Way back in 2008, I was super excited about all things Revit and started What Revit Wants. I’m still super excited about Revit and BIM, and this is just a quick note to say thank you for all of your recent and ongoing support (like your replies here and here). What Revit Wants is not going away! We have had an interesting couple of weeks but we are back with more features than ever on a new web hosting platform.

Over on the previous host, What Revit Wants had received over 6.7 million page views! I’m really motivated to continue sharing with such a huge audience. I look forward to engaging with you on social media and via your comments too.

A little bit of housekeeping…

  • The main URL for What Revit Wants is now https://wrw.is/  If you have your own blog or site and you have linked to What Revit Wants, please update those links to the new site. Thank you so much!
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And for the first time, What Revit Wants will be set up to send newsletters to subscribers. Look out for the first one in your inbox soon…

An interesting but sometimes blunt process that happens in firms is ‘ranking’ their Revit users by proficiency. There are various reasons to do this, and some of them make sense. In an ideal world, all of your Revit users are simply awesome and you have no skills problems. But yeah, real life ain’t that way is it?

So how do you go about it? And do you use those ratings primarily?

  1. To change how you run projects, or
  2. how you deliver training,
  3. or both?

I touched on the ‘Five Stages of a Revit User’ and the ‘6 Phases of a Revit User‘ in this post:
What Revit Wants: Revit users – Five Stages vs 6 Phases vs Hype Cycle

And KnowledgeSmart have shared a 3-tiered system here:
The KnowledgeSmart Blog: 3 Levels of Revit Proficiency

Personally, I think the success of Revit in your firm is likely more affected by culture and attitude. Are people being forced to implement something they don’t like or understand? That could be an uphill battle…

Check out this post for more on using Revit with the right attitude and mindset.


A while back, Alex Gore contacted me to ask me a few questions about my experience with Revit. Its interesting to read through what I thought almost three years ago. In some ways, it is a motivational piece about sticking with Revit, but there are tips and recommendations sprinkled throughout. There is a great deal of What Revit Wants in here, if you have the time to skim through it.

After almost three years, what still makes sense? What hasn’t happened (yet)?

Read on to read part of that interview here (Ed. note, I have reformatted some of the content):

When you are approaching creating a project in Revit, what sort of questions should you be asking yourself? What mindset should you be in?
You really do need to pause at that moment before hitting ‘New’ to make a new project in Revit.

  • What sort of project will this be?
  • What is the timeline and project program?
  • Are we under severe time pressure, or can we set this project up to be something that is ‘solid as a rock’ in terms of best-practice BIM?

The right mindset is important.

Try not to stress too much about the software. Revit can seem daunting at times, but in the end, it is a tool for accomplishing work. You are in control of it, not vice versa. At various points in the project lifespan (including those formative moments when you are setting up a model), you will have to ask yourself:

  • What is the best way to accomplish the project goal?
  • Do you need to model everything in 3D?
  • Is it more important to set up smart parameters for scheduling and tagging – perhaps making the model super intelligent but not necessarily super detailed
  • Will you be the only staff member on this project, or do you need to determine some way to logically divide the modelling tasks between users?
  • Are you going to go through many sketch iterations and rapid changes early in the project, and do you need to track these (think Design Options)?
  • Is the model ever going to be a deliverable, and does it need to comply with any particular standard – either an internal one, or perhaps a BIM standard enforced by some regulatory authority?

What mindset or thought process is counterproductive to working in Revit?
There a few that immediately come to mind. Some questions and thoughts are actually a waste of time and emotional energy, like:

  • Why can’t Revit do XYZ, it was easy in AutoCAD!
  • I wish I didn’t have to use Revit (this is just demoralising, if you are using Revit, there is obviously a good reason – so get on with it)
  • I don’t need to understand how Revit works to use it properly (if you say this, you are never going to master the software)
  • If I can’t do it in Revit, I’ll just use Sketchup (or AutoCAD, or whatever software you feel ‘comfortable’ with)

You really need to commit to using Revit. Yes, it can be a difficult learning curve. The initial excitement quickly wears off, as you are faced with numerous choices you don’t really understand, and this long list of “I don’t know how to do this” tasks. But you will learn. You have to. Revit is not going away – it is becoming more widespread every day. Just be happy that you are sitting there using Revityou have been given a great opportunity for learning and advancement. But you need to be open-minded, quick to listen and learn and ask questions, and slow to give up. Stick with it, you won’t be disappointed. All the little bits and pieces will start to come together and ‘click’ in your mind, trust me.

