Statutory submission for Hong Kong from Revit

The presentation below shows selected methods and procedures for configuring and generating drawings in .pdf and .dwg format from Revit for the purpose of statutory submission in Hong Kong (for Building Department, Fire Services Department and Lands Department).

They were developed for a pilot project of a school in Hong Kong done with P&T Architects Ltd. and submitted to HK Building Department in 2015 and were shown for the first time during a meeting of the Hong Kong Revit User Group (HKRUG) in P&T on 17th February 2016.

 

Modelling a truly curved Curtain Wall

Revit Curtain Wall is a very useful tool, but lacks a proper implementation of truly curved Curtain Panels and Curtain Wall Mullions. Such functionality is necessary not only for curved glazing, which in real life is often avoided because of high costs, but also for elevation cladding in cases like the one shown below.

10.1 Curved cladding sample_crop

Building with curved elevation cladding panels

Revit allows using Basic Walls as Curtain Panels, what is a step towards the right solution because Basic Walls are curved when used as Curtain Panels in curved portions of Curtain Walls. The remaining issue is to have also curved mullions (the framework of our elevation cladding system), but it is only necessary for horizontal mullions as vertical mullions can remain straight. To achieve curved horizontal mullions we will use the Sweep functionality of Basic Walls.

10.2 Wall editing window

Wall Sweep defined in the Edit Assembly window of Basic Wall

Sweeps are horizontal protrusions following the paths of Basic Walls, so they can serve as mullions when defined properly.

10.2 Wall Sweeps editing window_mrk_crop

Settings of a Wall Sweep to be used as a mullion

10.3 Curved Curtain Wall settings_mrk

Type properties of a Curtain Wall with a Basic Wall used as a Curtain Panel

To define a mullion as a Wall Sweep one needs a Sweep Profile component family, which serves as the Mullion profile, and the proper Distance and Offset settings of the Wall Sweep. A Basic Wall with such a Wall Sweep can then be used as a Curtain Panel of a Curtain Wall as shown on the left.

The 3D view and plan of the resulting curved elevation cladding modelled as Curtain Wall is shown below.

10.4 Curved Curtain Wall 3D 10.5 Curved Curtain Wall plan

Curved elevation cladding modelled as Curtain Wall – 3D view and plan

Controlling the visibility of Level Marks for many Levels

Changing on/off the visibility of all the Level Marks in a multistorey project could be time consuming if done manually by clicking the tick marks one by one on every Level.

8.1 Tick mark for switching on-off Level Marks_mrk 1

Manual visibility switch of the Level Mark

Fortunately there is a solution. In the Type Properties->Graphics of any Level family there are two on/off properties controlling the default display of the Level Marks, which are shown when the Level is drawn for the first time. However those settings affect also the Level Marks of the Levels, which are already in the project and can switch them on/off on the left or right side of the Level of the given Type.

8.2 Level Type Properties_mrk

Type Properties of a Level family

Note that if any of the Level Marks has its visibility overridden manually by clicking the on/off switch, it will not be affected by the above mentioned Type settings.

Opening a project with linked Revit files and the linked files without unloading them from the project file

Linking other Revit models to a Revit project file is a powerful functionality, which among other uses, allows combining separate buildings with different configurations of floor levels into one complex. Unfortunately Revit does not allow opening at the same time the linked models and the project (master) file, to which they are linked. This makes e.g. analysing different massing options of such a complex quite inconvenient.

7.1 Opening linked file message      7.2 Diagram 1

If however, we enable worksharing in the linked models (making them Central Files) and open the Local Files created out of them together with the master file, Revit does not object. This is because the Local Files are not directly linked to the master file. Saving changes to Central in those opened Local Files and then reloading the link in the master file results in achieving the desired functionality.

7.2 Master file and local files opened together    7.4 Diagram 2

Master file and Local Files opened together                        Diagram showing Local Files linked to the master file via their Central Files

Rotating a plan view without affecting other views or the Project North

Sometimes, especially in case of detailed Floor Plans showing areas of special interest of larger spaces (like escape staircases or entrance lobbies), there is a need of orienting those detailed Floor Plans on sheets to a different direction than True North, Project North or the limited options available under the Rotation on Sheet instance property of Viewports (90° Clockwise or 90°
Counterclockwise) – shown on the image below.

