“Hey Michael, got a second?”
I looked up from my desk to see my project manager standing at my desk. He had a mischievous look on his face.
“I have a special project for you.”
Uh oh, I thought. This isn’t going to be good. The last time he had a “special project” for me, I spent a week field verifying a (very) creepy wing of an old hospital building. It took weeks to get all the cobwebs off my clothes.
“Um, sure” I answered with some trepidation.
“Great!” He handed me five E-sized sheets covered in red pencil.
“Here’s the revised room finish schedule. I spent all weekend marking it up. I need you to make the updates in Excel then reprint the sheets and double check them.”
Ugh. We were using regular AutoCAD on the project so there was no hope of getting out of this the easy way. I was going to have to make all the updates manually.
If only we’d had Revit at the time. Key schedules would have saved me a LOT wear and tear on my fingers.
What Are Revit Key Schedules?
A key schedule is a special type of Revit schedule that lets you assign groups of parameter values to elements, like rooms or doors, based on a shared key value.
It’s kind of like ordering a combo meal. Number 1 gets you a hamburger, fries and a soda. Number 2 gets you a turkey burger, salad and a water. Each meal contains a specific sandwich, side and beverage.
In Revit, each key schedule defines specific parameters. Each key has its own values for the parameters. When you set the key value for an element, its parameters are automatically filled in per the value defined in the key schedule. If you update the key schedule, each element’s values will update as well. Pretty cool!
Why Use Key Schedules?
The major advantage to using key schedules is they can save you a lot of time entering data. You enter the parameter values once in the key schedule. Any object that has the same key value will automatically get those parameter values. What’s better, any change you make to the key schedule will automatically update all the elements keyed to it.
For example, say you’re working on a large hospital project. You have a lot of typical rooms, like patient rooms, exam rooms, operating rooms, and offices.
You can create a key schedule which sets all the finishes for each room type. All you need to do to populate a room with the correct set of finishes is assign the room the correct key value. It’s that easy!
How to Use Key Schedules
Key schedules require a little bit of planning but they’re easy to set up. Simply follow the step-by-step guide below and you’ll save lots of time on your next project.
Step 1 – Create Project Parameter for Key
Create a new project parameter for the key value. In this example, I’m going to create a project parameter called “Room Type”. This parameter is an instance parameter and is set to “Text”. Apply the parameter to the “Room” category.
Click “OK” to create the parameter.
Step 2 – Create Key Schedule
Create the key schedule by going to View > Schedules > Schedule/Quantities. In the “New Schedule” dialog box, click the option next to “Schedule Keys”. This will identify the schedule as a key schedule as opposed to a building component schedule.
Next, specify the key parameter name. In the “Key Name” field, enter the project parameter you’re using as the key. I’m going to enter “Room Type”. Give your schedule a name so you can easily identify it as a key schedule. I’ll call this one “Room Type Key Schedule”.
Lastly, specify the category for the schedule. This is a room key schedule so I choose the “Rooms” category.
Click OK to create the key schedule.
Step 3 – Define Key Schedule Fields
Once you’ve created the key schedule, you need to specify the parameter fields that will be driven by the key schedule. In this example, I want to drive all my finish fields from the key schedule. I select them from the list and add them to the key schedule. You’ll notice there’s one field already added for the key.
Click “OK” to define the schedule properties and close the dialog box. You’ll then see your new schedule.
Step 4 – Enter Key Data
The “Key Name” field is where you’ll enter the name for each individual key. This is what creates the link between the element and the key parameters. To add a new key, click the “Insert Data Row” button on the ribbon.
Since we’re working with rooms, I’ll give each key a name corresponding to the room type. I will also input the data for all my key fields. Once I update a room with the correct key name, all the data from the key schedule will flow into the correct parameter fields.
Step 5 – Add Keys to Elements
Create a new schedule or edit an existing schedule to include the key project parameter. We’ll use this schedule to specify the key value for our rooms.
Revit will recognize the relationship with the key schedule and provide a drop-down from which you can select the defined keys. Select a key from the list and the key fields will update automatically
Any changes you make to the key schedule will update automatically in the building component schedule. You can also update the key type directly from the model. Since the key value is a project parameter, simply select the element and change the key value in the properties window.
That’s it! You can add additional keys as your project evolves. Likewise, if you no longer want to drive an element’s parameters from the key, simple set its key value to “none”. This will reset all the parameter values.
With a little bit of planning, key schedules can save you a LOT of time over the course of your project. Managing a handful of keys in a key schedule is certainly a lot easier than updating hundreds or thousands of individual elements. Plus, all of the specified parameters will be consistent for each key. That’s more than you can say for the room schedule I had to update manually.
So what do you think? Do you use key schedules? If so, what do you use them for? Leave a comment below!