Loading SDK Samples

The previous post discussed the use of the unified solution file SDKSamples2009.sln to manage, compile and search the entire collection of over hundred sample applications provided in the Revit SDK. In order to actually execute a sample for testing and debugging, it also needs to be loaded into Revit. The most direct way to achieve this is to edit Revit.ini to add an entry to the Revit Tools > External Tools menu. Another possibility is to use the Add-In Manager provided with the SDK. Both of these approaches are tedious or even impossible to execute manually if you really want to be able to look at any one of the samples at any time. Happily, a perfect solution to this problem is already included in the Revit SDK: RvtSamples.

RvtSamples is a Revit external application. That means that is can define a user interface within the Revit UI. The user interface can consist of menus and toolbars. Each menu entry or toolbar button can be linked to a Revit external command. What RvtSamples does is read a text file containing information about all the Revit SDK samples that are external commands and the menu structure that we would like these to be presented in and set up this structure in a hierarchical menu inside the Revit menu system.

By default, the text file is named RvtSamples.txt and lives either in the same directory as the RvtSamples assembly DLL, or one or two levels above it, based on the assumption the RvtSamples.dll is in a bin/Debug subdirectory of the RvtSamples source code directory.

RvtSamples.txt contains a combination of the information specifying the desired menu hierarchy and the information required to load and execute the sample code, which is more or less the same as the data required to specify an external command in Revit.ini, i.e. ECName, ECDescription, ECAssembly and ECClassName. In Revit.ini, these four are used to define the menu item text and the status bar description for the external command in the Revit user interface on one hand, and the command class assembly path and fully qualified class name including namespace prefix on the other. For RvtSamples, the description, assembly path and class name remain the same, and the menu item text is enhanced to include the full definition of the menu hierarchy. For example, here is the first entry from my RvtSamples.txt:

/RvtSamples/By Flavour/All/About Revit
Show the Revit product name, version and build number.

This is asking RvtSamples to construct a new top level menu RvtSamples in the Revit menu with a submenu 'By Flavour', another submenu 'All' within it, and, finally, a menu entry for the VersionChecking sample with the menu text 'About Revit'.

Revit SDK Samples menu

RvtSamples.txt comes pre-populated with entries all Revit SDK samples classified once by Revit flavour, i.e. Architecture, MEP and Structure, and secondly by Revit version, i.e. 8, 9, 2009 etc. Other classifications are conceivable and also useful. The problem is that with the over hundred samples provided, each new classification is going to generate over one hundred new menu entries in the Revit menu, and this will hit a built-in limit of about 500 pretty soon. Therefore, only two classifications have been implemented for the moment.

Looking again at the data entered into RvtSamples.txt, you may note that there is nothing at all limiting it to create one single top level menu, or to be used to manage only the Revit SDK samples. Actually, RvtSamples is a completely generic menu generator. You can easily add your own entries to RvtSamples.txt to manage other external commands as well. For instance, I append a pretty large file to RvtSamples.txt on my system to provide an additional menu giving access to all the ADN Revit training labs as well, as you can see here:

Additional ADN Samples menu

Once you have compiled RvtSamples, all you need to do to activate it, i.e. load it into Revit, is to add the following lines to Revit.ini:


Obviously, if you already have defined a section for external applications in your Revit.ini files, you will add just the two appropriate lines for RvtSamples to that existing section. Once you have added the external application item into Revit.ini, RvtSamples will automatically create the specified additional menus and add menu items to the Revit menu for all samples listed in the text file every time Revit starts up.

Executive summary: RvtSamples is a generic Revit menu generator which reads a text file RvtSamples.txt listing all the Revit SDK samples categorised in various ways and creates a new top level hierarchical menu providing simultaneous classified access to all of them. It is not limited to making the samples available, the text file can contain arbitrary other menu entry definitions as well or instead of the Revit SDK sample ones defined in RvtSamples.txt.