Simplify Your Families, Nest It

Posted on July 10, 2013 by Bill Knittle, Building Solutions Engineer:

I made this tip about Revit content a while back and had it on our website.  I have been getting a lot of questions lately so I thought I would post it.  Never mind the dated software, this tip is still good up to the 2014 version.   I hope it helps!

Did you ever notice that the content provided with Revit Architecture tends to shy away from how manufacturers offer their product? Take a door for example. A manufacturer offers a variety of sizes. A Revit door Family also offers a variety of sizes. They are known as Types. The difference lies in the panel styles. Revit families only offer one panel style.

Ironically, Revit’s door family template offers a great starting point for creating a simplified series of door families for your company.

Here’s an overview of suggested steps to do this. It seems a like a bit of work, but it will save you so much time in the long run.

  • Create a Revit Host Family
  • Create the Nested Family
  • Insert Door Panel as a Component
  • Associate the Nested Panel Parameters to Host Parameters
  • Controlling Visibility
  • Creating the Linework
  • Create Types of Door Panels

Create a Revit Host Family

Start by creating the Host family. To create any type of parametric content for Revit, begin with a template. Revit ships with several specialized family templates.

1. Click on File>New>Family
2. Select the Door.rft family template.

The template will open with multiple views of the family.


3. Save the new family as a manufacturer’s name. For example ACME – Single Hinged.

Note: It may be beneficial to create a directory structure whereby the Nested families are a sub-directory of the Host family. Parameters already exist in the family that control several settings of the door. These parameters can be viewed in the Family Types dialog.

4. Select Family Types in the Design Bar.

   

Height, Width, and Thickness will play a large factor in the creation of this specialized family. These three parameters control the door panel’s overall dimensions.

Create the Nested Family

Now, begins the stage of the process where you create the Nested family. Again, you will start with a family template.

1. Again, click on File>New>Family

2. Select the Door.rft family template.

Note: The Door family template has within established settings for Object Styles.

   

3. Save the new family as a panel style. For example Single Flush.

Note: Recall the file directory structure. Save the panel styles which will be the Nested families in the sub-directory folder of the Host family.

Before creating the door panel, some house-cleaning is required to rid the template of unwanted geometry and parameters. Specifically, you must delete the trim solid extrusions and their parameters.

4. Maximize the Ref. Level view.

5. Select each trim extrusion and delete it. Also, delete the flip symbols.

6. Select Family Types in the Design Bar.

7. Select each parameter under the Other category

8. Click the Remove button under Parameters. Click OK.

    

Note: There is no need to have symbolic linework in the Nested family. You will leverage the existing ones in the Host family.

9. Double-click the Exterior view in the Project Browser.

10. Delete the opening, swing lines, and equality dimension.


11. Double-click the Ref. Level view in the Project Browser.

12. Select Solid Form>Extrusion on the Design Bar.


13. With lines, draw a rectangle to fill in between the two vertical reference planes. Do not lock any of the padlocks. This will be done later.

14. Select Extrusion Properties on the Design Bar.

15. Under Identity Data, select Panel from the Subcategory pull-down. This will allow you to control the visibility of the panel separately from the family. Click OK.

    

16. Click Finish Sketch on the Design Bar to complete the door panel.

17. Click the Dimension tool on the Design Bar.

18. Create a dimension to indicate the thickness of the door panel.

19. Select the new dimension.

20. On the Options Bar, select the Label pull-down.

21. Select Thickness from the list. This will associate the parameter to the dimension.

       

22. Select the Align tool on the Tools toolbar.

23. Select the left-most vertical reference plane.

24. Then, select the left side of the panel extrusion and lock the padlock.

25. Repeat the process by aligning the right side of the panel extrusion to the right-most vertical reference plane and locking the padlock.

        

26. Double-click the Exterior view in the Project Browser.

27. Select the Align tool on the Tools toolbar.

28. Select the top horizontal reference plane.

29. Then, select the top side of the panel extrusion and lock the padlock.

30. Repeat the process by aligning the right side of the panel extrusion to the right-most vertical reference plane.

          
31. Save the panel family. 

32. Select the Load into Project. This will load the panel family into the Host.

Insert Door Panel as a Component

The final step of the process is to insert the door panel as a Component. Then, you will associate the parameters of the nested panel family to the host family’s. Finally, you will create the symbolic linework of the plan door.

1. In the Host family (ACME – Single Hinged) select the Component tool on the Design Bar.

2. Insert the Single Flush door panel family into the opening of the doorway.

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Note: If you recall, the Nested door panel family has a Thickness parameter. The Host family has the same parameter. However, there is not a label indicating the parameter in the Host family. You will need to create it.

3. Select the Dimension tool on the Design Bar.

4. Create a dimension to indicate the thickness of the door panel.

5. Select the new dimension.

6. On the Options Bar, select the Label pull-down.

7. Select Thickness from the list. This will associate the parameter to the dimension.

          

8. Select the Align tool on the Tools toolbar.

9. Select the center vertical reference plane.

10. Then, select the center of the panel extrusion and lock the padlock.

        

Associate the Nested Panel Parameters to Host Parameters

Now that the door panel is located and constrained to the opening, you can associate the nested panel parameters to the host parameters.

1. Right-click on the door panel.

2. Select Element Properties.

3. Select the Edit/New button in the Element Properties dialog box.

    

4. In the Type Properties dialog box, select the small button to the right of the Thickness parameter.

5. Select Thickness from the list within the Associate Family Parameter dialog box. Click OK.

    

Note: By associating the parameters of the nested family to that of the host family, you can ultimately connect the two parameters together.

