Autodesk Fabrication – Determining C1/C2 Connectors in Revit

Fabrication Parts in Revit allow you to edit their connectors just like in CADmep. However, unlike CADmep, you can’t simply hover over a connector to determine if it’s C1 or C2.

So if you need to change a connector, you’re essentially guessing which one to change. Trial and error is at best 50% unless you’re lucky.

So how can you improve this “guessing” based workflow?

Thankfully I have a great network of people smarter than myself. I often get the credit for sharing the information but really, the credit belongs to those who show me. In this case, two of my industry friends showed me ways to improve the odds.


Method 1 – Slope

For this first method, credit goes to Liz Fong from MacDonald Miller. When you place a piece of straight pipe or duct, when you select it you’ll see a Slope indicator (< or >). This by default points to the C1 connector.

Duct/Pipe placed defaults the Slope symbol pointing to C1
Duct/Pipe mirrored also defaults the Slope symbol pointing to C1

There’s a couple downsides to this approach that may apply in some scenarios….

  1. This doesn’t work for fittings. Only Straight Pipe/Duct.
  2. If you click the Slope Symbol, it changes direction and is no longer accurate.
    • This should really only affect Plumbing or sloped Grease Duct systems. Otherwise there’s not a lot of reason to change direction on a non-sloped system.
    • Symbol could still be accidentally clicked and reversed anyway and then be wrong.
  3. Once changed, Slope symbol direction is remembered and there’s no good way to “reset” it.

Still, despite the downsides of this approach, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that even on a plumbing system, less that 50% of the slope symbols will be changed from their default. This alone makes this method better than a 50/50 guess like before.


Method 2 – View Cube/Viewing Direction

This next method takes slightly more work, but is almost 100% accurate. Credit for this method goes to Alina Y. from JH Kelly.

In short, from a 3d view, if you make sure the View Cube in the Part Editor window is aligned to the Revit View you’re in, the fittings is oriented in the same direction in the editor as in Revit. You can then select the connector in the Part Editor window and it highlights the connector end associated with it.

Duct/Pipe placed in Revit matches the editor when View Cubes are aligned. Selected Connector highlights.
Duct/Pipe mirrored in Revit matches the editor when View Cubes are aligned. Selected Connector highlights.

This method is almost fool proof and has a few benefits over the sloped method we showed earlier.

  1. Works on Fittings in addition to Straight Duct/Pipe.
  2. Slope direction doesn’t matter.

But we did say Almost. Where this method fails, is if the View in Revit is redefined.

When you set a new Front View, the view in Revit no longer matches the orientation in the Part Editor window as seen in the following image…

Luckily, this is easily remedied by simply resetting the Front View in Revit.

This method also works in Plan and Elevation Views with a slight twist. There’s no View Cube in the Revit window so it’s up to you to understand which viewing angle Revit is in. Next, you can make the View in the Item Editor match but when you look at a connector straight at the edge, you don’t see it highlight. You can then hold the SHIFT key and use the Middle-Mouse Button to slightly rotate the view so that you can see the connector that’s highlighted.

Here you can see what that looks like…


Summary

While not as quick and efficient as hovering over a connector in CADmep, either of these methods or even used in combination can increase your odds of changing the Correct connector on the first try.

While method #2 is more fool proof than method #1, there’s a reason I explain both and here’s how I’d use them both.

For non-sloped systems, the chances the slope symbol is reversed is very low. Because you’re likely selecting the part anyway to edit a connector, a quick glance is all you need to know which connector to change. Quick and easy for straight part on non-sloped fittings. No fuss. No muss. In this scenario, Method #1 is super quick.

For fittings and sloped systems, I would then shift to Method #2. Take a little more time, but it’s certainly quicker than being wrong 1/2 the time and then undoing the connector you just changed and then changing the other. That “trial and error” method results in 3 connector changes when you guess wrong. This is where Method #2 really shines…you get it right every time. If you’re Front View happens to be redefined, it’s easily rest.

Thanks again to Liz Fong (MacDonald-Miller) and Alina Y (JH Kelly) for their great input in coming up with these methods. They’re two of my favorite “Go To” people when I get stumped or need a little help orienting my thoughts.

