This season at the Boston Architectural College we started an advanced class to get into more topics such as design options and advanced modeling. The family editor also gets more attention to cover topics such as nesting, parameter linking, type parameters ect..
I thought I would just post some tips and tricks/best practices here for those who are just getting started in the Family Editor. I encourage other experienced "Reviteers" to contribute as well.
Flexing a family
Always make two types and set the parameter values in each type to different values. As you work in the family editor you can then switch between types, pressing "Apply" as you go, to test the family and see if it behaves as desired. If you have a missing constraint you will see it fail in the canvas.
Place Constraints Consistently
It is good practice to place plan constraints in the "floor plan" ref level view and vertical constraints in the "front" or "left" views only. Avoid placing constraints in the "back" view or "ceiling plan" ref level unless required. This can make future editing and troubleshooting more simple.
Don't over constrain
When sketching lines that are placed over ref planes or ref lines they often do not need to be locked. Test your sketch without locking and see if it behaves. Setting a dimension to a set value or zero length may also not require a lock to hold the value. Adding constraints everywhere can make a family more fragile.
Avoid Chaining References
It is better to have different elements reference the nearest parallel reference plane than each other. Geometry shape handles can serve as references but it is better to avoid constraining one shape handle to another unless it is required.
Need another reference plane? Grab the nearest parallel ref plane and drag it holding the control key. Voila a copy. This works for all ref planes except for those that define the origin. No need to leave the canvas.
Dims: Make Permanent
Need to add a constraint? Click the element to be constrained (e.g. ref plane) and click the "Make permanent Control" on the temp dim. If the dim is not to the right location drag the blue controls to other references. Again no need to leave the canvas.
Label Dims from Option bar
You can create new labels or assign an existing one from the option bar whenever a dimension is selected.
A woodworker friend told me once "If I have to make more than one of anything I make a jig" If you have anything that repeats (e.g. table leg) make it as a separate family and nest it into the main family. Your life will be much easier. The leg as nested will be easier to reference and update in the future.
Use good names. For parameter values I adopt a programming syntax that capitalizes the first character of each word in the text string. Example: "chairLegVisibility" or "tableWidth" or "tableLegType". Choose good names for your types. Avoid using default names like "Type 1".
It is also good to choose a pertinent parameter group for your parameters. If it is a material parameter place it in the "Materials and Finishes" group.
There are many more. I hope someone can pick up a tip here or provide one of their own. Happy family editing!