What's New in Revit 2018?AECbytes Tips and Tricks Issue #79 (April 13, 2017)


Dan Stine, CSI, CDT
Registered Architect and Author

Writing an AECbytes “What’s New” article has become an annual event around the release of Revit. However, this year I have some additional insights thanks to a special invitation by Autodesk to attend the weeklong Revit Inside the Factory: Live! event at their R&D facility in Shanghai, China (this event is also held in Boston and Poland annually). At this event I was able to beta-test Revit 2018 (and beyond) features with some of the developers actually working on them. If you want to hear a little more about this event, you can hear me talk about it on a recent BIMThoughts podcast with Bill Debevc. (Also, for more on new features in Revit 2018, be sure to check out my session at BILT-NA 2017 in Toronto this August.)

User Interface

The first thing you might notice is a few changes to the user interface (UI). Following the Microsoft Office lead, the Application menu is gone and we now have a File tab. Everything in the File tab is the same as the Application menu. The “R” icon in the upper right has been reduced to an old-school Windows control icon that can pretty much be ignored. I personally have not had a problem accidentally clicking it as it is smaller and juxtaposed to a new brightly colored File tab.

The aesthetic appearance of the UI has also been changed similar to Microsoft Office. Gone is the gradient title bar and things are generally flatter looking.

Another UI change that I am excited about is the addition of the Print command to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). Previously, not only was it not on the QAT, it was not possible to add it.

One final comment on the UI—in my opinion, this is the first version of Revit to fully support Window DPI scaling and 4K monitors. Even with the mid-year update for Revit 2017, the Open dialog and a few other areas were still nearly unusable.

New Multi-Story Stairs

One of the biggest architectural enhancements in Revit 2018 is the all new Multistory Stair feature. But first, I want to point out that the original Revit stair tool, Stair by Sketch, has been removed from Revit. The only option now is the Stair by Component tool. Any stairs created with the old tool will be upgraded and editable, but it is not possible to create new instances, even when you try to right-click on a Type in the Project Browser and select Create Instance—it will just flip over to the Stair by Component command.

Here is a quick overview of this new tool. Once the lowest level stair is created, select it in a section or elevation view and use the new Select Levels command on the Ribbon as shown in the image below.

After clicking Select Levels, the Ribbon changes to allow the new Multistory Stair to be connected or disconnected from levels.

The result can be seen in the image below. Notice the top run has a different floor to floor height.

All the runs with the same floor to floor height are grouped together within the Multistory Stair. You can Tab into an individual run and change its type after unpinning.

There is a lot more to this new feature, but this covers the basic idea. I will be doing an in-depth session on this new feature, along with the various railing improvements, at BILT in Denmark this October.

Railing Enhancements

Railings can now be hosted to topography as shown in the image below. For hosted railings, we now have better control of the start and endpoint of the railings. In the context of Multistory Stairs just covered, railings are grouped with them.

Schedule Model Groups and RVT Links

It is now possible to create a schedule based on Model Groups and Revit Links. The image below shows the two new options in the New Schedule dialog. This will be great for tabulating, for example, the various variations and number of units in a hotel/hospital/apartment.


Add Parameters to Model Groups, RTV Links and Schedules

Revit 2018 gives us the option to create parameters for Model Groups and Revit Links. As seen in the image below, these can be Type or Instance parameters.

If a parameter is created for a link, the information associated with the link will remain intact unless the Link is Removed. But using Reload, Unload or Reload From will not affect the data, as one would expect.

This new option combined with the new scheduling features described earlier open up a lot of new opportunities to work with and manage data within Revit.

More Text Enhancements

Last year, in my AECbytes “What’s new in Revit 2017” article, I wrote about the new improvements to text and the text editor. This year, tags and labels receive the same update to ensure consistency. The 2018 version also provides a fix for a text-related bug introduced in 2017 that I wrote about in my blog: Revit 2017 and Windows DPI Text Scaling Issue.

I believe there are still a few areas which contain the old text – one being schedules.

Tagging

The Tag All dialog has been enhanced to allow multiple categories to be selected at once.


Georeferenced CAD Files

Revit 2018 can now use the coordinates from a linked DWG file. Also, when users link in Revit or DWG by “Auto-By Shared Coordinates,” Revit can recognize the shared coordinates if:

  • The linked model and the host model have the same coordinate system.
  • The host model coordinate system is empty, and users choose to align the link’s coordinate system with the  host model’s shared coordinates.

And of course, Revit 2018 can read the new AutoCAD 2018 format (which has been updated from the 2013 format this year).

Coordination Models

Revit now has a new link option called Coordination Model. Use this command to bring in a native Navisworks model. It is amazing how fast and responsive Revit is with very large NWD/NWC files.

One odd thing about this new feature is that it essentially has its own “Manage Links” dialog as seen in the image below. So, the same command that starts the link process is also the way you view and manage Coordination Models.