6.1 Rotation options on Sheet_mrk
6.2 Rotated Crop Region6.2 Rotating the Crop Region_mrk

Rotating the Crop Region by 45° – preview during rotation (left) and the result (right)

Rotating the Crop Region is a view specific operation and the rotated Floor Plan can be placed on a Sheet just as any other View.

Overcoming the 9144000mm limit of the coordinate value of the Project Base Point

When trying to relocate the project using Manage->Project Location->Position->Relocate the Project to match the real local coordinates of the site it is not possible to use values larger then 9144000mm. In practice, the coordinates are very often larger than this value.

5.1 914400 mm error

9144000 mm error reported when relocating the Project Base Point

However, relocating the Project base Point by editing on screen its coordinates, which show up when the point is selected, mysteriously does not pose this kind of problem to Revit.

5.2 Coordinates of the Project Base Point 5.3 Editing the coordinates of the Project Base Point

No error reported when the coordinates of the Project Base Point are edited directly

Similar situation happens when there is a (less frequent) need of relocating the Survey Point. In this case however the Survey Point must be “detached” (the paperclip symbol next to it must be crossed) in order for its coordinates to be editable – as shown below.

5.3 Editing the coordinates of the Survey Point

Coordinates of the Survey Point edited on-screen

Exporting user defined groups of Walls to different AutoCAD layers

Revit needs to generate .dwg drawings according to a CAD standard, which requires placing Walls on different layers and assigning different colours to them according to specific grouping criteria, e.g:

4.1 Groups of Walls and their layers

Groups of Walls and AutoCAD layers they should be placed at required by the CAD standard

Layer Modifiers in DWG/DXF Export Setup table allow placing objects of the same Category (Walls in this case) on different AutoCAD layers based on values of some of their properties, but the set of those properties is very limited and their values are usually hardcoded in Revit. The only Wall Type property, which can have custom defined values and can be used as Modifier is Fire Rating. Therefore the Wall Types should use the Wall grouping criteria from the table above as values of their Fire Rating property. With those values defined and the configuration of the DWG/DXF Export Setup as shown below any number of our Wall groups can be exported to their respective AutoCAD layers.

4.2 dwg export settings_mrk

DXF/DWG export setups for Walls with Fire Rating as Layer Modifier

Using multiple Revision Schedules on the same sheet

Lets’s say thet the company standard requires revisions to be shown on a sheet in a standard table with descriptions and dates, but also in a simplified table containing only revision letters below the drawing number, as shown below.

3.1 Sheet corner w Revisions_mrk

Revisions should be shown on a sheet in two places in full and simplified table.

A solution to this problem is using several Revision Schedules in a Titleblock family – one for the main revision table and one for every revision symbol we want to show in a simplified table. In the case shown above there are total 11 instances of Revision Schedules. All the “simplified” Revision Schedules have to be arranged manually in the proper location and order in the Titleblock and each of them is supposed to display only one revision letter when the respective revision is to be shown in the main revision table. Therefore they should to be reduced to small cells and named according to the revisions they would display.

3.2 Multiple revisions in the Project Browser 3.3 Simplified revision table

Multiple Revision Schedules in the Project Browser (left) and under the drawing number (right) of the Titleblock family.

In order to behave as required, each of the “simplified” Revision Schedules has its standard Revision Sequence field hidden and displays only a Calculated Value called Revision to display, which is controlled by the conditional formula:

if(Revision Sequence > 2, “B”, “”)

This formula shows letter “B” (for example) only if the drawing has already been issued more than two times (the current Revision Sequence is greater than 2). Otherwise it shows nothing.

3.4 Simplified revision schedule setup_mrk

Calculated Value Revision to display and its conditional formula

Customizing the order of any list of names

Control characters RS and US (Left ALT-030 and Left ALT-031) are not only invisible, but are also at the top of the alphabetical order. This means that each of those characters when inserted before any name in Revit will move this name to the top of any alphabetically sorted list of names without changing the name. This allows creating custom orders of any list of names in Revit like Worksets, View Types, View Templates, Views, Line Styles, etc.

