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Bluebeam Tips & Tricks


I’ve often remarked to people that Bluebeam Revu is a deceptively powerful program. If you only delve a little into its capabilities it might seem to be a simple PDF reader and printer. However, if you dig a little deeper and you start to see all sorts of capabilities that could, if you choose to, make it an integral part of your daily toolset.

Here are some tips & tricks that will help you extract even more out of Revu:

Reduce file size: When you need to get that PDF to attach to an email and it’s too large

If you have a PDF that is simply too big to transmit over Email and it isn’t comprised of mainly plain text (that is, it has graphics / pictures in it) then you need to try out the Reduce File Size function which can be found on the Document Menu in Revu.

In the dialogue box that opens, you can select a variety of options. You can choose to reduce the file size of multiple open documents and in the Extreme Version you can also select an entire folder to process (This function is also found under the Menu > Batch > Batch Reduce File Size of Bluebeam Revu as well).

You can elect to choose the default compression or the low / high settings. I’d suggest using the default to start with to see if it makes the document a more manageable size. If note, you can increase the compression although you’ll potentially take a hit in the quality of the images in the PDF. You can save your settings as a preset if you’re likely to have to repeat this process in the future.

In one random example of a Powerpoint PDF, Cadgroup got a 74.42% reduction on the default setting. Again, this document was very graphics heavy so that sort of decrease in file size is not perhaps representative of what you’d get in a Vector PDF (from a Design / CAD package) or a document that has lots of text in it.

The Snapshot tool: a not so obvious capability

If you’ve ever been in the situation where you need to markup a PDF to send out an instruction for someone to add to a design then being able to grab a similar item from a part of the PDF and transplant it into the new position would be a boon. In addition, we might simply need to make a minor addition of items to a document to get it out the door. The Snapshot tool allows you to grab graphics from one part of a PDF and paste it into another part then make adjustments to it, if required.

Activate the Snapshot tool, then left click on the PDF and drag diagonally. When you  click the second time to pick the area that you want to Snapshot, the section that is inside the selected area will show with blue transparent overlay.

You now take this Snapshot and Paste the elements into another location. You’ll note that Revu has two Paste options available.

You can choose to simply “Paste” which acts like MS Office products in that it pastes the item in the location where your cursor is. You can then drag it around by left clicking on it. Revu will actually snap the pasted elements to graphics in the PDF. In the screenshot below, I’ve pasted the Snapshot and dragged it into the corner of an empty room. Revu automatically snapped the pasted graphics into the corner as I dragged it around.

You can also choose to paste into the same place as before – you’d do this if you wanted to make a copy a precise distance from the original. Firstly, make sure that a real scale has been applied to the Sheet. You can do this through the Measure Panel or via the Mark-up > Measure > Calibrate Menu. To do this, go to Edit >Paste in Place. It will look like nothing happened but it fact the new pasted elements will be sitting on top of the graphics that you took the Snapshot of.

The pasted elements will be pre-selected so to move them in a precise way, go to the Properties Panel > Layout and as below, you can adjust the X and Y position of the pasted graphics.

You also can re-scale the pasted elements and rotate them if required.

Interestingly you save this pasted element in a Toolset to capture if in your Toolchest and of course, save it to your profile if you intend of using it multiple times or perhaps it’s a detail that you know you’ll want to have ready for future use in other documents. As bonus tip, if you have other elements  that are part of the markup then you can save them as a Group and then turn that Group into a Markup – you can select multiple elements in Revu by holding the SHIFT key then click on or drag over the element you want to add to the selection set. Now right-click and choose “Group”:

To save the Group to the Toolchest, right click and choose the “Add to Toolchest” option and then pick the Toolset that you want to add it to.

You may want to make a new Toolset for these specific types of Markups.

Another really interesting feature that I found recently is that if Revu detects that the graphics you select are monochrome, when you paste it, the background to pasted element will initially be transparent (the white parts become the “Alpha channel”). However, when you select the pasted element, you can now change the background to a solid colour which will mask graphics under the pasted Snapshot. You can make this any solid colour or pattern if required. In the screenshot below, we have the initial state of a pasted Snapshot. Note the Fill Colour box has a clear background with a red cross through it:

If we alter the background to solid white then we get this:

Sketch to Scale tool: Relay your message accurately

As a bonus, don’t forget the Sketch to Scale tool as well. If you have set the scale on a PDF sheet then you can start drawing to lines to a real scale.

The options are not as sophisticated as you might expect from a full blown CAD program but you can pick line length, polar angle and you can snap to elements in the PDF so it’s good for a quick but accurate representation of the message you need to relay to others.

In the case of the sketch tools, the Polyline requires you to hit Enter twice or double click on the end point or hit the “C” key to finish it (not so obvious!). You can change the line style, colour and thickness and so forth and you will want to save this new Markup style in the appropriate toolset so that you can reuse it later.

Creating a masking region tool in Revu

We looked at how to add graphics above, but there may also be circumstances where you need to simply blank-out (mask) existing graphics in order to make a quick alterations, or edit out parts of the PDF.

To extend this functionality by showing you how to create a White masking Region by doing the following:

Open a PDF and go to the Markup command and create a Polygon anywhere in the document. With the Polygon selected, open the Properties Panel and change the Fill Colour to White, then change the Line Colour to White as well. Make sure Highlight is unticked.

We changed the Subject to “masking region” so that we can easily identify it in our Markups List and we can also filter it out if we want to Export the Markups List at some point.

This is what it will look like. I’ve selected to so you can see the edges but when unselected it will be a simple white masking region that blocks whatever is behind it.

