Sunday, February 22, 2009

Design Options, Linked Files, and Revit Standards...

To say its been a slow few months would be an understatement, but i suppose thats true for many of us with the economic situation as it is. Ive missed posting, as i really enjoy working with Revit and toiling with its idiosyncrasies as we fight to get productive work done. Im HAPPY to say, it looks like the proverbial end of the dry spell MAY be here, as ive had reason to model a few things recently, and i have cause for hope that a few big and interesting opportunities are on the way: All of which i expect to spark Revit questions for me.

Most people on AUGI know me as a fanatic of Linked Files. Thats not to say i wouldnt prefer one giant model that functioned elegantly, but i find using Linked Files creates wonderful performance gains for the whole team, as long as im steadfast with the model management. Not too long ago, i built this model: A very simple Mixed use 7 storey building.

I found great potential here to use Linked Files with Design options, as there are really only a few variations in the Floor plans. That is, the model only has 1 storey modeled. It then has design options as follow:

-Options Set: First Floor
----Option 1: Yes
----Option 2: No (primary)

-Option Set: Second Floor
----Option 1: Yes
----Option 2: No (primary)

-Option Set: Top Floor
----Option 1: Yes
----Option 2: No (primary)

That file is then linked and copied amongst the floor Levels, and in each view the appropriate design option configurations can be picked. Herein lies my issue, though i may be alone in such a desire:

It makes since WITHIN a file, that Design Options be view specific. Otherwise, how would we show the different options? However, with file links, i personally would like the OPTION to make the Design Options view specific in the Parent File, or Model centric when linked in. Why? Well consider the above file:

The first floors D.O. selections will ALWAYS be : Yes, No, No.
The second Floors Options will ALWAYS be: No, Yes, No.
Floors 3-6 will always be: No, No, No (primary for all)
Top floor will always be: No, No, Yes.

BUT, this needs to be adjusted in VG for every view in the parent file. With Revits penchant for extra dialogue boxes, thats a lot. (1) VG, RVT Links tab (2), Custom (3), Design options tab (4), Select, select, select, Okay, Okay, Okay, Okay, Okay. thats a lot of clicks.

View templates shorten the process, and can be applies ALMOST globally... But they cant for schedules, im not sure why. In a Door schedule with the linked files, trying to apply a VT that overrides the VG: RVT Links tab wont allow the VT to show up at all.

Considering the amount of Schedules i use for QC in my models, thats a LOT of setup work, for something that would simply be to say *these linked files will always be configured in this design option...*. It could even be in the Manage Links dialogue: Design Option: by view or by link instance. Man, that would make my day.

Worth mentioning, with this issue of the schedules in the linked files, if ANYONE on the project team isnt up to speed on the implications of the linked files and the design options, your hands are tied to basically tell the entire team NOT to make new views... Or theyre in the thick without realizing it.

All of THAT said, a post was on AUGI years ago (thats still being updated), about firms SHARING their templates and standards, and i find extreme validity in this. A firm i talk with extensively even has their content posted on their website (they shall remina nameless unless they want to chime in). A FEW offices ive worked for are holding tight to their content,and templates, and standards, yelling "Work Product," and "Intellectual property," and a whole lot of other phrases i personally cant stand. Im sorry. My service is ARCHITECTURE. Thats what differntiates us. If i can share a template and MAYBE help someone else succeed with a tool that i BELIEVE is going to continue to aide and alter our industry, then i'll share it.
There are SO many discussions on standards: Naming conventions, family construction, Phases used as legend band aids, level of Details, View template setups, etc.
We all work differently, and we can certainly all learn from one another.
I have a new venue coming up soon, and it will have space for me to upload, store, share, and distribute. Instructionals on things ive done, or helped with, as well as templates, content, etc. Keep an eye posted, i should be getting to it in the next week or two. As a self proclaimed Process Engineer and Informational Hippy, i prefer to share. Not because i think everything ive done is the best way, but because the best way we ALL advance is to work together. Color me naive. :) I'll report back once the site is set up...


Kell said...

Nice to see you back!

Regarding standards... I agree with you in principle. However, I can understand a firm's reluctance to give away something that cost them time, money and gallons of frustration to get right. Intellectual property is a touchy subject. One might argue that coming up with a fantastic template for Revit is as much architectural design as the building itself. How we design is a cornerstone for the end result after all.

