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Revit OpEd: Alternate Units - Seriously?

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    Revit OpEd: Alternate Units - Seriously?

    I encounter the request to show alternate units in Revit every now and then. I see the subject pop up in user forums like AUGI and RevitForum.org too. The superficial response is, "Nope the dimension styles in Revit don't have a "show alternate units" option like other CAD software."

    Seems simple enough to me for the software to provide it doesn't it? I'm not a programmer so I won't speak further for them.
    • Below the surface what's always bothered me is, why???? - Some bureaucratic response? "Just show both units!" Some generic project wide uniformity? -

    No this is not some fanboy defense for Revit's lack...I really don't get the notion that we have to provide alternate units for everything. What practical purpose does providing overall building dimensions in both units of measure serve? If the project is to be built in China, or Europe, or the Middle East...do they really care about imperial units? Does the window manufacturer that builds imperial based products care about the metric equivalents? Is the framer going to compare the values before they nail in the studs? Is including both units meant to be "easier" for those team members who can't be bothered to become acquainted with the appropriate unit of measure?

    How about providing dimensions that show the units that really matter to the poor sap trying to build the project and leave the rest of the clutter off the drawing? I can understand a manufacturer including both when they are seeking pricing for manufacturing something from a variety of sources including overseas vendors. But then often metric and imperial numbers have some fudging involved to cleanup the numbers (3'-0" vs 900mm doors, shaved 15mm off the imperial size).

    Backing up...sure, "please "factory" GIVE us alternate units." But using them in practice still ought to be based on reasonable application versus an arbitrary "just show both", some degree of appropriate use. My $0.025

    At this time we've got some "ugly" options.
    • Add the alternate values as an override suffix to each dimension (make that really really ugly).
    • Change the unit of measure for the project dimensions and plot the set again (PDF only hopefully) It does nothing to resolve "messy" conversion numbers like the door example above.
    • Add additional dimensions that don't show the "lines" and adjust the dimension value so it is next to the others (pretty darn ugly but at least tied to real elements/values).
    • Provide and use alternate dimension styles that show the appropriate units for what is being communicated and based on where the project will be constructed. (maybe you can sense my preference here?)
    • Use API to add/update alternate unit suffix for us, don't know if API actually permits this though. Programmers confirm/deny?



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