Sunday, June 3, 2018

Getting Rid of Stubborn System Family Using Revit Lookup

It all started with a tweet posted few days ago. Kieren Porter (@snowyweston) posted an image about some nasty system family type in the project.

It got my attention simply because I was in the middle of dealing with the exact same issue from one of my projects. I have been told this is a known issue by Autodesk and it is fixable. However, it was going on for weeks to try to have their support team to resolve the issue. 

So, what's the big deal, you might ask!? For some unknown reasons, these "rogue" family types starting to come up from nowhere and it created many types of tick mark, dimension style and text style on its own. All of a sudden, you have these non-company standard styles in your file, it really becomes an annoying issue. 

There is a number of ways to get around these issues, you can rename these dim style with "z" "Do no use" so user will avoid using them. Some dim styles can be purged using "Purge Unused". To get rid of them once and for all, it is not as straightforward. The reason being is that they are system family buried deep down in the Revit file, you can find the instance of the elements but its type will stay within the file.

From the same thread, people have responded with a few solution. Some said to use #dynamoBIM like John Pierson or using a 3rd party solution like Ideate explorer. **(For the record, I have not tried these yet as of the published post)

Out of my curiosity, I thought this could also be done using Revit Lookup.

I was introduced to Revit Lookup by my previous colleague like a year ago. Initially it was for me to understand how Revit organizes each group/type of elements under the hood.

To troubleshoot the issue, I first place a "rogue" type of dimension in a view (it can be any view including drafting view). Select the dimension (or the element), go to Revit lookup and choose Snoop Current Selection.

It reported a list of information associated with this element, it looks something like this...

2 items are important to know:

Id - which is the Revit element ID   (Instance)

GetTypeId - which is the Revit family type element   (Type)

Usually, it is the type ID that is "under the hood" so user would not normally get to it.
Now that I identify the type ID for this rogue dim style, I can use Select elements by ID from Manager tab

Type the type ID number in the field, once it is selected, hit Delete! It prompts me with a warning, hit OK. 

That's it! It is gone for good. (Hopefully)

Like I mentioned above, there are more than one way to resolve this issue, I thought this might offer a different approach.

You can learn more about Revit Lookup from this site to download the tool for yourself and it is free.

From Github

Revit Lookup Builds from 2015 -2019


  1. Same problem. Lots of rogue dim styles. So I installed Lookup for Revit 2017, followed your procedure, but without luck. The 'GetTypeId' isn't listed. There's a red line in Lookup: "Reading of Entities of this Schema is not allowed to the current add-in. Parameter name: schema".

    Any idea how to solve this?

    Simon Weel

    1. Hi Simon, thanks for your comment. I have not seen this issue before. I have also use the Lookup tool in other things and it works the way it is suoosupp to. If you would like to leave your contact or reach out to me via the contact form from my site, we can connect from there. Hope this helps.

    2. Been a while; my e-mail address is "".I can make a screenshot of the 'Snoop Objects' window and mail / upload etc. it for you to review?


      Simon Weel

  2. Hi Phil, Glad I found your post. We experienced the same issue but I took your fix and John's Dynamo script a little further. We had 280 plus dimension styles and deleting each, one by one, took a long time, especially on a very big and complex project. My modified script filters, grabs and deletes all dimension styles if they met the condition where the dimension style name was less than 4 characters (because we wanted to delete the styles named from 1 to 344, only 3 digits). I would've attached the script but I guess I can't on your blog. I can email it you if you're interested. Cheers, Emmy

  3. Emmy can you email the dynamo script to me if you can ?