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Thread: Do you download families?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Robin Deurloo's Avatar
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    Question Do you download families?

    Lately we see an influx of new people on the forum (or maybe I, for some reason, notice them now) which is good. This means more people are using Revit I guess. One question that seems to come back a lot is "where can I download free families?" or "where can I get family X or Y?"

    I can understand that you look for families you do not have if you have no family editing skills, but ending up with all sorts of families, with all sorts of different 'standards' and all sorts of rubbish then come with them is something I have never done and would not recommend. So, I'm wondering why people are looking for families on the web. Is that because they do not have the skills to make their own, or don't have the time to build them or are you told by other people that the stuff on the web is great and you should use that?

    And if you do download families from the web do you just import them into your project without checking them and cleaning them up first or do you have a protocol for using stuff from the web?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robin Deurloo View Post
    Lately we see an influx of new people on the forum (or maybe I, for some reason, notice them now) which is good. This means more people are using Revit I guess. One question that seems to come back a lot is "where can I download free families?" or "where can I get family X or Y?"

    I can understand that you look for families you do not have if you have no family editing skills, but ending up with all sorts of families, with all sorts of different 'standards' and all sorts of rubbish then come with them is something I have never done and would not recommend. So, I'm wondering why people are looking for families on the web. Is that because they do not have the skills to make their own, or don't have the time to build them or are you told by other people that the stuff on the web is great and you should use that?

    And if you do download families from the web do you just import them into your project without checking them and cleaning them up first or do you have a protocol for using stuff from the web?
    I was fortunate to have an early on good tutor (Alf Medina) who taught me how to navigate in the family editor. So I have basically never downloaded a family from a website (that I remember). I'm a nit picker about family quality and mine are probably, while not more difficult to make, more specialized for what I do. So, to my dying day my two Revit rules are 1) no web families, and 2) no CAD in my Revit models. Served me well so far.

    On the subject of new people in RFO, I have noticed this too and I think that it's a good thing. Those that want fast, free, and good will learn from us that usually you can only get two of those things at once. Chose your poison ;-P
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    Member anthonyB's Avatar
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    Apart from a three-day vendor introductory Revit course on v2009 I am self-taught with this forum being my major source of knowledge (Thank you all to the contributors!). I too keep DWG data out of my families. But I do sometimes download net families as a starting point and then modify them for our standards. And there is the first question: how long is it going to take to make those adjustments vs how long for me to make it myself from the resources I have here. Where possible I make generic content and the designers FF+E schedule specifies the brand and model. Manufacturer supplied content can be a good start, but is usually has more detail than I need and I have to modify it to appear the way we want it to look - plus add sub cats, materials, parameters, linestyles.

    The design team always want content yesterday and our library is growing as I try to accommodate them. However looking after Revit in an office of twenty people including overseeing projects, creating content is not my only job and while I suggest people not source their families from the web, I don't have the time to police it. I am not bagging the team - they are a great crew, but they just don't have the time to wait for me to make everything for them. Mostly it works out OK and if we like a family I will validate it and add it to our library. As time goes on and as our library gets bigger, they have less to ask for.

    I have tried teaching folk about creating families: some have no aptitude or interest for it, a few are keen and pick up bits and pieces well, but others just don't have the time. And yes, make your choice between fast, free and good.
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    Senior Member biff's Avatar
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    %$#@ in, *&^% out. There is cause for downloading suppliers families, especially if they have predesignated type, sizes, thermal, mechanical etc data in them.
    But is that data correct? I recently downloaded a great watertank from a well known supplier. I had all the possible outlet/inlet/pump/size variations they could supply. Specifiable and possible. But guess what, it was invisible in elevations. In the nested profile sweeps, the visibility was turned off. Actually turned out to be a good learning for students about how to fix supposed families of integrity. That miss got me thinking about the reliability in the family concerning the data.
    Also maybe people don't see the complexities and risks of Revit families as anything more to be careful than just downloading a CAD 2d block. Education about risks associated with using families downloaded from anywhere would be helpful for new users.
    I do see some of the Revitcity families as akin to 10 year olds and their 'amazing' sketchup models, albeit with 50,000 polygons!! And it's only a toothbrush!
    We had one supplier here who released a family set of their product range. It was full of the original CAD blocks they had used as extrusion bases. They have since had them built properly. But I'm in a different boat to people like Dave. I teach. Yes I build families for instruction and tutorials and will never stop doing that, but I don't use untested Supplier's or public ones for real jobs. We simply download a watertank for use in a residential model as an example of suppliers resources.
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    Moderator snowyweston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robin Deurloo View Post
    This means more people are using Revit I guess.
    All I have to offer relates entirely to this line.

    Yes, we're seeing more people with Revit on their (self-penne) ability/skill lists, but we are also seeing more projects these days that appear to have thrown out "best practice" completely out of the window.

    I know "best practice" is purely subjective - but I'm not even talking about "method A vs method B" contentions, I'm simply talking about the fundamental basics of modelling & parameter population.

    So yes, whilst the "skill" base might be wider, it's also definitely spread thinner.
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    I'm glad some people do end up downloading families. Let's me keep my job.

    Not everybody has the time to learn how to be efficient in the family editor, unfortunately. I do wish more people had better basic knowledge, though.
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    I'm a self taught reviter and early on I thought it was great that I could go to various sites and download revit families to save me the time to create them. As I grew more accustomed to creating my own families, though still not the most proficient at it, it became clear how frustrating and unreliable these downloaded families are. It's one thing to use them early on to do quick renderings of spaces, but I agree once you move into documentation and there is no need for pretty visuals, downloaded families should not be used or carefully combed thru before importing.
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  8. #8
    jmk
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    I downloaded Revit City families for my first project (in school) It was frustration with these families that got me started playing with the family editor. I prefer, whenever possible, to use families that I build. I'll download manufacturers families for reference, but usually they are too specific. The specified element changes, during design/construction, and I need to be able to update its dimensions/data to reflect the current use.

