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					Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates:
Keys to Efficiency
Robert Manna – Burt Hill
David Spehar AIA – Burt Hill


AB314-4

This course will focus on how a firm can improve team and project performance by developing a solid
project template. A well developed template and source files can help your teams be more efficient and
improve quality control and accuracy. Developing a good Revit template involves not only graphics
standards but also “practice” standards or “best practices”. This course will also summarize and present
the discussion results of the AU Unplugged Session: “What Makes a Good Autodesk® Revit® Project
Template”




About the Speaker:
Robert graduated from RPI in 2003. He is currently working for Burt Hill as an intern architect and BIM
implementer. He has helped to lead Burt Hill’s adoption of Autodesk® Revit® traveling throughout the
firm’s offices offering training, support and project specific assistance. He has been a key team member
on several large projects and has assisted and offered advice to numerous others.


Robert can be contacted at his work e-mail address: robert.manna@burthill.com
                                                                     Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




Table of Contents:
Starting a Project Template .......................................................................................................4
   What does it mean to standardize Revit? ................................................................................................. 4
   To start a Revit template, there are two choices:...................................................................................... 5
What Next!? .................................................................................................................................6
   Keep it clean.............................................................................................................................................. 6
   Be Consistent! ........................................................................................................................................... 7
   Find Your origin. ........................................................................................................................................ 7
Project Browser ..........................................................................................................................7
Project Settings...........................................................................................................................8
   Fonts ......................................................................................................................................................... 8
   Keynotes ................................................................................................................................................... 8
   Site Settings .............................................................................................................................................. 9
   Project Parameters.................................................................................................................................... 9
   Line Patterns ........................................................................................................................................... 10
   Line Styles............................................................................................................................................... 10
   Object Styles ........................................................................................................................................... 12
   Sun & Shadow Settings .......................................................................................................................... 13
   Phases .................................................................................................................................................... 13
   Materials, Patterns, Filled Regions ......................................................................................................... 14
   Color Schemes........................................................................................................................................ 14
Views..........................................................................................................................................15
   View Types.............................................................................................................................................. 16
   View Filters.............................................................................................................................................. 18
   View Templates....................................................................................................................................... 18
   Legends................................................................................................................................................... 20
   Viewports (View tags) ............................................................................................................................. 20
   Schedules................................................................................................................................................ 21
Stuff We Never worried about Changing (but you might) .....................................................22
Families......................................................................................................................................22
   System Families ...................................................................................................................................... 22
   Families you need to load: ...................................................................................................................... 24
   Annotations ............................................................................................................................................. 25


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                                                                   Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




   Model Families ........................................................................................................................................ 26
   Detail Families......................................................................................................................................... 26
Wrapping Up a Template..........................................................................................................27
   Create Some Stuff................................................................................................................................... 27
   Leave Some defaults!!!!! ......................................................................................................................... 27
   Tracking your features, changes and updates........................................................................................ 27
   Upgrading................................................................................................................................................ 28
Source Files...............................................................................................................................28




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                                                    Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




Starting a Project Template
A few of basic truths about "standards" (of which templates are a type):

         1. If the "standard" is "built-in" and does not require additional thought or consideration by the
            user, they'll use it.
         2. If the "standard" makes the task easier for the user, they'll use the standard (but the user has
            to be able to understand the value proposition of the standard).
         3. If the "standard" requires additional effort, thinking or consideration by the user, they probably
            will not use it (unless there is a greater value proposition that the user can see)
         4. Most people want to do their jobs, and then do something else.
         5. "Systems" that are obvious, straight forward, and easy to understand will lead to greater and
            better adoption of the standard the system is meant to support.

What does it mean to standardize Revit?
What is a Revit project template, what is it not?
CAD standards were "mostly" concerned with two things:

      1. Is the geometry on the right layer?
      2. Are the correct blocks set-up and being used?

Behind those two goals, was a great deal of work and effort that went into maintaining and achieving
those two simple functions. Having objects on the right layer meant they printed correctly, displayed
correctly, it even meant that tools could be used that simulated some of the same functions that Revit and
other BIM tools inherently achieve. Using the correct blocks was a part of this ecosystem and helped to
meet the goal of well done, well organized drawing set.

On the other hand, Revit by its nature takes care of many of the things that required a great deal of effort
to standardize in CAD. Most important to understand when building a Project Template is how Revit's
ecology of Families and Types carries into everything Revit. From your text and annotations to views, the
hierarchy of Categories, Families, Types and Instances makes it much easier to establish systems which
can easily be adapted and leveraged by your users to accomplish their primary task(s) (designing,
documenting or constructing buildings). User's who are familiar with the Revit hierarchy will find it very
easy to use what you provide them, and adapt it as needed to meet project specific needs, while
maintaining the "company standard".


A couple of notes about this handout.


  •     I tried to make lists often, to make it easy and straight forward to find information.
  •     I wrote paragraphs when trying to explain a concept
  •     If you see text in Italics then most of the time I'm offering what I would consider to be the "voice of experience"
        (i.e. my opinion) versus what I would consider to be facts or accepted best practices within the greater Revit
        community
  •     If you see bold text then I thought it was really important, either in the context of a heading, or in-line with
        other text.




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                                               Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




To start a Revit template, there are two choices:




        1. Start with an existing template.
        2. Start from "scratch" (select "None")

1) Starting from an existing template
    •   You don't quite know what you're getting (unless you made the source template/project yourself).
    •   You get a fair number of objects, settings and families configured without additional effort.
    •   You may not realize what you can manipulate (and what you can't).

2) Starting from Scratch
    •   You quickly realize just how much can (and needs to) be customized in a Project Template.
    •   You have complete control; there are some basics that come with it, but anything that is added is
        your fault responsibility.
    •   It starts with a simple question:




If you're serious about building a solid project template, then you should seriously start from scratch. It’s
the best way to assure that what you get is what you want. When you find something is either "wrong",
incomplete, or not working the way you want it to, you have only yourself to look to. You know that you
can "fix" it, or change it, without wondering "where did that come from?" or "can I change that, should I?”

