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Thread: Simplifying your famlies with nested famlies

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    Simplifying your famlies with nested famlies

    I recently figured this out and thought I'd share. Home-grown MEP families can get very complicated. Reference planes and constrained geometry are everywhere and it can be very confusing for other people to work with. Very often the only person a family will make sense to is the person who made it. To everyone else it's a rats nest of overlapping dimensions, ref planes, hidden geometry, etc. Users who aren't experienced and/or pressed for time will say "screw this, I don't know what the hell I'm looking at" and draw a rectangle on their HVAC plan with detail lines, at which point all of your family creation effort is wasted. So there's a real need to simply this stuff.

    I've known about nested families for a long time, but just last week it dawned me that Face hosted nested families can be loaded into mechanical equipment families. Hosting them means that they naturally remain attached to a face, even as the face moves around due to parametric changes. Previously I was placing a 0" dimension on each nested family to force them to remain attached to a reference plane. This approach is much cleaner and easier to work with!

    As an example, I had an Air Handling Unit family with duct connections on the sides, front and rear. I had been using simple flattened rectangular extrusions to represent the duct connections. These had to be constrained in all three axes and it reslsulted in a lot of graphic "clutter." I replaced them with a nested, face-hosted family that simply consisted of a cube with "duct width" and "duct height" parameters. I then stuck that new family onto the side of my AHU, dimensioned them relative to the edges of the unit, and mapped the existing "duct width" and "duct height" parameters to the corresponding ones in the nested family. The end result is that I was able to delete 5 reference planes and 3 dimensions for each connection.

    I then found that I was able to the same thing with all kinds of other "stick on" components: RTU Condenser fans, RTU weather hoods, AHU Access Doors, AHU coil removal clearance, etc. Moving all of that small-scale geometry and line work into the nested families has really cleaned up the the parent families.

    So that's the tip of the day: use face-hosted nested families! I can't believe it's taken me 9 years to figure this out...
    Last edited by Necro99; February 10th, 2020 at 06:42 PM.

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    Moderator Robin Deurloo's Avatar
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    Never to old to learn I guess !
    Now look into SHARED nested families as well (a tick in the properties), this way you can edit then inside your project. Not always useful and it depends on the type of family, but for example my windows are nested and shared in my window frames, this way I can change colors on the windows from the project and don't need to go into the family itself AND you can schedule shared and nesteed families as well, which you can when they are not shared.

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    I've saw that, but it didn't seem terribly useful for MEP. But maybe there's some application for it that I'm not considering.

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    Forum Co-Founder Alfredo Medina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Necro99 View Post
    ...
    ... I can't believe it's taken me 9 years to figure this out...
    I think it happens to all of us, that after using this program every day for many years, we are still learning new things. It's always a good feeling to learn something new.

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    Moderator Robin Deurloo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Necro99 View Post
    I've saw that, but it didn't seem terribly useful for MEP. But maybe there's some application for it that I'm not considering.
    Yeah maybe not, but something like flanges I might do as nested and shared. This way you have 1 flange family in your entire project/template and if for some reason something changes it can be done for all you pipe fittings at the same time and if nothing changes ever, than you did not spend any time, just clicking that tick thingy.

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    Moderator Robin Deurloo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alfredo Medina View Post
    I think it happens to all of us, that after using this program every day for many years, we are still learning new things. It's always a good feeling to learn something new.
    Yes, I'm always excited when somebody tells me something I did not know yet and directly start to think of uses for it, mainly because most of the time it is me showing other people new stuff, but that what you get after 9 years or so of Revit. Just last week I was told how to save and re-use views in Enscape for example, love that !

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robin Deurloo View Post
    Yes, I'm always excited when somebody tells me something I did not know yet and directly start to think of uses for it
    I've learned a ton from Josephpeel over the years. He gave me the idea of using image schedules as legends for our piping systems and duct/pipe symbols, which I shamelessly passed off as my own idea at my company.

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    Moderator cellophane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Necro99 View Post
    I've learned a ton from Josephpeel over the years. He gave me the idea of using image schedules as legends for our piping systems and duct/pipe symbols, which I shamelessly passed off as my own idea at my company.
    wait what now? Do you happen to have a link to that?

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    Senior Member DavidLarson's Avatar
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    Yup, I want to see that too. I'll let our MEP engineer look like a genius this time

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    I'm definitely a proponent of this workflow. I've got several planned face-based nested families for my equipment. I made up a 6-degrees-of-freedom rig that I can host them to so I can control the location of the elements in 3D space using linked parameters (credit for the idea to the MEPPP). Works pretty well so far, especially for allowing multiple connector configurations in one family.

    Shared nested families are great for scheduling sub-components (compressors, water coils, etc.) of large equipment if you have that preference. One thing I've played around with is nesting an electrical (controls) panel into my sensor families so that duct and pipe accessories with controls connectors (e.g. bypass dampers) have an intelligent connection. As a bonus, if you associate the "Visible" parameter of the shared nested family to a Yes/No parameter, and turn it off, it won't show or schedule in the project.

    I went to BILT last year and, for all the great speakers I listened to, learning that drawing a reference line from the outside in makes rotation more stable was one of my biggest takeaways. I don't know why it works or if it's just a placebo, but I've had so much less trouble with rotational parameters ever since. New ideas (and finding good old ones) are the best.

    And, ditto @cellophane. Mostly I want to know how you generated the pictures.

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