A few days ago I gave a talk at the BIM Show Live in London. The title of my talk was Considerations on Family Creation. It was an update to a talk I gave this past summer at the LRUG (London Revit User Group) about key areas to review and define when creating or managing a Revit family library.
This time I added the issue of how to name your Revit family files to the list of things to consider. I think what I had to say came as a surprise to some people in the audience, so I thought I would share my stance here as well, where I can go into more detail and get more feedback.
To date, all the issued standards or guidelines covering Revit families contain a recommended naming convention. Let’s take a look at the different approaches taken by some of the best known standards.
<Functional Type>‐<Subtype>‐<Manufacturer>‐<Descriptor 1>‐<Descriptor 2>‐<2D if necessary>
ANZRS (Australia & New Zealand)
Open Revit Standards
Revit Foodservice Equipment Standards
Each has an accompanying set of rules about the use of special characters, lists of names for the different fields, exceptions to the rules, etc. It is clear that no two standards are the same or have the same rules. What’s more, two people using the same standard might arrive at a different name depending on each person’s interpretation of what information should go in a given field, how to make an abbreviation, etc.
In my experience, none of these standards has taken hold, and most companies also have their own internal naming conventions, different from any published documentation, which they are hesitant to give up. So what is a Revit user or BIM manager or product manufacturer to do in this world of incomplete and conflicting naming standards?
I would say don’t worry about it. It’s actually not a major consideration, or doesn’t need to be. Pick one that you think makes sense and move on. Don’t stress about which standard is most relevant to your industry, or most likely to gain popularity, or even the most comprehensive.
Why do I want to remove naming conventions from the list of things to consider? Ask yourself what the point is of having a naming convention in the first place. Not surprisingly, the reasons given by the published standards all vary, but there are two reasons that all of them have in common: a naming standard allows for 1) identification and 2) finding (searching) of families, both inside and outside of Revit projects. In my experience, these are also the two needs that make people the most anxious about choosing the right naming standard to use.
Identifying and finding families are cumbersome tasks with current tools. This is why we turn to file naming, which is perhaps the most rudimentary tool but also the most accessible. But this is bound to change in the near future. Outside of Revit there are tools for managing and finding families that are more powerful and faster than any naming convention would ever allow anyone to do. And these tools have only started showing up. I’m certain that within a year there will be more options available than published naming standards.
Inside of Revit things could quickly change as well. I don’t have any specific knowledge of how or if Autodesk plans to sort out the challenges of finding families within the project browser (and if I did, I wouldn’t be able to tell you), but anyone can see that the current solution is sub-par. An improvement could come as soon as within a few months. Even if it took a few years for Autodesk to address this, it will be much sooner than any significant amount of people agreeing to a file naming standard.
In short, I’m sure naming standards won’t be an issue anymore. The amount of man hours that have been spent considering the best file naming convention for Revit families would have allowed us to build and finish the tower of Babel six times over by now. Personally, I use one standard, apply small changes to suit working conditions, and rely on other tools for making sure I can identify and find my families.