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In Revit Architecture 2011 Essential Training, author Paul F. Aubin shows how to create compelling architectural designs using the modeling tools in Revit. This course covers the entire building information modeling (BIM) workflow, from design concept to publishing. It also covers navigating the Revit interface, modeling basic building features such as walls, doors and windows, working with sketch-based components such as roofs and stairs, annotating designs with dimensions and callouts, and adding 3D geometry. Exercise files are included with the course.
In this video we will establish the framework for our simple Revit model family. Using reference planes, we will establish the basic extents of our family and then assign some simple parameters to them to control their position. It is very important to carefully plan and build your framework before you attempt to add model geometry to your families. So, let's go ahead and create a new family. I'm going to do it here on the recent file screen, but you can also get it from the Application menu. Go to New and then Family. When you create a new family using either method, the first question you will be asked by Revit is to select a template file.
As you can see here from the list, there is quite a long list of template files available for Revit families. What I'm going to do is select the first one, and direct your attention over here to the Preview window, and then I'm going to use the arrow, the down arrow on my keyboard, and just kind of page through several of these. You can see just from the little previews that there is quite a bit going on in each of these family templates. So, choosing one is a relatively important first step. We're going to choose something very simple here, because we're actually going to be building a pool table that we're going to place in the rec room of our condo project.
So, I'm going to categorize that as Furniture. That's one of the main things that choosing the template does for you is it sets the category of the family, but the other thing that it might do is you see these words here, ceiling based and face based and host based and so on, in some cases, a family will require a host. Think about doors, think about windows that we've seen in previous movies, those require a wall host. So, those would have been wall-based families. In this case, Furniture is freestanding, and my recommendation to you is when you first get started in the Family Editor, stick with freestanding families.
They're much easier to control, and much more forgiving. So, let's start there. So, I'm going to go ahead and open that Furniture family template, and this will be our first look at the Family Editor. Now, the Family Editor at first blush looks a lot like the Project Editor, but there are a few differences. If you look at the Ribbon tabs, you'll see that they have slightly different names, in some cases. More importantly, if you look at the Home tab, you'll see that there are quite a few different tools here. Instead of walls, doors and windows, we now have extrusions and blends and revolves. Now, the Project Browser looks largely the same, but the names of the views are much more generic.
So, we're on a view called reference level. Now the other thing that we'll find with the Family Editor is when it opens it typically loads multiple windows. It's pretty common for folks working in the family editor to like to go to View, and then choose Tile, and this takes the four windows that open by default and it tiles them on your screen. This way you can simultaneously see the work you're doing in plan, in elevation, and in 3D. So, we're going to do a keyboard shortcut now, ZA to zoom all the windows to fit their surroundings.
That takes care of the three orthographic views, but until we actually add some 3D geometry, the 3D view still kind of looks blank. So, we'll come back to that one a little bit later. All that the furniture template gave us was two reference planes at the center of the screen. If you click on one of them, you'll see a little label, Center Front/Back, and a pushpin, which if I pause over it, the tooltip tells me that this prevents or allows a change in the element position. So, this item is pined right now, locking it to that position, so that we can't accidentally move it.
The intersection between these two, that's the insertion point of this family when we drop it in our project. These reference planes form the structure and the framework of the family. What we're going to do is go to the Home tab and over here on the Datum panel, we're going to click Reference Plane, and we're going to draw several of our own reference planes. So, you draw these, pretty simple, just like lines. I'm just going to click a couple points across here and then after I draw the first one, I will edit the temporary dimension to make it 2 feet.
I'm going to draw another one and now the temporary dimension should snap to 4 feet pretty readily. I'm going to snap it to the ends of the first one I drew and just verify that that's 2 feet as well. The next two that I'm going to draw I'm going to run vertically, and the first one usually comes in at a start of a random number, so I'm going to change that to 4 feet. Then the neighboring one, I should be able to snap right to 4 feet. So you should have a total of four new reference planes. These two are 4 feet away from center.
