CADnotes CAD Tutorials and Best Practices for professionals and students Wed, 01 Apr 2015 05:02:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Controlling Revit Appearance: View Overrides Wed, 01 Apr 2015 03:30:52 +0000 We have learned how we can control object appearance in Revit using Object Styles. As we learned, settings in Object Styles will apply to all views. In our design, we often need to change the appearance in a specific view but not the others.

For example, we want to show the furniture in interior design but not in structural design. Or maybe you want to show more colorful drawings for presentation drawings but not in architecture drawings.

Let’s see how you can change the object appearance in specific views.

Visibility/Graphic Overrides

Visibility/Graphic Overrides has the exact same settings as Object Styles. The only difference in this setting is: it only apply in one view. You can override model and annotation categories by switching to another tab.

If you change the overrides in 1st Floor Plan view, it won’t affect 2nd Floor Plan View and other views.


You can access Visibility Graphic from Revit ribbon> View tab> Visibility Graphics.


You can also open Visibility/Graphics Overrides by pressing VG as shortcut


Still in Visibility/Graphics Override, you can also use document filters. Document filters allow you to control objects in multiple categories at once.

You can filter objects by their properties and then change their appearances. (Read: 3 Benefits of Using Revit view filter). It means that you can also change appearance of objects in the same category, but have different properties.

You can access document filters from Visibility/Graphics Override dialog> Filters tab.


To create a new filter, click edit/new button at the bottom.


Click new to create a new filter.


Next you can define the object categories that you want to include in this filter.

In the 2nd column, you can choose what category you want to include. In this example only walls in selected.

In the 3rd column, you can define rules if you want to filter objects by their properties. You can use multiple rules here. In this example, only exterior function is used here.


After you define the filters, click OK to go back to Visibility/Graphics Override.

You have defined the filters. Now you can use them here.

Click Add to add filters that you want to use.


After you add the filters, you can override their appearance similar to what you can do with Model Categories in Visibility/Graphic Overrides.


This is an example how you can set different colors for walls. The red walls are exterior walls, and the blue walls are interior walls.


Where is this exterior/interior function defined? It is saved in the type/instance properties. For wall function, it is saved in Type Properties.

You may need to explore the properties further to have better control when using filters.


View Templates

To get visualization that you want, you may need to change many settings in a view. If you want to apply the same settings to other views, you don’t have to do all the settings again. You can save it to a view template.

You can create view template by saving from a view or you can change the settings manually.

If you already have a view that you want, you can save the settings.

Open the view that you want to save the settings, click Create Template from Current View. You can access it from View tab> View Templates.


To apply the template, open view that you want to override then click Apply Template Properties to Current View.

If you are more adventurous, you can explore the settings in Manage View Templates.

All view templates are listed here. You can change any view settings from this dialog. If you change the settings here, all views that use the template will be updated with the new settings.


If you use View Template, you can’t override View Categories in that particular view. The settings will be greyed out and can’t be changed.

Override Category/Elements View

You can also change elements view by overriding individual object or selected objects. Select objects that you want to change, right click and choose Override Graphics in View> By Element.

An example of using this override is when you want to make far objects look thinner.


The other options, By Category and By Filter is the same as using Visibility/Graphics Override. If you change the view properties here, the settings will be applied there also.


I found that many people fear that they can’t change view appearance in Revit easily. Revit actually has many options to do that quickly and easily.

If you want to change appearance for objects in all views, use Object Styles.

If you want to change appearance for objects in specific view, use Visibility/Graphics Override.

And if you want to control the appearance further, use filters.

You can save all the settings so you can reuse them in other views, using view templates.

You can override single or multiple objects without following any rules too, by overriding the settings by element.

It’s quite easy, isn’t it?

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7 Benefits of using AutoCAD Sheet Set Wed, 25 Mar 2015 08:06:20 +0000 AutoCAD has Sheet Set feature since version 2005. Yes, it’s been that long. More than 10 years already! But still not many people use it.

Sheet Set can be very useful, it gives more benefits than using regular layout. By using layout alone, we can get many benefits (read: 10 Reasons to Use AutoCAD Layout).

engineering drawing sheets

You can get more benefits by implementing Sheet Set in your workflow. Let’s see what Sheet Set offers.