If you find that you're in need of templates for more then one system of measurement, or more then one
global region, then likely you're going to want to build more then one template. If you want them to closely

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                                               Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




match (as much as regional differences in practice allow) then developing them in parallel is probably
your best bet. If you go to use Transfer Project standards, or insert views, you will need to keep your eye
on units in particular. If the same users are not likely to be switching between systems of measurement,
then it is perhaps not as critical to have your templates match.

    Tips for dealing with multiple units:

        •   Use one set of names for everything (annotations, views, text, etc) varies the settings as
            needed. Ex: instead of 1/4" Aerial Text, just call it Medium Aerial Text, Small, etc.
        •   Annotations should be in the native dimensional format, keep two sets of families in two
            different folders with similar or identical names - pre-load them into the template.
        •   Apply the same standards (naming, organization, shared parameters) to the same objects
            (walls, ceilings) in each template with customized dimensions to match the region/area/unit
            system.

What Next!?
Ask yourself a few more questions (you already answered one):
        What is the intent of your project template?
        What phase of work is it going to be used for Conceptual Design, Schematic Design
        Development, etc? Once a model is started, will it persist, or it will it be rebuilt?
        Do you need it for a specific discipline, virtual construction, a specific building type or market
        sector?
        Who are the users who will be using the template, what is their proficiency with Revit?
        How often are new projects started?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you to design a template that best meets your user’s
needs. Filling your template with preloaded families and assemblies, that are specific may make your
users more efficient, in a different situation, all those preloaded families may just slow your users down.

Keep it clean.

                                            First off, treat your new template like Holy Ground. Try very
                                            hard not to do anything to defile, blemish, or bring pain and
                                            suffering to it. Make sure that anyone who has access to the
                                            template has been indoctrinated into the "cause" and that if
                                            they break this sacred rule, they will surely burn in the depths
                                            of Revit hell. To keep this golden rule, do something very, very
                                            simple, do not import or insert anything directly into the
                                            template that you did not directly create yourself in Revit, or
                                            otherwise know its provenance.

                                            My suggestion, keep (or make as needed) another "blank file"
                                            to use to import items into and "filter" them as needed.

                                            One of the biggest offenders to the cause is anything with roots
                                            in DWG/DXF/DGN files. Unfortunately these file types have the
                                            nasty habit of inserting a great deal of junk into the tab
                                            "Imported Objects" under Object Styles. If CAD information is

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                                                          Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




actually imported (not linked) into a Revit project file, these additional categories under "Imported Objects"
can never be purged. Families should also go through a scrubbing process as they cannot be fully
cleaned either.

Families derived in some way from CAD data are the next biggest offenders after directly importing or
linking CAD files into Revit projects/templates. This is why nothing should be inserted without first
checking it, as you never know when your family might let you down.

                                        Other places to watch out for blasphemous CAD infiltrators are:
                                             •    Line Styles
                                             •    Filled Regions
                                             •    Line Patterns

                                        Be Consistent!
                                             •    If Revit has a name for an object, a family, a setting, a parameter
                                                  then use that name when you create new stuff. This will lead to
                                                  less confusion overall, and emphasize the correct vocabulary.
                                             •    Establish conventions - specific suggestions to follow,
                                                  but develop naming systems, and stick to them!

Find Your origin.
This has become less of an issue now that there is the Base and Survey point. However you
may consider putting a group of model lines at the origin (we even created a custom line type)
and pinning the group. If you're still using pre 2010, the quick way to Origin (any Stargate
fans?) is to link a CAD file "Origin to Origin" with the origin in the CAD file marked with a
couple of lines.

Project Browser
Several approaches can be taken to how the browser is organized:
       •    Some people choose to add custom parameters to views
            and sheets to allow various sorting options of the browser.
       •    Some people use naming conventions to distinguish
            between what types of view there are. Naming Conventions
            really are not optional (see the section on Views)


       If you decide to use the custom parameter route (our preferred
       method), if you make a mistake, remember to clean the mistake
       up in your View Templates, and not just your Views.1



1
    Steve Stafford "Revit OpEd": http://revitoped.blogspot.com/2009/10/dept-of-subtle-cant-get-rid-of.html




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                                              Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




Organizing, and providing methods of organization for the Project Browser is an important step to making
it a crucial Project Management tool. You should pre-create filters for the View & Sheet browsers that
make it easy for a "Project Manager", "Project Architect" or "Lead Modeler" (feel free to substitute your
own vocabulary/job descriptions) to understand what is going on in the model.
         Our PA's and LM's have found it incredibly helpful to toggle between a custom filter that shows all
         views, and one that shows only views that have not be placed on sheets. Since we differentiate
         "Documentation" views from other types of views (by way of a custom parameter), it becomes
         very easy to know how the document set is progressing, and if anything has been "left off". Of
         course this only works if your teams also cartoon their sets in advance....

Project Settings
Fonts
Font's are not really a project setting per se (would be handy right!), but because they show up
everywhere this seemed to be the best place. Fonts need to be fixed everywhere (unless you really like
Aerial):

     •     Text Types
     •     Dimension Styles
     •     Coordinate families
     •     Built in annotations (contour labels)
     •     Schedules
     •     Color Scheme Legends
     •     Annotation Families.... (tags, annotations, grid bubbles, level heads)

    To get to certain items (such as; contour labels, spot slope, grids and levels) you need to activate the
    tool, making the "type properties" accessible.

