Create and manage your Revit Structure contents and library

Damien Legrand – AEC Consulting Pty ltd


Learn the process of creating library parts, and organizing and managing your library. Understand the diverse levels of complexity of a Revit family and relate them to a time and resource constraint. This session will cover the different techniques for creating complex parametric families and look at their direct application at a project level. It will also cover the functional aspect of a library to suit your work environment (type of work, number of users, etc.). Some of the examples used will include 2D and 3D details, 3D complex elements, and annotations symbols. You will gain the knowledge to optimize your library creation and expansion. This session will be mainly structural oriented, but will benefit any advanced Revit user and CAD manager.

About the Speaker:
Damien is an engineering technical consultant in Sydney, Australia. He graduated with a Master of Engineering in Material Science from Centrale Nantes, France. He is now focusing on implementing the Revit® technology in engineering firms. Last year he worked with Meinhardt Australia on the implementation of Revit Structure, which led to a customer success story that w presented at OTC 2008. as

2. User Defined Families ______________________________________________________ 3 Groups __________________________________________________________________ 5 Creation of a Revit Standard for the documentation _____________________________ 14 Different type of family __________________________________________________________ 3 1. Resources ______________________________________________________________ 17 3.2. Creation Process in 3 steps______________________________________________________ 6 1.2.3. 2. Organization of the library ________________________________________________ 12 Development process ___________________________________________________ 14 3.2.4. System Families___________________________________________________________ 3 1.3. Shared Family ___________________________________________________________ 10 1. Advance techniques ___________________________________________________________ 10 1. Display __________________________________________________________________ 8 1.3.2. Nested family ____________________________________________________________ 10 1. Synchronization between teams and offices ___________________________________ 17 3. Geometry ________________________________________________________________ 6 1. Formulas ________________________________________________________________ 11 1.1.1.Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library Table 0f Contents 1.1.2. Parametric _______________________________________________________________ 7 Project pressure / timing ___________________________________________________ 17 Enhance the documentation production and coordination ________________________ 15 3. Integrated workflow _______________________________________________________ 18 2 .3.2. Rethinking and adding value to the deliverables________________________________ 16 3.4. Catalog Files ____________________________________________________________ 11 2. Standard details ___________________________________________________________ 5 1. Definition of a workframe_______________________________________________________ 14 3. Principle of Family creation ________________________________________________ 3 1.1.1. In Place Families __________________________________________________________ 4 1.3. 2. Challenges __________________________________________________________________ 17 3. Naming Convention ___________________________________________________________ 12 Tree description ______________________________________________________________ 12 Template ____________________________________________________________________ 13 3.2.

columns.1. and tags. Each of them is an rfa file and can be loaded in a project. Principle of Family creation 1. In order to create a new system family. you will have to duplicate an existing family and modify the information. foundations but also details components.1.1. annotation symbols.1.Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library 1. Different type of family There are many ways to save Revit contents and reuse them in future projects. 1. System Families They are the families that live in a project. slabs. Illustration 1: Process of creating a system family Usually the flexibility of a system family is limited as the number of parameters predefined by the type of elements you are creating.2. 3 . They cannot be saved as individual ". stairs. rebars.rfa" files in an external library. Typical examples are beams. From a content developer point of view it is a matter of understanding the differences between the different family types and decides on the best way to create a particular content. 1. User Defined Families They are the families that make your library. Typical examples are walls.

you start with a family template rft that would specify what type of object you are creating. Illustration 2: Process of creating a user defined family User defined family are a lot more flexible as you can fully control the shape and number of parameters associated. but they remain in the project file and are not exportable to the library.Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library When created a new user defined family. In Place Families They are the families you create in a similar way that the user defined families. The most current situation where you would use an In place family is when you are modeling a very specific element. 4 . usually very specific to the project and when you need to reference it to some other element of the structure.1.3. 1.

