Join Paul F. Aubin for an in-depth discussion in this video Create a type catalog, part of Revit: Tips, Tricks, and Troubleshooting.
- [Instructor] This video we're going to talk about how you create your own custom type catalogs. Now, I'm sure you've run into type catalogs before, whenever you load a Revit family file, if it displays a dialog box with a list of available family types, that's a type catalog. But how exactly do you create one of those? Well, it turns out all that all a type catalog is is a text file that sits alongside of the RFA file in a folder in Windows, so to create one of these text files, y'know you have a few different options. You could manually hand code it or there's a few tricks you can use to kind of speed up the process a little bit.
So let's go ahead and just walk through the steps that are involved in creating one of these things. So I'm going to take this tall cabinet right here and perhaps I want to make a type catalog to go along with it. Now at the moment I've only got one size, 30 inch size, so usually it's a pretty good idea to start with a family that has no types, so that's what I'm going to do here. I'm going to edit that family, and that puts me into the family editor. Now, you need to be familiar with the properties of the family because those are the things that you're going to need to list out in your type catalog, so this has got a depth and a height and so forth, right, some materials, so those are the parameters that I want to list out in there.
Now, you could start Windows Notepad and just start typing, and if you take a look at the help file and search for "type catalog," it will explain to you exactly how to do that. It'll tell you how you can name things, what the headers need to look like, how to format for different parameter types, so all the information you need is right here, but it's going to be pretty tedious to sit there and type this thing out by hand, okay? Right in the middle here, it says a shortcut, you can actually export using the family export tool, and do it directly from the family, so that's what I'm going to do.
I'm here in the family and I'm going to go to the file menu and export the family types, and that's going to create a TXT file for me. Now it's going to default to the same name as the family file and that's important, right, 'cuz that's how Revit's going to see this thing later, and I'll go ahead and save it where I want to put this thing. Alright, so now what did that create? Well, let's take a look at it in Notepad, and I'm going to open up that file that we just created, and there's all that jibberish that you saw in the help file, right? So, again, if you want to you can sit here in Notepad and modify things.
If you only need to make a few basic changes, then it could be easy enough to do that right here in Notepad, but I think for most of us, we're going to find it easier to actually do that kind of editing in a program like Excel. So what I'm going to do is open up Excel here, and I'm going to go to file, open, browse to that location, and make sure it's set to all files, so that you can see text files, and then I'll select that file right there and open it up. Now, this will start the text import wizard, because it will recognize that this is a delimited text file.
By the way, if you're getting a read-only message right now, what you want to do is actually quit Revit, because Revit is still holding onto that TXT file, and then restart it and then try the process again and it should open it up just fine, so for whatever reason sometimes Revit locks that TXT file and it makes it frustrating to go to this next step. So anyway if you're getting that read-only message just do that. I want to change this to delimited here at the top, and then I'll click next, then this will give me a choice of delimiters, and this file is a comma delimited file, and that will separate everything out, click next and finish, and now it already looks a little bit easier to read.
Now you can double click any of these headers here to kind of widen them up and make them a little easier to read. So you can actually rearrange things in this file very easily, so what I want to do is actually take all the dimensions and kind of put them at the front, because I'm thinking about the experience of loading the type catalog and what do I want to see first, and I'm more interested in the dimensions than I am in the materials. So, I'm going to take column D here, which is the depth parameter, and I'm going to cut it and paste it right before column B, so that'll become the new column B.
Then I'm going to repeat that for the height column, cut, insert before column C, and for the width column, cut it, and insert it before column E now. Now I'm going to double click next to each one of these to widen these columns so that I can read them a little bit better, and you can do the same thing with any of these other columns if you want. In fact, you can get rid of columns that you don't need, so if I say there's no time I would ever change the toe height or the toe depth, I don't really need those parameters in the type catalog, I can just simply delete those two columns.
So make those kind of adjustments first, then select all of the information, I'm going to do control C, drag through three fields here, press enter to paste it in to all of those locations. Now, these are the names of the family types, and it says 30 inch inch, and what's going on with that? Well, let's take a look back at the help file again here, if you're working in an imperial file, I'm not sure why this is, but if you want it to say 48 inches in the name, you have to type in inch inch in the type catalog, don't know why that is, it's just the rules, so make sure you're following that syntax when you're working in imperial files.
Okay, so I'm going to rename these. I'm going to make the first type 24, the next one 27, I'm going to leave the next one 30, and the final one 33. The depth is going to stay the same as they are for all of them. The height's going to stay the same as they are for all of them. So all I need to do is change the widths. Now, these numbers are in feet. You know that because right here it says that this is the width parameter, it's a length parameter, and it's in feet. That's how you read that. So it's telling you what the unit is, so make sure that you remember that when you decide what the value ought to be.
