April 28, 2012

Revit: Creating a New Tick Mark Size

The project on which I was working (in Revit® Architecture 2012) only offered two tick sizes for dimension strings: 1/8", which was way too large, and 3/64", which I thought was bordering on too small. (I am not sure if those are out-of-the-box offerings or just what was in my firm's template at the time this project was started.)
I figured there had to be a way to set up a tick mark with a width somewhere in between those two sizes, and opened up the "WikiHelp" to find out how. After searching for "Tick Mark", I found a promising search result, Changing the Dimension Line Tick Mark.

That article, as it turns out, covers how to change the Tick Mark assigned to a dimension style, not how to create a new tick mark. Unfortunately, there is no link in that article to the section on how to create an Arrowhead Type, which is under an entirely different main heading in the Revit User's Guide section of the WikiHelp. (Revit User's Guide > Document and Present the Project > Annotating > Dimensions > Modifying Dimensions > Changing the Dimension Line Tick Mark is the article to which I first went. The article on how to create an Arrowhead Type is in Revit User's Guide > Customize Revit > Project Settings > Annotation Styles > Specifying Arrowhead Styles.) I have no problem with having the information related to getting a Dimension Style to look a specific way in two places, but it seems to me that an article about changing the tick mark in a Dimension Style, after explaining which property in a Dimension Style should be changed to change the tick mark (something so obvious even I figured that much out without even looking in the Help), should anticipate the possibility that the desired tick mark does not already exist and provide a link to the article that explains where and how that is done. Is not the beauty of an electronic reference its ability to provide direct links between related items, even when the overall organization dictates that those items are not located under the same heading?

I was about to go back to the search results, when I noticed a comment posted under this article, asking a similar question to the one I was trying to answer. Linette Pouwels had a problem with the 3 mm tick mark (the metric equivalent of the imperial 1/8" tick mark) and was looking for a way to make a 1.5 mm tick mark. My hopes were raised for a moment when I saw that someone from the Autodesk Revit User Experience Team had replied, but then dashed when the reply stated that the tick mark could not be edited, only selected from those on the list. A URL was provided for requesting an additional tick mark option. I could not believe that the only way to get a tick mark of a different length would be to submit Product Feedback on the Autodesk website, and then hope that some future release would include an additional tick mark size. With a deadline looming, I terminated my search and settled on the 3/64" tick marks for the project at hand.

While reading the AUGI Revit Architecture forum today, I came across a post that stated that the writer knew how to create a new tick mark type. While the post did not say how to do so, I took that as a sign that the reply I had read in the WikiHelp was incorrect, and after poking around I discovered the way to do so. (I only found the other WikiHelp topic noted above after discovering the method on my own, and using "Arrowhead" rather than "Tick Mark" when searching the WikiHelp.) Here is how to create your own tick mark or other Arrowhead Type:
  1. On the Manage ribbon tab, select the Additional Settings tool.
  2. Choose the Arrowheads option on the flyout.
  3. In the Type Properties dialog, select a type that is similar to what you want.
  4. Choose the Duplicate Button, and provide a name for the duplicated type.
  5. Edit the new type's parameters as needed. For my new Diagonal Arrowhead Type, all I needed to change was the Tick Size, to 1/16".
  6. Click OK to dismiss the dialog. The new Arrowhead Type is now available for use in a Dimension Style.
The choices for the Arrowhead Style property are limited to what is provided out-of-the-box, but you can customize each of those Arrowhead Styles by creating a new Type and changing the active parameter values for that Type. (Only parameters that apply to a given Arrowhead Style are active when selecting that Style; the Tick Size property applies to all of them.)

Postscript: I submitted a change to the Revit English 2012 WikiHelp Changing the Dimension Line Tick Mark page that adds a link to the Specifying Arrowhead Styles page. Perhaps it will be approved and published. Post-postscript: It was approved.

April 17, 2012

ACA 2013: Object Display Enhancements Part 3

First Article in the Series (ACA 2013: Object Display Enhancements Part 1)
Previous Article in the Series (ACA 2013: Object Display Enhancements Part 2)

Annotative Hatch Display Components
ACA 2013 offers the option of making a Hatch component annotative. This allows you to establish a single scaling (based on the scale you would apply when plotting at full size) and then have ACA adjust the hatch scale by the scale factor of the current annotation scale factor. This might eliminate the need for multiple Display Representations whose sole purpose is to change the scale factor on Hatch components, along with the associated Display Representation Sets and Display Configurations (eg, the out-of-the-box Low Detail, Medium Detail and High Detail Display Configurations). If you use those Display settings for other purposes, you may need to hold on to them, but the annotative Hatch component could simplify your Display Representation settings, once you go through and convert all of your Styles and Material Definitions, of course. (Even with annotative hatching, you may not want to have the same scale factor for all scales.) You can choose not to make Hatch components annotative, if the current setup meets your needs.

