Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Scheduling the same parameter twice

I recently received an equipment schedule for a commercial kitchen in one of our projects, which appeared to have been created in CAD. Since it’s a pretty wide schedule, the item number column on the left had been duplicated halfway the schedule and to the right, making it easier to read across a row.


I had never seen this before and it sparked my curiosity, since a Revit schedule only allows us to show a parameter once. The trick here is to use calculated values. Hitting the button with the three dots on the right of the Formula field will show you any available parameters to be used in a formula.


I tried this for an array of parameters in a door schedule, and it appears to work for most parameters, but certainly not all. In the example below, it didn't work for the Function parameter, but did work for Finish, Operation and other text parameters.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Slab Depressions

Some time ago, I helped out on a project that had a lot of slab depressions that seemed to keep on changing all the time. The problem was in their setup; the sketch of the main slab had to be edited to create a void, after which a new slab with a negative offset was modeled inside that void. Lastly, a slab edge had to be added matching the depth of the slab depression, after which all elements had to be joined so the section would read cleanly. Certainly a few steps too many, and that's when I get unhappy.

It didn't take long to create a rectangular and an L-shaped stretchable generic model that creates a slab depression and performs all the above mentioned steps at once.


The geometry was based on this structural detail, and adapts to the thickness of the host slab.


For starters, I created types for 1”, 2”, 3” and 4”.


If a section is cut through them, joining the slab and the depression family will clean up the linework.


The files can be downloaded here (2013).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

space planning tool

Another one from the bag of tricks is a simple stretchable detail item to represent rooms during space planning. Much like a sheet of trace paper to lay over your floor plan, this detail item affects none of the model elements allowing for very quick exploration of a few schematic options without the use of design options. Since this is a detail item, it's only visible in the view the work is done.


Two families have been created; one rectangular, the other L-shaped. A few types have been set up to show different wall thicknesses. A simple tag shows labels for the room name (optional), width & length (finish to finish), and resulting area.



By using reference planes and reference lines, the families will snap to each other, making it easy to align them. A center line for the wall thickness was added for reference.


All the families can be downloaded from here (2013).

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How to dimension a funky curved wall

This post isn't really template related, but I wanted to share it anyways. Some time ago I had to dimension several complex curvy corridors and it became quite an ugly cluster of dimensions with center points often landing far outside the building. In an effort to simplify this for the framer in the field, and to keep our drawings neat, I came up with the following setup:



The dimensions shown are actually line-based detail items with a tagged length parameter. The tick mark and arrow at the end of the dimension are nested generic annotations, so they will scale properly. The unit precision for the tag is set to the nearest 1/2".


I decided on a 4’ spacing and since a grid wasn't nearby, I created an arbitrary reference line (dashed line) to dimension from; the reference line was then dimensioned back to the closest grid. The fastest way to do this is to create a single instance with a tag and copy it over every 4’. Then you can use the extend multiple to align all dimensions to the face of stud.


On site, anyone can lay this out and connect the dots, but as always, I would like some feedback on this approach, especially from someone with more framing experience than myself.

The families can be downloaded from here (2013).


Edit: I recreated the family in 2013 and added a few new types as shown. I also added a double horizontal control to allow for flipping the direction when using the Arrow - Line type:



Friday, September 20, 2013

Scope Boxes

Our template already has a lot of views created, which makes it easy at the beginning of a project, but a lot of work to adjust the crop boxes of all these views… if it weren't for scope boxes. A scope box can control the size of several views at once and makes sure they all match each other in size. Changing the size of a scope box will change the size of all views accordingly. It's a huge time-saver!

It’s not always easy to get people to use scope boxes. Often, they are one of the first things to get deleted from a project because “I didn’t want to see those red boxes.” As a result, we have now turned off scope boxes in all our view templates. They could even be added to their own workset that’s invisible in all views. Consultants will appreciate this as well since our scope boxes would otherwise show up in their model & views as well.