    Sometimes due to time I do have to use manufacturer content in a model, but clean it up first. I'm more likely to use furniture than building components. I do like when manufacturers have material images available for their products that seamlessly tile - that is more useful than a family in many cases.
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    Forum Co-Founder Twiceroadsfool's Avatar
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    I think its important to remember that there isnt always a *hard and fast* rule for everything. There isnt always *ONE DIRECTION* that you can give on a specific topic, that is an end-all guidelines.

    Youve got a lot of perspectives in this thread already, and they also come from people who work in a lot of different market sectors of trades. So, here is what ill add:

    1. Yes, i download families, from a number of sources. Manufacturers websites, BIM Content websites, User forums such as this one, and so on. If you Manage Support for a full service Architecture/Interiors firm of more than 25 people, and they do decent sized large projects, you simply dont have time to build all the content yourself, unless you have a staff of 3-5 who just sit around and wait for you to throw cut sheets at them, from Content Requests. ESPECIALLY if you include Interior Design, or Healthcare Design, FFE Modeling, and so on. Furniture, Equipment, Lighting, and so on. There are innumerable options out there, and there is always a need for more stuff. (Unless you are putting together the worlds ugliest set of drawings and dont care what things look like in 3D, which i stopped doing 9 years ago when i bailed on trying to match NCS graphics).

    2. Downloaded Content will (and should) NEVER go straight in to a project without a THOROUGH vetting (no Trump jokes, please) Process. What that process looks like varies office to office, and BIM Manager to BIM Manager. I have a process here that checks a bunch of stuff, and invariably ends up meaning edits to EVERY single family i download.

    The Components Host (or lack of) is checked. Content with non native geometry go right in the trash. All the Content Website's Parameters that they think we give a damn about, get deleted (Family Processor from CTC RET), all the 2D detail item crap gets deleted (in my office), and all 3D geometry gets turned back on in all views, redundant geometry for LOD gets deleted, and LOD gets used for subtractive changes only. Stupid Object Styles/Line Styles, Line Patterns, and Materials all get deleted. PRLX Standards get added, content gets adjusted (object styles), and content gets saved.

    3. If you do all that, isnt it just faster to build EVERYTHING yourself? If anyone tells you there is a hard and fast one way or the other answer to this question, they havent built a lot of content. If you are making a simple Table, or a simply piece of content, sure... You can rebuild it faster. If youre building a Stryker Hospital bed, youre going to be modeling geometry for a couple of hours... Unless you want it to look like crap. Harvesting the GEOMETRY from another source isnt a terrible thing, as long as its Native geometry and youve reviewed it.

    Having said that, i have an entirely brand new in-house built library of Elkay/Halsey-Taylor drinking fountains. Why? They had an entire library, and EVEN the NATIVE REVIT geometry was trash. There is an image, attached. The two Drinking fountains on the right are from the Elkay/HT library. The one on the left- however similar it may be- is a brand new family. Whats the difference? The one on the right has bizarre dimensional inaccuracies in the geometry itself (which is native Revit). Things cant join geometry, and better yet: THE FAMILY WILL CRASH REVIT if someone tries to edit a parameter that has NO effect on the geometry. BECAUSE of the geometry. How do i know? Deleting the geometry (which has no parameters tied to it) makes the issue go away.

    My honest guess is it was modeled in Revit, through an app or some program that tried to interpolate the geometry from another 3D model. Either way, you need to review things.

    But why did i download them, if they COULD cause a problem? You win some, you lose some. The Elkay/HT library was a loss. I looked at it quickly, thought the geometry was good (MOSTLY native Revit), so i started my cleanup process, then i realized the drama. Okay, so on this library i lost out, and had to start from scratch.

    But the Stryker library? Gold mine (after processing and converting to my standards). Food Service Equipment Libraries? Gold Mines. Even things that are highly parametric in my library (sinks, toilets, showers, etc) why start with NOTHING from the geometry point of view? The Kohler library has a LOT in it. Blickman Medical Storage accessories?

    4. But not everyone has a process in place to review content, and not everyone cares. Well thats true, and they are all damn crazy. The entire BIM Content ecosystem is full of parties trying to tell users what they want. Autodesk Content Standards, website content standards (LOL), Manufacturers wanting their marketing crap in your model (remember, YOU are the commodity), and so on. It doesnt matter HOW much of a rush im in.

    Straight from the internet is NEVER going in my model. Period, full stop.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Do you download families?-2016-09-20_14-42-29-ithappens.png  

  10. #10
    Senior Member Robin Deurloo's Avatar
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    Although I could probably not have worded it as good, I agree with you 100%. I have of course also downloaded and used families in my projects, but cleaning it up first is very important. Imported geometry is indeed a no go. Just the other day there was a company on LinkedIn announcing very proudly that they had Revit families now. Interested in that I downloaded them and all they were was imported dwg's. No other marketing crap in it so at least that's a good thing. Took that as a challenge to create a couple of them as native Revit. If they react to my comment on LI I might send it to them, but I digress.

    Anyway, basically started this thread to educate people new to Revit to be careful with stuff from the web so feel free to share your workflow for downloaded families.

    Still have the idea to create a Dynamo script to clean up families, might be a nice challenge.
    anthonyB, biff and uaifestival like this.

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