February

12

2014

Okay, I don't really ♥ parameters, and I know you don't either.  Lately we've had a lot of Ideate BIMLink customers asking us to fix their shared parameters by either merging duplicate values into a single parameter or by renaming them. While Ideate BIMLink can tackle both of these issues efficiently I thought it would make for a productive discussion to review how to avoid the problem in the first place. With this in mind, I headed to the East Bay User Group in January 2014 to tackle this issue head-on.

Some of the most common shared parameter problems surface quickly when we attempt to use content prepared for us by product manufacturers. Have you ever run into these head-scratchers?

shared parameter not editable

Or this one?

duplicate parameters

These problems both relate to shared parameters and for reasons that I won't go into now are not surprising given that we are using manufacturer supplied content. Our goal for this article is to prevent this from happening within your own content in the first place.

This decision tree below shows our recommendations on how to determine whether your parameter needs to be shared or not. The risks of misusing shared parameters are great and can result in lots of wasted time, so refer to this diagram before you embark on your journey into shared parameter files.

 shared parameters vs project parameters, shared parameter

One of the biggest misperceptions about shared parameters is that they are a requirement of a project simply because linked files are involved.  This is not true. For example, if the goal is to have the parameter value appear in a schedule and the parameter in question is an instance-based parameter then the only reason you would need to have a shared parameter, is if the value will be displayed in a Tag or Title block. Note that elements such as Rooms, Spaces, Sheets, and Views are always instance-based and therefore would only ever need shared parameters if it needs to be displayed in the Title Block or within a Tag. The criteria for a parameter to work across multiple files are EITHER that it is a shared parameter OR that it's a project parameter with the same name and the same unit (text, length, etc).  

Exceptions to this rule of thumb apply primarily to the issue of whether the parameter is desired to NOT apply to all families within that category. A classic example would be for those managing Electrical Equipment elements. This Revit category is far too broad. A PROJECT parameter such as "Transformer Width" would apply not only to transformers but also to any other family falling under the Electrical Equipment category, such as a the nurse call light family. In this scenario, a shared family parameter would be recommended to avoid this problem.

Hopefully this diagram will help you make an informed decision about your data structure and will help avoid the problems of duplicate shared parameters. I want to thank those in attendance at the East Bay User Group - it was a great discussion.  Perhaps there are now a few who may also ♥ Revit Parameters.

Check out Part 2 of this topic: I ♥ Revit Parameters Part 2: The Shared Parameter File Path. 

For in-depth consulting on organizing your data structure within Revit, contact sales@ideatesoftware.com.


About the Author

Glynnis Patterson, NCARB - Director of Software Development Glynnis is a Registered Architect and has worked with 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 across the nation, developing, and implementing best practices solutions. In her spare time Glynnis does volunteer work and builds Lego projects. @GVPinNJ

 

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February

7

2014

Felipe Contier, Principal, Architect, Contier Arquitetura, Sao Paulo, Brazil explains some of a recent project's size and complexity issues. The main or master file had to be divided into different sub-files, such as "Tower," "Underground," and "Ground Level." A change to the values of any parameters in one might or might not affect one or both of the others. Before the deployment of Ideate BIMLink, the team had to copy exactly the same text in every file.

The firm needed a reliable, practical, easy and stable way to change values of parameters and copy to Families. They also needed to organize their schedules, verify values and changed descriptions.

With Ideate BIMLink, the team is able to standardize sizes, naming conventions and parameter values. Once data is standardized in Excel, the team can quickly push processed data back into the Revit model using Ideate BIMLink. This capability has eliminated confusion and errors based on different people having assigned different names for Rooms and other elements. It has also increased accuracy, since values are processed via the automated capabilities of Excel. One Ideate BIMLink use case that Contier Arquitetura provides relates to managing wall families. The wall instance and type data would need to be synchronized across at least two of the three aforementioned files - the Tower and the Ground Level.


Contier Arquitetura project using Ideate BIMLink to manage various wall families in Revit.

Felipe Contier describes the dilemma by saying, "If in the course of the project we change the description of the wall, even if the change is very minor such as adding a comma, we had to make the same change in all files without fail. If the wall description in one file included the comma, and in the other omitted the comma, the quantity take off file would appear blank with no value at all for that description."

What Contier needed was a way to link all sub-files to each other and to a master file. With Ideate BIMLink, the Contier team can explore and edit the schedules for each file.

"Ideate BIMLink is saving us time. For example," Felipe Contier adds, "We have 68 kinds of electrical fixtures. For each one of them we have a parameter in the form of a description. We have the quantity, the energy consumption, and other data. To change each parameter in one single sub-file, even if I had the text, it would take probably a half-day. When the data is in three different files, it would take much more time, something like four or five times this, so about two days."

