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Welcome to Real World Revit!

When I first learned Revit, the training materials were very poor (just click here and do this, with very little explanation of why, or big picture concepts) and nearly useless as references. As a result, I had a long-standing desire for something better, so while trying to build a consulting business in 2013[?], I started writing a training manual. The book was intended to be used in a class or self-paced setting, but also meant to be a practical reference for use during production work. One of the major features was to be a system for documentation of the company-specific changes made (project template, families, etc.).

The book was never finished, but I wanted to put the material to good use, so I created this wiki and started copying content into it. A large amount of material has yet to be copied, but I hope you find it useful as-is. The navigation bar at right, and the links below (especially the bold items), though not in any decent order [TODO: fix], should give access to most pages. Otherwise, search for a topic (at the top right).

Why the name 'Real World Revit'?

Sometimes I think Autodesk (both sales/marketing and development/tech support) are clueless when it comes to how Revit is actually being used in the "Real World" (and what kind of tools we really need). So I thought it would be good to teach Revit use for "Real World" users - by including standard/required workarounds (like manually hiding Floors outside of the View Range) and ignoring unusable features (like "Reference Label" for Views) - instead of just going through all the features.

Rants/Opinions on Revit

proof that number of votes don't really matter:

from Images#Ideas:

  • 'Place an Image' Button (for previously loaded images) [IMPLEMENTED] - great comment by tomek 2018-08-13:
    • This request is a typical example of lots of low hanging fruit that is being ignored. I wish that someone in charge of the road map was brave enough to just say "Hey! Let's take a bunch of these easy to implement features and get them out the door." Revit is like a great pair of running shoes... with sand inside them. Implementing a whole lot of these little, niggly, seemingly insignificant features would take out a whole lot of chafing and actually make a lot of people really happy. Just sayin'

from Legends#Ideas, IDEA:Revision Cloud inside Legend View by dhenkePWD9T on 2020-09-09:

  • Boy the Revit wishing well sure is a deep one, full of despair and hopelessness.

from Schedules#Ideas (Schedules#Editing):

  • Schedules Zoom. [IMPLEMENTED] (in 2019.2) - great comment by guillermo4JEUL on 2018-10-12:
    • Don't get me wrong Revit is a great software with some nice advanced unique features, but this and others basic foundation features that, or doesn't work, or are not implemented, opaque those great features that Revit has. Is like having a very nice building with a bad foundation. Like a very beautiful car with wifi integrated, sound roof, an amazing sound, light sensible glass that you can make them darker or lighter depending on the sun and more nice features, but with uncomfortable seats.
from a comment sent to Autodesk on a survey (asking to pick descriptive words from a list), 2020-01:

My first choice would have been "young" - which is what I use when talking to CEOs/department heads (of other companies/government) when they're brought by my desk. They usually interpret that to mean that they shouldn't adopt it yet, though that's not my intent, because it IS much better than AutoCAD (and I would never go back), but there are still many places where it can be improved, yet work on existing features/interface by Autodesk has somewhat stagnated. New features/development are focused on fabrication or BIM 360 (added revenue streams), are halfway implemented (tabs, etc.), or minor improvements come trickling out slowly (one "do not ask again" checkbox per year). Ability to customize is VERY limited (especially compared to AutoCAD). While the developers (at least in Romania) say they're told to "make good software", I still get the impression that Autodesk is trying to avoid their mistake with AutoCAD - once it matured, people didn't need to upgrade unless there was an incompatibility with a Windows upgrade. Autodesk's push for people to drop their perpetual licenses only reinforces that - I can almost hear them saying: "when everyone transfers to subscription, then we'll finish Revit, because you'll be forced to keep paying us anyway." Ultimately, I'm just waiting for a competitor to come out with a better alternative.

2020-03-19 5:53 am (HST) "COVID-19: Help us to help you - Ideas for supporting your business continuity." response:

Honestly, I don't see how you can help at all. I'll give my opinions, of course, but they aren't really specific to remote work (most have been posted on the Ideas forum - Revit or BIM 360, or complained about to Autodesk employees/resellers - regarding licensing, so I wouldn't expect you to listen to us any better now). FYI, for our office we are recommending that people connect to the VPN then Remote Desktop to their work computer. This allows them to work as if they are in the office (except for their physical presence).

