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


Revit Switchback in Navisworks 2012

I wanted to create a written post for this topic since I had posted a video regarding the new Switchback functionality in the Revit products.  Here is the video link;  This is found on our 2012 Learning Videos page which can be accessed from the Media pull down on our website.

With the Revit 2012 products we now have a new add-in supporting workflows with Navisworks Manage.  Here, we see selections to create a Navisworks cache file (NWC) and the new setting of  Navisworks Switchback.

This tool functionality previously existed only with AutoCAD and Microstation-based products.  Switchback allows us to work side-by-side using Navisworks Manage and an authoring application like Revit or AutoCAD MEP, to open, navigate to a component in the model, make alterations, save a new export, and refresh the review model in Navisworks to update the review process.  This can happen from two places; a right-click selection menu from a model element, or using the Switchback button inside of the Clash Detective tool.

This process requires certain steps be followed:

  1. Both Navisworks and the authoring application be open.
  2. The Navisworks fileset created from the source file, i.e., nwc file, be open in Navisworks.  The project file is not required to be open in Revit or AutoCAD.
  3. The Switchback funtionality is enabled in the authoring application before performing the function, i.e., type NWLOAD on the AutoCAD command line or select the Navisworks Switchback button from the Add-Ins tab in Revit.

Also of importance is one more selection from the Options dialog inside Navisworks.  The refresh process will not work with this selection disabled, and you may find it is so in your default installation.  In the Navisworks Options dialog, select Performance, beneath Model.  Be sure to checkmark the box for “Close NWC/NWD files on load”.  This allows the authoring application to export a new file and overwrite the previous one, allowing the Refresh button to work in Navisworks.  If not, you will receive a message saying unable to write the file.

With many users taking advantage of Autodesk’s new Design Suite offerings, working side-by-side with multiple applications provides advantages to design and contruction entities to better insure designs are coordinated before and during construction processes.

Revit 2012 New Features part 1

Revit Architecture 2012 boxWell, one of our favorite times of the year is finally here… The Autodesk 2012 software lineup, including Revit Architecture 2012, Revit Structure 2012, and Revit MEP 2012, has hit the streets and we’re eager to help all of our  users get up to speed as quickly as possible on all the great new features and improvements. All of us here at CADsoft Consulting have some great educational events planned to teach these new features and get you productive in a hurry.

As with any release, there are usually a few big changes or new functionality, along with a lot of little tweaks and improvements that often go unnoticed. The fact that some things go unnoticed is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s just evidence that a tool now works the way you always wanted or expected it to. It may not get a lot of fanfare, but you may still find yourself smiling when you use it and think smugly to yourself, “Hey, Autodesk listened to me. That’s just what I asked for!”

Well with Revit 2012, I certainly found some of those features. Some of my specific wants have been met and some things I didn’t even know I wanted are now included and I can’t imagine going back to the old way. As usual, I’ve been part of the beta team, so I’ve been able to put Revit 2012 through its paces for a few months, and while there is always room to grow (and still some of those things I’ve wanted that haven’t been built yet), this release has a lot to offer.

Here are a few of my favorite Revit 2012 new features

In today’s post, I’ll focus on the topic of Collaboration, with more posts to follow throughout the week.

Enjoy! I think you’ll find some great new features of Revit 2012 that will make your day.

Revit 2012 Worksharing Enhancements

Revit Architecture 2012 Worksharing

The display in Revit has been modified to allow us to easily color code elements based on the Workset they belong to or the user they are editable by. This alone is an amazing timesaver that lets you see how your worksets are organized at a glance, as well as understanding who is working on what.

Best of all, however, is the addition of … drumroll… pop up Editing Requests!

Pop Up Editing Request Window

Revit 2012 worksharing editing request

At long last, we have the feature users have been begging for since worksets were introduced — a request that users will actually see! Now, when you need to work on an element that is owned by someone else, you can put in an Editing Request, as before, but now, on that user’s machine, in the lower right corner, they will get a message that pops up that allows them to accept the request. Brilliant! No more lonely nights spent pining away at your Revit system, hoping and praying that someone would grant your unnoticed editing request.

Thank you Autodesk!

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on new tools for sustainable design.

Have fun with Revit 2012.

Autodesk Revit MEP 2012 New Features

I can count greater than three dozen enhancements in the 2012 release of Revit MEP, not beginning to count the platform-based enhancements for all three Revit products.  Here are just a few:


Sloped Piping

New tools assist in laying out pipe slopes with automatic calculation, read-out for invert elevations and on-screen tooltips.


Duct and Pipe Placeholders

Placeholder design has always been an early design stage recommendation, but at times can be difficult without the ability for system assignment and other engineering information.  With the new placeholder objects early stage layout can focus on design more than fitting choices and other modeling concerns.  Placeholders can be tagged and checked for interferences.  When ready, a tool to convert placeholders to more detailed objects is available.

Insulation and Lining for Ducts and Pipes

Easily and quickly add insulation and lining to entire runs and utilize interference checking with these elements.  Ducts will also adjust sizes when using the sizing tool of duct segments that include lining.  Many more features have been added or enhanced such as Revit Server for multi-site, multi-user collaboration, point cloud support for visualizing scans, systems and system browser improvements, parallel pipe and conduit runs, and much, much more.


We’ll be looking at more of the specifics as we get to explore them.


Please join us April 20th, for our Virtual Launch showing many of the Autodesk 2012 product releases.  Just click the link provided below.  Hope to see you there.


Navisworks Manage 2012 New Features

This year, I’ve seen the greatest number of additions and improvements across all of the AEC products compared to past releases.


Clash Detection Enhancements

The tool that may be valued the most in Navisworks Manage sees great improvement to support our project review cycle process.  No longer do we have to create a separate Excel spreadsheet and update it
manually to track each clash and record its responsible party.  We now have an effective and editable HTML report that can be loaded in Excel and shared with the team quickly.  Assignments can be made
immediately for each clash while performing the review to populate this spreadsheet report.


Improved Revit Interoperability

The Switchback function now operates with Revit products to allow a more immediate review cycle with in-process review model updates.  New construction modeling capability in the revit products will also
come across in Navisworks, as well as, properties of areas and volumes, and linked files.


New Appearance Profiler

This new tool allows custom overrides for color and transparency to better differentiate systems and components in your models.


Multisheet 2D DWF support and Project Browser

2D documentation can be loaded into a new project browser to aid easier navigation and wayfinding.


Navisworks Freedom Adds Measuring Tools

Are you having team members who don’t own Navisworks Manage participate by using Navisworks Freedom?  Freedom now adds the capability for dimensioning and gathering area calculations, not just model
navigation and review.


There will be more to come as we explore other new features and enhancements with this great review and management tool.


Please join us April 20th, for our Virtual Launch showing many of the Autodesk 2012 product releases.  Just click the link provided below.  Hope to see you there.