The above control characters can also be inserted using a contextual menu revealed with right-click in any textual field. This is often more convenient than typing the “Left ALT-“combinations, especially on some laptops, which cannot even simulate the numeric keypad.

1.1 Inserting control characters from pop up window_mrk

Left ALT-030 is before Left ALT-031 in the alphabetical order and the number of those characters inserted before a name matters in such way that the names preceded by more characters are placed higher on the list. A good example of this approach is a list of Line Styles, in which we would like to place our standard Line Styles with company prefix at the top and achieve the result shown below:

2.1 Custom list order of Line Styles_mrk

 

Overriding measured dimensions

Keyboard combinations Left ALT-030 and Left ALT-031 (numbers must be typed from the numeric keypad) represent two control (non-printable) characters from the ASCII table (record separator RS and unit separator US respectively), which are recognized by Revit as characters, but are not visible. We can use those characters to “cheat” Revit when it requires inserting alphabetical character(s), but the user would not like any character to be visible – like in the case of manual overriding a dimension value measured from the model or drawing.

The above control characters can also be inserted using a contextual menu revealed with right-click in any textual field. This is often more convenient than typing the “Left ALT-“combinations, especially on some laptops, which cannot even simulate the numeric keypad.

1.1 Inserting control characters from pop up window_mrk

1.2 Overriding measured dimensions

Trying to overwrite the dimension number manually causes “Invalid Dimension Value” message

 

1.4 Overriding measured dimensions

Using Left ALT-030 before the dimension number allows overriding it with a different value

Revit 2015 Update Release 7

Today Autodesk released the 7th (!) update for Revit 2015. It is great that guys in Autodesk are working days and nights to make our life easier, but they seem to forget to tell us what exactly they fixed (and they have really a looooot to fix). They ask to “consult the enhamcement documentation” to see the details of this update, but unfortunately the link is empty – oooops. How typical for Autodesk …

Revit 2015 update 7

 

Revit 2015 update 7_1

 

Magic alphabetical sorting

I bet you often wanted to control the order in which Revit shows stuff in its multitude of windows and lists and still keep your original names of the entities listed, be it Filters, Floor Plan Types in the Project Browser, View Templates, etc. In all those cases the default and only available order, which Revit uses is alphabetical. So, unless you start using some weird prefix systems, which may soon result in names like “_*-.Site Plan” (not cool),  your named entities simply have to be where they fall based on their names. Right? Fortunately wrong! Believe it or not, but there is a way to control this order without affecting your naming system at all.

From a standard QWERTY keyboard you can input a character not only by just typing it, but also by entering its ASCII code. To do it you need to press and hold the right Alt key and type the ASCII code (0-255) with the numeric keyboard. Among all the ASCII characters are special symbols, which are not visible to humans on the screen, but are understood by computers. Those symbols have numbers from 0 to 31 and as such are “alphabetically” before any visible symbols. So entering such symbol before the name of whatever you are naming in Revit will not visually change this name, but for the computer will position it at the top of the alphabetical order. Entering two such special symbols will position your name before the name with one special symbol, entering three …. and so on. This way you can create groups of names, whose position in the listing order will be controlled by the proper number of special, invisible symbols at the beginning of their names. And the most important information – out of all the special symbols, the only two, which seem to do this trick in Revit are Alt-30 and Alt-31. Enjoy !

I am aware that this method may not work on every keyboard and every system configuration. Please let me know if it does not work in your case

Revit cryptic knowledge – magic alphabetical sorting

I bet you often wanted to control somehow the order in which Revit shows stuff in its multitude of windows and lists and still keep your original names of the entities listed, be it Filters, Floor Plan Types in the Project Browser, View Templates, etc. In all those cases the default and only available order, which Revit uses is alphabetical. So, unless you start using some weird prefix systems, which may soon result in names like “_*-.Site Plan” (not cool),  your named entities simply have to be where they fall based on their names. Right? Fortunately wrong! Believe it or not, but there is a way to control this order without affecting your naming system at all.

