Autodesk Fabrication: Best Practice #9

Use the Same Version of software to Admin your Database

Consistently use the same version of software for all administration work. You can draw/model/estimate/etc using any version. Just make sure your users don’t have administrative permissions on their login. But for administering your database, always use the same version. Here’s why…

You can work in multiple versions of CADmep, ESTmep, CAMduct and even Revit (w/Fabrication Parts) using the same database configuration. In other words, the configuration itself is “Version Agnostic“.

For Revit Fabrication Parts, database compatibility starts with version 2016. The other Fabrication products like CADmep, ESTmep and CAMduct, compatibility goes back to at least the version prior to 2013, before Autodesk acquired the software.

What’s the problem?

You often get new functionality in newer versions of software. Versions of the software that require new data, automatically adds the new data to the database tables. When you only Use older versions of the software without administrative permissions, it ignores that extra data when it encounters it. This is why old versions work with configurations edited with newer versions,

When you try to use an older version to Administer your database, it rewrites those tables but doesn’t see the added data so it gets overwritten. This is why you should stick to the same version when editing your database.

You do not have to use the latest version to maintain your database. You can continue to use an older version for administration. Just don’t use a newer version then go back to the old. You’re perfectly fine to stick with an older version. You just won’t be able to take advantage of new features that rely on added data the new version offers. When you are ready to start using a newer version for Administration, you can make that change anytime but you should also stop using the older versions for administration.

Let’s Demonstrate the Issue

You can watch the video at the end of this article to see an example. In 2019 Autodesk added a new Connector setting for “Connector Matching”. We won’t go into what this does here but you can see in the following image the difference in the right-click menu of connectors.

Fabrication 2019 Added ‘Connector Matching

When you watch the video, you’ll see me switch between 2 different versions of ESTmep. I could use any product but ESTmep lets me quickly open and close a database so I can move between versions quickly.

If you look at the configuration icons, you can see which version of software is being used. ESTmep 2019 has all BLUE icons. You can see ESTmep 2018 uses RED icons except the one BLUE 2019 configuration.

ESTmep 2018 has RED Configuration Icons, 2019 uses BLUE Icons

The video starts with “A Test Config” loaded in ESTmep 2019. I select one of the Connectors and change its ‘Connector Matching‘ value. Next, I exit and go back into the same configuration again in 2019 to show the value remains the same. At this point, everything is working as planned.

After exiting the database in 2019, I then switch to ESTmep 2018 and load the same “A Test Config” database. I make a copy of a completely different connector. This is where the problem starts. ESTmep 2018 has no knowledge of this ‘Connector Matching‘ data. Your “Connector Matching” data is over written as soon as ESTmep writes the Connector tables using the format it knows.

Finally, I go back into ESTmep 2019 and verify the data is gone. The default value for the Grooved Coupling’s “Connector Matching” data changes back to “Same“.

You can see for yourself by watching this video.

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.

Fabrication 2019.0.0 Released

Autodesk released Fabrication CADmep, CAMduct and ESTmep 2019.0.0 this week. As they’re not primary products for Autodesk, they don’t always show up in the Autodesk Desktop App. The best place to get them is from the Product Downloads section of the Autodesk Accounts portal if you are a contract manager or software coordinator in your account.

For the most part, these are just repackaged versions of last year’s software. Autodesk’s focus is on adding Fabrication capabilities to it’s Revit product. None the less, there’s a couple new things that I’ll reveal in a future post.

Autodesk 2019 Network License Update

FlexLM version

It’s that time of year where Autodesk releases new versions of their desktop products. For companies with network licenses, it’s also strongly recommended to upgrade to the latest version of FlexLM for you license server.

Current Version:

You can download the latest version from Autodesk’s web site here.

A few things to note…

  • A few releases ago, Autodesk changed the default installation location for network licensing to <C:\Autodesk\Network License Manager>. If you’re license server is still running from a different location, you may want to consider re-configuring to the default location. This allows for more easily managing data (logs, license files, etc.) as it doesn’t fall under the additional security restrictions you’ll find in the Program Files folders.

  • You can uninstall the old license server and reinstall the new version but this isn’t needed. The license server itself is fairly simple and doesn’t install a lot of files. Simply shut down the FlexLM service using the LMTOOLS utility, copy over the new files and restart the service. I’ll typically install locally on my desktop to get the files and then copy them to the server. There’s also a number of free utilities on-line that will allow you to extract files directly from an MSI installer. One of the more popular utilities for I’ve used before is Less MSI.

  • To determine which version of FlexLM you’re running, browse to the folder where your license server is running and Right-Click on LMGRD.EXE. Using the properties dialog, the Details tab will tell you the version you’re currently using.