Setting up visibility settings in Revit families

When designing Revit families, you have to always keep in mind the level of detail you are putting in to your families, and the affect this will have on the performance of your project. When you have a large project with numerous families you may notice that your Revit starts to run slower, even when you are doing tasks unrelated to the detail of the project e.g. printing. One of the reasons for Revit “under-performing” could be the visibility settings setup or level of detail of families in a project.

It is very important when creating your families to keep this in mind, and to set up visibility settings for each one as you make it (One for coarse, medium and fine levels of detail). Once it becomes a habit to do this it is a quick process. Although going through all your old families and tidying them up may be a large job if they have not been designed correctly in the first place.  

The idea is simple, how you decide to implement and set rules for detail is your decision. For this example, I am going to take one of the furnishings in the default Revit library called: Dresser – Detailed.rfa. Despite the name, this is a fairly simple and “undetailed” family – but for example purposes it will work just fine. 

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Open the family in Revit – by default the family does not have any visibility settings applied aside from the default sketch for plan view. We now want to begin to setup the family so it is suitable for each level of detail in the project. First thing you want to do is to decide how you want the family to be split up, for this example I am not applying any rules, just setting it up with 3 levels.

As you can see in the image above, I have selected the drawer fronts of the desk, selected visibility settings in the Mode tab and unticked Coarse and Medium. This means that when you are in a Revit project, the draws will not show up unless it is set to Fine detail.

Go through the rest of the family and split the elements up in to levels. When I am working in Revit 90% of the time I am working with Coarse detail set as this will leave only the bare bones of my families – just for a geometrical representation. I have found that switching from Coarse to Fine significantly slows down my projects, especially when I have a huge projects with thousands of families.

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Above you can see how I have set out my desk family with 3 different levels of details. For a family which is as simple as the above desk, creating 3 distinct levels of details like this may be slightly over the top. In a normal case I would have kept Medium & Fine detail at the same level due to the lack of difference between them.

Although for representation purposes you wouldn’t want to have displayed the desk on the right in any sort of small scale elevations where you can actually see the details of it  – It comes in useful for example in a 1:200 cross section where the desk would only be printed as a small block of colour, but Revit still has all those details stored in it when you zoom in – Therefore using resources which do not need to be used.

This is not only a good exercise to implement in all your future Revit families, but is well worth doing on old families which you regularly re-use. You will notice a increase in performance on large projects where you have the same families repeated hundreds of times.


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About Ben Malone

Information Manager for BIM.Technologies in London

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