Join Paul F. Aubin for an in-depth discussion in this video Seed families, part of Revit: Tips, Tricks, and Troubleshooting.
- [Voiceover] If you've ever created family content before, then there's a pretty good chance that you needed to create two families that were similar to one another. Now, like any file, you can do a Save As, and take an existing file and create a version of it that's similar to the original. And in fact, that's gonna be the subject of this movie today is I wanna talk about how you can leverage that really simple concept of using Save As to create what I like to call seed families. Now, a seed family is just a family that you can use as a starting point to create several other similar families.
So, if you need to create several families like several pieces of case work, or several pieces of furniture, several lighting fixtures, then creating a seed first that has all of the basic settings in it that you're interested in, can certainly be a much more productive way to go. So I have a really simple example right here. This is a generic model seed. And I've just called it _Seed_GM for generic model. I've got four windows tiled open, and here in the Floor Plan View, I've got the really basic basics. So, I've got four reference planes around, forming a rectangular shape.
These two are the default ones. The Center Front Back and the Center Left Right. So they were there with the insertion point right in the middle. These others that I've added, I created them, and I named each one. So, I named this one Back, this one Front, this one Left, right there, and this one Right. Now, in addition to naming them, I've also used the Is Reference feature. Now the Is Reference feature is just basically cluing Revit into what you intended this reference plane to be for. So, again, I chose Right, Left, Front and Back for each of these.
Now, that makes them Strong References. There's also a Weak Reference, and there's also an option for Not a Reference. So let me demonstrate. Let's say that in addition to this box I also need some sort of an offset on the left and right side. Now, I'll go ahead and put in a value for that. And I've created this reference plane, and I deliberately made it a little shorter than the other ones over here. And I like to go into the Elevation View as well, and adjust it there.
Before I copy it. Because I want it to stand out, okay. So I've made it a little bit shorter in both directions. And now I'm gonna mirror it to the other side, and when I mirror it of course it'll be the same length here, and it'll be the same length there. And that sort of visual grouping I find very helpful to kind of understanding how the family is structured. Particularly when you have lots of reference planes. I'm almost obsessive about doing that step there. About making sure that I group all of my reference planes visually.
Now, I'm gonna go ahead and throw a dimension on each of these, and for the purposes of this example, I'm gonna pretend that both of these are gonna be locked dimensions. So that's just sort of an offset there that I want. And as a consequence, because I'm gonna use that just to sort of shape the geometry, but I'm not really interested in having it be flexible, then I probably don't need it to be a reference either. So, what I mean by that is when you look over here on the Is Reference, we talked about, you know, the named ones, but there's also three choices up here at the top, Not a Reference, Strong and Weak.
So, Strong References are gonna be found immediately when you try a dimension or a line to the family. So, you bring the family into a project, you bring a dimension over it, it'll immediately snap to the Strong References. The Weak References will require the Tab key. So, you put your mouse over it. You press Tab and then it will find the Weak References. And each time you Tab it'll cycle through the available ones. If you set it to Not a Reference, then it will completely ignore that reference plane. So, it's still a perfectly valid reference plane within the family, but you just won't have to Tab through it when you load it in.
So, let's just assume that these are meant to be Not a Reference. And again, thinking of a seed, if you know that that's the situation you want, if you build it that way ahead of time in your seed, then it saves you the trouble of having to keep making that change every time you add these new reference planes in. So you really wanna kinda think carefully, and spend some time building this seed to kind of get everything right. Now, you can even go so far as to add geometry to your seed if you want to. So let's assume that I needed a basic box here. So, I'll just go ahead and draw this thing in here.
Like so. I'm gonna lock it on all four sides. And then I'll finish that. And by default it drew it on the Ground Plane, but you'll notice that here in the Front View, I have these other two reference planes. Now, this one is using a parameter that says Offset Below Level, you can see there. And then I've got another one here that's measured from that that says Fixture Height. Now, why did I do it that way? Well, the reason is that you've probably noticed that you can't put a negative number in a parameter.
You know, if you try to, it will complain that it's not allowed. They always have to be positive. So, by doing two parameters. One that shifts it in one direction and the other that shifts it in the other direction, you can effectively overcome that limitation. So, what I'm gonna do is just simply take this extrusion here, I'm gonna assign it to this work plane, edit work plane, pick a plane, click right there. Then I'll take this grip, bring it back this way, snap it, and now this box is sandwiched between these two reference planes.
