Join Paul F. Aubin for an in-depth discussion in this video Convert a hosted family to face-based or non-hosted family, part of Revit: Tips, Tricks, and Troubleshooting.
- [Instructor] If you've ever built Revit family content, then you probably know how important it is to choose your family hosting carefully. Because of all the things that we can change after we start building the family, changing its hosting behavior is not allowed. Or is it? It turns out that if you start building a family as a hosted family, let's say a wall-hosted family or a ceiling-hosted family, and then you later change your mind for whatever reason, instead of having to start completely over again, it turns out there's a little trick that we can employ to actually convert the family from wall-hosted to either face-based or even non-hosted.
So I'm going to walk you through the process here in this video. Now, it's a bit of a workaround, and there's a lot of steps. So it may not be the most ideal process. But, given the alternative of having to scrap your family and completely start over again, it's definitely worthy of some consideration. All right, so, to get started, I've got this really simple file here. And I've got this item here on the wall that's a piece of specialty equipment. It's a fire extinguisher cabinet. And if I select it and I go to Create Similar, I cannot place it out in empty space, right? It certainly would see either of the walls, but it wouldn't let me place it freestanding.
It also won't see the column. So here it's seeing the wall behind the column. But if I move down here toward the bottom, notice that I can't place it on the column. Now, that could be problematic, because you could probably think of many situations where it would be advantageous to be able to place a fire extinguisher cabinet on the face of a column, right? So now you're faced with having to start over again and build another version of the fire extinguisher cabinet and either make it freestanding or make it face-based or something like that, right? Now, there are some family authors that will create face-based all the time as a way of kind of avoiding that problem.
And you certainly have that option, but face-based, it doesn't solve all problems either. All right, so let's take a look at what we can do. Well, the first thing is let me just make sure that it's clear that the solution is not in Edit Family. So if I select this family and I go to Edit Family, this is a wall element right here. And that's sort of like a proxy wall, like a stand-in wall. And notice over here that the host says Wall. And there isn't any way in the Family Editor to change that behavior.
You can't change it to a different kind of host. You can't remove the host. If you wanted to try and delete this host, it's not deletable, right? You're kind of stuck with it. All right, so I'm going to do Control + W to close this file. I'm not going to save it. All right, I'm also going to close this file that we're looking at here. And I'm not going to save it either. And behind it, I have another file open that I've just called Host. And the one we were just in I called Link. And so what I'm going to do is actually link these two together. So, using this as the host, I'll go to Insert.
And I'll do Link Revit. And I'll select my Link file and open it up. And it pops right in relative to that floor element there. And the reason I'm doing that is because the first step in this trick is to have a link file. The second step in this trick is to go to your Collaborate tab and use the Copy Monitor tool. Copy Monitor has two options, Current Project or Select Link. We want to do Select Link. And then we want to select our link file.
That puts you in Copy Monitor mode. And the intention of this tool is when you're collaborating with another discipline and both disciplines need access to some of the geometry. So, for example, if I'm the architect and the structural engineer, we both maybe want to do something to the columns. So we could do a Copy Monitor relationship between the columns. Or if I'm the architect and I have a mechanical engineer, we both might want to do something to the plumbing fixtures or with the electrical engineer with the lighting fixtures and so on. So, generally, that's how Copy Monitor is used.
And the idea is that you reach into the link file, you copy some of the geometry out, and it makes a reference back to the original. You can move your copies around, make changes, and then there's a coordination that we can do to synchronize those changes back between the two links. That's the intention of the tool anyway. And that's how it was designed to be used. Well, what we're going to do is kind of use the tool to employ our little workaround trick here. So the first step that you do in Copy Monitor is to copy something. So I'm going to click the Copy tool and then start moving near the link.
And notice that I could copy things like this wall or this column. But, unfortunately, the item that I want to copy, which is the fire extinguisher cabinet, it's not highlighting. So in order to use this trick that we're going to look at here, you have to work within the rules of Copy Monitor. And Copy Monitor is limited to only certain categories. So that means that I have to either finish or cancel out of the mode, right? It doesn't really matter. And then back up a step. So what I need to do is go back into this link file and make a change to that fire extinguisher cabinet.
So I'm going to scroll down here in Project Browser, expand Revit Links, right-click the Link file, and choose Open and Unload. Now, if you've ever worked with links before, you know you can't have both files open at the same time. So that's why it's unloading it from the host file first. Now, I'm going to select the fire extinguisher cabinet and choose Edit Family. So what is the rule that we said we needed with Copy Monitor? Well, it's got to be a monitorable category. So I'm going to come up here to the Create tab on the Family Category and Parameters button and change it from Specialty Equipment to something that we can monitor, like maybe Mechanical Equipment, and click OK.
That's the only change I'm going to make. And then I'm going to load this back into the project and close. So I'm loading it into the Link project. Click OK. And when it asks me if I want to save the fire extinguisher cabinet, I'm going to say No here. So I don't need to save the RFA file. But I do want to overwrite its instance here in the project file that it was in. So I'll choose Overwrite the existing version. So what that did is just converted that existing object from specialty equipment to mechanical equipment. All right, so that's taken care of.
