Structured Data in Revit

Further to my post about Universal Shared Parameters, we were questioned about why we needed such very structured data in our authoring environment. Why couldn’t we use the limited IFC properties available for our parameter names, or make do with IFC parameters that have TEXT or LABEL datatypes, or indeed use the Shared Parameters provided by National BIM Library. The answer is that if you want to unlock the true power of the data in BIM, the data has to be much better structured than those schemas accommodate.

Example 1 – IFC4 properties

Here is an example of how IFC4 handles Reaction to Fire (Surface Spread of Flame):


This entire definition consists of a property name, a data type, and a description (in several languages). The crudeness of referring to a nebulous ‘national building code’ is a good example of a bad starting point.

  • Do we use BS or EN values?
  • EN values are in 3 parts: class, smoke, droplets. How are they handled?
  • Is this a limiting value, if so a max or a min?
  • Is this a manufacturer’s value? How does it relate to the limiting value?
  • Is this value certified, if so by which body?

It’s clear that if you really want to document Reaction to Fire of an element, you’re going to need a bunch of parameters, OR maybe fewer parameters from a schema that declares these criteria. Neither IFC nor NBL parameters are fit for this purpose.


Continue reading Structured Data in Revit

Universal Shared Parameters

This post began not so much as a blog piece, but more a means of contributing to a discussion that isn’t limited to 140 character chunks…. (fix it Twitter!). I’m happy to be corrected / contradicted using the comments section, or back over on Twitter @pumphousebim

There is currently a healthy discussion on Twitter about the best way to resolve the ‘Shared Parameter Problem’. Although this is Revit terminology (and I will largely use Revit terminology throughout this post), this is part of a broader BIM discussion.

The problem is this – there is no universal list of Shared Parameters for the construction industry, either in the UK or worldwide. People may try and tell you otherwise, usually people who aren’t day-to-day Revit users – believing that COBie or IFC or National BIM Library (NBL – a UK body) offer a solution to this. They don’t.

This matters because – without Universal Shared Parameters, BIM in Revit doesn’t work very well. Conflicting lists of Shared Parameters, used by conflicting object publishers, cause massive problems for users and BIM Managers, problems which are passed on to Contractors, Subcontractors and Clients

Continue reading Universal Shared Parameters


Tag Legend

I’m putting together a series of posts following the release of Revit 2018 and the update of the Revit Roadmap.

It focuses on the low level broken bits of Revit that haven’t been fixed for years on end, and the Factory continually ignores, as they focus more on adding niche cutting-edge functionality instead of helping the bread-and-butter firms that pay their subs and whose time is being wasted on workarounds and inefficiency.

These posts will be submitted on Revit Ideas. Look for the prefix UK19.



Revit’s Legends feature has been broken for many years, and despite countless wishlist posts and Revit Ideas submissions, the feature remains unfixed, off the roadmap, and fundamentally unusable.

Legends may not be a glamourous part of Revit development, but they represent an area that absorbs thousands of wasted hours in workarounds and inefficiency. It’s one big area of Revit that simply isn’t BIM at all, because we can’t leverage the I in the M! None of this can be solved by Dymamo or Third-Party solutions – they’re all just time-wasting workarounds.

Here are a dozen areas that need fixing:

Continue reading BROKEN REVIT: Legends

Case Study – Cladding Subcontractor BIM

We recently completed the Innovation Centre at Infinity Park in Derby, with Main Contractor GF Tomlinson. Built for Derby City Council and been christened the ‘iHub’, the building will open this summer. It was a Level 2 BIM project with the main ‘Tier 2’ subcontractors required to model their packages for federation with the ‘Tier 1’ models. This case study looks at how Varla (UK) modelled the complex cladding and roofing package.

The iHub Derby. Cladding curves on plan and elevation

The building is curved on plan as well as on elevation, which meant this was going to be a challenge even for an experienced modelling team. Varla turned to Jon Sheridan of e-DNA who they’d worked with previously on Zaha Hadid’s Glasgow Transport Museum.

Varla previously worked with Zaha Hadid

Jon had a lot of experience modelling for cladding fabrication using Rhino with Grasshopper, but modelling as part of the BIM process was new. The first question the design team had to answer was what format could we all work with – the obvious answer was IFC. The great thing about IFC is that it can be federated not just in review software (e.g. Navisworks or BIMsight), but can also be loaded into authoring packages such as Revit, which the design team were using.

The Varla subcontract package had a number of elements that all needed to be modelled:

  • Insulated carrier panels (used instead of an SFS system)
  • Rainscreen support system (Lingrid)
  • Aluminium Rainscreen cladding
  • Stainless steel shingle cladding
  • Topdeck roofing system

Jon modelled each of these elements separately in Rhino and provided separate IFCs to the design team. The model was further split between areas of the building. This meant the large model size could be broken up into discrete chunks which could be loaded, and more crucially unloaded, separately.

The IFC models were provided to the design team in discrete chunks

To generate the geometry in Rhino, Jon used the Grasshopper visual scripting package. This allows you to great scripted definitions of the desired geometry which are then generated in Rhino. Parameters such as cladding module, depth, profile and 3 dimensional paths can all be defined within the script, and can be iterated as required. Dynamo for Revit works in a similar way, but Jon believes the nurbs features of Rhino are superior for this type of work.