If you were teaching someone Revit what outline would you give them? What would you tell them to learn first, second, and so on..
I think one of the best ideas is to take an existing set of CAD documents (preferably from a building that you have drafted), and redraw that building in Revit. You have the advantage of knowing what the building looks like and how it goes together – you just have to try to recreate that in the software. Don’t be too stressed about making every little graphic element look the same between the drawings, but do try to use good modelling technique from the start. Model elements on the appropriate Category and using the appropriate tools. When you are starting out, at least make an effort to fit in with how the program is ‘supposed’ to function. You can start to bend and break these rules later, when you understand the pros and cons of what you are actually doing…

After doing some basic modelling, I would recommend spending some time doing some tagging and scheduling. Experiment with things – what can you tag, what can’t you tag? How can you manipulate information in Schedules, total certain columns, export to Excel. I think its important to expose yourself to the fact that elements in Revit have ‘intelligence’. Sure, you can see them in 3D. But the real beauty and power of Revit is that everything is linked together to the underlying data related to an element.

What is a Revit trick, shortcut, or way of doing something would you wish someone would have told you long ago?
I’ll give you four:

  • don’t ignore the save reminder, no matter how annoying it may seem
  • using a circle / arc as the outer part of a void form (to save time)
  • the ability to save inplace families as component families
  • Adaptive families are far more powerful and useful than you may think

What is the most common mistake you see in revit models or building revit content?
In the form of a rant – If something is a wall, use the Wall tool. If its a floor, use a Floor. If its a benchtop, use Casework. I may seem to be labouring the point, but one of the most frustrating things that I consistently see is the complete misuse of one Revit tool or category, when a better and more appropriate option already exists!

As far as content goes, I think the biggest mistake is over modelling or making super detailed models. Trust me, from time to time I am guilty of this. But it comes back to setting a content goal – what is purpose of this content? If it is just to fill up a schedule, use the most basic form you can get away with. If something is unnecessarily detailed, it can really slow a project down.

If you were passing by a student in a hallway and you could only impart 30 seconds of Revit wisdom on them, what would you say?
Revit geeks are generally better paid and more employable than those with a Phd in Architecture. If you want to succeed in Revit, take the time to get to know it properly. Spend time reading up on best practices. Subscribe to blogs and Twitter accounts of professional Revit users. And some student-specific wisdom – its fun to learn how to model crazy and organic forms in Revit, but in a real office, you might spend about 5% of your time doing that. Over 80% of your time will probably be spent using Revit on a real building. So try to learn how a building actually goes together. Go on site visits. Do some construction labouring. If you know how a building is built, and you know how Revit elements are related to real-world building elements, you will go far.

Where do you see the future of Revit, what is it’s significance, and potential?
There is a lot of talk about 3D printing, CNC, direct to manufacture modelling. And I do think things will continue to head that way. I guess one of the big unknowns is “how much will Revit end up doing”.

I’ll try to explain – Microsoft Word is a great tool. It has been around for many years, and has gone through many many versions with features added to each version. But in the end, it is still just a word processing tool. You need Excel for spreadsheets, Outlook for emails, Powerpoint for slideshows, and so it goes on. So where will Revit end up? AutoCAD is a great drafting tool – fast, accurate, powerful. Its 3D engine is very strong. And yet there was room for Revit to develop, grow, and now flourish.

Will Revit become an ‘all in one’ building model management tool? I actually hope that it does. I would love if it became the vehicle for all building elements and systems to be created, integrated and linked together. I want things to become simpler – I want to deal with less pieces of software, not more.

A few things need to happen – cloud integration and Revit needs to become a reality. Something that is fast, user friendly, reliable. Is part of the solution to use hosted Revit in a Citrix type environment? Perhaps, but there are performance problems with that at the moment. Revit Server is good, but requires a certain commitment in terms of setup and maintenance.

Helping people understand the BIM Building Information Modeling industry – REVIT FAMILIES AND COMPONENTS


Let’s say you want to tag Duct Accessories in a linked Revit model. That’s easy, because Revit can Tag All… Linked Elements by Category. Just tick the box in the dialog below:

But what if you only want to Tag certain Duct Accessories, like those that actually have a value in a given parameter? What we need to do is limit the view to only showing what you want to tag, and then run the Tag All Not Tagged command as above.

Here’s how:

  1. Duplicate the view you are working in
  2. Hide all unnecessary Links
  3. Use View Filters to hide the elements you don’t need, by using the parameter you actually want, something like this:
  4. After you have hidden off these elements, run the Tag All command in this view
  5. Select all of those new tags (right-click on one of them, Select All Instances – Visible in View)
  6. Copy
  7. Switch back to the original view and Paste Aligned to Current View

So What does Revit Want? For you to think about how it works, and then use it accordingly. In this case, we realised “hey, Revit tags only what it sees…” Then, we can develop the workflow above to solve the problem.

