Many people I encounter wonder and inquire about the importance of having a GOOD Revit template to start from, and I would assert that it’s the single most important thing in improving efficiency, quality, clarity, and consistency in your projects. The following is a list (and a BRIEF explanation) of the order I PERSONALLY have gone in, when building a Revit template. Explanations about the order will be included, and each may be expanded in to a longer topic on its own.
This guide assumes you have started with an absolutely blank file. It also assumes you have the Revit OOTB library installed somewhere.
Decide where your content will live (i.e. on the office network, somewhere all Revit users can access). Do this first. Make a directory to keep your “Office Content” separate from the Autodesk content. It will help you year to year.
In the template, find the origin. It may seem silly now, but when you realize it isn’t where you thought later, you’ll be mad. In the old days it meant imported a CLEAN .dwg with nothing but an X drawn at 0,0,0 Origin to Origin, marking that spot with reference planes, and pinning it. Now, you can turn on the Project Base Point / Survey point, and mark THAT with reference planes. I advise naming them Origin N/S and Origin E/W. Pin them and call it a day. THEN, open your first blank TITLEBLOCK, and do the CAD trick, import the dwg OTO, and mark that with reference planes. Pin. Save as “1st titleblock” and close. (It WILL matter later).
Trust me, do these first. NOT doing these first is why there is a reputation that Revit can’t look like your legacy office standards. I start with the Imperial Library folder called “Annotations.” If you’re in RME or RST it is different, but I do the same thing there, with the appropriate folder. If Autodesk has one in there, chances are you need it. Edit Family, Save As (to an entirely new directory) and start making annotations that look like what you firms standards are.
Note: Labels are family specific, so figure out the firm font style, size, etc, first.
Similarly, recreate them all, and then save them in an Annotations folder of Office Content. Load them all in the template, and start assigning them to the system families.
Tip: Remember that some annotations have funky “type settings” under Manage > Additional Settings.
Load them. People ask me (or think it ridiculous) that my template is 47MB. But let me ask you something: Are you saving anything by NOT having the Room Tag loaded in the project? No. It means loading it later. Load it now.
Note: There is a reason we're doing the NON-model stuff first. Everyone jumps in head first. They get so far ahead they don’t have time to cover the basics, then they wonder why they don’t have time to cover the basics. If you are fast, you can get through all of this non-model stuff in two days, and be on your way.
You need them to make drawings. Remember that Origin starter title block you made? That origin will always be the BOTTOM and LEFT of your title blocks. Do Save As a few times, make the sizes you need, expanding the title block to the right, and the top. I use Jpegs for images, not .dwg or Filled Regions. It has no ill effects except for a few bizarre printing issues with KIP plotters and drivers.
Depending on your office standard, this might be 1 to as many as 50. Viewports are one of the system families that use embedded regular families, which mean instance parameters don’t do much (anything) for you. So the bottom line is: If you’re “office drawing title” consists of “stuff on the left” and an extension line, you can do it in one viewport type. If it is a series of lines of boxes or text on the right side as well, you will need a lot. We have 46. No biggie.
Time to build some system families. Your office probably has standardized walls. Start putting them together, and filling in the correct type marks. Research data such as Core boundary, Function, Assembly Code, etc. All those things that get left out but MIGHT benefit you.
Note: The moment you have to build a wall type, you’ll use Materials. Start thinking about that, but im going to ignore it for now. Materials is too big to get on the first pass.
After walls, things you should put in: Standard Floors, Ceilings, Roofs, Curtain Walls, Curtain Panels, Mullions / Profiles*, Windows.
(*The OOTB Mullion profiles have it MOSTLY right. Adding in a bunch of parameters, and breaking the detail component in to 4 separate pieces, gives you a LOT of flexibility).
I left them out of the Content section. Break out your company’s Door Schedule. If it is in the schedule, and it is important, you’ll need a (SHARED) parameter for it in the Door Family. Start yours from Scratch. Throw out the OOTB ones. Research Nested Panels and Nested Frames. If built correctly, all doors can schedule together: Regulars and Curtain Panels alike.
