This month, Autodesk released Revit 2020. As with every new major release of Revit, there are quite a few significant updates to our favorite BIM authoring tool. Below are just a few of the features which are new or improved for Revit 2020:
•PDF underlay support
•Improvements for electrical systems
•Several improvements for structural systems
•Support for Sketchup 2018 import
•New Export Fabrication Data tool
•Path of Travel tool
•“Autodesk Steel Connections 2020” Dynamo package
•Copy and paste legends across sheets
•Improved OR in view filters
•Improvements for MEP systems
•Imported geometry (aka direct shapes) can now be split into Parts
If you would like to learn of the full list of changes in Revit 2020, including bug fixes, check out the release notes here.
It looks like there are quite a few improvements made in this version, but in today’s post I’ll highlight just one feature in particular that would have changed my life if I were still the boots-on-the-ground Revit modeler; the ability to import a PDF to a Revit model. This has been on my personal wish list, as well as thousands of others, for years and it looks like Autodesk has finally delivered as a new feature in Revit 2020.
Why Are PDF Underlays Important?
In our industry, many of the documents that are shared throughout project teams are in the PDF file format including specifications, catalog sheets, schedules, and of course drawings. There are often times that these documents need to be added to a set of drawings. This is where Revit has failed us in the past, because the sheets live in Revit and Revit had no ability to import PDFs.
In addition, legacy drawings of as-built conditions can often come in PDF format. These drawings are a critical piece to any tenant improvement and the ability to reference them directly in a model are extremely helpful. Ideally, you would receive these drawings in a CAD file format (dwg), however Revit users will often find themselves in a bind when only a set of PDFs are available. For example, consider scanned hand-drawn plans, which are typically shared as image or PDF files.
Prior to Revit 2020, the only way to load a PDF within a Revit model was to convert it to another file format first. We’ve all developed work arounds to convert PDFs to either DWG or image file format just to bring them into Revit. This workflow adds an extra step each time updates are made to any PDFs that need to be included as part of a Revit project.
How Does It Work?
Autodesk’s implementation of this new feature in Revit 2020 is fairly straightforward because they’ve simply added PDFs to the existing Manage Images tool, with some added benefits. In general, PDFs appear to function similar to loaded images within a Revit project because PDFs are added to specific views, rather than as model elements.
Revit 2020 Supports Multiple Page PDFs
One of the main differences that sets PDFs apart from other image files is the ability to store multiple pages. Once loaded into Revit 2020, the team will have visibility of which PDF pages are loaded into the project by the page number appended to the end of the filename. Of course, you’ll also have the ability to add multiple pages from the same PDF and this will help you keep track of them.
Enable Snaps in PDFs Loaded into Revit 2020
Another major advantage of using PDFs as opposed to images is the vector graphics that PDFs can contain. This is extremely useful, particularly with legacy drawings that have been converted to PDF from CAD because these drawings are often referenced for as-built conditions. In fact, these vector-based PDFs can contain geometry that is as accurate as a CAD file.
With this new feature in Revit 2020, users can Enable Snaps of the vectors of an imported PDFs. Keep in mind that not all PDFs will allow this setting in Revit 2020. The PDF cannot be composed of raster graphics in order to enable snaps because Revit cannot snap to pixels of a bitmap. Keep this in mind because one of the most common sources of raster PDFs is a scanned as-built drawing, which again, will not have the ability to enable snaps.
Now consider that you are starting a project in Revit 2020 and it is a tenant improvement. You have a set of as-built drawings, but they’re in PDF format. With this new feature in Revit 2020, you’ll be able to load the PDF as an underlay and enable snaps. You’ll now have a much simpler workflow while modeling the existing conditions because you’ll now have the ability to pick lines as a reference to model walls.
In addition, users will also have the ability to measure lines on PDFs that have snaps enabled in Revit 2020. Unfortunately, this feature doesn’t have the ability to be dimensioned. We can only hope that is planned for roll-out in Revit 2020.1.
For a video demonstration on how to use PDFs in a Revit 2020 projects, head over to YouTube and check out this video from Autodesk.
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