Revit Family Type Catalogs

When creating families in one of the Revit design software packages, various Types can be created inside the same Family file for variations of the family.  Since some families can grow to be quite large due to many different types, Type Catalogs are used to help control the size of the families in the project.  A couple of examples of this are various door sizes for a door family, and the many various sizes for structural beams.

When a family that utilizes a Type Catalog is loaded into a project, the user is presented with a dialog box which displays all of the available Types for the family.  The user then selects the desired type(s) to load into the project.  Type Catalogs are a powerful part of Revit, and understanding them is a very important aspect of creating families.

This article is not intended to be a step-by-step process for creating a Type Catalog, but the following is an assortment of information on Type Catalogs for Revit families that should be helpful to you:

  • A Type Catalog is an external text file that contains the parameters and their values that create the different types in a specific family.
  • A Type Catalog should be used for families that have more than 6 different Types.
  • The Type Catalog file must be in the same folder as the family with which it is associated.
  • A program such as Notepad should be used to create/modify a Type Catalog.
    • Do not use a word processor, such as Microsoft Word, as the formatting will cause problems when trying to use the Type Catalog with the family.
    • A spreadsheet, such as Microsoft Excel, can be used and then saved as a .csv file.  Make sure and change the extension to .txt.
  • File naming:
    • The text file will have the TXT extension.
    • The text file name MUST exactly match the name of the family with which it is associated.
      • Example:
        • Revit family name: DBC Door.rfa
        • Associated text file name: DBC Door.txt
  • The Type Catalog defines the type parameters that are used in the family and change per family type.
    • You do not need to address instance parameters.
    • You do not need to address family parameters that remain the same regardless of the type, such as the manufacturer name or the OmniClass Number.
  • Format
    • The first line is used to define the type parameters that are used in the family.
      • The first character will be a comma (,)
      • After the first comma will be the parameter name.
      • Next will be two pound signs (##), followed by the parameter specifics.
    • The following are typical code information included in the header line:
      • Angle              ##ANGLE##DEGREES
      • Area                ##AREA##SQUARE_FEET
      • Currency        ##CURRENCY##
      • Integer           ##OTHER##
      • Length            ##LENGTH##FEET
      • Material         ##OTHER##
      • Number         ##OTHER##
      • Slope               ##SLOPE##SLOPE_DEGREES
      • Text                 ##OTHER##
      • Volume          ##VOLUME##CUBIC_FEET
      • Yes/No           ##OTHER##
        • When using Yes/No parameters, use 1 for Yes and 0 for No in the remaining lines that define the various types.
    • Each additional line is used to define a specific family Type.
      • The actual Type name will be listed first, followed by the value that Revit will place in the parameter definition for that Type.
      • Separate each parameter definition with a comma.
    • Example:
      • ,Description##other##,Height##length##inches, Width##length##inches
      • Table 1, Standard 30” high x 36” wide,30,36
      • Table 2, High Top 34” high x 36” wide,34,36
  • Rules for creating Type Catalogs:
    • Parameter names are case sensitive and must be identical to the parameter name in the family.
    • The left column is used to list the Type name.
    • Single or double quotes can be used, but if you are using double quotes, then enter “” for Revit to understand that it is double quotes.
    • Use decimals and not fractions.
    • Value unit types are length, area, volume, angle, force, and linear force.
    • Value Units are:
      • Length:  inches (“), feet (‘), millimeters (mm), centimeters (cm), or meters (m)
      • Area:  square_feet (SF), square_inches (in2), cubic_inches (in3), cubic_centimeters (cm3), cubic_millimeters (mm3), liters (L), gallons (gal)
      • Volume:  cubic_yards (CY), cubic_feet (CF), cubic_inches (in3), cubic_centimeters (cm3), cubic_millimeters (mm3), liters (L), gallons (gal)
      • Angles:  decimal_degrees (°), minutes (‘), seconds (“)
      • Force:  newtons (N), decanewtons (daN), kilonewtons (kN), meganewtons (MN), kips (kip), kilograms_force (kgf), tonnes_force (Tf), and pounds (P)
      • Linear Force:  newtons_per_meter (N/m), decanewtons_per_meter (daN/m), kilonewtons_per_meter (kN/m), meganewtons_per_meter (MN/m), kips_per_foot (kip/ft), kilograms_force_per_meter (kgf/m), tonnes_force_per_meter (Tf/m), pounds_per_foot (P/ft)
      • Electrical_luminous_flux:  lumens
  • When the family is loaded, Revit will apply the project unit settings to Type Catalogs.
  • In Revit 2012, it is possible to start a Type Catalog from the parameters of a family.  This is easier and less prone to error than starting a Type Catalog from scratch.
    • With the desired Revit family open, select the Application Menu (big “R” at top left), then choose Export, then Family Types (at the bottom of the list).
    • In the Export As dialog box, browse to the desired location for the Type Catalog file and save the file.
    • Type parameters that are in use (the parameter has an assigned value or was added to the family by the user) are exported.
      • Parameters added to the family by the user are exported even if they do not have an assigned value.
      • Type parameters that were included as part of the family template and do not have a value, are not exported.
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