’ properties in your company’s template.
Create two project parameters called ‘View Type’ and ‘View Usage’. Match the parameter data below for both. Also note that Views is checked under Categories.
Project Parameter Properties

You can get to the Browser Organization Properties by right clicking on ‘Views’ in the project browser. Then click on Edit Folders. I did not apply any filters.
View Organization
Based on how I setup the Browser Organization Properties above the following needs to be entered into each views instance properties:
View Type: Sheet Views (I separate Sheet Views and Working Views. Details are Sheet Views)
Sub-Discipline: The discipline that the detail pertains to (ex. Fire Protection, Plumbing, etc.)
View Usage: Type of detail within the discipline (ex. Hangers, Equipment, etc.)
Below is an image of the Project Browser after this is set up.
I set up a sheet for each ‘View Usage’ category and created a collated PDF with all the details. This gives non-Revit users the ability to view the details library. Also, it’s quicker to view them without opening Revit if needed.

Insert From File:

Now the details file is set up and you are ready to start inserting details into your project. Go to Insert from File under the Insert tab in the Ribbon and select Insert Views from File. Go to the location of the details file you set up.
Insert Views from File
The Insert Views window appears. You can then select the details you want to insert into your project. You can select multiple drafting views and sheets and insert them into your project.

*UPDATE 2-20-2013*
I recently added a numbering scheme to the details so they are easier to sort through when a user goes to insert from file. I added the sheet number/detail number to the begining of the detail name in the View Name property. Then I copied the detail name to Title on Sheet so this will not display on the view title when inserted.