Saturday, April 30, 2016

Revit 2017 - Align Padlock and Wall Core Centerline

If you think you're going crazy because no padlock appears when you try to align and lock a Wall by its Core Centerline, you're not crazy (not about that anyway). Revit 2017 seems to have gotten distracted and doesn't turn on the padlock when using Align on that portion of a Wall. Damn that's subtle!! They are on it though. I imagine it'll be fixed once an Update Release (Service Pack) is made available.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Controlling a Solid Form with a Visible Parameter

Here's a video trip back to a basic family editing concept. It describes two solids, a cube and sphere. I assign parameters to their Visible parameter and then show how we can use a formula to toggle one of them on/off and using Family Types to manage them. This works fine for solids, voids are another matter...and the subject of a later video.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Revit 2017 - Associate Family Parameter Tool Tip

It's the little stuff...

Revit 2017 is missing the tool tip for the Associate Family Parameter button that it took awhile to get. Now it's tool tip-less again.

It makes me sad for that little sneaky button :(

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Multi-Segment Grid and Crop Boundary Interaction

When one segment of a multi-segment grid passes entirely beyond a views crop boundary that segment is not displayed. That seems reasonable to me. The annotation at the end of the grid however also disappears and that doesn't seem as reasonable to me. I'd like that to remain especially since (when) that end isn't coming into contact with the crop boundary. It is easier to see with a video capture embedded below. Whaddyathink?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Revit 2017 - Text Element Error Message

I created a drafting view and placed a single text element. I type a simple sentence and then clicked the new Close button on the ribbon. I received this nonsensical warning for my effort.

Doesn't seem to matter what view I am placing text in, clicking the Close button pops up the warning. I'm curious if others are seeing this too? I was using the stock architectural template from the Imperial Library. Simple fix is to just finish text in the same old way, don't use the Close button.

Edit: A little more testing and the plan view Level 1 doesn't seem to mind anymore. When I tried it again in the Construction template the floor plan view Level 1 didn't complain but Level 2's did and the Ceiling plan for Level 1 did too. Okay...more weirdness. This is after placing text in an Elevation view.

Traded emails with Aaron Maller last evening and pinned down the circumstances that this issue is reproduceable. It boils down to placing text in a view and then placing text in another view while the previous view is still open. Revit doesn't seem to recognize that the new text is in a different view when the Close button is used. Here's a video explanation.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Revit 2017 - View Range Keyboard Shortcut

Brian Mackey wrote a post earlier today that describes two quirky issues with using the new View Range keyboard shortcut VR. It is definitely subtle, quirky and worthy of an echo.

The first quirk is having to click Apply first and then OK to close in order to make a change stick. I'd run into that too and meant to write something but Brian was quicker to the keyboard. The other, and very important, thing to know is that using it ignores when a View Template has been assigned to a view, meaning the template is supposed to be controlling the parameters for View Range. That's not good! Check out his thoughts.

As such it is no longer his favorite new subtle feature and I'm inclined to agree, too bad.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Revit MEP - Wire Size AWG vs MM

I wrote a post about this subject before. There is an app at the Autodesk Exchange Apps that offers trap door access to revise the bias toward AWG size versus.

It is called Convert Wire Size (AWG to MM) and it sells for $4.00 USD. I haven't used it myself but for those firms that need wire size reported in millimeters squared it may be the solution you need/want until Revit itself allows us to switch the criteria directly itself.

I'll be curious to hear how well it satisfies what engineers are asking for.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Family Templates and Reference Plane Inequity

This is subtle but still a source of amusement or annoyance. Start a new family using the Generic Model template and try to copy an existing Reference Plane. Nope, the Copy tool is disabled.

Now try it with the Furniture template. Ah, Copy is enabled.

Try it in the Casework family template. You'll find Right, Left and Front Reference Planes are forbidden while the Center (Left/Right) and Back Reference Planes are not. That makes sense. Wait, what?

Okay, the rule is copying a Reference Plane working on furniture is okay and doing that in Generic Model templates = BAD? Doing it in the Casework template is, well it depends...

Actually the only rule is that you can expect some reference planes in some templates to be forbidden to copy while others are not affected by such thinking. Ralph Waldo Emerson cautioned us to avoid a foolish consistency. In this case a little more consistency wouldn't be bad.

...I'm not asking for all of them to be forbidden either...if you're wondering.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Revit 2017 - Upgrading Text Warning

In my earlier review of the text editor I included this warning:
When you upgrade from older projects you're going to have to deal with text changing to reconcile these changes. That means you CAN'T upgrade a project a couple days before a major deadline and expect to just hit print.
I should have also said that means anything that has text in it, like tags, title blocks and so on...

My post mentions that text height is defined differently, more like AutoCAD. The help documentation offers a graphic and an explanation of what has changed. I also marked up this image from Dynamic Statements to indicate how the text height is defined now. The overall height is based upon the capital letter M, measured from Base Line to Cap Height (for M). That's apparently more like how AutoCAD does it.

Brian Mackey (The Revit Geek's Blog) has written two posts about what he's observed happen with an upgrade so far. This is the FIRST and this is the SECOND post. Damien Ferlazzo (Revit Link blog) shares his experience upgrading text so far with his POST. Check out their posts.

I've also read a couple of threads in forums from users sharing what has happened with their TEST RUNS at upgrading. I emphasize that TEST RUNS because at this point that is exactly what we should be doing.
Please, please, pretty please with sugar on top...don't upgrade and expect to just carry on without reviewing everything very carefully. You (we all) have some text fixing to do!
P.S. As I was finishing this post I just heard from someone that they are having some issues trying to use the ALT codes for special characters via Character Map. I also heard that some text types were not editable at first but closing the view and opening it again helped for some reason. I'm sure there will be more to come as more people start using it seriously.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Revit 2017 - Enabling Worksharing

The process for enabling worksets has changed with this release because Collaboration for Revit (C4R) has been incorporated into Revit directly. This allows someone to subscribe and begin using it quicker. They might even be able to do so without any (or much) EyeTee intervention.