Now I'm going to do Control + W to close this file. This time I do want to save it. Once it's saved, I'll right-click the Link reference right here and choose Reload to bring it back in. Now that I've done that, I can go back to Copy Monitor, Select Link, select the link file here, click my Copy tool, and now notice that I can highlight and select the fire extinguisher cabinet, because it is now one of the allowed categories, Mechanical Equipment.
A small heart monitor symbol will appear next to the item to indicate that it is now being monitored. And let's click Finish here to complete that mode. So what have we done exactly? Well, now notice that the link is still here, but you can select your copied version of the fire extinguisher cabinet separately. And not only that, that selected version that you have there is a completely separate family. Mechanical Equipment is its category. And I'm going to click Edit Family.
And the reason is because what that just did is it converted our wall-based family into a face-based family. Look at the host right over here. Notice that it now says Face instead of Wall. So that's all you have to do to take a family that's wall-based or ceiling-based and convert it to something that's face-based. So now I'm going to go back to Family Category and Parameters, change it back to Specialty Equipment, because that's really the category I wanted it to have in the first place.
I'm going to click OK. Then I'm going to go to the File menu and save it as a family, because if I save it I can actually use it now in any project. So I'll just put it in my Exercise Files folder. And I usually like to add a little suffix to the end here just to indicate that it's face-based. So I'm adding FB to say that this is a face-based version of this family. I'll load it into the project and close. And now notice that I have this face-based version that will sense the walls, the floor, and even the surfaces of the column here.
Now, it's going the wrong way. Let me tap my space bar. There we go. And that will flip it around, okay? And now I could place that on the surfaces of either the column or the wall. So these are now Specialty Equipment. But remember, I renamed them with the FB suffix. So the original here is still Mechanical Equipment. So you could delete that one and bring in the face-based one instead if you wanted to. So face-based is certainly useful, but what if for some reason I wanted this thing to be freestanding? I can't think of too many situations where I would want a fire extinguisher cabinet to be freestanding, but let's say that there was a time when I did.
Well, I could go over here to my floor plan and go to the Architecture tab and create a reference plane. And one of the features of face-based families is that you can not only place them on geometry faces but you can also place them on work planes. So I'm going to go back to Component. There's my face-based fire extinguisher cabinet. And of course the default behavior is Place on Vertical Face. So I could put one here. I could put one here. But notice it will also see that reference plane.
And I can place it right there. So the result of that would be that if I go back to the 3D view, it kind of looks like this thing is freestanding out in space. Furthermore, if you take this reference plane and you move it, that will move the family. If you take that reference plane and you rotate it, that will rotate the family. So, for all intents and purposes, you've created what amounts to a freestanding family there. But let's say that that doesn't satisfy you enough, right? Like you don't want to have to bother drawing these reference planes in order to create these sort of non-hosted versions.
We can actually push this technique one step further now. So what I'm going to do is select one of my face-based versions, edit the family, and remember that the host is a face. The reason for that is because this element over here has been converted from a wall to an extrusion. So it sees that as a face. Now, you remember earlier I selected the wall and I tried to delete it. It wouldn't let me. Well now we can. Now, when you do that, you are removing the hosted face.
Therefore, this will become a freestanding family. Now, there's one other thing you need to do. Scroll down here. And on the Other properties, on the Properties palette, Work Plane-Based is checked. Now, work plane-based is kind of similar to face-based. So if you leave that checked, it's going to still try and look for a face in the project when you bring it in. But if you uncheck it, it will be totally freestanding. You'll be able to put it anywhere you want. So now I'm going to go to Save As again. And this one, I'm going to change the suffix to NH for non-hosted, save it, load it back into my project, and now I can place this thing anywhere that I want.
So if you ever have a hosted family and you want to change the hosting, you can use the Copy Monitor trick to turn it from a wall-based or a floor-based or a ceiling-based to face-based. Face-based you can use almost anywhere, use a reference plane to kind of simulate non-hosted. Or if you truly want it non-hosted, just open up that face-based version, delete the face host, turn off work plane-based, re-save it again, and you've got a non-hosted version of your family.
This can be an incredibly powerful way to take a situation where you'd otherwise have to create the family all over again and essentially convert it to something that's much more flexible. And you can do this with any kind of hosted family. I could even do it with this door or the window. Now, I can't think of too many reasons why I'd want a non-hosted door or window. Maybe if I was doing a Roadrunner cartoon or something. But you could do it, okay? So just open the door. Change it to a Copy Monitor category. Copy Monitor it. Edit that family.
Delete the face host. Turn off Work Plane-Based. Resave it. And you've got a non-hosted door. So I hope you find that trick useful. So anytime you find yourself in this situation where you need to convert a hosted family to a non-hosted family, you can follow those steps to convert your existing family.
NOTE: The exercise files for this course can only be opened in the most recent version of Revit (Revit 2017).
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