As a developer of add-in solutions for Autodesk Revit software, our goal is to help our customers get the most out of their Revit software investment. One way we do this is by meeting with users of our software as well as Revit customers at Autodesk conferences. At last year’s Autodesk Revit Technology Conference (RTC), we spoke with Tim Ekstrom, the BIM/CAD department leader for SSG MEP. SSG MEP offers a wide range of support for designing electrical, lighting, and low voltage systems for medical, municipal, educational, commercial, and transit facilities, as well as highways, roadways, and streetscapes.

Tim told us about some BIM line style standards that were not supported by our Revit add-in solution Ideate Sticky. Ideate Sticky lets Revit users “stick” Microsoft Excel files containing non-BIM data, such as code checklists, design data, and general notes, onto Revit project files, which are not able to manage or format non-BIM data.

Based on knowledge gained from further conversations with Tim, we realized that we had a great opportunity to increase the value of our software to SSG MEP and many other users who must comply with those standards. Our software development team went to work, and in December of 2015 we added three new features to Ideate Sticky:

1.    Support for hidden rows and columns
2.    Support for additional line weights
3.    Support for images

We didn’t stop there. We asked Tim for his thoughts on the updates, and he provided additional comments that led to further line refinements.

We appreciate Tim’s comments and welcome yours as well. You are deep into Revit software and Ideate Software products. If you are experiencing a challenge, chances are others are too. Please reach out to us at [email protected].  

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On August 1, 2016, Autodesk released a fix in Revit 2016/2017 software that eliminates a file-corruption problem we reported in late May. The problem occurred when both Ideate Sticky and UNIFI Content Management were installed on Revit 2016 or 2017. The Revit fix combined with the updated version of Ideate Sticky released in May solved the problem.

To ensure that your Revit projects continue to run smoothly, we’re providing an overview of the issue and links to the Autodesk Revit and Ideate Sticky update releases. We encourage all Ideate Sticky users to download both at the links provided below.

Overview of the Issue

In May, 2016, Guy Messick, Nancy McClure, and others from Interior Architects told us that that certain workflows involving particular versions of Revit, Ideate Sticky, and UNIFI Content Management were causing Revit projects to become permanently corrupted.

Ideate Software and UNIFI Labs worked together to find the root cause: a change introduced in Revit 2016 FCS allowed Ideate Sticky to interact with UNIFI events in ways that corrupt Revit projects. We discovered that the situation and actions outlined below caused the corruption to occur:

  1. Have Ideate Sticky and UNIFI installed on Revit 2016 or 2017. These exact combinations of versions are required:
    Versions to be installed
  2. Using Unifi Content Manager, add a new wall or other system family to the Revit project
  3. Close the Revit project
  4. Reopen the Revit project

At this point, Revit stopped on File Open and displayed the error message, “Data in project <project_name>.rvt is corrupt and needs to be manually recovered.”

Scope of Risk

It’s important to understand that this issue could affect any combination of two Revit add-ins or custom programming. (Geeky details: Revit threw an exception when one add-in registered for the Idle event inside the Document Open event triggered by another add-in).

Problem Solved

Ideate Software released a new version of Ideate Sticky (2016.4 /2017.1) on May 20 that avoided the add-in interaction. We then documented and reported the issue to Autodesk. As mentioned earlier in this post, Autodesk released a fix that avoids the corruption (even if the latest version of Sticky is not installed) on August 1 in Revit 2016/2017.

A big shout-out to Mikako Harada of Autodesk Developer Technical Services for taking a personal interest and driving the quick turnaround at the factory to address this issue.

Get the Fix

  1. Update to the latest release of Revit (2016 R2 Update 6 -or- 2017 Service Pack 2):
    Autodesk Revit Update Releases
  2. Update to the latest release of Ideate Sticky (2016.4  - or- 2017.1):
    Ideate Sticky Update Releases

More questions?

Please contact Ideate Software if you are an Ideate Software user and have any questions. Also contact us if you are a third-party Revit add-in developer and think this issue might be affecting your software. We’d be happy to share what we know.

