Monday, December 30, 2013

A Stinkin' Simple Railing - Part 1

When long-time users pour so much passion and energy trying to make Revit better through constant feedback, they eventually get burned out and exhausted when they do not see significant change, version after version. Sadly, I find myself in that situation and it is getting harder to stay positive about Revit, even though it is still my preferred software of choice (how about that for leverage?). The way Autodesk have been treating its development these last couple of years is nothing short of appalling. They seem to have forgotten the “works like an Architect thinks” mantra and sadly too often Revit seems to work like a clunker and thinks like a delusional Architect instead. The API keeps improving, which is great, but I expect a heck of a lot more from the exposed part of a platform that is briskly coming up to its 14th birthday since becoming commercially viable. If software age is more like dog years, one can safely say that Revit is no teenager.

In the spirit of (desperately) trying to stay positive, I’d like to write about all the problems with the “new” railing tools. Nowadays for Autodesk, “new” means less than 20% completion. I wish I had that luxury myself, so I’ll just roll around in envy for the time being.

I documented these while trying to build a simple, wall-mounted handrail commonly found in fire escape stairs. Since there are too many issues to list and document in one post, I’ll do it in multiple parts so I can be of service to my loyal readers. Some might not see this as being positive but in my book, the first task on the path to improvement, is to acknowledge your problems. I will suggest workarounds and best-practices where possible.

Some bugs have been resolved in Revit 2014, but not all projects I deal with are in that version (actually as of now, very few are). Template versioning has become a real headache where things work differently depending on what template version a project was started from: the upgrading process alone is unlikely to guarantee nirvana. Note that everything I’ll be posting about has been confirmed through Autodesk Support.

BUG #1 Occurs up to
Posts in “old” railing on “new” stair Revit 2013 SP3*

STATUS: Resolved in Revit 2014 SP1 *only if you start a project from a 2014 template.

If you had a previously working old railing definition that used posts to define extensions and you used it on the “new” assembled stair, the posts do not display in plan. Your existing projects are not going to get fixed through an upgrade to Revit 2014. In this case you’re going to have to re-build them with a different railing definition. As you can see below on the left, the railing works on old sketched stair definitions but not on the assembled stair. If you start a project from a new 2014 template and copy & paste the faulty railing definition shown on the right, it works. Why not when upgraded? I have no clue.

Balusters not showing in plan


BUG #2 Occurs up to
Terminations not visible in plan Revit 2014 SP2

STATUS: Unresolved

Termination families do not represent themselves in plan views but when you hover over the railing, you see the invisible outline of the termination family. Visibility should be controlled through the family subcategory and detail levels, but this is not happening. So if you were thinking creatively of using a termination as a railing extension to get around other buggy behavior, forget it.



BUG #3 Occurs up to
Align tool on supports doesn’t work right Revit 2014 SP2


STATUS: Unresolved

The align tool does not work correctly on supports when handrails are sloped. When they are flat everything is fine, but if it slopes (which is the most common), the support is moved by the incorrect distance and it takes several subsequent alignments to get it close to where you want it - it never properly aligns, just keeps getting closer and closer. Workaround: Use the move tool in lieu of Align.

Supports do not align

Stay tuned for more bugs and “as designed” issues. Happy New Year!



Unknown said...

Funny that you are starting with these annoying but not fundamental issues. In my opinion the whole user interface with the embedded 'Handrail 1' & 'Handrail 2' Type is pure nonsense (far too complicated).
A tool that basically is (or should be as easy and flexible as) a Curtain Wall that can sit on ramps or stairs.
Another annoying thing is that curved edges (e.g. Handrail extensions) don't show properly in plan (it shows very faint and does not print).
The 'new' railings require a lot of work and Autodesk after stuffing them up in 2013 have still not fixed them after nearly 2 years!

Kevin Bell said...

I could agree with your 'dejected' view of Revit more - as I'm in the same boat.

I get fed up having to explain to staff how to deal with these small bugs and especially basic functions that are missing.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alfredo Medina said...

(I am not sure if I am going to duplicate my post, but let me try again. If this is a duplicate, please delete)

David, I would like to ask you 2 questions:
1) Are these issues still unresolved in 2015?
2) Is it possible to have a sloped handrail with a return to wall where the return follows the slope? it seems that Revit needs to make a flat segment before returning to the wall, but I have a situation in which a sloped return is required. Is a custom family my only option in this case?

Dave Baldacchino said...

Hi Alfredo, have not tested in 2015 yet but I HIGHLY doubt anything significant has been improved. I plan on posting even more issues (everything is documented and confirmed, just have not gotten around to do it yet) and will then go through them again one by one and test in subsequent versions every stinkin' year until they're addressed!!

As to your question, the handrail has to stay above the defined height, hence why it goes flat when it hits that threshold once you're off the stairs. So if you want to go below the mounting height, then yes, I think your only option is to use a custom start port family. Feel free to share a sketch via email.

RevitCat said...

Bugs 2 & 3 do not appear to be fixed in v2015 R2.
So I guess that means probably not fixed in v2016

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