As an example, I created a copy of the out-of-the-box CMU-8 Wall Style, called CMU-8 Anno. Since the display of the Hatch component for this style is controlled by the assigned Material Definition, I also made a copy of the Masonry.Unit Masonry.CMU.Stretcher.Running Material Definition, called Masonry.Unit Masonry.CMU.Stretcher.Running.Anno and made the Plan Hatch and Section Hatch components annotative. I chose to match the Spacing as specified for the General Medium Detail Display Representation (meant for 1/8" = 1'-0" drawings) by dividing the out-of-the-box Spacing in the CMU-8 Wall Style by 96 (the scale factor for 1/8" = 1'-0"). So the Plan Hatch Spacing became 8/96" (or 1/12") and the Section Hatch became 12/96" (or 1/8").
You will need to make those changes in all of the Display Representations for which you want the annotative hatching to be in effect. For this example, I wanted to compare the previous system with annotative Hatching, so I made the same edits to the Plan Hatch and Section Hatch components in all of the Display Representations. (General Presentation did not require editing, since it used a solid hatch.)

WARNING: When changing to annotative hatching, check the box in the Annotative column first, and then change the value, if necessary. When you check the Annotative box, ACA will change the Scale/Spacing value by dividing it by the current annotation scale value. If you change the values first, and then check the Annotative column box, the changed values will be divided by the current annotation scale factor, and you will have to reset the values again. Also note that if your current annotation scale happens to be the one for which the non-annotative values were meant, you can keep the resultant values. But if that is not the case, you will need to change the values.

In the image below, the same two Walls are shown in a Layout in multiple viewports at several scales. The CMU-8 Wall uses the out-of-the-box Wall Style of the same name (Imperial), and the out-of-the-box Material Definition and display settings. The CMU-8 Anno Wall is a copy of the CMU-8 style, with a custom material applied. The custom material has had the Plan Hatch component set to be annotative, and the same Spacing value has been applied to all of the Display Representation that are shown here. As you can see, the annotative hatch has the same spacing at all scales. The non-annotative hatch spacing generally varies with the scale, with some variations due to the different spacing values for Medium Detail (1/8" = 1'-0" and 1/4" = 1'-0") and High Detail (1/2" = 1'-0" and 1" = 1'-0").

April 04, 2012

ACA 2013: Object Display Enhancements Part 2

First Article in the Series (ACA 2013: Object Display Enhancements Part 1)

Transparency, added to AutoCAD® (and AutoCAD® Architecture) in the 2011 release, is now fully integrated into AEC objects and the AutoCAD Architecture Display System. Previously, Transparency could be applied to the main object only, by using the tools on the Transparency panel on the Home ribbon tab. Entity Transparency is now an editable property for parent AEC objects, on the Design tab of the Properties palette, in the Basic category, General subcategory.
Valid values remain integers in the range of 0 (fully opaque) to 90 (most transparent) or "ByLayer" (use the Transparency set on the layer) or "ByBlock" (use the Transparency set on the parent object, useful only for nested objects, object components or Material Definitions). This same value can be edited in the Object Display dialog, on the General Properties tab, where you can type an integer value directly, or choose a value from a drop-down list.
The easiest way to access the OBJECTDISPLAY command is by selecting an object, right clicking and choosing Edit Object Display from the context menu. Transparency is now also fully integrated into the Display System, allowing you to set a Transparency value for AEC Object components as well as in Material Definitions, Display Theme Styles and Layer Key Styles. As noted for main objects above, "ByBlock" and "ByLayer" are choices for components, Material Definitions and Display Theme Styles, so you do not need to hard-code Transparency values unless you want to do so. The Transparency values can be edited in the usual ways, in the Style Manager, when editing a Style or Definition or on the Display tab of the Properties palette, and can be applied at the drawing default, style-override or object-override levels.
Transparency as a Display Property in Style Manager - Display Theme

Transparency as a Display Property in Style Manager - Layer Key Style

Transparency as a Display Property on the Display Tab of the Properties Palette - Wall Object

Transparency as a Display Property via the Object Display Dialog - Wall Object

Transparency as a Display Property of a Material Definition

Keep in mind that Transparency works like any other object property: the value applied to a nested object will take precedence over that of the parent obejct. In 2011 and 2012, the only option was to apply Transparency to the parent object (for example, a Wall). Setting an explicit Transparency value to a Wall object would make the Wall display with the Transparency set. Doing the same in ACA 2013 will only make the Wall transparent at that value if the display of all of the Wall's components is set to be "ByBlock" (or just happens to be hard coded to that same value). For components whose display is controlled by an assigned Material Definition, then the Transparency of the active component of the Material Definition would need to be set to "ByBlock". When opening files created in previous versions, it appears as though the component values default to ByBlock, which would preserve the previous behavior.

Next Article in the Series (ACA 2013: Object Display Enhancements Part 3)