Unable to Edit a Revit Family

edit-revit-familyHave you ever been working with a Revit file that has been upgraded from a previous version? If so, you may have noticed that you may not be able to edit any of the families that are defined in that project.

I’ve run into this issue quite a bit, especially considering that we use the Autodesk Official Training Courseware (AOTC) to teach our Revit Architecture Essentials classes. If you’ve ever opened any of the project files included with this course, you may have noticed that none of the families are editable. The exact reason why has always been a bit of a mystery.

The fact that some families are impossible to edit has brought up two great questions:

  1. Why are these families not editable in the first place (and is it possible that my families may not be able to be edited in the future?)
  2. This is great! How can I ‘lock Revit families’ to prevent other people from editing them?

We always had a hunch that it had something to do with the fact that the projects had been upgraded from older Revit projects, though we weren’t sure exactly why that would be the case. It’s evident that many of the files in the Revit AOTC are quite old, perhaps being originally created 4 or 5 years ago. I’ve also run across files from clients that are several years old and they have the same issue. I’ve seen several threads up on AUGI and RevitCity asking the same thing, but hadn’t seen a satisfactory answer.  So, I posed the question directly to product support at Autodesk. It clears it up…well, sort of!

Here’s a snippet from the email I received:

The Edit Family option was not always available in Revit. If you have a family which was created in a version of Revit prior to the Edit Family option, then that option won’t be available when the family is loaded into a project.

This doesn’t mean you can’t update the family you just have to use a different method. Find the family in the Project Browser. Right click on it and select Reload.

So, I understand that older versions of Revit didn’t have the ‘Edit Family’ button. I don’t exactly understand why those legacy families can’t be edited now, though, since their information is clearly stored in the project, and we do have the ‘Edit Family’ option now, but, straight from the Factory, that’s how it works.

Now, if you have the original family saved somewhere, as a seperate RFA family, you can use that Reload trick, which lets you select the seperate family file and load that definition into the project. Once you’ve done that, you’ll notice that the ‘Edit Family’ button is now available. Sweet!

For old projects with custom families where you don’t still have access to the RFA files, sounds like you’re out of luck. There’s no way to ‘break out’ these family definitions from your project to make RFA files out of them. For a normal family, you don’t need the RFA file. If you ever want to create a seperate RFA with that family definition, you just hit the ‘Edit Family’ button, then Save to a new file. This just isn’t available with these old legacy files. Again, I don’t exactly understand why that’s the case, but it seems pretty set in stone. If anyone has any tricks that you’ve figured out to get around this, by all means, post a comment! I’d love to share the solution, if there is one. I’ve sure got a few of these old projects sitting around that I’ve love to be able edit the families for.

Now, getting back to question number 2: Is it possible to lock a Revit family so that other people can’t mess with it? No good news on that count, either.  So, if you create your custom family with an old version of Revit (probably pre Revit 5), and save that into an old project, then upgrade it to Revit 2009 or Revit 2010, that family will be ‘protected’, due to the reasons mentioned above. Unfortunately, that idea really doesn’t fly, and if you are creating families with more recent versions, they will be open to anyone you give the RVT project to.

Autodesk has had many requests to come up with a way to protect custom Revit families (my own request included), so this might be functionality we see in the future.

You can use the following link to submit feedback and feature requests to the Autodesk Development group:

Till then, share and share alike, I guess!

Thanks to Lance at Autodesk for the above clarification.

Happy Reviting.