Revit File Naming Tips & Tricks

In the development of Families, the choice of Object Styles, Graphics, and Identity Data usually receive careful attention, but the file name may be neglected. The inevitable result is eye/brain strain that may lead to slower read times, which slows production time,which leads to lower profits. Now we have your attention. After reading this post you will hopefully realize the need to implement well-defined, easy-to-read Family naming conventions to keep your projects running smoothly.

Keep it simple and spell it out

File names should be kept as short as possible as long as they convey their content. Avoid using dates, numbers and special codes. Instead, use simple abbreviation to decrease the numbers of letters in the words. The Door Families in the image below uses commonly understood architectural abbreviations used for naming the materials for door frames. “HM” is the abbreviation for Hollow Metal. A list of some common architectural abbreviations may be found here.

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Break it up to stack it up

Notice how the names in the sample above have the ability to stack up according to Revit Category then by the type of door (swing, sliding, overhead or rotating) with the number of panels and finally the material followed by the type of the frame. This type of hierarchy is easy to memorize as it is simple and literally spelled out to the user.

Note: It is acceptable – and may be useful – but not necessary to include the Family Category in the name, unless it is in one of the following Browser Categories: 

All Annotation (Tag, Title Block, etc.) fall under the same folder in the Project Browser.

Curtain Panels as they may be “converted” to Doors or Windows in the Family Editor.

Profiles as their Profile Usage may be “converted” in the Family Editor.

The next example uses Specialty Equipment abbreviation prefixes as it encompasses the largest selection of building products on any given project and often contains the largest number of Families located in the Project Browser. The first part of the name is based on AIA sheet order which may be found here. Next is the type of equipment, followed by the manufacturer and model number. By using simple organizational logic the eye is quickly directed to very specific names.

Note: The system used below uses CamelCase to spell out the name of the manufacturer. Feel free to use this on any of the conventions you may create as it is a real space saver.

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It is OK to use spaces

Unless you are using an operating system that does not support spaces, there is no reason you can’t use them! Reasons to not use spaces would be if you were pipelining Families or adding a Family to a URL for direct download as opposed to adding it to a zipped file. The bottom line is that Windows and Revit support spaces for Family names and that using spaces is easier on the eyes.

Final Checklist

  1. Keep names as short as possible so long as they convey their content.
  2. Use natural language instead of special codes like the MasterFormat.
  3. Use headline style, also known as title casing.
  4. Do not use Categories for naming unless it is absolutely necessary.
  5. Be creative when setting up your system based on stackability and users needs.
  6. Use hyphens (-) and or CamelCasing to create groups for formatting

 

The mission of Family and Detail Warehouse is to maintain the world’s best, non-manufacturer specific library of standard Revit Families and Details… so you don’t have to.

 

Family and Detail Warehouse (F+DW)

When we launched Detail Warehouse in late 2015 our goal was to provide an extensive collection of native-built Revit details perfect for starting or bolstering your own internal library. The library boasts over 27,500 door, foundation, roof and window details across 50 sub-categories. Also included in the collection are nearly 1000 ready-to-use Revit Components which have been very popular.

The popularity of the components prompted us to continue to add additional Revit Families throughout 2016 including wood screws and sleeve anchors, concrete anchors and a comprehensive collection of AISC Steel Shapes improving over the OOTB (out of the box) content that ships with Revit.

We’re expanding the overall mission of Detail Warehouse to be the preeminent stock library of native-built non-manufacturer-specific Revit families, components and details. As such we’re changing the name to Family and Detail Warehouse (F+DW). When we think of how many times the same families are modeled over and over and over around the world it becomes clear that a great stock library that’s growing and improving would be a great service to the industry. With a Family and Detail Warehouse subscription you get access to just that, a collection of the most popular native-built families and details, ready-to-use or edit to supplement your needs.