My other thought was that simply adopting another firm's template does not enrich the BIM arena at all. It's not at all like an "open source" project where multiple groups contribute to a product and enrich it with all their experience. I like to trade templates and ideas with other BIM managers but the goal is to mutually improve our efforts. Different types of projects motivate BIM users to approach problems differently. Often, I'd even rather see a firm's BIM Execution Plan and talk about the reasoning behind their processes than analyze the families they've loaded into their templates. (I can make my own families after all.) Processes evolve as a result of experiences; they tell you more about what is working and what isn't for a firm. In the long run, I think that is somehow more valuable than the stuff...

I try to deal more with Intellectual Capital than Intellectual Property.

Aaron Maller said...

Very well said Kell! And i agree with you on most of what you say. Regarding intellectual capital versus property, all i meant to say is that if we all share, it doesnt have to be "download and adopt" so much as "download and deconstruct, and discuss," which is what im hoping for.

Youre right, we can all build content, and surely we all do. I find the BIM exectution much more important as well. Those are the discussions that drive a lot of what we make in our templates, i think.

Regarding the frustration of time and money in building such a device... That IS a touchy subject. WOULD we have all spent so much time and money if we were all sharing? :) Its much like AUGI. Someone goes there with an issue while theyre trying to learn, and its an issue you might have burned up project budget finding a solution to. In the same right, why would we help? Because i want to see us all succeed with this tool.

I think if our methodological products were our deliverable, id be much more hesitant. But if anything, our processes are what differntiate us, not our (technological) content... :)

Helsinki_Dave said...


Just a question on the original use of linked files. How do you maintain your families between files? If, say, the External Wall-Type 1 changes over the life of the building, do you use the Transfer Project Standards tool (which is bizarelly mechangical) or have you found another more automated way of doing things?

Aaron Maller said...


When i had items like system families whos definitions had to change across the Linked Files, i used Model Groups to save the content out and reload it in to the other Linked Files. In this project it was less of an issue, since the different links are merely instances of the same Link, but in other projects i use the Group Files with good success.

For instance, ill have one group called "Partition Types." If someone needs to edit a wall type, they do so in the group, then save the group out. You still need to manually remember to reload the group in to all of the links, but it updates the wall types.

Ive handled Walls, Families and Types, Materials, Floors, Ceilings, Roofs, and OTHER model groups in this fashion.

The one bizarre exception is Sweeps and profiles. Since the profiles define the sweep (but are somehow not considered part of it) they do not reload, so you have to reload whatever profile Family you have used in embedded wall sweeps. All in all not a biggie. :)

fishandchips said...

Fascinating tuff. As a relative newcomer, and an MEP type at that, I don't pretend to understand all the technicalities of this thread, but I believe I will invest some time in researching it. From a purely MEP standpoint there are often subtle differences which preclude using this approach totally for building services (Pipe/Duct risers for example) but if I can find a way to break these out, then the rest of the model for that floor level becomes usable as a template.Now you might wonder what a non architect type is doing in your blog, but since the architectural revit is light years ahead of the infant MEP suite, it seems to me I can learn from you old timers. For example, I have attended a couple of Paul Aubin's lectures at various AUGI functions and I picked up all sorts of useful points. I do have some background as an building designer having moonlighted for a friend doing his detailing on custom houses and light commercial projects and I also designed and CM'd my own waterfront custom house a few yearsback. (Did I mention that I went broke doing it)After that I found myself having to build my own 3d architectural and structural models to have something to hang my systems in since the professionals I was partnered with stubbornly stuck to the old 2d stuff. So hopefully you will put up with my interjections from time to time, as I plan to follow your blog in the future.

Anonymous said...

DUDE! Spelling....

Aaron Maller said...

If you know me, you know im not a fan of proofreading/spellchecking/apostrophes. Thats just part of the Mallerisms. Sorry!

Anonymous said...

What about 3D views that show multiple linked files that need to have different options selected?

Aaron Maller said...

It works fine, just like in the 3D view you see above. That is several instances of the same link, all showing different design options. View Templates allow each instance of an RVT:Link Type to show a different design option.

La tournee de faux said...

If you ever find a solution to setting the design options globally, please post. I have been looking for the same solution as well. We do projects like the one you modeled all the time and it is frustrating to always have to set up a view template for each view type to correct the issue.

Thanks for the rant. I share your pain.