PATD – 1.003 I Know, I Know! Many users are going to HATE this article.
Old-CADD-Fart Drafting Methods in Revit
OK - this one is definitely in the “BIMmy Bunny” arena:
Beaten Up for Biting Opinions!
This is one topic I’ve already gotten “You’re an Idiot” comments on in years past, but here goes… For standard drafting of details in Revit, I prefer recreating the AutoCAD user interface we’ve used for years. I know, I know – pens in Revit should be based on Object types, but I don’t see the need for creating thousands of these just to have different pens. I know you’re supposed to do everything WYSIWYG, but I often can’t tell one Pen Width from another when drafting, especially when zooming in and out. This can only be done when they are compared on the screen and then it’s often too late.
I prefer drafting by looking at a dark background for hours on end, instead of a white (or light gray) background. I think it is just easier on the eyes and more productive. A white line on a dark background is easier to see than a dark line on a light background. (I’m sure there’s some college study that would prove me wrong – I don’t care!) This seems to be more commonly the norm in other applications as options for a dark background, even in Windows’ System Applications, are becoming standard. To match the standard dark AutoCAD background, you would set the Revit background to 33,40,48 RGB or #212830.
My only problem with this is that I’d like to have only Drafting Views displayed this way and leave the other View and Sheets to have a white background. I asked for this years ago and got laughed at.
Jumping into the Deep End
I didn’t start with mechanical ink pens but started drafting with CAD(D). The different pen widths were created by different physical ink pens in a carousel in the plotter. These pens were assigned numbers AND colors. Since I’d never used actually ink pens, I didn’t know that assigning colors to pen widths was a long-standing paradigm. Pens such as Rapidograph assigned their different widths to different colors.
This method of selecting pens became standard in most early CAD(D) systems. You could look at a drawing and no matter how far it was zoomed in or out, you could tell which pens would be used for which lines. You could also instantly tell if you were using the wrong size pen because of the color on the screen.
But this is how I still prefer to do drafting, especially details, in BIM. For me, it’s faster and more consistent. Here are a few tips I use for staying “old school” in the Big “R”. The standard pen sizes were always .25mm, .35mm, .50mm, and .70mm. In some cases, a smaller pen, .18mm, was also used. However, the pen weights in the standard Revit templates don’t give me enough choices. They also can’t be deleted or renamed.
For me, this just isn’t enough – the Thin Line is often too thin and the Wide line is so much wider than the Medium line.
What I’ve always done is create two more Linestyles for all my Revit Templates. I’ve seen excellent “gurus” simply create Pens 01 through 05 and I really like that because they can be sorted alphanumerically when they appear on the menu. But Revit has already assigned all of the objects in its default Family Library to these named Linestyles and going through them all and changing them is a huge hassle. I keep Pen 1 as “Thin”, Pen 3 as “Medium”, Pen 5 as “Wide”. I add Pen 2 as “Light” and Pen 4 as “Heavy”. This last one can pose issues because Revit sometimes names Pen 5 as “Heavy” – consistency, please! Here’s what you them get:
I hate, hate, hate, that I can’t group these in order. It seems that the simplest things that are used most often are the last things on developers’ minds.
This is a much better and more varied set of Lineweights and it keeps in place the three Linestyles that come in the Standard Revit Templates. All you have to remember is that “Light” is heavier than “Thin”.
Now for the Real Fly in the Soup
Assigning Colors to Pens becomes pretty easy. In this case, Pen 1 is closer to .18mm, so I’ll start assigning the standard AutoCAD colors to Pen 2: 2=red, 3=yellow, 4=green, and 5=cyan. I’ll assign Pen 1 to Blue because I like the dark Blue on a dark background so that it appears to be the lightest of all the pens.
This is how I’ll normally draft in Revit. I’ll also create a project file with the pens set up that way to Copy/Paste them into the file I’m currently working on and also one with the Pens set to Black that I’ll Copy in before I plot. Revit does have an option to plot all Pens to Black, but that changes Text to Black as well – not good. I still wish I could set these parameters per view type, but since I’m “an idiot” for wanting to draft like this, that will never happen. Oh well, I’ll just try to be as productive as possible using the methods that make the most sense to me.
I’m just presenting them here as part of the BIM conversation and to say that the “BIMmy” way to do things may not always be the best.
SO LET THE HATE BEGIN!
That Being Said…
I really appreciate the Revit “gurus” who are taking the enormous leap of creating Details using nothing but Detail Items Families. I see that this has terrific advantages, but it’s hard to imagine the enormous number of hours and dedication to the craft that this undertaking entails. More power to you for doing it your own way! And that’s maybe the point of all this – this is all a process – find out what other people are doing and why – but look into the alternatives. Listen to the gurus, but measure the cost in time and productivity of using their methods. This is also not done in a vacuum – how well does the rest of the staff understand these methods? Are they hard for them to use? How well do these methods work when exchanging files with others – the very nature of BIM. Do we look down on “old school” methods just because other methods are the latest thing?
I’m kind of stuck in my ways, but when new methods are more productive, I’ll gladly use them. Until then, I’ll just stay a BIMmy Bunny!
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Dave Edwards has been in the CAD/BIM industry as a manager, developer, consultant, speaker, and author for almost 40 years. He has had 80 magazine articles published, written 3 international newsletters, reviewed over 300 CAD/BIM applications, and 3D modeled 2 Billion dollars worth of architectural projects. He is available for professional alpha/beta testing, application feature consulting, technical documentation support, seminar presentations, and voiceovers.
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