Casework

The first major category we’ve tackled is Casework. Included in your F+DW subscription are dozens of casework families driven by thousands of Types providing you with the most extensive commercial collection of casework available. The casework library alone will save your team hundreds of hours should you opt to produce them yourself. We’ve done the heavy lifting for you! We’re not stopping there. An extensive collection of Doors is in production. We’d love to hear what you think would be helpful.

AVAIL

As you may already know the F+DW library is managed and delivered through our sister company platform AVAIL. AVAIL is an enterprise content & workflow management platform designed to help AECO firms organize, manage and deliver content within their organization. You can learn more about AVAIL at getavail.com.

F+DW subscribers can now take advantage of new advanced workflow features in AVAIL. With an AVAIL license you can now control distribution of F+DW “Channels” of content across your organization, control download access, and allow users to request Families by “Flagging” them which notifies admins of the request. The F+DW library of content comes pre-tagged within AVAIL making it easy to find the content you need quickly.

We hope you’ll find the expanded mission of the Family and Detail Warehouse and the AVAIL content & workflow management platform a welcomed addition to the industry and your firms ongoing content strategy.

Local vs Cloud – A Limited Argument

Local_vs_CloudI’ll claim that when you’re talking about content management “local vs cloud” is a limited argument. In a broad sense it’s analogous to saying “now that we have cars you don’t need to walk”. If you’re in the business of selling cars (or cloud services) that argument might make sense. For most of course, reality dictates that you need to manage content across “all” environments. Sometimes the cloud makes sense but, for the foreseeable future, you will also have content on your local network. Even the most popular cloud storage solutions like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive, you name it, cache a copy of the content locally.

Valid arguments for storing content in the cloud include 1) a need for external teams to have access to content, 2) consolidating content in one location, 3) making content accessible via the Internet, 4) “outsourcing” IT/storage.

For most people local versus cloud is largely a storage decision. If you have teams needing to access that content in the field there is indeed some good arguments for cloud storage but if most of the content is accessed at the desktop the cloud doesn’t solve many of the real content management problems those users encounter daily.

Another way to think about the challenge is to think in terms of Storage and Retrieval. I’ll make another claim… with regards to content management, storage isn’t the real problem, it’s largely a retrieval problem and going to the cloud does nothing to solve it. The graphic above was used in a class we presented at RTC Europe in Budapest a couple of weeks ago. It illustrates the challenge not only of your own content being stored locally and in the cloud but of trying to manage cloud-based content from 3rd parties that is being downloaded and stored in the your local environment.

At ArchVision we’re working on some unique solutions to the retrieval problem. We have a new content management platform named AVAIL that is attacking content retrieval in new ways and tackling the reality of managing content in a “blended” environment. I’ve blogged about how important we think context is to accessing content and how AVAIL is addressing some of those problems. If you’d like to keep track of our progress you can continue to follow this blog but you may also want to sign up for AVAIL notifications at avail.archvision.com. If you are planning to be at AU in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks be sure to stop by our booth #1213 for a sneak peek.

Context Matters

What makes you different?

What makes you different?

As ArchVision began contemplating entering the crowded content management market we spent a lot of time trying to identify what was missing. We have dabbled in content management over the years as we attempted to provide solutions to manage our RPC subscription content and provide customers with easy ways of managing thousands of pieces of content. We learned a lot over the years and developed some philosophies to build on.

While at RTC 2013 as I looked around the exhibit hall I half-jokingly started saying “we’re going to be the 159th company with a content management solution!”. You start to question what makes you think you’re different. Why hasn’t this problem been solved? I think the answer probably lies in the fact that it’s hard to get people to change their habits and that’s what most solution providers have offered. In regards to change I often say “of course it’s hard, it’s biological. We’re wired for stability, not change”. An exercise in futility would be to bank on convincing people that a new process will be better.

