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Maximise Your Profit Margins With Design Collaboration (4/9): How to Spend less on IT

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Benefit 4: Spend less on IT

Collaborative workflows have always existed within Revit. Traditionally, this is called ‘worksharing’, and it means that we can allocate objects to ‘Worksets’: think of them as being the equivalent of ‘layers’ within AutoCAD. As we know, in AutoCAD, we can hide, lock and freeze layers (or the opposite: show, unlock or thaw).

In Revit, it’s also possible to show or hide these worksets, but we can actually ‘claim’ these worksets, so that no-one else can edit the objects on the specified worksets. In other words, this is the basis for collaborative design: different designers can claim different worksets.

So how are these changes being communicated to the other members of the team? The idea is to work with a central file, situated in a location that is accessible to everyone. Moreover, each designer has a local copy, which communicates with the central file.

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This communication happens through two commands:

  • Synchronize with Central: to upload the users changes from the local copy to the central file
  • Reload Latest: to download other users’ changes from the central file to the local copy

This workflow hasn’t changed over the years, only the location of the central file:

  • the original workflow, implemented in Revit, was using a central file on a shared (internal) drive. This also meant that uploading to the central location, was sending all of the Revit data across, which is a challenge when people are located in different geographical locations.
  • the second workflow is called ‘Revit Server’ and is using a service on a dedicated (internal) server machine verifying for delta transfers, which means we can use this to send data across WANs. However, each and every Revit has to communicate with this central server and this is done across port 808. This means that the firewall needs to be opened up for all these users and this system needs to be maintained.
  • so we come to the third workflow, wich is called … ‘Collaboration for Revit’ (C4R). The central file is now located in the cloud (within a project on Autodesk’s BIM 360 Team) and the local copies communicate with it. This means that the design company/companies do not need to manage the server, nor do they have to open firewalls, setup policies, etc. Actually, the only thing needed is an entitlement to C4R for each user within the company participating in a C4R workflow.

As the philosophy of worksharing, from the user’s point-of-view, hasn’t changed over the years (we’re still using ‘synchronize with central’ and ‘reload latest’), it means users can pick-up C4R in a matter of minutes: the only thing that has changed is the location of the central file, but this is transparent to a user.

Combining this with the fact that there is no investment, nor setup on the server side, means that a company can easily switch to C4R and start communicating with all stakeholders the second the C4R entitlements have been assigned to the designers.

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Ives Veelaert

After obtaining his master's degree in engineering, Ives Veelaert was a data management consultant within the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) space for several years. He has helped set up the data management structure for many companies, including for the renovation of the European Community building in Brussels. He ...

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