Along those lines, the only major thing that needs to change is coworker communication. Since the office phones can get forwarded, and voicemails sent to email, the gap will be with coworker communication. I had been experimenting with Microsoft Teams, Facebook's Workplace, and Slack (and plan on trying Discord), but haven't yet found a good all-in-one solution (that includes chat AND screen sharing) so we wind up using multiple products. There's an Idea on the forum to bring back the Communicator functionality but put it in Revit's Worksharing Monitor. Some think you should focus development effort elsewhere (like finishing development of the tabs in Revit), but it would be nice if there was something that also integrates with the software that we use. That's probably WAY beyond anything I should expect from you guys, but it would be cool if there was a "follow" feature in Revit (similar to Bluebeam's Revu Studio/Session feature) - or maybe a Screencast "live" that mixed chat with seeing what people were working on. I've also posted an idea on being able to see Worksharing Monitor info for multiple models and versions (without haveing to open all the models)... It would be great to see what people are working on, discuss issues, markup screens...

I've been working from home for a while before this, and one of the issues is that no one can wander past my desk to see what I'm working on. Also, it's much easier (in person) to look over someone's shoulder and ask questions, make quick changes, etc. Sure, we setup WebEx and Zoom meetings to share screens and discuss issues, but there's so much overhead/inconvenience involved that I only do it when there's a LOT to discuss, or I can't properly explain it over the phone (or with emailed screenshots). It would be nice if there was a button that could quickly start a screen sharing session...

Something that IS well within your ability to change (though I don't expect you to) is fixing BIM 360. Again, see the forums. One of the guys (even though I told him not to) took his work computer home (because he didn't have a good one at home). That means that he won't be able to collaborate on models (I've tried before, and the performance through the VPN is terrible). One solution would be to use BIM 360 (the performance is great), but that would mean dealing with all the crap. There are projects where I just use it as a VERY expensive FTP site (and even that is a pain). On the licensing side alone I could rant for hours - no floating licenses, we already pay for Revit! - why not make the host (architect) pay for the service?, etc. - but I know you won't improve anything because you just want more money (I read the email recently, sent from a reseller, that you're getting rid of network licenses now, too) - sure, you extended the deadline, but I'm just glad we kept our perpetual licenses (not like I didn't already know that we wouldn't be buying any more licenses from you guys).

Anyway, for the BIM 360 functionality, make it easier to use for standard/simple workflows! For example, controlling which file is being linked in: I suggested a simple pull-down or some integration in Revit, but the Revit guys say that the BIM 360 guys would need to do that and vice versa - no one owns it, so how can they integrate? There's a packaging functionality in BIM 360 (so you don't have to live-link), but I can't "consume" the package I create (need to switch to a different account) and you can't easily roll back the version - when you update the link in Revit, a common practice is to cancel the reload after exporting the errors/warnings, reload the previous link, then make note of all the dimensions, etc. that will be lost so that appropropriate action can be taken when the newer link is again loaded. The best way I've found to do this is by downloading the architect's model and then re-uploading (adding the date to the file name) so that it's easy to switch back and forth between the links. This is even required with one client because they insist on creating "demolition" phases, so I have to edit their model first (to merge phases) anyway. But the whole download/upload process is so convoluted AND permissions on BIM 360 are so messed up! We asked for "Read Only" access, but what we got was "Link Only" access. You have to be given edit permission to publish or even just to open up the model (directly). I have to get around this limitation by creating a "download model" in the project - a bare-bones model with just the Arch model linked in. Any time I want to see the latest architect's model, I need to open that model (in Revit), sync it (so that it's changed), open manage models an publish latest (then wait), then open the website and download it (wait more), and extract it (wait again). Then I can open the Arch model and do whatever I need to. Uploading is a similar problem, though a little easier now that I remember I need to use Revit to upload (since you can't link it in if you upload using the website!). Sometimes I have to open it in Revit anyway (if it needs to be edited, such as merging phases - mentioned above), but if all I'm doing is trying to create a new version, it adds another step to an already-too-many-steps process. It would be nice if we could just "clone" or "fork" their file directly in BIM 360 (where we could just open it up and make modifications) instead of having to jump through all these hoops.