1. Manage similar drawings in Subsets

Sheet Set works like folders in Windows. But instead of managing files, it manages your sheets. You can create Subsets under the main Sheet Set. You can create Subset under a Subset if you need to classify the drawing further.

This is how Sheet Set looks in Sheet Set Manager.


This probably doesn’t feel significant. But there are many benefits of managing the drawings in Sheet Sets. We will see them in the next point.

2. Publish drawings

You can use publish command without using Sheet Set Manager. However, if you manage the drawings in Sheet Set properly you can publish multiple drawings faster.

You can choose to publish the whole drawings in the whole Sheet Set. Or if you want to publish only architectural drawings, you can publish drawings in a Subset.


You certainly can save the sheet list in Publish command. But as the project grows, you also need to update the drawing list regularly.

You don’t have to do that if you use Sheet Set. The drawing list in Sheet Set will also grow if you use it.

3. eTransmit drawings

eTransmit is a great tool to pack and send your drawings. Similar to publish command, you can use this tool separately. However, accessing this tool from Sheet Set Manager will add the drawings quickly than add the drawing individually to eTransmit.


You can pack and send (or backup) all drawings in your project with all dependent files quickly.

4. Automatic Title Block texts

Sheet Set can fill required text in title blocks automatically, for all sheets in Sheet Set. Every time you create a new sheet in Sheet Set, AutoCAD will fill the text for you.


If you have to change the drawing information, you only need to do it once. The value will be updated in all sheets.

This will reduce time and error when creating your drawings.

5. Automatic drawing list

You can create drawing list from Sheet Set easily. Similar to the other tools, you can create sheet list from the whole Sheet Set or just a specific Subset.


Not only the drawing number and drawing name, you can include all necessary properties like drawn by, check by and approved by like below.


6. Automatic view title

Sheet Set doesn’t just manage sheets. It also recognize your views in model and sheets. When you place your views using Sheet Set in sheet (if you are confused, we used to call it layout) AutoCAD will also filled view title with information.

In this example, AutoCAD will fill the sheet number, drawing name and drawing scale automatically.


You need to input the drawing number manually, but AutoCAD has done the most work!

7. Automatic callout number

You can add callout to refer to other drawing in Sheet Set. If you guess Sheet Set Manager will fill the information automatically, you are right.

The drawing number and sheet number where the detailed drawing is placed, shown in the callout bubble.


Drawing Management with AutoCAD Sheet Set e-book

To get all the benefits, you need to learn and prepare several things. You need to create title block, view title and callout to retrieve the information from Sheet Set. You need to create Sheet Set with custom properties.

If you are interested to learn more about using Sheet Set in AutoCAD, check our e-book here:


It has free chapter to try the Sheet Set benefits as described above. Download the sample chapter here.

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Controlling Revit Appearance: Lines Mon, 16 Mar 2015 09:09:37 +0000 We covered how you can control Revit object appearance in Revit using Object Styles. Now let’s continue how we can setup lines appearance in Revit. Engineering drawings are presented by lines, so this is important how you can setup this.

Line Weight

We can change line weight in Revit by changing it in Object Styles. As you can see below, it only shows in integers.

How thick is 1, 2, 3 and so on?


Let’s see the Revit line weight settings to see this clearly.

You can examine or change the line weight settings by accessing Revit ribbon> Manage tab> Settings panel> Additional Settings> Line Weights.


Revit will open Line Weights dialog. The default tab is model line weight. It controls the line thickness in your model.

The model line weight is scale dependent. For example the wall thickness is set to 3 in cut views.

If you set the view scale 1:100, then the line weight for that particular view is 0.25mm (in metric, obviously). If your view is set to 1:500 scale, then the line weight will be 0.1mm.


The other tab: perspective and annotation line weight are not scale dependent. Perspective view doesn’t have scale, does it?

And annotation lines are also not scale dependent. When you change a view scale, the model scale will change. But annotations won’t change. So the annotation size will not change regardless the scale you set for your views.

