Category: Revit, User Interface

Common Revit UI Issues: Part 2

In the previous post I started covering common Revit user interface (UI) issues that I see on a regular basis. It was getting too long so I decided to split it up into two parts. So here we go with part 2!

Why are all the modeling tools grayed out or unavailable?

There are several sketch modes or edit modes that you can enter while working in Revit. When in one of these modes, you must complete the mode before you can do anything else. For example, when creating a floor or roof, Revit goes into sketch mode.

When editing a circuit, Revit goes into edit mode.

When in one of these modes, all of the modeling tools and several other tools will be unavailable. You cannot simply switch to another tool like you can with some of the other modeling tools. When you encounter this situation, look for a contextual ribbon tab. A contextual ribbon tab will appear next to the other ribbon tabs, and it will be a different color. Click the contextual ribbon tab to open the contextual ribbon. (Contextual ribbon = relating to the context of the active tool)

As stated before, when in one of these modes, you must complete the mode before moving on. If you entered the mode by accident, then click the red X to cancel out of the edit mode. If you were working in the edit mode and forgot to complete the action, then click the green checkmark to finish the editing mode.

Why can I not select ________________?

You can fill in the blank here. There are three selection settings that can prevent you from selecting specific elements: Select Links, Select Underlay Elements, and Select Pinned Elements. My first suggestion is to ask if you really need to work with that element you cannot select. For example, with linked Revit models, I typically recommend that only the BIM Manager or BIM Lead for the project make adjustments. However, for the sake of this post, I will focus on resolving the issue as opposed to procedures on who should do what.

The selection settings can be found in the lower right corner of Revit or by expanding the Select panel on any ribbon. The Select panel is where the Modify tool is located, and it always appears to the far left on each ribbon. As you can see, there are five selection settings, but only the three mentioned will prevent you from selecting specific elements. When a checkbox is selected, then the selection setting is enabled. When a checkbox is cleared, then the selection setting is disabled. A red X will appear on the button in the lower right when the setting is disabled.

Select Links

When Select Links is disabled, you will not be able to select any linked file, such as a linked Revit model or linked CAD file. You will also not be able to use TAB to select an element in the linked Revit model. Be aware that you can still select a reference in a link when using tools that require a reference, such as a dimension tool, when Select Links is disabled.

Having this option disabled is beneficial most of the time as you do not have to worry about accidentally selecting a link. But when you need to select a link and cannot, check this setting first.

Select Underlay Elements

When Select Underlay Elements is disabled, you will not be able to select elements that are in the underlay of a view. When you look at the instance properties of a view in the Properties palette, there is an Underlay section. Here you can see if an underlay has been added. If so, then maybe the element you are trying to select is an underlay element.

Additionally, some categories of elements will behave as an underlay element when they do not match the Discipline of the view. For example, architecture categories will behave as underlay elements when the Discipline is set to Mechanical, Electrical, or Plumbing. MEP teams rarely create components like walls, doors, or windows in their model, but categories like Generic Models can produce a situation where a user cannot select it. And the reason is because Generic Models behaves as an underlay element when the Discipline is set to Mechanical, Electrical, or Plumbing, even though the element is not technically within the underlay. So be aware of these situations when you cannot select an element.

Select Pinned Elements

When Select Pinned Elements is disabled, you will not be able to select any elements that have been pinned. You will also not be able to use TAB to select a pinned element.

Why can I not adjust any of the view properties?

This question may not entirely be a user interface issue, but I think it fits in well here. Oftentimes users will try to adjust a view property, such as the View Scale, Detail Level, Visibility/Graphic Overrides, or any others, and the properties will be grayed out or unavailable. The occurs when the view property is being controlled by a view template. In other words, when a view template is assigned to a view, the view properties will be controlled by the view template.

To see if a view template has been assigned, look in the Properties palette under the Identity Data section. When a view template is assigned to the view, then the name of the view template will appear next to the View Template property. What this means is that any view property included in the view template will be controlled by the view template. And those view properties will be unavailable in the Properties palette, View Control Bar, Visibility/Graphic Overrides dialog, or wherever the view property is controlled. Assigning a view template is good practice for views that are placed on sheets or exported so that the view properties are consistent.

Now that we’ve covered why the properties are unavailable, let’s briefly discuss how to proceed. I would suggest not to simply unassign the view template. I would hope that it’s been assigned for a reason. I would also suggest checking with other team members before changing the property in the view template as any changes will also affect the other views that have the view template assigned.

If you simply need to adjust the visibility to look at something else or want to explore a few other view options, then I would suggest using temporary view properties. On the View Control Bar, click Temporary View Properties and then select Enable Temporary View Properties. This is a temporary view state so a border will appear around the drawing area. At this point, you can adjust any view property that you want, and then when you select Restore View Properties, they will all be restored.

Why can I not change a dimension to move an element?

Have you ever tried to adjust a dimension, and you ended up with the dialog below? The reason is because you selected the dimension first and then clicked the dimension value. The process for moving an element with a dimension is similar, but it requires you to select the element that you want to move first. Users will often select the dimension because they want to adjust the value. Then they end up in the Dimension Text dialog and there’s all kinds of rabbit holes here!

Once again, when you want to move an element by adjusting a temporary or permanent dimension, you first need to select the element that you want to move. When you do, a temporary dimension will appear, or the permanent dimension value will become available. A dimension that is available to be adjusted turns blue, meaning you can click it to activate the value. Then simply click the value and enter a new value.

In a previous post I started covering common Revit user interface (UI) issues that I see on a regular basis. It was getting too long so I decided to split it up into two parts. So here we go with part 2!

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