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The subject of creating Revit family content could take an entire training series in itself. However, a Revit Essentials class would not be complete without at least some coverage of the topic. So with this in mind, we're going to use this chapter to go through the process of building our own custom Revit model family. There are a few key steps that you want to keep in mind when you're building your own families, so let's kind of walk through the process. First, you want to plan. Plan carefully. You need to know what you want your family to do. Don't just dive in without a plan. Think about it, maybe take some notes, do a little sketching, but know what you want your family to do: what behaviors you want it to have, and how you want it to act in the project.
Number two, use a good template file. There are several template files that ship with the product, and each one has certain behaviors that are built in. Those behaviors get imparted to your family when you choose the template, so make sure you choose carefully and get the right templates so you get the right behaviors. The next thing you want to do is add reference planes. Reference planes set up the form and structure of the overall family and define its geometric limits and characteristics, so it's pretty critical step. You want to think about those carefully and get them laid out carefully so that the geometry behaves the way you expect it to behave.
After you've got the reference planes, you want to add parameters and constrains. Now they both do similar things. They add the smarts to your family, but they do it slightly differently. A parameter is a bit of smarts, or a rule, that the user can interact with. So the user can actually change that parameter in the project environment later--change the value of that parameter I should say. A constrain is locked-in design intent. You lock that in and the users cannot change it in the project environment.
So you're basically making that a permanent behavior that they have no impact on. Once you've got all that sort of framework built and established, you need to test everything and make sure it's behaving the way you expect. Revit calls this flexing the model. So make sure you flex, and make sure you flex often. Once you've got all that and it's flexing the way you expect and everything is working correctly, then you can finally add some geometry. You add your geometry, you attach it to the reference planes, which will in turn be driven by the parameters and constrains, and then what do you do.
You'll flex it again, OK, because you want to make sure that everything is working exactly the way you expect. Once you've got everything hammered out and working the way you need it to work, you'll load it into a project and that's the final test. So with that in mind--that's the basic overall process-- let's go ahead and build our first piece of Revit family content.
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