29 May

How to relinquish Revit worksets when user is not available

If the project is set up as Revit worshared model then sometimes a user can forget to relinquish his worksets and leave office. Such situations often cause unnecessary frustration. However, there is a simple way to relinquish worksets, even if the user is not available.

Changing the user names

Follow these steps:

  1. Start Revit or close any open projects.
  2. Click R menu (or File menu) > Options.
  3. On the General tab of the Options dialog box:
    • write down your current user name (you’ll need it later, so write it down if it’s complicated)
    • enter the user name of the user whose workset you want to relinquish in the Username textbox. Click OK.
  4. Create new local file (File > Open > select the central file).
  5. Click Collaborate tab on the ribbon > Relinquish All Mine.
  6. Close the project.
  7. Reset the user name to the previous value (from the step 3.1).
  8. Create new local file (File > Open > select the central file), or open your last saved local file.


Detaching and creating new central Revit model

The other method is destructive and it is not recommended since other’s work can be lost. Use it only if you are 100% sure that you are the only one working on the file!

  1. Essentially you need to open the central workshared Revit file, choose “Detach from Central” and “preserve worksets” option. Now all the worksets are yours.
  2. Save the detached workshared Revit file as… It will save as new central as default.
  3. Relinquish all worksets.
  4. Close the central model.
  5. Create new local model from the new central file.
  6. Others can join now.


Remember, the whole point of workshared Revit model is that you work as a team on the same file. In most (workshared) cases you are not alone. Have in mind that messing with central models can destroy other’s work or make serious damage.

26 May

Revit Add-in: Shape Topography with Model Lines

Main purpose of the tool is to shape topography instance with help of model lines. Tool adds additional topography points along selected model lines. Line division can be per number of points or per distance between points. If there are more than one topography instance, tool will prompt to select only one.

Tool can be downloaded from Engipedia Warehouse

All model lines are supported: lines, arcs, ellipses, curves and nurbs. Make sure that selected model lines are not closed loops, otherwise the tool will warn and ignore them. If there are closed loops (circles, ellipses) to be used, then they should be divided into 2 or more parts with Revit Split Element tool.

Topography is a mesh object so points division should be thought carefully. More points does not mean better results.

Additional feature is saving current topography. Current state of topography can be saved into CSV points file with which original state can be returned later using Revit Massing & Site > Toposurface > Create from Import > Specify Points File tool. Saved topography points CSV file is always in Meters.

Tool is added to “Add-Ins” tab on Revit ribbon:

User interface of Engipedia Topo Shaper Revit add-in tool:



Let’s show on a simple example: topography + multiple instances of Model Curves, Model Lines and Model Arces.

When user runs the tool the following will happen:

1. If there are multiple instances of Topography object, tool will prompt user to select one of them which will be used by the tool. If there is only one instance of Topography object, tool will skip this step and select that Topography instance.

2. Tool will prompt user to select one or more model lines with which to modify the topography. Model Lines must be bound, meaning they are not closed loops. If none of the lines are selected or all selected Model Lines instances are unbounded, the tool will quit. If among bounded Model Lines there are unbounded Model Lines selected, they will be ignored. To use unbounded Model Lines (for example: circles and ellipses), user should split them into 2 or more elements (by using Revit split tool).

3. After successful Model Lines instances selection, main tool window will show. In main tool window, user can select the division method: by number of points per each selected line, or by distances between points on each selected line. Number of divisions must be in range 2< n < 1000, otherwise, tool will ignore it and set appropriate number. Distance between points must be in range 0 < L < Shortest Line Length. Tool will offer shortest distance (length) of all selected Model Lines. Distance between points must be number lower than this number, otherwise the tool will ignore user input and choose appropriate distance. Distance units are the same as the model units.

4. User can save the state of the current (still unchanged) Topography for possible later use. The tool will create CSV file with the timestamp. File gets saved in the same folder with the model. Points coordinates are always saved in meters.

5. Clicking on the Shape Topography button will shape the selected topography by adding additional topo points along the selected model lines.

Tool does not “remembers” which model lines were used so they can be used again (possible adding more points where they already exist).

Nor tool nor Revit will create points with the same XY and different Z coordinates.

Topography bounds are no limit for the tool, if model lines are outside toposurface bounds, tool will add points there also.

Download the tool from the Warehouse

15 May

Why you should switch to web based BIM content library

Issues with Revit family library management

If you are BIM Manager or Revit user, you probably ran into a problem finding (your own) content for the project. I am not talking about finding the content on the internet, that is a whole another topic, but finding something specific that you, or one of your colleagues created, you know it exists in your organization but don’t know where it is anymore, or how it was called.
Revit families are most numerous (hence the title), but other content that you might need to utilize in your BIM project sometimes can also be hard to find. For example:

  • template files, Dynamo scripts, example (model) files, brochures, data sheets, pattern files, images, workflow procedures and other types of digital information.

If you are in charge of organizing you BIM content in your organization, you know that using good folder structure (or specialized Revit add-ins) can solve half of the problem. Other half contain hard-to-solve issues, such as:

  • Only you know what you have, and can’t be sure who else also knows about it. And sometimes you can forget about some (old) content as well.
  • Content is hard to describe (no good solution to add metadata in Windows environment: images, videos, documents, descriptions, URL’s and other).
  • Difficult to search (you must know exact file name, or part of the file name).
  • Content is not available remotely.