These two are 2 feet away from the center. Most pool tables are these regulation sizes. They are roughly 4 x 8 feet, so that's why I chose those dimensions. Okay, so that kind of lays out the framework in a plan view. What we're also going to do is come in here and click on the front elevation and we'll add one more reference plane running across there. This one is going to be 31 inches off the floor.
That's going to be the playing surface of our pool table. So this is our front view, and this is our top view. To make sure that these reference planes behave the way we want them to, we're going to add dimensions to them next. So, what I'm going to do is go to Annotate, click on the Aligned dimension tool, we've seen this in other movies, and I'm going to start from this reference plane to this one, to this one, and kind of click it somewhere over here. I want to click this to make sure that that's constrained, equal, equal.
I'm going to do it again this way, and click that. What that does is if this moves, it moves them both together equally, therefore keeping the center of the family in the center. So, the insertion point always is in the center. So, I'm going to undo that with Ctrl+ Z. I'm going to add another series of dimensions from here, and this time skip the middle and go right across to here, and then from here, skipping the middle, right across to here. Let me do a zoom.
Get in a little closer on that. So this one reads 8 feet, and this one reads 4 feet. I'm going to select the 8-foot one, and we're going to do what's called labeling that dimension. Now, you can do that. There are two places we can see right here onscreen that we can do that. We can do that up here on the Options bar and we can do it over here on the Properties palette. It doesn't matter which method you choose. They both work the same way. When I open up the label dropdown, the only real choice I have is Add parameter.
So, I'm going to add a parameter on the fly, and this is how you add smarts to your family. I'm going to call this Length and click OK. I'm going to repeat the process with the 4-foot dimension. Notice how Length is now listed, but we don't want to add Length again. That would force our table to be square. That's not what we're after in this family. Maybe in some other families you make. Let's call this one Width. When you create parameters, you can tell because the label appears in front of the dimension.
When you create constraints, you can do that two ways. You can either do the equal, equal, as we saw here, which constrains the relationship to an equal relationship, or you can click the lock icon. Let's look at an example here. If I select this reference plane, instead of actually drawing a dimension, it turns out that I can take the temporary dimension, and click this little icon right here and make that a permanent dimension. You'll see that when I deselect the reference plane, the dimension remains.
Now, I could put another parameter on this, but I don't want to vary the height of the table. I want the height of the table to stay fixed at 2' 7". So, I'm going to lock that. That's a constraint. So again, this is a constraint. This is a constraint. This and this are parameters, okay? So, a parameter is something that will vary, and a constraint is something that's locked in. So, I'm going to do one other thing to this reference plane. I want to name it. The reason we want to name it is because that will allow us to draw a geometry on it later.
So I'm going to call that playing surface. I'm going to add one more reference plane, down here, kind of came in at a random number, so I'm going to make that 3 inches. Then just to make sure that it doesn't go anywhere on me, I'll put a dimension on it and lock it. So, we've laid out all our framework.
We can see it in the three orthographic views. Now comes the time for the big test. In Revit, we call this "flexing the model". So, I'm going to give this model a flex, and make sure that everything works the way I'm expecting it to work. The way that I do that is to go back to the Home tab and I click on the Family Types dialog. I'm going to move that out of the way, so I can see the three views in the background and I'm going to try two different numbers here in my two parameters. Now, notice how only the two parameters are listed here. You don't flex constraints; constraints are going to stay fixed, no matter what.
So, if this one changes, we've got a problem, because we are expecting that one to stay fixed. We click Apply and you should see in all three views, the width and length changed and the height stayed fixed at the 2 foot 7 inches. What I want to do is actually make it easier for me to make these changes in the future. So, over here, this is called the Family Types. You can actually create your types ahead of time in the Family Editor. So, I'm going to click New and I'm going to call this one, 8 foot, and this is going to be a full-size 8-foot table.
The size of that is going to be 44 inches x 88 inches. I'll apply that. Then I'll create another new family and I'll call it, rather another new type, and I'll call it 7 foot and that one will be 39 inches x 78 inches. Notice I'm typing inches and Revit is converting it to feet and inches. I'm going to reset to the 8-foot and apply and you see how that's a much faster way to flex.
So, everything is working the way I expect. So, congratulations! We've set up our first parameters. That's the first step in building any good family.
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