Updated Revit Roadmap

Interested in what’s planned for future versions of Revit? Autodesk updated the Revit “Public Roadmap” in January of this year.

Follow this link to look what’s planned.

http://blogs.autodesk.com/revit/2019/01/23/revit-public-roadmap-january-2019/

Note: If you’re in the Mechanical Contracting business like myself, don’t hold your breath. Not much has changed in the last year. With all the talk from Autodesk about industrialized construction, we still see very little. Most of the contractors I know are starving for better tools and efficiency. We’re employing extra man hours and people continuing to develop “workarounds” for Autodesk’s lack of investment in our industry.

Beware! – Revit & Desktop Connector

If you use BIM360 Design (formerly “Collaboration for Revit” a.k.a. C4R) along with the Autodesk Desktop Connector, you should be aware of a common mistake that can lead to data loss.

BIM360 Design or C4R as the older version is called, is used to store Revit models in the cloud on Autodesk’s BIM360 platform. BIM360 Design using the BIM360 Docs platform as storage platform. C4R on the other hand uses the older BIM360 Team for storage of the Revit models.

While you could (can) upload your Revit models via the web interface to either storage platform, Revit would not see these files. They needed to be enabled for Collaboration and uploaded through Revit. This process made changes to the Revit files which enabled collaboration from BIM360 Design/C4R.

BIM360 Design/C4R collaboration is enabled and files uploaded using the Collaborate ribbon in Revit.

while Revit models need to be uploaded this way, there was no other way to upload other files types besides the web interface. Even if you did upload AutoCAD, IFC, Navis or other files types that Revit can link, there was no way to link these files into Revit from the BIM360 platforms. If you linked them from your server, the other members of your team without access to your server would not have access.

Autodesk Desktop Connector was created for this purpose. While you can’t link a non Revit file type into Revit directly from BIM360, you can use the Autodesk Desktop Connector to sync those other files types locally to your computer. Any other team members also using the Autodesk Desktop Connector would then also have access to those same files and the links would be identical.

What’s the problem?

The common problem that comes up when using BIM360 Design/C4R along with the desktop connector is Autodesk’s unfortunate choice in using the same icon for both products.

Depending where you see the icon, you get different results. If you click the one that references BIM360 collaboration services you’re good. If you click the one that references the Autodesk Desktop Connector, bad things can happen.

When a file is enabled for Collaboration and you open it through the Autodesk Desktop Connector, Collaboration is disabled and the file is configured as a local file or central file like you’d typically use of a file server. When this happens, the file is seen as being different and will not sync back to the BIM360 platform.

What this means then if that you have two different version of the file. One stored locally from the Autodesk Desktop Connector and another cached locally when opened from BIM360 Collaboration service (BIM360 Design / C4R) When you look at BIM360 Docs or BIM360 Team portals, you only see one version.

How do I know I’m using the correct Icon to open my Revit file?

Depending on the particular versions of Revit and their update versions, your install of Revit may appear different but the underlying concepts are the same. For these images, Revit 2018.3.2 and 2019.1 were used.

When opening a Revit model from 2018, you’ll see the “B” shortcut in the left. This is the proper way to open BIM360 Design/C4R enabled files. BIM360 Design and/or C4R sites will be listed depending if you have been given access to projects within those sites that use 2018 version of Revit.

Revit 2018 Open Dialog when accessing BIM360 Collaboration models.

When opening a Revit model from 2019, you’ll also see the “B” shortcut in the left. The same as with 2018 versions, this is the proper way to open BIM360 Design enabled files. BIM360 Design only will be listed because 2019 doesn’t use BIM360 Team/C4R. If nothing is displayed here, you may not have been given access to projects within those sites that use the 2019 version of Revit.

Revit 2018 Open Dialog when accessing BIM360 Collaboration models.

The other place you may see the BIM360 icon is from My Computer or other shortcuts that look at your local system. The following image shows 2018 when using the incorrect shortcut because it instead points to the Autodesk Desktop Connector drive on your computer.

