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Attn UNIFI Customers: 5 FREE Licenses to Share with Your External Partners

In today’s connected world, no organization is an island! The design-build-operate framework requires you to work with various firms across the building lifecycle and share information, including BIM content.  That’s why we are offering existing UNIFI customers a unique opportunity to promote collaboration and enhance productivity – 5 free UNIFI partner licenses that you can share with your partners across the building lifecycle.

Already, many of your fellow UNIFI users are sharing access to their libraries with their external partners to make collaborating more efficient than ever – whether it be two firms working together on a joint project, an AEC firm working with an owner/operator who want to speak the same “BIM” language, or a dedicated channel between an AEC and manufacturer to get custom BIM content. Are you ready to join them and put your 5 free UNIFI partner licenses to work?

As you identify which of your external partners you’d like to share UNIFI with, here are some questions you may be asking:

1. Who qualifies for a free partner license?

Any external partner you collaborate with during your design projects. Internal team members at your design firm do not qualify (even if they are based in a separate office!) as you can already invite them to set up a UNIFI account and start accessing your libraries!

Think about AECs who you collaborate with during the design process. Or perhaps the owner/operator you are delivering the final BIM model to. Some of our clients have even established a shared library with their favorite manufacturers so that receiving/requesting new content is easier than ever before.

2. How many free licenses do I get?

You get up to five licenses to share with your favorite partners, but you don’t have to give them all out at once. Feel free to shoot just one or two our way to start with!  You can give one license to each partner, and since we provide you with an open license – multiple people can access that one license (just not at the same time).

3. This sounds great! How can I get my partners signed up?

It’s easy – just contact us at sales@unifilabs.com with their names and email addresses or click the “share your licenses now” button and fill out the form.  We’ll take care of setting up their accounts and help you enable sharing of content libraries. If you’re interested, we’ll also schedule a quick 30 minute UNIFI traning session with you and your partners to help them get started!

Library Sharing: A new way to think about your content workflows with design partners!

Recently, we announced a brand new way to think about how you collaborate with outside design partners on content – Library Sharing.  Library Sharing is now officially supported for all UNIFI customers!  It’s been thrilling to see how UNIFI continues to add value to bridge information gaps and foster collaboration across the building lifecycle – first through improving how content is consumed, and now offering new ways that it can be distributed.  

Here are a few ways UNIFI’s Library Sharing is already being utilized:

Joint Venture Workflows – UNIFI has two customers engaged in a multi-billion dollar joint venture that requires a significant amount of collaboration including the sharing of BIM Execution Documents, standards and templates. Sharing content is a natural evolution in that process and UNIFI’s Library Sharing enables this to seamlessly occur.  Staff from both companies particularly enjoy being able to request content for libraries, regardless of who owns the library.

Owner ↔ Consultant – One of UNIFI’s customers is a real estate management firm that literally builds cities.  UNIFI is effectively allowing this firm to create content once, store it in the cloud and provide a single source of objects to any of their preferred design consultants.  This single source of information provides essential consistency to their entire building ecosystem, which is particularly helpful as the firm is constantly rotating through different consultants.  UNIFI is also a win for each consultant because it removes the burden of creating content.

AEC Firm ↔ UNIFI Create Services – Many design firms are increasingly turning to UNIFI to create their BIM content.  This allows firms to specialize in their core competencies – designing buildings – while efficiently meeting the cyclical demand of content creation.  A firm shares its libraries with the UNIFI Create Team, a group of seasoned experts in content creation.  Requests from the firm are easily sent through the Content Request form, providing a complete spec of the content and the content is then completed by the UNIFI team within a day or two and returned to the firm’s libraries.

“UNIFI is the bridge, allowing all of our staff, offices, consultants and clients access to critical content.”   Guy Messick – Interior Architects

These are just a few stories of how customers are currently using Library Sharing.  How will you use Library Sharing?  We’d love to hear your story!

