Revit Plotting

One of the most frustrating aspects I find in using Revit is plotting, My previous plotting experience is based on AutoCAD, initially using pen plotters, then, laserjets and electrostatic plotters, and then electronic formats including .dwf and .pdf.

The PDF format is generally considered the default plotting format. Revit uses third party plotting engines to provide output in this form.

With Revit plotting, I have issues the following areas:

  • Use of external PDF plotting software.
  • The creation of sheet sets.
  • Post Processing.

What I am looking for:

Provide an internal PDF plotter in Revit with similar concept to the AutoCAD Sheet Systems systems and plotting engine.

  • Native PDF plotting in Revit.
  • Extended sheet sets to support enable to support hierarchies and filters with wide card queries support.
  • Style profiles to allow control of pen weight, and colour etc. to support sheet sets to be plotted in different presentation styles.
  • Improved unattended and batch plotting.

Discussion

PDF Plotting Software

I currently use Acrobat Pro for plotting but I have found the process slow, clumsy, unreliable and difficult to automate.

  • Often the plot stalls and I have to access the system task manager to end a specific acrobat process to continue the plotting session. This sometimes kills Revit completely.
  • Acrobat regularly updates the software and this process resets the settings on my systems.
    • We direct our plots to a specific sub directory for post processing but after an Acrobat update, we find the plots end up in the system documents directory. We have to go in and reset this, usually after having run a set of plots into the wrong sub directory .
  • The issues are random.
    • I can plot 1200 A4 sheets from a file one day and the next day there same plot run will have issues.
  • Plotting is an attended and manual process.
    • I am used to AutoCAD based batched plotting systems that can reliably plot 7,000 A4 sheets plotted over a day.
    • I cannot do this with Revit.
    • The supplied batch plotting is quite limited.

Revit does provide a dwf exporter but the format is not widely adopted by the industry.

  • The .dwf format is a vector based format that was introduced last century as Whip. It provided a plotting format that was vector focused and supported overlay markup with Autocad and 3D support.
    • Autodesk support for this product has waned overt the also 20 years.As I understand it, dwf was designed to compete with pdf but the popularity of pdf eclipsed its adoption.
    • The .dwf(x) format is useful as it can carry Revit metadata. This lends its use by some quantities take -off systems for BIM model data extraction.

Sheet Sets

Revit sheet sets are defined from a flat list of views and sheets. There is no hierarchical group settings. We use a Dynamo program to group and filter sheets into plotting sheet sets,

  • Revit plotting is via computer system plotter with the only built-in plotting feature being the .dwf export.
  • The organization of the sheet sets for the sheet sets is clumsy and difficult with no hierarchical structure provided.
    • We have to use Dynamo to group the sheet into sets to manage the plotting.

We use AutoCAD’s sheet sets system which supports hierarchical structures allowing the grouping different sets.

  • Autocad Sheet sets also support plot style overrides. – This allows same plot sets to be plotted into different formats.

Post Processing

We direct out plots to a fixed subdirectory location and then move the plotted files into a pre defined file structure for each project. This is structure is consistent across all projects.

  • The raw plot file names are splitting into the following groups using a Windows batch file and some purpose written software:
    • Sheet number
    • Sheet Name
    • The sheet name is also recorded in a .txt file for use in subsequent processing.