Tools (like AutoCAD) that I wish Revit MEP had – Snapang

So, I know it’s been a while since I blogged, but work and family come first. Presently working 70-80 hours a week and attending to family issues have my time.

As I am working in Revit MEP (2012), I am faced with situations that in AutoCAD were quite easy to do, but are either non-existent or running through hoops (workarounds) to get it to work. So, I thought I’d  put out a quickie blog post on one of these. SNAPANG.

Let’s face it, our buildings are more and more becoming less  X-Y perpendicular to the page. What I mean is I’m working on a school project where there is a main section of the school that is horizontal to the page, but there are also spokes or appendages coming out from it. These wings are not perpendicular to the page. Laying out ducts and pipes when the view is not horizontal is a challenge to put it mildly. Yes, the snaps do work, but if I am modifying a wing due to the architect now changing that wing’s angle, it is almost like I want to erase everything and start afresh. That really is not practical wince the ductwork and piping are already drawn in.

If I was working on AutoCAD, it would be a non-issue – just type snapang and set the angle. When done, set it back. But Revit (as far as I can detect) does not offer anything like that. So what is one to do? What is the workaround?

Well, what *I* have done is extensive use of detail lines (DL) and then ALigning the duct to those detail lines. Yes, it is a drawn-out process, but yes, it does work. But the subject of this blog post is things that I wish Revit MEP had in it – this is one of them that would make life simpler.

If you know of another methods/workarounds that I most certainly may have overlooked, please respond! Thanks for viewing my blogs and thanks for the kind words of encouragement. It does help.🙂

Want to (slightly) speed up Revit?

Here’s a quick tip that will shave off a few seconds for Revit.

  • Right-click on the Revit icon on your desktop.

  • Click on the Properties option on the right-click menu.
  • From the Properties palette and in the Target box, go to the very end of that long sequence and add {spacebar}/nosplash. (please do not type {spacebar}, that is just my indication that you use the space bar)🙂

  • Click OK.

The nice splash screen that always stares you in the face when starting up Revit will disappear, thus saving you a few seconds on your load time.

NOTE: For you AutoCAD-ites, the same procedure above applies EXCEPT you add {spacebar}/nologo.

The case of the disappearing keynote

The case you are about to read is real, the names, and some specifics have changed to protect the unlearned.

The background on this peculiar case is this was an old Revit MEP 2010 project brought into Revit MEP 2012. The architect and owner decided to use the EXACT same plan for a new facility with the following exceptions:

  • The building was mirrored
  • The building was flipped

So, while it is the same building, things got interesting for us in the MEP world. Besides flipping of ducts, pipes, etc. we had to split the building into four areas to fit on the newer (smaller) title sheets  (that is a clue for later).

Everything was going along swimmingly, when we noticed that some of our keynote tags had nothing in them.

At first we thought that perhaps the keynote itself or keynote file got corrupted during the switch. this proved to be incorrect.

Clicking on the keynote and then looking at the Properties palette proved we weren’t going crazy.

So, our next thought was: let’s just delete the old one and add in a new one. So that is what we have done. But as you can see, it made no difference.

So, we go to thinking that perhaps since it was so close to the overlapping areas, that it might be confused as to which number to add since each area is a separate sheet.

EDIT: This will also occur if the item you are tagging with a keynote continues on another view, such as duct.

BINGO! That was the issue! So, what we did was to create a keynote further in the drawing, change the leader to be a free End, and then go on with life. Hope this may have helped solve this mystery.

My family cannot be found

A lot of my time is spent hunting for Revit families for things that the engineer specs. Sometimes the search is successful – many times it is not. Let’s get this truth out there on the table.

In a perfect world, I could just go and pick ANY item the engineer specs and find it within  few clicks. Let’s get that thought immediately out of our heads. Unless your firm has already used that family type AND saved it out to a common shared drive, you are pretty much out of luck. IF you have a Revit family guru on staff that can quickly make the family with all its intricate connection and constraints (we are lucky to have several in our firm – I am but a humble wannabe), then your job is made a bit easier.

But what if you just wanted to SHOW some representation of a unit? It doesn’t have to so super detailed that it includes the nameplate of the manufacturer on it. You shouldn’t EVER need that level of detail, but I’ll let that one go and get to the gist of what I’m blogging about. Revit MEP has a wonderful tool for us family builder wannabe’s. It is called “Model in Place”. And it is pretty straightforward for a long-time AutoCAD user like myself. Many of the commands work very similar to AutoCAD!🙂

So let’s get it. The engineer has provided me with this cut sheet and wants to use this unit.

We can model this! First, let get some views set up so we can see how our model is progressing.

The Model in-place tool can be found in the Systems Tab (I’m using MEP 2013 for this example) and model panel.

Clicking on the Tool brings up the Family Category and Parameters dialog box. This is just asking you what TYPE of family you want to create. And when you are finished, it will do the housekeeping and add it in the appropriate place. In this example, we are modeling (in place) a piece of Mechanical Equipment.

Now it asks you to name the family. In this case, we are going to call it York MAU 7T.