Here’s how it works:

A company administrator can initiate sharing of a library by navigating to app.discoverunifi.com and logging in with their UNIFI credentials.   The user then should navigate to ‘Libraries’.

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(Note, other areas of the portal are still in beta and may not be entirely functional.)

Then click on the link of the library to open up its page:

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The library can then be shared by clicking on the ‘Share’ link:

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The pop up dialog will step you through the process. You will be prompted to select the permissions level (currently, only collaborative is available), designate a recipient email address, enter a custom message and agree to the term of service.

Following this, the recipient will receive an invitation email.  If the recipient is a company admin of another company, they will be able to follow the included link, sign into the portal and accept the invitation. Note, once an invitation has been sent, any company administrator for that company may log in to the portal and accept the invitation, regardless if the invitation was sent to them.  If an invitation is sent to a non UNIFI customer, they will be given the option to try UNIFI.

Once an invitation is accepted, administrators for the company that initiated the sharing will see the shared relationship under ‘Shared History’ and any pending invitations that have been sent will appear under ‘Pending Outgoing Invites’.  Pending invitations and current sharing relationships can be canceled and revoked here on the ‘Sharing’ tab.

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And that is it!  Libraries that are shared with you in UNIFI will appear like this:

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Libraries that are shared with another company appear normal.

Here are some considerations:

  • Library Sharing is part of the core product, there is no additional cost to use it.
  • Only company administrators may set up a shared library with another company.
  • Libraries can be shared with entire companies, not single individuals.  However, that company may choose to allow access with only select individuals.
  • When shared with another company, that company must also be a UNIFI customer to access the library.
  • When that company receives and accepts the sharing invite, the library is available to them in the same way that their own libraries are. Users and groups can be granted access to the shared library and saved searches can be created that reference that library.  In short, the consumption of content in a shared library works identically to ‘owned’ libraries.
  • Content in a shared library (whether you belong to the company that owns the library or subscribing company) can be tagged, rated and favorited like any other content.
  • The owner of a library may share it with an unlimited number of other companies.
  • If another company has shared a library with your company, you are not able to share the library with others.
  • If another company has shared a library with your company, content within that library cannot be added across to your own libraries… but only to other libraries that the same company may have already shared with your company and that you have administrator access to.

If you have any questions about Library Sharing, please contact us.  And, stay tuned for more exciting features from UNIFI.

Nine Practices for a Faster, Smarter Revit Experience

Large projects often succumb to slow load times, performance issues and bogged-down file load times. Revit relies heavily upon file access and manipulation, so surrounding software settings can greatly enhance performance. Your quick, easy Revit experience needn’t require intensive computer reformats, either. Many of Revit’s optimizations are accessible within the program. The following practices optimize the Revit experience, reducing load times and input lag:

 

Practice One: Avoid User-Uploaded Content

BIMopedia’s blog inspects the many ways users can optimize their experience, focusing on reduced load times and overall program strain. One of its top suggestions identifies user-upload websites as a key factor of Revit slowdown. BIM, or Revit “family” websites feature a wealth of useful content, but each download adheres to different parameters. Each embedded family may cause performance drains due to its used objects. Keep away from community uploaded content, especially when efficient families aren’t their high priority.

 

Practice Two: Remove Unused Options

Revit houses a slew of in-depth options to generate customized operation experiences. However, its multitude of inactive, invisible design options can greatly slow down the program. To maintain a “clean”, optimized Revit experience, search out any unused design options.

Additionally, locate any unplaced views and remove them. Though unused, these views still increase Revit’s overall data use—creating performance issues and big file sizes.

Practice Three: Utilize Room Separation Lines Wisely

Revit’s room separation lines divide its rooms where no bounding objects are present. They’re quite useful, but they can overlap with future bounding objects, including:

  • Walls
  • Columns
  • Roofs
  • Ceilings
  • Floors

Room separation lines, while inherently useful, should be minimized with room-bounding elements when appropriate. Just remember, however, to keep the bounding objects sorted and optimized appropriately.