We started asking anyone that would indulge more questions about how they manage content and kept hearing a couple of things over and over. When asked how they manage their centralized libraries of content there was 100% unanimity. Heads would inevitably lower and voices soften as if embarrassed by their answer. The dark chorus was in unison on their reliance and contempt of Windows file folders. We had more than a hunch that would be the answer. After asking the first couple of dozen times and hearing the same answer from teams that ranged in size from a handful to thousands we knew there was an opportunity to try to help solve a big problem.

back_crop

Windows file folders make for a terrible database. I think everyone can testify that digging through directory trees to try to find something can be a frustrating experience. When added up would you want to know how much time you waste each year digging? A couple of minutes here, ten minutes there, no occurrence is painful enough to cause a revolution but in aggregate the pain is real. It’s the classic “death by a million cuts”. With Windows file folders, each individual file is relegated to a single location or worse, copies have to be made if you want the same thing accessible in different locations. Why do we do this?

We also had a suspicion (I’m painfully aware of my own habits) that many people also “keep their own local stash” apart from the central repositories. When asked how much of that went on in their operations that reality was also confirmed . But perhaps more interestingly, we began hearing another theme. When you need something, particularly AEC-related content, you’re likely to try to dig back through an old project file to find it rather than fight the Windows folders someone spent an inordinate amount of time organizing. “Hey Bob, what was that project where we used x” or “Kim, do you remember if we used x in project y?”. And then off you go, a new scavenger hunt. Sound familiar? The archived project file served as a better database than the central file folders!

Parsing these hundreds of conversations led us to identify what we think is at the core of efficiently getting to content. Context matters. Duh! It’s how people think. We’re frustrated with Windows file folders because it forces us to try to think in unnatural ways. We dig back into archived projects for nuggets of gold because the initial project context was a well-defined path and the first thing that entered our brain when those synapses started firing. If you enjoy learning about this kind of thing you should read Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow. It helps explain not only how people think but why our brains are wired that way. Here’s the short version… the brain is an amazingly complex organ, biologically wired for efficiency. Given this understanding we think the way we go about organizing and accessing content needs to change.

foldersWindows File Folders Do Serve A Purpose

The reality is that Windows file folder can work… for the person who created them. That’s why everyone else (sans the person who created them) gets frustrated with central repositories. It’s also why everyone keeps their own stash. It fits “their” context, at least until it doesn’t. Those file folders can work as a logical way to store content. All those files have to be named something and physically go somewhere don’t they! The trick is to separate the problems. Divide and conquer. Treat the storage problem separately from the retrieval problem. This led us down a new path.

AVAIL

With all of this newfound knowledge we set out to attack the problem in a new way. #159 will be different! We established these primary criteria for a solution…

1. Don’t disrupt current work flows. It’s futile to start there. Rather, augment what’s already going on.
2. Don’t require anyone to move their existing content (ie. you can leave it in those awkward Windows file folders). Admittedly this was probably driven initially by a desire to position opposite all of the “store it in the cloud” offerings that are popping up daily, but in reality it’s about separating the storage problem from the retrieval problem. Who cares where the content lives as long as your users can get to it easily. Moving content “to the cloud” doesn’t solve the context/retrieval problem.
3. Provide the end users with a visually driven, context-sensitive way of finding content.
4. Be content agnostic. There are any number of important types of files that need to be centralized, organized and retrieved.

Here’s how AVAIL works. First, we let you create Channels for accessing content. The concept of a Channel in AVAIL is the primary way of beginning to provide proper context for content. You can create any number of Channels and each Channel can contain any combination of content.

Secondly, want to build two or more Channels that contain some of the same content? You can, and without making copies of the file(s). AVAIL doesn’t move content around, it’s indexed. That’s how we begin separating where the content is “stored” from how it is “consumed”. The index provides flexibility on the front end. It let’s you get to content from multiple entry points (Channels) and is the key to providing unlimited contextual entry points to the same piece of content.

Thirdly, provide a visual way to drill down to the content you need. AVAIL does this with a new tag-driven filtering technology we call Panoply. Panoply provides the ability to create contextually sensitive arrangements of tags per Channel. As you click on Tags in the Filters panel of a Channel you are essentially expressing intent, a direction. Tags that are irrelevant based on your choices disappear. It’s a dynamic contextual path of sorts. It’s one of those things you have to experience to fully appreciate its effectiveness. A massive amount of meta-data can be encoded as Tags and arranged for logical context in AVAIL. You can parse through thousands of files to get to just the right content in a handful of clicks. Need to see the same content in a different context? The same content can live in a different Channel with filtering designed to fit the new context.