From a standard QWERTY keyboard you can input a character not only by just typing it, but also by entering its ASCII code. To do it you need to press and hold the right Alt key and type the ASCII code (0-255) with the numeric keyboard. Among all the ASCII characters are special symbols, which are not visible to humans on the screen, but are understood by computers. Those symbols have numbers from 0 to 31 and as such are “alphabetically” before any visible symbols. So entering such symbol before the name of whatever you are naming in Revit will not visually change this name, but for the computer will position it at the top of the alphabetical order. Entering two such special symbols will position your name before the name with one special symbol, entering three …. and so on. This way you can create groups of names, whose position in the listing order will be controlled by the proper number of special, invisible symbols at the beginning of their names. And the most important information – out of all the special symbols, the only two, which seem to do this trick in Revit are Alt-30 and Alt-31. Enjoy !

I am aware that this method may not work on every keyboard and every system configuration. Please let me know if it does not work in your case.

Revit cryptic knowledge – magic alphabetical sorting

I bet you often wanted to control somehow the order in which Revit shows stuff in its multitude of windows and lists and still keep your original names of the entities listed, be it Filters, Floor Plan Types in the Project Browser, View Templates, etc. In all those cases the default and only available order, which Revit uses is alphabetical. So, unless you start using some weird prefix systems, which may soon result in names like “_*-.Site Plan” (not cool),  your named entities simply have to be where they fall based on their names. Right? Fortunately wrong! Believe it or not, but there is a way to control this order without affecting your naming system at all.

From a standard QWERTY keyboard you can input a character not only by just typing it, but also by entering its ASCII code. To do it you need to press and hold the right Alt key and type the ASCII code (0-255) with the numeric keyboard. Among all the ASCII characters are special symbols, which are not visible to humans on the screen, but are understood by computers. Those symbols have numbers from 0 to 31 and as such are “alphabetically” before any visible symbols. So entering such symbol before the name of whatever you are naming in Revit will not visually change this name, but for the computer will position it at the top of the alphabetical order. Entering two such special symbols will position your name before the name with one special symbol, entering three …. and so on. This way you can create groups of names, whose position in the listing order will be controlled by the proper number of special, invisible symbols at the beginning of their names. And the most important information – out of all the special symbols, the only two, which seem to do this trick in Revit are Alt-30 and Alt-31. Enjoy !

I am aware that this method may not work on every keyboard and every system configuration. Please let me know if it does not work in your case.

AND/OR functionality in filtering

Several tools in Revit have some kind of filtering functionality, which allows to select object based on the values of their selected parameters – e.g Browser Organization, Schedule Properties, Filters – see the samples below. Usually several parameters and their values can be selected at the same time, but they are always in the logical AND relationship. You can never use OR. Trying to find a workaround (one of tens of “workarounds” one has to look for when working with Revit) usually fails, because the number of fields with parameters provided is fixed (e.g three in Browser Organization) and not enough to create the desired result with AND and negation (what is theoretically always possible). Is this such a problem for mighty Autodesk to add an AND/OR selection, switch, radio button or whatever?

Browser Organization filters Filters in Schedules Filters in Visibility Overrides

The left image above shows the Filtering functionality of Browser Organization settings. Currently it is not possible to display Views in the Project Browser Views, which belong to, say, Architectural and Coordination Disciplines only. Allowing using logical OR would solve the problem immediately. Autodesk, please, have mercy upon us !!!

1 point2  points3 points4 points5 points6 points7 points8 points9 points10 points (2 votes, total 20 points)
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Revit Project Templates with Worksets

Worksets, their configuration and naming play a big role in maintaining and proliferating architectural office standards with large projects. For years Worksets have been used by architects for much more, than they were designed, namely as all purpose containers helping a lot in organizing Revit contents (the closest functionality to layers that Revit has). It is one of the issues Autodesk must not be aware of as for all those years they were unable or unwilling to include Worksets into Project Templates (.rte files). As always in Revit there is a “workaround” to do it, but why do we have to fight Revit again instead of using it? Could someone from Autodesk finally fix this simple, but important flaw?

