Revit to Revit File Linking | Autodesk Revit | Building Information Modeling

Revit to Revit File Linking

Linking Revit models together is a necessary part of many projects, in order to produce predictable and consistent results some guidelines need to be explored and setup by project teams. The following is a framework to create a team dialog and the project specific strategies necessary to keep linked files working to maximum benefit. Additionally included herein are some learned best practices to use and build on. Understand that these coordination concepts are best thought of as a work in progress and will evolve with your experience, specific project needs and future Revit functionality. It is recommended that all parties who are creating Revit Project files, including all consultants, etc., devise and implement these or similar file & link protocols. This will dramatically enhance overall project performance in an increasingly integrated AECO/BIM/IPD world.

• Pre-Coordinating the Revit Model: Coordination and Consultant specific Views • Pre-Coordinating the Revit Model: A Few Considerations • Preparing the Revit Model: Project Cleanup • Naming Conventions: Recommended Practices • Linking Revit Models: A how-to • Worksets and Links: One-for-all or One-in-one

Pre-Coordinating the Revit Models: Coordination and Consultant Specific
Views. In order to streamline the Visibility/Graphics (VG) work needed by Revit Teams utilizing linked files, we want to predefine sets of views for any number of possible scenarios. One of these possibilities is setting up views that are to be used for CAD format exports. These views would be setup in each Revit file in need of these exports. Another scenario is having each discipline create sets of views specifically used by the other discipline teams when they host Revit models. These views will need to be predefined in the hosted (linked) file. This last scenario could be thought of as being due to multiple building projects (internal) or when consultants share their Revit files with each other (external). There are many more scenarios for creating specific sets of views for any one project and the team should not only create a good strategy but also re-visit their view strategy from time to time to ensure functionality and to keep from having too many (or any) extraneous views.

Image 1 Image 1 above depicts views used for the Structural team when they receive and link in the Architectural model. With this method employed a host file can use these predefined and agreed upon views’ VG to ensure that the hosted file and their host model show only those necessary items; refer to Image 2 below.

Pre-Coordinating the Revit Models: A few considerations
• Define and communicate linked view needs with any consultant and in-house team. This includes defining the coordination views that will be necessary as well as the visibility needs and preferences for each. Define the methods and timetables of transmittals with these groups as well. o The initial team dialogues where these standards are defined should be as early in the

project’s Revit process as possible; they should undoubtedly be inclusive, open and well documented. o This is recommended to be done for (and by) all teams who will be linking Revit files into their Revit projects; including but not limited to consultant teams as well as for any in-house model. • Create coordination views, such as Structural, MEP, CAD Export, etc. o In each of these duplicate sets of views the VG will be set in such a way that when “By linked view” or “Custom” is chosen only those items necessary are visible in the host file. See image 2 below.

Image 2 The preferred practice is to have all parties using Revit create at least one each of Plans and Sections pertinent to each of the other Revit team’s needs, based on the predefined VG setups. Tip: When creating these extra Sections, if the file to be hosted wants to keep the section Callouts (symbology) from cluttering up their many views then change the Section Callouts’ “Hide at scales coarser than” value, found in the Element’s Properties… Even More of a Tip: If sections are placed in a 1:1 scale view for example they will automatically have 1:1 as their “Hide at scales coarser than” value; so the callouts will only show in a 1:1 view, not anywhere else!!! Notes: The functionality of specifying Section Views in RVT Links is available with Revit 2009, on. Once these coordination views are setup you can use View Templates to push these VG changes to a multitude of other views very quickly. Since the release of Revit 2009 there is a much more rich and granular ability to apply distinct parts of a View Template, so refer to Revit’s Help (F1) and explore and understand these new features and functionalities.

Preparing the Revit Model: Project Cleanup
The importance of cleaning the Revit model prior to transferring it or linking it is paramount, yet often overlooked. Remember the formula: If (Quality In=Quality Out) then (Quality Out=Quality In). At this point ask yourself these more questions: (and maybe more)… • Do we want to clean the detached copy that we are actually going to share? (This is the method outlined below and is recommended in many cases). • Do we want to clean this actual central file after backing up a detached (new Central File) copy? • Do I want to clean this actual central file and detach the copy I will then transmit? -The answers should be based on project specifics & informed team choice.

Cleaning the Project
• Remove errors and warnings: How? you ask… Fix them!!! (If you have hundreds or more then you must devise a strategy to get them down to zero, then work to keep them at zero throughout your project. Remember that equation Quality In=Quality Out? Well the converse is true as well and we don’t want to create files that become corrupt, are unnecessarily large and are increasingly slower and slower, especially when we can absolutely keep that from happening, from the start or any point. • Save to Central and Relinquish (STC/REL) everything!!! Ensure that all members of the team STC/REL and closed out of Revit, until you complete the detaching procedure. • Delete all User-Local files and their backup folders. (If you are leery of this then first back them up to an alternate location or disk) -I am not too worried about deleting these since the Central file still exists. • Open the Central File directly (yes, this is one of the few times for that). Choose both Detach from Central and Audit. Image 3 below is from Revit’s Open dialog but Catapult has these same functionalities as well.

