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BCS AEC Practitioner Series Wrap Up

By BCS Committee Members: Melissa Thiessens, Chad Clary & Randall Stevens

Building Content Summit Online – AEC Practitioner series took place last month and attracted over 70 attendees. Each session kicked off with a presentation and was followed by an interactive roundtable.

Thank you our fantastic speakers – Rob van het Hof, Christopher Shafer, Brian Mackey and Purvi Irwin for their fantastic presentations and being part of the first BCS Online series.

We’d also like to thank our Gold Sponsors of the series; BIMobject and ASSA ABLOY for their continued support of the industry and contributing to the conversation.

All sessions were recorded and are available on-demand for registered attendees and DBEI Associate and Professional members. If you missed the event this year, the BCS committee have recapped key takeaways from each session below.


Taking an inside look at what it takes to be content with content (Robert van het Hof, Ware Malcomb)

As the first presenter in our series of four webinars, Robert set out to look at such high-level questions as: Why are we discussing content?  What are we using our content for, and what’s the end game? What kind of components should we putting into our content? Where are we getting it from? And how do we treat our content after it’s been created?   After presenting some good and thought-provoking examples as potential answers to these questions, Robert joined the attendees in a very active roundtable session, where they were able to voice their opinions about some of the questions he posed, and ask some more of their own, both serious and entertainingly on topic; 


What’s in a name? Naming strategies for Revit content (Christopher Shafer, HDR) 

Chris Shafer led a great high-level conversation around file naming strategies as the second session in this year’s BCS Online Series. Chris described the naming strategies his team has adopted at HDR and successfully implemented not only with their Revit content libraries but also Inventor and Bentley.  Chris described that the overall goal of effective naming of content is creating efficiencies in the project delivery process.  At HDR, CSI’s MasterFormat, an industry standard in North America, is at the core of their naming strategy.  Use of MasterFormat names provides consistency across their library of assets. The name of the file is the first impression to users and therefore an effort should be made to be informative and consistent when naming.   

Naming tips include not using lingo, and being consistent when choosing the names for files.  Chris emphasized that you should avoid using abbreviations, and as much natural naming of files as possible as it makes those libraries accessible to the greatest number of users and generally easier to find.  For detail libraries, Chris described the effective use of CSI UniFormat which provides a more general naming convention for the more complicated assemblies.   

Chris went on to lead a roundtable discussion with several dozen participants which included a conversation around the challenges with bringing manufacturer content into projects because of the inconsistencies in naming strategies.  

“It’s better to be consistently wrong than inconsistently correct” – Chris Shafer


How to ensure Revit family stability (Brian Mackey, BD Mackey Consulting)

Brian presented the most technically oriented presentation of the series, discussing some of the nuances of the family editor to keep content consistent, swappable, and easily upgraded from year-to-year.  Starting off with Reference Plane (RP) basics, we looked at defining the origin point (i.e. family insertion point) and the different reference plane Is Reference settings.  Here Brian demonstrated a couple great tricks to help users in the family editor: 

  • Setting the family templates so that the default Is Reference setting for reference planes is always set to Not A Reference (brilliant!) 
  • Naming RPs by function rather than location. Instead of Right, Left, Right-1, Left-2, use Hinge, Strike, Frame, Panel.   

From there we moved into dimensioning in families, investigating how to control RP locations consistently, especially when using Equality constraints, how Automatic Sketch Dimensions work, setting and constraining curves, and again- a few great tips: 

  • You can right-click on a dimension padlock and select Show Related to see what that dimension is controlling 
  • Turning temporary dimensions to permanent dimensions and assigning parameters 

In the last segment of the presentation, Brian explained the directionality of Work Planes and Reference Planes, and looked into some of the oddities that can come from their directionality and placement, including some tips for rotating elements in families.  Closing out the presentation we briefly dipped into using formulas to add additional control and flexibility in families. 

In the roundtable we discussed some common issues people have run into with their families, along with some troubleshooting and additional tips and tricks.  Brian also shared his fantastic Vertical Face Based Family template, which is awesome.   


To host or not to host, that is the question: using hosted families in Revit (Purvi Irwin, CADD Microsystems, inc.)

In the last session of our Practitioner series, Purvi began by polling the audience on their feelings toward hosted content, going on to explain that at the end of her presentation she would ask again, to see if anyone had changed their stance on them after learning more. The poll results at the end were encouraging, with over 70% or attendees feeling that they understood hosting better. 

She went on to talk about the things that she has encountered and learned about using hosted content in projects over the years, touching on the general pros and cons of hosting content, and specifically pointing out issues that can affect each discipline differently.  After introducing some of the issues, she jumped into Revit to demonstrate some of the quirks of hosted content. 

During the roundtable portion, attendees brought up a number of good (and bad) examples of content that they had encountered, and near the end a question posed by one attendee to the group even led to a discussion that solved the family display issue they had been fighting with. 

Access the recordings for Free as an Associate or Professional DBEI Member. Find out more about DBEI Membership here.

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COVID-19 Update

20th May 2020

DBEI has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation around the world. While some parts of our society are beginning to open in baby-steps, none of us know how the situation will develop over the coming months. As such, DBEI has now made the decision to postpone all our 2020 events to 2021 as the well-being of all our partners and participants in our events remains our utmost priority. For new details on each region please visit our event pages. We have also sent communications to all registered attendees, speakers or sponsors for all of our 2020 events.

In the interim, DBEI will be launching several exciting virtual events and webinars in 2020 to continue to deliver the same expertise, insights and knowledge to the AEC industry during these uncertain times. We also have some other exciting initiatives we are working on to continue to provide value to our community, which we look forward to sharing with you all shortly.

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