About the Author

Ben Bishoff, Senior Software Developer
Ben has been a software engineer for over 25 years. With a Bachelor’s degree in Physics, he has worked at several software companies developing applications for the AEC industry including Sage Timberline (construction accounting and estimating) and ArchT (architectural drafting for AutoCAD). He also worked at Microsoft creating AEC and other diagramming solutions for Office Visio. Ben has been with Ideate Software for over 8 years developing add-ins for Revit including Ideate Explorer and Ideate BIMLink.


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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.

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Having worked with many customers on their BIM workflows and on my own BIM-related projects, one feature I see underused or not used at all, is the Revit Starting View. Especially when combined with a Titleblock and Ideate Sticky, Starting View can be an extremely powerful feature, ensuring team members office-wide have the latest project information.

Starting View allows you to assign a default view Revit will defer to as a starting point when a project file is opened. Even if you save on a completely different view before exiting your file, Revit will open to the Starting View you specifically assign. It is a great way to open directly to a view you are familiar with and want to work from. 

But, choosing your Starting View strategically, matters. 

Most of the Starting Views I have encountered along my way are project landing pages. These landing pages may contain information such as the client name and address, major milestone dates, notes to the team, and other important details related to the project. Unfortunately, most are also created as Drafting Views, which is a missed opportunity; project information is manually entered as a text note, and usually does not correlate to any of the information you see on a Titleblock. So, I say: why not use a customized Titleblock as your Starting View, instead? 

Using a Titleblock as a Starting View means you can add project based information and all edits will automatically propagate throughout your entire project! Additionally, you can add hyperlinks that direct users to project information, such as your BIM Execution Plan or even the Project Directory, itself.

Now throw in Ideate Sticky to get the absolute most out of your Starting View. 

BIM Managers can use Ideate Sticky with their Starting Views and incorporate their Stickies into Revit Templates. One huge advantage of this workflow is the ability to edit a master Sticky with company-wide information, such as current Revit Builds and any other need-to-know project details. When master information is edited, every project in the office will immediately receive an update. When the team opens their Revit projects, they will see the updated information in their Starting View.

Ideate Sticky Video

Thank you for reading! For more information on Revit and other Autodesk products, and information on training and consulting for the various products Ideate services, please visit the Ideate Software website

About the Author

Sash Kazeminejad - ACI, LEED AP AEC Senior Application Specialist
Sash is a registered Architect and LEED Accredited Professional who holds a Master of Architecture from Montana State University. Sash’s experience includes project management, BIM management, and design for architectural firms in California, Montana, and Oregon. As an Autodesk Certified Instructor, Sash provides Revit Architecture training and solutions for AECO firms. @sashpdx


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Join the Ideate Software tech experts for eLearning. Make the most of your Revit workflow with free, live, online classes that provide your entire organization with easy access to premium education. These classes are at 11:30 Pacific / 2:30 Eastern. Click the REGISTER links below to view the classes in your time zone. View the full Ideate Software eLearning Class schedule.

June 9, 2016 —  Ideate Explorer
Auditing Your Revit Project with Ideate Explorer — REGISTER

You’ve used Ideate Explorer to find the hidden DWGs in your Revit project, but did you know that you can find and cleanup many other culprits that may be lurking? This class will take students through nine additional auditing processes to help keep Revit projects running smoothly. We recommend auditing your Revit project weekly with these methods.

June 16, 2016 —  Ideate BIMLink
Revit Model Management with Ideate BIMLink — REGISTER

In this class, we will explore several ways in which Ideate BIMLink can help with efficiently managing a Revit model, maintaining its quality and thereby saving valuable time. Some of the examples we will review include: extracting a full multi-category quantity take-off, managing Revit families, managing views and sheets, managing view templates, performing a full project spell check, and renaming or renumbering objects with ease.

June 30, 2016 —  Ideate BIMLink
Ideate BIMLink for Revit MEP Projects — REGISTER

This class will explore several ways in which Ideate BIMLink can effect changes to a Revit MEP model. One topic to be covered is crucial for settings that affect Energy Performance. We will also explore how Ideate BIMLink can globally assist with Electrical Device changes and Lighting Level Analysis. We will also look at the various pre-built Ideate BIMLink Revit MEP Sample links and how they can make you more productive

View complete Ideate Software class descriptions and registration links.

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