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.)

Preventing Catastrophic Accidents in Revit – How to Keep Important Stuff from Moving


Like high performance skateboard wheels, Revit keeps getting better…


I love speed. When I snowboard, I love going fast. Really fast. When I longboard, I love going fast, too, but the consequences of falling are an order of magnitude higher. Snow can be soft and forgiving (sometimes, at least) but pavement is going to leave a mark.

Back in the early days of skateboarding (before my time, thank you very much), kids used to take metal wheels off roller skates and attach them to their board. Clay wheels were introduced in the 60s and weren’t much better. In the book ‘The Concrete Wave’, Bob Schmidt recalled that these early wheels “vibrated on the asphalt enough to jar every bone in your body and loosen every tooth. It was more like getting electrocuted than anything else.” Worst of all, even the tiniest rock could wreck you, pitching you headlong onto the unforgiving asphalt.

The good news is, in the 70s, urethane wheels were adopted, offering a ride of unprecedented smoothness and stability.

High performance Orangutan urethane wheels

What has all this got do do with Revit?

I really like going fast with Revit, too. But back in the old times (Revit 2013), you’d be cruising along in your workshared model, happy as could be, when a tiny little rock, AKA that oblivious bull in a China shop that sits in the cubicle across from you that just inadvertently moved a linked model and deleted a bunch of column grids even though you had them pinned, sends your whole Revit world crashing down.

Never fear, because Revit 2014 introduced powerful tools to control the selection of elements. As Revit 2014 has been out nearly a year now, I expect that many of you have seen a demo or at least read a bit about these tools, but I find that in practice, many users haven’t yet adopted them into their workflow. I’d like to show a couple of practical ways these features can keep your Revit project in tact and speed up your overall work in Revit, giving you a smooth, more stable ‘ride’.

You’ll find the Selection Filter tools in under the Modify button on the Ribbon and in the lower right corner of your screen as icon toggles.

Revit - Modify button selection filtersRevit selection filter toggles

These tools can appear subtle, but don’t let that fool you. They are POWERFUL and can really help keep your model in tact.

These are user settings that apply to your Revit application, not a particular model, and their state will be remembered when you restart Revit. Their value gets recorded in your INI file, so it can easily be restored or even rolled out throughout your office as a default – highly recommended.

These buttons are all toggles, allowing you to choose whether or not linked files, elements in underlays, or pinned items can be selected. The last two icons let you control whether you can select a roof or floor (or any element) by clicking on the FACE of the element (absolutely recommended) or whether elements can be click-dragged to move them, rather than using the move tool.

Why are these so powerful? Well, as standard practice, for years, when we insert a linked file or set up a column grid, we generally pin these elements so they can’t be moved accidentally. The problem is that, even though from that point on, we don’t ever want to adjust them, it is really easy to select them anyway. Not only is this frustrating, but as you know, pinning an element doesn’t prevent us from DELETING it. It’s crazy, I know. Many ex AutoCAD users surmise that pinning is analogous to freezing a layer in AutoCAD. This is not true. Pinning only prevents an object from being moved. It’s Properties can still be messed with and it can be deleted entirely.

The smooth riding urethane method for keeping your important elements in tact in Revit 2014 is simply to pin them, then uncheck the ‘Select Pinned Elements’ option. Never again do you have to worry about inadvertently editing those elements ever again. If this option is unchecked, you won’t even be able to Unpin the elements, as they can’t be selected in the first place.* Be aware, though, that other people in your team need to uncheck ‘Select Pinned Elements’ as well, or they will be able to manipulate these items. Again, by pushing out a revised INI file to everyone in your office, you can at least set their systems up this way initially. I recommend making it standard practice in your office that EVERYONE keep this option unchecked unless they have a very good reason to do otherwise.

For the ultimate piece of mind, you can always put your links and grids in their own workset and then check it out to yourself every morning and never relinquish it. That’s the only sure fire way I know of to keep everyone’s fingers out of your Revit pie.

