Model Group Copy Technique

Model groups in Revit can be very helpful in replicating repetitive layout of components such as rooms, furnishings, etc.  Groups allow editing of one group to update all of the same definition by adding or removing, even excluding, elements.  Groups can be mirrored, rotated and modified with the various tools.  Groups can even be converted to Revit links to save a group externally as a stand-alone file, as well as the inverse; attached links can be bound to another file and converted to groups.  Nothing new.

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Is your internet connection reliable and up to speed to download Autodesk Product and Content?

Checking the speed and reliability of your internet connection gives us a snapshot at a particular time what is going on with your internet connection at home or the office. While there are more techy versions of these tools, some which are primarily tested via the command line dialog box or software bought for professionals. We offer two web based tools available called and 

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IFC Exports from Revit

Industry foundation class, or IFC files, have long been a way to exchange 3-D model geometry with information between platforms. The majority of usage for me has been in the steel industry or exchanging Revit files with applications such as ArchiCAD.  Revit has included the ability to export IFC files like many of the Autodesk applications for some time now, however, they enhanced it a short time ago to add additional capability for managing the categories and different options of exporting our data.

A normal approach in Revit for exporting files is to set up individual 3-D views with that specific name in mind, i.e., 3D Navisworks, 3D Glue, 3D IFC, etc., and configure the visibility for categories that you do or do not want to export.  This typical workflow of setting up a 3-D view for specific export format is often handled by being able to accept a check box for “Current view only” in the export dialog.

Earlier Version Dialog

Earlier Version Dialog


This controls export of desired items that are visible in the view.  But with the new user interface enhancements (loaded enhancement from Autodesk Exchange Apps)  Autodesk embeds in recent versions of Revit, this check box no longer exists in the standard export dialog. We now do this by selecting the Modify Setup button and see that there are many pre-configured export setups that we can use along with additional check box items to tell Revit what we want to export.

IFC Export_01

Modify Setup in Alternate UI


 The “Export only elements visible in view” check box is now located on this dialog that we must configure before actually performing the export in the normal dialog.

IFC Export_02


Standard installs of Revit without the enhancement from Autodesk Exchange Apps will still see the older dialog version, but if you wish to utilize the additional features in images shown here, go to and login per your Subsciption credentials and download the IFC 2015 – or IFC 2016, already posted.

Bottom of Pipe Tag for Revit 2015

I always end up coming back to this one. It isn’t a perfect situation, and you think it would be. The OOTB tags give us an invert elevation tag that pulls that parameter. No BOP elevation is given as a parameter for us to use, so we have to use the diameter parameters and so on. Tag-wise, we can’t add formulas to populate them. All we can do is create a calculated value in a schedule, and that can be tricky to use the right parameters to give us the correct value, often ending up with rounding errors. I am including this link to help explain how Revit actually determines these values,

Pipe Tag

Pipe Tag


I use the spot elevation annotation in plan and section/elevation views. In plan, I have to tab to be sure I’m snapping to the bottom of pipe. A prefix can be added for BOP. The issue with this is it will not be relative to the level by default; it is relative to the base point or survey point depending on type.


Spot Elevation

Spot Elevation


You will need to configure a system tag family with Type settings for a prefix value (BOP:), etc. Then there are instance parameters allowing Relative Base to be the Current Level, or specify a level. Also, Display Elevations can be set to show Top, Bottom, or both values on the tag. Being careful with the tabbing, bottom of insulation can even be selected in plan view. You will need different types created so that you can have different prefix values and text settings for each situation.




Exporting High Quality Views from Revit for Reports

Wanting to save a view as an image for reports?

While I typically use a premium screen capture and image annotation tool on a daily basis. I’ll suggest anyone to try this tip to take higher quality image shots within Revit as a Render image. It will store the image in the Revit Project Browser, after which the image view in Revit is exported to a standalone file for creating reports.

First select a view; be it plan, section, 3D or whichever you need. Set the view as needed to optimize how it is to be presented in the report. Shading and Sun settings can be set for best presentation. In my case, using a 3D view with a section box, I want to zoom to a portion of the model to illustrate a point in my report to the project’s stakeholders. From the image below, after I have spun the oriented the view as needed, I am ready to save the view as an Image.


