Adaptive Components 01: Test-Drive on an Everyday Irregular Window Family

By Microsol Resources | BIM, IT

This exercise is a simple demonstration of the power of Adaptive Components to aid quick and easy design studies (including quantification) using Revit without going through the process of creating intricate, documentation-grade component families for them. Use this simple tutorial as the basis for creating your own non-standard components or, as an introduction to Adaptive Components.

Let’s take an example of a regular wall type in Revit Architecture 2012.
To add an irregular-shaped opening, one would have to edit the profile of the wall and sketch the outline of the opening. The opening by face does not work on walls and the Wall-Opening Tool restricts you to rectangular openings.
Once you exit the sketch mode, you will be able to see the opening in the wall.
Might as well add a few while I am at it.
Next, I want to create a Family that would eventually be the window for the wall opening created above. From the Family template, choose ‘GENERIC MODEL ADAPTIVE’ as the template to base the family on.
Choose ‘Reference Point’ from the ‘Draw’ panel.
Place (3) instances of the Reference Points on the ‘Level 1’ work-plane. The locations of the points can be arbitrary, but for the sake of convenience of future operations, place them such that they form the vertices of an equilateral triangle.


The idea is to create (3) points that can be mapped to the vertices of the opening created in the wall and have a variable shape window generated as a result of placing the points.

Select (2) sets of points at a time (by holding the CTRL button down while selecting) and click on the ‘Spline through points’ button to create a spline segment connecting the selected points.
After you have connected all three vertices in the manner described above, convert the resultant model lines into reference lines by checking the ‘Is Reference’ check box. You can also specify that the line is ‘Not a reference’ if you wish.
Next, we want to draw a profile (for the window frame) that will then be extruded (or, should I say: ‘lofted’) for the entire outline of the window.


For this purpose, place another reference place on one of the reference lines. The point is hosted on the line – this is indicated by the reduced size of this particular reference point relative to the other reference points.

Now, you can draw the actual profile to be extruded. Before they are drawn, you will need to specify the work-plane the profile needs to be drawn on.


This is done by the ‘Set’ button on the ‘Work-plane’ panel. The work-plane to be specified is highlighted as shown on the image on the left. In order ensure the visibility of work-plane, you would have to click on ‘Show’. Alternatively, you could choose to work in a temporary orthogonal view by clicking on the ‘Temporary Viewer’.

Once the profile is drawn (this is pretty standard stuff using temporary dimensions), you can close the temporary viewer. Make sure that the profile is oriented correctly in on the reference line. Sometimes you may have to mirror the profile if the temporary viewer was oriented to the opposite face of the work-plane that you intended to work on.
Next, select the profile and holding the CTRL down and select the reference lines connecting the points.

The click on the create form button to extrude (loft) the profile along the reference lines.


If you like, try moving one or more of the Reference points and notice that the extrusion will move along with the path traced by the reference line connecting the points.

Next, you will have to create a solid extrusion for the glass panel. Let’s say that you want the section through the window frame needs to appear like the image on the far left.


This can be easily accomplished by selecting the inner edges of the extrusion (holding the CTRL down of course) and once again clicking the ‘Create Form’ button.

Once the extrusion is created, you can select the top face of the extrusion and use the temporary dimension that appears to change the thickness of the glass to 1″.
Next, select the whole extrusion (sometimes you have to use tab-select) and change the material parameter from ‘By Category’ to ‘Glass’.


This is done by clicking on the little ‘ellipsis’ button that appears when you click on the field that then opens the materials editor for the family.

Finally, we need to tell Revit that the three vertices of the frame will need to place in the project environment. This is accomplished by selecting them and clicking on the ‘Make Adaptive’ button on the contextual tab.
Now you can load the family into the project (containing the wall) and you can place the window by clicking on the snaps available on the vertices of the wall opening.


Note that if the vertices are picked in a clockwise manner you will have the frame facing one direction and reversed for the other. Alternatively, you can toggle the ‘Flip’ checkbox to flip the orientation of the window.

Let’s examine the window a bit by sectioning the wall. As the tool-tip suggests, the window is not actually considered to be a window by Revit. Rather, it is considered to be a ‘Generic Model’ component (on the basis of the template used to create the family).
In order for Revit to recognize this family as a ‘Window’ family, you need to select the window, say edit family, in the Family Editor, click on the ‘Family Categories and Parameters button to change the category of the family from ‘Generic Model’ to ‘Windows’.
Now, the family is ready to be re-loaded into the project. In-spite of it being in a different category, Revit will still require you to specify if you wish to overwrite the existing family or both the family and parameters.

We have not set-up any parameters in this file, so that leaves us with only ‘Overwrite existing version’.

The adaptive window is now available through the ‘Window’ Type Selector under the home tab.


Published on September 22, 2011 in BIM, IT.

About the Author

Microsol Resources delivers integrated solutions that help customers design, simulate and analyze their ideas, increase operational efficiencies, and maximize their return on investment in their technology solutions. As a team, we are passionate about helping customers improve their productivity and overall business processes. How can we help? Just reach out.