Currently our office is undergoing some changes, expanding our knowledge base and looking at restructuring our workflow. As part of this we are looking at how to better use the tools which are on hand. I will be writing articles concurrently to our discoveries so that those of you who are reading this can have a bit of a road map and potentially hopefully avoid some pitfalls that inevitably appear on a journey such as this.

First, a word of warning. I am not an authority. This series of articles is meant to document a process and generate dialogue. That being said, I might be able to save you some time having done the research already, but is tailored for beginners.

The Big Four

As of now I am aware of 4 (maybe 4 ½) major ways to customize and automate your Revit workflow.

Arguably, the most advanced and complicated are database applications which allow you work with 3rd party databases built into your model. This could be, say, manufactures or another non-Revit BIM software platform which give you access to a wealth of information. It could include GIS data or city master plans and (ideally) would seamlessly integrate this information with your model and could also feed the information from your model back to the 3rd parties. In other words, this my friends, is the promised-land.

One of my favourite websites The Building Coder, has a great article on the potential applications of this, you can find a link down below. The possibilities abound so you can also expect an article coming from me on the subject when I take a closer look at it down the road.

There are External Applications (plugins) which, I’m assuming if you are reading this you are not capable of creating on your own but have probably used. They are great for a variety of applications and others have vetted them so there is limited need to troubleshoot the functionality. Unfortunately they usually cost something. I probably won’t look too closely at these options in this series simply for that reason.

Then there are External Commands which are executable lines of code developed in external environment which work with Revit to achieve a specific task in the program.

Finally, we have Macros.  Just like external commands, Marcos are executable lines of Code which achieve a very limited and specific function. How limited and specific they are depends on your ability to code. However, do not be discouraged, there are many examples online which can be copied and pasted with some basic skill level in programming to get you started.

The half I mentioned is Dynamo which is technically an External Application but has a Revit plugin and gives you the tools for “visual Programing” which does not require you to learn code and so is somewhere between the former 3 options. It is also so ubiquitous and useful that I thought it might warrant its own special shout out.

I will be posting soon on the process of writing macros as well as well as any tips and hits I find for beginning in Dynamo.


Until then,

Robin Whitteker

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