It is not possible to select or control the visibility of individual elements within a linked Coordinate Model. The image below shows the Visibility/Graphics Overrides dialog when a Coordination Model exists.

This feature is similar to functionality added to AutoCAD 2016.

User Definable Building and Space Types

MEP users will really like the ability to create, duplicate and rename (or delete) building and space types. They can also have specific outdoor information inputs (per person, per area, changes per hour and outdoor air method).

Flow and Pressure Drop Calculations for Hydronic Piping Networks

Revit 2018 can perform flow and pressure drop calculations for hydronic closed loop networks as a background process.

Edit Circuit Path

One of the challenges with calculating voltage drop in Revit is that the circuit path is calculated based on the distance between the furthest MEP connectors. This does not account for real-world conditions which may cause the wire to take a radically different path. Revit 2018 takes a big step towards solving this issue by allowing the electrical designer the ability to edit the default path.

As seen in the image below, when a circuit is selected, there is a new Edit Path tool on the Ribbon.

Within the Edit Path mode, as shown below, you can toggle between All Devices and Farthest Device—the former being the default and only option in previous releases.

Within the canvas, you can select the lines that represent the path and right-click to add control points. The need to right-click might not be totally obvious at first.

Just selecting the horizontal element, divided with control points, and editing its height will automatically add the vertical lines.

This line work can only be seen within Edit Path mode. When the circuit is selected in the model or the System Browser, the new length is listed in the Properties palette.

It should be pointed out that Revit, in some cases, cannot properly calculate voltage drop due to how it automatically assigns wire size. Here is a brief description on this issue from the user guide of the Electrical Productivity Pack from Cad Technology Center that I helped to create.

  • The method that Revit uses to assign wire sizes is to first select the rating (OPD) for the circuit, then Revit hard links the wire size to the rating of the circuit. This is unworkable, because it does not allow for adjustments for wire sizes independent from the OPD rating. It is not possible to increase wire size for voltage drop without changing the OPD rating, nor is it possible to increase the OPD rating for motor starting without also increasing the wire size.
  • Revit is backwards, the wire size should be selected based on the load first. Then the OPD should be selected for correct ampacity. NEC (National Electric Code in USA) may allow next standard OPD size to be used without increasing the wire size. However, this is not always permitted; i.e. a 53 A load may use conductors rated at 55 A and OPD at 60 A; but a 58 A load would require the next larger size conductor and perhaps the same 60 A OPD. Revit does not allow this flexibility.

I am sure this next obstacle will be addressed as Revit’s electrical functionally is enhanced! In any case, the new Edit Path feature is a great addition!

Additional Enhancements

The following is a list of additional new features or enhancements in Revit 2018:

Core features

  • Symbols in text notes: Right-click in the text editor to access a list of symbols to insert.
  • Verification of family constraints: Constraints are now checked when opening a family.
  • Subcategories for reference planes: Control color and visibility by subcategory.
  • Imported 3D shapes: Tag and dimension to 3D shapes (Rhino) and get cut line patterns.
  • Parameter Tooltips: Have been added to a number of type and instance parameters.
  • Collaboration for Revit: More reliable publish and more info during open and save.
  • Improved support for CAD imports: Import is more tolerant of tiny details.

MEP

  • Multi-Point Routing tool: Build run of connected parts by clicking points.
  • Sloped pipe: Use placement tools to model sloped fabrication pipe.

Structural

  • Structural section geometry properties: New parameters and enhanced grouping.
  • Custom framing elements: Custom framing elements work with connections.
  • Steel element priority in a connection: Specify the primary and secondary elements.
  • Additional steel connections: Over 100 new connections.
  • Rebar constraint editor improvements: Constraint editor now available in 3D-view.

Conclusion

While this new release may not include everyone’s wish list items, it will surely have features everyone can use right away. Revit 2018 has an incredibly dedicated and skilled group people behind it. With its release today, you are encouraged to download it and start doing some experimenting with the new features and project upgrades! And, lastly, if you have suggestions for features you would like to see, be sure to go to Revit Ideas and either add or vote for your idea. I recently wrote a blog post about Revit Ideas: click here to read more: Revit Ideas.

About the Author

Dan Stine is a registered Architect with twenty-two years of experience in the architectural field. He currently works at LHB (a 250 person multidiscipline firm) in Duluth Minnesota as the BIM Administrator, providing training, customization and support for two regional offices. Dan has worked in a total of four firms. While at these firms, he has participated in collaborative projects with several other firms on various projects (including Cesar Pelli, Weber Music Hall – University of Minnesota - Duluth).  Dan is a member of the Construction Specification Institute (CSI) and the Autodesk Developer Network (ADN) and has taught AutoCAD and Revit Architecture classes at Lake Superior College, for the Architectural Technology program; additionally, he is a Certified Construction Document Technician (CDT). Dan currently teaches BIM to interior design students at North Dakota State University (NDSU). He has presented at Autodesk University, the Revit Technology Conference and Minnesota University.

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