My day is filled with interruptions. “Can you show me how to use Revit’s Phasing?” “My Revit model just crashed. Can you help?” “Every time I place the furniture in the plan, it just disappears. What’s wrong with Revit?” “I need a light fixture like the one on this cut sheet. Can you make the Revit family for me? It is this last request that got BlueBryk started. Here is what happened.
THE PROBLEM BECOMES CLEAR
I thought I had a quick fix. I went to the manufacturer’s website and found the product. There were links to images, drawings (in .PDF format), IES files, and specifications, but no link to a Revit family. Next I searched the website for “Revit” and “BIM”, only to receive “There are 0 results for your search.” I downloaded the PDF for the dimensions….and I had another idea.
Remembering the quote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” I thought I could find a similar light fixture family from another manufacturer and modify it to use in this case. Again, I am back to Google, Bing, etc. to try multiple search phrases and filter through “38,482 results.” The lighting industry being what it is, there was a competitor that had a similar fixture, AND they had a Revit family of the product. I downloaded the file and opened it in the family editor. Oops! This one was made by inserting a 3D AutoCAD drawing into the family editor. As you probably know, a family made from an inserted DWG file can have lots of wire-frame lines all over it. Another problem with the DWG approach is that the individual components cannot be assigned different materials. Both of these issues made this manufacturer’s family unusable for an interior designer’s presentation.
Multiple searches, multiple manufacturers, multiple sub-pages, multiple website-specific searches later I had consumed more than an hour just looking for a quick solution to my “I need a family” problem. As you probably guessed, I had to make the family myself.
Several thoughts popped into my head: 1) “It is a waste of time to try to find a good Revit family to download from the web.” 2) “I will never be able to make all the Revit families my firm needs by myself.” 3) “There must be a better way.”
INVENTING A BETTER WAY
My first “better way” was to capture value from each of these “family search” exercises. I began to download the manufacturer’s families and add them to our local library. Then a realization struck – manufacturers are continually updating their product offerings, so every library that was downloaded became obsolete, perhaps in a month. So I switched to putting web links in a “Manufacturers” folder in each product category. Better, but still requiring periodic updates to keep the links valid.
“I need a Revit family” requests continued to come in. And my searches turned up more sources of content than I knew existed at the start. You know some of them. 1) Manufacturers offering Revit families for download. 2) Communities of Revit people sharing families in an exchange, like Revit City. 3) Commercial firms that host multiple manufacturers’ families like ARCAT. 4) Revit stores with shelves loaded with pre-made families. 5) BIM Content builders that make families for manufacturers, consolidators, stores and for individual design firms.
I also searched forums and blogs to see others’ lists of “manufacturers providing Revit content.” My lists of content sources were 10 times longer than any other list out there. And, the “promise to keep it up to date” was more good intention than actual update.
THE BEGINNINGS OF A SOLUTION
So I began to work evenings and week-ends to build a database of sources of Revit content. A database of manufacturers, a database of commercial consolidators, a database of community exchanges, a database of content builders. I created links between the tables and built queries to enable search. My family began accusing me (correctly) of being obsessed. But, I found that my home-made “solution” was saving me hours every week at work.
You guessed the next step. I contracted with a small firm to build a website. After some debugging, BlueBryk was launched into the “real world”. I spread the word about my project at several local Revit user groups and BIM-related meetings.
Although I intended to work in “private beta” mode for some time, BlueBryk was discovered and the number of registered users has really taken off. Thank you to all of you who have provided feedback on the website. We have started the process of incorporating your suggestions into the design and into our database building priorities.
And remember, if you run across some particularly good or particularly bad content, be sure to let us know so the database can be updated. Your feedback on content quality will help bring our whole industry closer to “What We Want” in Revit families. Use the Contact Us button.