"With Ideate BIMLink, we can change the parameters in less time, say about one hour. But that is not the most important thing to us. What is more important to us than the time savings is the guarantee that the data is correct. That is the most valuable advantage."

For the whole story on how Contier Arquitetura utilizes Ideate BIMLink in their Revit data editing, look here: Accuracy Transcends Speed for Contier Arquitetura

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January

30

2014

The most rewarding aspect of software development for me is to make things appear simple, even when they are not. Recently, in the 2014.1 version of Ideate BIMLink we implemented a feature that seems like a small thing and often times gets overlooked. The problem was simple: in Autodesk Revit some parameters allow you to pick from a list of choices, but in the export that Ideate BIMLink created our customers were finding a number. Through some trial and error by the user the meaning of the numbers could be deduced, but that was hardly a simple or rewarding task. Some examples had more than one hundred choices and the value '95' did little to inform the user that the space type was 'Operating Room - Hospital/Healthcare'. We strove to do better. 

BIMLink, Ideate, Ideate Software, Condition Type, Space Type, Spaces, Revit MEP, Revit API, Revit Programming, Localized Enumeration, Autodesk Revit
Before BIMLink Update - Coded Space Types

The source of the problem is that Revit is available in several languages. The list of choices changes based on the language that Revit is using. As you can imagine, translation becomes an issue and there needs to be a universal meaning behind each name. To do this Revit uses numbers to store the choice, and that is how Revit shares the choice to us. It is that seemingly arbitrary number that we were then showing.

Space types, Condition Type, Space Type, Spaces, Revit MEP, Revit API, Revit Programming, Localized Enumeration, BIMLink, bim link, Ideate, Ideate Software, Autodesk, Autodesk Revit, Revit help, BIM, BIM Management
After BIMLink Update - Easily Identifiable Space Types

I took on the task of changing that number into the name that our users are more familiar with. It seemed like a simple enough task in English, but that wasn't enough. We needed it to work for all languages of Revit. It was a challenge that I took on with vigor and I am happy is included in the 2014 version of Ideate BIMLink. It may seem like a small thing, but it is the small things that make our more difficult tasks easier to bear. Let us show you how Ideate BIMLink can improve your workflow: download the trial version of Ideate BIMLink.


About the Author

Jesika DiGregorio - Software Team Lead Jesika received her Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Oregon in Eugene where she also spent time studying advanced math. Her work experience includes Junior Designer at an award-winning firm specializing in architecture and land planning, and Intern Architect at a firm that provides services in planning, design, construction documents and construction administration for projects of all sizes. After working in architecture design for several years, Jesika decided to pursue her interest in programming and her love of efficient systems. She now serves as a Software Team Lead for Ideate Software.

 

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January

22

2014

 

It seems that more and more the whims of the building department are running headlong into the limitations of the Revit plotting tool and causing WAY too much effort in getting the set out the door. Here's the background on the printing problems causing me headaches:

a) Revit prints the sheets by alpha-numeric order, which isn't always helpful, though re-numbering the Sheets Number with Ideate BIMLink is an easy solution to this problem.

b) The subscription Batch Print tool allows you to change the print order, but it has no concept of saving those settings (huh?).   You can have this tool for free on your Autodesk Subscription site.

c) Quite often building departments are requiring the total number of sheets to be listed on the set (A.K.A. plot stamp) and yet labels in Revit don't supported calculated values; see image

Revit, total number of sheets, permit set, customization
Total Number of Sheets Display

Revit Preparation Work:

  1. Create a Shared Parameter that is text-based.  I am using one called "OneofSheet" which will hold a text string that will print "
  2. 1 of x" where x is the total number of sheets in the set.
    Parameter Properties, One of Sheet, Revit,  Ideate, BIMLink
    Parameter Properties - One of Sheet
     
  3. Open your title block family, create a new label and then load and add the new Shared Parameter to the label.  In the image above the label is shown circled in red.
  4. Save the title block family and then load it into your Revit project.
  5. Within your Revit project, use the Project Parameters dialog to load the new Shared Parameter into your project environment.  If you haven't done so already, edit your sheets to use this updated title block family.  NOTE:  You'll want to do this in your template eventually.