Keynotes




Keynotes are a project setting, so if your firm uses keynotes at all, you should consider setting up a path
to your default file.
         At Burt Hill we have a default keynote file that has been greatly simplified from what comes with
         Revit. However that file has also been write protected, so therefore, projects need to make their
         own "project copies" to customize as needed.
If your firm does work almost entirely in a single market sector, or has repeat clients you may also
consider setting up keynote files for those sectors or clients. If you work in a network environment with



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                                                  Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




multiple users you will likely also want to set the "path type" for the file location to be absolute, that way
Revit will always look for the exact path to the file location.

Site Settings
Take a moment to visit this dialog, and assign a section cut material, and set the units for Property data.
  Our approach was to create our general Burt Hill template, then create a specific "site" template for
  creating site files that aggregate multiple building files together. The site template has had a great deal
  of "stuff" purged out, and many settings modified to better reflect the tasks and scale of work to be
  done in a "site" file. For instance:

        •     Levels named to be "Sea Level" & "First Floor Finish Floor"
        •     Setting default view scales to larger sizes.
        •     Changing default project units to reflect typical Civil Engineering Units
        •     Adding a Cut/Fill schedule
        •     Creating dimension types useful for large drawings (unit overrides & text size).
        •     Pad types, including "gravel"

Project Parameters




Project parameters are an essential tool to help your teams more effectively leverage the model they're
working so hard to build. It is easy to quickly end up with numerous parameters, particularly if users add
their own as needed for specific projects. To help keep things organized, you might consider naming
parameters first with the "Category" to which they belong,
e.g.: Room Occupancy. Information that you may consider
tracking with your own parameters:

    •       UL Number (walls, ceilings, floors, roofs)
    •       STC rating
    •       View Classification
    •       Various parameters to identify and organize and sort
            sheets by Package(s)/Submission(s)
    •       Contractor Furnished/Contractor Installed, Owner
            Furnished/Owner Installed
    •       Code related information
    •       Single "Fire Rating" parameter assigned to; walls,
            ceilings, floors, roofs
    •       Door/Window related parameters
    •       LEED info: recycled content, glazing ratios, qualified
            spaces, flush rates, etc.



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                                                Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




It is obviously useful to have many of these parameters as shared parameters so that they can be
included in tags, titleblocks and or families as necessary. While it can be endlessly debated on how to
keep shared parameters organized, one solution is to have a "Project Parameters" shared parameter file
that lives in the same place as the Project Template. For specific items like doors, you might create a
shared parameters file that lives in the library with those objects, making it easy to access for advanced
users on an as needed basis (read only of course).

Line Patterns
Here Revit does a good job of getting you started, but likely you're going to need to customize. You may
consider adding multiple "scales" of styles, and additional styles to suite your practice's needs. Here's a
snapshot of a portion of ours:




                 Note the multiple scales for the "Dot" pattern, and patterns for "Fire Rating". Also note the
                 consistency in naming. Watch out for CAD infiltration here!!!

Line Styles
Getting this right will have a big payoff. It will be easy for your users to create documents that are
consistent with previous graphic standards. Revit's detailing tools will be a breeze, and everything will just
"flow". Revit starts you out with "Wide, Medium and Thin". While it may be possible to draw with only
three line weights, having a few more, and some variety will probably make it much, much easier for your
users.

While in this dialog, you should also take time to adjust the line weights of Revit's default/built-in Line
Styles, these line styles are always bracketed with "<...>". In particular, pay attention to the settings for
<Beyond> and <Demolished>.




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                                      Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




Our approach was to recreate a scheme similar to CAD but also borrowed from Revit's default
behavior. We created line styles numbered 1-7, named this way:

        (3) Medium Lines


this means that modifiers can be attached, such as:

        (5) Wide Lines - Dashed


The parenthesis sorts everything to the top of the Type Selector (very handy) and the numbers
keep everything in order they are also a quick reference with regards to line thickness. In addition
these line styles were added to our detail and annotation templates, making it even easier for our
users.




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                                              Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




Object Styles
The defaults are ok; you can make them better (honest). Some time spent with adjusting Object Styles,
printing and comparing views of a model to existing document sets from other software packages is time
well spent. However, object styles only get you so far. View Templates will take you the rest of the way.

Items you should probably make sure to customize:

        Modeling Objects tab:

                   •   Curtain Wall related categories
                   •   Doors (including subcategories) - it’s always a good idea to set a "simple glass"
                       material as your default material for the "glass" subcategory.
                   •   Furniture/Furniture Systems
                   •   Specialty Equipment
                   •   Walls
                   •   Windows (including subcategories) - it’s always a good idea to set a "simple glass"
                       material as your default material for the "glass" subcategory.

        Annotation Objects tab:

                   •   Callout boundary - make sure you have the line style and weight you want.
                   •   Plan regions - make them an annoying shade of green, or purple, something, and
                       a nice line-weight. They should never be turned on in views going out of house, so
                       making them visible, will help make sure that doesn't happen.
                   •   Matchline - the default is not so great!
                   •   Revision Tags
                   •   Various tags/annotations - you may want to consider a heavier line thickness.
                   •   Reference Planes


        You may want to avoid assigning line weight (1) to objects, this is the lineweight used by patterns,
        reserving its use will help object's profiles to standout compared to the hatch patterns (surface or
        cut).




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                                              Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




Sun & Shadow Settings




You may want to consider creating some presets for different times of year or day (depending on what
you do). At the very least some presets for the Equinoxes and Solstices would get your users started
(starting in 2010 Autodesk has started to add some additional defaults). Since "place" is separate, there is
no fear of locking your users into a single geographical location.