So we use a combination of user defined and system families to create a more complex element. An example is a precast panel.Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library 1.5. Standard details Standard details and to a certain extend standard detail sheets can also be saved in your library. You can create a project file with drafting views where you will put your standard details.1. Illustration 4: Process of inserting a standard detail drafting view 5 . Wall Object to Model the Panel Lock Constrain to maintain assembly when stretching or moving Wall Reveal to model the chamfer Illustration 3: Process of inserting a group and modifying it 1.1.4. you insert from file the corresponding view. Groups Groups are an assembly of several elements that you can make in a project and export to your library. When you work on a job and need to import a standard detail. There is no such element in Revit.

2. If the geometry you are trying to create is too complex to be done with one of these methods.2. Geometry Revit has 5 ways to generate solid/void shapes. you can creat e simpler pieces of geometry and use the join/unjoin and cut/donotcut tools to rebuild the final assembly.Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library 1.1. Extrusion: Profile (sketched or preloaded) Extrusion Depth (start / end) Solid Revolve: Revolving Axis Profile (sketched only) Revolve Angle (start / End) Blend: Top Profile (sketch only) Base Profile (sketch only) Blend Depth (start / end) Swept Blend: Path (Sketch or Pick Profile 1 (Sketch or preloaded) Profile 2 (Sketch or preloaded Sweep: Path (Sketch or Pick Profile (Sketch or preloaded) Illustration 6: Different way to generate 3D shapes in Revit 6 . Creation Process in 3 steps Satisfaction Line missing Hatching not displaying Geometry Parametric Display Illustration 5: Satisfaction VS Phases of Family Creation Process 1.

Creating parameter to drive a dimension between two reference plane Locking the extrusion sketch onto the reference plane enable to drive the dimension of the column just by updating the value of parameter width and depth Illustration 7: Creation of a family parameter Revit makes a difference between type and instance parameters: An instance parameter should only have an effect on the particular instance you are editing A type parameter describes a property of several element of the same type.Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library 1. 7 . Parametric The parametric concept is a great tool of Revit and this will allow you to parameter and control the geometry you are created. The concept is to create a parameter that you access later on in a project through the element property dialog and to relate it to the geometry.2. Instance parameters Type Parameters Illustration 8: Difference between instance and type parameter When creating a parameter you also have the choice of a family parameter or a shared parameter.2.

you need to make sure that your family will display correctly on your drawings.2. For every pieces of geometry you will be able to set the level of detail. the type of views where it should be visible.3. 8 . In case these options are not giving you a good result.Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library A family parameter will relate to a property of the family you are making but won’t be able to be retrieved in a project in a schedule or a tag for example. we can add some symbolic representation to correct the display. You can also associate a piece of geometry to a subcategory and use to object style setting once in project to drive the line type and pencil thickness to be used. Display Once your geometry is created with all the parameters need. A shared parameter can be common to several families and would be accessible for scheduling or tagging Shared Parameter can be used across multiple families which allow you to retrieve this information in tag or schedule Illustration 9: Benefit of Using Shared parameters 1.

you will be able to modify some advance properties that will help drive the general behavior of you family in a project file.Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library The 3D Sweep is visible only at medium level of detail The Symbolic representation can be moved to display Purlin lap Illustration 10: Example of Display Settings for a Concrete beam Family As part of the family category and parameters. Representation in Plan with the “show Family precut in Plan” deactivated Representation in Plan with the “show Family precut in Plan” activated Illustration 11: Family Category and parameters Settings 9 .

2.3. This enables to reuse a family in multiple other Parameter of the nested family are driven in the main family using the = feature of the element property dialog Illustration 12: Example of a Nested Family 1. You can use existing families and nest them into a more complex family. When creating Revit contents it can be a good thing to categorize the object by their level of complexity. This process will also allow you to drive the parameters of the nested family directly form the main family. For example a bolt would be a low level 1 of complexity and a steel beam with connection plate at both ends would be a high level 3 of complexity. Advance techniques Nested family 1. The idea behind this classification is that you do not have to create all the geometry in one single rfa file. 10 .3. The Pile is nested in the Pile Cap.3.1.Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library 1. This will enable you to schedule this family on its own even if it is nested into a more complex family. Shared Family To extend the nested family concept described before you can share the nested family into the main family.

