If you are not familiar with key schedules within Revit, you might want to first read What is a Key Schedule? I think of key schedule data as a collection of data that is applied to a Building Information Model object by a “Post-it Note”. Key schedules are most commonly used as a way of managing large volumes of related properties for Rooms (room styles) and Doors (hardware) but have also been used to great effect as a way to create pseudo-type properties to circumvent manufacturing data.

key schedule, Revit, hardware, ironmongery

For a long time, I’ve been extolling the virtues of the key schedule. Which is why I was initially surprised to hear from an early adopter of Ideate Sticky, that they had decided to use Ideate Sticky as a substitute for key schedule data. For reference, Ideate Sticky links an Excel table into your Revit project, with the source data residing in Excel. Using this method to circumvent key schedules seemed a bit of BIM heresy, but I decided to let it slide as a crazy idea from a crazy architect. However, a chorus soon gathered of those who wanted to do the same thing; perhaps it was an idea worth further consideration.

So, after giving it much thought, here are my top (3) reasons to consider dumping your key schedules, in favor of using Ideate Sticky, and (1) reason to keep the key schedule. We’ll use this Door Hardware / Ironmongery Schedule as an example.

key schedule, Revit, hardware, Ironmongery

Benefits of the Key Schedule

Let’s start with the benefits of using the key schedule over using Ideate Sticky + Excel. With the conventional key schedule approach the data properties that relate to the key are connected to the Revit element. Meaning that if you selected a door, in the example above, you would see all the key properties (Location, Handle & Lock, Closers, Panic Bar), and their values, within the Properties palette, along with the key value itself (Hardware Group). You can also choose to include these same properties in the Door Schedule.

For some projects, this may be a requirement of the deliverable, particularly if your handover document is the Revit file. If you don’t need to handover the Revit file and you only include the ‘key’ in your main schedule, then consider the top three reasons for dumping your key schedule in favor of Ideate Sticky.

#3 No Support for Linked Files

Unlike regular schedule, key schedules are not designed to work across linked files, meaning that you cannot have a single key schedule be referenced by schedules that exist within multiple files. It is primarily for this reason that we’ve had customers starting to use Ideate Sticky as a solution to this problem. With Ideate Sticky, a single Excel file can be used for the ‘key’ data and then it can be linked into as many Revit files as needed. With Ideate Sticky, a change to the Excel file will then be automatically reflected within each Revit file – no need to open up each Revit file to make a change! This also means that the person in charge of this data does not need to own Revit, or no how to use it.

#2 Deleting the Key Schedule – Yikes!

Sad but true… if you delete a key schedule, the key parameter (Hardware Group in this example) will disappear, which is logical, but the related values will also become unassigned, which stinks. In the example above this means that the data already assigned for Location, Handle & Lock, Panic Bar and Closers would be deleted though the parameters would remain. I first ran into this problem when a customer called in a panic after having experienced a massive loss of data. The good news is that we were able to restore that data by using Ideate BIMLink, but it was a distressing problem to have, none the less. Keeping this ‘key’ data in Excel and using Ideate Sticky to display the data means no accidental loss of data.

#1 No Support for Shared Parameters

Probably the most vexing aspect of key schedules within Revit is that they do not support shared parameters. This means that you are limited in your ability to standardize the data across multiple Revit files. You also will not able to report the key value itself within a tag. When I checked last, this was high up on the Revit Ideas Forum and was under review, but until that day, you might just want to use Ideate Sticky to liberate your data. In our door hardware /ironmongery example, instead of creating a Revit key schedule for Hardware group, we can create Hardware Group as a shared parameter and then assign the values as needed. The rest of the data is identified within the Excel worksheet as desired.

Deciding how to best structure your Revit data is an important task that should be integrated into your BIM execution plan and office standards. Proper data structure can mean the difference between mind-numbing data entering and painless, user-friendly data decisions. For other posts related to this topic, you may want to review how to decide whether a Revit parameter should be shared or not, and also how to handle multiple shared Revit parameter files.  

About the Author

Glynnis Patterson, Revit expertGlynnis Patterson, NCARB — Director of Software Development
Glynnis is a Registered Architect and has worked within the BIM industry since 1998. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, she has worked as an architect, educator and construction site manager. Glynnis is currently the Director of Software Development Services at Ideate, Inc. and continues to work with AEC clients worldwide, developing, and consulting on solutions to Building Information Modeling challenges. In her spare time Glynnis does volunteer work for ECLC of NJ and Grow it Green Morristown. Follow Glynnis on Twitter.