Shared Parameter Management

Whether you’re just starting out your Revit journey or a seasoned professional, you’ve most likely worked with shared parameters in some capacity. Almost every Revit user has experienced some level of frustration when working with shared parameters and one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome is the management of the shared parameter files themselves.

Challenges When Working with Shared Parameter Files

Autodesk requires Revit users to create and store their shared parameters in a text file. This text file is a tab-separated values (TSV) file which is structured specifically so that Revit can process the metadata about each shared parameter. This metadata includes globally unique identifiers (GUIDs), names, groups, data types, and more.

The simple fact that we are required to manage these parameters in a plain text file introduces several complications including:

•Sharing this text file with a large group or multiple offices

•Multiple and duplicate text files

•Duplicate or conflicting shared parameters

UNIFI Can Help Manage Your Shared Parameter Text File

The good news is, as of UNIFI Pro 3.4 and Portal 2.11, our users now have the ability to manage the text file which contains their company’s shared parameter definitions. This tool is included with a license of UNIFI Pro at no additional cost.

Shared Parameter ManagementLet’s look at a few ways that this tool can help you maintain your shared parameter file.

Staying Up to Date

We want you to be sure your team has access to the latest and greatest shared parameters easily, so we’ve enabled the ability to “sync” the shared parameters that are defined in the cloud with the shared parameters for each user that are stored locally.

The new Update Shared Parameters button (as of 3.4.0) on the UNIFI tab will display a red badge over the icon to notify your team if there are changes to the shared parameters in the cloud. Simply click this button to download the current shared parameter file from the cloud and point Revit to that local copy.

Shared Parameter Management

Once a user clicks this button, UNIFI Pro will download the updated shared parameter file from the cloud and store it locally on the user’s desktop at C:\Users\CURRENTUSER\AppData\Local\UNIFI Labs\DiscoverClient\. This tool also points your Revit application to the shared parameter file that was downloaded.

Shared Parameter Management

Also note that when viewing shared parameters within Revit, your application is already pointing to the shared parameter file downloaded through the UNIFI add-in.

Shared Parameter Management Catch Conflicting/Duplicate GUIDs

As updates are implemented to the shared parameter file, admins will have the ability to upload a new file. UNIFI will automatically compare the current shared parameters with the shared parameters in the uploaded text file and check for duplicate GUIDs. If any conflicts are found, the Resolve Conflicts window will appear, allowing the uploader to choose which version of each individual parameter should be maintained.

Shared Parameter ManagementUpdate History and Version Control

We’ve given our users an easy way to maintain a historical record of changes to the shared parameters as well. Simply navigate to the Update History tab in Portal and you will see the history of all changes made to the shared parameters.

Hover over any version of the shared parameter file and the actions menu appears which allows admins to download, restore, or delete any version of the shared parameter file. Deleted versions of the text files can be retrieved using the Show Deleted Versions button in the top right of the screen.

Shared Parameter ManagementEditing Parameters

In addition to uploading shared parameters, admins can also edit parameters directly in Portal to rename, change the assigned groups, edit the descriptions and more.

Shared Parameter ManagementCompare Changes Between Versions

As part of a complete change management system, admins also have the ability to see what has changed between two versions of the company shared parameters.

Shared Parameter Management

Select two versions in the Update History to enable the Compare Selected Versions tool. This highlights any shared parameters that have been changed, added, or removed and displays the old (-) and new (+) values of each shared parameter that has been changed.

Shared Parameter ManagementAdditional Features to Come

While this tool already provides value in helping manage your firm’s shared parameters, you can be sure that there are many more features to come in future releases. Our roadmap for this tool includes the ability to create new parameters directly in Portal, define parameter templates, and beyond. Please be sure to subscribe to our blog to get updates on the latest with Shared Parameter Management at UNIFI!

Watts on Connect

Watts is a global leader of high-quality, worldwide water solution technologies. What started with a pressure relief valve in a tiny New England machine shop has paved the way for the breadth of products you see today for residential, industrial, municipal, and commercial settings. Today, Watts family of brands offers one of the most varied product lines in the world, with world-class, water-related solutions focused on drainage, HVAC and hot water, plumbing and flow control, as well as water quality and rainwater harvesting. Because when a need has yet to be met, their people get to work.

The Watts Mission

To improve comfort, safety, and quality of life for people around the world through our expertise in a wide range of water technologies. We strive to be the best in the eyes of our associates, customers, and shareholders.

Over five years ago, Watts made a decision to provide BIM content to their customers for use in their Revit projects. Fast forward to today, and Watts is providing their robust BIM content library on UNIFI’s Connect platform to make it easier for their customers to find and use their Revit families.