Line Color

Line color is pretty obvious. You can change the line color in Object Styles or override it in Visibility/Graphics settings. You can also override each elements graphic. We will come to this later.


Line Pattern

You can modify or create your own line pattern in Revit. Click Revit ribbon> Manage tab> Settings panel> Additional Settings> Line Patterns.


Revit already has some predefined line patterns. You can modify existing pattern or create a new one.

The line pattern definition is very simple. You can add dash, space or dot and define the length sequentially.

Below is the example for Dash Dot line pattern.


You can use these line patterns in Object Styles or other visibility settings.

Line Styles

You can use defined line styles when you draw Model Lines or Detail Lines.

After you activate the command, you can choose it from Line Style panel in properties palette or contextual ribbon tab.


You can modify or create your own line style by accessing Revit ribbon> Manage tab> Settings panel> Additional Settings> Line Styles.

Click new in subcategories group at the right bottom of the dialog.


To wrap up

Sometimes the Revit settings are not set in one big dialog box. You need to find the settings on other place. Mostly they are very simple to configure, but you need to know how it works.

Many of the settings in Object Styles are configured in other settings. We cover about lines in this article.

How about you? Do you use Revit out of the box or do you configure your own settings?

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Controlling Revit Appearance: Object Styles Mon, 09 Mar 2015 03:39:06 +0000 Revit has many ways and settings to control object appearance. This could be confusing for Revit users, either they are new or have used it for a while. The settings out of the box usually are good enough to get you started. However, we always need to change the appearance to conform our standard.

computer settings button

So this time, we will cover how you can change object appearance in Revit views. From the basic to overriding appearances in views.

About Revit Object Styles

The first thing you need to know is using Object Styles. Objects styles controls how objects appear in all Revit views. If you change it here, the object appearance in all view will change.

You can access Object Styles in Revit ribbon> Manage tab> Settings panel.


After you click the icon, you will see Object Styles dialog below. There are 4 tabs here. Object Styles allow you to control appearance of model objects, annotation objects, analytical model objects and imported objects.

The table shows several columns, the left most column is the object category. On the right side is the object property when it appears in your views.


Objects Line Weight

Let’s check the doors style.

The line weight for door projection is 1 and when it’s cut the line weight is 2. It means the door use the thinnest line weight when it appears in elevation, section and 3D view. Those are where typically doors are not cut.

When the door is cut in plan view, the line weight will be thicker. It uses 2. Remember, door in floor plan is cut as defined in view range. If you are not familiar with view range, you might want to read this article. And of course, if you place section line to cut a door, it will use line weight 2 as well.


Let’s cover about this further.

See the image below. The left image show where elevation view line take your model and create elevation view. All objects in front of that line will be visible in elevation view.

As you can see, the door 106A is not cut. The right image shows where the section view cut your model. The door in laundry room is also not cut.

cut line in elevation and section plan

Now let’s see how a floor plan is created. The line no. (2) is where the model is cut to create plan view. You can see the wall, door and window are cut here. So they will use line weight as defined in cut column.

Objects Line Color and Pattern

For line color and pattern, you can see only one column is available. You can choose other color or pattern by clicking the cell and choose other color or pattern.


Objects Material

The last column is for objects material. Objects will use value in this column, if material in object type is define <by category>.


Another condition when this object will be used is when you set the detail level to coarse. The object will use material defined here regardless what you set in object type.


Revit will only use material in object type when you set detail level to Medium or Fine.

Object Subcategory

Try to click (+) sign at the left side of object category. You will see the subcategories listed there. Most model objects have subcategories.

In this example is subcategories for windows.


You can see that you can define styles for each subcategory like the windows frame, glass and so on.

Usually, subcategories for objects are defined in family editor. For example, this window below is opened in Family Editor.

If I select the windows frame as shown below, I can see that the objects subcategory is Frame/Mullion.



Most of the subcategories name are self explanatory, but you might need to open the family in Family Editor to check the subcategories.

Category Filter List

Categories that you see in the Object Styles list usually are the architectural objects. If you work with Revit in Building Design Suites bundle, you have all flavors of Revit. To view other category types, like structure categories, you need to change the filter list. You can choose multiple types from the list.