So this one is two feet, this one is two point two five feet, this one is two and a half, and this one is two point seven five. That's it, I'm done, that's all the edits I need to make. So now let's go to save as, and browse to this location, it looks like it's going to override it just fine for me in TXT format, right? So I can just go ahead and say save, do you want to replace it, yes I do, are you sure, this is unicode format, we might lose some features, yeah, I'll say yes.
Now, that's what you're tempted to do, but let me show you what the result of that was. I'm going to go back to Notepad, and Excel kind of conceals the real formatting, so let's re-open that file in Notepad now, and what you see is that it doesn't really look the way it's supposed to look. That unicode formatting did not make a comma delimited file, it actually made a tab delimited file, and that won't work for a type catalog, so two options, you could do search and replace here now in Notepad and search for all the tab characters, change them to commas and make any other adjustments, or we can resave this thing as a CSV file, comma delimited text file.
So I'm going to do CSV MS-DOS here and that's going to add a CSV extension to it, so it's actually going to change the extension. I'm going to save it, again Excel will say are you sure, I'll say yeah I'm sure. Let's see what that looks like in Notepad. Alright, go to open. Now in Notepad, it's only seeing TXT files, so you got to come over here, change this to all files, and there's your CSV file, going to open that up and it looks a lot better, right? We've got comma delimited values now, but what's going on with the names here? That's not going to work.
So instead of just giving me the double inch mark, it actually gave me a whole bunch of inch marks. I'm not really sure why that is, but you can clean this up manually, so like for these quote marks in front of the numbers I can just backspace those out. For the rest of them, I'm going to select that, do control c to copy it to my clipboard, click somewhere else, go to edit, click replace, control v to paste that in, and then type quote quote. Now remember, I'm getting that from the help file here, which says that quote quote is required in this name here.
I'll do replace all, and that takes care of that, let's close out of here. So now this is a correctly formatted type catalog, so now I need to go to save as again, and you notice how it's using CSV as an extension? I need to change that to TXT. It's very important. I still want it to be a comma separated file, but it needs to have that TXT extension, and when I save it it'll ask me if I want to replace the existing one, and I'll say yes.
If you don't see file extensions on your computer you need to turn that on in Windows Explorer, 'cuz otherwise you won't be able to do that. Now if I were to look in this folder, there's my file, and I'm just going to double click it just to make sure that everything's saved correctly, it looks pretty good. So now let's just test it out. So back here in Revit, I'm going to take this guy, and I'm going to save it as a family, now this is really important. Right now it's coming out of the default imperial library. I want to put it in the same location as my TXT file that I just created.
Now I'm going to just close this file, and to bring it back into here I'm going to do it this way. I'm going to scroll down, I'm going to locate that file, right click it, and choose reload. So when you choose reload it forces it to load the file and the type catalog, so I'm going to go back to my exercise files folder, select it from here, click open, and it will load the type catalog. If you just load it from the family editor, it won't do that, so make sure you do the right click reload, and then you'll be able to choose one or more sizes here, it'll ask if you want to overwrite, you'll do that, and now if I select this, I have another size to choose from and I can change the size of that cabinet.
It's kind of a lot of steps to build one of these things, so it certainly takes a little bit of time to do. Let me just share with you something that'll help speed it up a little bit. You'll still need to export the TXT file, you'll still need to open it up in Excel and edit it, okay, that doesn't change, but once you save that as a CSV it can be kind of a pain to have to open it in Notepad, clean it up, get rid of the characters that aren't there, save it, make sure you type TXT, all those extra steps, right? So if you go to the CTC website, okay, CAD Technology Center website, they have this tool suite called the BIM Manager Suite.
Now, I'm not going to talk about the BIM Manager Suite right now even though it's a wonderful set of tools and it's worth every penny of it's price tag here, however in addition to the paid tools that are part of this suite, anything here with a little asterisk next to it is a free tool, and that includes this guy right here called Family Tools. So what you do is you install the trial version of CTC Express tools, you try out all the paid tools and see if you like 'em, and if you want to spend the money to buy them. If you don't, you can still keep using the free tools even after the license expires for the paid ones.
And why would you want to do that? Because here's the Family Tools dialog. There's a type catalog tools tab here. I click browse, I point to a location that contains CSV files. You can see that I have two of them here right now because the one I just created, plus there was one here already. Well I've already got my tall cabinet, so I'll just uncheck that one, but I'm going to let it do this one right here, and I'm going to say copy to TXT files. That's all it takes, and now what it's done is it's created the TXT file right here.
So now, back in Revit, if I reload this base cabinet here and I point to that same location, now I've got a nice CSV file turned into a TXT, and it just speeds things up a little, makes it a little bit quicker to convert your CSV files to TXT. So that's one of the free tools, but I do actually encourage you to spend some time exploring the paid tools as well, 'cuz they're really wonderful and if you do a lot of family editing work they're really worth every penny.
NOTE: The exercise files for this course can only be opened in the most recent version of Revit (Revit 2017).
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