5 Revit Family Resolutions for 2018

Now that the holidays are over and we’re back at work, it’s time to capitalize on that last drop of holiday spirit and get cracking on our New Year’s resolutions! For those of us at Andekan, making New Year’s resolutions means thinking about how we can make better Revit families, make our customers’ lives easier, make our own lives easier, and keep helping the industry to move forward.

We put our heads together on those weighty subjects, and below are five resolutions we decided to make for the year ahead. If there’s one thing that connects all of them, it would be something like “focus on the fundamentals”. The past year was exciting in terms of a clearly growing interest in Revit content, but it was also a reminder that Revit, in many ways, is still in its early days. As the market keeps growing, we want make sure that we continue to provide a strong foundation for high-quality Revit content.

So, to stop procrastinating and get down to it, here are our 5 Revit Family Resolutions for 2018:

1) Educate manufacturers about good cut sheets.

For creating Revit families, 2D cut sheets are far and away the best reference material. This still sometimes catches manufacturers by surprise, who expect that we’d want another format 3D model. But even once we have cut sheets for a project, it’s not unusual for them to have what can seem like minor inaccuracies: they’re missing an accessory option, have an incorrectly labeled dimension, show incomplete connection options, etc. The problem is that sometimes these minor details turn out to be major headaches and additional costs for creating good Revit families. And usually the person requesting the content is not the person who makes the cut sheets, so getting answers or additional drawings can be a time consuming and challenging process.

Exhibit A of a great product cut sheet for building Revit families

Exhibit A of what a great cut sheet looks like: lots of dimensions labeled on the drawings, clear table for values, and some text notes on connections and installation options.

In an ideal world, manufacturers would create their product cut sheets with BIM design applications in mind. In the meantime, we need to try and make it more baseline knowledge that good 2D cut sheets lead to good Revit families. To start, I foresee an update to our website’s content request form and at least one dedicated blog post on the topic.

2) Ask Autodesk for the things that matter most.

Everyone has a laundry list of things they would like to see in Revit, and it’s easy to spitball a dozen things that might seem like “no brainers” for Autodesk to add or fix or improve. That’s just the nature of building a popular software product. But if we narrow in on the things that really affect the ultimate value we can provide to our customers – not just things that make something take a bit longer or add a few kb in file size or seem unnecessarily complicated – then we end up with a much smaller list.

One of those would be the ability to hide/deactivate unused system connectors in a project. The current lack of this feature means that, in order to avoid potential errors, we often have to split what could otherwise be one family into multiple families that cover for the different connector options. This in turn leads to the customer facing additional cost and files and versions to manage over time.

Another item at the top of our wishlist would be the ability to drive material parameters using formulas. Being able to do this would mean being able to further minimize the number of geometries used in a family, which would of course streamline the modeling process. It would also allow a material to be set as instance specific, making families more flexible and increasing their usability for the customer or end-user.

We assume these and similar issues must affect other Revit content providers, and it would be great if we could find ways to more consistently and collectively beat the drum on these things to Autodesk.

3) Publish more of our own content.

After a long stint on the backburner, we finally dusted off our Revit person family, Andy, and re-worked it into a whole new version with better and more flexible geometry. We also created a series of standard types to make populating views with Andy faster and easier. Andy 4.0 was well received, and in the process of making it we realized we have plenty of other good material to work with and publish. So be on the lookout for more Revit families and content packs from us in 2018, including new versions of Andy. In addition to more of the MEP content we’re known for, like our piping packs, we’ll be sure to do more signature families as well, like our airplanes pack, and perhaps even some architectural families that are harder to come by. If you have any special requests, please leave a comment and let us know!

Andy parent and child sitting types
Why there’s a whole world of Revit families just waiting for us out there!

4) Contribute more to conversations on Revit family standards.

In years past, we were pretty active participants in meetings and groups related to Revit standards, including Jose Fandos spearheading the launch of the Product Data Template standard with CIBSE in the UK. More recently, however, we’ve had our hands full working on our own Revit data project, i.e. Kinship, and we haven’t had as much time to spend on standards. We also grew a bit frustrated with the pace of standards development and adoption, despite knowing that these things operate on a long time horizon.

But last year we saw some things that encouraged us to jump back into the pool of Revit family standards and standards work in general. First, we continue to field many of the kinds of questions and concerns about Revit content that we think standards could and should help address. Our long-format post on 10 Key Specs for Revit Content was meant to be an effort in this direction, and it was great to receive enthusiastic feedback on it from both manufacturers and design firms. Secondly, we see the technology landscape – because of the growth in Revit-only projects, the Revit API and the Revit developer community – finally reaching a point where standards can become more easily adopted throughout the project and data lifecycle.

At the same time, we believe that the best standards will be the ones that look beyond the Revit format and think in terms of pure information standards. This is why Jose brought the idea for the PDTs to CIBSE and why CIBSE supported it, because it’s designed as a basic information standard that can be used with any software or media format. Revit content can certainly benefit from it, but so can every other software and that fact is a big part of what makes it compelling to manufacturers and the industry. So that’s a perspective we’d like to continue bringing to the table on standards. Our goal for 2018 will be to see how much time we can squeeze into our schedules for joining in discussions or starting our own.

5) Continue preaching investment in Revit

This one might seem blatantly self-serving for a Revit content company, but hear us out. We still get questions and requests about BIM content for formats other than Revit, and we find ourselves repeatedly making the same case to different parties that they should focus their investment on Revit. Ok so it might be blatantly self-serving after all.

Still, we think that firms and manufacturers also stand to gain by focusing their technology efforts on the most robust and widely used platform. We often see other formats requested in order to cover edge cases (“we want to have it in case someone asks for it”), but we believe successful innovation is driven by solving the majority use cases in thorough and exceptional ways, especially when it comes to early stage technology markets like BIM. In 2018, we’ll try and shout that message from the mountaintop more often.

There you have them, our 2018 Revit family resolutions! We look forward to seeing how we’ve done on our list come this time next year. In the meantime, hopefully this post has brought a bit of inspiration to the start of your year.

About The Author

Gary Sprague
COO, FC Barcelona fanatic, new father, Hong Kong resident.