Do a right-click on the view name in the project browser and right-click on the name to open the context based tools. Select the Save to Project as Image.

Context menu Save to Project as Image

This will then bring up a setting dialog box.

Create Image Output Settings

Just follow the setup as per the image above, giving consideration on how the SAVE Image to Project would need to be optimized for your report.

After the image is saved, look in the Project Browser for the saved image under the Rendering Category, be mindful custom browser organization might not display the Renders category.

Rendering image in Project Browser

Before beginning to export the freshly created view(s), save the project in order that the saved view be visible in the list of views to export. Go to the Revit Start Icon at upper left corner of the Revit session. Just be aware that there are many export options and it’s necessary to scroll down to near the bottom to find the Export as Image option.

Export as Image

Just note though that the Export Image dialog box does offer a way to directly export the current view as opposed to the steps we went through to create the Render views beforehand. The process I showed lets us set up several views to save to the Renders category and be exported in one step.

Export Image Settings

After exporting browse to the folder the Project is in and find the files that were created in the Export procedure.

rme_advanced_sample_project_DSM - Rendering - Image for Report

rme_advanced_sample_project_DSM - Rendering - Opposite view

The quality might be a little better than that of a screen grab. Try and share with your colleagues on the project teams.


I have to share this little gem.

We all know when placing a family component to the model that the spacebar option rotates the family along a 90 degree segments? Right?

Well try this option: When the non-hosted family must be rotated in respect to a previously placed line or reference plane of some unknown angle in the model. What most will do is place the family and then rotate it. A few more steps than this option presented.

Begin to place the component family and then hover the family over the angled reference (or arc), highlighting the reference (line, wall, etc). c. Click on the spacebar—the preview placements will flip between perpendicular or parallel to the reference object.

Cloud based Computing and Robotics in Building Industry.

From Prototyping to Design to Coordination to Fabrication and Construction, computing power is increasingly becoming the driver to share integrated data across all spectrums of the design cycle. It helps drive change in Architectural, Engineering and Construction business. In anticipation of all this, the next leap in computing power will be Quantum Computing and can assist in designing out urban spaces more efficiently with climatic data, traffic flows, zoning and retail/commercial services tracking to better layout our cities. The nascent of cloud based design automation will help us bring about highly efficient urban environments guided by humans (hopefully). So what is cloud based computing? Will intensive computing tasks that automation tools bring to users tie up our computers for hours on end with simulation and rendering tools? Can these tasks be offloaded to other machines and how will licensing be handled? Given costs to keep additional licenses and hardware, computing intensive tasks are better performed on services offered over the internet with cloud computing. It will rapidly perform the task much faster than desktop PCs. These services are called Software as a Service (SaaS) and keep ourselves busy on other tasks.

All these cloud computing resources require banks of servers on a server farm to run the processes. Demand for this will increase greatly as we transition from local computing to using cloud based solutions. All this requires significant computing power for as many users necessary to prototype, design, visualize, simulate, coordinate and fabricate our built environment.

Big changes in creating prototypes, coming up with design iterations, visualizing the designs, engineering the systems, providing coordination and performing fabrication tasks in real-time means proportional increases to computing power. This is being facilitated with changes in the architecture of the computers and the programming languages. Because today’s computing exists in one of two states; either a one or zero, it’s slow compared to the possibilities of quantum computing. Quantum Computing is the future of connected computing using quantum bits; otherwise known as “qubits”. Qubits are ones, zeros, everything in between and overlaid all at the same time. There is simply no basis of comparison of the power of my notebook which I write this blog on and the possibilities offered by quantum computing.

I’ll not go into this more, but to get a primer on quantum computing, check out this article How Stuff Works – Quantum Computing to get a little more in depth to this topic.

