Sunday, June 29, 2014


We made a circle profile, which is great, and it established the principle of a "Scale" parameter which can be linked back to the host family.  But a circle is just a special case of an ellipse.

If we make a Mass Profile which is a scalable ellipse, we can also have a "Depth Factor" to control the proportions of the ellipse.  Depth Factor of 1 will be a circle.  Here Goes.

Proceed as before to open a new Mass family.  In plan view, draw an ellipse. Dimension to the quad points of the ellipse in both directions.  They will highlight as you hover over them.

You can label these as "Width" & "Depth".  Group them under
"Other" because they will be calculated values and we want to keep them out of the way.

Create "Input" & "Scale" parameters, as before.  Scale is a type parameter and this time I'm going to group it under "Plumbing".  I know that's wierd, but it keeps it separate and just above the Dimension group which I reserve for the instance parameters.

We need one more of these.  It's a number and we can call it "Depth Factor" as mentioned above.  Type positive values into the number parameters to avoid an error message, then proceed to type in the formulae.

Save the family with a suitable name.

For the rectangle you can start again from scratch if you want, or you can save the ellipse profile with a rectangle name.  We are going to use the same parameters and formulae.  (delete the ellipse)

Set up reference planes with equalisation and apply the Width & Depth parameters.  Draw a rectangle and lock it to the planes.

That's it.

I'm going to demonstrate the use of these profiles by modelling some of the planters I saw earlier this week in Chicago.  These posts, by the way are being written from my daughter's apartment in Morristown New Jersey. I'm resting up from all the walking I did in Chicago while she finishes her working week.  Then we'll hang out for the weekend before I hop across the Atlantic to spend a week in England.

Here's a taster for the planters.

Friday, June 27, 2014


We have 2 ways of making stuff in Revit.  We could call them the "Conceptual Massing Environment" & the "Traditional Family Editor".  I prefer to use "Point World" & "Vanilla".  Better mnemonics.

In Vanilla, profiles exist as a separate category.  In Point World, any nested family could be a profile.  You have three choices of template: Mass, Generic Model (GM) & Generic Model Adaptive (GMA).

 I prefer to use Mass for all my profiles.  GM families have an annoying habit of defaulting to "Place on Face" when we really want to host them on a Work Plane.  GMA families are shared by default.  Usually you want to link parameters in your profile family to parameters in the host.  If you forget to uncheck shared before loading, this can be quite tedious to resolve. For me the simplest approach is to stick to the Mass category when making profiles.

One happy side-effect is that I can simply refer to these as "Mass Profiles" to distinguish them from the Vanilla type of profile.

So let's make a Scalable Circle Profile.

New Conceptual Mass.  Metric Mass.  Go to Level 1 (floor plan)   Draw,  Circle.

Click on the little dimension icon to turn the radius into a permanent dimension.  Select this, click on Label and Add Parameter. Call it Radius

Now click on the Family Types button and "Add" Parameter.  Make it an instance parameter and call it "Input".  Make the value the same as Radius.

Next select the Radius parameter and "Modify".  Change it to an instance parameter and group under "Other"  This is going to be a calculated value, so I'm just moving it out of the way so it doesn't distract us.

Then "Add" parameter again.  Name it "Scale", under Type of Parameter, choose "Number"  (you can leave it grouped under "Other")  The next step is important: change the value from zero to 1. Click on "OK".

Finally, click on family types once more and enter "Input*Scale" into the formula field of "Radius".  (If you had entered the formula while scale was still zero you would get an error at this point.  Revit can't make a circle with a radius of zero)

.We are done. Save the family.

You can make dozens of Mass Profile families based on this same principle.

Use input values to vary the size and shape of different instances.  Link the scale back to a master "Scale" parameter in the host.  Because this is a type parameter, you are controlling all instances.

In the next post we will make two more profiles of the same type:  an ellipse and a rectangle.

Then the fun will begin as we use these to create scalable Frank Lloyd Wright planters based on the Straight Line Rig.

Monday, June 23, 2014


I didn't get my ... together for the (extremely silly) tips & tricks part of RTCNA which, by the way, was the best yet as far as I am concerned.  Thank you to all the friends, old & new, young & not so, who took the time to talk with me.

So here is the first of the "tips & tricks" slides I should have submitted.

If you browse through my blog, you will find many examples of these 3 rigs.  When I get a chance I will set up tags to make them easier to find.  You can also expect to see more posts in the near future based on these 3 methods.

The next one is taken from my Urban Design session.

It's a hack, but then again the whole business of doing Urban Design in Revit is a bit of a hack.  So that's it: one of my shortest posts ever.  I am currently in Chicago and really loving it.  Will pass through New York and London over the next 2 weeks on my way home.  Hopefully I will find time to do another post or two during my travels.

Oh WTF ... here's a bit more on the straight line rig.

And some more rectangles

And of course ... how would we live without boxes ?

Now I'm done.  (what proper done ?  yes, proper done)