4. you do not need to create all the different type in the family file or the project. Illustration 14: Example of Formulas in a Truss family 1. You can combine you rfa file with a txt file where you input all the values from the catalog. Illustration 13: Concept of a shared nested family 1. Catalog Files In case you are creating a family that is based on a manufacturer catalog. This enable to control the family parameters with a minimum user input which reduces the chances of mistakes.Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library The Sharing Option allow you to schedule every nested family directly in your project file.3.3. 11 .3. Formulas It is possible to relate to parameter together using a formula.

Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library 2. Naming Convention A clear and understandable naming convention is essential to allow other users to fully use the potential of your library. 2. It is necessary that the majority of the Revit users throughout the organization are feeling comfortable navigating your library Components or CAD Standards Related Engineering Discipline Revit Object Type Material Engineering Discipline Revit Object Type Revit Object Subcategory Revit Object Subcategory Material Illustration 16: Examples of library roots 12 . Renaming contents is the very first step of putting in place a QA system 2.2.rfa Discipline S: Structure M Mechanical 0: Common Thumbnail : give user more clarity while loading the family in the project Illustration 15: Example of Naming Convention adopted by Meinhardt Australia Your naming convention would differentiate your own contents to the one coming from external sources. Company Name Shortcut Name as short and precise as possible MH-S-Step Symbol. Organization of the library It is very hard to describe the best way to organize your library as it depends much on the type of work that you are doing.1. Tree description On a similar basis the tree of your library is a key point of making all your work accessible and useful to other Revit users. the number of users within the organization and how much content you have at the time.

titleblocks On the other side it is interesting to limit the number of object that you leave in your template to limit the size of your template. Tip: Drag and Drop from the library folder Illustration 17: Example of families preloaded in the starting template Robert Bird Group Australia 13 . Standard information is preloaded to the starting template. This make sure that are only using what is necessary. view titles. Template This presentation is not to describe the way to build up a company template however the template would contain a certain number of the contents that you have created.Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library 2. All the annotations families that are specific to your company should be in the template file and used to create section marks. This ensure consistency in the documentation All the project components are to be loaded as you are building the model. It is also a way to force user to go and browse the library which eventually help to maintain consistency in the way the documentation looks.3. The template is a great tool to make sure that all the families that control your CAD standards are used widely throughout the organization.

1. Benefits / Goals Families being the core elements of the Revit environment.1. •Starting with the default Z-Purlin. However it is critical to identify what is your first priority. it is very important to define a workframe for all the work to be done. On way to start is to modify the object of the default library (the one supplied with the software).Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library 3. Creation of a Revit Standard for the documentation If you are in the early days of using Revit to produce documentation.2. 3. the very first step is to start building a library of component that will give you the correct output for your documentation. They are a lot of circumstances that need to be taken in consideration to make sure that the development work that you are doing is going to give you the best return on investment.rfa •Adding two model lines on each side: line type set to “define by instance” visibility controled by two parameters ‘Lap1”and “Lap2” Original Customized •Result in project the purlin displays with the correct line type you can represent the lap by choosing to turn off or on lap 1 and 2 Illustration 18: Customizing a family for documentation purposes 14 . 3.2. there are multiple advantages developing your own contents. Development process 3. Definition of a workframe When talking about content creation.

improving the ability to adapt to changes Developing parametric families will allow you to cover multiple situations with the one family. The flexibility of the family should really be driven by the changes it is likely to accommodate in a project environment. This mean improving the time spent creating model and documentation. it is also a good thing to start transferring your entire AutoCAD legacy to Revit By matching your ACAD color to Revit penweight you can benefit from your AutoCAD legacy drawing Illustration 19: Example of a library of Standard Details imported from AutoCAD Tip: Even if you match color and pen weight some issues can still occur: AutoCAD polylines with a weight are not coming across to Revit AutoCAD Single Text will loose its formatting while imported to Revit This ongoing development works very well in a project environment as it is not time consuming and you can see the immediate result while you are still working on your project. 15 .2. Enhance the documentation production and coordination The next step you can reach in your development process would be improving the workflow process of the design team. 3. You do not want to send too much time developing some intelligence that you do not have any use of.Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library If you are coming from a numerous years of using AutoCAD.2. The choice between family/shared and type/instance parameter is critical as it will condition the way you will manipulate the family in the project.