1 point2  points3 points4 points5 points6 points7 points8 points9 points10 points (2 votes, total 20 points)
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Allow selecting which materials are overwritten with Transfer Project Standards

Currently, when transferring materials from one project to another using Manage->Settings->Transfer Project Standards command there are only two options:

  • New Only – the existing Materials in the target project remain intact and only the new ones from the source project are imported
  • Overwrite – ALL the Materials, which are different in Source project will be overwritten in the Target project. This is very inconvenient as there is often a need of overwriting only selected Materials in the Target project. A simple check box next to every Material detected by the command would fix the issue, so that the user could explicitly select what Materials should be changed.
1 point2  points3 points4 points5 points6 points7 points8 points9 points10 points (3 votes, total 28 points)
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Allow changing names of Values in Color Schemes

Allow changing names of Values in Color Schemes in the Edit Color Scheme window. Currently the only way to change the name of a Value is to delete the Value entry and recreate it under a different name. But to delete a Value, all the objects (e.g. Rooms) in the project with this Value have to be deleted first, what makes the whole operation almost impossible.

1 point2  points3 points4 points5 points6 points7 points8 points9 points10 points (4 votes, total 30 points)
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Allow selecting objects by filters

Currently existing Filters allow controlling visibility and graphics of objects according to various criteria, but are very inconvenient for simple selection tasks. In order to select a group of objects meeting certain criteria, one needs to create a filter for objects NOT meeting those criteria and make them invisible. It is counterintuitive and troublesome. Revit should have selection mechanism allowing explicitely selecting all objects, which meet specific criteria.

1 point2  points3 points4 points5 points6 points7 points8 points9 points10 points (4 votes, total 36 points)
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Create standalone Revit family browser

Create a family browser, which works outside of Revit and allows viewing families in plan, section and 3D as they would appear in project environment. It should contains all the necessary file management tools, like searching, grouping based on different criteria, automatizing creation of library folder structure etc.

1 point2  points3 points4 points5 points6 points7 points8 points9 points10 points (6 votes, total 45 points)
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Curved, non-circular outlines of Floor by Face should be editable

Allow sketch lines of Floors created by automatic generation from Mass Families (Floor by Face) to be editable as splines. Currently those lines are not splines and cannot be edited or Spunless they are straight, so they are pretty useless for further modeling of anything more complex than a cuboid.

1 point2  points3 points4 points5 points6 points7 points8 points9 points10 points (6 votes, total 54 points)
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Tensile structure with thickness – adaptive

This adaptive component was developed for my advanced Revit course at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong. It “stretches” four point tensile canopy (hiperbolic paraboloid) based on its four adaptive corner points and four adaptive points of fixing to the ground.

Revit 2015 version

Megacolumn – fully parametric

This megacolumn (“mega” because of its size) was developed for the West Kowloon Terminus railway station in Hong Kong. Several such columns support the iconic roof over the concourse, but each one is slightly different and this is why the column has everything parametric including:

  • bottom and top radius
  • length of lower and upper straight portion
  • radius of bending “knee”
  • angle of bending

Revit 2015 version.

Round parametric planter with bench

This is a pretty complex family created for the landscape division of the Hong Kong Housing Authority. It has a lot of parameters including:

  • Radius of planter.
  • Seat depth of bench.
  • Dimensions of footing.
  • Drainage channel width.
  • Many parameters for a section, like materials of various layers and their thicknesses.

Let me know if you find it useful, inspiring or not at all …

Revit 2015 version

One little veteran bug Autodesk does not care to fix for years

During the Autodesk University in 2011, where I went as a speaker, I reported to the Autodesk team a bug I found in Revit 2012. Revit has many bugs, but this one was particularly annoying, because it came out during the class I had for my students at the University of Hong Kong.

The problem is simple – a Wall with vertically edited layer does not show properly in section when mirrored or drawn in the opposite direction, as shown on the image below. Both Walls are of the same type (3.4_44CON_ve), yet look different in section.

