Category: Fundamentals, Revit

A Breakdown of Revit Elements

This post is elementary in terms of Revit skill level, but unfortunately there are experienced Revit users that do not fully grasp some of these basic concepts. I believe that every Revit user should have these concepts mastered, especially if they desire to become a Revit guru. While the content here is basic, it must be understood by someone that wants to work in Revit or reach the level where they create families or even create Dynamo scripts to automate repetitive tasks. If you prefer to watch a video, check out this YouTube video…

In Revit, there are categories, and then families, family types, and instances, which are individual elements. Everything you create in Revit is considered an element. It’s important that all Revit users understand the basics of elements and how they function in Revit. To begin, there are three kinds of elements in Revit: model elements, datum elements, and view-specific elements.

Revit Model Elements

Model elements represent the actual 3D geometry of the building. For example, walls, windows, doors, beams, columns, ducts, pipes, and lighting fixtures. Those are all model elements. In another post, I covered the three kinds of families: system families, loadable families, and in-place families. Be aware that model elements can be created with any of those kinds of families. In other words, the different kinds of elements is not another classification under a specific kind of family.

To be more specific, the category really determines what kind of family will be used to create the element as well as what kind of element it will be. For example, for the Walls category, you will have system families that create model elements. And for the Lighting Fixtures category, you will have loadable families that create model elements.

Revit Datum Elements

Datum elements are elements that help define the framework of a building model. Some examples here are levels, grids, and reference planes. They help us to define the context of a building project. If Level 1 is at zero, Level 2 at 15 feet, and Level 3 at 30 feet, then those levels are creating the framework of the building model.

Revit View-Specific Elements

View-specific elements are those that display only in the view in which they were created in. And to take it a step further, there are two kinds of view-specific elements: annotation elements and detail elements.

Annotation elements, such as tags, text notes, and dimensions, are used to annotate a drawing. Detail elements are used to add additional detail to a model that cannot necessarily be created with a model element. These includes elements like filled regions and detail lines.

Once again, both annotation and detail elements are view-specific elements. That means you do not have to worry about dimensions, tags, filled regions floating around in 3D space.

Revit Properties or Parameters

Elements are controlled by parameters, which can also be referred to as properties. There are both type properties and instance properties. Type properties are parameters that are common to all elements of a family type whereas instance properties are parameters that are specific to the individual element instance.

To summarize, Revit elements are organized by category, then family, family type, and individual instances. When you create a family and then you create a type, you can create type properties. That type property will then apply to, or control, all instances of that family type. When an element is selected and someone clicks Edit Type in the Properties palette, the Type Properties dialog opens. Any changes there will affect all instances the belong to the family type. So if you have 200 instances of a certain family type and you update a type property, it will update for all 200 instances.

Instance properties, on the other hand, only apply to a single element instance. Back to the example, if there are 200 instances and you select one, then update an instance property in the Properties palette, it is only going to update for that single instance.

It is critical that every Revit user understand these basic concepts so that they do not derail or damage a Revit project.

I believe that every Revit user should have these concepts mastered, especially if they desire to become a Revit guru. While the content here is basic, it must be understood by someone that wants to work in Revit or reach the level where they create families or even create Dynamo scripts to automate repetitive tasks.

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