Tag Archive | Revit

COYO – Work experience student at BIM.Technologies

Over the past week we have been blown away by how fast our 16 year old work experience student Olawale Labulo who is from Peckham has picked up Revit and learnt about the fundamentals of BIM.

Having no experience whatsoever with Revit, and only using Sketchup for around 6 months, some of the work he produced is highly impressive. Not only getting to grips with modelling in Revit but also the understanding of some of the more advanced tools in Revit, for example modeling parametric array families has really impressed us all.

Below is a sample of some of the work he has been doing and a short snippet of his concluding statement. After giving him a simple house to model (which he completed in a couple of hours) he took matters into his own hands and started to design his own building (apparently inspired from the computer game Minecraft!).


Here at BIM.Technologies I learnt how to use Revit at the basic level; learning how to make families, stairs, floors, ceilings, roofs and rendering. I also learned what they did as a job; help fix problems in building designs that they found in big builds they have been assigned with.

This experience at BIM.Technologies hasn’t motivated me to pursue a career in Architecture because before coming to work at BIM.Technologies  I already knew what career I wanted to pursue; to become an Architect. However it did give me a further insight to what was to expect in the line of Architecture. So overall I have always been motivated to pursue a career in Architecture, but this experience has enhanced the motivation I have in becoming an Architect.

The things I find interesting about these professions is that they get to work on wonderful buildings in London and across the UK. The thought of knowing that u help in the construction of an iconic building or just a wonderful looking build brings great joy to me.

Ola is sure to be a future star of Architecture or any other career he decides to pursue. All of us here at BIM.Technologies wish him the best of luck in whatever he decides to do, and hope he remembers us when he’s famous!

Great to see the passion and skills of the future generation. Thanks also to Alison Watson from Class of your own who arranged Olawale’s stay with us, and who does fantastic work to promote and inspire school children into a career in Architecture, Engineering and Construction!

Controlling the visbility of voids with an on / off parameter in Revit

Ever wanted to be able to turn a void on and off in a Revit project? My colleague Johnny Furlong has come up with this awesome work around:

Create a new HOSTED family, e.g. face, wall, ceiling based – depending on where your family will be based. I will be using a Metric face based generic model.

Create a void through the solid geometry – make sure that the voids cuts all the way through 2 faces of the geometry. You can choose which shape you want the void to be and as usual it can be controlled by reference planes etc. Save this family as *name*_uncut.

Now you have your uncut void family saved, you will want to create and save another instance of the same family as a CUT family. Select the void, click the cut geometry button and cut the void from the geometry. Save this family as *name*_cut.


You will now want to create a new family to embed these 2 families you have just created into. New family > Generic model – Create some solid geometry with an extrusion, depending on what shape / purpose you will be using it for. Load both your *name*_uncut & *name*_cut you have just created into your new family.

Place your *name*_cut family onto the solid extrusion you have just created in your unsaved generic model family. (you can repeat this step for as many voids as you need in your extrusion).

You will need to create 4 parameters. Decide at this point whether you want them to be instance or type parameters. Click on the ‘Family Types’ button on your Ribbon. The first parameter you will want to add is the control / On Off switch. Name the parameter ‘OnOff’ and make it a Yes/No parameter.

You will need to create 3 additional ‘<Family Type…>’ parameters – You will want to choose the same family type that you used to create your cut and uncut families; in this case all 3 will be ‘Generic model’ types.

Create an On <Generic Model> parameter and in the value field pick your *name*_cut family & Create an Off <Generic Model> parameter and in the value field pick your *name*_uncut family. Finally you will want to make an Switch <Generic Model> parameter – you can pick either the uncut or cut family for the value at this point. Once all 3 of these have been created, in the formula field for the Switch parameter enter the following; ‘if(OnOff, On, Off)’ – The On and Off values in the formula is in relation to the name of your families.


Click ‘OK’ and select the cut / void family which is embedded in your extrusion in the ‘Label’ field choose the Switch parameter.

While the void is still selected, go to your properties and UNTICK the ‘Visible’ checkbox – This will ensure that the orange void box will not appear when you insert the family into a project. You can also check that the Label parameter is set to ‘Switch’.

Load your family into your project – and there you go! Tick / Untick the ‘OnOff’ parameter checkbox to turn your void on and off.


I hope this helps – If you are having trouble following the instructions, leave a comment below and I will make a short video running through the whole process.

If you want to download the sample families I have used in this walkthrough you can download them here

Cut and isolate areas with scope boxes in Revit

Ever had a Revit project which is so large that you are having performance issues and trouble working on it? Want to work on a specific area of the building (possibly cores) without being slowed down by the data in the rest of the building?

