How to make your custom Families report useful data to your schedules?

In order for a schedule to report a piece of information, we need a parameter to store that information. The parameter has to be either a built-in parameter (a so-called “system” parameter) or if it is a custom user-defined parameter, it has to be configured as a “shared” parameter. 
In addition, you have to consider how the Family’s geometry is structured. If you build all of the family geometry in a single RFA file, it is easier to ensure that the data you want to report to your schedules and tags will be available. If you use nested families, they must be configured as “shared” families in order for them to report data through their hosts and to the project’s schedules. 
So what is “shared” parameter? In general, there are 4 kinds of parameter. 

A System Parameter

A System Parameter is the “easiest” of the bunch. As its name implies, it is “built-into” the system. There is no further steps necessary on our part. Some system parameters belong to a single category, some apply to multiple categories. A system parameter is available to all projects, all families (in the category or categories applicable) all schedules and all tags. If you can get away with only system parameters in your content, your task is truly simpler. But alas, it is rarely the case that you can get away with only system parameters.

Project Parameters

A Project Parameter is a custom parameter created in the project environment. It applies to one or more categories that you designate. Since it applied at the category and project level, it applies to all elements of that category (or categories) within the project. It is not necessary to add it individually to each family. A project parameter can appear in schedules, but cannot appear in tags. Project parameters must be added separately to each project. If you wish you can add them to your project template file so that new projects begin with whatever custom project parameters you require.  If your requirement is only for schedules and not tags, and if you do not need to pre-assign data in the family files, then a project parameter can be a good way to go. 

Family Parameters

A Family Parameter is defined in a family file and is only part of that family. A family parameter can drive geometry and behaviors in the family but cannot be scheduled or tagged in a project. Family parameters are most often used to assist in building the family geometry, apply materials and build in other family specific behaviors.  Shared Parameters Shared parameter is a fancy word for a parameter that you want to “share” among one or more projects, families and or schedules and/or tags. Shared parameters can be defined as both project and family parameters giving them the same benefits and features of each of those parameters respectively. However by being configured as a shared parameter we also gain the ability to schedule and tag the parameter and to use it in more than one project and/or family.  If you have any suspicion that the parameter you are creating will want to appear in a schedule or tag, you should be proactive and set it up as a shared parameter.

Shared Parameters

Shared parameter is a fancy word for a parameter that you want to “share” among one or more projects, families and or schedules and/or tags. Shared parameters can be defined as both project and family parameters giving them the same benefits and features of each of those parameters respectively. However by being configured as a shared parameter we also gain the ability to schedule and tag the parameter and to use it in more than one project and/or family.  If you have any suspicion that the parameter you are creating will want to appear in a schedule or tag, you should be proactive and set it up as a shared parameter.

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