Grasshopper for Rhino is a lot like Dynamo for Revit – visual scripting
Cladding modelled in Rhino with Grasshopper and exported to IFC

To then turn Rhino models into IFC for the design team, Jon used plug-ins available from Geometry Gym, a blog/company run by John Mirtschin. ‘GG’ can turn the Rhino geometry into a series of lightweight extrusions in IFC format, and also supports data added to the geometry.


Once the design team received the IFC cladding models, our preferred federation approach was to link the IFC files directly into Revit. Our process is more one of coordination than clash detection, and the automated clash tools of applications like Navisworks can be more of a hindrance than a help. Using the hundreds of saved views, sections, and section boxes already set up in Revit, we were able to check for alignment, clashes, errors and comment on module arrangement options very easily.

The size of the subcontract models means they couldn’t all be loaded at the same time, with current computing power, but this was a valuable exercise in getting subcontract design models into the BIM workflow processes.

You can find more example of Jon’s work in BIM, industrial design, automotive design and even yacht design, over at his website

The Employer’s Agent and Project Manager was Turner & Townsend
The client-side architect and author of the EIRs was Bond Bryan Architects

Franklin Ellis Architects, 2016


Make a Task Information Delivery Plan (TIDP) in Revit

Task Information Delivery Plan made in Revit
Part of a Task Information Delivery Plan made in Revit

Rob Jackson over at Bond Bryan’s BIM Blog published a useful post earlier, about how to produce your TIDP inside ArchiCAD. I’ve shamelessly repurposed Rob’s hard work and done the same inside Revit.

What’s a TIDP?

Ah, that’s another one of those BIM acronyms for something we’ve been doing for years anyway – it’s a kind of Information Release Schedule: a list of all your drawings (and other documents) and the dates you’ll release them. You’ll find the requirements in your BIM Execution Plan (BEP) if you’re following PAS1192-2.

Revit Sheet Lists

Revit’s Sheet Lists are like the drawing registers of old, they’re a list of all your ‘drawings’. Whenever you add a new Sheet in a Revit file, it gets added to the Sheet List. These are great, but note that Revit doesn’t produce Issue Sheets or Transmittals (without a lot of hacking). You can turn a Sheet List into a TIDP though, just by adding a few Shared Parameters.

Adding Shared Parameters

If you’re following BS1192 document naming, you’ve probably already worked out that you need to add a Shared Parameter (SP) for each of the 7 fields which make up the file identifier. You need an SP, added to the Sheets category, for Volume and Level for instance. You’ll also need an SP added to the Project Information category for Originator and Project Acronym. All of these SPs and their data can be added to your Sheet List, and to your Title Block as below. (Ours is slightly customised to allow us to use our internal project numbers, which is fine as long as you write it into your BEP).

Title Block

To make a TIDP, you’ll need several more Shared Parameters. Add one for Exchange Format, and add one for each date column you want in the TIDP, called Delivery Date Milestone 1, Delivery Date Milestone 2 etc. Put those SPs on your Sheet List and you can enter your release dates right on the TIDP. The milestones are typically the new RIBA workstages (0-6, you won’t need 7).


You can make Placeholder Sheets in Revit, which is something you’ll want to make use of. You prepare your TIDP at the start of a job, when the Sheets don’t actually exist. Just go to your Sheet List or TIDP, and Insert Data Row to make a Placeholder Sheet. When you come to need the Sheet further down the line, just choose the Placeholder Sheet from the list in the New Sheet dialog.

Is Revit the No.1* BIM** Platform?

Yesterday I published our ‘LandCADD for Revit’ manifesto and casually mentioned that Revit is the leading BIM platform. OK, OK, I said it was the no. 1 platform ‘by a long way’…  

Rob Jackson (Bond Bryan), who I have a lot of respect for, called me out on this. It happens that Rob’s practice use ArchiCAD as their main BIM platform, but it’s their Open BIM evangelism that they’re known for. Rob asked me to justify my claim about Revit, so here goes:


Continue reading Is Revit the No.1* BIM** Platform?

LandCADD or Keyscape for Revit?

Planting Plan extract
An extract from a Revit planting plan created using the Areas tool (a bit of a hack…)

We learned recently that UK-based Keysoft Solutions has purchased LANDCADD from developer Eagle Point. LANDCADD is a landscape software package largely based around AutoCAD, but which also (until recently) had some limited Revit integration. We reached out to the new owners to ask about future Revit integration, and got a positive response. They responded by asking what we’d like to see in any future Revit version, so this post is our manifesto.

The TL;DR version is this:
Revit needs some Softscape tools, some Hardscape tools, and every Landscape designer needs a great Plants Database!

UPDATE, June 2016:

Keysoft have now merged Keyscape with LandCADD to become ‘Keyscape LandCADD’, but it’s AutoCAD only, and they have ‘no plans’ to bring it to Revit.

Check out CS Artisan RV instead, for a Revit-based landscape application.

Continue reading LandCADD or Keyscape for Revit?

Autodesk I Love 3D Meetup


Each year after Autodesk University the company start on a tour of all their developer communities around the world. In recent years Autodesk have encouraged users, not just developers, to attend and also this year organised an evening Meetup event on Tuesday 9 December, the day before the main developer event in Farnborough.

Organised via the website events are defined as, “…getting together to learn something, do something, share something…” and this reflects Autodesk’s idea of an open event with, a limited pre-planned agenda, at which to share technology that spans the Maker hobbyist community to professional design and simulation software.

Continue reading Autodesk I Love 3D Meetup