Hidden Parameters: The Key Under the Mat

Hidden Parameters: The Key Under the Mat

Locking parameters inside of Revit content is sometimes a necessity: getting logic to work properly requires some gears to turn and parameters that hold and relay data. In very complicated families that include arrays, moving components, or even error messaging if multiple incompatible options are chosen, the amount of parameters can quickly build up. Revit has a built-in solution to hide those parameters, to keep families clean and only present information that will be important to users of the content: hidden parameters. Little known and under-utilized, hidden parameters can really clean up content when used properly. The best part is it only requires one extra step after the parameter has been made – so they’re fast, easy, efficient, and add functionality. What more can you ask for in a modelling technique? As an example I will be making a simple box with three types of different dimensions and colors, locked out, with the “key” hidden from the user.

The process of creating a hidden parameter begins like a normal shared parameter. When adding a parameter to a family, select the “Shared” option instead of family. It might make sense to create a new file specifically to hold hidden parameters, to keep them segregated from other shared parameters and to make them easy to access. There is no obvious way to tell if a shared parameter is hidden without loading it into a Revit project, so a separate hidden parameters file would make that distinction: any parameter within the file, will be hidden. No guessing or testing involved. For this example I made a new shared parameter file simply called “Hidden Parameters” and a group within the file named “Constraints”.

Revit Quirk Alert: An important note here before continuing is to go through the entire creation process, including the step to make the parameter hidden, before adding the shared parameter to a family. If it is added to a family before being turned into a hidden parameter it will be visible.

Add any necessary parameters to the file as they are required: there is no limit on the data type of a hidden parameter. Once any parameters have been created and added, they can be used inside of the family as normal. Since these are shared parameters, I prefer to name all of my hidden parameters with a “z” in front, such as “z Type”, “z Width”, “z Model Number”, etc. This will put them at the bottom of the parameter list inside of a project and also signifies that the parameter is hidden in the family editor.

Now for the final step (really, that’s it!): open the shared parameter file in a .txt file editor such as Notepad. The first thing you’ll see is a message to not edit the file…

Just ignore that.

You’ll then see a list of parameters as well as how they are organized inside of Revit and some data that lets Revit know how the parameter is used. Change a single value: the second integer. It will be a “1”. Change it to a “0”.

Save the file and you’re done. Now that parameter is hidden in a project when added to a family.

For my example I made two hidden parameters: “z Type” and “z Material”. The visible dimensions are locked out using z Type, and the material (which can not be locked – just the nature of material parameters since they are unable to use formulas) is hidden so it cannot be modified in a project.

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Custom Preview Images

Custom Preview Images

So, you’re plugging away at work and your best Revit user submits the best door family they have to Unifi.  Awesome!  The system is working, the users get it!  But then you see the preview image!  Oh yeah, they are one of those who like a black background in Revit!  Sigh!  At least it’s not magenta!You could reject it and have it fixed, but you still need to validate it.  Best option: approve the content and fix the image yourself!

Unifi can help with this due to its ability to capture custom images.  Yep, any image shown on your monitor can be assigned as an elements preview image.  Editing the image is totally optional, but there may be times it needs to be done.  You definitely do not have to edit every image on every piece of content.  Steps for this are outlined below or check out this quick video!  No sound in the video, sorry!

  1. Start up a test project or open content.
  2. Modify view.
  3. From an item’s detail view, select “Edit File” from the buttons in the top right corner.
  4. Make sure the image you wish to capture is open on your screen.
  5. Click on the “Capture Image” button that appears below the item’s image. At this point, Unifi will hide and your monitor(s) will be blued out except for a small clear square near the center of the main monitor. A “Save Image” and “Cancel” button will appear at the top of the same monitor.
  6. Click on the clear square and hold the mouse button down as you move this square over the desired image.
  7. Click on one of the corners to resize the square if you desire. The square defaults to the minimum allowed size. The image you select will be resized to fit into the item’s icon.
  8. Click on the “Save Image” button to import the image into the item detail. After a moment, your image will replace the one that was previously shown.
  9. Click the green “Finished” button to save the changes.
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