Phases
Phasing needs some help. The defaults are usually not quite good enough. Things to consider:

    •   Leave just one phase in the Template; "New Construction" or "Phase 1". If users have existing
        construction, they can start with the default phase, and add more as needed.
    •   If you decide to keep two phases (like the default Autodesk template) teach your users that if they
        have extensive existing conditions, start the model, and start by modeling existing conditions in
        the available views. Users can create new views which will default to the “New Construction
        Phase”. Once existing conditions are well underway delete the “Existing Conditions” phase and
        add future phases as required.
    •   Add a few more filters:
           o ”Show Complete" - shows existing and new by category, hides demolition and temporary
           o "Show Current" (or active, whatever you want to call it) - a phase filter that hides
                everything except elements created in the phase the view is set to.




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                                                  Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




Materials, Patterns, Filled Regions
Organize your materials, out of the box Revit's materials library organization is slightly schizophrenic.
There are a couple of approaches you can take to bring some order to the chaos:

      •    By Type: each material name is prefixed with a type descriptor, ex: Metal, Paint, Carpet, Wood,
           etc.2
      •    By use: each material is prefixed with a description of use, ex: cladding, interior finish, exterior
           finish, structure, etc.
      •    Alphabetical: material names have no prefixes.
      •    By CSI (or other) division: each material name is prefixed with the appropriate CSI, Uniformat,
           Omniclass, etc, code or descriptor.

Most materials should have need patterns assigned to their Cut and/or Surface settings. If you do not at a
minimum provide your users with all the typical architectural graphic patterns (assigned to materials), then
you're more likely to end up with inconsistent graphics. Having something like patterns in the model from
the beginning means the first person to go looking, will find what they need, so will the second and third....
           You may want to create a simple generic family that can be used to assign and display materials
           to be used in the project. This has the added benefit of being able to schedule the materials
           (whether or not they're actually assigned to objects (paint for instance), while also giving users a
           visual reference in a specific view (you can consider the view to be a "materials legend") to see
           what materials are to be used/assigned. The objects can be tagged to indicate the proper code to
           be used for calling out the material(s).3

Filled Regions
While talking about materials, we may also want to consider Filled Regions. While technically part of
detailing, they are project template based and not an external family (so this is as good as any of a
place). Region types should be defined that match all you typical materials, and should be set to use the
same patterns as your materials, this will help assure consistency in your graphics and improve usability.
You may also consider filled regions with a range of solid colors, and regions with several different scales
of the typical diagonal and crosshatch patterns.

Color Schemes4
These are not technically under project settings, but
one might still think of them as "Project Settings" since
they are project wide. Take some time to pre-set some
schemes. If you're work is focused in a few particular
market sectors it may be worth it to "pre-define" some
full schemes. That is populate a scheme (for instance
color by Department) with all the typical department

2
    courtesy of WATG

3
    courtesy of WATG

4
    courtesy of WATG



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                                              Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




"Types" that are used in your work, assign some attractive colors (since the machine processing tends to
fail miserably at this task), and your teams will already have a workflow advantage.


        Another good technique is to create a color by area scheme, that colors all areas "greater then
        zero" with a single color. If this is made the default scheme, users will automatically get colored
        floor plans with some simple shading for all the rooms. Once again, assign a neutral attractive
        color, and presentation ready floor plans are only a few clicks away for your teams.

Views
Views are an enormous topic in Revit, no matter what you're discussing. For instance:

    1. What views/sheets should be created by default?
       If you create too many, or the wrong ones, your users will just delete them the first time they
       create a new project.
    2. Do you create views for multiple phases?
    3. Do you create one sheet for each series, or multiple sheets within each series?
    4. What View Types should you create?
    5. Which legends?
    6. Which schedules?

        The list goes on....

View Naming conventions are not optional;

    1. No two views in Revit can have the same name.
    2. Even small projects create many views.

    Therefore, give your users something to work with. Even if you create only a few views in your
    template use a system to name them. If you're not going to have many views to start, create a
    drafting view that documents the naming convention(s) for various views and view types.

Don't think of views as just a means for documenting the building. Views can be useful to convey
information to the team, or provide instructions for users when they start a new project. Think of these
views as "Management Views" or "Information Views".




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                                                 Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




Several Examples of these types of views:

    •   Bulletin Board - provide updates on changes in the file, critical information for team members.
    •   SWC View - view that users should have open when then Synchronize With Central, to reduce
        overhead on computer performance.
    •   Template Instructions - provide an introduction and instructions on the uses of the templates and
        "features" that have been included
    •   Company Standards - document approved company standards for example; Sheet Numbering &
        Naming Conventions, partition types, door families, casework, etc.




                        Image Courtesy of Craig Barbieri and his blog iRevit


View Types
Creating custom view types can help your teams more effectively manage and organize their projects.
Different view types can be one of your steps in how the project browser is organized. Organizing by View
Type will make it easy to do tasks like apply View Templates, check to make sure the correct drawings
are on sheets and exporting and printing the correct information for consultants and clients.




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                                              Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




Types to consider:

   •   Coordination/MEP Section - used for setting
       up sections to be exported as backgrounds
       for consultants (usually MEP engineers).
   •   Modeling Section - views used by the team
       for the purpose of developing and managing
       the model.
   •   Exterior Elevation
   •   Interior Elevation
   •   Modeling Elevation - elevations used by the
       team for the purpose of developing and
       managing the model.
   •   Information Views (2D) – drafting views which
       convey primarily text information either about
       the project or model. Anything that is not a
       true "detail".
   •   Detail Views (2D) – drafted details of any
       type (that are obviously divorced from the
       model).
   •   Other Types....? – depending on market
       sector or project type you might want to add
       elevation or section types for: Bathrooms,
       Labs, Classrooms, Presentation, etc. If you
       are going to have a great many of something,
       it might be worth having its own type.

                     While the available behavior is somewhat limited it is also possible to create custom
                     section heads to help differentiate views that belong on Sheets from views that have
                     been added for other reasons. These custom heads don't need to be pretty, and they
                     don't need to be perfect, as they should never show up printed on a sheet in the first
                     place.
                     We always use the "round" elevation marker for our elevations that go on sheets.
                     Therefore we assigned the "square" elevation marker to our Modeling Elevations, a
                     quick an easy way for our users to differentiate the two.