Using a section box will give you the desired visual effect but the project will still be as heavy as it was prior to narrowing down the view to only show the elements you are presenting / working with.

Setting up worksets to narrow down the elements by cores is also an option, but unless you have set the project up with this in mind, it could take a while to set up and re-edit all your worksets.

An option which me and my colleague Johnny Furlong discovered is making use, yet again of the amazing ‘Coins Auto-Section Box‘ (which is quickly becoming my favourite and most used Revit add-in!).

For this example I will use the Revit sample project as I’m not able to post information on the project we needed to do this on. Go to the ‘View’ tab and select ‘Scope box’ create your box on a floor plan and ensure that the vertical extents are at the desired position on a 3D view.


Once you have done this, we will use the ‘Coins Auto-Section box’ add-in to isolate the scope box, just giving us the area of the building that we want to display / work with. Select the scope box, go to the ‘Add-Ins’ tab and click ‘Auto Section Box’. Name your view and either give a custom size or as I usually do, select the ‘Element extents, plus buffer’ 300mm is the default (giving you a 300mm tolerance on each side of the selected elements).

ImageYou should now have the selected area of your building isolated in a section box. We will now want to highlight this whole area including all elements in the scope box. If you can see other elements that were also selected in your view at this point you can shift de-select all these. Now you will want to click on ‘Hide Element’. The section box and all elements inside will now be hidden. Apply hide/isolate to view.

Staying in the same view, go to your ‘Properties’ palette and turn off your section box. You should now see the rest of your building MINUS the elements that you want to work with. Highlight all the remaining elements and delete them. (Make sure you have a file backup!). Once you have done this, click on your light bulb icon and unhide all elements in view. You will now be left with the elements you want to work with, and a much lighter project.

You will notice that any elements which are attached to this view will also remain (floor slabs + walls which were associated with the selected elements). You can either go and edit each one of these elements, or just use the same method of selecting the scope box and creating a section with the Coins auto-section box add-in. Your project should now be a lot lighter and more workable.

Chances are you hopefully won’t be in the situation where you’ll need to utilise this tip if you’ve planned your Revit project effectively. If you are working on / repairing someone else’s model that may not be the case ;)

Point cloud or linked file not appearing in Revit – Shared coordinates

If you are having troubles seeing imports / links or possibly point clouds when imported into Revit. The main reason (presuming it’s nothing to do with visibility settings / overrides) is most likely to be that the link is a very large distance away from the model space.  

The reason this happens is down to the coordinates imports in your Revit project. For instance your model center point which would be at 0m, where as your link or point cloud import may be thousands of km’s away. This will of course leave you in a situation where, if you zoom to fit, you will see neither your original file or the linked file, as they are so far away from each other that they become invisible unless zoomed into. 

It may also be difficult to locate where each file / import is. A good work flow I have been using is to import your point cloud, zoom to fit. Highlight from the bottom left of the screen all the way to the top right. Use the filter option in Revit to filter the elements. Select ONLY the point cloud / linked file which you wish to be imported on top of your model. 

Isolate this the selected element and then use the zoom to fit option. Now you should be able to see your point cloud / import in the center of the screen. You can now create a section through the import and then split it up by levels and add elevations etc. You will now be able to acquire coordinates from your import and use them as the project base coordinates

buildz: Candy stripes for your facade

buildz: Candy stripes for your facade

“User Question:  I have 3 types of panels I need to alternate across my building facade in vertical strips, a full spandrel, ventilation, and vision (all glass).  How do I do this without manually changing all the panels?”

Find the answer on the link above! A great post from Zach Kron’s buildz blog here – Check it out and make sure you view the rest of his awesome posts as well.

Zach Kron Candy stripes to facade

Setting up your Revit project to model point cloud data

The best format to bring your point cloud directly into Revit will be in *.pcg format – If you are yet to index your files, you may have any of the following files types: *.fls *.fws *.las *.ptg *.pts *.pcx *.xyb *.xyz – If your files are still in one of these raw formats, you will first need to index your files. You can do this directly in Revit, or if you’d prefer, check my old post here to find out how to do it outside of Revit.


If you are working with point clouds, you are probably aware that setting up the points to be re-modeled properly within Revit is essential. When you import your point cloud by shared coordinates, you are left with a 3D model of your points. Although this may look good, it’s not going to be enough information for you to model the building. What we need to do is set up sections, levels and elevations in order to give us a good chance of capturing all the details.