The first evidence that there is something different is on the Collaborate ribbon tab; there is a Collaborate button next to the disabled Worksets button. There is a new Communicate panel too.

In the past enabling worksets began with clicking on the Worksets button but now we start by clicking on Collaborate. This takes us to the fork in the road necessary to permit sharing the project via A360/C4R whether we are able to use it or not, just in case. If the file hasn't been saved before clicking Collaborate we get a message asking us to do that.

Then the Collaborate dialog appears asking us to specify which method of sharing the project we need; Collaborate within your network or Collaborate using A360.

When we choose Collaborate within your network Revit enables and creates two User-Created Worksets called Shared Levels and Grids and Workset1 (like in the past) but it doesn't open the Worksets dialog (like it used to). This allows us just to get on with our work using the Active Workset (Workset1 by default). If we need to create additional worksets then we'll find the Workset button is enabled, just click it to open it (Workset dialog, as in the past.

The Communicator button is tied to using C4R. It is a separate window (dialog) that can display information about your project team activity, if you're sharing the project using A360. Imagine concepts from Worksharing Monitor combined with Instant Messaging features and that's what you've got. FWIW, it used to be able to dock inside the Revit UI but it doesn't do that now. If you've got two or more monitors you'll probably prefer it on one of them instead anyway. This is what it looks like if I'm not logged into A360 and not using it to share this project.

At some point we'll need to Save the file and like in the past we'll be warned that this is the first time we've done that since we enabled worksets; click Yes.

Remember, if you'd like to set the default Open option to Specify remember to use Save As instead of Save. You only get a chance to do that with Save As. This allows us to choose which Worksets Revit should load before it opens the project entirely. This can have a significant impact on how long it takes to load a project.

At this point we are still working in the Central File, which isn't practical to share the project nor is it advisable. I can determine that by looking at the Save icon on the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT), it is disabled and the Synchronize and Modify Settings button next to it is enabled. The project's file name listed on the Title Bar doesn't include my user name either. By the way, we need to SwC to relinquish our ownership of the User-Created worksets properly. The only way to do that is to use SwC (Synchronize and Modify Settings), via the dialog that appears. The Synchronize Now button does NOT do that.

Now that worksets are enabled and relinquished we need to close the project so the team can get started by creating their Local Files. When I browse to the Central File to start work I need to make sure that Create New Local is enabled and double check the Open option is assigned to Specify.

Remember doing so will cause this dialog to appear before Revit begins opening the project further.

Okay, now get to work; in your Local File!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What is New for Navisworks 2017

The answer is not a lot. Here's a list of the new features they've taken time to document. The list is so underwhelming I've just taken it off their site verbatim to underscore it's half-hearted attempt. Note the UI description - "we made some changes". I saw a tweet about reading through the list in two seconds and I thought they were kidding; they weren't.

European Region Support
Navisworks 2017 provides access to BIM 360 Glue projects hosted both in the United States and Europe. Just select your regional server after sign-in.

BIM 360 Shared Views
Navisworks 2017 continues to support synchronized Shared Views with BIM 360 Glue, providing real-time access across BIM 360 Glue connected clients . Shared Views assist review and analysis activity in your BIM360 Glue project team, for closer collaboration.

Shared Views created in any BIM 360 Glue connected client retain view fidelity, including:
  • Object Visibilty (hidden state)
  • Object Overrides - color and transparency (transparencies are fixed at 95%)
  • Section Planes and Boxes
Shared Views can be renamed, moved into folders created in BIM 360 Glue and saved directly in Navisworks.

UI Improvements
We've made some changes to the Navisworks BIM 360 and Home tabs, making access easier and offering a more intuitive user experience.

CLIC Licensing
The introduction of CLIC brings cohesive access via single license, that supports both desktop and cloud services.

Faster Model Display (faster is always better, my words)
Improved speed of synchronizing data and display of model list, and faster streaming of BIM 360 models.

Autodesk 2017 Product Integration
Providing support for the latest Autodesk applications is fundamental to Navisworks, ensuring that the latest version of design models and data can be reviewed and analyzed. Updated file readers, exporters and integrations include:
  1. AutoCAD 2017 file reader and exporter
  2. Civil 3D 2017 file reader and exporter
  3. Revit 2017 file reader and exporter
  4. Inventor 2017 file reader
  5. 3DS Max 2017 file exporter
  6. Recap 2017 integration
  7. Vault 2017 integration
  8. Intergraph CADWorx Plant file reader updated to include support for additional properties including User data and Insulation.
I can't help but reading through that imagining, "Awe...we were so tired from the last two releases, cut us some slack dude...". Maybe they are working on some killer stuff that couldn't be wrapped up in the yearly release cycle? Optimistically, at least getting up to speed with Navisworks 2017 this year won't take long.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Revit 2017 - Space Naming Utility Update - It is Available Now

The other day I poked Autodesk about this feature. As it turns out it is deployed slightly more automatically. The catch is that the latest iteration of Autodesk Desktop Application (I'm going to call it AdA) must be used to see these updates.

My first problem was that AdA wasn't working. It just displayed a blank white screen. I also noticed that there was no Autodesk (A icon) in the system tray for an active service. Eventually I used the wisdom of The IT Crowd; turned it off and on again. That restarted the service and AdA started working, displaying information.

The second problem was there were no updates to choose from. I logged out of A360 and closed its system tray instance. I also logged out of A360 via Revit, since I had it open. I closed the instance of AdA in the system tray too. I had a browser open looking at my Manage portal. I thought that maybe my access settings were wrong. I logged out and closed the browser too. Then I logged back into A360 and launched AdA...voila, updates appeared. It made no difference earlier that I used the right-click Check for New Updates option for AdA in the system tray repeatedly.