Revit 2022 – Missing Fabrication Addins (temporary fix)

Update (2020.04.08): Autodesk released the Extension for MEP Fabrication 2022 on April 8th. You can get it from the Autodesk Desktop App or from your Autodesk Accounts Portal (manage.autodesk.com). This restores the MAJ Import/Export functionality and access to Fabrication Reports. It does NOT install the RME to FAB add-in. So part of the below guidance is still needed. You’ll want to copy the ADSK_Export.addin file per the below instructions. The other file is no longer needed and Autodesk’s newly released Extension will overwrite what’s needed if you used the below guidance.


If you’re an Autodesk Fabrication user and loaded up Revit 2022, you may have noticed some key Fabrication Add-ins are missing. It happens most every release. Deadlines for product releases always trump add-ins. This year, all the installers were reworked too so there was extra work I’m sure.

Don’t fear, they’ll get to them eventually. Just keep an eye on the Desktop App for when the updated Add-ins are release. In the mean time, here’s a temporary fix…

Enabling Fabrication Add-ins

To get the Fabrication Add-ins, you’ll need Revit 2021 installed and have those add-ins loaded in there. From there, there’s 2 files you’ll need to copy to a different folder.

Autodesk.MEPFabricationPart.Commands.Application.addin
ADSK_Export.addin

The first file enables MAJ Import/Export and Fabrication Reports. The second file enables the Fabrication RME Extension in the Add-ins Ribbon.

You copy them from this folder…

C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\Revit\Addins\2021

…to this folder…

C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\Revit\Addins\2022

Here’s what that looks like in Windows Explorer….

What This Looks Like in Revit

Once you copy those files, restart Revit to see the changes. Here’s a review of what that looks like…

MAJ Exports

MAJ Import

Fabrication Reports

A Parting Word

It should be noted that this work around should be considered “temporary”. You’re running 2021 Add-ins in 2022. The files you coped should be removed once the official 2022 Add-ins are released. This will ensure you get any fixes they may have added to the 2022 versions.

Renumber Revit Fab Parts – No Purchase or Coding Required

Most MEP contractors moving to Revit with Fabrication Parts at some point wrestle with renumbering parts. You can purchase tools or add-ins to make this easier or even write your own with Dynamo or C#.

But most contractors aren’t coders. And buying more software can also be a challenge. The good news is that those are not your only options, There’s some well written FREE Revit Add-Ins that make this a breeze.

Required Tools

Head over to DiRoot’s web site (https://diroots.com/) and download the OneFilter Add-In found here and the ReOrdering Add-In found here.

Once installed, you’ll find the tools in the DiRoots Ribbon in Revit along with any of their other tools you may have installed.

Getting Started

The following image shows 2 runs of Rectangular and 2 runs of Round duct work drawn in Revit using Fabrication Parts. One is drawn in a +2in WG service and the other -2in WG service. All duct has a tag configured to display the Fabrication Part’s Item Number property.

First Up – DiRoots OneFilter

Using the DiRoot’s OneFilter Add-In, you can easily select not just Fabrication Parts, but also select them based on their properties.

Once selected, you can see Revit selects the specified items in your model.

Next – DiRoots ReOrdering

Now that your desired parts are selected, you can use the DiRoots ReOrdering Add-In to renumber those parts.

After applying your renumbering parameters, you can see how Revit then displayed the updated Item Numbers for the Fabrication Parts.

Wrapup

As you can see, with a couple free (well written) utilities you can quickly and easily select and renumber your fabrication parts in Revit.

There’s a lot of other reasons beyond renumbering to use some of these Add-Ins. They’re very functional for a lot of workflows. Those uses are beyond the scope of this post but feel free to explore these Add-Ins or some of the other DiRoots tools when you get a chance. They’re some of the highest quality free Add-Ins for Revit than you’ll find anywhere.

Where Did The Revit 2021 Fabrication Extension Addin Go?

Have you tried to Import or Export an MAJ file in Revit 2021? Have you tried to run a Fabrication Report or Export in Revit 2021? If so, you may have noticed that it’s not in the Add-Ins ribbon any longer.

Your first thought might be you need to install the Revit Extension for MEP Fabrication 2021. But even after installing, it’s still not there. You might then be tempted to submit a support ticket to Autodesk to help troubleshoot your install. No need. Autodesk simply moved the commands and made them more integrated to Revit.

