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.

Subscription Discounts – Not the Deal You Think

Autodesk has always offered software discounts. There’s typically always a promotion running that your reseller can ell you all about.

Back in the day, discounts made sense. Software was sold as a perpetual license with a high upfront cost. It didn’t matter if you needed the software next week or 10 months from now. You always had that large, upfront cost. With this pricing model, it typically made sense to but before you needed to get a discount. This was particularly helpful during the end of Autodesk’s Quarter or their Fiscal Year End (Jan 31).

Subscription Changes Everything

Since Autodesk moved to a subscription pricing model, software discounts…”The Deal”…is in large part irrelevant now. With subscription software, there is no large upfront cost. You pay an annual fee. You can also prorate your purchase so it expires and renews with all your other Autodesk software.

To put in another way, in the old days, if you needed an additional license 6 months from now, you’d still pay the entire full price…leveraging the discount saved you money. With a subscription, if you don’t need your license for 6 months, you can buy it prorated so it’s 1/2 the cost. At 50% price to buy for the last half of a year, it makes no sense to but early to get only a 20% discount.

When Does a Discount Make Sense

To better understand when a discount makes sense, I’ve put together a spreadsheet listing full price and discount price of several different products. The below image shows the cost breakdown between various packages with and without as discount. Looking at a 1-Year subscription term…

We add the discount in cell A2. Here its 20%, which is what a recent Autodesk promotion offered.

Looking at the last row (Row 17) this lists the maximum number of months you can sit in your license without using it before you loose money with the discount. In this example, if you don’t use your software for more than 3 months, you’ve lost money using the discount.

Row 18 shows the inverse. It shows the minimum number of months of usage you need to save money. Again, in this example, 9 months.

So, a 20% discount, your 12 month breakdown in 3/9. For a 3-Year term (not shown) the breakdown for 36 months is 8/28. If you don’t stat using your software within 8 months, you’re going to loose money on the discount.

If you want to do your own analysis, I’ve attached the spreadsheet below. It contains a tab for 1-Year and 3-Year Subscription terms. Simply enter the discount in Cell A2. You can also update with your own products that you may use however, it really doesn’t matter the product or cost, the saving/cost breakdown is the same.