Once I got it working again this appeared in AdA.

This a tiny bit better.

People will still have to pay attention to be alerted to download and install it. If they don't have enough control over their computer they'll still have to get EyeTee involved. I'll have to see if I notice more people have it installed in the coming months.

Once it has been downloaded and installed you don't have to rely on AdA to pass it along to others in the office though. You can just capture the downloaded installation file from the location defined when you downloaded and installed it the first time (C:\Autodesk by default).

It is also a bit tedious that every one of the updates is a separate installation; must be run and completed before starting another. If you attempt to run them while another is running you'll run into messages about something already being in process.

By the way, when you run Revit after installing all the available updates you may be greeted by "Security - Unsigned Add-in" warnings. Nice...

I've got my Space Naming Utility! Do you? I hope so!

...and thanks to Paul Aubin for the heads up!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Revit 2017 - Combine Parameters in a Schedule

This is the often requested ability to concatenate parameters values into a single column. The schedule Properties dialog has seen some cosmetic changes, note the new Combine Parameters button.

We see the new smaller buttons replacing the larger and clearer buttons of old. I also get the New and Modify buttons confused with each other ALL the time. When we use Combine Parameters the dialog looks like this for a Room Schedule.

This is combining width and height into a single size parameter for a Door Schedule.

Another very interesting possibility is to combine different parameters for the same values when different families are displaying the same information but have different parameter names, because they came from different family creators. Here's combining three versions of width parameters into a single column, three families using three different shared parameters for the same thing, you can see I left each parameter's name in the heading.

I found it interesting that I can even combine parameters assigned to different Types of Parameter, like length and text. This is an example where I've combined two text parameters and one length parameter all intending to say the same thing, however impractical it will be to deal with the units of that mixture, or lack thereof.

This means we can create a VAV Schedule based on different families from different manufacturers and combine their different manner of Horsepower (or similar) parameter value into a single column. VERY interesting!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Orientation is not Managed by View Template

When we choose to assign a View Template (VT) to a View, that makes the template the view's boss. It takes over control of each setting we choose to make it enforce. In this image notice the parameters that are gray, not editable?

Those are being managed by the View Template. I've got to edit the VT to change one of those parameters or use Enable Temporary View Properties to override them briefly.

I noticed yesterday that the Orientation parameter does not behave like other View Properties even when a VT thinks it is in charge of it. This is the VT's dialog showing it is currently assigned to Project North; we can choose either Project North or True North. The check in the Include column (on the right side) indicates we want the VT to take over.

Therefore I find it counter intuitive that we can still interact with and change the Orientation parameter in the Properties Palette even though the VT is in charge.

If the VT is changed the view will follow along as expected. I wouldn't expect to be able to change it back in the View's properties with the VT in charge, but I can. This means the Orientation parameter is affected (managed half-heartedly) by a VT but it isn't truly in charge of the parameter, not like it is for other parameters.

It is inconsistent, perhaps a bug?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Revit 2017 - Reference Plane Subcategories

As I shared in the What's New post the other day, we can create our own Reference Plane subcategories; in both projects AND Families.

It is my opinion that Families should NOT bring Object Style subcategories for Reference Planes into Projects when they are loaded.

I realize that this is carry on baggage because Object Styles are loaded from a family into a project, that's how it works. However, it would be much better if something we can't even see or actually use in the context of the project doesn't get added to its database.

If people really like this enhancement and start using in all of their content then it could get really messy. The only people that won't incur the wrath of this are those that manage their content library aggressively. I really hope we don't end up with this...

I sure hope this is something the folks at the Building Content Summit will consider discussing to get out in front of it some.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Revit 2017 - Text Editor Features

Long awaited, much rejoicing was heard when Revit users heard the news, there is a new text editor. Really? Can it be true? Yes they've revisited the text feature in Revit! Will you be pleased or at least happier? They certainly hope so.

Initially things don't look different. You still click the Text button and find text defined by Types. Text Types have the same Type Parameters we've had before. Prior to clicking to place text the ribbon is still the same too. You click to place text in the same way. Once you've done that you'll begin to notice some differences, namely in the context ribbon panel.

To begin with you'll notice, on the right end of the ribbon, that there is a Close X button, a formal front door to finish editing text now. The only way to finish editing before now was to click in empty space, outside of the text element somewhere.

On the paragraph panel you find the same list of choices for indenting, bullets, and outline formatting with numbers or letters. There are two new buttons to increment the indented list. This permits us to increase the starting value of a list. Similar but a little different from a word processor like MS Word.

The previous image has different text elements for each indented (numbered) list. We can insert a space in a series of notes and have the numbering continue within a single text element too. It is a bit quirky however. I find it only works if you create the numbered or bulleted lines first and then go back and use CTRL + Shift to insert the blank line between the list sections. Here's another example using this technique instead.

You'll probably suspect or notice that I used a separate text element for the header of the notes. That's still necessary because the text types don't support overriding font height, as before. Indented lists that use one of the four bullet or numbering options cycle through each of the four choices when you Indent a line, like this.

I can guarantee that someone has a numbering syntax they want that the text editor doesn't support; if yours doesn't match the above I'm correct. FWIW, this IS the first outing of the brand new engine in the car so we'll have to take them at their word that they'll continue to improve on it with future updates and releases.

Also new are buttons for Superscript, Subscript and All Caps. As you can see in the next image All Caps is currently active which is causing everything I type to use uppercase. It is worth noting that all the text will be displayed during editing, a result of their abandoning the special text editing canvas we had before (fixes zooming too, more on that later).

The new editor supports Fonts that can range from 1 - 1638 points and the maximum and minimum height of text is determined by the font. As I understand it, this means for Arial this translates to an approximate range of 0.1” to 16.3” or 0.3 mm to 413.6 mm. A text note also has a maximum width of 84” or 2135 mm.