On the Create Tab and Forms Panel, select the Extrusion tool. In my haste, I forgot to copy the ‘A’ dimension that sets the height of the unit. In our example here, we will use 64.375″ The easiest way I have found to use the extrusion tool is in conjunction with the Properties Palette. In our simplified example, we want to start the extrusion at zero and end it at 64.375″. We can now start drawing the width and depth of the unit based off the cut sheet. We start by picking a start point and  typing in 31.758″ (don’t forget the ” symbol, or you will have drawn a line at 31.758 FEET). The Depth of the unit 58.5″. continue drawing the unit and snap back to the beginning line drawn. This will ensure that it is closed.


Click the green check mark tool in the Mode Panel. This ends the Extrusion tool. Take a moment and admire your work thus far. Yeah, it’s a cube, but we MODELED it!😉

Let’s embellish it a bit before calling this simple exercise done. We’ll add the rants on the top to give it a bit more visual appeal. Back to the Create Tab and Forms Panel, select the Extrusion Tool again. This time from the Draw Panel, select the circle tool. Our Circle extrusion will sit on the top of the box, so the extrusion start will be the 64.375″ . We just want to show a hint of what the fans are at the top, so the extrusion end will be 2″ above that (66.375″). Draw one circle and end the extrusion. Pick the extruded circle just drawn and from the Modify Panel, select the Copy Tool. You can further embellish your model by adding some plain circles to indicate the fan grille. And you can also show lines to indicate the front opening. To show the front  opening, I used the Void Forms > Void Extrusion. It’s all up to you how much you want to make this thing look.

Finally, from the Create Tab and In-Place Editor Panel, select the Finish Model Tool. Your model is complete! The Model-in-pace tool can be invaluable if you absolutely need to show that equipment but don’t have the time to go into an in-depth model. Remember, that if you are connecting other things to this model (pipes, ducts, etc.) there are NO connection points! This is one downfall of this tool. But I can live with that. Hope this helps. And if you have other suggestions for improvements on this subject, please let me know.

Tagging Rooms all at once

When you use a model in your MEP drawing from an Architectural link, chances are there are room names associated with it. And we really do want to see those room names in our model too.

So, it took me a bit of playing around to figure this out (remember, I am a Revit newbie). At first, I saw the Room Tag (RT for typers) tool in the Annotate tab.

This is fine, but it only does one room at a time. We could do that, but we are trying to be productive. So how does one get all the room names in on a view at one time? The secret involves the tool called Tag All. Actually, if you hover over the tool name, you get a better feel for what this tool actually does (Tag All Not Tagged).


So, by bringing up the Tag All tool, you get a dialog which might look confusing at first. Three are a slew of categories (based on what is in your model, how you set your template up, etc.) and their associated tags.

We are interested in this post for room tags. Drill down through the list until you see the Room Tags category. In our example, we have two different room tags available. We only want the room name to appear, so we’ll choose just the room Tag loaded tag.

There are some options for creating these room tags, such as creating a leader and orientation. There is one very important item we need to check here before proceeding. The check box that says ‘Include elements from linked files’ must be checked. We are grabbing the room names from our linked Architectural model.

Click OK, annnnnnnnnnnd………… nothing happens!🙂

Alright, I lead you on. There is one important step you must do. In order for this to work, you must have the crop region visible. Toggle the Crop region so that it is on and then try the Tag All tool  again.

Ahhh, much better! With the Tag all tool, we have only performed a small portion of what this tool can do to help simplify and streamline annotation for you. Hope this tidbit helped.




Revit commands – ALIGN

I’m going to start posting some of my favorite (and least favorite) Revit MEP commands and tools that either AutoCAD doesn’t have or has but is different. This installment is on the Revit MEP ALIGN command.

In the example above, I have 2 rectangular ducts that I wish to put them on the same plane or elevation. You can find the Align tool in the Modify tab, or simply type AL (remember, no return key here).

The first prompt is: Please select line or point reference for alignment. This is simply asking you to select the first object that the second will be aligned to.

The next prompt is: Please select an entity to align (it will move into alignment with the reference). Can’t explain that one any clearer.😉That’s basically it! Type AL, 2 clicks – done! Well, almost. Looks CAN be deceiving. Lets cut a section and see what the problem is:

You can see that while the ducts are lined up in one view, they are not in another. If you were to join those two ducts together in that view, you would end up with some weird transition, or perhaps it wouldn’t allow the connection at all. These are things to keep any eye out for when you are aligning.

to fix this, just run the ALign command again on the other view. Note that aligning rectangular ducts or equipment, you can (most of the time) align using the edges of the duct or equipment. When working with round duct or pipes, the connection point will always be to the center. A wishlist for me would be that there would be an option to allow it to align in all views to the same planes.

The AutoCAD equivalent for doing the same things is the move with osnap set to near or endpoint. You CAN use the Revit Move command, but this just seems to work better, in my opinion. And the AutoCAD Align command really has nothing in common with the Revit Align command – go figure.  See you next time with

New Project Setup – our way

I am writing this blog entry more as a step-by-step tutorial for myself. The methods here may not match your company standards, so caveat emptor. This is in response to my recent ‘baptism by fire’ into project setup. My first one took what I thought was an extraordinary amount of time to set everything up and I needed make sure that I documented the steps somewhere, so this it. I will list the step-by-step instructions on how WE set up a new project. You can follow along if you like😉

Architectural Revit Model

It all starts here. We base our project sheet layout basically like the architect as they are the ones we need to please in order to get more work. They (and I agree) like to see consistency throughout the finished project sheets.

