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Tools for Revit Automation

I came across this article How to Select Best Automation Tool for your Work in Revit. Designers vs Programmers.

that had this diagram that I thought was very interesting:

It seems to be very pro- Dynamo and also indicates the learning curve required to make add-ins in python and C# (I think python is a bit low in the diagram as you need to figure out the Revit API as well). I also have my suspicions about the dynamo learning time as that usually requires special nodes or some extra programming for anything above the basic cases of dynamo.

They all seem to deal with the more complex items of BIM rather than the day to day work of creating a set of working drawings to give to contractors to price and build buildings. Their main aim is to take a BIM process and automate it.

I’ve tried Dynamo, C# and pyRevit and I haven’t felt motivated to take them any further.They all have a steep learning curve and C# and pyRevit lean heavily to you knowing and understanding OOP and the Revit API. Dynamo I started using back in 2013/14 and it was a bit clunky then and I haven’t seen anything that makes me excited enough to get my interest back in it to any great extent although I do keep a weather eye open to articles that discuss its use.

The fundamental processes of allowing users to chain a few simple Keyboard Shortcuts together to speed up the pedestrian tasks seems to be overlooked by the designers and programmers who are more fascinated with BIM rather than the day to day workflow tasks that you undertake to create documentation. And the Revit API pushes you towards this process in what it allows you access to.


Schedules are a case in point, for all of the iterations of Revit, its still easier to export the schedule to Excel, work on it and then re-import it back into Revit. There are several tools that do this from Free add-ins to using Dynamo, as you are only allowed to edit a single cell at a time inside Revit. Being that it is a major aspect of BIM I’m surprised that they haven’t got an inbuilt add-in to do that task yet, but focus on things like “moving path” for movement around furniture. So many more people will be using schedules and the moving path addition is a bit of a gizmo.

Basic commonly used commands

If anyone did a time and motion study on what commands are used the most in Revit then there will be an obvious leaning to simple things like annotation, dimensions, view setup and basic modelling & especially zooming & panning around the drawing.

Annotation & symbols

I know that there have been improvements in the text annotation, being able now to pre-set an arrow style for your text and also, finally allowing for right side arrow to Default to Top Right instead of bottom right.

Symbols have been made easier with Right Click Context menu to add symbols to text, still a bit clunky but definitely easier than what it was before.

I personally find writing text in revit a pain as editing is a bit of a pain, that’s why I’m leaning to use external text editors and importing text into notes, once they are setup they definitely speed up the process from the traditional cut/paste/edit.

Hiding and Showing Elements – Temporary, View Templates & Visability Graphics

As projects near completion I find, having setup view templates you dive in and use temporary hide/isolate to be able to simplify views so that you can tweak minor changes but that can be very frustrating when you go from hide to show as you need to then either oversimplify with isolate just to declutter the view. I’ve found Viz Graphics a handy tool but it is difficult to use as you have a large list of very small tick boxes to click on to to an intermediate step of hiding some of the ancillary items such as dimensions, sections and elevation heads and tags so that you can get into doing the modifications more efficiently. Using user-built scripts allow you to do this so much more easily and also retain your original View Template, unless you have multiple view templates to switch between and hopefully not end up with a very long list. I like the flexibility of an alternative & intermediate process.

Searching for views, sheets and families

This is a major challenge as projects progress as multi-views & sheets are generated and searching through them can be quite time consuming. The Ctrl + F for search box does not seem to work for me, and I can’t assign another Keyboard Shortcut to it, so I had to build my own.

The Ribbon you are forced to use

I like to focus on working in the model area of the project and find having to move the cursor to the ribbon part way through a command extremely annoying. To prevent this you can add a lot of Keyboard Shortcuts to allow for these intermediate steps to prevent having to go to the ribbon to complete commands, but that means you are having to remember a lot of other keyboard shortcuts as well as the ones you have for the basic commands that you are using all the time. Being able to chain commands together simplifies having to remember so many Keyboard Shortcuts and allows me to minimise the use of the ribbon, thereby speeding up my work and keeping me focused on the job in hand.

Structuring the Project in Revit

To get the best from revit you do need to spend a lot of time setting up project templates and a lot of other features such as view templates and maybe sheet sets, then you start to get some speed efficiencies.

I’m a sort of go with the flow sort of a chap, I’ve developed some structured items that suit me but as I’m usually freelance I have to adapt to the office standards of where I contract, so the tools I develop are ones that can cross office structures, generally aiming at doing the repetitive tasks quickly and consistently without affecting the current office setup and being able to produce work in a timely manner.

End comment

So I’m going to continue to focus on developing PowerKey4Revit for doing the tedious stuff and speeding up those items.

Yes Revit BIM is powerful, but I’ve experienced a lot of indifference to it from contractors and clients, so it seems to be a tool for designers to play with (Building Information) and since its not being utilized to its pracrticable extent (passing on information from designers, to contractors and to Clients to help better manage their building assets) I’ll focus on the mundane task of trying to ENJOY producing documentation for building buildings with the minimum amount of tedium in my day.

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Speeding up production – how

A method of measuring if a tool is effective is by measuring the difference in speed of a combination command against the original one Keyboard Shortcut per command. This will indicate how much quicker it is to carry out, so you can calculate the time saved.

The time saved will be in seconds, and that sounds trivial. But if you think of those seconds adding up over a longer duration and then multiply it by your hourly rate, you will see that there are measurable savings to be made.

When developing a design for production in Revit you will be working through multiple phases, from Preliminary design through to construction Drawings and beyond. Tools & commands you’d use on one phase of the project may be different from those used in a different phase of a project.

So how do you know the frequency of use of commands?

Well, you could try and note down how often you used them or just have them logged to a file. If you set a start date and leave the logger running over a period of time you can see the frequency of use of commands.

As an exercise I logged to a file the frequency of use on production of specific commands, so that I could quantify