Empty Text Notes are allowed if there is a leader. If the leader is removed the Text Note will be removed (if it does not contain text). Those people wanting to just place a leader have just experienced a spike in their heart rate.

This means we can place just a leader next to a View Reference family that, as a tag family of sorts, remains leader-less, sad view reference family...sad face.

When editing the user has the option to always have the border displayed and the option to always have the note display with an opaque background. That is determined by accessing the Edit Text options via a sneaky arrow button under the Close (text) button.

They've managed to fix the zooming issue we've had with editing text. When we are editing text zooming in and out of the view doesn't influence the text element negatively now. As I mentioned briefly earlier, you'll notice that we don't enter into a special text editing canvas anymore. The rendering engine that generates what we see on screen has been reworked to permit this to behave better. That's a welcome change.

I still think it's wise to use the Zoom Sheet Size feature to get a better sense of proportion while editing the text. With what is possible with screen resolution these days though it's not uncommon to find it quite hard to edit text without zooming closer to it. The same could be said of the schedule editing view too, which remains unaffected by these changes however.

Did you know that fonts are complicated? The more you know about something the more complicated it is, like life I suppose.

Part of the process of building the new text editor involved comparing how Revit worked with AutoCAD. As a result, they've revised the method for measuring text size to be a bit more like it (AutoCAD). In the past the size of text was measured from the font baseline to its ascender line (that's technical font speak). Unfortunately typical characters do not extend to the ascender line. This means when we attempt to measure the resulting font we usually don't get a result we'd expect. As of 2017 the size of text will be based on using the font's cap height, which is measured from the baseline to the top of the capital letter "M". That decision was based on customer feedback and further review of AutoCAD's own code.

There are still going to be some differences if we observe font generation in both programs very closely, in particular when it is exported to DWG. A developer explained it like this. In Revit when you want a certain text size in length units it has to pick a size that matches as close as it can in point size, for example 12 pt Arial. Revit selects a size in 1/2 point increments. This rounding affects measuring where a paragraph will wrap to the next line. This means the text size or the text note width cannot be exactly reported if exported. No font is identical to another, the spacing between characters is different so it isn't possible to accurately scale it based on the width of the note either.

Are you familiar with these settings governing exporting Text to DWG format?

These influence how Revit decides what is most important to you during the export. Preserve visual fidelity is most appropriate when we want the text to LOOK as close to the same in Revit and AutoCAD as possible. Use Preserve Editability when you're more interested in matching the size of the font as close as possible; which may result in different looking bodies of text in AutoCAD. Put another way, if you want the paragraph to look the same, wrapping and number of rows of text then choose the first. If you're more interested in being able to select the text in AutoCAD and see the same text height (again as close as Revit can do it) value then choose the second.


Known Issue - Open Type Fonts (OTF) not supported yet, due to issues exporting to DWG

Finally, when you upgrade from older projects you're going to have to deal with text changing to reconcile these changes. That means you CAN'T upgrade a project a couple days before a major deadline and expect to just hit print. Then again, when has that ever been a reasonable expectation or assumption? Lucky that for the most part it has been practically true. In this case they've completely re-written the underlying text editor code so it's not likely to be as uneventful as some upgrading has been in the past.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Revit 2017 - New Features and Enhancements

Long Post Warning, worth it I hope.

Edit: (April 17th) - The BIM Thoughts episode #30, is a podcast with Bill Debevc (it's Bill's podcast), Carla Edwards, Paul Aubin and me. We recorded it on Sunday (April 17th) and discussed some of the new features described below.

Last night I was able to download and install Building Design Suite 2017 from my Autodesk subscription account. You might like to read Tim Waldock's blog post (The Revit Cat) about installing it.

With little fanfare Revit 2017 is here, brandishing a slightly changed big R logo.

In past years I've proposed a What's New in Revit session for RTC Australasia. It has usually been accepted and then I often presented it for RTC North America too. Creating a session like that is a great way to get better acquainted with the new features each year. Last year I promised myself (and family) I wouldn't submit for any speaking engagements in the coming year (2016). Besides, after more than ten years of this, I feel like I have less I need to stand up in front of people and say.

As a part of the crew for the Revit Technology Conference (RTC Events) I also see class proposals for a great many people who really want to say what's on their mind. I'd rather they all take their turn at the microphone and I'll sit down, listen and learn from them.

That written I decided to compile my own review of the new features and enhancements in a blog post. I'll still do what I've done in the past and tackle features with dedicated posts as the new Revit season progresses. I think that individual posts make features a bit easier to digest; hopefully they compliment a summary post like this one.

In my RTC sessions I've repackaged the new stuff into my own three categories of Stuff; Big Stuff, Other Stuff and Subtle Stuff. Autodesk has their own interpretation of what are big new features and sometimes I agree.

Before I get on with it, I need to mention that a fair portion of what is new has already been seen, and put into play by Autodesk customers with active subscriptions. Autodesk released Revit 2016 R2 like they did with Revit 2015 the year before. The special R2 version gives us early access to some of Revit 2017 features that were code complete and did not require a file format change, which necessitates an upgrade of files. We'll see a need for upgrading from 2016 to 2017 files but not from 2016 to 2016 R2 files. Okay, on to the list!


New Features Videos - Start with these videos provided as part of the help documentation if you prefer watching videos to reading my blog post.

Help Documentation links for What's New in Revit 2017

Architectural Enhancements in Revit 2017
Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Engineering Enhancements in Revit 2017
Structural Engineering Enhancements in Revit 2017
Multi-Disciplinary Enhancements in Revit 2017 (called Platform in the past)
New in Revit 2016 R2 (features released with R2 late last year)

Text Editor - A top ten wish list item since Revit 1.0 has finally been tackled. It's apparently a lot harder to create a full featured text editor than we users think. We'll have to see how it is received.