Object Styles is the basic settings to control objects appearance. If you want to change object appearance in all views, then you need to start here. We only cover model objects here, but the annotation, analytical and imported objects are similar. Same rules also apply there.

We will cover more about controlling appearances in Revit in the next article.

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12 settings I’ve changed in AutoCAD 2015 already! Wed, 25 Feb 2015 09:55:00 +0000 I love getting my hands on the latest technology. I’m a real CAD geek. But there are some AutoCAD settings that I’m just used to. So I am compelled to change them.

Here are twelve settings that I just had to change in AutoCAD 2015 before I could get productive!

File format

We share a lot of files with customers, partners and subcontractors. We currently use AutoCAD 2007 file format without too many complaints!

AutoCAD 2015 Default file type

Background plotting

Background plotting  allows you to continue working while you batch publish plots in the background.
I haven’t experienced to many problems with batch publishing – but when I have Background publish appears to be the culprit.

If you turn Back ground plotting off, you will have to wait for AutoCAD top open and plot each layout in turn.

I don’t mind this, AutoCAD is still waaay quicker at plotting than I am!

To turn off background publishing:

Big Red A > Options > Plot and Publish > Back ground processing options

Turn off background pulishing in AutoCAD 2015

Block attribute editor

I’m not a big fan of the advanced attribute manager when I’m filling out title blocks. Give me the plain old fashioned block attribute manager any day!

From this:


To this (Much simpler!):


Type ‘CUI’ at the command line and hit enter.

Look under double click actions > Attribute block > edit attribute

Change the command from ‘EATTEDIT’ to ‘ATTEDIT’


Bonus Tip: Can you believe that I’ve been using AutoCAD for ten years and I only just noticed that you can fill out block attributes from the properties palette!


We all have our own favourite OSNAP setting – here are mine.

AutoCAD Osnaps

Polar tracking

I use Polar tracking and object snap tracking a lot, and I like to set it to 45° increments.

Click on the drop down arrow next to the polar tracking icon in the status bar and pick your preference.


I don’t know why this was turned off when I booted AutoCAD 2015 for the first time? FIELDEVAL  controls whether values in fields are updated when re-gen’ing.

We use fields and the Sheet set manager extensively – so it is important that information in block attributes with fields are current.

Type FIELDEVAL at the command line to change the behaviour.


Here are the allowed values. You can add them up to combine properties. ’31’ will turn everything on.

0 Not updated
1 Updated on open
2 Updated on save
4 Updated on plot
8 Updated on use of ETRANSMIT
16 Updated on regeneration


When I set Mtext to centre justified, I like the grip handles to size the Mtext width equally on both sides.

CENTREMT controls this. Type it at the command line to change it.

CENTREMT = 0 (Off)




Dynamic columns

One day I will want to type a whole load of text in AutoCAD and have it neatly set out in columns.

Not today.

To turn off Automatic column text  go to In the MTEXT editor and select > Columns > No columns

AutoCAD 2015 No MTEXT columns

Layout tabs

The new, clean user interface for AutoCAD 2015 doesn’t leave much room for layout tabs.

Right click in the layout tab area to push them up above the Status bar and give them more room to breathe!

AutoCAD 2015 dock layout tabs above Status Bar

AutoCAD 2015 dock layout tabs inline with Status Bar

View cube

I don’t do any 3D in AutoCAD, and I don’t use the view cube much. I prefer to set it to a smaller size and turn the inactive capacity right down, so that it only appears when I hover over it.

Right click over viewcube and choose ViewCube Settings:

AutoCAD Viewcube settings

Change the size to ‘Small’ and the Inactive Opacity to 0%

AutoCAD Viewcube settings dialoge

PDF Export

I use PDF export a lot (When I don’t need to batch publish!). To get this set up go to:

output settings > Export > PDF

AutoCAD Export PDF settings

Click on the ‘Settings’ button to create single sheet files and turn off layers in the exported PDF

AutoCAD Export PDF options

Fuzzy lines

The new ‘Luminescent’ selection effects in AutoCAD 2015 look really cool. However, after a while – they just gave me a head ache!

