What makes a great Revit Project Browser?
The Project Browser is a Map to the Data that lies beneath all the modelling and annotations that we pour into our Revit files.
We can see through examples like ANZRS, New Zealand's CBI Classification or UK's BS 8541-1 picked up in BIMtalk.co.uk, that there is an understanding that naming convention and standardisation has a core function for successful collaboration. That is why, to my mind, the backbone of any good Revit file, is the Project Browser!
Reviewing the Client’s Project Browser is one of the ways I gain an insight into the Companies BIM maturity. You may think that I am taking it a bit too far, but a least let me tell you how I come to that point of view. I am paid to assess the general drafting process and BIM workflow for Clients who are looking to get more productivity and technological opportunities out of projects and staff.
So, just how does a well-developed Project Browser fit into this?
- It Organises the daily functionality of Modelling and Drawing Sheet production
- It enables multiple staff to work effortlessly, on any given project, at any time
- It contributes to ensuring that the other Consultants can easily collaborate.
It can work on projects of any given size, regardless of the amount of drawing sheets, zones, building height or disciplines involved.
Looking for one school of thought.
When we review Clients Revit Templates, one thing that we look for is consistency, and we question, "Will this setup ensure consistency across a company for their documentation?"
These are the points that we recommend, although some Clients requirements will vary:
- A Structured Project Brower, not just the OOTB "All" option.
- Multiple Plans Views set up, that cover ALL the Companies standard views.
- Multiple Sections, Elevation and Call-Out Types to cover ALL the Companies standard views.
- View Templates associated to ALL of the Views in the last 2 points.
- QA Views set-up to review the model independently of the drawing sheets.
- Is there a space for Working Views? Is there a location where linked files remain shown and are notes left for other team members?
- Have Exported Views been allocated for in the Project Browser?
- Is the Client using Parent and Dependent Views over individual Independent Views?
- Do they have more than one Project Browser Option; Phase, Views not on Sheets?
Consistency is key.
To improve modelling and drawing sheet productivity. Only with good standards can a Company expand their knowledge and safely incorporate more BIM into their documentation and only with consistency can a Company truly develop a character to their documentation. We are seeing too many drawings that give the impression of just being "smashed out." Yes, the AEC industry needs to create good solid documentation, but where has the artistic flair gone? With all the visual settings available in Revit, why are we not seeing more drawings that we easily recognise from one particular company to another?
In a previous role, I worked at a Large Company that had offices up and down the East coast of Australia and also a Resource Centre in Asia. One of the most difficult areas was communication in and around any given project. I was concerned with the lack of consistency between Australian Offices on what to call Views and where they should go.
For Instance, a Level 2, Zone 1, Concrete Slab Section; what is the correct way to call this up? And where does this belong in the Project Browser?
How about Section 42 and it is called up as No. 8 on the Drawing sheet? There is no way another modeller could easily understand where to save views in a project like that. And yes, that is what I saw way too often.
So I researched blogs, had conversations with User Groups, gleaned ideas from other models that I may have come across and coordinated them with the Companies Standard Drawing Numbering System. The result was a code that represented every possible outcome for any project that the Company would ever document. In the previous example, I would use 4.2_L02_Z1_Sec04. Which is a breakdown of these 4 Fields:
Field: 1 2 3 4
Field 1 = View Prefix...........................................eg. Concrete Section
Field 2 = Level .....................................................eg. Level 02,
Field 3 = Zone/Area.............................................eg. Zone 1
Field 4 = Individual Identification Number......eg. Section Number 04.
Furthermore, 4.2 also refers to where the View is located within the Standard Drawing Sheet Numbering System, Drawing Number 4201 to 4299. It starts at 4201 because sheet one in a sequence should be No. 1, I warned you about my OCD!
The breakdown of General Naming Conventions.
At first, this might be a little hard to pick up, but work with me here.
There is more that could be covered in naming conventions, filters, matchlines, scope boxes, but this will give you a good start and a clear indication of where to evolve too.
My ultimate Project Browser setup.
In its presentation, my Project Browser is fairly simple and super neat! Using the two click method, the Project Browser has only two Group levels. The first group level is to sort the Views and Sheets by into several folders that come under the Shared Parameter called Folder_(Company Abbreviation). The Second Group Level is to sort the Views by View Template and Drawing sheets by Drawing Number. Lastly, I Sort the Views by Associated Level.
Views, First Group Level:
- A_Drawing Sheets. Only for Views that are on production drawing sheets.
- C_Coordination Views. Views used to communicate with other Consultants, i.e. 3D Views Arc Columns Vs Structures Columns.
- E_Exported Views. Only for Views that are exported for Navisworks, Etabs, 3DS Max,
- W_Working Views. Where all the back of house work is done, checking dimension left on, text notes to other modellers on the project, Linked Views left on,
- Views where office standards remain;
- Company Standard Text Styles
- Company Standard Dimension Styles
- Company Standard Line Styles
- Company Standard Filled Regions
- Company Standard Loaded Detail Components and Symbols
- Cheat Sheet – Company Standard tables, naming conventions, nomenclature,
Views, Second Group Level:
The View Template should have a Prefix that matches the drawing sheet series where the View is shown, i.e. from the earlier example, concrete sections would have a View Template called 4.2_Concrete Sections. The Drawing Number prefix also organises the Project Browser in the same order as that of the drawing sheets, Same Same! Therefore easy to find.
Drawing Sheets, First Group Level:
- Drawing Series. As indicated in the Standard Drawing List
ie. 03_Series_General Arrangement Plans
- QA Drawings. For the drawings set up for internal checking of the model, an example is to colour code using filters for, wall thickness, fire rating, mechanical flow rates.
- Opening View. I would use a Titleblock to utilise Revit’s Revision system to rev up the model to send to Clients and Consultants.
Drawing Sheets, Second Group Level:
The drawing numbering system sets the order and reinforces the arrangement of the Views and unless there is multiple towers or some odd requirement, the drawing list in the Project Browser will not get too long in any one folder.
What else can a Project Browser do for your company?
Your Project Browser can do more than just arrange everything super neat for the project team; it can also become part of your companies QA. Let's go back a moment, Revit is data that can be manipulated into many forms of presentation, a Drawing Sheet complete with Views and Schedules is one way, but we can do so much more. Here are some more Browser organisations that you can ponder over;
- Views not on Sheets, it is part of the OOTB setup, if not, why are you not using it?
- Project Phases or Design Stage of a Project.
- Show Level Views in the order that they're modelled at, e., Podium comes before Level 10, the OOTB "All" option does not do this.
- Filter out drawings that other users do not need to see. I had one Engineer that would look at the Working Drawings and be furious on the state of these Views; I should have just filtered these out of his reach.
- By Discipline, MEP is usually forced to do this from the one Template, Architects, Structures and Infrastructure could leverage this option.
Ultimately, you want to be able to navigate a Revit project easily, and so should anybody else who comes into that project, or any other project in the office for that matter. I promise, that if you have an organised Project Browser, you will be sailing in the right direction.