Lean Revit Templates - What are They and Why You Should Care

What is a Revit Template? 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a template as “something that establishes or serves as a pattern”. Like Word, Powerpoint, or most digital tools these days, Revit begins each project using an underlying foundation of graphics standards and data so as to not have to spend countless hours building from scratch every time, and keep deliverables and workflows consistent from one project to the next. Many owners, such as government entities, universities, and hospital groups have their own Revit templates already prepared to be used on projects they will end up managing. Additionally, firms can also use out-of-the-box templates, purchase templates (not recommended for many reasons) or customize their own. 

The 2 Types of Templates…Is 1 Better Than the Other? 

There are two schools of thought when it comes to Revit templates - a lean template or a bloated or “thick” template. We have a blog post back from 2021 that talks about both. Basically, the premise is that Revit content can enter the Revit project early (thick template) or later on (lean template). Usually, having one template over the other stems from the preferences of the end-users. An end user often prefers to have their content available in a single, central, convenient location with easy retrieval, and often believes the template should be that place. However, this makes the time spent by those that manage the template, standards, and repeatedly used content more complicated and can result in inaccuracy and rework over the long term, not to mention the time it takes to set up and work on projects from the start, due to file performance issues and data weight. 

The following arguments in favor of each method were culled from years of consulting as Content Library experts:


  • Reduces external content searching (more content housed in the project .RVT )
  • ‘Deleting is easier than adding:’  At a fundamental technical level, the delete function as used on views, sheets, families, or project standards is easier and cleaner than the add function, which requires more care and direction (this is true for the manual addition and deletion processes, or when automating with Dynamo).  Just be sure you have a purging strategy in place - you may need it to reduce file weight as the project builds in size and complexity. In addition, as items stored in that template are updated and made current over time, they may or may not make it into other coinciding active projects, again resulting in inaccuracies and rework.
  • In the short run, centralizing content within templates can provide users with the necessary content at the initiation of the project and reduce the input required from BIM Managers. However, over the lifecycle of the project, this will likely create more inaccuracies and rework. 


  • Lean template = lean project browser.  Find high-value content more easily with less content to sort through.
  • Lean templates often mean smaller .RVT file sizes, improving file performance and reducing data weight.
  • A lean template promotes discovery by pushing teams towards your most current and up-to-date library content, where they can gain additional context, ask questions, and verify that what they are selecting is the best choice for their active project.
  • Over time, a lean template reduces the time BIM Managers and BIM Committees spend having to manually manage, maintain, and update the template and its content. This is a win-win for all around.

How to Best Use a Lean Template

A significant pushback on the use of a lean template is the belief by end-users to have a single, quick, central, and convenient place to find and retrieve approved content. And it’s absolutely valid. When an end-user starts a project, they will work most efficiently with what they need at their fingertips. But what if that content didn’t need to live in the Revit template? What if we could make both the Revit user and the BIM management team happy? Enter AVAIL.

AVAIL Desktop Revit

Shown as a single location where all content can be found and retrieved by end users, yet managed, maintained and updated through their source locations by the BIM management team, we have the ability to keep a lean template and continue with a convenient search and retrieval workflow by the end users. As a bonus, AVAIL creates high-resolution thumbnails for each piece of content, building on the power of visual acuity - humans are wired to distinguish and process visual information more quickly and effectively than text. By incorporating images in the search results, firms leverage this capability and improve the way team members access and apply the data they need. 

AVAIL Desktop Revit

With this process, content and standards are managed, maintained, and updated in one location (the source file) and then distributed for everyone to use through AVAIL by simply watching said source file, no matter where it is located. 

AVAIL Desktop Revit

This concept extended to multiple channels…what does that mean? Well, channels are simply looking at the content at its source location. Meaning multiple channels can point to the same source. The value here is that a user can search for content through a discipline-specific channel, like either architecture or electrical engineering, and get to the same light fixture. Subsequently, firms can set up project-specific channels, in which a project manager, or whoever is in charge of the project, can bulk load families, details, schedules, etc. that is needed for that project without actually moving the content from the source location. The use of channels in this manner appeases both the desire to get commonly used content into a project early, yet store it externally and in a single location for ease of maintenance.

This workflow promotes long-term consistent standards and manages the complexity of projects over time. Because you have pre-built sheets with legends, details, and schedules already on the pages that you know are the most up-to-date and accurate, you are reducing errors and rework. Ultimately, you are improving operational efficiency and reducing risk. 

How to Implement a Lean Revit Template & the Workflow

So how do you create and implement the use of a lean Revit template? 

Step 1: Review Your Current Template(s)

First, I suggest you decide if what you have in your current template is of any value. If it isn’t, start with the most current out-of-the-box Revit template you can (since Revit is not backward compatible) and build it from the ground up. 

