Forge Tutorials and Filtering for a Parameter Value

As always, I am active in the Revit API discussion forum.

Today, let's revisit the topic of filtering for a parameter value, and mention the updated Forge tutorials:

Query filter

Learning Forge Tutorials

The new Learning Forge Tutorials have been live for a few months – cf. individual launch dates below.

So far, they have been used and validated in the San Francisco, Boston, Bangalore and Munich accelerators.

It is wonderful to behold how the accelerator attendees just follow them and get a starting app up and running in days!

Here is some data gathered so far: we had around 1900 unique visitors; 1402 went to the 2-legged tutorial first page, and 517 (37%) completed one of the languages (last page); 284 went for the 3-legged one, and 46 completed it (16%). 302 unique visitors to the extensions tutorials:

Nodejs Feb, 23229    April, 2737
.NET Feb, 23193May, 189
Go     March, 1513
PHP April, 1237
Java May, 945
Total 51746
ExtensionsApril, 17302

Check them out for yourself at your leisure at

Forge building blocks

Filtering for a Specific Parameter Value

Returning to the Revit API, a frequent task is to extract elements based on specific parameter values.

This question was raised yet again and brought up some fresh aspects in the Revit API discussion forum thread on filtering for elements by parameter value:

Question: Hi, I've searched the forums for this but couldn't find a clear answer.

I'm trying to select all elements in a filtered element collector where a parameter, let's say, "house number", equals "12".

Any other solution where I'd be able to loop through or list all elements that have this parameter value are welcome too.

Answer: I think you can just do the following:

  var collector = new FilteredElementCollector(doc)
    .Where(a => a.LookupParameter("house number")
      .AsString() == "12")

Assuming that the storage type of your parameter is string.

Response: I tried using it (also checked whether the parameter was a string just to be sure), but the var collector end up null.

The message I get when looking at it in the locals is: "The collector does not have a filter applied. Extraction or iteration of elements is not permitted without a filter."

Answer 1: My mistake.

The Where clause is actually a .NET post-processing LINQ statement, so the filtered element collector does not see any filter at all.

I normally always look for a specific element type when using a collector.

This code filters for family instances first and works for me:

  List list
    = new FilteredElementCollector(doc)
      .Where(a => a.LookupParameter("house number")
        .AsString() == "12")

It creates a list of FamilyInstance elements.

You can change the type to any desired one.

There are other ways to not apply a filter and get all element types in one go; however, I would not recommend that, because you never know beforehand which kind of elements may pass the filter if you do.

Answer 2: The first answer uses post-processing in .NET.

That means that the initial filtering takes place in Revit; then, all family instances are transferred to .NET to check the parameter value.

That causes a huge overhead.

The overhead can be eliminated by using a parameter filter instead, that checks for the parameter value directly in Revit, before transferring any data to .NET.

If you don't care, the first solution is fine, of course.

Here are some examples of using parameter filters:

The Building Coder provides many more.

Filtered Element Collector Optimisation

Response: Hmmm...

Now I'm in doubt about whether or not I should rewrite the collectors in all my own add-ins to remove that overhead myself...

Some commands that take a long time might actually benefit from that if it's a big difference.

Most commands are nearly instant, though, so I don't think it would matter in that case.

Thanks for the insight Jeremy, as always, very helpful!   :-)

Answer: Thank you for your appreciation and very glad to hear you find it useful.

Years ago, I benchmarked different filtered element collectors and found that moving from .NET post-processing to a parameter filter will save at least 50% overhead.

In a large model, it might be more.

Benchmark first, before you do anything!

If it works, don't fix it.

Also, the most important thing to start with is to always be aware of the differences between quick and slow filters, and post-processing in .NET, cf. Quick, Slow and LINQ Element Filtering.

To start with, apply as many filter shortcuts to the filtered element collector as you can. All filter shortcuts are quick filters. They are provided by methods that are available directly as FilteredElementCollector member methods.