Blog: A Long Time Ago On A Computer Screen Far, Far Away…

A young Revit user still learning to design in the software decided to start tackling creating families. Little did he know that there was much to learn in the ways of a Revit family creator. In the upcoming weeks that user was going to learn a lot in the ways of the creators and become a powerful one themselves by observing webinars to enhance their development.

“When you look at the dark side, careful you must be. For the dark side looks back.” – Yoda

In family content building there are many mistakes people make while trying to learn the steps on their own. They try to take shortcuts to complete them more quickly. As Yoda says, “Must learn patience.” This is so true when developing families, it is easy to make mistakes. As you attend my webinars, I will tell you some of those pitfalls that can lead to the dark side. There is nothing to fear when creating families, fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering of everyone using bad families in a project.

So here are a couple of quick tips when working with families to get you started on your path…

1) Do not over model your family. Some users can get to be too detail oriented when it comes to creating families for Revit. If you are a manufacturer looking to get into family modeling you will be one of them. As a manufacturer your first thought is how is it going to be built, however a Revit user does not care to have every nut and bolt in their Revit family. They want the functional purpose of the family whether it is an architectural, mechanical, electrical, or structural family. The overall dimensions are critical as they want to make sure it fits where it is supposed to go.

The look of the family is important more for architectural if they want to represent it in a 3D view or rendering. Connectors are very important when it comes to MEP components. Engineers and designers need to connect ductwork, pipes, or electrical connectors to components to make them work correctly.

“You will find only what you bring in.” – Yoda

2) How are you going to organize your families? This is a great discussion amongst your team to determine how you want to name your families so that users will know what they are using. So, what is exactly the standard for naming conventions? If we go with Autodesk standards for naming an example would be…

<Functional Type>‐<Subtype>‐<Manufacturer>‐<Descriptor 1>‐<Descriptor 2>‐<2D if necessary>


Chiller–Air_Cooled– Acme– Low_Profile.rfa 




Try to keep file names shorter as family names will appear in dialogs and in the Type Selector.

“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.” – Yoda

3) Avoid keeping AutoCAD drawings in your families. Notice I did not say avoid using AutoCAD drawings in your families. You will come to find that when creating families, you may have access to other types of drawing files that you can use to develop your families. Some of that content could have more complex geometry. Inserting an AutoCAD profile of an object you want to create in an elevation view may be needed. At that point you will want to trace over the AutoCAD drawing (DO NOT EXPLODE the AutoCAD drawing) After you have used the AutoCAD drawing you will want to delete it out of your Revit family.

“Control, control, you must learn control!”

– Yoda

4) Putting on the final touches….

When you are wrapping up your family you may want to purge out any information that was defaulted into a project. Any additional materials that were not used should be removed. If you have additional parameters that are not being used delete them out to avoid confusion for the end user. On another note make sure you use shared parameters when you have instances that you want scheduled in a project.

“Your path you must decide.” – Yoda

See you soon at my webinar. – Phil Charlson, Technical Specialist

Family Wars: Part 1/3- A New Constraint

Family Wars: Part 2/3- The Nested Family Strikes Back

Family Wars: Part 3/3- The Return of the Parameters


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