New Autodesk Seek Extension Plugin for Autodesk Revit

The Autodesk® Seek extension for Revit® enables designers to conveniently access high quality BIM models, drawings, and product specifications for more than 66,000 commercial and residential building products, representing over 400 manufacturers, from inside Revit® 2015 or 2016 software.

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Bippity Boppity BIM! What’s New in Revit 2015? … ME!

I know what you are thinking… What’s that CAD guy doing in a BIM blog? That’s right, after 30 plus years of tearing the face off of AutoCAD to see what makes it tick, I believe it’s time for a new challenge. So I’m throwing my hat into the Revit ring also.

As you know, CADsoft’s Revit Blog offers a lot expertise on Industry Tends, in-depth Revit topics and even software support issues that our customers send us, so we share our findings with our readers. In Fact; it’s perfect for the more experienced Revit user!

But, doesn’t get lonely at the top? Well that is what I am here to tell you about… You see, I am inviting all of my AutoCAD friends over to join us. The reason is simple, when I was asked to help contribute to the BIM Blog I wanted to increase the number of readers that we currently have, at the same time help our AutoCAD based clients work their way to BIM. After careful consideration, I felt our Revit Blog needs a section for “The New Revit Users with an AutoCAD based background” to help ease them into Revit…

…and “Bippity Boppity BIM” section was born. I’m sure we can all learn to get along together.

So… If you are still a CAD user and you have made it to this BIM site (even if you just got lost and ended up here by accident), I invite you to stay… Why, you ask!

Realize that BIM is becoming more and more popular and you know that you need to take that leap sooner than later. In my “Bippity Boppity BIM” section is design for you (the AutoCAD user) to start transitioning your way to BIM using what you already know from AutoCAD based software. I will try and use comparisons from both software products, and how they interact, even complement with each other to help pave the way to becoming efficient in Revit. The good news is; since they are both Autodesk products,( AutoCAD and Revit come in the Autodesk Building Design Suites, Premium & Ultimate together) the workflow and interface are design have some similarities to the AutoCAD brand that you are already familiar with. In the following blogs to come I will try and point these out to help in the transition from CAD to BIM as easy as possible for you.

Luckily, CADsoft has some pretty talented experienced Revit Users already. (I bet they will get sick of me bugging them, since I plan on attacking Revit the same way I did when I was learning AutoCAD.) But the CADsoft Family is very close, so I am sure they will be willing to assist in any way they can. Right Guys? 😉

Speaking of that… Let’s start with that word “Family” in terms of Revit technology…

(Revit Help File)

A family is a group of elements with a common set of properties, called parameters, and a related graphical representation.


  • The Furniture category includes families and family types that you can use to create different pieces of furniture, like desks, chairs, and cabinets.
  • The Structural Column category includes families and family types that you can use to create different wide flanged, precast concrete, angle, and other columns.
  • The Sprinkler category includes families and family types that you can use to create different dry and wet sprinkler systems.

Although these families serve different purposes and are composed of different materials, they have a related use. Each type in the family has a related graphical representation and an identical set of parameters, called the family type parameters.

When you create an element in a project with a specific family and family type, you create an instance of the element. Each element instance has a set of properties, in which you can change some element parameters independent of the family type parameters. These changes apply only to the instance of the element, the single element in the project. If you make any changes to the family type parameters, the changes apply to all element instances that you created with that type.

Different elements belonging to a family may have different values for some or all of their parameters, but the set of parameters (their names and meanings) is the same. These variations within the family are called family types or types.

So a Revit Family is similar to an AutoCAD Block that could have Dynamic and/or Parametric Constraints applied to the block, or similar to an AutoCAD Architecture (ACA) AEC Object that can be intelligent and modified in the Styles Manager or individually in the Properties Palette.

And for all of my AutoCAD followers… Don’t get me wrong I still love AutoCAD (always will) and still plan to continue Blogging on my AutoCAD Blog. Keeping up on AutoCAD’s Newest Features, But I also invite you to take the BIM journey with me as well.

Who knows, maybe in another 30 years the blog topic will be “BIM there, Done that!” and we get to learn something else that doesn’t even exist yet!!! (But for now let’s take BIM, one bite at a time.)

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.


Revit Families – Endless combinations with nested families and the Family Type parameter

Endless Combinations with Nested Families

Have you ever created a Revit family that had several nested families in it that you wanted a simple drop down menu to give you the chance to choose which nested family you wanted? Well, here’s a brilliant method for creating powerful nested families that seems to be difficult to find solid documentation on. I’d like to thank Bob for reminding me about this easy to use yet dynamic technique for controlling the visibility of nested families.

Here’s the scenario:

Let’s say you have a family (we’ll refer to this as the parent family) that contains several nested families that are possible options within it. For example, you might have a door family that consists of the frame and the opening, but that has several panel families nested into it. One panel might be a typical flush door panel, another is a panel with glass, another is a panel with louvers, etc.

We want to make it easy for users to insert the door family, then choose the type of panel they want. Now the way I’ve seen this documented the most often is to use the Visibility control tied to a Yes/No parameter that controls whether Panel 1 is visible or not, Panel 2 , Panel 3, etc.

This method works ok, but has some potential problems. You end up inserting all the families into the parent family, then having to align and constrain each one, then you have to set up a bunch of Types in the family that in turn have those Visibility Yes/No parameters set correctly. Still following me? One of the problems we’ve run into is that the user now has to create their own types, or manually run through those parameters and make sure that the panel that they wanted is turned on and all the others are off. If they make a mistake, it’s possible that they have more than one panel turned on and all sorts of craziness can ensue.

Also, if you have quite a few nested family options, this list of parameters can get to be pretty unwieldy and difficult to set correctly.

What would be great is to simply have a dropdown parameter in Element Properties that shows all the nested family options and just lets you pick it, having it swap out the appropriate nested family. Well, with the technique we’ll show here, you can do exactly that.

The Solution – Create a Family Type parameter and use it to drive your family Label

After you’ve created your parent family, load up all the nested families that represent the options you want to have available. It’s important that these families be as identical as possible. They won’t be completely identical, of course, but you should create them from each other, keeping the reference lines in the same place to ensure that when one family gets swapped out for the other, things don’t jump around on you and constraints don’t break.

The next step is to create a new Parameter that is configured as a “Family Type” parameter.

Family Type parameter

Here I’ve named it “Door Panel Type”. You then need to choose which Category of families you want to be available to that Parameter. We’ve created our panels as Generic Models, so I choose this category.

Family Category

Note that all families that are assigned to that category will be shown in the drop down for that parameter, so make sure you aren’t cramming too much into one family. For instance, if I also had a bunch of families nested in that represented door hardware – knobs, pulls, etc. and they were assigned to the Generic Model category, our drop down for the panels is going to be really confusing, because you’ll see families for both panels and hardware.

Now here comes the little trick that brings it all together: insert one nested family and position it correctly.

Family label

You don’t need to insert all of the nested families and go through the trouble of aligning them and constraining them. All the nested families have to be loaded into the main family, but not inserted. Now select the nested family and go to its Element Properties. At the bottom you’ll see Label. Set this value to use the parameter you created earlier (the Family Type parameter) so that this family instance will be driven by it.

That’s all there is to it! Now, when you change the parameter for Family Type, it will swap out this instance with the appropriate family. Brilliant!

In the example at the top of this post, we’ve got two instances of a nested door family that allows endless combinations. Each side of the door can have unlimited family options. This door has 7 panels for each door, giving us a LOT of possibilities.

Unable to Edit a Revit Family

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?