6. Repeat the process to link the Height and the Width parameters.

7. Click the OK button to return to the Element Properties.

Controlling Visibility

If you plan to control which nested panel is visible, you need to create a parameter to control its visibility.

1. Select the small button to the right of the Visible parameter.

2. Click the Add parameter button in the Associate Family Parameter dialog box.

     

3. Enter Flush Panel for the name of the parameter.

4. Select Graphics for Group parameter under. Click OK three times.

5. Double-click View 1 from the Project Browser.

6. Select Family Types in the Design Bar.

7. Change the values for Thickness, Height, and Width.

8. Click Apply to test the parameters.

9. Change the values back to their original values.

10. Select the panel one more time.

11. Select the Visibility button on the Options Bar.

12. Clear the check for the Plan/RCP checkbox. Click OK.

Creating the Linework

The last part of the process is to create the symbolic linework of the door panel and swing.

1. Select the Symbolic Lines tool on the Design Bar.

2. Select Panel [cut] from the Type Selector.

3. Select the Draw button and pick Rectangle for the shape designation on the Options Bar.

4. Draw a rectangle 3’-0” tall by 2” thick off the right-most vertical reference plane.

5. Lock the two padlocks as indicated.

         

6. Select Plan Swing [projection] in the Type Selector.

7. Select Arc passing through 3 points for the shape designation.

8. Select the upper-left corner of the nested panel, the upper-right corner of the symbolic panel, and pull the arc away until the radial dimension reads 3’-0”.

9. Select the Dimension tool on the Design Bar.

10. Dimension the width and thickness of the symbolic panel.

11. Select the 3’-0” dimension.

12. Select the Label pull-down.

13. Select Width from the list.

14. Repeat the process by associating the top dimension to the Thickness parameter.

15. Save the family. Load it into a test project and test it.

          

Create Types of Door Panels

You need to create Types of the door family for each style of door panel. But first you need to create visibility parameters to control which panel style is visible.

1. Select one of the nested panels.

2. Right-click and select Element Properties.

3. Select the small button to the right of the Visibility parameter.

4. Click the Add button in the Associate Family Parameter dialog box and name it for that panel style. I happened to group mine under Graphics.

          

In the Family Types dialog, you can set the values of the door family and create a specific type by clicking the New button under Family Types. Create as many unique door sizes as possible for each panel style. Be sure to check the visibility box next to the panel style for each type created. Click the Apply button to establish the type.

Create more panel families and nest them to the Host. Associate the nested parameters to the host parameters. What you have is a simplified standard library of door types.

Below I have loaded the host family into a test project. I add three doors from the same family. The door family has three types called Flush Panel – 36” x 84”, Raised Panel – 36” x 84”, and Vision Panel – 36” x 84”.

See some of Bill’s other posts:

Bill has a four year Architectural Engineering degree from the University of Hartford. He has accumulated over seven years of industry experience at George J. Donovan AIA & Associates of Bedminster. During that time he managed the company’s CAD standards and mentored his colleagues while providing design, documentation, and in some cases, management services on a variety of architectural projects. Some of his most notable projects include the adaptive reuse of a two vacant structures into usable facilities. The first was an empty factory into leasable office condominiums and the second was the conversion of a dilapidated 81 year old silk mill into a local bank’s administration building. For the past five years at Synergis, Bill has been training, supporting, and implementing the Building Solutions offered from Autodesk, primarily the Revit applications. His accomplishments include many certifications which include AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture, and Revit Architecture. He is also an Implementation Certified Expert for Revit Architecture and Structure. Bill’s latest achievement was acquiring the MEP Systems Specialist certification from Autodesk which has propelled Synergis as a Platinum Service Provider. Bill’s interactions with customers have provided him with constant challenges that lead him to think outside the box.  As a result, he has authored several technical solutions for publications which include AEC Bytes and Cadalyst as well as, produced several tips and tricks videos for the Synergis Website and You Tube channel. He enjoys consulting with a many different Architectural or Engineering firms struggling to implement the BIM process using the Revit application.  Bill has been certified many times on Autodesk products, including Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, AutoCAD , and AutoCAD Architecture.

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6 comments

  • You really maie it seem so easy together with your presentation however I to find this matter to be actually oone thing that
    I think I would by no means understand. It kond of feels too complicated and extremely broad forr me.
    I’m taking a look ahead on your next submit, I will attempt to get the cling of it!

  • Well, this article was done back in July of 2008 using Revit 2008 (using the old-school user-interface) when the ribbon did not exist yet. That could be part of the confusion. Also, my skills at nesting have evolved in the 6 releases since this article was posted on AEC Bytes (http://www.aecbytes.com/tipsandtricks/2008/issue32-revit.html). I’ve come to realize that there are easier ways to accomplish an even more powerful door family. Many customers have asked me how to make the door panels swing. I’ve built families where both the 2D door symbol and 3D door Panel swing independent of one another. The beauty of my new approach is that I can expand the opportunities to double doors, single-acting with a sidelite, etc…. with just a few family parts nested together into interesting combinations. I’ve even gone so far as to nest interchangeable casings and grille patterns.

    Click on the following links to view my upgraded nesting workflows:

    Part 1: http://screencast.com/t/g1QL9F9Flr
    Part 2: http://screencast.com/t/GrGgcbGslf

    • Sorry for such a simple question, but were these new screencasts made without audio?

      BTW, I used your original guide last night in RVT 2014 without any problems, and it was very well put together. (I am still quite new to using Revit, with no “professional” training thus far either.) That said, the one problem I did have was after completing the tutorials, in setting up a door scheudle to display properly with the correct information, especially with the use of shared parameters, associated parameters, etc.

      I only wished I knew about these videos last night! Again, very well done; thank you!

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