DW_AVAIL_Panoply

We think we’re onto something and working hard to fulfill the promise. The first place you can experience AVAIL and the new Panoply approach to filtering is in the recently released Detail Warehouse product. AVAIL is providing the interface for managing a library of over 27,500 native-built Revit Drafting Views. We’ll also be showing off AVAIL at a couple of events before the end of the year. Look for us at the RTC Europe (booth# 18) event in Budapest, Hungary at the end of October and soon after at Autodesk University (booth# 1213) the first week of December in Las Vegas, NV USA. If you can’t catch us at any of those event you can sign up for updates at avail.archvision.com.

DETAIL WAREHOUSE, AVAIL & PANOPLY

0014668DETAIL WAREHOUSE

ArchVision has just released a new content subscription service called DETAIL WAREHOUSE. The DETAIL WAREHOUSE provides access to over 27,500 native Revit Drafting Views designed to kick-start or supplement your in-house Revit standards library. The collection is comprised of foundation, door, window and roof details representing 50 sub-categories of construction details. In addition, you’ll also have access to nearly 1000 Revit Components.

The goal of DETAIL WAREHOUSE is to provide you with an efficient starting point and ongoing complement to your own internal library. For only $499 per year you can access the entire reference library drawing on what you need, when you need it. Learn more at DETAIL WAREHOUSE.

AVAIL

DW_AVAIL_ChannelsBesides offering the most extensive collection of Revit Drafting Views available anywhere, access to the DETAIL WAREHOUSE is provided via ArchVision’s innovative new content management platform called AVAIL. Through AVAIL, DETAIL WAREHOUSE subscribers can access foundation, door, window and roof “Channels” and search and download content closely matching their needs. A Properties Panel presents high-resolution previews of each Drafting View. AVAIL let’s users browse or search the content in a Channel but also offers an innovative new way to find content we call “Panoply”.

PANOPLY

As you can imagine the terms and tags used to describe the construction details found in DETAIL WAREHOUSE can be complex making traditional search necessarily complicated. AVAIL solves that problem using our proprietary filtering technology called “Panoply”. At the core of Panoply is a concept we refer to as “contextual filtering”; allowing you to narrow the content being displayed in each Channel based on a pre-curated sets of relevant tags. As tags are selected Panoply reduces the relevant selection set providing you with a “dynamic path” of sorts for locating content.

Panoply is something you have to experience to appreciate. With just a few button clicks you can filter through thousands of pieces of content. AVAIL, with it’s integrated Panoply technology, is being developed to provide you with a robust solution for managing, publishing, and accessing content on your network in a user-friendly way. I refer to it as making content “human” again. No more archaic filename abbreviations or ridiculous file folder structures to stand in between you and the content you need. The centralized content on your network will be liberated, no longer the victim of traditional Windows file folders. We’ll be talking more about AVAIL and Panoply in the coming weeks.

If you’d like to learn more about AVAIL and be notified when updates are available visit avail.archvision.com.

DW_AVAIL_Panoply

BCS / RTC Post Event Review

Whew… Blog PostArchVision was busy in July. Wednesday before last marked the inaugural Building Content Summit (BCS). The BCS was the day before the Revit Technology Conference (RTC) which was held in Washington, DC. I acted as co-chair for the BCS along with Parley Burnett of InView Labs (makers of Unifi). What an event!

The goal was to bring 50-100 manufacturers, arch firm content managers and software/service providers to talk about the ins and outs of “BIM Content”. We ended up with 104 attendees which read like a who’s who in the world of BIM from Anderson Windows, CertainTeed, Victaulic, Haworth, Autodesk, and Bentley to AECOM, HDR Architecture and Perkins + Will. We had a full day of speakers and small-group round-table discussions mapping out the many issues left to resolve in the BIM content world. Follow @rtcbcs for post-event info and plans for the next Building Content Summit. The event website can be found at http://www.rtcevents.com/bcs2015/.

