7 Steps for Setting Up Your Revit Library

When working on a project in Revit, it is crucial to have your resources well-organized. Projects involve several moving parts and efficiency is key to ensuring on-time deliveries. That’s why having an organized Revit Library can save your company a great deal of time, while also strengthening the company brand standards.

A Revit Library is essentially a resource that your project team will leverage to complete their projects. It is a resource collection for your Revit projects that not only supports and enhances workflows, but also aids in enforcing company brand standards. Since the whole team is accessing the same resources, sharing the same tools will help maintain consistent branding.

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Example: Advanced level Revit Library with Containers

Depending how large and detailed your team is, you can have a basic or advanced level of a Revit Library. Basic level Libraries focus on having only the essential tools: project templates, model components (i.e. families), symbols, tags, title blocks, and detail components. Advanced level libraries would include basic level tools built into containers of pre-built assemblies, schedules, and details.

In the September 13th From AutoCAD to Revit webinar installment, Aaron Wagner discussed seven steps for setting up your firm’s Revit Library.

Step #1: Understand your processes and workflows

Setting up your Revit Library requires a bit of understanding of how your company operates and its normal project workflow. The responsibility of setting up your company’s Revit Library should be led by someone who has been with the company long enough to have a good handle on this. The Revit Library should include processes that are relevant to modern practice, and the resources you incorporate should fit the process. Don’t try to force an operation that will inhibit adoption.

Step #2: Find a home for your central resource. Will you manage multiple versions?

Make sure you consider how the library will be accessed over the course of a typical project, and if you will need to modify it. You want your Library organized in a fashion where it is intuitive and simple for your users to find and access all the necessary resources. Your Revit Library should be stored on a central network drive and not on a single station or you risk losing the Library’s resources.

If your team decides to have multiple versions of Libraries, the management and update protocols will need to be discussed.

Step #3: Determine management and update protocols

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As you continue to refine your Library, there will be revisions and updates to your Library along the way. It will be important to determine who on the team can modify the Library’s structure and how updates and additions will take place. Allowing a limited number of users to update the Library will minimize moving parts, and maintain simplicity and a consistent brand.

Step #4: Make a plan

Take into consideration your company’s workflows and processes so that you structure your Library in a manner that is most efficient and intuitive to support your project team.  Look for ways to save project time with each access. You should focus on eliminating any unnecessary replication and root out anything that could drive access off-course. Here are some content examples to give you some ideas about what to include in your library.

Containers – Stairs, Railings, Ceilings, Roofs, Floors, Walls, Doors, Etc.
Schedules – Door, Window, Room Finishes, Piping, Beam, Etc.
Detail Files – Generally speaking, people will organize this by assembly type.

In the video to the right, Aaron discusses these content examples in greater detail.

Step #5: Solicit input

Be sure to collaborate with your project team members and collect their feedback about what will make their lives easier when navigating the Revit Library. As mentioned before, there will be several iterations of your Revit Library, so the moderators will need to be open and ready to make improvements along the way.

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Step # 6: Redefine the plan

After discussing with the team and those eligible to modify the Library, implement the additions and updates to the Library. Keep in mind, as you make updates and additions, your Library will need to be flexible and able to adapt for future changes.

Step# 7: Deploy test structure

Try out the implemented changes. Then continue to receive input from your team, re-evaluate your Library, and fine-tune with updates.

Looking for more information about Revit Libraries? Check out the full Q&A transcript below from the September 13th From AutoCAD to Revit webinar.

Webinar Q&A

As a Revit Librarian, will you be the only one supplying the users with families/assemblies?
Maybe. In a lot of cases, yes. So, small and medium size firms, this is probably going to be the case. If you have a large enough company where you can assemble a group, where people can contribute and help to manage, then you have that ability. But in a lot of cases, it is one person that is setting up this resource for everybody else to pull from.

