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Subcategories. How do you handle them?

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    Subcategories. How do you handle them?

    I'm in the process of helping standardize some office approved Subcategories. I've read the Revit Model Content Style Guide & ANZRS. It looks like a good starting point. How do you manage Subcategories?
    • I know the good practice of assigning model elements Subcategories, but how do you come up with your list? What's your overall strategy?
    • Do you modify your Family Templates' Object Styles and add the approved subcategories?
    • Is there a tool that can scan/edit subcategories in templates and projects?
    • What else am I not asking here?

    Your feedback would be awesome.
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    Kirk is a co-worker of mine. We here at Lionakis are very interested in how others are working with subcategories and standardizing there office created content. We are at a turning point in our office where dozens of people are starting in Revit, all at once. It is vital for us to plan for the future as best we can.

    Any insight or lessons learned would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks everyone.
    -Alex Cunningham


      Kirk & Alex.

      You should keep a list of "Company approved custom Subcategories" - Creating this list takes a lot of brainstorming for each category, which is why I´ve been trying to make this a shared effort in the "RFO Style Guide", as in this thread about the door category.

      No matter how much you brainstorm, you´ll need to add more subcategories as you go - So be sure to create guidelines on how, who, why etc. to make sure the list don´t get messy.

      Also, while the power of subcategories should not be underestimated, try not to add more subcategories then necessary. (Have seen some pretty scary examples of what not to do, with ~50 subcategories for one family category)

      When you create the list and the subcategories - Be really careful with spelling and Upper/Lower cases... It´s easy to get two (or more) categories that appear to be the same, but are not.

      In a perfect world, those custom subcategories should be built into your company specific family templates - In reality I´ve found myself just using the most recent family in the same category as a template... Guess it´s not a perfect world...

      If you´re going to set up all the subcategories in the template too, then remember that the appearance (Line weights, Line patterns, Materials, etc.) should be defined in the template (Object styles). If you not including the subcategories in you template, the appearance should be predefined in each family, and must be exactly the same in each family category. I´ll highly recommend having all custom subcategories defined in your template - It´s just easier to coordinate, and you can use them in predefined View Filter / View Templates etc.
      Klaus Munkholm
      "Do. Or do not. There is no try."


        Originally posted by Alex Cunningham View Post
        We are at a turning point in our office where dozens of people are starting in Revit, all at once. It is vital for us to plan for the future as best we can.
        Well, I have some pointers:

        DO NOT GO THERE!!!!
        No matter how good your company standards are, you cannot have a few dozen users make their own content without creating an enormous, gigantic, humungous mess. Thinking that would imply all your co-workers are near perfect. They are not. They will screw up or, when approaching a deadline, figure "I will make it comply later". And then they won't cause there will be another deadline. And another...
        Besides: people tend to push their own solutions for creating families. Keep in mind, this is not Archicad (sorry, couldn't resist myself): you CAN do a lot of families in multiple ways. It's bad nature to like your own the best, even if it's not.

        My advice would be:
        appoint one or a few people managing your content and/or templates. Have them create a set of Subcategories for each category. Add those to your family templates.
        AND setup an office wide documenting system in which users can apply for more subcategories / shared parameters.

        Frankly, subcategories aren't your only problem. There's also this to consider:
        - Shared Parameters. Cannot be undone so you need to be very careful.
        - Project vs Shared Parameters. Which parameters are project, which are shared?
        - General creation of families. How does one setup a door/window family for instance? Look at the RFO Door. It's complicated. I can get the same door in about 3-4 different ways. If you set it up in one way, Kirk uses another and a third co-worker does it completely different you will NOT be able to use each others content without having these kind of conversations:

        A: Kirk, dude, how in the HELL do I change this door width? I tried the width parameter, it doesn't work.
        K: Well, I use the Door Panel Width as a standard method of input. It calculates the total width by adding tolerances and frame width.
        A: Ok, but I want to change the total width using a schedule.
        K: ehhmmm?
        A: Well, Door Panel Width doesn't show in my schedules.
        K: That's because it's a project parameter
        A: WTF? No I have to change 359 doors by hand.
        K: Well, you can change the parameter to shared.
        A: Ok. I'll use the company SP-file
        K: Oh wait, I've added a few. Use mine
        A: Ok. Oh wait, I get an error saying the sketch is overconstrained when I change it...
        K: uuhhh, works fine with me. Did you do something to it?
        A: Besides trying to change the freaking width?