Practice Four: Minimize Rendered Lights

Revit Clinic’s list of rendering performance enhancements suggests reducing unnecessary artificial lights. A project’s rendering time is fragile, and numerous light groups will slow its processes significantly. When you can, turn off your project’s artificial lights.

Practice Five: Compress Your Revit Files

Revitstore’s tutorials place importance upon compressing Revit’s project files. Revit’s files are already compressed before access, but used, expanded files can inflate to twice the file’s original size. Sometimes, Revit fails to recompress a file. When this occurs, the program’s performance is reduced due to increased processing needs.

Be sure to select Save As when compressing a file, as relocating a saved file often enacts Revit’s natural, compressing tendencies. Additionally, remember to compress your project’s Central File on occasion.

Practice Six: Don’t Import Files

When possible, link your files. Don’t import them. Often, information from other software packages is needed for current model projection. Importing adds all information into the current model, reducing overall performance. Linking files, however, will locate needed files without changing them mid-project.

Practice Seven: Use Worksets

Worksets improve workflow and performance. They create easy-use environments for link opening, work separation and access. Of course, your Revit model needs to be well-structured before a workset is accessed. It also needs to be “broken down” into smaller worksets. A workset’s 3D views assist tracking, reducing performance-damaging processes needed to visualize projects.

Practice Eight: When Possible, Use Detail Lines Instead of Model Lines

Model lines in abundance can be mistaken for drawing errors. While not inherently a performance-draining problem, drawing errors create a need for more processes, more tracking procedures and more data. Detail lines, however, are intelligible and quick. They enhance Revit’s optimization in the long run.

Practice Nine: Use Selection Boxes

Selection boxes, when used in views, crops away unneeded geometry. Often, Revit users experience downtime and performance losses from intensive rendering weight. Selection boxes are very intuitive, and they can be used for:

  • Daylight portals
  • Linked files
  • Lights

Rendering boxes feature enhances rendering times without creating confusing project parameters, too, making their use entirely conducive to a clean, efficient project.

 

Source

http://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/revit-products/troubleshooting/caas/sfdcarticles/sfdcarticles/Improving-performance-of-Revit-projects-s.html, http://bimopedia.com/2013/04/02/5-tips-to-reduce-bad-performance-in-revit/, http://www.revitstore.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=108:speeding-up-your-revit-session&catid=37:tips-and-tricks&Itemid=55, http://www.revitcity.com/forums.php?action=viewthread&thread_id=29803, http://revitclinic.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/11/10-tips-for-improving-revit-rendering-times.html

We’ve all done it: Musings on the challenges of content strategies

We’ve all done it…

…made a bad or downright ugly family really quick just to get a submission package out the door.

You say to yourself, well this is just a temporary family. I will have time in between submissions or projects to update and make it better later.

Then you go from submission to submission, project to project, and completely forget about it! Sometimes these bad families stay isolated in a single project, sometimes they make it into your company library and get used on many projects. This scenario happens a lot in firms and over time these bad or downright ugly families start to creep into your corporate approved content libraries!

In discussions with several of our customers they find that they just eventually loose control over their libraries. They started off with a great standard, trained their staff, and over time built up a powerful Revit content library. Then as time goes on, staff comes and goes, the jobs keep on coming, and more and more content is continually being created with no mind to standards. They loose control over time unknowingly.

Another global design firm I talked with recently had the struggle that they had over 40 offices globally and could not get their design teams to use any type of consistent content libraries. Each office ended up with their own spin of the corporate approved content library with local code variances added for parameters. This caused all sorts of issues as this region specific content would eventually creep into the global libraries and designers where using content meant for the UK region in the US causing incorrect parameter data to be shown on submission sheets. You would argue nothing should be going out without review, but we all know how fast projects progress in our industry and it happens at times.

