Understanding The Different Warning Signs in Revit

February 21, 2017

There's a variety of different warning signs in Revit. Here's how to react to each one.

The Revit software communicates with us in many ways. Various feedback mechanisms are used: sometimes it offers little more than a “whisper” with subtle messages at the status bar, while other times it interrupts your workflow completely with a disruptive onscreen dialog demanding your immediate attention.

Regardless of the severity of the condition, or the degree of urgency that Revit uses to convey its contents to you, understanding and paying attention to Revit’s various communiques is critically important to your ongoing and successful use of the program.

So why is it so important? Well, even though many of the Revit messages and warnings can be ignored, ignoring them does not change the condition that caused the warning. It only postpones action on it.

If you ignore many warnings, they can accumulate and ultimately have an adverse effect on model performance and overall health. However, not all messages and warnings are created equal. So, let’s take an inventory of the types of feedback you can receive from Revit from the least-to-most severe:

1. The Status Bar: This is the most basic way that Revit communicates with you as you work in the software. Messages at the Status Bar are many and varied. They can be as simple as suggestions of what to do next, information about the highlighted onscreen element or status of a current operation. This is one-way communication from Revit. There is no opportunity or need to react.

Status Bar messages are like a whisper or the crawl at the bottom of a cable TV news channel. They are ongoing information that you may find useful and informative.

2. Ignorable Warnings:  Sometimes when you perform an action, it may cause or expose a condition that is useful for you to be aware of. Such conditions rarely have dire consequences, but may certainly have an impact on display, usability and performance. Conditions such as these are usually displayed in a small alert window in the lower-right corner of the screen with a yellow tinted background.

There are no action buttons and if you click anywhere onscreen, they will be immediately dismissed. So you can easily miss one of these messages if you click too quickly. Such notices are referred to as “ignorable” because no action is required by you to continue.

Ignorable warnings can be thought of as Revit’s way of saying: “just so you know, the current action has this or that effect…” They command slightly more attention than the Status Bar, but are also easily missed and ignored.

3. Action Dialog, Can be Ignored: Also appearing in the lower-right corner of the screen and also ignorable, these messages are distinguished from the previous by being actual dialog boxes that contain action buttons. There will be three buttons: Cancel, OK and an Action button.

Cancel allows you to change your mind based on the warning and terminate the action before it is completed. If the warning does not trouble you, and you wish to ignore it, you can click OK. Once again, ignoring a warning simply postpones action on the issue. It does not resolve the issue.

The third option in these dialogs will vary with the condition. Revit will suggest some sort of remedy to the situation. However, keep in mind that the offered remedy is often the most rudimentary and frequently not desirable. Therefore, it will often be better to click OK, and then perform some other action to remedy the situation either immediately or at some future point. 

4. Action Dialog, Cannot be Ignored: These dialogs look nearly the same as the previous. The only difference is the lack of the OK button. In other words, you cannot ignore them. So this leaves you the option to cancel and rethink your current task, or to use the action button and take Revit’s suggested remedy.

Keep in mind that this is not always the preferred remedy. So if you do not like the action Revit suggests, click Cancel, fix the problem that caused the error first, and then try again.

Dialog warnings with the action buttons across the bottom are akin to someone actively grabbing your attention and asking you to decide on a particular issue. The ones that can be ignored allow for the possibility that you might respond by effectively saying: “Let’s not deal with this right now and worry about it later.” While the ones that cannot be ignored (without the OK button), are more like someone saying to you: “We have to have a decision on this right now!”

Remember that Ignoring does not resolve a warning. Keep in mind that the primary reason to pay attention to and try to fully understand each warning is to help ensure the health and performance of your model.

If you leave many warnings unresolved, performance and regen times can slow considerably and in extreme cases, model corruption can occur. So on a regular basis, get in the habit of checking the Warnings dialog and addressing as many of the conditions listed as possible. This will help your models perform at their best level.

It is not necessary to eliminate absolutely every warning, but it is certainly a good goal to keep the list of unresolved warnings as short as possible. Get in the habit of checking it regularly and doing what you can to keep the list manageable. You will be rewarded with better performance and fewer interruptions of your workflow.

If you want to see some of these warnings in action, you can check out the Understanding Revit Warnings video in the weekly Revit: Tips, Tricks and Troubleshooting series from the LinkedIn Learning library.