By Garry Stockton
1. The family should have no warnings or exceptions.
This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how often this happens. Perhaps there is no error at first, but the file may have issues as soon as you attempt to adjust its parameters. This is annoying and you simply waste the users time.
2. The family should have intuitive and neat parameters.
When we need to edit a parameter, we have a few more concerns. Where are the parameters we need to edit? Are they even included? Are they lost somewhere within a giant list of parameters we will never need and are they only there because the content creator got a little carried away? This can ultimately lead to the user rejecting the model, drawing it themselves (wasting even more time) and never using the manufacturers site they got it from again.
3. The family should include standard types or type catalogues.
In some cases, Manufacturers are not experts in creating content and anticipating how the building products we download, should be. Users need something to work with so we at least can understand what options we have within the family component, such as snapping points for Pipes/Ducts/Electrical points.
4. The family should contain URL parameters.
Including links to more information about a product will help save time if we have questions.
5. The family should have the right amount of data.
This is a fine line. I’m sure you’ve all had bad experiences with content overloaded with far too many parameters. Try and keep it simple, but at the same time, the component needs enough parameters to be useful.
6. The family should have data with thoughtful organisation.
There are times when I open a file (family) and think – what was this person thinking? Even with the right amount of data included in a file, disorganised or confusing placement can be just as frustrating to a user.
7. The family should include materials.
Materials are a must, especially if users intend getting decent rendered images of the product they used.
8. The family should differentiate appropriately between Type and Instance Parameters.
The creator of a family needs to understand how the end user will expect to find type and instance parameters and differentiate between them properly.
What are Type and Instance Parameters?
If you’re not sure, see below images.
For example, Type and Instance Parameters like beds. You might describe the Type of bed you have with King, Queen, Full, Twin etc. Instance would then refer to options like the style of frame, colour etc.
9. The family should be of minimal file size.
No one likes downloading, or has time to wait, for a massive file to load. Even in instances where a family requires a larger file size, best practice is to try and keep them under 1 MB.
10. The family should be cleaned and purged of anything unnecessary.
There is an entire button dedicated to this. Please use it.
11. The family should [not?] have masking regions.
This one is probably split 50-50 down the middle of who wants to see masking regions in a family and who doesn’t. We’ll refrain from passing judgement but be aware that it is a debate.
12. The family should appropriately consider the Level of Detail (LOD).
Some content creators get carried away. If the family shows up as a fuzzy black blob on a scaled floor plan, it’s too detailed. This is how the user will see it at each scale 1: 50, 1:100, 1:200, 1:500 etc
13. The family should include shared parameters.
The file should have shared parameters so it can be scheduled. Also, to avoid importing redundant parameters into your project, the content should utilise Revit's Master Shared Parameters text file whenever possible.
14. The family should prioritise its reference lines.
This is a small detail in content creation that has a large impact in productivity and sanity. Label the most important reference lines as "Strong Reference" lines while labelling the rest as "Weak Reference" or "Not a Reference." This prioritises which parts of the family the user will be able to snap to and is very helpful in the long run. After downloading for many years, this is overlooked in many cases.
15. The family should include helpful options specific to the scenario.
The keyword here is ‘helpful’. For MEP, the family should include MEP connectors with links to voltage, pipe size, etc.
16. The family should be modelled in a version of Revit from a few years ago.
Revit is not backwards compatible. So, a family modelled using Revit 2016 can be used in Revit 2020, but something built in Revit 2020 cannot be used in 2016. You need to consider those you are distributing the family to.
17. The family should be placed under an appropriate category.
A chair should not be in the ‘General’ category. And not everything is special, so please don’t just place everything under ‘Specialty Equipment’ no matter how tempting.
18. The family should be the focus – not its creator.
There should never be more data about the person or company that created the family than data about the family itself. Stay humble and don’t overload with information.
19. The family should be a family – not some other file type dropped into Revit.
Some people just create other file types (.dwg, .sat, .skp) into a Revit family and call it a day. This is not going to have a great outcome, so don’t do it.
20. The family can be complex, but not complicated.
A Revit family can be complex, but not complicated. There is a difference. Complexity can have mixed parameters with ease and minimal effort. Complication requires a readme.txt file.
(Revit) Family Meeting
So, what exactly is right and what exactly is wrong when it comes to Revit families? We’ve all got our own opinions, but when it comes down to making decisions, you must understand the user and their work before you can make a tool useful to them.
At Cadline, our Engineering Services team with years of experience can create content to standards that we believe meet both the designer and the manufacturers requirements. Our team creates families that have an impact on the workflow for users. Our goal is for you to spend less time searching for or fixing content and spend more time on what designers need.