If I flex this one, let's try it maybe two inches, you see how that moves the entire box. But then, if I flex this one, that will actually resize the box. So now I have one parameter that's moving the box up and down and another parameter that's actually resizing it. And so if you build a couple parameters like that, you can gain a little bit more flexibility. Now, at this point, I could save this seed and it's ready to go, and then when I wanna us it, I just do Save As. So, if I wanted to use this as another family, I would just do Save As Family and give it a name.
You know, I'm just gonna call this Fixture for now, because I'm not really sure what it is. But, there I've created a new version of it. It's that simple. It's just a Save As. Now, let me show you a couple other examples that I have. This one is a seed family for lighting fixtures. So, here it was a face based light fixture. So, I've oriented the 3D view to kind of turn it upside down so that it matches the orientation that I intend to use the light fixture in. 'Cause otherwise, it looks like this, and this elevation, where the face is at the bottom, and you're drawing backwards, right? You're drawing your light fixture upside down.
So, I just rotated the 3D view around. I added some reference planes. I added parameters here. I've got an offset below the ceiling. I've got a fixture height. And I've got my length and width parameters in my Floor Plan. I've got my light source configured. So, I tried to think of as many things that I might wanna reuse in each of the light fixtures. I even went so far as to add some geometry in here. I've got this revolve for the pendant rod that would actually hold the pendant light. I figured all of these are gonna be pendant lights, they're all gonna have some sort of a support rod, so why not just build that right into the seed.
Here's another example here. If I go to Open and open up this one, Base_Cabinet. Well, you know, base cabinets have a lot of similarities, right, so they're gonna need, you know, reference planes to define the sizes of the doors. Maybe there's a shelf right here. You've got your drawer fronts. You've got your doors. You've got your hardware. I've got all of my different dimensions for the Toe Depth and for the size of the cabinet, both depth and width. So, I've put all of those parameters in here. I've kind of built everything in. If you're building for a particular manufacturer, you can even go into Family Types and you can start filling in Model and Manufacturer, and you know, Website Address.
I've got some formulas in here, so I can calculate the door width based on the overall width. You can assign materials. Just think about everything that you might want to build into this seed so that when you do a Save As you only have a few things to do to begin creating the actual family. So what I'm gonna do is go back to that Fixture family and I'm gonna close it. And the last thing I wanna show you is a little trick that we can do. It's sort of taking your seed family, and taking it one step further. So, you can actually take a family and in Windows Explorer, you can turn it into a Family Template.
Well, how do you do that? Well the first thing is you need to be able to see the extensions in Windows. So, I'm gonna go up here to my View Tab and check this box to turn on the File Extensions. And so this Fixture Family that I just created a moment ago has an rfa extension. So now I'm going to right click that and choose Rename and I'm gonna change that extension to rft. And of course, Windows will warn me. And I can say, Yes, I'm a professional, I know what I'm doing. So, I've now changed that into a Revit Family Template.
Now, how does that work? Let's go back to Revit, and I'm gonna close some of this stuff. No need to save any of these. And let's do New Family. Now, by default, it's gonna take me to the standard Family Templates folder. But, if I got out to my Desktop and look in that folder where I was just in, that Fixture Template is now showing up as a family template and when I click Open here, it is a perfectly valid Family Template. It came in as Family One. But, notice that all of the stuff that I created in that seed is here.
Now, the only caution I give you about doing this is, everything that you built into that seed is now permanent. What do I mean by that? I mean that you can't actually delete any of these elements, right? Do you see how those reference planes that I drew earlier, I can no longer delete. In fact the geometry that I drew earlier, I can no longer delete. Now, it's still flexible geometry. You can completely modify it. But you have to be sure that you always want this extrusion.
So, if you don't always want an extrusion in this family, then don't make it part of that rft. So, if you're absolutely convinced that everything that's in your seed needs to be part of the template, you can make it an rft and it soft of makes it permanent and you don't have to worry about somebody, you know, accidentally deleting it or messing up some of the logic that you built in. So, it's another way to do it. I always save a seed just in case. Because if you make a mistake, the only way to undo that mistake is to recreate the Family Template or the rft.
But, those are a couple different ways that you can create these starting families that will allow you to reuse your efforts as you're creating several similar families.
NOTE: The exercise files for this course can only be opened in the most recent version of Revit (Revit 2017).
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