The Ultimate Revit Hand: Every Tip, Trick, Technique & Workaround (Known & Unknown)

May 28th, 2012

In this article, I will provide EVERY known Autodesk® Revit® tip, trick, technique, and workaround known to humans—even the future “unknown” ones.  I’ll do this by sharing tips, tricks, and techniques for getting tips, tricks, and techniques

By the time you finish this article, you’ll possess extremely valuable tools for working with Revit, as well as assuring your personal and professional growth.

So do you want or need Revit tips, tricks, and techniques? How about Revit workarounds and workflows? Or are you simply looking for ways to produce your work (more) correctly? Well, so am I, so read on.

There is so much is out there already, so I’ll focus on ways to get tips, tricks, techniques, and workarounds that for some are obvious, yet are un-used or under-unused by far too many Revit users.

Let’s begin with “where.” The best places to get answers, tips, tricks, techniques, and workarounds:

  • You and your brain
  • Your computer (aka others’ archived brains)
  • Revit mentors (aka others’ live brains)

Tip #1: Self Help: Get It/Give It!

Do not ask someone before you try, re-try, then re-try differently  

That is a rule for everyone who needs an answer to a question, whether in Revit or elsewhere. 

This is not tongue-in-cheek; this is perhaps the best way to learn. There is no magic wand out there—answers come from creative thinking and perseverance—trying repeatedly, failing, and ultimately succeeding. 

  • Approach obstacles as opportunities and you will better yourself and others.
  • Give yourself a chance to figure it out; you can come up with the answer yourself most of the time and that is what life is all about.
  • Take a new approach and lose pre-conceived notions of what you believe to be the possibilities.
  • Look at the Properties dialogs :-) The answer may be right in front of you.

Tip 1a

Create Answers Yourself (and grow your knowledge in meaningful, fulfilling ways).

Follow three simple concepts and eight potential steps and you will most assuredly either create or find the answers you are looking for.

1. Change Your Perspective 

  • Get up, do 10 cleansing breaths, rethink, try again. No hippy/zen joke here: this is great for your brain and outlook at the very least.
  • Take a break, walk around, rethink, try again. A few-minute break can clear your head, allowing an answer to formulate, as well as give you a good stretch.
  • Describe your issue to someone who knows nothing about it.
  • Ask one who knows nothing of the software or process that has you stumped.

Doing this will require you to explain it in a new way and that reframing will allow you to hear it anew and should open you up to a realization of the solution(s). This works for me most of the time!

2. F1

The F1/HELP button is your first line of defense. That said, the answer is not always there, but try this first!

Internet search

Someone has most likely already had and solved an issue just like yours and the Internet will provide you with myriad answers. Don’t forget to check different viewpoints!
a. Did someone say Google? (...or any other good search engine?).
b. Describe your question specifically and briefly with ‘Revit’ in it.
c. RevitForum: http://revitforum.org/ 
d. AUGI Forums: http://forums.augi.com/
e. The blogosphere. There are so many Revit/BIM blogs out there your head may spin. Most of us who write provide links to others’ blogs. This will allow you to easily create a list that meets your needs. A good place to start: http://c3consulting.com.au/links/bim-blogs.html  (I have no professional attachment with these folks; I am just spreading some love, even though my blog is at the end of their list :-). It’s a good start for you!

Now, with the three concepts above, you will get the answer you need 99 percent of the time. For the remaining 1 percent, keeping going.

Tip 1b

Ask a colleague or expert

Ultimately, there are no bad questions; just be sure you have exhausted the three concepts above and have tried to help yourself before asking others. After all, they are busy as well and initiative is usually rewarded.

Be a problem solver to whatever degree you can. Even though there are no bad questions, there are too numerous, repetitive questions that are easy to figure out without involving others. Avoid the appearance of laziness.

Tip #2: Leverage Social Media

LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare are three of the sites that every Revit, BIM person needs to exploit. If you do not have an account for LinkedIn, Twitter, and Foursquare yet, you desperately need to get on-board. If you have them, use them.

For instance, at Autodesk University this past December, Foursquare combined with Twitter was the overwhelming reason that people from around the world were able to meet easier and more frequently than ever before. By simply checking into a location on FS and then engaging on Twitter, we became immediately visible to all of our friends and followers, making meetings happen… a lot!

This was important, not simply for the socializing aspect, but for spontaneous working and brainstorming.  Sessions sprouted up, providing value well beyond the standard fare and many a Revit and BIM workflow were shared and then brought back to our individual corners of the world, helping beyond any of our expectations.

Tip 2a

Follow those that I follow:

You can get a decent list by hitting those who follow me by starting at: https://twitter.com/#!/JayZallan/following, which should catapult you into their followers, and so on. Then all you need do is interact.