Vertically split layer problem

 

I was promised that the bug would be reported to the right people/team for solving. In the next version Revit 2013 the bug was still doing very well, so I reported in again on the AU 2012. Very nice sales people from Autodesk apologized, that it had not been fixed and said that this time they would personally follow the problem to ensure it would be solved. The result was that nothing changed in Revit 2014 as well. I knew that Autodesk is generally not doing great in the area of customer support and their product improvement, but this left even me a bit surprised. So I contacted one of the vice presidents of Autodesk, whom I had had once a pleasure to meet in Hong Kong. I wrote to him a long letter complaining on the slow development of Revit in general and giving the above little bug as an example of poor quality of their service. He acknowledged the problem, contacted me with “the right people”, who apologized again and promised to put my bug at the top of their list of priorities. I may be naive, but I believed them again thinking that intervention at such a high level must bring some results. Oh, how wrong I was… Believe it or not, but nothing changed in Revit 2015. Morover, upto this date (12 Feb 2015) we have already had six so called “Update Releases” of Revit (kind of intermediate upgraded versions) and the file with my lovely bug attached to this post (link below) behaves the same way when opened in this ultra-upgraded Revit 2015 Update Release 6 as it behaved back in 2011.

I think it makes sense now to start taking bets how many more years will it take for one of the largest software companies in the world to fix a little bug in its flagship BIM application, which had been reported to them for four years. Anyone?

If you have had similar experience with Autodesk or would like to share your own bug found in Revit, please use the link above to write your post.

Please use the link below to download the file with my bug in Revit 2015.

Mirrored wall with split layers problem 2015

Revit cryptic knowledge – what is the “R” field at the end of the “in-canvas tooltip”?

You all know very well “in-canvas tooltips”, although you may not be aware of this official name, which I found in Revit online help. In-canvas tooltips are yellowish tags, which are displayed next to the cursor when it detects (and highlights) an object in the Drawing/Modeling Area. They provide very useful information about the detected object – its Category, Family and Type.

In canvas tooltip

When you work work with Worksets and use Options two more fields appear at the beginning of the tooltip information – Option Set:Option and Workset – as on the above image. But sometimes there is one more mysterious component at the very end of this information chain – after the Type name. It is R followed by an integer number, like on the image below (R1 in this case).

In canvas tooltip with R

Ever wondered what the hell it is? Me to… After having searched the web in vain, I gave up and wrote an e-mail to my contact, who works somewhere deep in Autodesk. He must have pretty high security clearence, because after having contacted someone even deeper (he had no idea himself) he sent me an answer …

The R+integer is thermal resistance of a building element, a piece of data, which comes from Thermal Resistance type property under Analytical Properties of a Revit family (system or component). Analytical Properties can be enabled for component families (like Windows), when their Analytical Construction is set to something else than <none>, but for some system families (like Roofs), it looks like they are hard coded. What is even more interesting is that the number after R is always rounded up or down to an integer.

At first I was quite happy having solved this mystery, but then I realized that the values of thermal resistance of are usually rather small numbers, often less than 1 and in Autodesk Analytical Properties are quoted with a precision of four decimal digits. So I asked my contact some further questions:

  • Why was this particular coefficient given the privilege to be included in the in-canvas tooltip tag in Revit? This tag provides information about the name and place of the object in Revit organizational structure (Option:Workset:Category:Family:Type) rather than lists its physical properties. And, by the way, for windows the U-value is a more often used coefficient …
  • Why is the R value so ridiculously rounded up? This very fact makes it completely useless. Thermal resistance in Analytical Constructions is given with the precision of four decimal places and most types of glazing have the value less than 0.5 resulting in the same value of 0 in the tag for all of them …
  • Wouldn’t it be better just to remove it rather than make people scratch their heads over something what is useless even for those privileged few who know what it is?

I am looking forward to some answers from deep inside Autodesk.

Advanced parametric families

Coming soon …

LESSONS

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Basic parametric families

Coming soon …

LESSONS

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Presenting and exporting projects

Coming soon …

LESSONS

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Annotating and detailing projects

Coming soon …

LESSONS

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Modeling a multistory tower

Coming soon …

LESSONS

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Modeling a single family house

Coming soon …

LESSONS

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Introduction to Revit

Learn basics about the working environment and most important operations using a sample project supplied with Revit.

LESSONS

1.1 Knowing and configuring Revit working environment

Class contents:

  • Loading Revit custom keyboard shortcuts.

  • Introducing and explaining functions of various components of Revit Graphic User Interface (GUI).

Attachments:

Revit keyboard shortcuts

1.2 Basic operations and keyboard shortcuts

Class contents:

  • List of the most important viewing and editing operations and their keyboard shortcuts

  • Reference list of the most often used keyboard shortcuts

  • Starting a new project with a project template file