Revit links- Relative & URL

I’ve been messing around Revit URL parameters. The thinking goes thusly: If I’m on a mobile device, I can scan a QR code for URL to take me to……, but what if I’m on my desktop and want to follow a link? I dont want to go to the hassle of scanning a QR code, just give me a link to click.

So, the journey starts through Revit links.

In some families you are given some Identity Data parameters, one is a URL, this is a TYPE Parameter, so applies to all instances of the family that you put in your project model. So if you have a link to a manufacturers website then that will appear on all instances of that family in your project.

But what if you want an INSTANCE parameter? You can make a new Shared Parameter with a name like URL-Ins which is of  “Type of Parameter: URL”, bring it into the Family and it will be able to be modified by instance. So that is useful, you could have a link from each room to a Room Data Sheet PDF. Below is a window schedule with URL’s shown. All the windows are of the same type, a generic style.

URL is a type parameter, same URL link, URL-Ins an instance parameter and different URL links

So, if we export this out to a 2D PDF and open the pdf we will get the schedule displayed. Although the links are not in blue, they still they will open if you click on them. NOTE: If the link is over more than one line, it only reads the first line of the URL so will NOT work

As well as URL inside a family that can be displayed in a schedule (2D), you can also have a GENERIC ANNOTATION FAMILY with labels that are type URL. These can be shown highlighted in a different colour to denote a link, and if you click on them it will take you to a URL. In the instance below (the very bottom one) its going to a PDF file, and if you click on it, it will open that PDF file in your browser. This link is BROKEN, because it has a space in the file name. So, as you see in the image below, on hovering over the link Adobe Reader shows you where the link is going. Note that the ending of the file name is missing because of the space in the file name. To correct this you either have to rename the file with CamelCase and make it all one word, or put %20 in as a substitute for a space in the filename.

Note in the image above, the first link is to a web page, the 2nd link is to a file on “C:\” drive of the computer the PDF has been opened in. If that folder structure and file don’t exist (say you shared the PDF and someone opened it on their computer) then it wouldn’t work. Both of these links are ABSOLUTE PATHS.

So the above are methods of getting links in drawings in 2D sheets. Both type and instance parameters.

This video shows URL’s in a schedule. He doesn’t mention Type & instance issues at all. Also what happens when the web links expire- ok for construction phase of a project, but what about Facility Management phase? I discuss this below.

Bluebeam PDF batch link

I know that not all pdf creators are the same. In Bluebeam, for the 2D export, if you have a combined set, it will create links between sheets. So section symbols on plans will link to the specific elevation reference. That is pretty handy if you have a combined 2d pdf set. See this video link.

Absolute and Relative paths

As mentioned above, the Absolute paths work quite nicely for Web pages, go to this website and open this page. It tells you the website and the page (in instance above for if there is no file name it automatically tries to open as this is the default file to open on any website. index.html is the generic home page.

Absolute paths don’t work for computers unless you are going to a system file/ directory in a windows operating system like C:\Windows\diagnostics\system\Printer\ which will most probably be on all windows OS computers. So we look at relative paths.

A relative path is a location related in some way to the file that you’ve just opened, say in the same folder, or a sub directory of the folder in which you opened the pdf.

To make this work, instead of just copying the PDF file for viewing, you put in other files/web pages etc into the same folder, that are linked to that PDF in say sub-directories of that folder that holds the pdf. Then when you share the PDF you share/copy the folder with all the files in it. So the other files will be on the new computer, in the same location in Relation to the PDF file that you opened, so it will be able to find those files. An article on it here.


Just as an aside here, I was setting up a folder structure with different categories for a presentation and wanted some shortcut.lnk files in Windows. I will be moving the files to a flash drive, so I wanted Relative paths to the files, not absolute paths. I came across this article in Stack Overflow that recommended a programme Relative. It works very nicely.

Revit URL in 2D , but what about 3D?

So, we have 2D revit links that can be exported to 2D PDF’s and clicked on. Ok, but what about 3D links?

First off, I’m impressed with this video, mainly because its Eileen Grays house in France, rather than his Autodesk product placement. He uses Navisworks for viewing links. I do like the 3D link icons, I think I’d have gone with a 3D Letter.

Lots of nice programmes to play with. Everyone else will need to download the Navisworks viewer to be able to enjoy his work.

Anyway, back to the 3D PDF’s. I took a Shared Parameter called URL-ins and added it to my 3D Text family that I then and put it in to my project and added URL instances to different rooms, to represent going to different files , say Room Data Sheets of specific rooms. I then exported this to a 3D PDF.

URL instance came across but you cannot get to it. You need to export to CSV to access the URL.

The process above brings up an interesting point. If Excel is not started in the same directory as the 3D PDF file and where the export data should go, then if there are RELATIVE PATHS they wont work. I’ll have to think about and test that. At first glance/test it does not look like CSV export to Excel likes relative paths at all. Back to the drawing board on that one.

So, the only way I can think about doing this is to export the Revit model to Simlab Composer and put the URL link via that programme. It would be a simple job for doing it for the QR code, so when you clicked on the QR code it opened the link in a browser. I tried 3D text but could not get it to work like the GENERIC ANNOTATION FAMILY that works in 2D.

What happens if URL’s are removed?

I remember a lecturer stating issues with URL links, especially with Theses. If the links die, get taken down, then that substantiating part of the bibliography becomes irrelevant if it cannot be accessed. See wiki linkrot.

I came across this article BIM Tutorials: URLs in Revit which I thought was very interesting. Its by U.S. General Services Administration that manages the government assets including buildings, so a big organization. Their attitude is to have a folder with all the link data in sub-folders so everything grouped together. O & M manual and other things.

This has got me thinking about capturing Web pages. I need to do some research on how to make PDF’s from web pages and also download Product PDF’s for storing. A topic for another post I think.

End comment

As an initial exploration of URL parameters in Revit, I’m not overly impressed. There are very few YouTube videos on the subject and I’m surprised there are not more references to it. Even mr Goggle is not too helpful and keeps sending me to Mr AutoDesk. I think I need to do a bit more research into this.

In 2D it is easy to put hyperlinks in the PDF using Adobe Acrobat or similar, the idea is that it comes straight from Revit. This allows for the 3D PDF links, otherwise I’d have to use Simlab Composer.

I also need to explore a process on capturing data and storing it so that you can build a referenced file system to access the data. Specifically web pages, but also other file types. I’m thinking of a created bibliography of components and data that apply to information that you use on a project that will be available of future Facility Managers. So when product manufacturers do a re-branding on their website you do not loose links.

I found the U.S. General Services Administration site had some interesting things on it and will need to explore that site some more, although some of the information looks a bit dated.

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