ArchiTECH Tuesday: Does your Revit follow a BIM workflow or a lazy drafting workflow?

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Date: August 25, 2015

Revit’s keynote system is a great way to standardize text notes and annotations.  It enables a one-source authority for large projects and can keep a team coordinated.  But if we remember our drafting habits and introduce unconnected symbols into our workflow to speed up the “drafting”, then we defeat our BIM objectives.

If you are using keynotes to ensure your design elements are coordinated and consistent in a BIM enabled workflow are you following through with placing them in a BIM consistent workflow or are you reverting to a drafting type of workflow? If your team members are not consistent when placing the symbols, it is easy to fall into bad habits resulting in false confidence that your coordinated set of documents is as coordinated as it may appear.  Take a look at the following methods of placing tags and decide which method is using a BIM Enabled workflow.

Lazy Drafting Method 1: – This method uses a keynote to place the first tag, then uses a generic annotation family called Blank_Leader.rfa to add additional leader lines to the original tag allowing it to point to other geometry in the view.  Count the clicks.  To tag all four water closets in this view using a Drafting Method a lot of clicks and unless you were really good in your initial placement, you’d probably have to move the symbol until it aligned with the tag correctly.  When your designer goes back and updates the water closet inside the accessible stall to be the correct accessible type the tag won’t update. Total click count is 16.  If the designer realizes the error of his ways and retags the accessible stall water closet add at least five clicks to reduce the blank leader and add a new tag.  Total click count is 21.

Lazy Drafting Method 2: – This method again uses a keynote to place the first tag, but then the clever designer thinks using  copy paste to add the rest of the tags will be faster and better.  A few extra clicks relocates the leaders to the other water closets, but does the tag update when the accessible water closet is swapped out? NO. The graphics are improved, because the tags are truly aligned on top of each other, but did we save time or clicks? Total click count is 19.

Lazy Drafting Repair Method 2.5:  At least this method can be fixed or BIM enabled by re-hosting the tags to the individual toilets.  Watch as our clever drafter reconnects the tags to the correct water closets. Total additional click count is 9.  Once the accessible water closet is updated, it takes an additional two clicks to separate the tag.  Total click count for a BIM enabled method taking drafting shortcuts is 30.

BIM Enabled Method:  Watch as our clever designer has learned the error of his ways and places the tags in a BIM workflow aligning the tags one on top of the other to achieve a coordinated and graphically pleasing set of tags.  This method still follows a BIM workflow so that if the underlying geometry is changed, the tag symbol will update.  Total click count is 16. Sound familiar?   Two more clicks to move the updated accessible water closet tag results in a total click count of 18.

The key to streamlining the placement is the introduction of the escape key or clicking the modify symbol between the tag placement activities.  Yes I counted that as a click. This allows you to properly align the tags by clicking on the same points.  Hey Revit Factory, if you’re listening, you could allow the tagging function to select alignments on a tag without using the escape key if you wanted to save our designers 4 more clicks.

Just remember that your text label will have to be transparent or the only tag that is seen is the last one placed!

Did you notice the times?  BIM enabled is more efficient, faster and better coordinated than the other methods too!  If you can’t get your tags to properly align, read the tip below to learn the secret and remember to use the Escape key between tags to allow the alignment of the elbow and extension points.

TIP:  When placing keynotes, it is helpful if you set the leader attachment method to ” free end”  for simple ease of placing the tag in relation to the object if you intend to introduce an elbow into the leader.  If you want to add multiple leaders to the tag, you’re unfortunately out of luck until that wish list is granted.

Disclaimer for Todd Shackleford.  Nothing personal is meant by my use of the term Lazy Drafter! I like celery too!


By: Richard Binning, Director of BIM Technology; Check out his blog: Beside the Cursor;