Revit 2018 Open Dialog when accessing the Autodesk Desktop Connector Drive

And once again, 2019 versions of Revit are similar. On clue is that here, even though 2019 doesn’t support C4R, they are listed here. This is because you’re not accessing via Revit’s collaboration tools, you’re simply accessing a special local drive on your computer that’s syncing everything in the BIM360 platform completely independent of Revit.

Revit 2019 Open Dialog when accessing the Autodesk Desktop Connector Drive

More clues when opening Models from the Recent Files List

If you’re trying to open Revit models using the Recent Files list, there’s a few subtle clues that tell you if you’re opening a collaboration enabled BIM360 model or simply opening a model from the Autodesk Desktop Connector drive.

The following image shows Revit 2018 with a BIM360 Design/C4R model correctly. Notice the drive letter in the path as well as the “Cloud” image in the thumbnail.

Revit 2018 with a Recent File that uses BIM360 Collaboration

The following image shows Revit 2018 with a Recent File that was accessed incorrectly from the Autodesk Desktop Connector. Notice the path will point to your Users folder on your computer and there’s no “Cloud” image on the thumbnail.

Revit 2018 with a Recent File that uses Autodesk Desktop Connector

Similar to 2018 but formatted differently, Revit 2019 displays the same details in it’s Recent Files. The following image is 2019 showing a recent file opened correctly through BIM360 Collaboration tools.

Revit 2019 with a Recent File that uses BIM360 Collaboration

And one more image below that shows a recent model opened incorrectly from the Autodesk Desktop Connector.

Revit 2019 with a Recent File that uses Autodesk Desktop Connector

Additional Clues

Looking at some of those subtle options can easily be overlooked or forgotten. Especially in the daily stress of production and deadlines. There are a few more obvious clues that can tell you if you’re opening your Revit models correctly.

For starters, when you open a BIM360 Design or C4R model properly in Revit, you’ll see a nice status dialog indicating that the files is being opened and sync’d locally.

Opening BIM360 Models Properly Displays A Status Dialog

On the other hand, there’s a major red flag when you open the files incorrectly though the Autodesk Desktop Connector. When you open the files incorrectly, you’re prompted to work on the model temporarily or save it locally as a Central Model. If you see this dialog, you know you opened the file incorrectly and should click the Cancel button.

Revit Model Opened Incorrectly from the Autodesk Desktop Connector

If for some reason you or another user did open the file incorrectly, you can use the Autodesk Desktop Connector icon in the Windows System tray to review the pending actions. There will likely be warnings when reviewing the connector’s syncing status tasks. Note however that that lack of pending tasks with errors does not mean a file can’t been opened incorrectly. Any number of other actions could have overwritten the local copy or cleared those actions.

Autodesk Desktop Connector Pending Actions With Errors

Another subtle clue is that if you look at the collaboration hubs and you see multiple projects that use different versions of Revit between them, you know you’re opening the models incorrectly. The Autodesk Desktop Connector display all projects, regardless of Revit version being used because it;s independent of Revit. When opening files correctly for BIM360 collaboration, Revit 2018 will only see 2018 project versions and Revit 2019 will only see 2019 project versions.

Again, if you don’t see differently projects that use different Revit versions, that does not mean you’re opening them properly. You merely may have been granted to projects of only one Revit version. But if you do see multiple projects you know are using different versions of Revit, it;s a sure sign you’re opening the files wrong.

Two Projects Using Different Versions of Revit Listed Together is a Red Flag

Best To Avoid Using The Dropdown

The last word of warning is with using the drop down list in the Open dialog. Depending when and how you’ve accessed Models, neither BIM360 icon may be present, one or the other may be present, or both BIM360 icons may be present. Because they have no description, its hard to tell wich does which.

The following image shows the Dropdown list expended with both BIM360 icons displayed. One will take you to the proper BIM360 collaboration tools and the other, incorrectly to the Autodesk Desktop Connector.

BIM360 Collaboration and Autodesk Desktop Connector Icons Look Similar.

Because of this very subtle difference, it’s likely a best practice to not use them ever. If they don’t show up on your system, don’t worry. They typically won’t display until you’ve first accessed the corresponding My Computer or BIM360 shortcuts on the left side of the dialog.

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.

Revit Hardware Benchmark

Every CAD or BIM user I talk to is in the same boat. The struggle and fight with their IT department to spend for adequate hardware. IT departments, tasked with keeping down budgets and slowing hardware refresh times simply go to the software vendors web site and look at minimum and recommended specs. Take for example, Autodesk’s requirements for Revit 2019…

https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/revit-products/troubleshooting/caas/sfdcarticles/sfdcarticles/System-requirements-for-Autodesk-Revit-2019-products.html

What most don’t know is that these specifications are typically based on what most customers are using. If most customers are using low quality hardware, the recommendations will also be low quality hardware. Requirements and recommendation also typically don’t reflect what you’re doing….2d drafting or rendering for example.  

Autodesk has gotten better about listed recommendations for large and small data sets, but it’s still doesn’t give you a good picture of what’s going on.

One this you can do is run some bench marking on your systems. This is typically an automated process that runs your system through various activities and ranks it based on the time to perform those tasks.

For Revit, a sharp guy named Gordon Price has helped develop a set of Benchmarking utilities for Revit. They’re posted to https://www.revitforum.org for free download and posting feedback. 

You can download the utilities from this page…

https://www.revitforum.org/hardware-infrastructure/35955-rfo-benchmark-v3-x.html

I’ve got to say, I anticipated having to fuss a bunch, re-configuring support folders, repathing files and such. To my surprise, it was very simple. Like, extract the files to a folder, read the README.TXT file to understand what the various benchmark options were then click the shortcut. 

You can get a little more advanced and have the benchmark assemble the results to a network location so you can benchmark all your machines and keep all the data on one place. But if you want to just run a simple benchmark, it’s very easy to do so although running the Expanded benchmark can take hours as it’s pretty exhaustive.

When you’re done, you get a text file summary of your particular systems results, Here’s a sample of data from my laptop….not very impressive but it’ not my primary system, just for home.travel use.

RVT 2019 - Full_Simplified set - 2018.10.06 @ 08.23.24 on MYCOMPUTER.txt
RFO Benchmark v3.2 (build 01.05.2018)
RevitForum.org

All times are in seconds, lower is better.

Run on Revit 2019.1
____________________________________________________ Model creation benchmark
16.46 opening and loading the custom template
20.78 creating the floors levels and grids
32.13 creating a group of walls and doors
52.27 modifying the group by adding a curtain wall
19.79 creating the exterior curtain wall
15.05 creating the sections
6.79 changing the curtain wall panel type
25.36 creating area plans
3.61 creating and applying view template
192.24 TOTAL
____________________________________________________ Graphics
7.99 activate View Styles view
4.17 change view to Wireframe
0.21 change view to Hidden
0.67 change view to Shaded
0.87 change view to Consistent Colors
0.66 change view to Realistic
3.01 refresh Wireframe Line view x10
9.24 refresh Hidden Line view x10
9.50 refresh Shaded view x10
8.91 refresh Consistent Colors view x10
10.77 refresh Realistic view x10
0.84 activate View Cube view
5.96 rotate view x1
62.80 TOTAL
Notes:
Graphics benchmark measures the entire graphics stack, which includes CPU and memory.
To meaningfully compare graphics cards, test all cards in the same
machine and use the 'Graphics - expanded' benchmark.
TEST CONDITIONS:
____________________________________________________ Mfr: Dell Inc.
Model: Latitude E5470
OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Enterprise64-bit
____________________________________________________ CPU: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-6300U CPU @ 2.40GHz
Max Clock Speed: 2.496Ghz
Number of Processors: 2
Number of Logical Processors: 4
Total Physical Memory: 8GB @ 2133Mhz
____________________________________________________ Drive Type: local Disk (NTFS)
Drive Model: SanDisk X400 M.2 2280 128GB
____________________________________________________ Graphics Card: Intel(R) HD Graphics 520
Graphics RAM: 1GB
Driver version: 22.20.16.4836
____________________________________________________ Screen Resolution: 1366x768x32bit @ 59Hz
DPI Scaling: 100%

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