(part of our ongoing series)
Since the beginning of Revit development time – in the 8.0/8.1 range, the best way to learn about what is possible with the Revit API was to use a “Snoop Tool” – something that could interrogate all of the elements in the model and all of their properties.
In the beginning, there was RevitDbg – a tool by Fenton Webb at Autodesk. It used reflection to browse through a massive tree structure of all the elements in the model. It was slow, but cool.
Later, Jim Awe of Autodesk brought his Snoop tool (called “RvtMgdDbg”) from AutoCAD to Revit – bringing not just browsing of elements but also event testing as well as some test commands. This became the tool that most Revit developers cut their teeth on. That said – I’m still amazed at the number of developers who have tried to learn the API without the benefit of RvtMgdDbg… I have to imagine it’s like developing in the dark!
For all of its importance to Revit developers, RvtMgdDbg was always somewhat of a step-child at Autodesk… No one really owned it (so it was nice that they provided the source – at least 3 times over the past few years I had to upgrade it myself to support the latest version before someone at Autodesk took care of it). It was also unclear over time how it was going to be distributed – was it only for ADN members? Did you have to attend a particular AU session? Or did you just have to know the right people? Thankfully, in the past year or so Autodesk has caught on to how important RvtMgdDbg is to getting developers up-to-speed and has made it available to anyone, usually via Jeremy Tammik’s blog.
Which brings us to 2011… While not revolutionary – it is an important evolution for RvtMgdDbg. It has been adopted by the Revit API team – which means that there are resources devoted to updating it and providing it along with the SDK – under a new, more accessible name: RevitLookup. Kevin Vandecar as well as some of the Shanghai developers have done yeoman’s work in upgrading it (it is a grueling task – I know because I had to do it myself at least twice during the 2011 alpha/beta cycle).
RevitLookup can be found in the SDK folder under RevitLookup – it appears that you’ll have to build it yourself (binaries were not shipped) – but it’s great to see that this tool getting its proper due from Autodesk.