We'll be able to create indented lists with a bit more control now and we can place just a leader (empty text). Look for tomorrow's post, I'll cover this feature more then. You'll definitely want to look closely at this change.

Depth Cueing - This is another frequently requested concept. In Architectural and Coordination discipline views this allows you to apply a gradient override to make it more obvious which elements are farthest away compared to the elements that are closest to the cut plane of the view.

It applies to model elements, and graphic display effects, such as shadows and sketchy lines. It is not applied to annotation elements, line weight, line work, background images, or background color. When you've turned on and adjusted the settings you can export the view to an image file, print the view (uses raster processing ONLY) and/or add the view to a sheet (print/export that instead).

Try it out before you decide raster printing isn't going to cut it for you.

Occlusion Culling (2016R2) - The Graphics tab in the Options dialog offers the new setting: Draw visible elements only. It will be most noticeable in 3D views.

Color Fills (2016R2) - Any processing required to update or display these are now a background process (see next item).

Background Processess (2016R2) - A new Status Bar icon by the Selection options will let us review active background processes.

At least one Update (patch) for 2016 R2 was released to patch issues with this feature (Color Fills) recently. They are one of more tasks that Revit is changing to avoid making us overly aware of things happening, slowing us down.

Display of walls - Revit will regenerate walls only for those visible within the drawing area. In addition, if a wall appears very small in the drawing area, it displays as simplified lines, regardless of the detail level assigned to the view. MEP users will see that they are doing the same thing with Duct.

Rendering - The change over is complete, Mental Ray is out. Autodesk Raytracer is now used for all rendering functions so the option to select a rendering engine has been removed. When you export a walkthrough, if Visual Style is set to Rendering, the Autodesk Raytracer rendering settings specified for the walkthrough's view are used for export. Rendering settings are saved with each view's properties.

Autodesk Raytracer is used when you render a material preview. You can select draft or production quality. When you upgrade a model, the rendering settings that were specified for the NVIDIA mental ray engine are mapped as closely to the appropriate settings for the new engine as possible.

There is a new Background style in the Rendering dialog called Transparent. You'll want to use that when exporting to PNG or TIFF formats for further processing in Photoshop.

Global Parameters (2016R2) - This permits us to create a parameter at the top of a project and then associate it with individual element's parameters. They can also be associated with dimensions similar to assigning a parameter to a dimension in the family editor. For example, a standard corridor width requirement can be associated with any dimension we use between corridor walls, like this.

We can associate global parameters with a type property for an element and with instance or type project parameters. They can also be assigned to a group (parameter group in Properties Palette). They can be moved and sorted within their assigned group(s). A schedule can be Filtered by a global parameter to find all elements that have a global parameter association or are missing that association. Like other constraints, use right-click Show Label in a view to see how the parameter is related to elements in the project. We can transfer global parameters between projects.

Reference Planes - We can now create different Reference Plane sub-categories which can be given different graphic properties. This is an example of it in the Family Editor.

In a project it might look this if we create a unique subcategory for Building Edges and Roof Drains.

One thing to be VERY careful about is that Reference Plane subcategories created in a family are added to projects if they aren't already in the Project. That could create quite a mess if/ (or more likely when) family editors go nuts with this feature. This one scares me quite a bit.

In 2016 R2 we can provide a Name for a Reference Plane directly in-canvas after selecting it, it looks like this.

Reference Planes and Filters - Like Grids and Levels we can now use Filters to manage Reference Planes because the category has been added to the available categories they see.

In-Place Stairs: This opens the door to creating custom stairs that don't use the stair tool itself. They have added Stair related categories to the list of available family categories for In-Place geometry.

Combine Parameters (in Schedules) - This is the often requested ability to concatenate parameters values into a single column. The schedule Properties dialog has seen some cosmetic changes, note the new Combine Parameters button.

We see the new smaller buttons replacing the larger and clearer buttons of old. It's a cleaner interface but I miss the clearer labeling of such things. Now if I'm not sure what something is I have to pause for a tool tip to appear. I also get the New and Modify buttons confused with each other ALL the time. When we use Combine Parameters the dialog looks like this for a Room Schedule.

This is combining width and height into a single size parameter for a Door Schedule.

Another very interesting possibility is to combine different parameters for the same values when different families are displaying the same information but have different parameter names, because they came from different family creators. Here's combining three versions of width parameters into a single column, three families using three different shared parameters for the same thing, you can see I left each parameter's name in the heading.

I found it interesting that I can even combine parameters assigned to different Types of Parameter, like length and text. This is an example where I've combined two text parameters and one length parameter all intending to say the same thing, however impractical it will be to deal with the units of that mixture, or lack thereof.

This means we can create a VAV Schedule based on different families from different manufacturers and combine their different manner of Horsepower (or similar) parameter value into a single column. VERY interesting!

Duplicate marks - Revit will no longer incrementally assign a mark value when placing elements for the following MEP categories: Cable Trays, Cable Tray Fittings, Conduits, Conduit Fittings, Ducts, Duct Fittings, Duct Placeholders, Duct Insulations, Duct Linings, Flex Ducts, Flex Pipes, Pipes, Pipe Fittings, Pipe Placeholders, Pipe Insulations, and Wires.

That should help reduce unnecessary Warnings!

Calculated Values in Tags - This permits us to do the same thing to tags that we've been using in schedules. For example, in a tag I'd like to show the difference between the client required area and the actual area of a room. That wasn't possible without some export/import or Dynamo shenanigans. Now it is possible, right in a tag.

This starts in the Edit Label dialog via a new button, then it is the same as the dialog we've seen in Schedules.

Calculate Options for Columns (in schedules) - You can display minimum values, maximum values, or both minimum and maximum values for calculations in columns.