Is your firm challenged with some of these scenarios? How do the leading design firms deal with mitigating this scenario today? Here are some ideas you can implement in your firm right now that will help.

1.  Hire a dedicated Design Library Manager

Very few firms have dedicated personnel who’s sole job is to manage libraries, but if your firm has identified the value of this position it will mitigate this risk as you will have a person dedicated to these types of problems. While the most costly solution, it just may pay for itself in months. Here’s a quote borrowed from Sean Burke, Senior Associate at NBBJ.  Follow Sean on Twitter @seandburke

As a firm becomes more sophisticated in its use of BIM, the quality of content standards and the library to support our design work becomes more challenging to fit in with all the other activities and responsibilities of a Digital Practice manager. As a multi-discipline firm who works on many building types, we decided to create a dedicated role for content management . This new role will assess needs per design studio, direct in the creation of and manage the high-performance, data rich content that works seamlessly with our project templates. This enables us as a practice to focus more on design, rather than building content per project.

2.  Schedule yearly content reviews

Most firms do not have the luxury of hiring a dedicated library manager, but the existing company BIM managers can be intentional about reviewing all of the content in their libraries every so often to purge the bad. This is a very time consuming task and you should educate management that the BIM staff or BIM management team need dedicated time toward this task. Perhaps its an annual review, perhaps its a quarterly, it really depends on how messy your current situation is.

3.  Create & enforce strict content creation rules and standards

Creating standards takes time, but almost every firm has some type of content standard in place. This would include a company shared parameter file, 2D symbology standards, and a project template with all the view filters etc needed to interact with families and system families. Creating the standards is one thing, educating and enforcing the standards is another.

Enforcing standards is like going to the gym, we all know we should do it, but its a hassle and therefore is never adequately kept up.

4.  Restrict the rights to your corporate content libraries

Most of your users will only need to read from the company network library folders to load content into their projects. You can request that your IT department lock down these folders so that only BIM managers have write access, while all other personnel only have read access. Educate your staff that when they need new content to be added to the company libraries it has to be sent to management for QA first. This is the most common scenario in design firms that I talk to.

The cons to this strategy is that there will always be those special few designers that start modifying the content and nest it away on their personal hard drives completely bypassing any company standard and again causing project inconsistencies.

Many firms have no processes in place to review and update their family libraries which causes inconsistencies on projects. The real problem is with really ugly content, the ones with imported cad geometries and such, which can cause print problems, naming convention issues, project speed issues, and ultimately project delays.

There has to be a better way to analyze what content is being frequently used, what is not, what content needs some work, and what content just plain out doesn’t work at all. The Unifi team set out to provide firms with ammo to fight this battle!

How can Unifi help?

User Ratings

Many Revit content management applications offer content ratings that your users can rate and rank your content. While this sounds like a great feature most designers don’t take the time to actually rate the content they use. Don’t get me wrong this is a great feature to have, Unifi has this feature also, but it has to be implemented the right way. Most of the apps on the market do not reset their ratings when the content is updated.

Thats like iTunes not resetting the ratings when a new app version is released!

This ongoing average rating becomes a useless metric as it does not represent the current version of a family which may have fixed earlier deficiencies in the family. Unifi’s rating system will reset based on the current version of the family.

Usage Analytics

Unifi’s cloud is constantly monitoring your firms content usage 24/7. What are your users searching for, what content are they inserting into projects, what families are in what projects and what versions, and how often is the content in your libraries being used? While not all of this data is accessible in Unify today, a lot of it is, and the Unifi team is working on ways to show more soon. Lets take a look at what analytics can be easily accessed through Unifi today.

  • Highest Downloaded, Highest rated, Lowest Rated, Never Used
    • Using Saved Searches Admins can configure a search to show them several types of analytics. Quick access to the highest rated content for example, in all libraries, in a single library, or from a certain family category.

Because Saved searches are fully customizable you can configure as many of these quick analytic “tiles” to show you the information you want to keep track of.

