An introduction to Revit families


Are you tired of the monotonous tropes about “natural family planning” in Revit? I sure am, but continue reading to understand what everyone in the industry is talking about.

Generally speaking, most people are aware that when working in Revit, project teams will develop a building’s model by placing, manipulating, and sometimes creating (from scratch) objects known as families. What some may not realize, however, is that there is more than one classification for families in Revit.

The most prevalent of these that casual users tend to interact with are what we refer to as system families and component families. So what’s the difference?

System families are those that, for all intents and purposes, are “hardwired” into the application programming interface of Revit – better known as the Revit API. Though they can be copied between project files, system families really only live within the Revit project environment and cannot be exported to any sort of external location. Examples of these might include walls, floors, ceilings, and roofs.

Component families, on the other hand, are families that are created and modified in a separate (but similar) environment, known as the Revit family editor. These families can be exported to an external location and easily loaded or imported to various projects as needed. Examples might include doors, windows, casework, and furniture.


Though I can’t claim credit for it, I’ve heard a great analogy comparing the difference between these two types of families. System families are like those elements of a project that would be constructed on-site, whereas component families are those elements that would be delivered to the project site.

Keep this in mind next time you dive head-first into Revit, and as always, happy designing.

*image courtesy of Autodesk.


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