Another issue is that the engineer on the project can't just open our model (or the arch model) and see where we're at, take measurements, etc. If the file's on our server (as it is with most projects), he could just use Revit Viewer (though it has it's issues - see Ideas) and open it up to do what he needs to do, but with BIM 360 we'd need to MANUALLY transfer a license to him (since no floating licenses) OR I'd need to publish it for him, so he can download it and SAVE it somewhere (even though he doesn't NEED a saved copy of it), just so he can open it and look!

Also a problem (compounded by the above workarounds) is the fact that local (cache) files are obfuscated and hidden on the local drive! With normal local central files, we set our workstations to save them in Documents subfolders (separate for each version). When the drive starts getting full (or at regular intervals), we can simply sort those folders by date and delete the range of our choosing. But with BIM 360, not only is the location inconvenient, but there are multiple nested subfolders, and you can't even tell what the names are! This also makes it hard to support, by the way, if we need to find a file (and it doesn't keep LOCAL backup versions). When we detach models (on normal projects), it doesn't even need to save a file, but with the workarounds above, we wind up with more garbage on the local drive taking up space!

Not to mention, even if everything else was PERFECT, the fact that BIM 360's a cloud service means that we have one more layer to think about when archiving milestone versions - we have to download the files (instead of just making a copy on our server).

So again - BIM 360 needs to be fixed (make it easier to use - features AND licensing) before it does anything but give me a sour taste in the mouth... though maybe some changes in Revit could help: being able to treat multiple Phases as merged in the Phase Mapping dialog would reduce the need to edit models before linking, and keeping Dimensions, etc. (again, see the Ideas forum) when loading a new link - allowing us to manually choose new references, if necessary - would reduce the need to roll back the link version, for a couple examples. And then MAYBE bim 360 would be a good option to help with remote working...

2020-08-18_re-survey

I was the Revit evangelist in the company, encouraged/drove the purchase of more licenses/maintenance ("c'mon guys, they need a stable income so they can continuously develop the software. Trust them - it's better for all of us!"), and have been active in beta and submitting ideas, but now I'm looking into other products. It's been too long that development has ignored us, and instead focused on features to lure in new customers or create new revenue streams - BIM 360, fabrication (rebar/precast), etc. We need features for Construction Documentation (rebar, etc.) - we're structural engineers and we create CDs, not shop drawings! I've also been the one to encourage more engineers using Revit, even if it's just "getting their feet wet" making changes to Text or even cutting Sections. But now, if we were to give up our perpetual licenses (which are network licenses) for user-locked licenses, then we'd wind up with the situation we have with BIM 360 - the engineers can't work on any cloud-hosted Revit projects because "they don't use it enough", and if they want to make a small change, the work required to (temporarily) transfer a license to their account is prohibitive (which exacerbates the problem). MRGA! (Make Revit Great Again)! Who knows, maybe in 5 or 6 years it will be good enough for us to want to abandon our perpetual licenses, put ourselves at your mercy (even though we no longer trust you), and start paying you money again... [NOTE: Since it seems that we only have one more renewal where you will "allow" us to give you money, so Revit 2022 may be our last primary Revit version for a while.] I remember days (maybe 5 years ago now) when "the boss" would bring other principles/CEOs by my desk to talk about Revit, and I would go on and on about how great it was, but that it was still "young" and had a lot more potential. Their responses were usually along the lines of "it's not ready for us, then", that wasn't my intended take-away, because I had hope that it would get there SOON. I was wrong. :( The same issues that we had when we first adopted it, and that I hoped would eventually get fixed, are still lingering. Instead of fixing/improving existing features, we've gotten NEW ones that we don't need/use... except for a few things like the "do not show me" (DNSM) checkboxes for attaching walls, etc. - we got ONE CHECKBOX A YEAR - awesome! :( You want specifics? Look in the ideas forum. If you want US to fix all the problems with your software, we need better tools/API. It's all about the interface... contextual menu access, right-click menu, inputs, selecting Detail Components to place (that feels like native), and fixing things that are INCREDIBLY easier for you to fix than us, like minimum number / centered space Beam Systems, and making everything schedulable/filterable/etc. (including Phasing). UI is key! I completely customized the AutoCAD interface for optimum efficiency and standardization, but it looked and felt like native commands. Doing so in Revit is usually impossible.

What is the field for which you are primarily using Revit?

