Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Dilemma of Multi-Building Campus Projects and Similar Details in Revit

If you've worked with Revit for any length of time and have been on a project with multiple buildings, I'm sure you've realized that each building will likely have similar details between them. If the documentation sheets are kept in each building, you soon realize that you are going to have duplicate details in each project to manage. In the past with other software platforms, you could simply link in each detail multiple times and be done with it. In Revit, the project tends to bog down with multiple links of individual details and linking in one project with many details doesn't help.

I've seen some creative ideas to get around this dilemma. One method involved creating a separate project with floor plans having multiple Dependent views cropped to individual details. Then, linking in this project to each individual building and creating more views you could start to reference details that are similar.

Another method is to link each building into a master site project and create all documentation in this master project. Depending on the size, this method can become sluggish as well. It also requires you to have views setup in advance in each building for reference in the master. Also, you inevitably have 2 copies of Revit running simultaneously for both the master site and individual building file. Again, more duplicated work.

What if I told you we could have the best of both worlds when it came to these details? If you haven't heard of Revolution Design, allow me to introduce you to a tool they have which solves this dilemma.

Revolution Design's - Revit Worfklow "autoLink"
This tool has the potential to save your team a lot of time and headaches.

Project model A = One of our buildings on a campus
Project model B = Our master set of similar details shared by each building

Using Workflow with it's autoLink function, I've built a detail bubble that will be placed in "A". The autoLink tool will allow me to place this special bubble. Next, I link into model "A", model "B", without needing to show it in any views. Finally, I'll type into the autoLink detail bubble, the detail number and sheet number of the corresponding detail from "B". When I tell autoLink to update linked references, the detail bubble is linked up with the corresponding view from "B". Using the detail view reference ID, if the detail number or sheet number for the view in project "B" ever changes, the bubble in "A" will be updated as well. Now, I can setup sheets in "A" as place holders for the sheets in "B".

I'd recommend you check out this tool! There are other more obvious uses for autoLink too, this just happens to be the obscure use for it. Revolution Design makes some other highly useful tools as well that are worth taking a look.


  1. Steve,
    When I was doing housing in SoCal we wanted to create a single set of documents in a "host" file while having three (or more) separate model files. To reference the common set of details to each building file required much duplication, redundancy, and/or 'dummy' detail sheets.
    I believe that this strategy would require that each building file would have its own sheets - which eliminates the redundancy of linked views - and that each building file could share references to a common master file containing details.
    Is that correct? Please clarify.

  2. Yes AJ, that is correct. The amount of time saved by referencing a single Revit project, containing just the common details was significant. Each building model had its own unique document set. The only thing we had to link into each building file was the common details project so the tool would be able to latch onto the GUID of each unique view from the common details project. No view linking/customizing was needed, no duplication of details was needed, it was finally what we were looking for.

  3. Does this only work with "view references"? What if I want to use a system family callout? If I have a set of stairs and want to call out a section detail from another project do I have to use a view reference and draw the section tail manually?

  4. Steve,

    The callout bubble you've described - is that something you could share? If not, could you go into a bit more detail about how you created it?

  5. Hi Jestin,
    I was not using the "view references" family within Revit. It is a custom plugin from Revolution Design. Refer to their "auto-Link" tool on the following page: http://www.revolutiondesign.biz/workflow/WFfeatures.html
    It is built using Revit's usual tools for section or detail bubbles. It is the code of the tool that allows it to look for the view reference ID from the referenced file and display it in the bubble.

  6. Hi Kevin,
    Unfortunately, I cannot share the bubble I created. However, since I built it based on the example given to me by Revolution Design, I'm sure that if you contacted them, referenced this blog post and asked for an example family, they would be more than happy to share their example. From there, I'm sure you'll have no trouble getting it to match your standards.

  7. As the coder of autoLink, I am happy to put that example Callout Bubble family together (always happy to help users of the autoLink!) I will create this family and put it on the Revolution Design website (and post the link - if that is okay with Steve Bennett).

  8. Hi Nick! Yes, that would be super if you could share that family and post a follow up comment with a link to the family download location.

  9. Thanks Steve, I actually built a quick Revit 2014 project with the Revit family in place (as an example) to show a "dummy" callout bubble (Generic Annotation) using autoLink. The download link is:


    As mentioned, this is just a quick example and I am sure there are firms that might want to tweak the line weights, etc. I hope this helps showcase how autoLink works and thank you again for writing up a blog entry mentioning autoLink!

  10. Nick, thanks so much for sharing the example family! Glad to see people are interested in this tool and workflow.