Image 3

Once the project is open in a detached state perform the following: These steps will not affect the actual Central file, since this is a detached copy so consider if you want to perform any of these prior to detaching from Central. • Remove all unnecessarily shared Views including 3D views, User views, Sheets, Details, Sections*, Elevations*, etc. Basically only transmit those views used for *file link coordination & the “Generated” views; made by Levels. • Remove Links: CAD Formats through FILE>MANAGE LINKS or, if needed by others then include copies of them with your Revit transmittal. • Remove Links: Revit through FILE>MANAGE LINKS or include their detached counterparts individually with your Revit transmittal. • Remove Links: DWF Markups through FILE>MANAGE LINKS or, if needed by others then include copies of them with your Revit transmittal. • Remove Images through FILE>RASTER IMAGES… unless necessary for others. • Purge Unused items through FILE>PURGE UNUSED and select everything unless there are specific items identified as useful for others. This will remove unused Families, Groups and Other styles (still families nonetheless). • Include custom render material bitmaps in the transmittal package. If the project uses custom rendering materials and the parties you are transmitting to will need to render views themselves then this is a must: If Revit cannot find the assets used to create custom materials then those objects will render solid black. • Save-As and press the OPTIONS button; then ensure that both “Make this a Central File after save” and “Compact File” (slow) are chosen, then save the file to an appropriate location. It is not recommended to change the Number of backups for Central Files; it is not the same as the number of backups for standalone, non-Work sharing files. In Central files the number of backups should remain at 20. • Transmit this new file(s) in the method agreed upon by all parties but keep in mind that transmitting on CD or DVD may be the best, safest, surest transmission for certain types of transmittals. Files on CD or DVD can also be used as a record copy, if the disk is closed. Notes: All parties receiving others’ Revit files for hosting will need to open transmitted file(s) and save-as into new Central files, placing them on their systems or networks; be sure to remind them. This paper will detail a workflow for this later in this document. Compacting & Auditing are essential practices that are recommended on a regular, weekly basis. Purging the file is important, though performed less-often and in accordance with project timelines.

Naming Conventions: Recommended Practices
Teams both internal and external will communicate with one-another early in the project lifecycle to determine the link transmittal naming conventions and transmittal frequencies. There are many strategies possible but below are 2 proven workflows. • “Reload From” to manage the linked files when the names vary from transmittal to transmittal. Using FILE>MANAGE LINKS… a team can simply use the Reload From button to use a new file as the current link. If there are no custom visibility overrides in the host, for the hosted file then this can be very useful. • Keep the same name for all files transmitted. The real importance of having files retain the same name and location they are linked from. So let’s say a consultant adds a date prefix to the name of the file that they transmit on the second issuance, when the host creates a new, localized central from that transmitted file, then the new central file is copied over the pre-existing hosted file. A few words to the wise: Gauge the teams when choosing any of these strategies; they both hold benefits and pitfalls. Also remember that VG overrides do not propagate through re-linked files.

Saving the Consultant Models
• Download and open the file from the ftp site, or Disk, etc. • Save-as to an appropriate received files folder o For instance in the file system we would save a transmitted MEP file into the …Progress Models \ MEP \DateReceived\ProjectName folder o • Open, Detach and Save-As a copy of the “Progress Model” that was just created, using Options to turn this into a new central file. Save this new central file into the project’s …BIM\Building Model\_Central Model File folder and use that for the hosted file. Each time you receive an updated file this is the one you will replace etc. Using this method is a good way to ensure the consultant files keep the same name and location, as well as any VG overrides. If you don’t keep the same name, etc. and are required to re-link and use “reload from” then you will loose all of your visibility settings. OUCH.

Linking a Consultant Model
Non-Shared Coordinate Projects: The first time we link the files together is perhaps the most important. Let’s assume that our file has been properly located. (It has been, right?)

• For consultants, they simply link our file “origin to origin” and start modeling. This will associate their model’s origin with ours. • Based on the previous step we then use FILE>IMPORT/LINK>REVIT and choose the appropriate consultant’s central file and Link it in using Origin to Origin. Note: If you didn’t complete the above two steps correctly then you will need to Link the file in then move it to its North/South, East/West and Elevation correct location manually or remove and re-link. Shared Coordinate Projects will have hosted files linked in using the “By Shared Coordinates” option during linking. These will require a whole set of communications with all parties as to who creates the shared coordinates and how/when to implement. Worksets and Links: One-for-all or One-in-one Linking a file is done, now we want to get some more control: Worksets. Worksets have a very powerful choice, being “Visible by default in all views” or not! If we place something in a Workset that is made to not be visible by default in all views, then when we link these files to other projects those Worksets do not go. Again one more bit of conversation to have: which way is best for our project, at this point? • One-for-all: Having one Workset for all linked files may seem like a logical step but it will not give the control desired if the project is large; but again, your project may be ok with this. • One-in-One: Creating one Workset for each linked file (including CAD Links) is the preferred approach. This gives the most flexibility and the project will scale up predictably. With this approach you can utilize the ‘specify’ open Worksets when opening a project file so the tasks you perform aren’t over encumbered by objects (links in this case) that aren’t necessary at the time. To reiterate: Linking Revit models together is a necessary part of many projects, in order to produce predictable and consistent results. These guidelines need to be explored and setup by project teams. This framework can be used to create a team dialog and the project specific strategies necessary to keep linked Revit files working to their maximum benefit. These best practices should be used and build upon to fit into your firm’s workflows.

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