So what does this have to do Design, Architecture and Construction? Since we are moving to real time prototyping, design, engineering, coordination, fabrication and construction, the problem is all this power doesn’t come cheap and having all this power in the form of a desktop computer will unnecessarily consume too much resources in relation to the amount of idle time between executing tasks.

Don’t believe so? Look to this article What Your Computer Does While You Wait about how a computer processes tasks. In the article, work is measured in nanoseconds. Humans spend so much time generating a task then executes it so that the computer completes just in nanoseconds. So what does the computer do with all the rest of the time? It sits and unnecessarily consumes power and space on the desk. If you want to keep your computer busy when you are not using it, loan out some computing cycles with crowdsourcing from this link Crowdsourcing Computer Processing Power through PC Utilities that benefit worthy causes such as SETI@Home as an example, they are in need of spare and free CPU cycles.

Once we understand how cloud computing works, we better understand that the current form of computing will evolve to be a simple minimalist form and low power consuming terminal connected to a remote computing resource shared among many users. Cloud computing allows us to scale up computing cycles only as necessary to specific tasks or services as needed without needing additional hardware and software. Tasks or services requiring intensive computing power are typically prototyping with simulation, rendering design iterations, clash testing, computing building loads and collaborating in real-time with the design team or stakeholders. Work will get done rapidly compared to disparate disconnected computers on the desktop using email.

Change is rapidly underway. Case in point, Autodesk continues to expand cloud based computing and has taken great strides in bringing these computing resources to market. I am sure more than a few of us have noticed all the 360 cloud initiatives around Autodesk that are ongoing. What we are seeing is more work is being done on remote servers connecting two or more locations over the internet. From 123D prototyping, Recap 360, Infraworks 360, PLM 360, Energy Analysis for Revit, Green Building Studio, BIM 360 Field and Glue, Simulation 360, Fusion 360, Robot Structural Analysis Professional, BIM 360 Field and Glue (all Autodesk trademarks) and on and on it goes. Read about a comprehensive if not 100% complete chart as an outline of cloud offerings by Autodesk Cloud Services  in addition to Autodesk 360 Collaboration for Revit  formerly, Project Skyscraper . (note the Dynamo plug at the end) as a beta test preview from Autodesk Labs. The Autodesk Cloud Services chart is missing a few items but offers a good idea of what’s out there for us to use.

After prototyping, designing, engineering, visualization, coordination and fabrication are complete, construction will benefit with robotics to assemble building parts and systems in fabrication plants or on site with repetitive tasks. If anyone hasn’t seen the video of a group of quad copter drones assembling a tower yet, look here Video: Watch Flying Robots Build a 6-Meter Tower or SAM the Bricklaying Robot. Image fabrication and construction tasks all are done and coordinated via a single point on the cloud? Read more with 5 Robots Revolutionizing Architecture’s Future.

Hence, all this necessities computing power beyond that of the current form factor of a chunky desktop disconnected from the internet. Today’s server farm will evolve to be even higher in scale of efficiency. All this to better allocate resources and power to run these programs to bring about ways to optimize our built environment with Autodesk’s toolset that design, prototype, visualize, simulate, fabricate and construct in 3 dimension sustainable living environments. Big changes are coming.


Autodesk A360 Collaboration for Revit available

 A360 Revit logo


Finally for those of us with extended design teams is a tool they have been waiting for, connects project data, communication, and your entire project.

This comes from a Autodesk Labs and live beta testing.

We have been looking for a long time to have ways to collaborate with architects, engineers and contractors outside our local network without the need to send models out periodically to the design team. Current methods require hardware and software as WAN accelerators with significant investment in IT infrastructure.  This new Autodesk 360 cloud offering is accomplished with the storage of the central file model and other data in the cloud. The cloud is an offsite server farm hosted by Autodesk.

After subscribing to A360 Collaboration for Revit, Project Managers can add members from outside to join and provide and connect with other central files. Other team members need to have an account that can be subscribed by monthly or yearly fees and be invited to join projects.

What’s more you can communicate with other members of the design team design changes in real-time live chat with sending images so that ideas and changes get picked up rapidly.

Come look at this from here at Autodesk A360 Collaboration for Revit.