Auto - Project Base Point to Project Base Point (2016R2) - This positioning option gives us a new way to reconcile files that are started without agreeing in advance how to create our models relative to our own project's origin. We can un-clip the Project Base Point and move it to mark a specific location in our own model. Anyone linking our model can use Auto - Project Base Point to Project Base Point instead. This way our un-clipped PBP location will be used to align their model with our own PBP.

It may be necessary to also move our PBP un-clipped if it isn't already where we've agreed it should be. Keep in mind that Shared Coordinates are still very relevant with respect to survey, site and landscape models and drawings.

Move to Project Base Point - The Move to Project Base Point command moves the link back to the host model Project Base Point in the same manner as the original (project base point to project base point) positioning method. This command is available for any RVT link, regardless of the original positioning method.

Move to Internal Origin - The Move to Internal Origin command moves the selected link back to the host model's internal origin in the same manner as the original (origin to origin) positioning method. This command is also available for any RVT link, regardless of the original positioning method.

Per-User RVT Link Unload (2016R2) - This is relevant to projects using worksharing. When a linked file is unloaded that status is passed along to the central file and then on to other users when the use Reload Latest or Synchronize with Central.

This option will allow us to choose to make this a personal change that does not get passed along to other users. It is one reason we started to use a Workset to manage linked file loading and unloading. With this change the only significant reason to continue using worksets for linked files is for the demand loading of links when we open a project.

Cancel Export and Printing (2016R2) - It has been quite frustrating in the past to be unable to cancel printing when we realize too late that something is wrong. Now a Cancel button allows you to cancel the entire print job or export operation for all selected views and sheets.

Project Browser Scrolling (2016R2) - The project browser scroll location is now remembered when we switch between different projects and families. This should mean we won't have to scroll as much to get back to the same location after switching windows.

View Templates and Schedules - They have expanded how much influence a View Template has over schedule views.

They've added control over Fields, Filters, Sorting/Grouping, and Formatting. I've noticed that the stock templates (project) don't have a View Template for a Schedule (true of 2016 too) which makes it less than obvious how to make a View Template because the Create button is disabled in the View Templates dialog.

The trick is to use Create View Template from View on an existing schedule. Once at least one schedule View Template exists more can be created from within the View Templates dialog, however only for schedules associated with the same category as the original.

If you select a View Template and don't see the new items they can control it means the schedule and the View Template you've selected are incompatible, related to a different category.

Hosted Railings - This is a welcome addition. We can now sketch railings onto the top faces of floors, slabs, slab edges, walls, or roofs. Balusters and railings will adjust to the slope of irregular surfaces, for example a wall that's had Edit Profile used on it. NOTE: They recommend we check railings after upgrading projects.

Generic Connections (Structure) - To facilitate the exchange of information between engineers, detailers, and fabricators about a connection between steel framing elements, Revit supports placing generic steel connections. You can place these to define the relationship between elements which can be used, via parameters, to supply information about the connection, including pictures and links to connection requirements or other information. They can display in drawings and use colors based on approval and/or code checking status parameters for an easier review/approval workflow. If required, they can also be replaced later with detailed steel connections created using an add-in (see next item).

Steel Connections for Revit - This is similar conceptually to what has been done for MEP Fabrication. It is an Autodesk add-in which allows us to view detailed structural connector geometry and to modify additional parameters within the Revit modeling environment.

Reinforcement connectors - Reinforcement connectors are new kind of family. Structural engineers can use schematic connectors to define requirements. Detailers can use them to produce shop drawings. Manufacturers can go into full detail, precisely modeling and representing reinforcement connectors to create installation instructions.

Rebar connectors interact with the rebar that they connect to, facilitating change management. You can add the connectors to groups, assemblies, and partitions with unique coupler numbering. You can also export connectors to various formats.

Variable Rebar Distribution - To fit rebar within complex shapes, you can use rebar sets that can vary along inclined faces. Documentation should be easier with multi-rebar annotations, customizable numbering settings, and accurate schedules that display varying lengths. You can also define inclined rebar sets.

Split columns - The Split Element tool can now split vertical columns at the desired points too.

Wall Joins (2016R2) - We can decide if we want walls to join prior to placing them.

We can also select multiple wall joins and change the configuration of all selected joins to Butt, Miter, or Square Off at the same time.


Preview Family Visibility (2016R2) - The family editor lacked full respect for visibility features like Detail Level and Yes/No parameters associated with a form's Visible parameter. It only made those elements a lighter color (gray). A new View Control Shortcut button allows us to show families they way they will appear in a project setting, all while creating the family in the family editor.

Family Types Dialog (2016R2) - The family types dialog now has a data entry field that allows us to supply criteria to filter the family's parameters. This works on both parameter names and formulas. You'll also find that the text buttons for adding/modifying/deleting types and parameters have been converted into image buttons.

Toposurface Edge Calculations - For conditions where sloped building pads meet other building pads you may recall a sliver of surface might appear between them. Toposurface edges are now calculated based on the building pads, not the overall toposurface. The resulting toposurface should now be more accurate, and hopefully the slivers of toposurface we've seen in the past won't be there.

Keynote Legends - These legends, when set to By Sheet, will now be aware of whether or not a keynote is visible in the view as a result of View Range settings, Design Option settings or Depth Clipping/Far Clipping settings.

In the past Revit displayed a keynote even if it was outside of the View Range, assigned to a different Design Option than the one currently displayed in the view or actually outside of the view’s Depth Clipping / Far Clipping range. Now they won't be included in the schedule if these conditions are true of a given keynote.

Vector Printing for Consistent Colors - They've worked to make Revit more willing to print using the Vector option instead of requiring Raster when we print views that are using the Consistent Colors visual style.

Tangency Lock - This permits us to lock in a relationship between line segments that are tangent to arc's with new icon's that appear when such a condition exists. This should make it easier to deal with arc/line relationships than it has been in the past. We discussed trying to control this series of lines in a thread at AUGI a few years ago. This IS much easier to pull off now.