What happens if a client has something they want the user to input that’s not in the library?
What I typically recommend, is if you’re going to working with that client on multiple projects or have a long term relationship with that client, that is definitely something that you’re going to want to add to your Library. Otherwise, I typically encourage you to set up a folder inside the project that has the custom content in it, so people can save this custom user content, and as the project evolves and eventually wraps up, you can go back to that folder, review the custom content, and then consider adding it to your Library at that point.

What do you do if each client has their own standard details specific to their company, and interchanging them didn’t work?
You can set up a detail Library that is specific to the client, and then just make sure that if you’re on this client’s project, make sure you’re pulling from their details.

What is the main reason for different LOD file in one’s Revit Library? Is it just more for the different level of design whether you are at SD, DD, or CD?
Early on when industries started adopting Revit and pulling it into their workflows, what we were seeing was that we couldn’t do business the same way and still survive. Revit works a different way. That’s not to say you need to put everything in your Revit file at the very start of the project. That’s not true. What you need to do instead, is let your project evolve in a natural, timely way. So if it’s a traditional SD, DD, or CD kind of thing, put on the blinders. AIA has some guides. For schematic designs, think what drawings am I going to produce? Put on the blinders, and set your team for producing those. Same thing for design development, what drawings are we required to deliver? And then CDs. And what we found is that it’s not just what’s appearing on the sheets, it’s how the model is being composed. And in terms of production, it’s model first, sheets second. The sheets, schedules, and details are really a byproduct of what’s going on with the model itself. So the model has to be supportive of those things. If you think about SD, DD, and CD, the model itself needs to be able to evolve and adapt. What basic content am I going to need from the start that’s going to change? What about the 2nd way, 3rd way, and possibly the 4th way?

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That’s why we created the LOD system. Essentially a level 200 would be your initial early schematic design, where you don’t know what the building components will be yet. You’re creating the model appropriate to your next deliverable. Then at my next stage, I’m going to adapt and keep on improving it along the way.

So what we did with these Libraries, is the designers would look at it and say, I need a door but is this door too much information? Am I pulling from the manufacturer door? So we’ll give them a 300 door to pull from, and we know now that it is a single wood door, it might have a light, but maybe not. If we go to 350, then they pull in specific assembly. So, having these resources to pull from in those contexts just makes it really easy where the designers or the modelers don’t have to think about it.

Does Revit have a pull down menu for Revit component list browser, and also show the image of the families? Right now, what we are doing is to browse the folder where we filed our families. It’s problem when we are using steel shapes because we need to load each type of section size (we don’t load all sizes). Why is that 3rd party have this easy kind of Library?

There are library managers out there. The thumbnail that comes with Revit is not the greatest. In your case, you can probably leverage catalogs a bit more. That’s just a text file that complements the families that set up the different parameters for you. There are a lot of 3rd party tools out there. I don’t use them, but I know a lot of people get good use out of them. Email me if you need help finding some good ones.

Does Autodesk have this kind of pull down menu?

If you go to the App Exchange store by opening Revit, and clicking the blue and grey “X” button, and you can search for that. I think there used to be a free app. Again, you can email me if you need help finding one.

Is there a better way to batch update Revit families from one version to the next version?

What I do, is have a Dynamo script to do this for me. I just hit play, go home for the night, come back and have a fresh new version. There are 3rd party tools out there that help manage your library, similar to the question about the pull-down menu. Some of those will help you upgrade those releases as well. But I do want to say one thing. Sometimes with those families that come with Revit out of the box, occasionally Autodesk will apply the new features and functionality inside of Revit to them. For example, if I used families that I had say, in 2002, I wouldn’t use those families today. The features are too old and probably lost. I would think about recreating them or pull from the new out of the box and adding to it. So yeah, there are ways to upgrade the versions. You just have to think about what is the lifetime of the family and how long it should be.

Does your firm already have a Revit Library set up? What tips and tricks worked for you when building your Revit Library? Leave a comment below!

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