  • Architecture
  • Civil engineering
  • Construction
  • Mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) design and engineering
  • MEP fabrication
  • Structural design and engineering
  • Structural detailing/fabrication [at least they realize / show this separately now]
2020-10-12_family category survey (https://www.autodeskproductresearch.com/hub)

I noticed that a combined "Structural Engineer/Fabricator" was the only option for "role" (though I chose "BIM Manager") and that "Engineering- Structural" was the only option for "industry" (no "Fabrication" option). In a survey I did on 8/18/20, they finally had separate options for "field": "Structural design and engineering" and "Structural detailing/fabrication" - don't go backwards! I think it's important for you to have separate categories, because it seems that you don't know who your core/historic customers are. There's a lot of focus on fabrication & contractors (even the default template's been changed from architecture to construction!), but you're ignoring design and documentation (we are a structural engineering [design] company NOT fabrication - we don't make shop drawings). Reinforcing is still useless to us, for example.

  • sub-category/ies to separate MEP text labels from equipment
  • CAD Links (since we have to insert the dwg into a family to get it to cut)
  • Fencing (duplicate the Railing tool, so can control visibility separately)
  • or even set on-the-fly categories with the Railing tool (it's used for a LOT of stuff)
  • don't know off-hand (would have to review years of models to see all the odd things dumped in those categories over the years)

If you know any landscape architects, mechanical system designers, food service equipment designers, and/or hospital equipment designers, please share this survey with them. Survey link to share: https://autodeskfeedback.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9AhyuOXy7WEGX9H

Autodesk open letter 2020

  • https://www.archpaper.com/2020/08/autodesk-ceo-andrew-anagnost-responds/
  • https://adsknews.autodesk.com/views/autodesk-and-the-architecture-industry - 17 Aug 2020 - Andrew Anagnost finally replies himself - "I understand that some customers may not agree with this vision or wish to come along on this journey."
  • https://www.archpaper.com/2020/07/autodesk-issues-a-response-after-architects-speak-out-over-revit/
  • https://adsknews.autodesk.com/app/uploads/2020/08/RevitPerpetualvsSubscriptionAnalysis8_2020.pdf - an attempt to say that subscription is actually cheaper than perpetual - nevermind that it was a 3-year break-even when they offered both (with maintenance cheaper than subscription after that), or that they've significantly increased perpetual maintenance cost since then
  • https://www.facebook.com/128280872179/posts/10158504144367180 - The Architect's Newspaper - July 27 at 12:01 PM - A group of 25 architecture firms, representing over 5,000 seats, have called out Autodesk over Revit's high prices, sluggish development, and confusing licensing schemes.
  • The future of Revit [AEC Magazine 2020-09-21]
  • Architects Versus Autodesk [Architect 2020-08-27 by Daniel Davis]
    • "If the letter teaches us anything, it is that Autodesk can neglect Revit for years, change the pricing model, anger customers, and yet still trust that firms will be loyal customers. Users can complain about it, but realistically Autodesk could do nothing and firms will continue paying."
    • "If an industry group representing a significant number of firms, like AIA, stepped in, it could rally enough players to regain control. It could plausibly advocate for—and even mandate—open BIM standards that would make it easier for architects to switch software vendors."
    • "In many ways, the tension between architects and Autodesk parallels a growing animosity between the government and large technology companies over concerns that the latter have become too powerful. At a time when Congress is interrogating leaders from Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) about their allegedly monopolistic business practices, some designers have mused whether Autodesk should face a similar level of regulatory scrutiny."
    • "This leads me to what is likely not a satisfying answer for the letter writers. The reconciliation between architects and Autodesk ultimately may not involve Autodesk fixing Revit, but rather acquiring whatever comes after it."
  • The pained look on Andrew Anagnost's face when Andy MacAfee was talking about "greedy profit-seeking companies" during "A Conversation with Andrew Anagnost and Andy MacAfee at AU 2020" at 7:32
    My personal highlight from AU 2020 (virtual): the pained look on Andrew Anagnost's face when Andy MacAfee was talking about "greedy profit-seeking companies" (at 7:32 in "A Conversation with Andrew Anagnost and Andy MacAfee at AU 2020")

more crap from Autodesk (EULAs):