    To satisfy your inner API maths hunger (surely that’s a thing?), here is how Revit “thinks” about Length:

    Notice the recurring “328083…” theme? This is how it relates:

    Check out the comprehensive list of Revit internal units (across all unit types) at:
    Revit Units .NET API: Figure Out Revit Internal Units Per Unit Type (pt. 2) – RevitNetAddinWizard & NavisworksNetAddinWizard

    A great way to test if you know What Revit Wants is to try and run a complicated high rise or health facility using model groups. The principle and general functionality of groups is fine, but they can get very difficult to manage if not treated properly. However, they can be mastered.

    As Ceilidh Higgins puts it:
    Whilst groups are error prone and seem to have a lot of bugs … they are still the best available solution within revit for collecting together repetitive sets of objects. 

    She recently presented at RTC on this subject, and she has provided the associated presentation slides for download and viewing.

    Embedded here:

    Get your groupon! A guide to Revit groups | The Midnight Lunch

    You may also be interested in this AU class by Aaron Maller:
    Autodesk® Revit® Links, Groups, and Documentation: How to Make It Really Work!

    A very interesting Case Study written by Doug Andresen (principal architect at Andresen Architecture, Inc) was posted to AUGI last week.  He describes how his firm transitioned from AutoCAD to Revit.

    Here are a few quotes I liked:
    we purchased the product and only used Revit for renderings for the first 3 to 4 years. We were so pleased with just that portion of the program that it was fine with us to sell a project with colored renderings and continue to deliver the project in AutoCad. However, the beauty of Revit is its seamless integration from preliminaries to construction documents and the time savings are phenomenal.

    the more experienced people in AutoCad seemed to have the hardest time learning Revit because it was such a different paradigm and it took a great deal of effort to re-learn everything.  
    [Different paradigm?  Its called What Revit Wants]

    the set-up time is significant and not for the faint-of-heart. What we finally ended up doing is simply taking the plunge into construction documents after completing the Revit tutorial.

    We had to install an in-house “virtual cloud” that would run up to 5 seats simultaneously

    all of the good things you have heard are all true! Don’t be afraid of the challenges that the program presents. Revit is the future and the sooner you get on-board, the better.

    Read the whole article:
    Industry Spotlight: The Revit Revolution | AUGI

    A few interesting thoughts from revitdialog:
    The few BIM start up meetings I’ve sat in, usually involve “these are the BIM uses we are going to do”.  Really?  Did you ask the project what it wants.  There is a reason why you sit down and figure out what are the goals of the project BEFORE selecting the BIM uses.  More specifically what are the quantitative goals for the project.  

    Read more:
    Getting Real

    Some quotes from Making Breakthroughs in Revit: An Interview with Marcello Sgambelluri (the cow and elephant guy 🙂

    “I realized … that Revit is much more than a program to be used to document buildings and I started my pursuit to push Revit to its limits so I could better myself.

    Refocusing Phase: This is when I realize that there has to be a different way of doing something to achieve the end goal. I find a way.

    there is nothing that motivates me more than when I hear the words “You cannot do that in Revit.”

    My engineering training has helped me to step back and look at my Revit problems in a new light.

    I am working on how to use the site modeling tools to model complex shapes… (*)

    If you don’t know how to do something in Revit, try it. Remember it’s only a program—you can’t hurt it!

    Get to know Revit and its environment. (**)

    I realized that the only way I could achieve breakthroughs in Revit was to change my mindset about the program. “

    Read more:
    Making Breakthroughs in Revit: An Interview with Marcello Sgambelluri | AUGI

    For my take on this, check out Using meshmixer to morph your Revit Topography

    This goes hand-in-hand with the theme of this blog – finding out What Revit Wants.  For further reading on this, check out  The Revit Mind and What Revit Wants

    Image from AUGI, by Marcello

    An interesting post by Daniel Burrus on LinkedIn has been doing the social media rounds.  Some quotes:
    Every profession has both a science and an art. The science can be taught, and people can be equally good at the science of any profession. The key to differentiate yourself in your profession is to develop the art side, not just the science side.

    The same is true with any profession, whether you are in sales, IT, customer service, or even medicine. After all, if healing was only a science, it wouldn’t matter who your doctor was. But you and I both know it does matter who your doctor is, and it’s not because of the science; it’s because of the art. It’s about what the individual brings to their medical practice—their uniqueness, their problem-solving ability, their diagnostic capabilities, and their way of solving problems in real time when they’re working on you.

    Obviously, this principle holds true for Revit.  Just knowing how the tools work and where to find them in the Ribbon does not mean that you know the Art of Revit.  The Art of Revit involves:

    • Understanding What Revit Wants.
    • Being able to analyze 5 different ways of doing things, and being able to choose the best one.
    • Solving problems by thinking through the process, not just by asking someone.
    • Finding completely new ways to solve old problems.
    • Knowing how to break the rules, and knowing when the rules should be broken.

    Of course, the Art of Revit also involves being able to do cool things like Marcello and David

    Heads-up via this tweet from Aaron:

    Led me to this page:
    There Is a Science and an Art to Every Profession | LinkedIn