Column base attachment - The Attach Top/Base command can now attach structural columns to isolated foundations and footings. Adjustments to the foundation height cause the length of the column to adjust accordingly.

Structural foundation parameters - To achieve consistency and use more recognizable terminology, several reporting parameters have been renamed or changed for wall foundations, isolated foundations, and slab foundations.
  • Isolated foundations - The Offset instance parameter is now Height Offset From Level.
  • Slab foundations - The Default Thickness parameter for filters, tags, and schedules is now Foundation Thickness.
  • Elevation reporting - Top/Bottom Elevations parameters are now measured in relation to the Project Base Point.
  • Elevation at Top/Bottom Survey -  The Elevation at Top/Bottom Survey parameters for filters, tags, and schedules are measured by the shared Survey Point elevation.
New parameters for slab documentation - To improve tagging and scheduling of floors, two new parameters allow you to specify the default (total) thickness and core thickness of floor types. Use these parameters for schedules and tagging. When one floor layer is set to "variable" and the sub-element has a variable thickness, the parameters display the value "Varies."

Energy Analysis - This is a hot topic these days but I don't see a lot of real action regarding these features in offices. Perhaps my own perspective is limited. Regardless Autodesk continues to put a lot of effort into it. To simplify the initial effort (settings we have to manipulate) required to generate an energy analytical model they've made a number of changes.

The Energy Settings dialog has been redesigned so that you only need to specify a location for the model, at the outset. Revit defaults to assigning all other parameter values to arrive at an optimal analysis with minimal input. Many parameters that used to be found in the Energy Settings dialog are now part of the Advanced Energy Settings dialog. You can adjust these settings after performing an initial analysis once you understand the results and decide to refine the analysis.

They've renamed quite a few parameters.
  • Analysis Mode is now Mode
  • Core Offset is now Perimeter Zone Depth
  • Divide Perimeter Zones is now Perimeter Zone Division.
  • Conceptual Constructions is now Conceptual Types
  • Building Construction is now Schematic Types
  • Include Thermal Properties is now Detailed Elements
They also added Help links from both dialogs to provide quick access to supporting information.

Export to gbXML - The Export to gbXML tool now allows you to choose whether to export the energy analytical model created using energy settings or the model using volumes based on rooms or spaces.

Electrical Settings - We can specify a default rating to use for creating circuits in a model.

Assigning a Distribution System - If there is only one distribution system applicable to an equipment instance, the distribution system is now assigned automatically

New annotation families for MEP - To improve annotation for generic and fabrication parts, several annotation families are now available for tagging ductwork and pipework. (Electrical containment is not currently supported.) You can use tags for offset, elevation, spot elevation, invert elevation (pipework only), set up, and set down to tag generic and fabrication elements. Use the Mechanical Settings dialog to customize the labels for the tags.

Electrical settings - You can specify the load calculation method for how Revit sums electrical loads: Sum True Load and Reactive Load, or Sum Apparent Load and True Load. When upgrading a model, Revit uses the Sum True Load and Reactive Load method as the default.

Temperature Difference family parameter type - The type of parameter is now available for HVAC, Electrical, and Piping families.

Calculate pressure drop for taps - To improve the existing task of calculating pressure drop in a duct system, you can associate an ASHRAE table for duct tap fittings.

Volume calculations - To improve performance pipe system volume calculations are a background process now.

Display of ducts - Revit will regenerate duct layouts only for what is visible in the drawing area. If duct appears very small in the drawing area, it will display as simplified lines, regardless of the detail level assigned to the view. (similar to what they are doing for walls now too)

Dynamo Integration - You'll find this installed as part of Revit and it's not on the Add-Ins tab anymore, it is on the Manage tab. I find that choice confusing personally.

After installing Revit Dynamo reports version (up-to-date). However the icon for Update available turned green while I was looking at the dialog. When I returned to About Dynamo it reported a different build number available as well as the green cloud icon that changed a moment earlier.

You'll just need to pay attention to this after installing Revit. Dynamo is dynamic, it's changing and improving on a daily basis.

Revit Fabrication They've made quite a lot of changes to this ongoing integration between design and fabrication. This is a list of the information they've provided in the what's new documentation at the help site.

  • Convert design intent to fabrication parts - You can convert generic, design-intent Revit parts to LOD 400 fabrication parts.
  • Route and Fill - To simplify the process for completing a fabrication model, use the Route and Fill command to step through possible routing solutions.
  • Quick Connect - To simplify the process for filling a gap between a fitting and a straight, use the Quick Connect command.
  • Trim/extend - To simply the process for filling a gap between two straights, use the Trim/Extend tool.
  • Swap fabrication parts - Use the Type Selector to quickly swap fabrication parts.
  • Fabrication parts optimization - To help optimize fabrication ductwork layouts, you can use in-canvas controls to reposition short straight segments and to extend fitting extensions. Additionally, you can review warnings to find fittings that are longer than specification-defined lengths.
  • Hanger bearer position -To avoid clashes in the model, use the hanger controls to modify the length and position of the hanger bearer and its corresponding rod location.
  • Hanger placement - You can place a fabrication hanger on the straight portion of a fitting extension. Hangers can be placed on other hangers to model trapeze conditions or in free space.
  • Tag fabrication parts - To support workflows for construction documentation for fabrication, additional fabrication parameters are available for tagging fabrication parts.
  • Fabrication parameters - To improve tagging, scheduling, and filtering capabilities for MEP fabrication modelling, several parameters are now available for fabrication parts.
  • Fabrication family categories - To improve annotation, scheduling, and filtering capabilities for MEP fabrication modelling, family categories have been added for MEP Fabrication Containment, MEP Fabrication Ductwork, MEP Fabrication Hangers, and MEP Fabrication Pipework.
  • Hidden lines for fabrication parts - To improve documentation, fabrication parts now display hidden lines.
  • Insulation and lining - To improve documentation, fabrication parts now display separate sub-components for insulation and lining for duct and pipe elements, allowing more control of display properties.
  • Rise drop symbols - This enhancement supports coordination between fabrication models in Revit and the Autodesk Fabrication products (CADmep, ESTmep, and CAMduct). Rise drop symbols for a fabrication run in Revit are defined in the Autodesk Fabrication products, and are mapped to the rise drop symbols used for duct, piping, and electrical containment systems in Revit.
  • Tool Tips for fabrication parameters in the Properties palette - Tool tips now provide descriptions for fabrication parameters in the Properties palette.
  • Fabrication settings - When you specify a fabrication configuration, you can also specify a fabrication profile.
  • MEP Fabrication Content for Revit - This fabrication configuration is now available as part of the Revit installation.

