Mythbusters Part II: Worksets

Alan Jackson bio photo By Alan Jackson Comment

This post is going to focus on two things

  1. The overuse of worksets
  2. Controlling graphics WITHOUT worksets

Too often I come across users who are immediately drawn to controlling visibility and graphical issues through the use of Worksets. Large teams devise diabolical plans on how they will split up the model into numerous worksets to allow for the integration of each teams design, or maybe to split up users so no one is stepping on each others toes. I admit, when back in the day I used to use worksets to check out work for individual users there would be a number of them to choose from. Finally I came to my senses and realized that there were a lot of issues with checking out worksets, and in fact element borrowing was the most efficient and effective way to work on large teams. Here is an excerpt from Autodesk on Worksets.

While the capability to check out a workset remains valuable under certain circumstances outlined below, in general the best practice is to use element borrowing rather than checking out entire worksets.

The Overuse of Worksets

Simple point. Large teams should be using element borrowing and not setting up numerous worksets. Example. BIM manager sets up the project and add worksets for Mechanical Piping, Mechanical Ductwork, Plumbing equipment, Powered equipment, Lighting, Electrical Power etc. etc. The BIM Manager’s defense is that this is required for two reasons.

  1. to allow users to not load up everyone’s work while they are working
  2. to control and filter out elements for graphical purposes

Here is the problem with #1. This is BIM! you are supposed to load other disciplines work in and use it to you advantage to encourage integrated design practices. Stop turning them off for performance reasons or laziness in your VG and filter settings (more on this in a bit). If you are experiencing performance issues I strongly recommend that you read the Revit Model Performance Technical Note.

Here is the problem with #2. Revit has some of the most advanced features for manipulating the look and feel of the workspace and sheet space environments and they are not found under your worksets tab. They can be found by utilizing the extensive and adaptive Visibility and Graphics Override menu as well as the completely customizable filters menu.

Controlling Graphics Without Worksets

So how can we get through this together? The two most important things you need to understand with regards to keeping your models organized, streamlined and visually correct is the proper use of:

  • Templates
  • Content

If you are going to focus your efforts on anything it should be these two things. Proper template files allow user to get their working views and sheet views looking and behaving exactly they way they need through the use of VG and Filters and NOT through the use of worksets.

Secondly, the proper way! and the Autodesk recommended way! to handle visibility is through the detailed categorizing of your families and content  using subcategories.

Hello! I am surprised at how many users still do not understand that sub-categories even exist. This is by far the greatest feature of handling the visibility of content. It allows you to create categories for anything and let users control the look of each category in their own way through the use of VG and templates. Now, some people say “What about system families like piping?”. Well yes, there is HVAC piping and Plumbing. So how to distinguish between them. Well, System Filters! This reinforces the need to create proper systems with standard naming conventions. It also highlights errors or mistakes through the visibility of object not set or set to the wrong system.

If there is anything to take out of this post it is if you ain’t using sub-categories and systems your work-flow is flawed.

Here is how to create subcategories and modify their visibility (system creation has been beaten to death, you should know better at this point).

Create a subcategory
Assign to family
Adjust visibility in Project VG
Adjust visibility in Project object styles