My favorite of these selection features has to be the ‘Select by Face’ option. Revit select by faceIf you’ve ever painfully selected 50 walls before actually selecting the floor you were aiming for, this tool is for you. I keep it on most of the time, only momentarily turning it off when I want to select something that is sitting ON the floor, rather than the floor itself. Make good use of all of these selection tools to keep your Revit ride as fast and stable as possible.

*Here’s a great practical joke/productivity killer: When your friend is taking a coffee break, go to his system and add a random door somewhere, pin it, then uncheck ‘Select pinned elements’. When they get back, casually ask them to delete the door. Laugh like crazy when they complain about Revit being ‘broken’ or ‘haunted’. If you really want to look like a hero/be a punk, set up a Keyboard Shortcut when they’re still on break so that ‘Select Pinned Elements’ is PO or something. Then, when they ask for help you can slyly type PO before showing them how easy it is to pick the door. Act like they’re crazy. Then type PO slyly again before giving them another try.  This could go on for hours. Of course, if they’ve already read my blog they might show you up. Or punch you.

Leave a comment below and let me know which of these tools you use the most often.

Patrick Villella


Tales from the Helpdesk Crypt – Backgrounds that disappear in sketch mode

Department of Unintended Consequences

Sometimes we get issues that are gives us pause about how certain functionality can throw a curve at users.  A little while ago a Revit project came our way with something we hadn’t seen before. An plan view in sketch mode had the background elements of walls, doors and annotation elements, completely and inexplicitly disappear.

Let me explain. Normally, going into sketch mode when creating or editing model elements created  in sketch mode such as a Floor tool would change the view display so the leave model and annotation elements greyed out. It leaves enough visibility of the background during sketching and editing with sketch lines displaying as blue.

Background on

However, in this project while in sketch mode, the plan view was displaying the same way as the image below.

Background off

This oddity, fortuitously landed at the lap of my esteemed colleague, an particular hard head about cracking cases as such. He showed me after a bit of futzing around that someone had previously changed the setting of the Halftone slider bar to 0 (zero). Go to the Halftone/Underlay tool in the Manage tab Settings Panel Additional Settings and find this setting. Now, depending on the graphics card and driver being used the user usually can just scroll zoom in and or out for the greyed elements to come back to display in the view. This happened with us for the most part, but some graphics cards cannot regenerate the greyed out elements until the half tone setting more than 0. We had results that sometime had goofy results.

HalftoneUnderlay dialog

Again this is dependent on graphics. Some systems  using GeoForce cards may  run into this issue. And results are not always reproducible. We were fortunate to be able to see this occur on our notebooks and saved some headaches there.

This brings us to a workflow tip for users to create their own working view; be it plan, elevation and 3D views to be separate from other users and plotting views. Because no two users have the same needs to view models and edit them, it makes sense for users to create their own views to display just what they want to see and work. Just name a working view with a consistent naming standard such as in lower case letters wrk_ep_01_elecrm_dsm which means work view, enlarged plan, 1st floor electrical room, David Metcalf.

Leave views to go on sheets set up exclusively for plotting, with a naming convention using capital letters. Doing so will leave the plot views ready to go out to plot at any time after performing a Save to Central.

Autodesk Feature Codes

To help IT support and general users to decipher reams of product feature codes from their large scale installations, we present all the links directly  to Autodesk’s website here:

2013: FLEXnet® feature codes for Autodesk products

2012: FLEXnet® feature codes for Autodesk products

2011: FLEXnet® feature codes for Autodesk products

2010: FLEXnet® feature codes for Autodesk products 

FLEXnet® feature codes for Autodesk products (2009-2006)

Feature codes are necessary because the Network License Manager is designed to administer licenses for multiple Autodesk applications. An example of feature code usage in a ADLM log file entry is shown below.

11:00:04 (adskflex) OUT: “40100ARCHDESK_3_3F” user@hostname


David Metcalf