I noticed that the new graphic acceleration options in AutoCAD 2015 slow down some of our users machines who don’t have dedicated graphics cards.

Note: You may need to re-start AutoCAD to see the result of adjusting these variables.

You can control the selection highlighting effects by typing the following commands at the command line:

‘PRESELECTIONEFFECT’ (Controls the highlighting of lines when you hover over them) 1= ON 0 = OFF

‘SELECTIONEFFECT’ (Controls the highlighting of lines when you select them) 1= ON 0 = OFF

Or right click on the Graphics config icon in the status bar and choose graphics performance.

AutoCAD 2015 Graphics performance status bar Icon

You can toggle hardware acceleration off here:

AutoCAD 2015 Graphic performance toggle

You can toggle hardware acceleration, and turn line smoothing off independently:

AutoCAD 2015 Smooth Line display


AutoCAD 2015 Preselectioneffect on


AutoCAD 2015 Preselection Effect Off


AutoCAD 2015 selectioneffect on


AutoCAD 2015 Selectioneffect off

Hardware acceleration off, line smoothing off

AutoCAD 2015 Hardware acceleration off, line smoothing on

Hardware acceleration off, line smoothing on

AutoCAD 2015 Hardware acceleration off, line smoothing off

Over to you

How about you? What are your preferred settings? Is there anything in AutoCAD 2015 that you just can’t get on with? What are your favourite new features in 2015?

Leave a comment to share your observations!

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Autodesk will no longer sell perpetual license after Feb 1st, 2016 Mon, 09 Feb 2015 04:29:55 +0000 Last week, Autodesk announced that they will no longer sell perpetual licenses for some products. They will only offer desktop subscription for new seats beyond that date.

surprising news

This could be a good news. Now with desktop subscription, you can use latest software with relatively small price. Much cheaper than perpetual license + maintenance subscription.

It could be ideal for small and medium companies, as you can also pay for monthly, quarterly or annually to use the license. You could get more licenses near project deadline with a low price.

If you already owned perpetual license, you can keep using it. And also renew your subscription (now they call it maintenance subscription). An interesting point for me in desktop subscription is: Autodesk hasn’t offered the ability to use previous version. In the FAQ, it did say that Autodesk will support it in the future for desktop subscription. I hope this will be available before February 1, 2016.

There are probably many questions about it, you can read the detail in Autodesk website about perpetual license here. There is also a FAQ about this changes here (PDF).

In 2016, not all products are available as desktop subscription. It will apply to standalone product first. For Autodesk Suites, you will still need to purchase perpetual licenses. No news about network license on desktop subscription either. It could be because this is still in transition period.

What do you think about this change? What are your concern? Do you think this will be good for your business?

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How to use more reference point in your AutoCAD block Tue, 03 Feb 2015 04:33:17 +0000 Using blocks in AutoCAD has many benefits, as we covered here before: Why you should use AutoCAD blocks. However, there is one thing that people can find annoying: To insert a block, you must use the insertion point as reference. It works fine in many cases, but sometimes we need to use other point as reference. It could be when we insert the block, or when we need to move or rotate it.

For the last one, this tip would be useful if you like to use grips. If you use MOVE command, you can define any point as reference.

So let’s see some tips to work with other reference points in blocks.

AutoCAD drawing screen

Add point parameters in block editor

Since AutoCAD 2006, Autodesk introduce Dynamic Block feature. You can use point parameter in block authoring palette to add invisible insertion points. When you insert a block, you can easily switch between insertion points by pressing CTRL key.

If you want to learn how to use it, Lynn Allen posted this tip on Cadalyst YouTube channel as embedded below. You can see how easy to do it.

If you can’t see the video above, you can see it here: Adding multiple insertion point for a block.

Enable grips within blocks

Above trick is very helpful when you insert a block. As mentioned before, if you prefer to move block by using grip you will only have option to select insertion point. In below example, this bed was created as a block. The insertion point is only at the left top corner  of the bed.


You can show all the grips from the objects inside the block by activating Show grips within blocks in AutoCAD options, selection tab. Or set the GRIPBLOCK system variable to 1.