                     Adoption of these practices will make it much easier for teams to identify views in the
                     model visually. Thus as a project advances, the general rule can be "If the view has
                     no call out references (sheet and number), and it is not a Coordination or Modeling
                     view, then the view can be safely removed from the model. Views created for sheets,
                     belong on sheets, views for modeling should be identified as such, etc. If a user
                     "looses" work because a model was cleaned up, then the user has no one to blame
                     but themselves.




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                                                Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




View Filters
I like to tell people View Filters are the graphical version
of what you can do in schedules (which, at a very basic
level is true), however this also requires the user to fully
understand how filters in a schedule work. Filters can also
be thought of to be conditional formatting for graphics
(which is similar to conditional formatting in Excel). We
have found it quite useful to include some default View
Filters for our teams. For instance "Fire Rating" filters,
which color walls, floors and doors according to their
given fire rating. This makes it very easy to do two things,
check the assemblies that are being used in the model,
and two, it’s very easy to generate a Life Safety/Code
Review plan (assuming that color is acceptable).

Due to the type of work we do, we've also found it helpful
to have filters that can show Furniture & Specialty
Equipment with different graphics based on if they are
identified as "Owner Installed" or "Contractor Installed",
etc. These filters are based on the Project Parameters
we've also added. Using filters in this way is much more
effective then building the graphic intelligence into the
family itself.

        Did you know? - Levels & Grids are also
        available to be used in filters, which can be handy
        on projects with a larger number of levels or
        phasing. You can create filters that will filter out
        levels or grids that belong to a previous (or future) phase.

2010 added one very important and very useful change to View Filter behavior, access to Elevations &
Sections in the category list. This means it is possible to create filters that can be used to turn off "Interior
Elevations" for instance, or hide sections/elevations at a scale larger or smaller then a specific scale.
Watch out though, as the elevation circles/squares may stick around even when the actual view is filtered
out.

View Templates
View templates are one of the most useful features that can help get your teams started with views that
have graphics that meet your firm's requirements. At a minimum you should set-up View Templates for
the typical views that would be used in your drawing sets initially, for example: Typical Floor Plans,
Building Sections, Wall Section, Elevation(s), Detail(s), etc.

If you combine View Templates and View Filters you can make it easy for your teams to begin to set-up
and configure more complicated views such as; Code Review/Life Safety plans that color construction
systems based on fire ratings, Furniture and Equipment plans that indicate responsible parties, views that
need to highlight particular types of elements or system (for instance elevations with windows & doors
turned off to show rough openings). This combination of Filters and Templates is particularly powerful and
important for MEP users, the ability to color code duct, pipes (and maybe someday more) by their system
and usage makes it much easier to work and coordinate different disciplines in Revit.

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                                                          Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




With the addition of the Include setting "granularity" in View Templates you can begin to consider or think
about View Templates as macros for automating procedures, not just something that manipulates
settings. For instance you could create Templates that clear all applied filters, or templates meant to
"reset" a view to “default” settings, these types of Templates can be particularly useful for modeling views
that users may be constantly manipulating in order to work on the model.




Some users promote the use of View Templates in concert
with what they refer to as "additive views.”5 That is a view
template is assigned to all view types that turns most
categories off by default when a new view is created. Starting
from this approach users are encouraged to create new view
templates as needed based on how they set views and by
using the "use on views of same type."

Watch Out!! - The option "Use on Views of Same Type" can
be deceptive at best. This setting applies to all views of a
particular type in terms of; Floor Plan, Reflected Ceiling Plan,
Sections and Elevations. It does not allow for the assignment
of separate view templates to different "types" within a View
Type, that is to say you cannot assign a Building Section view
template to a Building Section view type and Wall Section
template to a Wall Section type, for example there can be only
one View Template assigned to all sections, regardless of any
types you may have created.


5
    David Duarte: Revit Beginners “http://revitbeginners.blogspot.com/2009/08/additive-views-vs-subtractive-views.html "



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                                               Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




However, you can teach your users to correctly assign the "Default View Template" to each view as they
create new views. If users learn this habit, view templates can become a valuable management tool for
controlling the appearance of the model. Taking the time to set the default template is easy, and can be
done while the user also names the view, and modifies any other important properties.

Legends
Legends are useful views, but they cannot be moved between projects the same way that drafting views
or even 2D elements in 3D views can be. Therefore you are left with the decision; how many legends do I
create, which leads to the question how many families do I pre-load to create some part of (or all) of those
legends?

Legends you might consider:

    •   Standard Symbols and View Callouts
    •   Fire Rating symbology
    •   Ceiling Types - Presumably you've create materials for you typical ceilings, and also filled
        regions, start your projects off then with a default RCP legend (if you create a Ceiling Sheet you
        can even throw it on there too). In addition you can create Ceiling Types that match the legend
        (see Families)
    •   Finish Floor Types - similar to ceilings, assuming you have finish floor types pre-created, a legend
        would be handy.
    •   Door frames and door panels - this requires you to preload some door families, however it is
        probably worth it. There are some doors that almost always are used in every project. Starting a
        door/panel legend will make it easy for teams to adopt and adapt the legend(s) to their needs.
    •   Depending on your market sector or practice you may also consider pre-created/started legends
        for:
             o windows
             o casework
             o specialty equipment
             o accessories

        keep in mind, these legends would require the families to be loaded too

Viewports (View tags)
Viewports are system families to which View Titles (annotation families) are attached (similar to attaching
section heads to Sections types). Thus you have a fair degree of freedom when it comes to what you
want, and how you want it, but not unlimited freedom in creating viewports and view title behavior.

