Control visibility of masking region linework in Revit

Masking Region Boundary VisibilityWhile creating a custom office furniture family set for a client a while back, I had the need to control the appearance of boundary lines in a Revit masking region.

On the surface, it seemed like something pretty easy to do. While in Sketch Mode for the masking region, you can select the boundary line you want to paramaterize to control its visibility and add a Yes/No field to it. You can check out the accompanying image to see how I attempted this. Seems like it would do the trick, right?

The problem is that it just flat doesn’t work. For some reason, the Visibility parameter doesn’t apply to masking region boundaries. I fought with the masking region a bit before eventually, I figured out a pretty easy work around. It was one of those things I figured out while deep in the middle of a family creation project that saved the day, but I didn’t take the time to put together a blog post or video to share it with my fellow Reviteers.

Well, Jose over at Andekan has created a great (while lengthy) video showing the problem and the work around. Check it out, after this brief description of the solution. Here’s the trick:

You can’t control the visibility of a Revit masking region boundary with a parameter.

Instead, change the linework of the boundary lines that you need to control to ‘Invisible’. Now they will never be seen. Exit sketch mode for the masking region.

Next, draw new Symbolic Lines over the top of them. Guess what? Symbolic Lines CAN have a parameter that controls their visibility!

You should be able to take it from there. If you want to see a great step by step, check out the video from Andekan. Also, be sure to check out their high quality custom Revit families. These guys do a great job of creating powerful and parametric Revit content.


Multiple Column Text in Revit 2012

Multiple column text in Revit

Multiple Column Text in Revit 2012

We’ve been waiting for it for years and it’s finally here! Well, sorta. Sorry, before I get your hopes up too high, let me tell you that the headline is a little misleading. There are many great new features and improvements in Revit Architecture 2012, but, sad to say, text manipulation and formatting still has a long way to go. So, how can we get our notes and text to wrap into multiple, free flowing columns? It’s pretty easy, once you know the technique.

We Know: Revit is not AutoCAD

No column height grip in Revit for text columnsIf you’re at all like me, you probably hate it when people compare Revit to AutoCAD, i.e. “AutoCAD can do this… why can’t Revit?” It’s generally not very productive to make these comparisons, as these are two very different products. However, when it comes to text, it’s hard not to make comparisons. AutoCAD has made great strides in the last 10 years and now boasts a pretty full featured set of text formatting and manipulation tools that sometimes leaves Revit users envious. After all, MTEXT has given us easy column flow in AutoCAD for some time now. Just click the bottom grip, and, like magic, the text flows into multiple columns.

I understand that Revit is not a Word Processor, and it was never designed to be used to make large amounts of text look pretty. Even so, the fact is that in a typical set of construction documents, there are plenty of sheets that include a ton of notes. Sometimes, a whole sheet is dedicated to General Notes. So, how can we accomplish a multiple column effect? The trick is to create a Key Schedule instead of a Text object. Schedules can be split easily into columns and flow easily.

Here is how to Wrap Text into Columns in Revit:

Create a Key Schedule for notes Create a Key Schedule, using a category that you probably won’t use, such as Site.

Name the schedule appropriately, such as GENERAL NOTES, and add the COMMENTS field to it.

Name the headings # and Note, if you like (we’ll hide the headings anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.)

Now, cut and paste each of your notes into its own row. That’s the only tedious part, but getting the column flow flexibility makes it worth it.
Revit Key Schedule formatting for notesIf you really want the schedule to look more like notes than a table, turn off the lines.

I also like to shut of the Headers. We’ll keep the Title visible.
Adjusting Text Columns in Revit
Sweet! Now we can easily break up the schedule into multiple columns.

You get a grip at the bottom very similar to the grip for MTEXT in AutoCAD that can be used to adjust the height of the column. You can continue to break up the schedule into even more columns.

To rejoin columns into a single column, just drag and drop it onto the main text block. Easy! By the way, this technique isn’t exclusive to 2012. It works for 2011 and 2010 as well.

The Future of Revit

So, this is a bit of a hack until we finally get some of those long awaited text tools in Revit. Rest assured, the Factory is not unaware of the current state of Revit’s text tools, and is always working on ways to give users what they need. Not being a hard-core programmer myself, I can’t really talk about what the hold up is, but I do understand enough to know that AutoCAD and Revit are built on very different software platforms, so it’s certainly not as easy as pulling a module of AutoCAD code and slapping it into Revit. Good things take time, and I look forward to the day I can announce that Revit 20xx has had a text formatting overhaul!

Until then, workarounds like this can get us through, and still let us benefit from the vast number of things that Revit really does rock at!

Happy designing!

10 Easy Steps to Conceptual Energy Analysis

As many of you already know, I’m a big Ecotect Analysis fan. Over the past year I’ve had the pleasure (well, mostly a pleasure) of helping hundreds of designers in the US and parts of Europe use this tool to improve the performance of their buildings. That being said, I’m also the first to admit that the process of creating an efficient BIM that can be used for energy analysis is far from perfect. At times it’s time consuming, and other times, it’s just frustrating. Even after getting the hang of it, the process could certainly be improved.

Well, the good news is that our great friends at Autodesk have been hard at work to improve this process and to lower the barrier to entry to start using analysis on all of your designs. The tool they’ve developed is the Conceptual Energy Analysis plug in and the best news is that it runs right inside of Revit!

I’m sure you’ve already heard of it, and maybe even checked out some of the videos Autodesk has posted on Youtube. But, just to show you how easy it is to start using this great tool, I’ve put together a list of 10 easy steps to jump start your building analysis.

This application makes it a snap to upload a properly formed thermal model to the Autodesk Cloud, making use of the Green Building Studio web service to perform whole building energy analysis but without the pain of submitting it to GBS yourself. The analysis is fast, easy, and turns out some awesome charts and graphics to help validate your design decisions. Get up to the Subscription Center right now and give this tool a whirl!

There you have it. I know I told you there were 10 steps. The 11th pic is not a step — that’s your results! Enjoy them. See, I told you it was easy…

Bonus Tip:

You can use Ecotect with the model the Conceptual Energy Analysis tool builds. Simply click Export and choose gbXML. Import it into Ecotect and you’re ready get down to business with an incredibly clean and well constructed thermal model!

  1. Export to gbXML from the Results and Compare dialog.
  2. Import the gbXML into Ecotect and perform your analysis with an incredibly clean, efficient, and well constructed thermal model!

Amazing! Thanks, Autodesk.

Subscription Advantage Pack for Navisworks 2011

This release year’s software enhancements available to Subscription customers center around integration and communication.  The offering includes:

  • New avatars
  • Appearance profiler add-in
  • Extended support for existing applications
  • New file format support

Select from an extended range of third-person avatars to better explore project models and communicate stakeholder perspectives.

New Avatars

Represent various roles such as safety professionals, construction workers and building inhabitants.

Override the appearance of multiple objects within the model based on user-defined classifications.

In fewer clicks than before, we can color-code objects by property values such as systems and even sub-components of those systems to clarify related objects or groupings.

Keep workflows current with support for existing applications:

  • Primavera P6 v7
  • Google™ SketchUp™ v7
  • Autodesk® Inventor® products

And improve object quality and access to property information through direct file support with PTC’s Pro/ENGINEER® parametric file format.

Pro/E Support

Subscription customers for Navisworks Manage & Simulate, the Education Suites, and the Factory Design and Plant Design Suites can begin taking advantage of this offering today.