ImageAs you can see from the image above, when you import a point cloud into Revit, you do not get a very clean view of the model compared to when you view it in a program made for this specific purpose, e.g. point tools.

The first thing that we will do is create a section view on Level 0. Right click and zoom to fit > Draw a section from the left to the right hand side of your screen to ensure you will be intersecting your point cloud. Once you have done this, go to your section. If your point clouds shared coordinates file was set up correctly, you will now see your model in the section view. Unlike 3D views, section views allow you to add levels and elevation tags to your model.

ImageSet up your levels as required. There should hopefully be enough detail at this point to be able to identify where your floor slabs are starting and where your ceilings are located. Simply create your levels and as normal, you will notice new floor and ceiling plan views appear in your project browser. Once you have you levels set up, it will most likely be necessary to adjust the view range, in order to cut out any noise, or objects in the point cloud that you don’t want modeled in your Revit file – for instance bins, storage etc. I personally like to use 2 plan views for each level – 1 with a low view range and the other with a high view range. This will make it clear which elements are located where in the building. Using sections in certain areas will most likely be compulsory.

ImageNow you have 2 views of each level it will be easy for you to begin modeling the walls, openings etc inside of Revit. As you can see from the image below, just changing the view range makes a huge difference to the same level and is a very important aspect of modeling from a point cloud. If you neglect this, you may well miss vital parts of the building that need to be modeled.

ImageOnce you have started modeling your walls etc you will probably come across certain objects for example beams and columns which need to be modeled. Although, of course Revit has standard beams and columns in the generic libraries, I find it better to model these as structural in place components – This way you can recreate a very close replica of the objects in question.


If you have surveyed the building with a scanner such as a Leica model, you will most likely have TruView files to go along with your .pcg or raw format files – These will come in very useful when you are unsure about how certain objects are joining together etc. Be sure to make use of these files which can be opened in Internet Explorer with a plugin enabled. They are 360* panoramic photos of the areas which have been scanned. (The scanner also photographs the building as the points are being scanned.)

ImageAfter a bit of time and a lot of patience you will eventually see your existing building come to life in Revit. If you are having any troubles with modeling point clouds, feel free to get in contact and ask any questions you may have. I will be posting a blog shortly about jumping geometry (see below) due to positioning of point clouds in relation to shared coordinates – and a solution to fix this problem!

[youtube http://youtu.be/KWDSJwn_4Ew%5D

Highlighted lines in Revit appearing Red?

You may have noticed this morning that when highlighting objects and lines in Revit that the lines are appearing Red. This will be the case if you are using Windows 7 – Last night there was a Windows update which has caused an error in the Revit UI which is making this bug appear. To resolve the issue, all you have to do is go into your ‘Graphics options’ and turn ‘Hardware Acceleration’ off. I presume there will be a future update from Windows that will sort this problem, but for now, this will temporarily fix the problem.

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Example red colouring issue in Revit here
More info on the Revit Forum here

Revit family standards

Are you or your practice creating custom Revit Families to use in your projects? If so I expect you already implement in one form or another, standards throughout your Families. If not, or if your looking to revitalise your standards, you should check out the ‘bimstore bibe – Revit family creation standards‘. The following areas are covered in this document:

  • Family planningImage
  • Level of detail
  • Visibility
  • Nesting families
  • Size and performance advice
  • Naming and units
  • Parameter usage
  • Cobie parameters
  • Masterformat and Uniformat classification
  • Materials and previews
  • Family testing

Be sure to check out and download some of the other excellent content on www.bimstore.co.uk

Creating a type catalog for new families in Revit

When creating large Revit families which have a number of types / variations (e.g. size) of the same model, it may be useful to create a ‘type catalog’ to accompany the family in your project. In short, a type catalogue will reduce the amount of data going into your model when you import a new component / family. Rather than loading all 6+ types of the same family into the project, it will allow you to pick from a list (your type catalog) which size or modification of your family that you need loaded in this particular instance. This is particularly useful in families where you have 6 or more different types which could significantly slow your project down.

If you are using a family from the default library, you are able to export the families attributes as a type catalog, by simply exporting the family types as a .txt file as shown in the image below. As you will see, all of the work is done for you and every new family type you add will automatically update in the .txt file, proividing you re-export every time you make a change.

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If you want to create your own custom type catalog rather than just exporting from Revit, then you will have to create your own .txt file which you will use as your type catalog. To get an overview of what information goes into this .txt file it could be a good idea to export some type catalogs from the families stored in the default Revit libraries and explore for yourself how different attirbutes are stored and named. Here are a few key points to consider when creating your Type catalog.