If you start with a blank template there will automatically be a single View tag (since it is a system family).
You must "Adopt" (rename & modify) this default type. In fact, you should make it into the Type that you
expect your users to use most often (or the type you want them to use most often) as it will always be the
"default" type when a user adds a view to a sheet. It is also impossible to delete this type (even with
Purge).




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                                             Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




At a minimum you should create a type with your standard View reference information. You may also
want to create:

    •   A type with no annotation at all (useful for presentation boards or other view "tricks")
    •   Another that says "N.T.S." (Not To Scale) or some such (because you really can draw views not
        to scale in Revit, I promise...).
    •   A type without a number that can be used in conjunction with Legends (as they can never be
        numbered on a sheet).

                                                             In addition you may want to create alternate
                                                             variants to your standard tag. This is due to
                                                             how Revit handles text in (all) tags. Text in a
                                                             tag will only wrap based on the size of the
                                                             text box in the annotation family. Thus, when
                                                             you have a small (size) view with a long
                                                             name, you probably want it to wrap to two
                                                             lines of text. In order to do that in Revit you'll
                                                             need a custom annotation that has a smaller
                                                             text box. Same thing for very large views
                                                             with very long names, you'll need a tag with
                                                             an extra large text box.

Lastly you may want to consider some alternate types to be used on Presentation sheets/boards versus
standard construction documents, and or some types with different size text for different circumstances.
        I have two motives for recommending this approach; it hopefully makes it easy for your users, but
        it also reveals to them the possibilities of what can be done, particularly in a case where often
        times people may take the "basic" presets for granted. Offer them a menu, and they might ask,
        "what else can the chef make?”

Schedules
Are unique views, in some ways
similar to Legends, however they can
be easily moved project to project with
"Insert View from File". In the same
way that it is a good idea to have
different classifications of views for modeling, exporting, etc. it is a good idea to have schedules for
"modeling" and schedules that are part of your documentation. The universal schedule that almost all
architects need is a door schedule, it also tends to be one of the more complicated, so set your users on
the right path by pre-defining a door schedule for them.
                                              We've also found it useful to include a door schedule for
                                              modeling, as well as a room schedule for modeling. In
                                              addition we provide "example" schedules of Furniture and
                                              Specialty Equipment, with the idea that teams need to
                                              make them their "own" once a project starts.




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                                              Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




If you know that your work requires specific types of schedules, or there are schedules that help to make
navigating your models easier, you should strongly consider including them as your template. Teach your
users to use schedules, which combine Filters, Sorting and "Itemize Every Instance" as a powerful tool to
navigate the model, and make mass changes to element “sets” and their properties.

Stuff We Never worried about Changing (but you might)

    •   Structural Settings - not much there, but if it’s important to you (note, as of 10/28/09 Arch users
        with WU2 cannot access these settings).
    •   Detail Level - suffice is to say we're happy with the default view scale relationship to default Level
        of Detail
    •   Line Weights - we found it more important to make sure Object Styles were set correctly and
        View Templates
    •   Default Location - conveniently the Latitude and Longitude define a location outside of Boston
        (hmmmm). Unless you're in the Boston area, you may want to consider a location closer to home,
        particularly if you practice more regionally.

Families
What families should you load? Which ones do you need to load? Where do you start, it’s so empty.......


                                                                Traditionally (prior to the "Recent Files"
                                                                screen) everyone worked hard to have a
                                                                good template that was "light" in terms of
                                                                overall size. With Revit no longer loading
                                                                the template every time it starts, a little
                                                                more freedom can be taken with regards to
                                                                size.
                                                                One approach to consider is the 80/20 rule,
                                                                that is, you need 20% of your content 80%
                                                                of the time. The trick of course is figuring
                                                                out what constitutes 20% of your necessary
                                                                content.

System Families
There are Model object system families, such as walls, floors, ceilings, etc, and there are Annotation
object system families such as grid lines, viewports or contour labels. Some system annotation families
leverage loaded families, like grid bubbles, or Viewport tags, and some model system families make use
of loaded families such as profiles, fittings, accessories and panels.



        Model Families
        Model system families are similar to Views, most projects will require quite a number of them, and
        unless your work is confined to a very tight or “simple” market then it is likely not possible to pre-



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                                      Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




define all the types a project will need. Therefore creating an a-la-carte menu of types that set
precedents is a great way to get a project team started.

        We've found it useful to include three "types" of families for users to pick from:

         1. Generic - truly a generic assembly, a default or generic material is assigned to a
            single layer (in the case of floors/walls/ceilings/roofs) assembly. Assembly sizes
            vary depending on the type of construction; exterior sizes are set to nominal
            dimensions, while interior constructions are named with nominal dimensions, but set
            to exact construction sizes.
         2. Named Assembly Type - for instance "Finish - Ceramic Tile 12x12 (CT-1) -
            VERIFY ASSEMBLY", this assembly defines a naming scheme, and provides users
            something to work with, but it isn't a specific manufacturer of tile, there are multiple
            layers to the assembly, but it requires review.
         3. Specific Assembly Types/Constructions - for instance "(F02) 2HR_4" C-H Stud
            w/SAB_1" GB Liner / Dbl 5/8" GWB_All to Deck", this assembly is part of a
            standardized system, the model geometry is specific, and the assembly carries
            additional data such as UL number, STC ratings, etc, as needed/required.




  System families that need some definition (by default you get one "type"):

    o   Walls
    o   Floors
    o   Roofs
    o   Ceilings (note there are two types, simple "plane" and composite geometry)
    o   Stairs
    o   Ramps
    o   Railings
    o   Curtain Wall

    In the case of walls, we provide a sampling of our standard partition types. A simple set of
    generic types are provided for exterior conditions. Assembly types as well as generic
    assemblies are provided for most of the other system families.