  1. Open the Architectural model from the received folder. Ensure that the Worksharing ‘Detach from Central’ is CHECKED.
  2. Print all the Architectural Sheets for later use.
  3. From the Manage tab, click the Manage Links tool. Click through the tabs and delete any entries. Click OK
  4. Still in the Manage tab, click the Purge Unused tool. Click OK.
  5. From the Revit ‘R’, click SaveAs > Project. Navigate to the 01_CADD\BIM\Models folder. The naming convention we use is: ProjNo_v12_ArchName_Mech. the v12 shows that the project is in Revit MEP version12. Replace the existing model if prompted to do so.
  6. Close the Architectural model.

The Architectural Model is now ready to be used. Note: The above steps also apply for when the Architect updates their Revit Model. This will also apply to other disciplines (Structural, Electrical).

New Project Creation – Linked

Now we will take the newly imported model and use it in our new project.

  1. From the Revit ‘R’, click New > Project.
  2. In the New Project Dialog, make sure the Template file is pointing to the correct place (It should be set as default). Click OK
  3. From the Insert tab, click Link Revit. Navigate to the newly created Architectural model as we did above.
  4. Ensure the positioning is set to ‘Auto – Origin to Origin’ and click the Open button.

The architectural drawing is now linked into your new project.

New Project Creation – Copy/Monitor

We want to create a section so that we can Copy/Monitor the Architectural levels.

  1. Open a typical Architectural Elevation. If there is none, go ahead and create a section through the architectural building so you can see the established levels.
  2. From the Collaborate tab, select the down arrow next to Copy/Monitor and select ‘Select Link’.
  3. Pick an Architectural level to activate the tool.
  4. From the Copy/Monitor contextual tab, select Copy, and then select the Multiple check box.
  5. CTRL-Click the Levels you wish to Copy/Monitor. Then click the SMALL finish button (next to the Multiple check box).
  6. Re-select the Copy/Monitor contextual tab (this seems redundant, but I guess that’s how Revit MEP works), and click the Finish tool (the one with the green check mark)

You have now Copy/Monitored the linked Architectural sections. The advantage of this step is that if the Architect happens to make a change in elevations, it will automatically be reflected on our MEP drawings when we get the updated model.

New Project Creation – Cleanup/Creation

This is (in my opinion), the most tedious part of this whole process. We are going to drill through the linked Architectural model and get rid of things that we, as MEP don’t care to see; things such as their notes, symbols, legend, sections, etc. we the are setting up views to match the Architectural plans (remember, entire project consistency is the key here).

  1. We have to have at least one Architectural floor plan, so don’t get too delete-happy.😉
  2. Delete all sections, elevations, schedules, notes, legends.
  3. Delete all but ONE sheet. We will need the title block for later steps.
  4. Open the Architectural Level 1 Floor Plan.
  5. Right-click on the name in the Project Browser and apply the view template. In this case, It will become a Level 1 Mechanical Plan (HVAC, Mechanical Piping). Compare the scale to that of the Architectural and adjust accordingly.
  6. Enable the Show Crop Region and adjust the region so that it is similar to the architectural plans (the ones that we printed out earlier).
  7. Hide the crop region.
  8. Repeat steps 4 – 7 for all other plans that you anticipate you will need (such as Demolition, Plumbing, Fire Protection, etc.). Set the view template accordingly too.

Sheet Setup

Now, we are going to set up our sheets (what will be printed). Here , it is very important (for our firm) to have the plan sheets, no matter if they are Architectural, Electrical – what have you; all look the same – that is, the same plan view show in the similar location on the sheets.

  1. Open up the Architectural Sheet family. We need to add our logo to the sheet and make it a Mechanical sheet.
  2. Navigate to the location where the logo is and drag the family onto the architectural sheet family.
  3. Load the Architectural sheet family back into the project, overwriting any settings (we want our logo to be a “permanent” part of the sheet. It may prompt you where to save the project if you have multiple projects open.
  4. Back to our sheet that was brought in via the template, We will bring in all the information that the Architect has set up on the sheet; such as Name, Address, etc. On the Manage tab, select the ‘Transfer Project Standards’ tool.
  5. In the Select Items To Copy dialog, click the Check None button. this clears all of the entries. We are only interested in a few of them.
  6. Click the Phase settings, Project Info, Viewport Types check boxes and click OK.
  7. From the Plans created on the Project Browser, click on the corresponding Plan and drag it into the sheet. Line up similar to the way Architectural has their sheet set up.
  8. Repeat for all other sheets.

That is basically how we set up our new projects. As I mentioned from the beginning, you methodology/standards may vary. If you suggestions that might streamline the process, or any comments in general, I welcome them. If you’ve made it this far in reading, I thank you.🙂


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