Some of the scope boxes currently set up are Overall for 1/16" views, and areas A, B, C & D for 1/8" views. The choice to use 4 areas was based on our typical project size, but if fewer are needed, they can easily be deleted. To make adjustments, a 'Scope Boxes' view has been set up where you can move & stretch or delete them as needed. For clarity, all model elements are set to halftone.


Some of the view types that have scope boxes assigned in the template:
- overall and area floor plans (demo and new)
- overall and area reflected ceiling plans (demo and new)
- overall life safety plans
- overall and area equipment plans
- overall and area floor finish plans

Views have been named accordingly:


To assign a scope box to a new view, change the view’s properties under ‘Extents’:


To create a new scope box, either copy an existing scope box or create a new one:


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Grid Cleanliness

Grids are pretty important in ensuring model cleanliness; we all rely on their accuracy when we work on our models, yet they’re just so easy to nudge, and we may not realize they’re no longer accurate. Even worse, a modeler may not care as much about model precision and figure that 90.27 degrees or 20’-0 127/256” is good enough. Once the grids are off, it could take days before this is discovered, and even longer to repair the damage across all disciplines. It’s a real snowball effect.

That’s why I feel it’s important to set up a grid view early in the project, or even better, make it part of your template. This grid view isolates all grids in the model and quickly points out any errors. The grid view monitors spacing & rotation, worksets and locking of grids; of course, it can only be effective if monitored repeatedly by the BIM manager.

 For clarity, I’ve set the view scale to 1/32” and am using the following graphics settings:

- Model Categories:
     hide all, except for a single construction line type
- Annotation Categories:
     hide all, except for dimensions, grids and text notes
- Analytical Model Categories:
     uncheck ‘Show analytical model categories in this view’
- Imported Categories:
     uncheck ‘Show imported categories in this view’
- Filters:
     create a ‘Grids - on wrong workset’ view filter and set the projection lines to be dashed red



- Worksets:
     Set all worksets to ‘Show’
- Revit Links:
     Leave all linked models turned on and set them to halftone


Now that we have a clean view, we can dimension all grids and quickly spot any inaccuracies; this can only be effective if our precision settings are set correctly. See my post on unit settings and dimensions here.

Next, because we set up a view filter earlier, we can easily identify those grids that are on the wrong workset.


Lastly, I add all grids to a dedicated design option called ‘LOCK - Grids’. This requires that making adjustments to grids is done as a conscious act, and not by mistake. You may get some resistance to this step, but it’s worth the extra step.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Template" pre-loaded with worksets

I’m not sure if this has been blogged about before, or who even suggested this at our firm, but our template isn’t a real template; it’s a workshared project with worksets.


Note that every link has a dedicated workset. This allows us to be selective about which links we want to load when we first open up our active project.

Some of the benefits are:
-    multiple people can work on the template, at the same time
-    workset naming standards is established, everybody is familiar with these
-    shorter initial set up time

but more importantly:
-    view templates can be set to include what worksets should be visible or hidden. In my opinion, this one is huge; it’s otherwise impossible to complete the setup of your views & view templates prior to starting the project.

Be cautious though, if somebody starts a new project without detaching their copy, they could do a lot of damage. This is why our template files are located on a drive that just a few people have writing permission to. When we start a new project, there are two different approaches: open a detached copy of the template model, or opening the template model and doing a Save As with the ‘Make this a Central Model after Save’ option checked. The starting view has a reminder for the person setting up the project.


Thoughts?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Project Set-Up Sheet, Follow up

In response to a comment I recently received on my Project Set-up Sheet post from over a year ago, I'll elaborate a bit on the promise I made back then.

"Most of these parameters are embedded in the titleblock as would be expected, whereas others are placed on the cover sheet, where we use a non-conventional but flexible technique to show them. This will be a post for later though."

Our titleblock has a lot of information, that depending on the project scope and size, can vary quite a bit. For one sheet-wonders, we try to cram as much as possible on the cover sheet, where as for mid-size to large projects, we prefer to see a nice cover for the fruits of our labor, most likely with project title, description and a rendering.

