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Linked Files: The Basics

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In this article we are going to take a look at the basics of linking files in Revit. For the purpose of this exercise we are going to use Revit Architecture 2012, but the same principles can be applied to all flavours of Revit- e.g. Revit Architecture, Revit Structure and Revit MEP. You can also mix and match. I.e. you can link one Revit Architecture file into a another one or you can link a Revit MEP file into Revit Architecture file, and so on.



Before we actually start with the tutorial, let's just take a few minutes to discuss why we would actually want to link one Revit file into another. Generally there are two main scenarios where you would want to to do this. The first one being when you want to split your project into a "site file" and a "building file". This helps keep each one smaller and also helps with collaboration. This would proabbly be appropriate when either of the files is large in size or you are developing a "campus" model- ie a site with many different buildings on it.



The second scenario is where you want to split your project into different disciplines. For example the MEP and structural elements of the project are being developed independently (in Revit MEP and Revit Structure) and you want to bring everything together in one "master£ file.

For the purposes of this tutorial we are going to deal with the first scenario (seperate site and building files). We will cover linking between disciplines in a seperate tutorial- where we will also cover the use of the Copy/Monitor tools.

OK, lets get started. Let's start off with our site model. For the purposes of this exercise, I'm just going to use a very simple site model consisting of a basic toposurface with a subregion on it . In the image below you can see our basic site model.


And thats it for the site model. I have saved it as a Revit project called "Site". Now onto the building. Again I'm going to keep it very simple. Four walls, some windows, a door and a roof. Please note that this is created in a completely seperate Revit project file. At this stage, there is absolutely no relationship between the site file and building file. Talking of buildings, here it is.......

I dont think it's going to win any architectural awards, but you get the idea. Right, so we now have a site file and a building file. All that's left to do is link them together. Now for the million dollar question- which way round do you do the linking? Or let's put it in more basic terms: Do we link the Building INTO the Site file? Or, do we link the "Site File" into the "Building file"? There are pros and cons with both approaches. But I would suggest for now that you link your Building INTO your site. So first of all let's open the Site file again. Once we have the site file open we go to the "Insert" menu and choose "Link Revit".....


When we select this, we are then presented with a fairly standard "Open File" dialogue panel.....



We now select our building file as the file that we wish to link inside the current one. But wait just a minute: Before we go on, let's take a very quick look at the little drop-down panel at the bottm, the one titled "Positioning". In the image below you can see all the options you have with regards how the linked file relates (with regards to its position) to its Host file....



In other tutorials we cover the concept of Shared Coordinates and Project Coordinates. The topics are a little too in-depth to cover here and really warrant their own discussion. But the thing to note now is that you do have a choice (at the time of linking) as to how the two files relate to each other in the X, Y and Z planes. For this tutorial, we are going to select "Manual- Base Point". This bascially just lets us click where we want the linked file to be placed.

As soon as I click OK on this panel, Revit asks us to click where we wish to place the linked file. As you move your cursor about, you will see a ghost image of the linked file, ready to be placed.....



Im going to go ahead and place the building in the middle of my site.....



And there we have it. We have linked our building into our site. Please Note: This is a "Link" and not an import. As such, It is important to maintain the absolute path of the linked file so that the Host File can find it every time it opens. The linked files behaves as a single entity for the purposes in moving and rotating. So once your building is in your site you can select it and tweak its position and orientation manually.

To give you some degree of control over the files you have linked into the Host, Revit provides a "Link Manager" (actually titled "Manage Links"). You can find this on the "Manage" menu.....



Upon selecting this, you are presented with a table showing you details of all the files you currently have linked into this Host....



Things to note on this panel are "Reference Type"- which determines whether nested linked files are visible. Also worth noting is the ability to determine whether the path to the linked file is absolute or relative. Both of these topics we will cover in seperate tutorials.

And that's it for our basic primer on "Linked Files" in Revit.

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