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  • Dan Edleson

3 Easy Steps to a Revit Template for AutoCAD Experts

In the previous two posts I focused on custom line types and editing families to begin making Revit feel more familiar to AutoCAD users. Assuming you have completed the heavy lifting associated with those posts, now is the time to pull everything together so you don’t have to think about it every time you start Revit. The key is setting up a custom office template. I’m going to go over three crucial steps to ensure a working environment that enables you to create visuals similar to AutoCAD. In a future post we will go more in depth into the nuances of template creation, but this post focuses specifically on the steps needed to create an AutoCAD friendly aesthetic. Plan to start this exercise with the typical out of the box Revit Architecture template. You can easily implement these tips if you are an intermediate user, but since it is something that will affect all projects going forward it is best to have the person most savvy at Revit take this on, and to do some brainstorming as a team before you start work on the template.

1. Take inventory and Plan the Process – For the most part, this doesn’t require being in the software at all. Instead, it requires those in Project and BIM Management positions and the company experts in AutoCAD sitting down in a room and identifying what is in the default Revit template that works and what needs to change to make the template conform to office AutoCAD standards. Really, this could be done before implementing any of the tips I have provided in this series, however it is especially crucial before creating the actual Template file from which all projects will begin. So go ahead and schedule out a couple hours with your BIM manager to sit down and walk through things step by step.

There isn’t any detail that isn’t worth discussing during this process. It is always good to spend more time on the front end to get the templates exactly how you want them than trying to change after a project has begun using them. And remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to creating templates. If your office’s work focuses on several distinct types of projects –for example offices, hospitals and schools— you might have a similar template for each but with significant differences that require them to be created separately.

2. Purging Out of the Box Families and Replacing Them With Your Own – There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel, and many out of the box Revit families may work fine. It is likely though that there are a number you will want to replace, such as a door with different symbolic lines in plan, or custom line types you want to use to ensure everyone is drafting in a consistent manner. The way to do this is to NOT to Purge All, but rather to go into the Purge settings and selectively go through step by step and purge anything you don’t want confusing everyday users.

Be critical about which generic Families you keep in the template. Keeping the out-of-the-box Door Families when you’ve spent time curating a whole new Door Family that works better for your firm will just give users the option to use the wrong one. Remember, you don’t need to delete the families off your computer, you just want to purge them from the Template so they aren’t confusing users. It’s always good to have the out of the box Revit families on hand, and they are great starting points for building custom families.

3. Best Practices and Drafting Safeguards - In the specific context of creating a template used for AutoCAD, it is likely you will need some supplemental PDFs to help guide users along in implementing the new standards. Have your BIM Manager create a Best Drafting Practices PDF that Revit users can reference when drafting in Revit. This should be the result of some testing and trial and error on the part of your BIM Manager in collaboration with an office AutoCAD expert, with the goal being to identify which line weights you have created work best for which views. Since Revit’s line weights tend to shift based on the scale of your views, having a key that shows which line should be heavy in 1/8” = 1’ view vs. 1” = 1’ is crucial. In this initial setup it is purely a trial and error job, printing and looking at how things show up and comparing them to a similar sheet from AutoCAD. To make the process even more user friendly, it would be worth adding more linetypes just to clarify these things. This may be a bit more labor intensive, and it is also a higher-level strategy, but it will save significant headaches on future deadlines when people are in a hurry. You want to be careful on overdoing it with linetypes in the project, but what I would suggest to start is creating 3 linetypes for every scale view: heavy, medium and thin. So in the end you may have 1/8” thin, ¼” thin, ½” thin and 1” thin linetypes, and the same for medium and thick line types. This is a safeguard against users who may not be inclined to reference a PDF every time they are drafting. Different users will always have different methods, and in the same way that Revit often let’s you implement a command in two or three different ways, it benefits to have multiple ways users can get to the same result. Don’t forget to add your new templates to the New Project template list so they are easy to find.

Remember, templates are created to simplify the setup at the beginning of each project and guard against user errors. Spending time on the front end to get templates exactly how you want them is crucial to them not only being effective but also well received by your design team. Getting teams started the right way sets users up to succeed and fully utilize the many benefits a working BIM environment can offer over AutoCAD.


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