You can add new graphics or elements on top of the masking region. If you create the Masking region after you placed the other elements then as expected, Revu will place the new masking region on top of the draw order which will mask the previously placed elements. You can select the Masking Region right click on it and choose Order and place it lower than the other elements by using the “Send Backwards” option as many times as required. You can also just bump the Masking region right to the bottom using the “Send to Back”  option.

Don’t forget to right-click on the Markup and add it into a Toolset and save the Toolchest by saving your Profile. You can use the markup in Drawing Mode (makes a carbon copy of the shape of the Markup that you just saved to the Toolchest) or you can use Properties Mode to make a new Polygon with a unique shape. If you the PDF is vector based then you can snap to the points in the graphics.

You might want to consider using the flatten markup option to prevent people from moving or selecting the masking region. If you flatten the entire document then of course, the masking regions will be flattened too.

Bonus tip: You can create a PDF and add one of the masking fills to it. Then create a Stamp based on that PDF. Revu will allow you place Stamps automatically across a series of PDF sheets and in the eXreme version, you can  apply the Stamps across multiple documents in a Batch operation which will allow you to mask-off a designated part of multiple sheets in your documents.

Create Gallery – insert image and 360 panoramas

You may have seen a sample PDF that Bluebeam includes with the Revu installation that shows a 360 ͦ  panorama which is pretty cool. So how can you do this yourself? Glad you asked!

Firstly, you need a panoramic image that contains specific code in it so make it work properly as a panorama after its inserted. To make this work you’ll need an image created in compatible hardware or a file that’s been correctly encoded with metadata in it. 

You can also “inject” the required XMP metadata into a Panoramic image by using third party software if you really need to.

Once you’ve got a suitable image, simply create or select a  Markup (of any kind),  right-click on it and choose > Capture > From File….

Now navigate to the jpg image and click on it to select it.

Once it’s inserted, a small grey camera icon appears near the markup to show that you have created a Gallery:

Left click on the Gallery Icon to open the Panoramic Image:

Note that you can add further images using the 2 icons in the bottom left hand corner (this ability is of course why is why it’s called Gallery). You can use the Gallery to store graphics images in a number of common file formats.

This feature is especially useful for onsite meetings or inspections  or site measures where you need to capture the site conditions.

Note: You might want to add a label or create a custom column to allow you to identify what markups have a Gallery attached to them when you are looking in the Markup List as there is no way to report this here otherwise.

Export Rooms for Revit – to make Spaces in Revu – (CAD & eXreme ONLY)

If you are running Bluebeam CAD or eXreme you will also have the ability to install plugins for various software such as Revit, Autocad so forth. These add-ins greatly enhance the creation of PDF’s in these programs over the standard Print dialogues. For instance, you can create 3D PDF’s directly inside Revit, do Batch operations and more.

One feature that we’ll concentrate on here is the ability to use the Revu Addin in Revit to create a PDF that converts Revit Rooms to Revu Spaces (not to be confused with Revit Spaces!). There are some benefits to doing this. The most obvious benefit is that the viewer of the PDF can identify the places that you have nominated as distinct Rooms in the Revit model. A secondary benefit is that the Spaces can have Area measurements so the floor Area can be determined from them.

To access the Revu Addin and adjust its setting in Revit, go to the Addins Tab and find the Revu section.

Note, if you can’t see the add-in and you have a compatible version of Revit (not RevitLT, sorry!) then you can install the add-in by closing Revit then going to the Windows Start Menu > Bluebeam > Bluebeam 20XX Administrator (20XX being whatever version of Revu you are using).

On the Plugins Tab left-click on any empty tick boxes to tell Revu to install the required addin and hit the Apply button. Note that sometimes Revu may show the addin as installed but if it doesn’t show in the other application then simply untick the box, hit Apply, retick the box and hit Apply again. After this, if the plugin doesn’t show then a restart of the system might be required.

Back in Revit now, tick on left-click on change settings.

In the dialogue that opens, you can tick the “Export Rooms as Spaces” option. You can also elect to tick the “Export Rooms to Area Measurements” option. Lastly you can also choose to “subtract Openings” from the Area Measurements. Note that if you don’t choose to export Areas here, you can always select the Spaces in the resultant PDF afterwards and create Areas.

Before you finish, make sure you inspect and adjust the “What to Plot” section. Check out the “Folder Options” options too. The Plot Quality part of the dialogue affects the settings for Raster PDF’s which will be created if you have Views and/or Sheets with realistic Views on them. Once you’re happy with the settings, click on the “Create File” button and once Revu has processed the file, the PDF will automatically open.

If you go to the Spaces Panel then you’ll see all of the Revit Rooms listed.

Under the Spaces Panel, the “highlight space” option will be on (this is controlled by the middle icon on the top of the Spaces Panel that is an L shaped object with a diagonal fill). This means that the Spaces will have a solid fill that will be the same colour as the Revit Room was. If the exported PDF have the Room Fill colours visible in the View then they’ll show in the PDF as normal graphics anyway. The Highlight Space option will show or hide the Spaces if the Rooms were not visible in the View or Views at the time you exported the file from Revit.

You can see the Areas on each of the Spaces and you elect to hide the text showing this by selecting Spaces, switching to the Properties Panel and then untick the “Show Caption” box.

As a bonus, you can select a Space in Revu 2019 and go to the Units Panel to add a positive or negative Depth. When you do this, you can now get Revu to report the Volume of the Spaces (though be careful as openings with not be subtracted from them.

As another bonus, you can add an angle to the measurement so you can work out the real area of floors or ceilings that have slopes on them.


I hope these tips & tricks have piqued your interest whether you have never used Bluebeam or whether you are already a seasoned user! Cadgroup specialise in sales, support and training of Bluebeam throughout Australia and New Zealand. 



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