This has been happening sporadically in Revit 2011 and I believe it’s been fixed in 2012. Basically you would be editing a profile sketch such as a wall through Edit Profile, you switch your view to a standalone RFA family and upon switching back to the project environment, the contextual panels disappear and the contextual Modify tab switches to the usual Modify tab only, leaving you stuck in sketch mode with no apparent way back to the project.
The first way out is through assigning a keyboard shortcut for Finish Edit Mode: all 8 of them in 2011 (and 9 in 2012!). Honestly, I think there should only be one as the user doesn’t care which particular sketch mode is active: they just want to learn one shortcut that gives them the ability to finish any sketch mode. I sympathize with the technical reasons why there’s more than one, but if that is truly necessary, why make them look identical with no way to distinguish them except through endless hours of trial end error?
The second method makes the panels reappear so you can continue editing the sketch or finish/discard; here’s how you do it:
- Start a new family, pick any one;
- Load it into your project;
- Once you get the error that it cannot be placed in this mode, hit Ctrl+z to undo.