MAJ Exports

MAJ Exports can now be found in two locations in Revit 2021. The first location is under File -> Export.

The second location shows up in the context ribbon when you select Fabrication Parts….

MAJ Import

MAJ Imports have moved as well. This is a little easier to find if you think about it, it’s located under the Insert ribbon.

Fabrication Reports / Fabrication Exports

Your Fabrication Reports and Fabrication Exports will also show up in the context ribbon when you select Fabrication Parts.

Context Ribbon Doesn’t Show MAJ Export or Fabrication Reports/Exports?

If you select parts in Revit and the context ribbon does not show the MAJ Export or Fabrication Reports/Exports drop-downs, take a look at the Ribbon’s title.

If the Title of the ribbon says Multi-Select, this means you have a more than just MEP Fabrication Parts selected. You can quickly filter your selection to just MEP Fabrication Parts using the Filter tool in the lower right of Revit.

Un-check all items except anything that begins with “MEP Fabrication …”. This will deselect any non-Fabrication Parts and your MAJ Export and Fabrication Reports/Exports tools will then show up.

Still Can’t Find These Tools?

Unlike prior years which required a separate install, Revit 2021 installs the Fabrication tools as part of the product install. However, if the tools somehow become uninstalled, and you don’t find them, you can reinstall them by downloading the Revit Extension for MEP Fabrication 2021 from your Autodesk Account. Alternatively, you should be able find it in the Autodesk Desktop App in the updates.

Fix – Revit Fabrication Parts Suddenly Become Invalid

If you’re using Revit 2018 or 2019 with Fabrication Parts, you may notice that upon loading or reloading your configuration some (or many) of your parts become “Invalid”.

I’m not talking about Fabrication Parts whose CID/Pattern isn’t supported in Revit. I’m referring to perfectly valid Fabrication Parts. Parts that once worked. They may even be currently in your model but are no longer active in your Parts Browser. Here’s a couple examples…

You may even notice valid parts become invalid after unloading a service or that invalid parts become valid again after loading a new service.

What’s happening is that your Fabrication Configuration’s Image Cache has become corrupt. The issue is in Revit 2018 and 2019. Revit 2020 does not experience the issue. Whatever changed in Revit 2020 made it more resilient to a corrupt image cache.

The only known fix until recently was editing your service template. You would have to remove and re-add the part. Reloading the Fabrication Configuration in Revit and it would be fixed. Unfortunately, future database changes would often revert back to the invalid state.

Quick and Dirty Work-Around (Revit 2019 Only)

If you’re using Revit 2019, there is a quick and easy work-around. That’s assuming you only have a few parts that are invalid. To work around the issue, reload your Fabrication Configuration and individually load the invalid part in the Parts tab. The following image shows one invalid part added to the Parts tab.

Once added, the Part then becomes valid in the Parts Browser.

A Permanent Fix (For both Revit 2018 & 2019)

The prior work-around was only available in Revit 2019. This didn’t help Revit 2018 projects which do not have the Parts tab in Fabrication Settings.

To properly fix the issue, you need CADmep. Load your Fabrication Configuration in CADmep. Once loaded, find an open area of your service and press CTRL+SHIFT+Right-Click and select Clear Cache.

Next type the REFRESHALLBTNS command. You’ll see a progress bar while CADmep refreshes your button image cache.

At this point, your button cache should be rebuilt. However I’ve seen instances where you have to “coerce” or otherwise persuade CADmep into saving it back to disk. To verify the changes are saved, go to the Service Editor and click the Apply button then close the dialog.

At this point, you should be all set. If you go back to the problem Revit file and reload your Fabrication Configuration, you should see the Fabrication Part become active again.

Preventing Future Corruption

To prevent future corruption, you first need to understand how it happens. When loading CADmep, you may have noticed the “Button Validation” as shown in the following image…

Because this can be a slow process, most users simply hit the Escape key to terminate the validation. This isn’t a big deal for a user. For a database administrator, this can leave your image cache partially built and corrupt it.

While you can simply stop canceling the process, the better option is to prevent it in the first place. By default, CADmep enables Button Validation. But you can turn it off. To do this, use the Edit Configuration utility that comes with CADmep.

Note that this utility is named the same between versions and between CADmep, ESTmep and CAMduct products. It may be tricky to pick the right one. You need to select the one that comes with CADmep.

You also need to perform this for each CADmep version that’s installed. To help, you may want to choose the Open file location option. This will bring you to the folder with the shortcuts. You can then easily navigate to the proper version of Edit Configuration that you’re looking for.

When you run the utility, it’ll prompt for a configuration. You can pick any, it doesn’t matter. The setting to change is not specific to the configuration, only the product and version for the currently logged in user. The following image shows the Skip Validate Buttons at Start-Up option.

Select this option and the next time you launch CADmep, you’ll no longer see the button validation. This prevents you from canceling out of the validation as well as speeds loading of CADmep.

Credit Goes To…

Special thanks to Martin Schmid and Craig Farish of Autodesk for helping with this issue. We’d been experiencing this issue on and off for over 1/2 a year. Autodesk Support had indicated that nobody else had reported the issue and provided the 2019 work-around. They repeatedly assured me it was fixed in 2020 and not a problem with my data. They had no fix for 2018 which is used by several projects.

After experienced a large volume of invalid buttons, our database administrator spent 6 hours before users arrived rebuilding service templates. The the issue resurfaced within hours of a simple database update. With $5k-10k of lost productivity over 2 weeks with several detailers unable to model certain services, I called in a favor with Martin and Craig. They quickly had their team analyse our data and identify the fix.

I’ve since run into 4 other companies experiencing the same issue and this fix has worked flawlessly for them as well. Hopefully you’ll not need it but if you do, it’ll save you load of time, frustration and money.

Revit Can’t See Fabrication Configuration

Every once and a while, a Fabrication Configuration can lose data or become corrupt which leaves Revit unable to access it. This after you’ve already been working in a model and using the configuration without issue.

When this happens, it’s likely a result of the Fabrication Configuration loosing it’s GUID or “Global Unique Identifier”. You really only notice when attempting to reload the configuration in one of your existing models. The error will look like the following image…

When you launch of the other Fabrication products (CADmep, ESTmep or CAMduct) you can view the data from the database editor. In the image below, you can see the data is missing.

Retrieving Lost Data

The good news is that you can the data back. For this, we’ll use Revit and Dynamo, Revit’s visual programming environment.

Start Revit and open up one of your existing project that already had a Fabrication Configuration loaded. From the Manage ribbon, click the Dynamo button.

Once in Dynamo, you’ll need to load a Fabrication Dynamo package. Click the Package menu to display the Online Package Search dialog. You’ll need to wait a little while for the dialog to populate. Once populated, you can type Fabrication in the search box. In the results, select the DynaFabrication2018 package. Next, click the down arrow button on the left to install it as shown in the following image…

Once installed, the dialog will show the loaded modules at the bottom. It should look like the following image…

After the Dynamo packages are installed, you can build a Dynamo program that will extract the needed data. But instead of walking you through that, simply download, unzip and open the Dynamo program I’ve already created.

One Dynamo program Get Missing Fabrication GUID.dyn is loaded, your Dynamo screen should look like the following image…

In the lower right corner, if the button says Manual click the Run button otherwise if it’s set to Automatic, the information you need is already populated. Record the data in the fields marked A, B & C. This is what you’ll enter back in the database.

Add Data Back to the Fabrication Configuration

Launch of one the Fabrication products (CADmep, ESTmep or CAMduct). In the database editor, enter the information from Dynamo into the fields marked A, B & C as shown below…

Exit the database editor and exit from the Fabrication product you launched. If you still have Revit/Dynamo loaded, close both. Now, relaunch Revit again and open the model you opened before.

When you go to reload the configuration again, Revit should successfully find and reload your configuration.

Revit Fabrication Parts – Control w/Dimensions

AutoCAD was famous for it’s command line. It was easy to move items and type locations, distances or coordinates. Revit isn’t quite as intuitive for those coming from AutoCAD.

There’s a lot of reasons you need more control of Fabrication Parts in Revit. You may want to align the ends of pipe for a rack. Or perhaps you want to control the spacing between pipes in a run of parallel pipes.

At first it appears like the best you can do is drag items close. Eyeball them up so to speak. The traditional methods used in AutoCAD just won’t work. Methods like drawing construction geometry and using point filter and/or object snaps.

You can precisely control placement and location when moving to Revit from CADmep. In Revit, you simply place dimensions and edit them. Seems easy enough but there’s a couple nuances that can leave users frustrated. We’ll cover how to do this below.

Adding Dimensions in Revit

You can use the Annotate tab on the Ribbon in Revit. You’ll use the Linear, Aligned and Angular dimensions the most.

When you place a dimension between parts in Revit, the obvious thing would be to double-click the dimension to edit it. You’ve likely seen the following dialog…

If you see this dialog, you’re on the wrong path. This is not where you’d edit a dimension to control part placement. For controlling parts with dimensions in Revit, you actually select one of the parts you dimensioned.

The following image shows a Fabrication Part selected. But there’s still a problem. If the dimension text is black, you can not edit it. This is because one of the parts are over constrained. If you find a Lock icon on one of the parts, try unlocking it.

After unlocking the part, you may need to deselect and re-select the part for the dimension text to be editable. In the following image, you’ll see the dimension text is now Blue.

With the dimension text Blue, you can now click on the text to edit it as shown in the following image.

With the edit box for the dimension text activated, simply type the desired value and press <Enter> or click out of the edit box.

You’ll see the part move to the dimension you entered. The key to determining which part moves when editing a dimension is based on the part you select. If you just wanted to align the parts, you can delete the dimension afterward. On the other hand, if you want to maintain that relationship, highlight the dimension. You’ll see a unlocked Lock icon as shown in the below image.

If you click to Lock the icon, this relationship between parts will be maintained going forward.

The below video shows three pipes modeled with various end lengths. We’re using dimensions to align the ends of the pipe. We also delete the dimensions afterward. Moving one of the pipe ends later will not move the ends of the other.

Pipe spacing is set using dimensions just like before only this time, the dimensions are retained and the lock icon locked When one pipe later moves, the other moves to maintain the spacing.

Disabled Material & Specification in Revit Fabrication Parts

Fabrication Parts in Revit don’t always allow editing of their Material or Specification properties. Look at the below side by side images. Revit’s properties can be seen grayed out on the left but those on the right are not.

Material & Specification Properties – Left Read Only, Right = Read/Write

Revit can obscure the reason for this because you have no access to edit your Fabrication Database within the Revit environment. The answer however is quite simple.

Fabrication Parts with the “BoughtOut” property set do not allow editing of Material or Specification. After all, a bought item is typically static and can’t be easily changed. Non-BoughtOut items do allow editing of the Material and Specification properties.

The following is another side by side image of Fabrication Part properties. The properties on the left have the BoughtOut property set. The properties on the right do not have the BoughtOut flag set. While not accessible from Revit, any of the other Autodesk Fabrication products can display and edit the BoughtOut property.

BoughtOut Property / Left = Set, Right = Not Set

ATTN: Autodesk Fabrication Part Users – Revit 2019.2.1 Hotfix

For Autodesk Fabrication Part users, this is a Hotfix you’ll want to get applied. Since the first release of Fabrication Parts in 2016, there’s been ongoing issues with MEP Systems modeled with Fabrication Parts.

The issues is that to add/remove or update Fabrication services, you need to reload your configuration. This often would cause “disconnects” between parts. Often this would happen for no good reason or explanation as the parts involved may not have even had changes to them.

This has been a difficult issue for Autodesk to resolve because it’s been difficult to reproduce. Since the 2016 until now, Autodesk has slowly made the issue better but it’s still not eliminated. With this hotfix in 2019, Autodesk is taking another stab at it and hopefully it’ll be eliminate. IF not fixed once an for all, hopefully it’ll be another small incremental step better.

You can review the release notes for all Revit 2019 updates here. Look for the notes under 2019.2.1 Hotfix and you’ll see the following note…

“Resolved an issue that could cause MEP Fabrication elements to disconnect when reloading a Fabrication configuration.”

Downloading The Update

The Update is available from the Autodesk Desktop App provided it’s working for you. (Note: Mine seems to lockup or crash repeatedly since installing the Autodesk Desktop Connector. Uninstalling and reinstalling the Desktop App seems to only resolve the issues for a short while)

Alternatively you can download from the Autodesk Accounts portal if you have download permissions given to you from your contract administrator.