  • Give your family a simple name, using no spaces or unusual characters. Use _ to connect words and – between a range of numbers.
  • Ensure your Family and .txt file have the SAME NAME excluding the extension.
  • Place your Family and the .txt file in the same folder on your computer.
  • Be consitent and list parameters in the same way everytime you create a new catalog.
  • Only create type catalogs for families with over 5 variations.
  • TEST your family and type catalogs before sharing with others.
  • If you are having problems defining parameters, check an existing family that is working correctly for tips.

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Once you have your family created and all editable attributes added as parameters, it is time to start creating your type catalog. For every defining parameter you have, you will need to add this in the type catalog. Most parameters are names specifically, e.g. Length, but for the more obscure you would use the parameter ‘OTHER’.

Open up a notepad or your personal preference of .txt editor. The first line of your code, depending on your parameters should look something like this:  ,Keynote##OTHER##,AssemblyCode##OTHER##,Depth##LENGTH##MILLIMETERS,Material##OTHER##,

This is storing Keynotes, Assembly Codes, Length, Width, Depth, Material and the units. Parameters in Revit are usually listed in the following way:

Parameter Name(Length) ##Parameter Value(100) ##Unit (millimeters) – Although it may look confusing to start with, once you understand the way they are formulated, it is easy to add and edit existing values using the above method. Use the ‘,’ parenthesis when seperating different parameters.

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Once you have created your family and type catalog and try and load it into Revit, you may receive an error similar to the one listed above. This particular error is informing us that 7 values or parameters were expected, yet only 6 of them were found, or defined in the type catalog. If you receive a similar message, go back and review your family to check you haven’t missed out one or more of the types created in the catalog. Once your family has been created succesfully you  will see a dialogue box appear similar to the one shown below when you load your family into your project, this is what you want to see!

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Once again load your family into your project and check that each of the variations are working as you would expect. Once you have tested all variations, you are ready to share your family with the rest of your team. If you have any problems or more questions about type catalogs, feel free to get in touch and I will see if I can help. Hope that this will be useful for someone who is having problems with creating type catalogs.

Revit Adaptive families – an introduction

Adaptive points are a tool which has been available in Revit since the 2011 release. They are an adaption of the pattern based curtain panel. Adaptive families, unlike a standard parametric family, which can be resized by flexing and changing values are able to adapt to different situations and scenarios in a building, controlled by the points you setup. They are often used for panels and curtain panels which are similar in appearance and function but different sizes. Adaptive families are able to ‘adapt’ to their surrondings by settings points as markers or connectors. e.g. A square panel will have 4 adaptive points which you will add on each of the 4 corners of the structural framing.

Like all tools in Revit, there are a number of different complexities to adaptive families, they can be used for simple geometry for instance piping or beams all the way up to advanced modeling techniques, such as rotating panels requiring an excellent work station to be able to handle the detail and repetition on a large scale. In this post I will be trying to explain the basics in a simple and understandable way.

Before jumping in to creating an adaptive family, it is worth taking some time out to plan how your family is going to function. With normal generic families, we lay out reference planes to constrain our geometry, with adaptive panels I like to use reference planes in a grid format and repeat the same grid in the Revit project when adding the family. This consistency will reduce the chances of errors etc when you are loading your family. 

A few things to consider before starting your adaptive family:

  • Add your ‘Point Elements’ in the same order that you want to insert your geometry into your project.
  • Remember to set out grids if you are working on more than one level.
  • Adaptive points have their own X and Y reference planes attached, when working with solid forms, use these planes to constrain the points to the geometry.
  • Be sure to use ‘Reference Lines’ rather than ‘Model Lines’ when referencing your point to the form.
  • Be patient, and test your points are acting and reacting the way you expect, in the same way you’d flex a standard Revit family.
  • There’s nothing worse than rushing through and finding out you have to start all over due to a simple mistake.

The first thing you need to do is open up a new “Adaptive Genric Model Family” this will give you a blank template with and X and Y reference plane. Hold down Ctrl + Shift and with your mouse left click and drag the current reference planes to make copies of them, set out your planes similar to how I have in the image below. Keep a consistency with the spacing between planes, this is important when bringing the family into your project. Add some points and arrange them as you need: 

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Use the view cube to lay out your points, you may notice that your points aren’t snapping to the reference planes unless you are in a ‘top’, ‘left’ or ‘right’ view. As mentioned above, make sure to enter your points in the same sequence you will add them into your project. Once you are happy with the location of your points, highlight them all and click the ‘Make Adaptive’ icon on the ‘Adaptive Component’ tab. In this instance, I am going to create a random form, just to illustrate how adaptive points work. 