  • Saved Searches are live analytics into your content usage
  • Here are some examples of some basic analytics setup through Saved Searches

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These are a couple of OOTB solutions that UNIFI provides but keep an eye on the Tips and Tricks portion of the blog. We’ll be offering sound methods to help you TAKE CONTROL.  Let us know your comments!

UNIFI Content Library Strategies

One of the favorite things I love about my job is that I get to collaborate with and learn from so many of the best and brightest BIM minds in the world. We work with hundreds of firms and no two have the same needs. When it comes time to assist our customers with options as to how they can best leverage Unifi for their Revit content management needs, the first item on the list for discussion is a Unifi library strategy.

How do UNIFI Libraries work?

A little background first on what Libraries are and how they work. Libraries are like buckets where you can store content. Any user with rights to a library, will be able to browse or search that libraries content and insert it into their Revit projects. Libraries can have their own admins called “Library Admins” who can approve/reject content uploaded to a particular library and can also fulfill content requests to a particular library.

You can have an unlimited number of libraries in Unifi, but simplicity should be a goal. Less is more. Keeping your library strategy simple will not only make it easier for your users, but also for your BIM managers.

How to create a great Library Strategy

1. Single Office or Multi Office? Domestic or International?

Depending on the size of your firm you will have different problems to solve around content consistency and standards. A domestic firm will most likely only have to worry about content in Imperial units (or metric if outside the US). A international sized firm will have content in both formats and thus their library strategy will have to accommodate these 2 types of content.

Keeping your Imperial and Metric content in separate libraries will reduce the amount of potentially redundant content that your users will have to weed through. Another factor to consider for international firms is Regional Libraries. Lets say you have global offices, your London office may need its own regional library for content that adheres to local jurisdiction parameter standards.

Having firmware shared libraries and regional libraries can help separate content for local parameter or code specific reasons.

2. Separate Libraries for Details, Families, & Systems

When searching or browsing for specific element types in Unifi, try having separate libraries for quick and easy filtering. It is good practice to have all your details in a Detail Library, your system families is a System Library etc. This library strategy is a more structured approach that will provide quick access to element types.

Having a library per element type will automatically reduce the amount of content results your users will browse or search through. The less total results, the faster your designers find exactly what they are looking for.

3. Experiment with Company Saved Searches

Company saved searches are a powerful way to provide quick and easy access to particular sets of content for your design teams. This feature is just as important as libraries for your library strategy. Several of our customers choose to have a minimal amount of libraries because they use Company Saved Searches extensively. Company Saved Searches can be setup by Library or Company admins, and are instantly available to all users. Need to have a quick way to find all “2 hr rated shaft walls” or want to see all “water cooled screw chillers”, saved searches will hide the complexity of advanced queries from the users as a single click gets access to the content in seconds!

4. Speed is Key!

The entire purpose of the Unifi application is to get your designers to the right piece of content as quickly as possible so that they can get back to higher level design functions. Your firms workflows are unique and therefore there will be no standard library strategy that will work perfect for every company.

This is exactly why we developed Unifi to be a flexible configurable platform. Software should be adaptable to meet your needs and workflows, not the other way around.

You may find that with time your design teams needs will change and morph. Having the flexibility of Unifi will help BIM managers to effectively fine tune their content libraries with minimal effort. See what works best for your teams and continue to revisit your library strategy every couple months to find areas that can be optimized.

I hope this post helps give you some ideas to contemplate as you create your UNIFI library strategy! If you want to pick our brains for ideas on setting up your libraries please reach out to us. We would be happy to talk to you!

CONTACT US

 

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Introducing the Unifi blog

Welcome!

Thanks for visiting our Unifi blog! This blog will be a fun place where several Unifi team members will share release notes, tips and tricks, insights into development, tutorials, and other happenings from the Unifi factory. We will do our best to keep this blog up to date and we welcome comments and feedback from our customers!

 

 

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