Step 2: Share Currently GOOD Component Families Content

I know we are all concerned about the content we are using…is it good? I often hear how much people need to clean up their content and their libraries. BUT, let’s remember that we do have content that is used frequently, over multiple projects (often that content is used for every project) and we know it is accurate and current. Take that content and index it into an AVAIL channel. Share that channel with end-users. Have them begin using it. Use the analytics to track how they are using it. What content are they using, what content isn’t actually frequently consumed? What are they contextually searching for but never find?   

Step 3: Put Your Content in One Place & Review It

If the content IS valuable, use the Harvest tool from AVAIL to pull the content you want, and index it in an AVAIL channel for review:

  • Drafting Views
  • Families
  • Groups
  • Legends
  • Materials
  • Schedules
  • Sheets
  • System Families
  • View Templates

Because AVAIL is both content and location agnostic, you can view EVERYTHING in one place, no matter its file format, no matter where it’s actually located…your F: drive, Sharepoint, Dropbox, the Autodesk Construction Cloud…you will see it all in that ONE CHANNEL! Using the channel, begin to review the content and make decisions as to whether or not the content is something you want people to use from one project to the next. Using the Flags and Comments features, note content needs, changes, and reduction of outdated or inaccurate content. This can be done by you, your BIM team, or a small group of users you trust. It all depends on your firm’s culture. 

Step 4: Clean Up Your Content & Build Your Library

Build a library your end users can be confident in using so that a bloated template is unnecessary. Having a single, convenient, accessible location for your content to start a project and work through it over its lifecycle shouldn’t have to all live in the Revit template. And why not? Because, even if it’s the “template”, do you actually know that all the content in it IS up-to-date? Could a Project Manager have updated a detail and forgotten to upload it into the template? Could a new type of system family be created in a project, but not added back to the template at the end of that project? Could a client have updated their title block, sent it to…well, let’s say, Will, and Will didn’t bring it into the template for the next project? Projects are being demanded faster, QA/QC time is limited and quality is paying the price.  

Our Sales Director always says that the management of firm standards and content is like a garden. Personally, I believe it applies to everything digital you use: photos, renderings, Revit templates and details, presentations…they all need to be relevant and current. 

A garden requires tools, people, preparation and maintenance. Just like a garden, you spend a lot of time at the beginning of the process preparing the soil, strategizing, then planting. However, once you have to set everything up, it’s not over. You then move into the phase where you're maintaining, pruning, watering and feeding everyone with your harvest.

This process can include constant manual work, cleaning the details and system families in container files, as well as individually managing, maintaining, and updating the Revit families, images, presentations, etc. Those files can be “watched” by AVAIL, and updated, as well as regularly harvested for consumption by your end users. You can also use tools that will help with the management, maintenance and updating of Revit content, like Guardian or Ideate, and incorporate a more automated process.   

The bottom line is that end users need clean, accurate, and up-to-date content in a single, convenient location to retrieve. They need a lean template to start their project, with minimum bloat, and all the standard graphics (which take up little to no space) built in. The team managing the firm’s BIM and other content needs to be able to have the ability to manage, maintain, and update their content, not worrying that there might be something out there that someone else created and used that is outside the firm’s standards...and out of their grasp. And the executive team needs to know that they are producing accurate and high-quality deliverables to their clients. And like Revit is not the only tool that you will use, content will not all be in one place anymore. 


At the end of the day, it is the responsibility of the BIM management team to manage, maintain and update standards and content. It is their responsibility to provide users with a convenient and accessible location to find and retrieve this content to use in projects. Traditionally, the solution was storing all of your content in your Revit template, but that came with drawbacks. 

  1. A user may not have all of the content they need in the template. They would have to search for the content, and if they couldn’t find it, they would recreate it, storing it in their OWN convenient location. This results in inaccurate and low-quality deliverables, in addition to errors and rework.
  2. The content may or may not be up-to-date, since most project teams include numerous people. Details and families are updated often enough to make an impact resulting again in inaccurate and low-quality deliverables, as well as errors and rework. 
  3. With large Revit template files to start with, they only get bigger. Size matters here, and the smaller the better. Lean templates often mean smaller .RVT file sizes, reducing data weight and improving file performance over the lifecycle of the project. 

These days, the need for a bloated template is no longer valid. Giving the BIM management team the ability to manage, maintain, and update standards and content in a controlled environment, doing it ONCE in ONE item, then sharing it with end users in a single, convenient and accessible location simplifies the processes and workflows. The result is faster project completion, accurate and high-quality deliverables, and a reduction of errors and rework. From a business perspective, this will help optimize operational efficiency and reduce risk. 


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