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Use the ‘Set’ tool in the work plane tab, and go through each adaptive point one by one and select the horizontral face as shown on point 5 above. Once we are working on the correct plane, we can begin to create the starting point for our geometry. When creating these circles as shown above make sure to use ‘Reference Lines’ rather than model lines. Solid forms and masses can be constrained and controlled by reference lines but not model lines. We now want to add some parameters to our reference circles. To do this, simply highlight the reference circle, and click the ‘Make this temporary dimension permanent’ icon as shown below.

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Once we have made all of our reference lines into permanent dimensions, we are able to add a parameter to control the size of the circles. Simply add a type parameter in the way you would with a normal family. Select the dimension, click on the ‘Add label’ dropdown in the actions bar and a parameter name related to the object. I will use ‘Bottom Width’ for point 5 and ‘Top Width’ for points 1-4 as they will all be the same size. You will now see these parameters appear in the ‘Family Types’ dialogue where you will be able to control the dimensions and add formulas etc. Set your reference lines to the correct sizes and we are almost ready to start adding some geometry. It is a good idea to test your new parameters and move your adaptive points around to check that everything is behaving correctly. 

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We now want to add some solid geometry to our adaptive points. There are of course a number of different ways to do this depending on the desired result. Here I will be selecting point 1-5, 2-5, 3-5, 4-5. Select reference line 1 and while holding down control, tab through your elements until you are selecting reference line with adaptive point 5 in. Select both of these and then hit ‘Create Form’ in the ‘Form’ tab on the ribbon. Repeat this step until you have 4 ‘spokes’ coming out of the wider base. If you have followed the same instructions that I have given, your adaptive family will look like the image below.  

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Again you should now move around your adaptive points and test your parameters to check that they are performing the way they should be. Once you have completed this you are ready to save your family and add it in to a revit project. Test it out by connecting it to a Mass. It is a simple procedure and only requires you to add the points in the same way that you have added them in your family. I sometimes find it easier to recreate the grids in a mass environment in the Revit project. You can also switch nodes on to your grid lines to make the placing of points simpler. 

If you have any problems or questions, leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Vasari tips and tricks

Vasari is an excellent tool for design analysis and conceptually massing and energy testing. Although your results are not accurate enough to use for construction purposes, it is a great tool to compare different design options in order to see the affects of the mass or building in relation to the surrounding environment. If you are unsure how to set up vasari for energy analysis, you can view an older post here which will take you through the process step by step.

In this post, I will share a few massing tips and tricks which I have picked up through using the software.

Adding and editing profiles:

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Adding a profile to your mass can dramatically change how the mass or building will look as you can see in the image above. In order to add a profile, simply tab through your selections until you can pick the whole mass. Click on Add Profile in the ‘Form Element’ tab and select where on your mass you want the profile to be. Once the profile is added you wil be able to DRAG the profile in all directions to pinch and push the mass in certain ways, play around with this until you get your desired shape. The Vasari starter screen was created in this way – Check out the Vasari talk here explaining how this was achieved.

Adding Edges:

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Edges or vertexes are also used in Vasari as a way to manipulate your mass or form. As you can see in the image above, you can begin to turn a very ordinary rectangular block, into an abstract and more interesting shape to work with. Each edge in a Vasari project is editable, it is also possible to add new or extra edges to your mass in the same way as a profile. You can play around with these until you achieve your desired result.

Using ‘X-Ray’ mode:

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X-ray mode in Vasari is similar to wireframe mode in a program like Revit. The main difference is the X-Ray produces ‘nodes’ on every edge and profile we have created, this gives us even more freedom to play around with the shape of the mass and create something truly unique. With these 3 tools along with the standard massing tools, it is possible to create almost any shape that you would want a building to be. 

Adding Levels:

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If you are testing out high rise buildings in Vasari, you may have say 20 or 30 levels or floors in your building. A quick way to add all of these levels, rather than manually adding them is to hold down the CTRL key and drag the levels up to the next position. This will copy the level and allow you to create mass floors. Although this method would not be suitable if you need to use precise measurements, it is more than sufficient when testing out different design options for energy consumption / wind simulation etc.

If you are looking for more detailed instructions and help with Vasari, you can either get in contact with me below, or watch some of the Vasari talks – These are a weekly webinar / meeting explaining different aspects of Vasari, all the way from the introduction right up to advanced modeling techniques. Check out the Revit Wiki Help page here to view all the previously posted Vasari talks. I will be posting some tips on creating panels in my next post. 

 You may also wish to check out the tips & tricks section on the Vasari forums here.