One Small Step

May 23rd, 2014

The new versions of Autodesk software always generate excitement and disappointment as wishes for improvements are granted and denied. Todd Shackelford runs through the highs and lows for the MEP engineer using Revit.

I am always excited for the new version of Revit. It’s kind of like it’s your birthday and you know you are going to get something. The hard part is you can influence the gift giver, but you cannot force them to buy exactly what you want. As an MEP user, I have high expectations and I am detailed in the way I use the software

Wishes Granted

Looking at the AUGI Wish List for Revit MEP we did get some wishes we were looking for. In particular we got the revision cloud functionality expanded. Before this version, we spent quite a bit of time clicking and clicking around to create clouds that did not turn out as neat as engineers would like. Now when in the cloud tool, rectangle and polygon tools are available to draw the shape you want to be converted to a cloud. Multiple arcs will placed on any sketched line to accommodate.

The result is a much cleaner looking cloud in a whole lot less clicks. There is also an arc length control in the sheet revisions dialog, to allow the user some control over the size of the arcs. Setting the size of the arc length to a large number will enable the arc to tool function as it did in previous versions.

Figure 1

Figure 2

The revision cloud enhancements addressed a couple of wishes in the Wish List. Unfortunately, it was the only direct hit. We did get some improvements that we may not have known we wanted.

Tapped duct and pipe used to report “Multiple Values” when asked for something like flow. You can now tag the duct or pipe and get the actual flow. The properties for the duct or pipe length will still report “Multiple Values”, but that makes sense for the length of the duct or pipe.

BIM Support

Working for a consulting engineering firm it might be hard to get excited about the following added functionality. It is all to enhance Revit’s ability to go from design to fabrication. It makes a lot of sense when you consider that the BIM process spans the life cycle of a building and does not end at design. So for those of you struggling to use Revit to prep your fabrication drawing, I present to the following enhancements.

Pipe part dimensioning allows users to dimension to the centerlines of pipes, fittings, and connectors. Pipe edges are not yet up for grabs, just the centerlines. On the upside you can dimension in coarse view even though the centerlines are not visible.

Figure 3

The MEP Content Convert to tool allows users to freely convert to and from pipe placeholders, pipe content, and pipe fabrication parts. This functionality allows users to tweak a design model for uses in a construction model. Converting to a pipe to a placeholder enhances the user’s ability to modify routes and allows the user to easily try differing routing solutions before converting to fabrication.

Figure 4

Fabricated parts can also be swapped out for differing parts allowing user to refine the systems on the fly. Selecting a fabrication part will display a new icon that will open the Fabrication Parts Browser. Currently this is limited to piping.

Figure 5

Revit Platform Changes Benefit MEP Users

As usual, the base platform changes are having a bigger impact on our day to day lives than the individual MEP upgrades. Of the platform changes, the ones listed below will help out the MEP user the most.

The Project Browser has shed the heading of families, and the Family Browser has been introduced. For all of you tired of scrolling and scrolling through the Project browser attempting to locate families, and then scrolling back to navigate views, this is an elegant solution. With families in their own browser, dual screen users can optimize their workspace, and everyone can simply get where they need to go faster. Expanding and collapsing the tree structure is greatly appreciated, and the search box at the top of the browser makes finding what you need a snap. There is also “Add to Favorites” in a right-click menu to help users keep track of their favorite families in a folder. As someone who administrates Revit families, I am not jazzed about a way to save families separate from the standard families. This is a good step forward, although it does not go the distance Kiwi Codes went years ago. It would be nice see a palette based tool like this that calls families from a server location allowing our template files or starter projects to not be jam packed with all conceivable families.

Images in schedules. Revit will now allow users to associate images with family types. On the MEP side of things, I have seen plumbing fixture schedules include images of the fixtures to help the architect and owner truly understand what the faucets, toilets, and sinks will look like. This can now be done by opening the “Family Types” dialog in family editor, clicking the “Type Image” parameter and opening “Manage Images” dialog. Add the image you want to associate with the fixture family and close “Manage Images” dialog.

Figure 6

Load the fixture family back into project and overwrite existing family and parameters. Create a “Plumbing Fixture Schedule” with fields “Family and Type” and “Type Image”.

  • At the time of press there were still some limitations that may or may not be resolved before the final version is released.
  • The associated images can only be shown in the schedule graphics in a sheet view, they cannot be shown in any other view
  • Inability to reference image as Link, currently the images are directly imported into Revit and this might increase the model file size and impact performance
  • Inability to control the image size directly in schedule view
  • Inability to control the row height in schedule grid view
  • Inability to associate any preset view directly with family type image and show it in schedule
  • Inability to assign an image to each family type through type catalog
  • Revit doesn’t use the preview image as the default Type Image

The Little Things

There are plenty of seemingly little things that might just makes all of our life’s a lot better. In no particular order, here they are.

  • The ability to delete a revision. Yeah, stone cold delete a revision. A delete button has been added to the Sheet Issues/revisions dialog. You will get a dialog indicating that you are about to delete a revision, click “OK” and it’s gone.
  • Now it’s much harder to delete a pinned element. Before Revit would tell you that you just deleted a pinned element. Since we have all been trained to ignore warning dialogs, a lot of us miss things like that. Now the warning dialog, says (and I am paraphrasing here) “Revit did not delete the pinned element. Unpin first if you want it gone.” If you have select pinned and unpinned object, the unpinned get deleted and the pinned objects will remain.
  • It is now way easier to change a referenced view after creation of something like a section. Just go to the options bar and pick a different qualifying view.
  • You can now use a fence to select object to trim or extend instead of having to individually select each element. Curved cutting elements can produce unexpected results, but this is still something that has worked in AutoCAD for years. It’s nice to see it in Revit now.
  • View titles now have the option of referring to a shared parameter. We have all run into the problem of not being able to use the same view name twice or having other view naming issues that have ended up with us creating a dummy tag. With this change, the tags can remain smart.
  • The Manage Links dialog now has an “Add” button. What’s this! The ability to add a link right there in the manage links dialog? Yes it is.
  • By default when duplicating views the new view will be suffixed with “Copy” instead of prefixed. What does this really do? It just keeps the duplicates next to the originals in the project browser instead of grouping them all together alphabetically under “C” for copy.
  • Last, we now have the ability to change the order of parameters under Family types with the addition of a handy “Move Up” and “Move Down” buttons.

What’s Missing?

Just in case someone is not reading the AUGI Wish List for Revit MEP, here is what we want next year.

  • We need to model Cabletray in any orientation
  • Can we please duplicate sheets, please!
  • Coordinated single line diagrams
  • Can the callout tool be any shape?
  • Make design options work with all MEP elements
  • Make plan regions work with all MEP elements
  • We want to calculate the length of MEP elements
  • Is asking for the default for linking Revit models = origin to origin too much to ask?
  • Connector across linked models
  • Pipe up and down is broke, it’s broke! Give us an override.
  • More stable
  • Faster
  • Easier

We got a lot of great gifts from Revit this year, and while there are some things on the list will still haven’t received, I am still excited to dig into the new goodies.

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About the Authors

Todd Shackelford

Todd Shackelford

Todd Shackelford is the BIM Manager for Leo A Daly, a University of Nebraska instructor and a fequent speaker at Autodesk University. He authors two Blogs; CAD Shack and The Lazy Drafter. A Revit 2013 Certified Expert. Todd looks for his missing socks when not otherwise committed. Tweet Todd @ShackelfordTodd or email Todd at tshackelford@alvine.com

 

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