Sandbox library

Many of our users are in a constant state of quality control of the content within their libraries regardless of their BIM maturity level. This is because there will always be a need for new content and most large firms need some sort of a vetting process to approve any new content before it is rolled out to their libraries. This quality control process is a critical component of maintaining solid BIM standards.

In this post, I’ll guide you through one option for implementing a workflow for vetting content using UNIFI Pro. This method involves implementing what I like to call “a sandbox library”.

What is a sandbox library?

This may be a new term for the AECO industry, but I borrowed the concept of a sandbox library from software developers.

“A sandbox is a type of software testing environment that enables the isolated execution of software or programs for independent evaluation, monitoring or testing.” – techopedia

You may be more accustomed to terms like “work in progress” or “do not use,” but I like using the phrase “sandbox” because it has a literal meaning of a place that you play which is also contained.

In the context of BIM objects, a sandbox library would be very similar to the above definition, but rather than a testing environment for software, it is a testing environment for Revit families (or really any other type of content you’re storing in UNIFI).

For this concept to work, you’ll need to setup a library specifically for this workflow, which is illustrated in the simple flowchart below. As you can see, it is a relatively simple process and can be implemented in just a few minutes.

Sandbox library

Permissions Configurations

You’ll want a specific library created dedicated to this workflow because libraries in UNIFI Pro are driven by permissions. Each library has options to grant access to specific users or groups of users as well as administrator rights for approving and rejecting content.

I typically suggest that your sandbox library has limited access to your entire team because it helps you control what content is released out in the wild. When thinking about this in terms of Revit families, it can be a major issue when unapproved Revit families get into live Revit projects because it is conventionally very difficult know which models have the most up-to-date version of the family (check out Project Analytics which helps keep track the current revision of the families loaded into projects).

In addition to controlling access to the content within the sandbox library, you’ll also want to identify a group of individuals who will oversee approving and rejecting the content. Remember, content is not visible to non-admin users of libraries until it’s approved by an admin.

The UNIFI Pro Interface for Configuring Library Permissions

Sandbox Library1. Toolbar – Manage Libraries2. Tab – Assign library administrators

2. Tab – Grant individual users access to the library

3. Tab – Grant user groups access to the library

4. Button – Select a user to be added as a library administrator

5. Button – Remove an existing library administator from the library

Permissions for Testing Content

As you’re planning out the permissions for access and administrators, you’ll need to put some thought into whether or not you want non-admins to test the content. With that being said, you have two main scenarios for the testing content within a sandbox library:

1.Users with access can upload content and test the content – Going this route means the sandbox library admins will need to approve content before testing because it will not be visible to standard users.

2.Only library admins can test content – This means there is no approval process necessary because library admins can use content that is in a pending status.

Both are viable options for sandbox libraries in UNIFI Pro, you’ll need to identify which works best for your organization and assign permissions accordingly.

Revisions in UNIFI

One of the highly acclaimed features of UNIFI Pro is the revisioning system. When content is revised and re-uploaded to the library, a new  revision is automatically created. These revisions automatically keep track of who changed the content and when, but most importantly, it has the capability to add notes for each revision.

This is the main reason that I recommend UNIFI as a platform for testing and approving content. The ability to store multiple revisions and roll back to a previous revision is key when working on a team. You can consider this a change log and backup system all in one.

Sandbox Library

Rolling Out Approved Content

Once you’re ready to roll out your tested, revised, and approved content to the rest of the team, it’s as easy as flipping a few switches. You’ll simply need to navigate to the Library Management tab of the content and uncheck the Sandbox library and check the box next to the libraries you’ll want to move the content to.

This single step removes the content from the testing ground and essentially publishes it because it will now be accessible to anyone who has access to the newly assigned libraries.

Sandbox Library

UNIFI Pro as Quality Control Platform

Many BIM managers tend to have the mindset that they only want “good content” to be added to their UNIFI libraries, but I hope this has presented some of the benefits of using UNIFI Pro throughout the quality control process for your content. I feel that throughout the vetting process, you’ll want a changelog and backups for your content, so why not use UNIFI to keep track of this data?

Questions or comments?

What are your thoughts on using a sandbox library to help with the vetting of your Revit families? Do you have any questions on implementing a sandbox library at your firm? Leave us a comment and let’s discuss!