ESTmep Cost Exposed in Revit

If you’re a user of ESTmep and Revit Fabrication parts, consider yourself warned. I’ve recently had some dialog with an industry colleague and the discussion of Cost data in Revit came up.

We know that that a Revit file which uses Fabrication Parts contains a copy of your Fabrication Configuration (Database). We also know that the Fabrication Extension for Revit now allows you to run reports. Those reports can also report on Cost data. That’s generally a good thing in most firms using ESTmep, exposing that Cost data to Revit users can be very helpful.

Now when you send someone your Revit model, they do NOT have access to your database (Unless you send that to them a well). Without your database, the Fabrication Add-In will not find the reports and the option is grayed out.

You also can’t change the configuration either because the drop down is disabled. They need your database to do anything….maybe.

So this sounds like we’re OK but let me assure you that’s not the case. Your database isn’t “available” to the person who had your Revit file but it is contained within the Revit file itself. And even though the Revit API’s don’t give you access to the costing data, it can be extracted.

I won’t go into details for the sake of security in our industry but rest assured, there is a process where as a user can extract your cost data. This includes being able to figure our your vendor pricing multipliers.

What To Do?

That leaves the question about what to do. Some may be familiar with the option in Edit Configuration that disables the storing of EST tables in DWG files. This has NO effect or control of Revit. Sure would be nice if it did nit that’s not the case.

So there’s really 2 options that I can see….

  1. Remove or Rename the COST.MAP, ETIMES.MAP, FTIMES.MAP and SUPPLIER.MAP tables from your database. These are where labor rates, times and costs are stored. Without these tables,, Revit can not store this information in the model. If you’re previously had a Revit model with this information saved, rename/remove the files and reload your configuration and the data will be removed. The down size is you’ll no longer be able to use ESTmep.
  2. Make a copy of your database without the COST.MAP, ETIMES.MAP, FTIMES.MAP and SUPPLIER.MAP tables and have Revit point to that. Each time you update your Fabrication database, you’ll need to refresh this copy. It’s fairly easy to script this process and have those files removed. The down side is you’ll no longer have access to Cost data in Revit but at least you can keep using ESTmep internally.

If you feel this is unacceptable, please submit a support ticket with Autodesk. The more people that raise the issue, the more likely that it will be addressed in a future release or update. To date, all they told me is the option I’ve outlined are the ONLY way to address the issue.

Autodesk Fabrication 2020 Installer Issues

If you use network licenses or create network deployments of CADmep, CAMduct or ESTmep you may encounter errors. Autodesk incorrectly pathed the Network License Manager files in the SETUP.INI files.

Even if you are using Stand Alone or User Based Subscription licenses but build Network Deployments, if you configure the deployment to include all components in the deployment (recommended if you plan on modifying the deployment later) you can encounter errors.

To correct the errors, you can replace the SETUP.INI files that are part of the installation with the ones provided in the following ZIP file…

Before you overwrite your installation’s SETUP.INI file, it’s a good idea to backup the original. The root of my installation folder looks like this…

At some point, I would expect Autodesk will update their download data and provide the proper files. Because of this, I would highly recommend NOT replacing the SETUP.INI files unless you encounter issues.

What’s Different?

If you’re curious what’s different between the two, you can open the INI files in Notepad or other text editor and view them there.

The original file contains this at the end of one of the entries…

Third-Party Component Open Source EULAs:x64\en-US\Tools\NLM.msi

The new SETUP.INI files have updated it to this…

Third-Party Component Open Source EULAs:x86\AdskLicensing\NLM\x64\NLM.msi

Revit 2019.2 Update Released

Revit 2019.2 Update was released today. Of particular interest in 2019.2 is the addition of Revit Cloud Models which allows users to host Revit models in the BIM360 platform even if not collaborating. Kind of a BIM360 Design/C4R “LITE” so to speak. That description of Revit Cloud Models is likely a little misleading so I recommend a more robust (but still not entirely clear) explanation on the Revit Blog.

You can download the update from your Autodesk Accounts Portal…

Or you can download and install from the Autodesk Desktop App…

You can see a list of issues fixed and new features from this link.

Fabrication SP 2019.1 & 2018.3

On October 23 2018, Autodesk released Update 2019.1 and 2018.3 for all the Autodesk Fabrication products.  Within a week, the updates have disappeared. This most often happens when a critical issue arises with the update. No word on what it may effect but when this has happened in the past, the issues were often significant.

I have not taken the time to uninstall and reinstall my Fabrication products as I don’t do production work. I would advise anyone that does production work to seriously consider this if they’ve already applied the updates. 

So far with the limited Fabrication database administration I’ve done I haven’t noticed anything. I have tested nearly 1-1/2 dozen support issues I’ve logged over the last year and a half and only 1 was addressed. Many of my issues affected incorrect sheet metal pattern developments and require manual fixes each time.

If you’re interested in the issues that were suppose to be addressed, please refer to my Fabrication update page. Links are below. If past history holds true, the new updates will come out a month from now and be new versions which may not list the issues that were corrected.

CADmep 2018.3
CADmep 2019.1
CAMduct 2018.3
CAMduct 2019.1
ESTmep 2018.3
ESTmep 2019.1

CADmep & IFC

For CADmep users, IFC has been a good way to get your content to other team members using Revit. While Revit now supports Fabrication Parts, exporting from CADmep to an MAJ for import into Revit hasn’t been a reliable way to share your model with Revit users. There are a couple of key reasons for this…

  • Not all Fabrication Parts in CADmep are supported
  • Import of MAJ files into Revit is very finicky and prone to failing.

For this reason, IFC Files have been a good way of ensuring all your Fabrication data gets displayed into Revit. And to be clear, this is by using the IFCE (IFC Export) command in CADmep.  Note: AutoCAD MEP has it’s own IFCEXPORT command but this doesn’t handle Fabrication CADmep data well).

While IFC is a good way to get CADmep data to Revit and Navis, over the last couple of releases it’s been getting worse. Since 2018 release of CADmep, *.IFC files no longer import into Revit or Navis, For Revit, you can use *.ifcXML or *.ifcZIP formats but these worn’t help you with Navis which only reads *.IFC. And starting with Revit 2019.0.1 Hotfix, Revit will no longer read *.ifcXML or *.ifcZip either.

  • *.IFC Export from 2017 and earlier CADmep works in any Revit/Navis version.
  • *ifcXML export from any version of CADmep work in any Revit version before 2019.0.1
  • *ifcZIP export from any version of CADmep work in any Revit version before 2019.0.1

To help give you a better picture of IFC support from CADmep, please refer to the following two compatibility charts…

CADmep IFC & Revit Compatibility
CADmep IFC & Navis Compatibility

Critical Fabrication 2019 Bug

If you’re running 2019.0.0 versions of Autodesk Fabrication, you should be aware of this critical issue.

When using purging the fabrication database, the command will delete all of the content on your service templates leaving them with no buttons or content.

There are several ways to access this command. In CADmep, PURGEDB is accessed from the toolbar…

You can also type PURGEDB from AutoCAD’s command line.

From ESTmep or CAMduct, the functionality is accessed from the FILE -> Setup -> Manage Database menu.

The Purge Database command itself displays the following dialog…

Again, in version 2019.0.0 versions of fabrication products, this will remove all content from all of your service templates. Do NOT run the command. Want to see for yourself what happens? Watch this Screen Capture…

This will only be a risk if you are logged into your database with Administrative privileges. In the event you have had this already happen, the only way to restore your services is to restore them from a backup of your database or to rebuild them all manually.