    For curtain wall, we specify different types for "conditions" that is typical 6” curtain wall,
    storefront (center & front glazed), hollow metal, and a "blank" type that users can easily adapt
    to whatever they need.


                                                                                                    23
                                               Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




        With curtain wall, you need to make the choice; do you offset the mullion, or the panel? Offsetting
        the mullion means the "centerline" can be used to represent the line of glazing. Offsetting the
        panel means that the centerline can be the center of the mullion. In the default Revit template(s)
        panels are offset, and mullions centered. You pick....

        Annotation Families
        Annotations are a critical portion of any document set, so you should provide users with all the
        necessary basics. Most importantly this means defining types for any systems families. Many of
        the system families are "specialty" annotations that often display "built-in" information that the
        user otherwise does not have direct access to, such as View Names & Numbers, contour
        elevations or grid numbers. These annotations also tend to be able to have automatic behaviors
        that adapt to conditions in the model such as automatic rotation.

        For many of these system annotation families it can be helpful to the end user to create different
        types of the annotations that have multiple options. For instance the Spot Slope system family,
        which can be set to report "Up" or "Down"; making a type for each will help to reduce potential
        user error in a project. Other examples would be:

            o    Spot Coordinates
            o    Contour Labels
            o    Levels: Elevation Display (Project vs. Shared), or in MEP different default space
                 calculation heights.

Families you need to load:
When you load any families, make sure type names in the families are not duplicates of the Family name
(tags & annotations are perhaps the one exception).

    •   Level Head
    •   Grid Bubble
    •   Section Heads
    •   Keynotes
    •   Elevation Marker (oops, I wish....)
    •   View Titles
    •   Tags…

Tags are cool, right (they are useful little things)? Tags with different options are even cooler, for instance:

    •   tags w/multiple text sizes
    •   tag with different options/configurations: labels, static text, graphics
    •   tags that combine labels into strings

Load a tag for every native category of object (even if you think you'll never need it).
        If you really must (or want to) skip loading some tags, fine. But absolutely do not skip Rooms and
        Areas. Revit has a nasty habit of not allowing a user to place said rooms or areas, unless the tag
        type is loaded already.

        Did you know? - Titleblock families are technically "tags" for the sheet view object.

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                                             Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




Tags are extremely powerful; however, because they're families, it’s not possible to allow "easy" direct
manipulation of things like text size, layout, or overall format (among other things). However, using the
visibility parameter of elements in a family, you can have "multi-use" tags with multiple types that meet
different needs. For instance a "presentation" floor plan with colored rooms may require extra large room
names so that it is readable from a distance. One room tag family can be set-up with multiple labels, all
with different text sizes.




Other tags may be set-up so that additional information can be reported as a type, for instance a room tag
that allows room number or area to be "added" by way of visibility parameters.

        Something important we've learned, particularly in the context of Room or an Area tag is to adjust
        the Units format. For instance our default tags that report area for Rooms and Areas all round to
        zero decimal places. We have found that super accurate tags result in more questions, with very
        little benefit for team or client.

Annotations
Other annotations that will help your teams out:

    •   North Arrow
    •   Centerline Symbol
    •   Graphic Scales




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                                               Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




Model Families
The same approach we use for System families (three tiers) can be used for model families. In some
cases there may be great value to your teams to load highly specific assemblies or objects, in other cases
something "generic" but "real" may be sufficient throughout a project lifecycle, and lastly, truly generic
objects may fit the need of your teams. At which phase(s) projects use Revit in your firm will also affect
the decision making about the types of families to load and their necessary level of detail.
What your teams absolutely need to start:

           •   Doors
           •   Windows
           •   "Empty" System Curtain Panel (grab it from the Autodesk template)

Objects that might be handy:

           •   Profiles: mullion, handrail(s), gutters, thickened slabs, stair nosing, metal deck, generic
               (typical) shapes.
           •   Custom curtain panels
           •   Typical toilet fixtures
           •   Typical casework
           •   Typical furniture (for your market(s))
           •   Typical specialty equipment: for instance toilet room accessories, lab equipment or health
               care equipment.
           •   Typical Profile(s): mullion, railings, moldings, parapets

Architecture teams don't need too much to get started, MEP needs much more, and structure of course
needs a variety of typical framing families and sizes.

        In our template we like to include a circular and rectangular profile both with parametric
        dimensions, these profiles can be used for anywhere for anything, from a railing to a wall sweep,
        to a custom in-place family. We also include a generic cubic object in Specialty Equipment and
        Furniture which have parametric dimensions, and therefore can function as placeholders for a
        variety of objects, simply by creating a new type with a meaningful name, and associated data.

Detail Families
While most projects are not going to jump right into detailing, providing your team with some basics will
only make their lives easier. We already discussed filled regions and line styles, since these are system
families it is critical to define a system in advance for your users.

Other Detail Components to consider loading:

    •   Wheelchair clear circle & tee
    •   Brick & CMU
    •   Sealant & Backer rod
    •   Break Line
    •   "Fire tape" families (one way to life safety plans)



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                                              Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




Wrapping Up a Template
Create Some Stuff
But not too much....

No matter what, every template has at least one Level, name it something useful. Most buildings are
probably going to require a second floor level, and a roof level. You should probably create floor plan and
ceiling plan views to go with those levels, meeting all your typical needs (export, documentation,
modeling, coordination, phases, etc), and name them with your naming standards.

        The default Autodesk template comes with four elevations, we've kept that standard and named
        and set their types to be Exterior elevations. Some folks like to create some default sections too;
        however we've found that too often our buildings don't quite fit in the "neat box". The elevations
        are quickly adapted, but the sections would often be deleted.

        Needless to say we create all the other information views discussed previously, as well as some
        of the General Sheets, and floor plan sheets (100 - 300). Due to the breadth of our firm, we leave
        it up to projects to determine how to number and what additional sheets they require after the
        300's and we do not put floor plans (or ceiling plans) onto the sheet(s).