The solution for managing your BIM library

The best solution I found so far is organizing your BIM content library as web based solution:

  • It is One-stop solution which can be categorized, tagged and described – all of the entered information can be easily searched which means that users can find the objects by themselves easily.
  • Revit file version (Revit backwards incompatibility issue) can be added as description or a category, so you do not need to rename your file, and have such information available at the same time.
  • Can contain different kinds of digital information (whatever file type you have).
  • Can be accessed remotely (if it’s hosted on a web server).
  • Can be accessed internally if needed (if it’s hosted on a local server only).
  • Can be protected so only particular users have access to it (via Log-in system).
  • Can be divided into parts so not everyone has access to everything.
  • Can collect statistics about file usage (number of downloads for instance).
  • Can collect user feedback via comments or similar.
  • Is read-only so only the administrators (BIM team) can change, update, add or remove content.
  • Can contain (and show) all the other information necessary for describing or enhancing an object or workflow (images, videos, documents, descriptions and other files).
  • Content can be connected so user knows that something else also might be needed, for example TAG for particular Revit family.

There are also cons regarding such system:

  • BIM team must comprehend some level of web technologies.
  • It takes more time to upload, describe and publish content with a certain level of quality.
  • Can easily become inconsistent (some files can better described (“equipped”) than the others).
  • If you run into host issues (website down) your library can be unavailable (must have backup by having local copy accessible to the team).



Our Engipedia Warehouse part of the site serves as an example of how it can be set up. There you can see examples of free content that can be downloaded by everyone, content that is visible but locked (only available to certain users) and content that you cannot see, not even if you are logged in, if you do not have the access rights granted.


If you think this is solution for you, do not hesitate to contact us for consulting, we will gladly help you set up your own system.


10 May

Phases and phase filters in linked Revit models

Linking Revit files is an essential method to collaborate on BIM project, primary, but not exclusive, for interdisciplinary collaboration.

Phase mapping

When multiple phases are present in project model (more than one phase), phase mapping occurs.

Phase mapping is a process of connecting phases between models. We map „when“ particular phase from a linked model „happens“ in a host model. Phase mapping option is located in type properties of a linked file.


Model A has three phases: Existing, Phase 1, Phase 2

Model B has two phases: Existing, New Construction

The following image shows phase mapping process when model A is linked in model B:

Problem: Phases must be mapped manually. Names of phases in model B can be misleading in context of model A.


If possible, set phases in all models the same in all linked Revit models, for example:

Model A: Existing, Phase 1, Phase 2

Model B: Existing, Phase 1, Phase 2

Phases will map automatically and correctly whenever you link models. Phases must be in the same order and have the same names (exactly the same names). It legal to have „empty“ phases (with no elements associated with it).


Phase filters

It is important to have the same phase filters in all linked models. It is not mandatory, but if you want to use “By host view” setting in Visibility/Graphic overrides for linked models, this is a must.

Why? It can lead to unexpected behaviors, for example, showing future that have not yet come to pass 😉



We are using models from previous example. One is based on company’s standard Revit template, and the other is made with random template. We set phases correctly in both models (the same number, order and names).

The following image shows (modular building) model LinkA.rvt:

  • Phase 1 (halftone) and
  • Phase 2

Model LinkA.rvt will be linked in Mechanical discipline’s Revit model.

This is how Phase 1 in model A looks like:


However, when we link model A and show “Phase 1” in model B, with phase filter “Show New”, elements from all phases in linked model are displayed when only those from Phase 1 should be visible (even with phases mapped correctly), see image below:

The problem is in fact when Revit cannot find exactly the same filter in the linked file, “None” will be used. We all know when “None” phase filter is used, everything from every phase will be visible. The following image shows Visibility/Graphic settings for linked file (it’s set “By host view”, there is no “Show New” phase filter in the link, so phase filter (None) will be used for the link – which lead to wrong display:



Transfer project standards or recreate phase filters (manually) in all linked models so they match exactly. They do not have to be used anywhere in the link, they just need to exist. If we create phase filter “Show New” in linked model A (LinkA.rvt), model will display correctly when linked in model B.

Phase Filters settings in model A (added phase filter Show New):

When link (model A) is reloaded in model B (with new phase filter added in model A), it will show correctly in model B when showing only new in Phase 1, see image below:

Let just look at the Visibility/Graphic Overrides settings for linked file:

Everything works fine now!


The other solution is to just use the custom settings for phase filter of a linked model in visibility/graphic overrides (I personally hate to do this, it’s not automatic and it’s prone to errors).

07 May

How to save system family as external loadable family

As you already know, there are three kinds of families in Revit: system families, model-in-place families and external (loadable) families (also know as .RFA files).

Some Revit categories are exclusively system categories (families of those categories can be created only in project environment), for example: Walls, Stairs, Floors and similar categories. There are, however, hybrids (can both have system and external families in the same category), for example Structural Foundation categories but they are topic for some other time. Read More

02 May

How to create PDF with layers, from Revit

Creating (producing) PDF with layers from Revit, using Print to PDF option is, unfortunately, not possible.

The solution, however, is simple. If you have AutoCAD.

Let’s say you have Revit view or sheet that you want to have in PDF with layers so they can be turned on/off appropriately. The procedure to achieve this is simple:

1. Export your Revit view or sheet to DWG file format (make sure you have appropriate Layer key assigned so Revit categories are put into valid DWG layers).

2. Use AutoCAD to open exported DWG.

3. Choose print option in AutoCAD to print model or layout view (Ctrl+P), select “DWG To PDF.pc3” printer from printer Name dropdown menu.

4. Click on “PDF Options…” button and make sure “Include layer information” checkbox is checked (it should be checked by default).

5. Set other options appropriately (sheet size, scale, plot style etc.)

6. Click “Preview” button and choose print if preview is correct.

That’s it.