This may seem silly, but we just made the door schedule, right? Did we drop it on a sheet? Why not? We do it once in the template, or they do it once in every project. In fact, take this opportunity to cartoon your set of typical drawing sheets, and to place typical stuff on them.
Drop them all on the sheets. Do it once now, or once on every job. (In the “second round” we will make an entire set of ‘Design Drawings’ too…)
There are some Views you are just ALWAYS going to have, right? Floor Plan- First Floor, RCP- First Floor, Finish Plan- First Floor, Elevations (Exterior), etc.
While you are cartooning views, realize that not all Plans are the same, nor are all Sections or Elevations. Add a Shared Parameter or two to all view types for browser sorting. Sort your views in to all of the different “view types” you will want: For Plans, things like: Floor Plans, Dimensional Control Plans, Enlarged Plans, Plan Details, Finish Plans. Separate them by how you would classify your drawings. For views like Sections and Elevations, make different section types, and elevation types: Building Sections, Wall Sections, Millwork Sections, Site Sections, Demolition Sections… Yes, include Demolition. (Revit can sort views by phase but not for demolition). Since demolition happens DURING the current Phase, your demo markers show up in all of your new drawings. Using a new type, you can separate them.
Research Filters. You can select things by criterion, to either remove them from a view (uncheck visibility) or alter them. Start thinking through your common uses for filters. We have about 20 that are in EVERY view by default. Interior Finish Walls, Exterior Finish Walls, Building Sections, Wall Sections, (since annotations > sections grabs them all at once), demo sections (here is how you turn them off at once), Grids- Major, Grids Minor, Not in Contract, For Reference Only, Door Panels, Door Frames (if you nest them, and want to turn them off for Tag All Not Tagged). If you can put data in it, you can filter for it.
Maybe you’ve done your first project already, maybe you haven’t. But chances are, if you are working in Revit, there is one thing you might have: Consultants Models. The BENEFIT of Revit is: Every time you link them in, you see everything! (Coordination) The down side is: you see everything! (Levels, Grids, Analytical models, reference planes). So here is what I do first: Create a blank file, for EACH discipline. File New, Save as. Do NOTHING in the file. Make one for STR, M, E, P, and FP (just in case you have a job where they are all kept separate). It doesn’t matter where you store the files, you will never use them again. (Mine are next to my template, but they don’t even get copied to every new project, since it doesn’t matter).
Here is why we are doing this. Every consultant is different, but there are certain things I KNOW I don’t want to see: Their levels in elevations and sections, their grids in plan, analytical models, rigid links, spaces, etc. I want to gray out the steel in RCP so I see it for reference but not dominate the deck spaces of the project. Well, if you have these links in there, you can PRESET that stuff so you NEVER have to deal with it again. Then when you get a real consultants file, Manage Links > Reload From, and it maintains the overrides.
This one is the most overlooked, in my opinion. Can you survive in Revit without View Templates? Absolutely. I worked in Revit for 2 years before I used them and I did fine. Once I learned to really leverage them, however, I got INSANELY more efficient. All of the things we did recently in the list, and some we haven’t done at all yet: Turning Filters on and Off (section types showing per view, etc), overriding certain elements, setting Level of Detail, Graphical Style, Annotations in Linked Files being turned off, and so on. Make a View Template for EACH of the view types with which you sorted your browser. Different Section types, different plan types, which plans show which elevation markers, which section markers, etc. I prefer a view template for every view type, and I trust them enough that I should be able to reapply all of them five minutes before I print.
I waited until I built my 3rd Revit Template to touch materials at all… Because OOTB stuff is so littered with them and Fill Patterns, it’s a massive undertaking to get through them. You’ll hodgepodge it a few times in the interim, so maybe this one waits to the end. But time permitting; here is my suggestion on how to handle it: Delete every single material from the template. Then start remaking them, one by one. Delete every Fill Pattern from the Revit.pat file. Remake them. When you remake them, name them for PURPOSE, not graphical STYLE. It’s Masonry-Brick-Cut, not “Diagonal Down.”