        And so on...

        Trust me: it'll be hard enough for 2-3 users to get their families aligned. A few dozen is near impossible. I've seen libraries from professional vendors that had differences in family setup, use of subcategories and parameter naming in 1 library which they asked good money for.
        Not to mention the company I trained on creating families with just5-6 people working in Revit but who were all absolutely sure their solution for a certain family (mostly doors/windows btw) was best. So everyone had their own library. When handing over projects people would start by spending a day or two (!) replacing all their co-workers families with their own so they could work with them. Absolute bonkers. But we sat there for two days and the whole air was so poisoned I couldn't get them to agree on a "best practise".
        Point of this all being: you'll need some guy / few people with the authority to overrule and change families submitted by others. Someone calling the shots, putting his / her foot down and telling people which way to go.
        "Mark Twain"
        Last edited by mdradvies; August 16, 2011, 10:46 AM.
        Martijn de Riet
        Professional Revit Consultant | Revit API Developer
        MdR Advies
        Planta1 Revit Online Consulting


          Thanks so much guys. We really appreciate all the advice. :beer: +Rep
          -Alex Cunningham


            That's great advice. Thank you. We do have a small team of Revit managers that would help establish a system for standardizing our office subcategories. Thanks.
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              I am a proponent of judicious use of office added sub categories. If there is a built in one that works, by all means use that. However, there are things that really do need a sub category of their own. A window or door family with a light shelf needs (IMHO) a light shelf sub category. None of the OOTB sub cats does the job.
              Also, in my world no generic model family has anything modeled on the generic model category, every thing is a sub cat, and since Revit comes with none built in they are all office specific. I have a hardware sub cat which is used for nested hardware in doors, windows, casework and furniture. Some offices might feel that door and window hardware are so different they should each be sub cats of those major cats, and many offices just don't model it at all. Everyone's milage does vary.

              All that said, any office standard additions or changes MUST be well documented, users must know where to find the info, and they must know that ignoring it gets you beaten with a whiffletree bat on the first offense, and fired on the second. Going rogue in Revit cripples everyone.

              Pragmatic Praxis


                Originally posted by Alex Cunningham View Post
                Thanks so much guys. We really appreciate all the advice. :beer: +Rep
                You see Alex, not that hard to get Rep points around here...

                Seriously though: Gordon is right: Whilst good (and documented!!!) office standards are valuable, they also need to be enforced. Most major firms I work for have at least one "moderator" (aka BIM manager, content manager, or any other fancy term you want to give it) that checks all families created on consistency and proper use of the office standards. And some even downright forbid their draftsmen to create content themselves.
                That's about the only thing they all do, anything else is completely up to you to decide. But don't hesitate to pitch your ideas, either here or through an email / PM.
                Martijn de Riet
                Professional Revit Consultant | Revit API Developer
                MdR Advies
                Planta1 Revit Online Consulting



                  When you create all this content it being Detail Components, Generic Models, Door families etc - How do you document it and add it to the office Revit Manual?
                  Do print out plan and/or section views showing the different parameters (and where they might be commented) so the user know what the parameters do/function? Even if you try to name the parameters really well it will always be some that users don't know what the function they have.



                    Well, I usually recommend to take one family and break it down in a template description / tutorial. I am currently working on the dutch version of the RFO-Door and will be adding that too. Besides it being in Dutch, you might find it interesting...
                    Martijn de Riet
                    Professional Revit Consultant | Revit API Developer
                    MdR Advies
                    Planta1 Revit Online Consulting


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