Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Invsible Grid Dilemma

Rarely do I miss a feature from Autocad, but having the ability to create things that you want to see, but not print, has for some reason eluded the Revit wizards at Autodesk. In Autocad if you wanted to create a simple invisible grid it was a snap, you just used a no plot layer. In Revit it's not so easy, but I have come up with at least 4 systems that work I've tried each of them, except method 4, which is my latest idea to solve the issue, the first 2 ideas were devised before the new "Guide Grid" tool was added in Revit 2011, but the new tool does has it's disadvantages which has lead me to the 4th method. Each have their pluses and minuses, so if an invisible grid is something you need you should try all of them and decide which method works best for you, if you have any other techniques feel free to share!

Method 1: Build your grid system into your titleblock using invisible lines.
This method is exactly what it sounds like, you simply draw whatever size grid you'd like using invisible lines right inside your titleblock family.
One downfall is that either you live with the grid on all of your sheets or create a new titleblock just for detail sheets. This can get messy when someone tweaks one titleblock (because the project name doesn't fit or something) and forgets to make the tweak to the detail sheet titleblock. It's also cumbersome in that it's only visible when the titleblock is actually selected or hovered over. What this means is that you have to select a view or view title, then hover over your titleblock with your cursor to visually reveal the grid and then nudge your view or view title into the correct place with your keyboard's arrow keys. It's not very accurate but you can set up any complex grid system your firm's CAD standards require and you can generally get everything looking fairly neat.

Method 2: Build your detail grid as an annotation symbol using invisible lines and load it in as a family.
In essence this is the same as building a layout grid into a titleblock with invisible lines but now it's completely independent of the titleblock. You can keep this giant annotation symbol in your project and drop it on new detail sheets as needed but it will require some manual nudging into place and you'll probably want to pin it down so no one can move it later. You still have to hover over it to see it and you can still create a complex grid system if you want.

Method 3: Use the new Guide Grid tool in Revit.
Revit 2011 gave us a nifty new grid tool, mostly it was designed to align views across sheets using building grids that exist in the model but it can also be used to create an invisible grid system for your detail sheets. It's purely for reference however since only certain model objects can be aligned with it. It's also fairly simplistic and won't allow you create complex grids to help you align view titles or the leader shoulders of text or keynotes (assuming your firm does this). This method is pretty simple, you just go to the View tab and create a new "Guide Grid" that you can place on detail sheets. You'll notice that when you create your grid it will rarely align nicely with your titleblock, but this is an easy fix, just move the whole grid element and re-adjust the outer boundaries as needed. This option will work best if your sheet's drawing area can be broken down into a perfect number of grid boxes (you can't specify x and y grid axis independently) you can however place this grid on your sheets fairly accurately and it's always visible without any annoying hovering and nudging.

Method 4: Build a grid system out of reference planes in a legend view
This is probably the most esoteric method. It exploits the odd fact that you can create reference planes inside of legend views and the fact that legend views can be placed on multiple sheets. In a nutshell, you create a new legend view and set the scale to 12"=1' and create any complex or simple grid you'd like out of reference planes, then you drop this legend onto all of your detail sheets. Unlike the annotation symbol method you can actually place this grid onto your sheets accurately because you can select reference planes without actually activating the view in order to move the legend view around on the sheet. This method also carries the added benefit of always being visible, you don't need to hover over the symbol or titleblock in order to see if you're placing details or view titles in the correct location on the sheet. This method combines all of the benefits of the other methods, accuracy, customization, and visibility. This last method is pretty easy to set up but I haven't actually tried it on a project so I'm curious to see how well it actually works.
Like anything in Revit, there are a million ways to skin any given problem, I'd like to know what your office has done to solve the invisible grid dilemma, feel free to share in the comments! :)

The 4 Methods in action:
Top Left: The invisible grid is a part of the titleblock and thus not visible because the cursor isn't over it
Top Right: The cursor is over the annotation family of a detail grid
Lower Right: The Built in Grid Guide tool, useful but simple
Lower Left: A Legend view is placed on the sheet with Reference planes to create the grid.

