How to Choose the Right Groups for Your Parameters

Have you noticed how parameter groups (i.e. Dimensions, Identity Data, Graphics) display in a different order in your projects from how they are listed in the family editor?  If you want to make it easy for users to access the most important information in your families, you’ll want to know the project sort-order.

I tried putting the controls for my window muntins in the Visibility group, but it was a big pain always having to scroll down or close the Identity Data group that would get in the way.  I tried putting the parameters in the General group instead, thinking that it would display in alphabetical order, but it still came in under Identity Data.

So if you want to make informed choices about which groups to use, without a lot of trial and error, check out this list put together by Gordon Price – it’s super helpful!


How to Orient Geometry in a Family You Intend to Nest

Say you’re making a window sash to put into your custom window family.  You open up the generic family template, but you’re not sure what to do next.  How should you orient your geometry considering you’re going to load it into another family?

Geometry in the generic family template is hosted on the reference level, so if you build it parallel to that plane and then try to load it into another family and rotate it to be perpendicular, you’ll get an error message.  So you should always consider the final orientation of your geometry relative to the reference level and start it out right.

How to Enter Inches Easily With One Hand

If you’re used to Sketch-Up and AutoCAD where typing 1 gives you one inch rather than one foot, the Revit default input can be a pain to get used to.  Instead of typing 6 (6+enter) with one hand on the number pad, you have to use two hands on the main keyboard to type 6″ (6+shift+quote+enter).

You could change the project units in your template to inches, but if you still want dimensions and such to display feet, you’d have to go in and edit every annotation family to use the proper formatting.

Revit Inchworm changes the function of the enter and plus keys on the number pad so you can add foot and inch marks with one hand.  That’s helpful, but you have to remember not to use the enter key on the main keyboard because it won’t add the inch-mark for you.  Also Revit Inchworm gets in the way when you use SketchUp.

The best way I’ve found to handle this problem is to take advantage of Revit’s shortcuts for entering units.  The 0 6 (0+space+6+enter)  method is not much help because you still need to reach over to the space bar or use two hands.  However, you can also type 0-6 (0+minus+6+enter).  It’ll take a little while to get used to but since all the keys you need are on the number pad it requires only one hand and no acrobatics.  Once you build muscle memory it’s a piece of cake.


How to Import and Preview Fill Patterns Without Lots of Extra Clicking

Are you sick of clicking a zillion times to import a fill pattern and apply it to a material in your project only to see that it’s the wrong scale and you need to start all over again?  I used to go through the materials tab and create a new fill pattern every single time until I figured out a faster, simpler way.

Create a fill pattern called Test Fill and assign it to a material.  Build a wall with that material so you can easily see how it looks in your project.

Next assign a keyboard shortcut such as “FP” to the Fill Patterns dialog.

Now you can type “FP” to bring up the dialog, and double-click on Test Fill.  Import a new pattern file and set the scale.  Press okay twice to see how it looks.

Repeat as needed until you have the appropriate pattern and scale.  Once you’re happy with it, simply duplicate Test Fill and give your new pattern a name.

How to Kill the F1 Help Shortcut

Are you sick of always hitting F1 by accident?  Some people pop the key off their keyboard or wedge a paper-clip underneath.  Another option is to use a keyboard mapping utility like SharpKeys.  You can remap the F1 key so it functions just like another escape key.  This change will apply to every program on your computer so only do it if you never use F1 for anything else.

You might have to redo it after updating your operating system.