When you delete all of the MATERIALS, it will switch everything in to your System Families to “By Category.” You will have to go item by item and replace them. Hey: Is a 3-5/8” stud the same as a 6” stud? No? Make them separate materials, so you can apply different keynotes to them later. By the way, what’s irritating is there are materials IN your content. They come in to the projects too. If you want to go nuts, go in your content one by one, and delete them.
It will probably hit you long before Materials, but at some point you will want to standardize how things get named. All things: families, views, models, materials, worksets. Revit is a fickle machine, and some things alphabetize in the absence of a better method. So you will want to come up with a system.
Line Styles. I do the same thing as Revit patterns. I don’t call it “Dash” I call it “Demolition.” I don’t call it Hidden, I call it “Casework- Plan rep.” Do I end up with redundant Linetypes? I’m sure I do. Who cares? Purpose Built = people don’t use them incorrectly.
For Object Styles and Line Weights… I know Line Weights are the first thing people notice about Revit, but save it until last. Or at least, last in the first round of items you do. The reason being: When you make content, you will see Line Styles, Line Weights, and on and on. When you start this, you’ll realize you want to open every single family to check them, and streamline them and it can be a hassle.
Object Styles. Decide what should be darker or lighter RELATIVE to one another. (And I get rid of at least half of the 16. 16 is just nuts. 8 is plenty, IMHO. Then I use the other 8 for super huge stuff like Titleblock lines). So let’s say I have 8 numbers. I assign the OS cuts and projections to 2-8 (keeping 1 for hatch).
When I’m done with Object Styles (pass 1), I go and do a plan detail. With modeled objects, detail components, stuff in projection, stuff that is cut. And I duplicate it, 10 times. I change it to ten different scales. I plot it. I look at it. They’re not all going to look good. So I check the CONTRAST between the items. If I don’t like the CONTRAST, I read just the Object Styles (pass 2), and go back to print.
Once I’m happy with the CONTRAST, I print my Object Style settings, and go scale to scale, with that pesky Line Weight chart. This line is too light. What is it? A cut wall- that’s a 7. How thick is a 7 at this scale? Make it thicker and reprint. And do it again, and do it again. For all of the scales (pass 1). It’s not necessarily true that just because the scale gets bigger the lines should too, but sometimes, it is. So you have to monkey with it, for every single scale.
When I get that one pesky sheet of details to look decent, I revisit Object Styles (pass 3). Anything there I want to revisit? If I’m happy with them, I do a wall section. Print it at a bunch of scales and check it. It shouldn’t need as much as the plan details did, but it may need some adjustments (Line Weight pass 2).
Decide which adjustments need to be project wide in the Object Styles and Line Weights, and which ones you want View Templates to override (I don’t like using View Templates this way, so I try to avoid it).
I also find you have to do it after your content is done, which is a double edged sword, in case you have to go back and adjust your content. But until you know how everything will be built, how do you know how it will plot?
Obviously we are all insanely busy, so the chances of you getting through all of this in one sitting- or before you have to get back to billable work- are slim to none. My advice? Start with the ones that DON’T seem very important the first time you read them:
Filters. View templates. Easily the two most important in the list, and the most productive, but you can’t leverage them until some of the other stuff is done, and done well.
Naming Standards. It makes the Filters easier, and that makes the View Templates work easier. We have a standard for naming/classifying walls. That means we can have intelligent selection sets for particular wall types: Masonry, Metal Stud, Finish Tile, and so on. Make up a system. A lousy first try is better than none at all.
Placeholder Links. Do it immediately. We spend time fussing with a consultant’s stuff over and over and over.
All of this stuff will make a template huge, especially when you get far in to it. Ours is 47 MB, but it is hands down the most productive piece of content we have in the office. People can go right in for design, and have things melding together immediately. If it HAPPENS on every job, don’t make them DO it on every job. CAD is gone, and the days of worrying about file size are over.
As always, this is just how I do it and I have been successful with it, but… Your mileage may vary.
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