Legends and surface patterns
So, you setup your ceiling types, and you need a ceiling legend. Easy, right? Well, no, not really. Once you drag and drop a ceiling into your legend, you will see that Revit does not allow you to display your ceiling in plan view. Only section. Great. Same goes for your floor, and all your beautiful finishes (and finish patterns) that you have been working on for the last two weeks. Your plans look oustanding, but you cannot make a graphic legend, that tells us what is what.
One work-around is to create a simple extrusion family, maybe with a material parameter. You could create a type per every finish you have, or simply leave the material by instance. Place your elements in your legend and annotate away... Yes, they are not really floor or ceilings, but since you cannot tag them anyways, it is not really important.
Remember that material tags DO work in legend, and therefore you could take advantage of some material parameters in order to have smart annotation in your legend. However, I find it troublesome to annotate an element type in a material parameter. This would link the material (ie: a gyp board with sand pattern) to a specific assembly (ie: a double layer GWB over 2x4 wood studs). It is wrong, and it would force you to create several gypsum wall board materials, one for each different ceiling types.
This may work better for floor finishes, where maybe you have a finish for every type of floor, and therefore you may actually put in some material parameter some reference to the floor type (ie: in the marble tile material Descritpion you write: "2x4 Italian marble tiles over mortar and backing boards".)
The most BIM appropriate solution, however, may very well be to use phases. Create a "Legend" phase, where you can actually model all ceiling samples you want, and tag them properly; then create a subsequent "Legend Demo" phase, where you demo them all. Your legend view would actually be a ceiling plan whose phase is set to "Legend" phase. Of course you realize this strategy means you are not actually using any legend at all.
Legends and Tags
Well, the first post is concerned about legends. Even in 2011, Revit Legends have some major shortcomings. Most notably: once you place an element in a legend, only materials can be tagged. Other tags do not work. This is bad because once you placed 30 windows, it would be REALLY important to be able to assign a type mark tag to them. Same with doors, and whichever other elements you are working with.
This is probably derived by the fact that Legends were designed to allow users to make Symbol legends, you know? One of the first sheet in any Architectural set shows a legend of all graphic symbols used in the project, including notes with leaders pointing to the symbols main elements. Now, what we actually need are two different types of legends: an annotation legend and a model legend. The annotation legend would be just like the one currently implemented, where you can drag symbols (including tags) and describe them. The model legend would be a legend that allows you to drag model only elements, and actually tag them as if they were placed in the model. Well, at least tag their type parameters...
There are a few tutorials, out there (like this one), which explain how to create a custom shared material parameter, and assign it to the door panel of your doors, for example. Then you create one panel material for every type of door, with a different note for the door type. In the Legend you tag the doors with a custom made tag, which displays the shared custom parameter. This tags will update automatically if in the future you change the value of the custom door type material parameter...
The problems are: you need to create a material for every door type, which makes no real (BIM) sense, since you will end up with 20 or 30 "Door - Panel xx" materials, which are all the same color, finish, etc, except the custom door type parameter. If you actually use your materials assignments for rendering (either Revit or MAX), this can be a material managment nightmare. Not to mention materials take outs in Revit.
Someone came up with a very creative way to display the type number in legend, but probably this workaround is simply too much to be feasible.
It involves placing a 3D model text, and linking its content parameter with the paramter you wish to display. I need to find the tutorial, and I will link it for your reference...
About the Author
Giovanni Succi is a project designer living and working in San Francisco. He is a LEED AP, and for the last twenty years he has been researching the field of computer graphics, 3D modeling, rendering, and architectural design.
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