In the past, we would place a text piece for each on the cover, which worked fine, but it required we input the same information twice, and keep it up to date if changes occurred. We could have created a cover titleblock family, but I find this odd for just a single sheet, and it doesn't allow for quick changes, unless we edit the family.

Instead, we decided to use our standard titleblock on the cover and create additional small titleblocks that contain only the information (parameters) we want to see. Those titleblocks are then also placed on the sheet. This allows us to move or delete these chunks of information independently from each other, while maintaining that intelligent information connection with the project. In essence, the cover sheet has 3 or 4 titleblocks, each with their own set of information.

The set up is simple:
1. create a new titleblock family
2. bring the sheet boundaries to a minimum, for example 1/2" by 1/2"; this prevents overlapping boundaries
3. create labels for the shared parameters
4. apply visibility parameters as needed
5. load the family and place it on your cover sheet

Here are some examples:





Tuesday, March 26, 2013

QC Sheet

I absolutely love schedules. I often create working schedules to check for errors or completeness of our model. Rather than opening every schedule, I had this idea to create a QC sheet where all these schedules can quickly be viewed from one single place. From there, I can edit the schedule and make the necessary corrections. The sheet is assigned to its own category, and set to not appear in sheet lists.

Over the length of the project, I have created over 30 schedules that check properties of sheets, views, keynotes, generic annotations, walls, sheet notes, rooms, doors, travel distances and even structural usage of CMU walls. This turns out to be really handy for daily maintenance, but especially in those last minutes before printing.

My approach with these schedules is to filter out those elements which are in compliance and thereby exposing those that are not. This makes it pretty easy to check, since the end goal is an empty schedule. For example, my current project only allows the use of fire rated gypsum board; however, imported typical details may be using regular gypsum board. A simple Keynote Legend can list any instances where regular gypsum board is keynoted. From there, by selecting Highlight in Model, I can find and correct any culprits.


Here are some other examples:
  • Unreferenced keynotes (a value is assigned, but no matching description can be found in the keynote txt file)
  • Blank keynotes (a keynote is placed, but no value is assigned, leaving just a question mark)
  • 000000 keynotes (when placing a keynote, the user doesn’t always know what to assign. When ‘Ok’ is hit instead of ‘Cancel’ the first value is assigned)
  • Rooms (any room that’s not properly enclosed, or isn’t placed)
  • Sheet notes containing an incomplete reference (as a company standard, we use underscores to indicate unknown characters. For example “Refer to sheet AE-1.___”
  • Sheets missing important parameters
  • Egress paths exceeding maximum travel distance (we use railings as so many bloggers have posted about)
  • Generic annotations with blank parameters (one noteblock schedule per parameter)
  • Working Views placed on a sheet (we use a custom parameter to distinguish between printing views and working views)
  • Printing Views not placed on a sheet

In addition, I also set up general information schedules:
  • Door types used (this is a good way to make sure our legends show each type used)
  • Door frame types used
  • Door fire rating (to confirm the fire rating still matches the family type name)
  • Window types used
  • Wall types used

I’d be interested in hearing your uses of check-schedules.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ghosted Background Linework

I was asked if elevations had the ability to automatically grey out elements that are farther away from the front plane. Unfortunately, there isn't a simple way to accomplish this just yet. The Linework tool allows us to manually overwrite linestyles, but this is an impossibly slow process when dealing with linked models (easily up to 10 seconds per line). With the amount of elevations we're working with, this is just not a feasible approach.

As a solution, I created a parametric rectangular detail item with a solid white region which is stretchable directly in the view and has the ability to show or hide a border.


Edit: this can also be done using a filled region, but this won't have the ability to quickly turn the border on or off. However, filled regions are more flexible for custom shapes.

When loaded into the project, the Type Mark is set as 'Transparent Mask' which allows us to easily set up a view filter.


Once we add this filter to our interior elevation view templates, we can adjust the transparency to 50 percent.


Place the mask in your view, align & lock as needed and we're done! With Revit 2013's improvement on view templates, this was an easy implementation and will definitely be added to our project template.



Sample with border shown and hidden: