Revit TotD – 7.3.2018 | Masking Regions in 3D Families

Sometimes… sometimes we just can’t help ourselves and we HAVE to draw 2D elements for reasons. Just reasons. When that happens you still want to care about graphical information and drawings looking correct. Having a Chair look like it’s in the same plane as a table just… well that ain’t right.


So this video is intended to give you a head start in the struggle against Masking Regions in 3D elements. More explanation after the video.



Here’s the thing about Masking Regions. They are still model elements. They use the real world dimension system that defines model elements as model elements in Revit (versus paper space dimensions of annotative elements in Revit). Their visibility graphics are driven from subcategories in the model tag in the Visibility Graphics and Object Styles dialog boxes. However, they are 2D elements. They are drawn on the Detail plane of the view which they are drawn on.


When you draw a detail line or masking region in a project, you draw it on a work plane that sits closer to your eye than the modeled elements being displayed in the view. Think of it as drawing on a piece of glass that you’re holding in front of the screen. So when you’re creating detail elements in a project view, they will always be on top of the modeled elements. However, if you go to a different view, they are all gone. That glass doesn’t exist in that view until you draw on it. Each view has its own glass.

This is a little bit different when you start drawing detail elements in a 3D family. For the sake of this discussion, let’s take everything in context to a height above floor level, a z-offset if you will. When we create detail elements in a 3D family, the default workplane is going to be the 3d point in the family furthest from the reference level plane.

POP QUIZ! If there's no 3D data in the family, which workplane will you be creating Masking Regions on in your family in a level view? Put your answer in the comments below!


Which means when we place Masking Regions in a blank 3D family, and then place the family in a project, you end up with overlapping Masking Regions. With no way to manage the draw order of detail elements nested in a family, we need to be able to help Revit figure out where we want the masking regions to appear to be. This is where workplanes come in.

By drawing some reference planes and assigning the masking regions to those reference planes, we can control the z-offset of each individual masking region and give Revit the much needed instructions it needs to show the graphics properly.


Finally, we need to tell Revit to NOT draw this on the detail plane. Remember that piece of glass you were drawing on before? We want to draw on the workplane instead! The final piece to this puzzle is to uncheck the “Draw in Foreground” parameter in the options for the Masking Regions. Be sure you do this for each Masking Region you want to be placed on the workplane you’ve referenced.


That’s it! You should now have properly behaving 2D Graphics in a 3D family. Hope this helps, and I look forward to coming up with another tip. If you have any suggestions on what you’d like to see. Feel free to post in the comments below!

Till then,



Sample File can be downloaded from here. (Sorry, Revit 2019)

RevitTotD – 7.6.2015 | Delete all Revisions

“Hey, we decided we don’t need any revisions for the next issue.”


Sure no problem.


Except your project has 1,381 Revisions in it, across 140 sheets…


… and they’re all hidden…

… and as everyone knows, you can’t delete that last revision from Revit.




You can download the graph here (Dynamo 8.x). Uses the Grimshaw’s package from
(install through the Dynamo Package Manager.)


Hit run, bye bye revisions!


I’ve removed the link from the boolean to the python script and set it to False, just in case. This graph is, of course, nothing new. You can use it to delete every instance of any category in the project you wish so use responsibly.


Next challenge: Delete revisions from specified revision#/name/sequence#/etc!


Till next time!



Thus ends a chapter.

I’m hoping to start posting more… a lot more. I want to begin with the end. Today marked the end of a chapter of my life that I honestly did not plan on ending. I planned on it lasting at least long enough to be a part of my kids’ lives and possibly even further. Today I sold my Miata.


Miata-06.28-014 Miata-06.28-015 Miata-06.28-016


I’ve had to sell 2 cars that I had planned on having forever in my life. Both were great cars to own and brought tons of joy to my life as daily and leisurely drivers. The first one I had to get rid of because I wasn’t trying hard enough to do what I needed in order to maintain it. The second I had to sell due to others in my life actively working to interdict me from a position allowing me to complete my goals. This is a problem which will be remedied soon.


I don’t attach myself to many objects. I could even argue that I didn’t really attach myself to this car. What I did attach myself to was the idea that this was something I could give my children and family. I had a vision of hours of windy roads with my wife and kids. Personal time with each of them. The enjoyment of sharing an adventure with a single other person. It really feels like this was taken from me and I’m having a hard time with it. It feels like now I have nothing really special that I had created to pass along to my family. I have nothing that separates me from the dad next door. This is what hurts most.


I always know that a chapter has to end before another one can begin. If you know me, you know I’ll be working hard to make this next chapter something special. If you know me, you know it will be difficult to make it more special than the one I was creating with this car.

FREE ARE Practice exams [now on Windows 8!]

It seems like not too long ago I was posting about how to get the ARE Practice Exams to work on your turn of the [21st] century 64-bit Windows 7 machines... you know, like the ones your grandparents use now. It seems that this won’t work on Windows 8 for various, good reasons. The same reasons, in fact, that AIA requires you to keep up with your CEUs. It seems that Microsoft doesn’t really want to support the software it released over a decade ago. So not only has it pulled the Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode used in Windows 7 to make the use of the practice exams possible from it’s most recent operating system, but Microsoft has stopped supporting Windows XP all together (and thus installations of Windows XP mode).


With 2015 promising to be the year that I can actually begin this journey towards licensure I’ve begun searching for ways to get serious about preparing for the exams (ie: installing the practice exams on my home computer instead of just studying for it at the office). Since I run Windows 8. 1 at home my previous setup for running the practice exams was not doing the job for me.



So I spent my two hour allotment of exam preparation searching for used exam guides, flashcards and of course researching how to get the practice exams to run on my Windows 8.1 machine.



While none of my searches for getting the practice exams to work on windows 8.1 turned up anything good, there is hope for those of you already familiar with the exam software. As mentioned over at some of the software will run natively in windows 8.1. For a list of things which work and don’t work natively on Windows 8.1, jump to the bottom of the article. However, if you just want the practice exam to work the way NCARB designed it to work on their punch card machines of yesteryear then see the instructions below.

First I want to point out that I will not get into explaining what virtual machines are or the actual technology behind Hyper-V. That is a journey you must venture on your own. There are 2 methods that to complete this task. One will require you to install a third party VM software (don’t fret, it’s easier than it sounds). The other is all native inside of the Windows 8.1 operating system environment but requires a computer which supports Hyper-V. I preferred keeping it all native and have a workstation which supports Hyper-V so I will feature this method while highlighting the steps necessary to do this same thing with a computer without Hyper-V support. Some of this sounds scary but it’s very straight forward. If the sound of that last sentence has you thinking twice.. then maybe this is a better option for you.

STEP 1: Determine your Computer’s Capabilities

Skip this step if you know whether or not your computer can support Hyper-V

  1. From your Windows 8 Start Screen, begin typing “Turn Windows features on or off”
  2. Select “Turn Windows features on or off”
  3. Find “Hyper-V” in the list and check all options
    (NOTE: If Hyper-V is not listed here or your computer does not allow you to select/install these features, then your computer does not support Hyper-V and you will need to use VMWare Player or another Virtual Machine to accomplish this)
  4. Click “OK” and let your computer restart

STEP 2: Download Windows XP VHD

Both methods will require a Virtual Hard Drive of Windows XP. Fortunately, the folks at NCARB still run IE6. Because of this, web developers require a testing environment for their websites to ensure our NCARB friends can view websites. Microsoft, while reluctant, understands that many people just can’t let go and have freely given web developers a VHD of a Windows XP. You can download it here:

If you are using Hyper-V, choose the Hyper-V for Windows 8 option. If you are using VMWare Player, choose the appropriate option.

Once you download the files (there will be two) run the EXE file. Remember where you extract it. I put it in the same folder as all of my NCARB Crap


If you are using VMWare Player, this is where I get lazy and just direct you to someone else’s instructions:


STEP 3: Setup new External Switch in Hyper-V Manager

  1. From your Windows 8 Start Screen begin typing “Hyper-V Manager”
  2. Select “Hyper-V Manager”
  3. Click Action > Virtual Switch Manger
  4. Select “External” and click “Create Virtual Switch”
  5. Click “OK”
    1. You’ll get a warning that says your network connection will be disrupted. Don’t worry, it will come back on


STEP 4: Setup new VM in Hyper-V Manager

  1. If not already open, run “Hyper-V Manager” as mentioned in the previous step
  2. Click Action > New > Virtual Machine
  3. Don’t worry about the name and click “Next”
  4. Be sure “Generation 1” is selected and click “Next”
  5. Leave the default memory input and click “Next”
  6. Select “New Virtual Switch” and click “Next”
    (NOTE: If you named this in STEP 3 select the Virtual Switch you created)
  7. Select “Use an existing virtual hard disk” and browse to the location of the VHD you downloaded earlier in STEP 2 and click “Next”
  8. Review the information for correctness and click “Finish”

STEP 5: Take a breath

You’re done with the hard stuff, get a coffee and get ready to study!


STEP 6: Run your new VM

  1. If not already open, run “Hyper-V Manager” as mentioned in the previous steps
  2. Select “New Virtual Machine” and “Start”
  3. Select “Connect”

You should now have that ever familiar boot animation for Windows XP on your screen. You’ll be presented with a desktop displaying instructions regarding the trial period for the VHD. You can attempt to use the Re-Arm method once the trial is up. If not, you can simply re-install the VHD from the files you downloaded and point the VHD for the VM to the new location after the install. Unfortunately this means you’ll have to re-install the Practice software every time the trial runs out.

NOTE: Let me repeat this. This VHD has a Windows XP install with a 30-day trial. Once that 30 days is over you will lose access to your VM unless you attempt the Re-Arm instruction on the desktop background.

STEP 7: Install the Practice Exam Software

  1. If you haven’t already, download the Practice Exam Software
  2. Ensure the Windows XP machine is running. If not, turn it on and wait for it to boot.
  3. Windows 8 (Host) type “Windows Key + R”
  4. Type \\IE6WINXP
  5. Click “OK”
  6. Open “SharedDocs”
  7. Copy all Practice Exam install files to SharedDocs
    (NOTE: I made a downloads folder to place all of my setup files)
  8. In Windows XP, type “Windows Key + E”
  9. Open “SharedDocs”

From here you can install each of the Practice Exam setup files which you have put in here.

STEP 8: Study your little heart out!



If you want to know what will work without the rigmarole of above, here is my experience with the software running on Windows 8.1 with no virtual machine help

  • Common Tools: Does not work for any of the practice exams
  • Section Specific Tools:
    • Works:
      • Building Systems
      • Construction Documents & Services
      • Programming, Planning and Practice
      • Structural Systems
    • Doesn’t Work:
      • Building Design & Construction Systems
      • Schematic Design
      • Site Planning & Design
  • Practice Vignettes: All vignettes work
    • Calculator will not work on any of the vignettes


Honestly, I feel as though NCARB and Prometric may owe me a passing grade on at least one of the exams for putting this all together just to have the privilege of practicing with their ancient exam tools! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions. Best of luck!



[2015] Using Fence to Change Target

Here is a quick tip to help you stay in that command while being able to switch targets. See below the break for more specifics on what this tip covers.

While in a multi-part command like Join with the Multiple Join option checked, you can switch targets of the join by dragging a selection area (ie: using the fence option new in 2015). If you drag an area without selecting anything you can clear the join target and move on using the same command without leaving the command.

Multiple Join


Free ARE Practice Exams

PREAMBLE: it was quickly brought to my attention that while the NCARB site indicates that their practice exam programs are not compatible with 64-bit operating systems, the software will indeed run in a 64-bit environment. The error will occur when you launch the practice vignettes for each practice exam. While your mileage may vary on the success of running these program in a 64-bit environment, I would venture to say it’s safe to bet that the exam itself will happen on a 32-bit system and while there MAY NOT BE ANY DIFFERENCE it is advertised as being 32-bit program. Just keep that in mind as you proceed doing the vignettes in a 64-bit environment. I’d love to hear feedback from Prometric or NCARB on this issue.


NCARB by the Numbers does a great job of tracking the status of Architectural Registration as an indication of the health of our profession. Their numbers for 2014 indicate a very healthy number of registrations happening especially at a younger age as students are exiting school. I feel that they have done a great job of preparing us for the atrocity that is known as the Prometric testing interface. Unfortunately the practice software only runs in Windows XP. I mean, it’s great that the software is available for us to practice with but even the developer of Windows XP admits that the software is outdated and no longer supports it! NCARB gives us a fee based option for an extremely tiny $10 annual subscription. However, if you’re like me and realize that that very same $10 is like 2 lunches you’re quickly looking at the FREE alternative that they offer.   While NCARB does point you towards the download center on Microsoft’s site, there aren’t many instruction past the point of “click here to read more instructions”.


So here I am hoping to give knowledge to those of you looking for how to install the free alternative practice exams. Best of luck in your AREs. Happy designing!


Up to this point everything is pretty much covered under Microsoft’s directions on the Virtual PC and Windows XP mode tool. The rest will cover how to install and use the practice guides within Windows XP Mode. Once the setup is complete it will automagically fire up the Virtual PC with Windows XP running. Hopefully you remember your password or had “Remember my Credentials” checked. XP will finish booting up inside of a Windows 7 Window (WINDOWCEPTION!)

  • Right click on the Winows XP Start Button > Explore
  • Browse to where you saved the practice exams on your Windows 7 disk. This will appear as a network drive in the explorer places bar on the left. In my case I downloaded all files directly to my host machine’s “C:” drive
  • Double click the practice exam you wish to install and click “Run” at the security dialog
  • Get some more coffee… maybe even some lunch cause this will take almost as long as the initial setup.
  • Click Finish
  • Repeat above if you want to install multiple exams

The really cool thing about Virtaul PC and Windows XP mode is that once you have the application installed inside the Virtual PC environment you can run the applications one of two ways.

  • Run it inside of the Virtual PC window containing Windows XP
  • Run it as a virtual application straight from your Windows 7 start menu

NOTE: when logging off of the virtual pc or closing the virtual application I almost always receive a crash report from the Virtual PC application. This shouldn’t affect your machine and you should still be able to continue using the software and your computer if you receive these crash reports.

So there you have it. A way to save $10 a year and practice for your AREs at the same time! Hope this has been helpful, thanks for stopping by and hope to see you around again soon!




The Value of Certification

Autodesk places a lot of emphasis on using Certified Hardware with Certified Drivers to aid in their quality assurance efforts. I’ve found however that I tend to lose more work when working with Certified Hardware run by Certified Drivers than on non-certified hardware with non-certified drivers. I made a graph to illustrate my personal experience:


I typically have some choice words to say when the certified drivers cause the certified hardware to crash. I have recorded these words and created a word chart with my favorite words and phrases. Size emphasis on the ones I use the most:




Revit Hating

Ever had one of those things that you always kinda knew, but didn’t REALLY know until you looked at it from outside your box (I thank Bruce Mason, my middle school Target teacher for the ability to do this)?

So today I was thinking about all the hate that Revit gets, even from me; especially from me. I was wondering, why is it that people hate revit? I realized the better question is “When is it that people hate Revit?” My personal answer is when I’m on deadline and Revit decides it is a pre-adolescent script that wants to say no to everything. Or in other words, when it doesn’t do what I want it to do. This is typically due to having to deal with the way architecture works with technology. Most instances of Revit failures with me have to do with the hardware hosting the program and not misuse of the software so where the industry meets the technology is where the typical battle line is drawn.

So how does this apply to how the typical Revit hater hates Revit? It seems to me that there is an inherent hate of technology in Architecture. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, Architecture is nothing more than critical application of common sense just like magic is nothing more than misdirection. The success of both is determinant in the flourish of the hand to produce the desired results. In Architecture the flourish is the Art side; drawing the lines, making them perty and impressive. A lot of Architects live and die by the line, how perfectly drawn it is, and the contractor’s ability to interpret it as a real object.

What I realized in this existential moment today is that a majority of the push back I receive from people on Revit is when I basically tell them that they can’t just draw a line, or just move a line. Usually it’s masked in the form of “I want to change this section, the wall needs to be 6″ stud instead of 8″ and the sheathing should only be 1/2″…” and typically they come from an environment where it’s just a matter of changing the lines to match. When my response is that they have to change wall types or floor assemblies or material properties to achieve this… that is the moment that Revit sucks to them.

I don’t think it’s the fact that they have to pay attention to how the building is actually going to be built and that they now need to be completely coordinated across all drawings in the model. It’s the fact that it’s not as simple as just manipulating the lines. They have to open a dialog box, sometimes 2, understand which layer it is they are looking at in an assembly, translate that to another section of the dialog box with dimensions in it and then hope that this changes the right line in that view. What if it was as simple as just manipulating a line? What if I could change a wall assembly by moving just the lines and that updated the entire assembly in the model? Would you still hate Revit that much? I really feel that the frustration comes from such high-order actions required to complete low-order tasks. Can we find a solution to make low-order tasks require low-order actions, not for the sake of making it easy for everyone but for the sake of making it intuitive to how we design and draw as an industry?

What have been your experiences with push back? Is it because of the complexity of the action required to complete the task? What have you found to be the case?

Don’t fret!

For the 3 or 4 of you who still hold on to that last thread of hope that things will begin appearing here again, just a heads up. Our server host is moving servers around over the next couple of days. There may be some hiccups in service. We’ll be getting them taken care of as soon as possible!

Worksharing: Rule #1

When working in a workshare Revit project, there is only one rule when playing the workshare blame game: He who smelt it, dealt it!

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