        Teach your users to always keep moving a “Roof” level up (if you name them that way), that way
        they don’t need to worry about renaming views.

Leave Some defaults!!!!!
Leaving defaults is perhaps one of the best things that can be done to help teams be more efficient and
successful, and apply whatever company standards you have for the appearance, consistency and fidelity
of your models.
To make your team's live's easier:

    •   Default grids to "1" by creating (and deleting a grid labeled "0"), alphabetical doesn't work very
        well; nothing comes before "A".
    •   Organize the project browser, close families, sheets, etc
    •   Default sheet number
    •   Default door number
    •   Default window number
    •   Default room number
    •   Run a purge, to check what you have in the template
    •   Default Text Style (create text and delete)
    •   Default Dimension Style (create dimension and delete)
    •   Default Wall, Floor, Ceiling, Roof type(s) (create & delete)

Tracking your features, changes and updates
No matter what, your template should grow as your firm grows. Either as your firm uses the tools more,
users become more familiar with them or as Revit and the industry itself changes. You may need new
standards or old ones may change. Undoubtedly there will be new additions and changes to the template
on a regular basis. It is important track this information, and perhaps even more important to let people

                                                                                                             27
                                              Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




know the template has changed and what has changed. One approach is using an information view (such
as the "Open/Close page") in the template and keeping a running list of template additions/changes. It
may even be a good idea to set a schedule for updates every few months.
We've found it helpful to use our wiki to
track what changes we've made to the
template, or to make note of changes we
want to make. This way multiple people can
work on the developing the template and
keep in sync. We also have added a project
parameter called "Template Version" that
we keep updated when we release a new
version of the template.


Upgrading
Some users will tell you, never upgrade a
Project Template, always rebuild. Others
will tell you they've been using the same
template for years, without any consequences. In previous releases Revit saw some major structural
changes to certain behaviors, the addition of linking, worksharing, rooms and their volume calculations.
More recently we've seen an impressive array of form making tools added and there are signs that more
"analysis" will be wrapped into Revit, particularly to help with sustainable design. How much actual
"change" this has on the core of Revit only the Factory really knows. What little Autodesk opinion I've
been able to gather is that generally there should not be adverse consequences or impact on your
models from upgrading project templates. If you actually open, and re-save your template, that should be
sufficient. The upgrade process in Revit always does an "audit" of the file, and "fixes" the database (if
there are errors). Autodesk has never offered or given a 100% guarantee that somewhere, somehow a
problem (that they're not aware of) could not occur in the process of upgrading a template. That said, your
best bet is to probably document your template well, continuously evaluate, monitor your users, and
expect, that at some point, it should be rebuilt anyway. Another good approach is the use of "Source
Files" which by their nature helps to dilute the possible impact of changes, and make it easier to adapt or
rebuild as necessary.

Source Files
At Burt Hill we've made the decision to not attempt to keep multiple templates meant for different market
sector or client types. Instead we keep a single "general" template up-to-date, and we provide additional
"source" files to enhance the template to meet specific needs.

Thanks to "Transfer Project Standards" and "Insert from File" this approach has proven relatively
effective. Source files are populated with specific families, views and schedules for their intended
purpose. For instance our "Partition Types" file includes details in drafting views for all of the typical
top/bottom details. Wall types have been defined for each partition type and all relevant data populated
into default parameters, or custom Project Parameters. Additional partition schedules and a typical
"partition sheet" (laid out) have been created. A set of 8 ½" x 11" sheets have also been created which



                                                                                                             28
                                               Good Autodesk® Revit® Project Templates: Keys to Efficiency




can be printed as the "Burt Hill Partition Type" handbook. The whole file forms a cohesive unit all about
our partitions; we do not have to worry about updating other parts of the file, only partitions.
    Other possible candidates for Source Files:

        •   Stairs, Ramps & Rails
        •   Curtain Wall
        •   Toilet Partitions & Accessories
        •   Casework
        •   Doors
        •   Health Care
        •   Labs
        •   K-12
        •   Interior Design

In all these cases the project file can be used as a central repository for the firm's standards, as well as
making it easy to update only small pieces, rather then having to worry about a complete template. One
major drawback is the inability to transfer legends (however drafting elements in legends can be
copy/pasted).

In the case of the Interior Partitions example, the Project Template is seeded with the most commonly
used partition types from the Standard Partitions file (20/80 rule). Should any of them change for some
reason, the update would first occur at the Source File, and then be pushed into the standard project
template.

Source files are also a great way to allow specific people to focus on one key aspect of company
standards. The people, who know all about how to detail a stair, may not be the right people to determine
default content for a Health Care facility, or the best schedules and their formatting to document a K-12
project. Users can be invited to participate in and review only a source file, without having to worry about
immediate impact on the core project template, or even the dreaded "CAD herpes". It is far easier to roll
back, or redo, a single source file, then it is to redo a project template. In some market sectors or project
types, it may be a necessary to compromise and live with some impact from CAD files. Source files also
help to keep file size down, by allowing them to be populated with more families that meet specific needs.
Lastly, the ability to develop documentation in Revit, based on the exact elements users will be working
with in their projects is powerful. While you can keep DWF or PDF files available, you always have a
single source both for the actual model elements and details as well as the documentation. Source files
also focus on “standards of practice”, combined with “standards of graphic presentation”, rather then
either being focused entirely on graphics standards or entirely on practice standards.




        Thank you: Scott Brown: HHCP, Jim Balding: WATG, David Spehar: Burt Hill, Craig
        Barbiari: KlingStubbins, David Baldacchino: SHW Group, Steve Stafford, Guy Robinson,
        James Vandezande: SOM, and all the Revit experts and AU presenters that have come
        before me.


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