Tab Over (Solutions from Synergis Tutorial)

31 May, 2007 By: Peter Gehring

Multiple uses of the Tab key in Revit Architecture, Revit MEP and Revit Structure.

Autodesk Revit products use the Tab key for a variety of time-saving techniques. Many users are familiar with using it to select chained collections of walls or lines, but it can aid with object selection in other ways. You can use it to cycle between overlapping or nearby objects in 2D and 3D views. You can cycle through alternate points to dimension to or through alternate running object snaps.

Because some readers may be new to using Revit, let's start with the basics.

Hover Tab
No matter which technique you are using the Tab key for, you start by hovering over one of the objects you want to select. Revit highlights the object that will be selected once you press the left mouse pick button. If you press <Tab> again, before your pick, it cycles between selection choices. In the case of connected walls or lines, the first <Tab> highlights the wall or line you are directly hovering above, the next <Tab> selects all other walls or lines chained to it and pressing <Tab> again cycles back to the first line or wall again. A tool tip notes that you have a chain of walls or lines highlighted.

When connecting walls or lines, your first <Tab> highlights the item that you hover above.

The second <Tab> selects all the other walls or lines chained to the original one and then a third <Tab> continues to cycle back to your original selection.

When the object (or objects) you want are highlighted, you can left mouse pick to select them.

You'll see a tool tip showing that your objects are highlighted.

A left mouse click selects them.

When selecting walls and lines in chains, Revit ignores intersecting walls and lines. If multiple walls are joined at the same point, the chain continues along the wall that makes the smallest angle with the one currently highlighted. If you <Tab> over a wall or line that's not chained to any other wall or line, Revit makes an error sound. Revit Help describes some other methods to use <Tab> to select partial chains (see Selecting Chains of Walls and Lines).

Revit ignores intersecting walls and lines when you select chains.

This chain technique works whether you are selecting objects in editing modes to move, copy, delete and the like or to draw lines in sketch mode such as selecting walls to draw floors and roofs by footprint.

This chain technique works well.

The other common use for <Tab> is to cycle between overlapping objects in 2D or 3D. In this next illustration, the mouse is hovering over the bottom of the door opening in the wall and over the edge of the floor. Here, pressing <Tab> cycles between previewing the door, the wall it is hosted by, the chain of walls, the floor and then the door again. You can also use <Tab> for multiple selections. You need to <Tab> and select the first chain, <Tab> over the second chain and then press the Ctrl button while you select the next chain with the left mouse pick. This takes a little getting used to. If you hold down while you <Tab>, Revit cycles between any open view windows.

You can also cycle between overlapping objects in 2D and 3D. Here, the floor is previewed in the lineup.

You also can cycle between dimensioning walls to wall faces and centers and to faces and centers of wall-core boundaries, despite your preference set in Options.

Running Snaps
Much as in AutoCAD when using Object Snaps, <Tab> in Revit products cycles between current running snaps on the object you are hovering over.

Looking in Revit Help on keyboard accelerators you'll read that using and <Tab> lets you reverse the order of cycling between Object snaps and object cycling.

By using the Shift and Tab keys, you can reverse the order of object snaps.

Help also indicates that <Tab> can help you create more than one interior elevation when placing the elevation symbol. From what I've seen, it lets the elevation symbol elevate directions other than the one you are closest to.

You can use <Tab> to create more than one interior elevation.

When working with linked files, selecting any of the linked objects selects the entire linked geometry. Hovering over individual objects and using <Tab> lets you select individual components to view their properties. New in the 2008 Revit products is the ability to use this technique to copy and then paste objects from the linked file into the host file.

View individual component properties by hovering over objects and pressing <Tab>.

In Revit Systems, now called Revit MEP 2008, <Tab> allows selection of pieces of duct or equipment, connected runs and branches and entire networks. Hovering over an air terminal highlights, in order, the diffuser, the branch for the takeoff, the branch in a duct network to a piece of equipment such as a VAV Box and then the entire duct network.

Here you can see how hovering over an air terminal highlights different segments of the duct network, such as the branch for takeoff.

The branch in a duct network to equipment such as a VAV box.

And then, the entire network.

You also use <Tab> to select equipment that is a part of a system to launch the Automatic Layout Path option.

The other systems -- electrical, piping and plumbing -- have similar functionality, so depending on the system type and what you are hovering over, you get different selection options.

Hovering over a panel and cycling between the panel and the circuits assigned to it.

Hovering over a radiator and hitting <Tab> selects the entire hydronic supply piping system to enable autorouting.

In Structural Systems, <Tab> selects chained structural members or cycles between selecting beam systems or its individual members.

Keep Tabbing
In conclusion, you can save a lot of time using selection and creation techniques with <Tab>. I'm sure I missed a few, so when it doubt, <Tab> before selecting for more options.

About the Author: Peter Gehring

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