Ideate BIMLink Work:

  1. Load the Sample Link called "Sheets_Review"
  2. Add the new Shared parameter to your link and delete any unnecessary properties; see example, below.
  3. Export the data to Excel.
  4. Sort the file by Sheet Number and then by Appears in Sheet List, by placing your cursor in cell A1 and then from the Data tab, select Sort.
    Sort by, sheet number, sheet set, appears, Excel, BIMLink, Revit, display total number of sheets
  5. Decide which sheets will be part of the set.  You might want to delete all that are identified as "FALSE" for the 'Appears in Sheet List' property.  Delete the row of any sheets that are not part of the set.
  6. Build a formula that combines the increment of the sheet with the total number of sheets.  You can save this Excel file, with the formulas, for re-use for this or other projects, making it easy to update this for future deliverables.  Example:  =COUNTA($B$2:B2)&" of "&COUNTA(B:B).  In this formula the COUNTA counts anything unless it is blank and column B is assumed to be the Sheet Number property.
    Build a formula, Excel, BIMLink, Revit, save for later,
    Build a Formula in Excel
     
  7. Use Ideate BIMLink to import the modified Excel data and now all your sheets are properly 'plot stamped.' Hopefully we've now freed up your afternoon and made your trip to the Building Department a pleasurable one! 

About the Author

Glynnis Patterson, NCARB - Director of Software Development
Glynnis is a Registered Architect and has worked with 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 across the nation, developing, and implementing best practices solutions. In her spare time Glynnis does volunteer work and builds Lego projects. @GVPinNJ

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January

9

2014

In software development interesting things can happen when you interact with outside sources; Autodesk Revit is no exception. Our senior software developer Ben Bishoff recently spent some time investigating one example involving Microsoft Windows and the Revit Family file. Revit has rules about the naming of families that is enforced when you are working with the software, either as a user or as an add-on software. In particular, it does not allow the following characters to be included in the name: \ : { } [ ] | ; < > ? ' ¶ and unprintable characters (ASCII 0 - 31) For example, while in a Revit project file, if you use the "Rename½" option from the family right-click menu within the Project Browser, and to rename 'Door Tag' to 'Door Tag [New]' you would receive an error.

Ideate Software, Revit, Autodesk, BIM Manager, BIM, Revit to Excel, Excel, Family Name, Type Name, Family and Type, Rename Family, Audit Revit Project, Revit Project Maintenance, Ideate BIMLink
Renaming Revit Families

This is simple enough, but the situation is compounded when Revit uses the file name of a family as the name of the family in the project. Windows, like Revit, also has characters that is doesn't allow in file names, but these characters are not the same ones that Revit excludes. \ / : * ? " < > | As a result there is a small set of characters that, while not valid characters in Revit, can still end up in family names if they are part of the file name. { } [ ] ; ' ¶ To continue the previous example, if you create a new Revit family from the Family Editor, you can save that file with the name 'Door Tag [New].rfa'. When that file is loaded into Revit there will be a family name that Revit would not otherwise permit to occur.

Ideate Software, Revit, Autodesk, BIM Manager, BIM, Revit to Excel, Excel, Family Name, Type Name, Family and Type, Rename Family, Audit Revit Project, Revit Project Maintenance, Ideate BIMLink, door tags
Revit Family Door Tags

This doesn't appear to cause any problems in Revit itself, yet these characters were declared invalid for a reason, even if we do not know what that reason is. Is the use of an invalid characters worth the risk? We strive to avoid anything that would destabilize our customer's file. That is why have taken the time to understand this situation and verify that Ideate BIMLink interacts correctly with these illegally named families. Not only does Ideate BIMLink handle these families carefully you can use it to ensure that none of your family names contain theses illegal characters. We recommend using our 'Project_Stds-Rename_Types' sample link file which will allow you to rename all of the family names and type names within one file.

Ideate Software, Revit, Autodesk, BIM Manager, BIM, Revit to Excel, Excel, Family Name, Type Name, Family and Type, Rename Family, Audit Revit Project, Revit Project Maintenance, Ideate BIMLink, Project Naming Standards
Project Naming Standards in Revit 

If you have a lot of family types in your project you can make it even easier to find these problem families by adding a filter to the link that identifies family or type names that contains an invalid character. In this example we are identifying ones that use a bracket character:

Ideate Software, Revit, Autodesk, BIM Manager, BIM, Revit to Excel, Excel, Family Name, Type Name, Family and Type, Rename Family, Audit Revit Project, Revit Project Maintenance, Ideate BIMLink, Filtering Families in Revit
Filtering Families in Revit

To try it for yourself download the trial version of Ideate BIMLink.


About the Author

Jesika DiGregorio - Software Team Lead Jesika received her Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Oregon in Eugene where she also spent time studying advanced math. Her work experience includes Junior Designer at an award-winning firm specializing in architecture and land planning, and Intern Architect at a firm that provides services in planning, design, construction documents and construction administration for projects of all sizes. After working in architecture design for several years, Jesika decided to pursue her interest in programming and her love of efficient systems. She now serves as a Software Team Lead for Ideate Software.

 

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