After you activate the option, you will see all grips when you select the block. You can select any grips to move the block.


Changing the base point

Showing grips within blocks isn’t always the best option. If you have complex geometry inside your block, you will see too many grips. It can be confusing.

The other option is to select the insertion point until you can see the grip turns to red and the block is at your pointer, right click and choose Base Point from context menu.


Now you can select any point as the new base point. Certainly, you can also choose Base Point from command line.

Cycling between commands

After you select a grip, the default action is to stretch the grip. In this case, it will move your block to new location.

You can press ENTER or SPACE to cycle between all other possible action. Check the command line, you will see the action is changing between stretch, move, rotate, scale and mirror.

Specify stretch point or [Base point/Copy/Undo/eXit]:
** MOVE **
Specify move point or [Base point/Copy/Undo/eXit]:
** ROTATE **
Specify rotation angle or [Base point/Copy/Undo/Reference/eXit]:
** SCALE **
Specify scale factor or [Base point/Copy/Undo/Reference/eXit]:
** MIRROR **
Specify second point or [Base point/Copy/Undo/eXit]:

You can also right click and change the action from context menu.


Bonus tip: Change GRIPBLOCK variable quickly with LISP

If you want to use grips within block and want to turn it on/off quickly, you can use this LISP program below. After you load it, just type GB then enter to change the variable quickly.

(defun c:GB (/ CURGRIPBLOCK)
(setvar "GRIPBLOCK" 1)
(setvar "GRIPBLOCK" 0)

If you’re not familiar with using AutoLISP code, you can use the LISP program by following this article: Saving, using and managing your AutoLISP program.

Insertion point isn’t the only reference point in block!

As you can see above, insertion point isn’t the only reference point in block. You can change insertion point easily during insertion and you can use other points when you modify your block.

You can quickly pick a grip if you set GRIPBLOCK to 1. Or you can change the base point later.

Using grips probably isn’t the preferred way for AutoCAD veterans, but many people do use it. Using grips allow you to remember less command, I think occasional users find this useful.

What about you? Which method do you prefer? Or you have other method that you can share with us?

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3 Benefits of Using Revit view filters Thu, 29 Jan 2015 08:24:48 +0000 You probably already know that there are several ways to control object appearance in Revit. We covered about it before, with controlling line thickness as example.

Have you tried using the Filters tab?


Using filter in visibility graphic can give you more control. It allows you to control many objects appearance faster and extend the capabilities. Let’s try to see what it can do here.

3d building construction

Group Different Types of Objects

To override different object types, you need to override them one by one. You change the appearance for walls, then columns, doors and other objects individually. This could take some time.

You can create a filter to include different types of objects. This will allow you to override their properties in a single action.

As you can see below, you can create a filter to override appearance of interior objects. That could includes doors, floors, ramps, stairs and walls.


It means that you can change the appearance of multiple objects immediately. You don’t need to change the appearance for each object.

Filter Object by Parameters

You can also filter objects by their parameters. It means that not only you can filter multiple types of objects, you can also override appearance for same objects differently.  For example, You want all wall with exterior function to be filled with red color.

In the example below, I created filter for wall with exterior function. I use red color for those walls.


As you can see in this example, the interior walls don’t have fill color.

Ability to Change Visibility when Overrides Graphics Doesn’t Allow You to

In Visibility/Graphics Override, you will find that there are visibility settings that you can’t override.

In this example below, you can see that you can’t change the room color fill. Yes, you can change it in color scheme. But in this case, I want to create a floor plan with same color fill. Only for this particular view.

This will be faster to create a filter then override the color fill.


After I define a filter, now I can change the fill color in filter tab.



Using filters in graphic overrides will give you more controls. If you want to create a compelling presentation, you will want to learn more about it.

I recommend you to read this AU Class: Autodesk Revit for Presentation – Graphic that Pop. The class was presented by Jason Grant and David Light at Autodesk University 2011, but still relevant to current version. It’s a great resource to get some ideas how you can make your drawing presentation looks compelling, without having to render the model. And many of those tricks are using filters!

How about you? Have you used filters to override your model appearance before? Can you share what more it can do? And what you have created with it?

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