Tip 2b

Post only good content

You can get a lot of support by sharing some of your own expertise, but understand that information overload is always looming. Many people “unfollow” twit-spammers or over-posters and over-personal-posters. I suggest keeping it mostly on-point.

Here is a partial list of folks worth following on Twitter, to get a headstart (in no particular order):

@JayZallan (Duh :-))
@leftyinvalid
@TroyGates
@davewlight
@davidfano
@AYBABTM
@alnjxn
@becausewecan
@PhilRead
@DesignReform
@case_inc
@randydeutsch
@jvandezande
@seandburke
@simonwhitbread
@Revitspace
@scottsh115
@dourevit
@virtuarch
@JonLanderos
@KnowledgeSmart
@projectvasari
@AutodeskSupport
@robincapper
@lukeyjohnson
@revit3d
@brucegow
@mdradvies
@Steve_Stafford
@RevitFactCheck
@BIMandments
@MattRumbelow
@jobcaptain
@JasonGrantArch
@SteveDeadman
@ShaunF1969
@bauskas
@GeorgeMokhtar
@MSIXVEO
@ZachKron
@jeremytammik
@ikeough
@revitking
@TanjaDzambaz
@WesleyBenn
@DesignByMany
@RTCAUS
@RTCUSA
@zoog
@fedenegro
@djivey
@revitall
@StewartGH1970
@kirklyncox
@CSIConstruction
@jrostar
@davidkingham
@scottddavis
@JWurcher
@pauldohertyaia
@ElrondBurrell
@cjridder
@BrianSkripac
@Twiceroadsfool
@apertedesign
@paulfaubin
@blads
@HarlanBrumm
@LEEDing_Lady
@masteringrevit
@BIMstore
@caddhelp
#BIMandments
#BIMandments is, in my opinion, the best and most useful AEC, BIM, Revit Twitter hashtag used. They are actually helpful, useful tips (even the ones I write).
Created by @AYBABTM the #BIMandments are added by putting that hashtag in a Tweet.

@AYBABTM is actually Don Rudder, Director Software Development for CASE Inc. http://www.case-inc.com/)

Don tells me that the #BIMandments has its own website (officially launching before this article goes to print perhaps).

The site is bimandments.com and if you go there now you may see something like the image at right, but who knows? The site may change when officially kicked off. You’ll have to check it out for yourself!

As Don tells it, “This site is already capturing in a MongoDB database tweets hashed as such so they will live forever. Once we launch it, twitter users will be able to vote on their favs.”

Tip 2c

Create a saved Twitter search for #BIMandments

Tip 2d

Follow @BIMandments

Then read each post from these two places, from the beginning, and your Revit seas will provide smoother sailing.

Here are a few examples (actual #BIMandments) illustrating what I believe to be the beauty of ‘140 characters or less’ from #BIMandments… enjoy:

The First of the #BIMandments, by “The Creator” Jan 12th, 2012, 2:27 PM

I don't normally tweet Revit tips... but I will be posting some Essential Tips that we'll soon all begin to know as #BIMandments

Other #BIMandments:

  • If you find yourself doing a task repetitively, create a keyboard shortcut if one does not exist. Then use it!!!
  • Thou shall Be proactive not reactive when clash detecting.
  • Modeling screw threads in thy family will result in a sinful visit from a disrobed Justin Bieber
  • Know a lot about creating families? Toss most of it when you start working on adaptive components and conceptual massing tools
  • My shameless link sharing: Know Your (Worksharing & Central Model) Rights http://bit.ly/x3PZyv & http://bit.ly/ywQ6a4

You get the idea now… the Revit community is active, sharing, and giving. Your job is to take advantage and join in, so new users can grow and you can get and give tips.

OK, so now you know the process to become a Revit Master: Try>Try Again>Try Again Differently>Bounce it off ‘lay-people’>Hunt down the Digital Answer>Ask a Mentor.

You now have at your disposal every Revit tip, trick, technique, and workaround known to humans—even the future “unknown” ones . I’ll bet you didn’t think that was possible when you read the first line of this article, did you?

Currently the VDC Director of BIM at Perkowitz+Ruth Architects & Studio-111, Jay Zallan brings unique and qualified insights into the business and creative processes of architecture with proven strategies for production and growth. He has more than 20 years of architectural experience and enjoys a varied and diverse portfolio of architecture and art. Jay is currently president of the Los Angeles Revit Users Group, AUGIWorld Revit Architecture Content Manager, BIM Advisory Board member for Graphic Standards, and he is a frequent lecturer on Creativity, BIM and Virtual Design & Construction.  He can also be found presenting at Autodesk University, Revit Technology Conference, and as a guest lecturer at the University of Southern California, LACMA, as well as many other industry and AIA events.

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