WTF (What The Family!?)


So I’m working on a custom home design for a refreshingly talented designer (who went to Wall Street – not design school…but that’s another story). As part of the process I’m on the hunt for Revit content that are clean, elegant placeholders.

Thirty minutes of tub searching leads to a nearly religious argument with  about the lack of useful generic content.

  • Me: There’s no useful generic content
  • JAT: You should not use generic content

The point is there’s even disagreement on the proper use of content at the Platonic level (see here). Never mind insertion points, parameters, categories, etc. Very broadly speaking, Plato spoke in terms of ideals and Aristotle in terms of specifics. In other words, seminal arguments about Revit content can trace it’s lineage back to Greek Philosophy. Who’d a thunk.

But I was on the hunt for a simple tub. A meaningful placeholder of an appropriate size, shape and category to communicate “tub-ness” (sorry Plato…). Not something as specific as “XSA6000TS 3P – 60 x 32 code compliant acrylic multi-piece tub shower with dome top” (looking at you ADSKSeek – the Aristotle of BIM content). Nor to I want something that’s been imported into the family editor and looks like a tub covered w a spiderweb in 3D (looking at you RevitCity – the Gorgias of BIM content).

Depending on the amount of information at inception, I need something that conforms to a design process that moves from general to specific:

  • What it is
  • Where it is
  • How it is assembled

Process applied:

So unless I’m designing a home for the CEO of Fisher and Paykel, I’m not going to make early assumptions on the likely selection of home appliances because that decision isn’t valuable when made too early. To do otherwise is distracting and wastes time. Which brings me to Exhibit A:

“Simple washing machine I made while doing a school project.” (more over here).

The washing machine family is a perfectly well meaning placeholder for design purposes – but OMG look at all the parameters. Yet it turns out these parameters are a red herring. The washing machine family began it’s life as window blinds (as evidenced by the remaining Family Type) and the old parameters weren’t deleted.

So what’s the real problem?

  • Family Category: Generic Model. Which means it’s not even going to schedule correctly.
  • Insertion Point: Geometric Center. Which means when it flexes or is replaced by something more specific it’s relationship to the wall is going to move unpredictably.

We’ve got to get our heads around this challenge. I’m not suggesting that we have to “boil the ocean” to even begin, but we shouldn’t we agree upon some meaningful constraints? Shouldn’t we at least get in the same room together? For a day?

BCS is an important first step in this direction. It’s the day before RTCNA but no one expects to solve the problem of content in a day. But the first step it admitting there’s a problem.

  • Me: Hi. I’m Phil and I use Revit
  • BCS: Hi Phil!

Or something like that.

Please get involved for the first event (BCS) to define the problem. It’s more complex than you can imagine. And then stay for the second event (RTC) to discuss a way forward. 

Plato thanks you. Aristotle thanks you.

Xenophon of BIM content, anyone?

One thought on “WTF (What The Family!?)

Leave a Reply

Translate »