A close up of the reference plane grid (method 4), the multiple reference planes are being used to line up the view titles for a neat, clean consistent look that can be standard across multiple projects:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spot Elevation Target Size

Here's a little Freebie, something I'm sure I've made a half dozen times because I keep forgetting where I put it (what safer place than the web, right?) It's a an annotation symbol, a simple modification of the "Spot Elevation - Target Filled" object that ships with Revit. I increased the size slightly so that when you use this one in your projects your spot elevation targets are the same size as the default target symbols for Levels in Revit.
To use it, just save it somewhere safe (where you won't forget it) and load it into your project. Next create a spot elevation in an elevation view and go to the spot elevation's type properties (you may want to duplicate the spot elevation type and give it a new name) and change the Symbol that is being used to the attached "Spot Elevation - Target Filled - Level Size" that you loaded in (See Image), and viola, equal sized targets. If this is something you know that you want to make an office standard, just add the symbol to your template. I'm still trying to figure out why Autodesk decided to make these two symbols a different size, anyone?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Simple Windows-Revit tip

This is such a simple tip it's hardly worthy of a blog post, but it did take me a couple of years before it dawned on me that I could use it to speed up drafting in Revit, even if it's just by a hair. It's actually a pretty general Windows tip, (most of the shortcuts and secret tips associated with Microsoft's operating system apply to Revit ie: ctrl-c to copy or ctrl-v to paste) but this one is a slightly under-noticed trick you can use when selecting just about anything in a Revit pull down menu. Here's the scenario, you're drafting away details feverishly and feel that it's an utter waste of time to have to select which detail line style you want to use from that horrible pull down menu.

Ideally your firm will have settled on using just a few line styles; I like augmenting the standard line styles that come out of the box with a series of line styles that have numbers for names, where the name of the line equals the lineweight (linetype "1" prints at whatever lineweight you have set for "1") easy, simple and similar to a lot of CAD standards. Sometimes people like to add in other line styles for things like "vapor barriers" or "Egress routes" and sometimes, unwitting project saboteurs will explode an Autocad detail and create a billion new line types, each based on a layer in the CAD file (Ugh).

In any event, here's the simple tip: after hitting the pulldown arrow, type in the first letter of the line's name and you'll jump to that area in the pull down. In the attached example, I've hit the pull down arrow with my mouse then hit "M" on the keyboard to jump to "Medium Lines" Once you get it down you'll find it's also a handy way to skip through other long pulldown menus, like for detail or family components. Long post, simple tip.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Super Delete

Ever been in Revit and just hit the delete key on accident when there's nothing selected? Well hopefully you're not hitting delete on accident, but if you were to, you'd notice a large X that appears next to your curser, and you may wonder "what the heck is that all about" then you'll probably hit delete again, it'll go away and you'll continue detailing and forget the whole incident ever happened. But that large X actually shows up for a reason and you can use it to your advantage.

Basically, if you hit the delete key on your keyboard once, with nothing selected, the next time you do select something (yup, you guessed it) it gets deleted (after hitting enter to complete the command). Handy right?! Not really?? Yeah, I don't really use this that often, but what I do use is Super-Delete! (I need a better name for this, suggestions are welcome). To Super Delete just hold down the delete key, and now you can go crazy deleting anything that stands in your way! It's pretty fun, reminds me of the eraser key in Sketchup and can totally screw a project up, so Super Delete with caution and don't blame me :) Of course my general rule of thumb is is that one should never delete anything unless they're 100% positive exactly what it is, (you can always hide it in the view if you aren't sure, which confuses other people but I attribute a lot of missing roofs to over-zealous deleting in reflected ceiling plans) Happy deleting!

PS Super Deleting is also a great way to reduce stress, give it a shot, but don't overstep your undo's!