  • Autodesk piracy where you might not expect it (2021-02-10+) discusses the below article and sumarizes:
    • "Employees of a company installed Autodesk software on their personal PCs and logged into their Autodesk account.
    • This provided Autodesk with the ability to scan the PC, at which point pirated copies of other Autodesk software were found.
    • Autodesk went after the company for this piracy, not the individuals."
  • How Work-From-Home and the Software EULA Could Cost You Thousands in Penalties (2021-02-02)
    • "There are far more complexities and gray areas to a EULA that can cost your studio six-figure fines if misunderstood. Some publishers aggressively enforce their EULAs not just for compliance but also as a profitable revenue stream, so you need to pay meticulous attention to what you agree upon. "
    • "Scott explained that publishers often take liberty with the case of liability (who is responsible) and what is the proper remedy. “Publishers will take liberties with the law for their financial gain in both areas.  While many publishers similarly approach this, Autodesk has been known to approach this more aggressively over the years.” "
    • "One industry insider said:  “Publishers can choose to be empathetic, or they can choose to squeeze as much value as they can from their customers.” And this, at its core, is what this is all about. This same insider does not think the top people at Autodesk want this to happen, but it’s an unintentional consequence of their culture. Sales targets are set at the top, and third parties are engaged to assist with license compliance, which is part of their incremental growth strategy. “And while it is a legitimate thing to do,” I was told, “it’s all in the way you do it, especially during a pandemic.” “The big publishers want to ensure they maximize the use of the software and to maximize the return per customer. Many publishers are moving to push licenses to specific end users to maximize their returns. Autodesk is growing faster than the market, so they need to make more money from their users.”"
    • "The studio owner I spoke to said the initial contact was very confrontational and aggressive, and they had no desire to listen to any explanations.  Once they hired the lawyer, the tone of communications changed. ... Eventually, the case was settled, and Autodesk finally relented and agreed there were no infringing copies after all.  But not until the studio owners had spent thousands in legal fees to prove what they already knew."
    • "Some studios I spoke to negotiated lower penalties independently without an attorney’s assistance but did so knowing they were not at fault and just wanted to be done with it.  Scott did caution that there is a reputation factor when admitting guilt when there might not be any.  “Why would you admit fault when there is no fault,” and who gets to see this? Is this confidential? Or could this admission end up in a press release somewhere? Are there confidential provisions tied to the resolution in the admission of responsibility?” Robert likes to include language in his settlements that include no admission of liability and confidentiality clauses.  Scott further went on to say: “Too often the publisher’s conduct is allowed to fly under the radar. I don’t think enough light gets shed on the other side of this story. Plenty of people talk about how software is bootlegged in the street, but none about how software companies are bullying small businesses, particularly in the creative and design spaces. In many cases, the studios are both in the legal and moral right. If you have rights in either of those areas, it’s worth fighting.“ So should you consult an attorney to understand the EULA better?  Scott recommends you don’t deploy software on the hardware you don’t own. If you don’t fully understand the EULA and are thinking about new deployment scenarios, speaking to a law firm is prudent, especially when you venture into more complicated deployments. “If you don’t engage a law firm to explain these scenarios, you have no one to hold accountable. I can’t tell you how many clients have come to me and said they were told by the publisher or a reseller the use case was permitted, but it was not and resulted in liability in an audit.“"
    • "I spoke to two companies that take a different approach. Marc Petit from Epic Games told me, “In the case of Twinmotion, we do not have an enforcement mechanism or DRM. It’s 100% honour-based. You can have license policies like Epic, and you don’t need complex DRM systems.  We find that most of the people want to pay for the software they use.”  Marc said approaching the EULA the way they do, creates trust and flexibility with their customers.   Paul Babb, Global Head of Marketing at Maxon, agrees. “Piracy naturally decreases as subscriptions bring down the cost of entry. Ultimately, we would rather focus on developing functionality that provides value for legal owners."
    • "Your customers are why you exist, and that relationship should be fostered and not made to be antagonistic. "
    • "I think it’s safe to say that none of these studios intended to do anything wrong, and all had legal licenses for their studio. But all of them told me they were made to feel like criminals and were treated very aggressively. Some told me it had soured the relationship with their publishers, and they are now actively looking for other alternatives for their studio. "

It's not a bug, it's a feature!

I was first introduced to this concept through Microsoft/Windows (in the '90s, I believe), but Autodesk has it going as well: unless it causes a crash, it's NOT a bug. Unexpected behavior is just that - "unexpected" (and even then, not necessarily something that they feel needs fixing, even if it leads to data loss or lost work/time).

AEC/BIM (not Revit-specific)

For the bureaucrat(s) of this wiki