moving text). 3. Things like tiding up your drawing (cropping view. are very hard to compress in time. Your library should also help you reduce the process of checking drawing and marking them up for inconsistency in the way to represent things. Rethinking and adding value to the deliverables As Revit becomes a more integrated platform throughout the organization it can be time to think of implementing some other aspects of the BIM concept.3. • Looking at the analytical as pect of the model and putting in place the processes to help engineers and drafters to share the same model will bring a spectacular improvement in you design methods rd • Using 3 party software to do costing on a project will also help in your project management tasks. 16 . creating drawing sheets.Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library Tag Family Beam Family The use of the Shared parameter h ensure the coordination between the beam sixe and the text value on the drawing Illustration 20: Reducing error risk and improving documentation quality It is also important to understand that the time you can save in a project is in the model creation and management through the project life. Unlike in ACAD where it is still up to the user to assign the right layer Revit can take control of this and limit or even eliminate this type of errors.2.

It is clear that project work will have to be completed first before spending time on creating contents for the future. it is a real challenge to make sure that the development is ongoing in all offices but also that the result of this development is passed back to all these offices. One of the first challenge you will face when starting creating and managing content s is the resourcing of this process. This time constrain will limit the scope of development that we can aim for. SA NEW CONTENTS FOR MH LIBRARY to be checked and added to the main library MH LIBRARY Revit User Head Office (VIC) National Revit CAD Manager State Revit Team Leader Branch Office (VIC) MH LIBRARY MH LIBRARY Deployment of the library on to the branches offices servers QLD New Library Parts created by User or Request for Content creation VIC MH LIBRARY First QA check by the Team Leader Final QA check by the Revit CAD Manager New Drop of Content on to the main MH LIBRARY NSW Illustration 21: Multi locations Management System 17 .Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library 3. However if a proper time is allocated which means the production time will be decrease slightly temporarily. Of course the development work undertaken should allow the user to do his production task in less time.3. the most obvious is the time issue. If a user is only creating contents on his non production time. Project pressure / timing Out of all the challenge. Synchronization between teams and offices For big organization with several offices in different region.3. It will also help passing on the knowledge to all the Revit users in the organization. then we can only plan for a very limited development over the years.2. then the result will be much greater.3. You will need to have in house advance users that will create the contents.1. 3. Communication between these power users is a key as it will guarantee a faster development process. Challenges Resources 3. 3.3.3. In some companies we have seen the creation of a BIM committee which is a very positive thing.

He will then get his plan approved by the more senior management.4. • • • • 18 . It is a matter of analyzing on one side the skills of the resources and on the other side the development work already completed to decide the extends of the use of Revit in a project. Integrated workflow The key success of the implementation of a solution like Revit is very much related to readiness of the organization to deal with this change.3. Project drafter: At this level an in depth knowledge of the software is necessary to set up the job properly and ensure a continuous production of quality drawings. • Managing director: At this level a clear understanding of the benefits of the Revit technology need to be acknowledged. Project Engineer: At this level a clear understanding of the BIM workflow and consequences in drawing production time and model creation is critical. This will help the engineer to overview the documentation and plan for drawing issue all along the project.Create and manage you Revit Structure contents and library 3. As a result the time and cost of such an implementation will be taken in consideration in the financial activity of the company. Project director: At this level the technology and its utilization need to make return on the particularly project they are used on. CAD / BIM Manager: Navigating between all these roles the BIM manager will build up a development plan in accordance with the workload and the experience and feed back of people involved in the production tasks.

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