So why was I involved? For those that hung around for the Revit Technology Conference and stopped by the ArchVision | Chaos Group | Cl3ver | IrisVR booth you got a sneak peak of why. Not only does ArchVision’s RPC file format and underlying delivery platform have an important role to play in the BIM ecosystem but we’re on our way to expanding our presence in the BIM world with some important new products.

First will be an exciting new BIM content collection called DETAIL WAREHOUSE. In the coming weeks ArchVision will release a library of ~25,000 (yes, you read that correctly) natively-built Revit Drafting Views of common, light-commercial building details (roofs, windows, doors and foundations). This subscription product will give you access to the industry’s most extensive collection of details. In addition to the details will be approximately 1000 new Revit Components. The combination provides a great way to start your Revit Standards library or augment your existing collection. Watch detailwarehouse.archvision.com for more info.

The big news from last week was the sneak peek at AVAIL, our game-changing content management platform. AVAIL is a content-agnostic, simple way to index the content on your WAN and consume it in new ways. AVAIL can be used to organize your company’s internal Revit Standards Library, inbound manufacturer content, your visualization group’s materials and textures, your marketing departments project photos and PDF cut-sheets and more! If you missed seeing it at RTC stay tuned for more details. All delivered through a modern, easy-to-use desktop application interface that finally makes finding and using your firms “content” a pleasure, not the nightmare you’ve had to endure trying to work with Windows file folders for managing content. Sound interesting? Watch avail.archvision.com for more details.

Summer of Content

U_K5Wi1sI’m pleased to announce that ArchVision is a Silver Sponsor of the 2015 Revit Technology Conference (RTC) in both North America and Europe where we’ll be showcasing some of our newest developments in late July (Washington, DC USA) and October (Budapest, Hungary).

Not content (see what I did there) with resting on our laurels the team at ArchVision has been working feverishly on some exciting new developments.

RPC

On the RPC front we’ll soon have a new update for Entourage Workshop that includes Autodesk Cloud Rendering support, support for RPC Planting families, and a new option for making 2D RPC geometry face the camera in Revit.

2.4 v-ray_for_ants_2 If you were in Atlanta last month for the AIA annual convention and expo I’m sure you were as blown away as I was at Chaos Groups preview of VRay for Revit.  Our teams have been working together closely to make sure your RPCs flow through seamlessly.  They do!  Take a look at these images.  Your RPCs in Revit have never looked better than when they’re rendered with VRay.  If you missed AIA don’t miss RTC so you can see it for yourself!

If you haven’t stopped by the recently relaunched ArchVision Labs site you may have missed the news that we’ve been working on an RPC Plug-in for Sketchup!  Been a long time coming but it was worth the wait.  There are still a few things to get sorted out but we’ll be releasing this to existing customers for beta testing soon.  We’ve also begun working with 3rd party Sketchup rendering partners such as Podium and VRay to ensure smooth workflows.

It’s in the Details…

We’re working to expand our content offering beyond RPC.  First will be a collection of approximately 1,000 Revit Components.  The Component Warehouse will be the first “Channel” of non-RPC content available leveraging a new content platform we’ve been developing (more on this soon).  The components are easily browsed or searched.

Need Revit Drafting Views?  Detail Warehouse is a subscription “Channel” where a small yearly fee gains you access to a library of tens of thousands of Revit Drafting Views ready to customize to your particular needs.  The Detail Warehouse is a great way to get your own standards library off the ground or augment your existing library.

If you’re already registered for RTC be sure to stop by our booth on the exhibit floor to see all of these exciting new developments.  It’s not too late!  You can still register for RTC and be sure to register for our class: “Take Control of Your Assets (including Families and Drafting Views) – an RTC Lab!

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