Bent fabric reinforcement - Sketch bent sheets to accommodate different shapes of concrete hosts. You can edit them later to adjust to any change.

Constrained Rebar placement - A new graphical constraints manager enhances precise rebar placement. You can place standard rebar shapes that snap to adjacent standard rebar, or you can constrain them to host faces. The user interface highlights each rebar segment that can be constrained, along with available targets. You can modify dimensions to adjust the rebar position. The snap constraint maintains its relationship when you place, move, drag, or copy rebar.

Graphical Rebar Constraint Editing - A new in-canvas editor replaces the Rebar Constraints dialog.

Revit - Robot Integration - Using the Revit - Robot link, the new results for required reinforcement: transverse density can be exported to Revit. You can display diagrams of transverse density using Results Explorer.


Annotation Tags - If you choose to pin an annotation tag, then its text box will remain in the same location if its host element is moved. The text of a tag will not move when you switch the leader on and off when it is using Free end. When you switch from Free end to Attached end the leader will not change its shape.

Filter voids and solids (2016R2) - You can specifically isolate void and solid geometry when using the Filter tool in the Family Editor.

Editing Commands in Perspective Views (2016R2) - We can use Copy to Clipboard with Paste Aligned and the Copy command in Camera Views that are using the perspective option.

Spot Slope (2016R2) - You can now place a spot slope annotation that is referencing an element in a linked model.

View Range - A keyboard shortcut is assigned now: VR. If you select a Plan Region first using VR will open the view range dialog for it instead.

View Range Dialog (2016R2) - It has a Show/Hide option to expand to show a graphic explanation of the separate sections of View Range. READ the POST.

Underlay User Interface (2016R2) - I wrote about this change earlier this year when it became available with R2. They changed the language associated with describing the settings for Underlay. They also moved it into it own section (Group) in the Properties Palette.

Point Cloud Visibility - We can control the visibility of individual scan locations and scan regions in each view. This allows us to hide point cloud information that is not relevant in a given view. It should also help improve performance.

Revit.ini setting for CaBaGGe - A new setting in Revit.ini allows you to control the CaBaGGe framework, which improves the performance of Revit when navigating views. That stands for Camera Based GRep Generation (CaBaGGe) and it is intended to allow us to navigate highly detailed Revit models more quickly, by not spending time on things that we don't see. They recommend disabling CaBaGGe if you find that the pan/zoom/view-manipulation time is distracting.

Revisions (2016R2) - When Numbering is set to Per Project, you'll see a new Revision Number column displays the actual revision number that will be generated based on the Sequence, Numbering scheme, and Numbering options. Naturally this won't work if the project is using numbering Per Sheet.

When you open the Revisions on Sheet dialog there is now a Revision column which includes both the revision sequence information and the revision description. A new Date column displays the revision's date.

Filters Dialog (2016R2) - The Filters dialog has been changed a bit. You find filters are listed alphabetically and sorted separately using headings for rule-based and selection-based filters. Earlier I mentioned that we'll find Reference Planes are in the list of categories a Filter can see too.

Detach from Central File (2016R2) - Revit supplies _detached suffix to the file's name when you use Detach from Central and save the file. I wrote about this earlier.

Modify Patterns Dialog - It is re-sizable now, nuff said.

Object Styles (2016R2) - In the Object Styles dialog, you can select and delete multiple subcategories at once. Use CTRL or SHIFT keys to add or remove (select/deselect) subcategories, and then click Delete.

UI Assign Labels - When we want to assign a label (parameter) to a dimension string the user interface has moved to the ribbon now. I think this further undermines the significance of the Options Bar to our workflow (good or bad?). Click the little button (looks like an old Mac) to create a new parameter or choose and existing one from the drop-down list. Even the check box for Instance Parameter is here now instead of the Options Bar.

Upgrade Information - There is a dedicated section in the Help Documentation for Upgrade Information. It will be helpful to see which features we need to watch closely during and after the upgrade to make sure it completed successfully and the results are satisfactory.

Export to FBX - When exporting a 3D model view to FBX, select one of these formats to ensure import compatibility: FBX Files for import in 2016+ version products, or FBX 2015 and Previous for import in 2015 and earlier version products.

FormIt 360 Converter - This add-in is now installed with Revit and available on the Add-Ins tab. It can be used to convert FormIt 360 files for use with Revit or the reverse, Revit files for use with FormIt 360.

Collaboration for Revit (C4R) - This is installed in Revit 2017 automatically. This eliminates the need to install something if/when a user then subscribes to C4R. It is intended to reduce the need for IT effort and involvement.

Software Product Package Changes - Revit Arch, Revit MEP, or Revit Structure are no longer sold as individual products. All Revit users now get Revit in one Box which contains ALL of the features of the separate versions.

That's a lot to sink your teeth into, have fun getting acquainted with 2017!

P.S. There are many changes and additions to the API for Revit. You'll need to refer to the related SDK (software developer kit) for those details, sorry.