A few years ago, Autodesk launched a collaborative platform in which users have the ability to host their models in the cloud, creating a Revit Cloud Model. This essentially puts the central model in a location on the web where users can seamlessly share work with anyone in the world.
If you have ever worked in an environment where you have team members in multiple offices or you’re sharing a model with other consultants, you know the struggles associated with having a central model located anywhere but your local area network (LAN). Although not impossible, sharing a central model over a wide area network (WAN) has proven difficult – even with hardware such as Panzura or software such as Revit Server.
I’ve personally worked with Panzura and have had several issues with their servers. One major issue is data corruption. I suspect that when syncing between servers happens too slowly it causes the central models to become corrupt. Even when things ran “smoothly,” we still would have performance of the model slow down to a screeching halt if two people from opposite ends of country were in the same model. We solved this problem with worksets, but I digress.
Revit Server seems to work well, however it takes time to set up at each remote location and is recommended to have a dedicated machine per server, which can be costly to set up and maintain.
BIM 360 Design (formerly known as Collaboration For Revit) converts your central model into a Revit Cloud Model to make it accessible to your team on BIM 360. This enables anyone in the world to use conventional worksharing features of Revit that were historically only available to users who are on the same network.
To convert your model to a Revit Cloud Model, simply navigate to the Collaborate tab and click Collaborate. You will then be prompted to choose from three options. Select “In BIM 360 Team” and follow the remaining prompts to select which project on BIM 360 you would like to add this model to.
Working in the Cloud
Once you Revit Cloud Model is set up, working on it is as simple as clicking on the BIM 360 icon in the sidebar of Revit’s Open > Project window.
Once the model is open, you will work as you would if your central model was on your LAN, syncing to central and saving locally. Note the central model location will should now read: BIM360://[BIM 360 Project Name]/[Revit Model]
Managing Revit Cloud Models
BIM 360 Design is a powerful tool and constantly improving, however there are some important technical details to watch out for as you begin to integrate it into your workflows.
There Are Two Types of Revit Models on BIM 360
One very important point to make is that BIM 360 has two functions in regards to working with Revit models. It can act like a file repository for Revit models (similar to Google Drive or Dropbox), but it also hosts your Revit Cloud Models. It is important to know that these are two completely different file types in BIM 360. The Type column will identify your Revit models as “Cloud Revit model” or “Revit Files”.
Publishing and Deleting Revit Cloud Models
Another feature which can confuse your team is the management of cloud models in BIM 360 Team Hub (the web interface). These models can go so far as to be deleted, but the Revit Cloud Model will still exist when users browse to your BIM 360 Project through Revit or the Collaborate tab to Manage Cloud Model.
See below for an example of the last updated date/time in Revit versus in the BIM 360 Team Hub. You can clearly see that what Revit sees and what BIM 360 sees are two different versions of your Revit Cloud Models.
In order to update the version of your Revit Cloud Model on BIM 360, you must explicitly publish it from the Manage Cloud Models window.
In order to completely delete a Revit Cloud Model, you must navigate to Manage Cloud Models in Revit and from the dropdown menu select “Delete”.
Additional Technical Notes for BIM Managers
1 ) Your local BIM 360 model is not stored in the same location as the conventional local models. If needed, you can find your local model here:
%LOCALAPPDATA%\Autodesk\Revit\Autodesk Revit 2018\CollaborationCache\
2) If you have a model open that doesn’t use C4R, the “Manage Cloud Models” button will be disabled or greyed out. You must either open a Cloud Revit Model or close all models to access this tool.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Have you used BIM 360 Design to collaborate on Revit Cloud Models? What are your thoughts so far?