What is Connect?

UNIFI Pro offers a streamlined way for Revit users to find families provided by manufacturers through “channels”. By subscribing to channels (at no additional cost), admins enable their entire team to access hundreds of Revit families provided by manufacturers. Once subscribed, users will have the ability to find content from their internal libraries as well as manufacturer channels with a single search.

Data-rich Families on Connect by Watts

As we all know, data is of the utmost importance when building BIM objects and Watts has taken a data-centric approach when building their families. The parameters within the Watts Revit families are usable right out of the box and enables users to perform calculations as needed by using data such as total heating capacity, flow weight, voltage, and weight.

In addition, cut sheets are easily accessible through a URL parameter which links directly to the product data page on aerco.com.

Searching for BIM Content Using Data

One of the benefits of UNIFI Pro is its ability to search through the data encapsulated within Revit families. Imagine that you need to find a 120 volt water heater for your Revit project. Without UNIFI, the term “120v” or similar would need to be in the family name in order users to understand that it is a 120 volt family. With UNIFI Pro, simply search for the keyword “heater” in conjunction with the Search Revit Parameters feature.

Because the Watts families have the proper parameters defined, UNIFI Pro was able to find all 120 volt water heaters easily and without a complex naming convention.

Check Out Watts on UNIFI Connect

If you’re a current UNIFI Pro customer, you can access Watts Revit families at no additional cost. Simply navigate to the subscriptions page on the web portal and subscribe to the Watts channel.

For those of you who aren’t on the UNIFI platform yet, contact us at sales@unifilabs.com to take advantage of the Watts content on UNIFI Connect.

Additional Engineering Resources from Watts

Watts builds tools to help streamline and accelerate your work, ensuring your projects are a success from start to finish. Selexit is their online configurator that helps size, configure, and select products faster. Watts also offers the ATS Spec tool, an online specification information system that connects the design community and their building spec requirements to the latest products. To see more design tools for engineers, visit their Planning page.

Autodesk University 2019: Join Us at Booth AE450

Autodesk University
Autodesk University

It’s that time of the year again! Autodesk University is around the corner and of  the team at UNIFI Labs is working diligently to prepare for one of the biggest events in our industry. Every year over 10,000 professionals from AEC, commercial real estate, industrial design, and entertainment attend AU in Las Vegas.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of attending Autodesk University yet, read on as we cover our top three benefits of attending Autodesk University.

1) Learn: What Works and What Doesn’t?

Autodesk University
Photo Credit: Shaan Hurley

One of the obvious benefits of attending Autodesk University is the knowledge gained from the classroom-style educational sessions.

These sessions cover a wide variety of topics which are typically presented by end-users, which means less product pitches from vendors and more case studies and success stories from project team members. It is always valuable to learn how peers are solving problems, and what better platform to share knowledge than one of the biggest events in our industry?

There are several different sessions at Autodesk University for all types of companies and roles. Design firms, construction companies, building owners, and building product manufacturers can all benefit from the sessions at Autodesk University, so long as you choose wisely. So start digging through the sessions listed on Autodesk.com as soon as possible because space is always limited and the best sessions fill up fast!

2) Network at Autodesk University: Reconnect with Colleagues and Meet New Ones

Autodesk University
Photo Credit: Shaan Hurley

As with any conference, another benefit to attending Autodesk University is the surplus of networking opportunities.

In between the AU sessions, you’ll find yourself bumping into people from all over the world. You might run into colleagues from former companies or influencers that you follow on social media. Ideally, you’ll even make new connections.

However, the time between sessions can be incredibly hectic, so if one of your primary goals at Autodesk University is to network, I would recommend attending as many “after hours” events that you can. Last year, I was fortunate to attend the Sanveo happy hour which was not only an open bar, but a focused group which, to no surprise, were all talking shop about AEC tech, project delivery, and everything else we deal with during our daily grind.

UNIFI also hosts an invite-only happy hour in our private suite every year at Autodesk University as well. We use this opportunity to connect with clients and colleagues while unplugged from the hustle and bustle of Autodesk University. If you have any friends at UNIFI, maybe there’s a chance you can get on the guestlist if you ask nicely! Please contact us here if you’d like to attend. 

If networking is a focal point for you at AU, be sure to be on the look out for after-hours events where business cards will be handed out like hot cakes!

3) Explore: New and Improved Tech at Autodesk University

Autodesk University
Photo Credit: Shaan Hurley

One of my personal favorite attractions at Autodesk University is The Expo. The learning sessions and networking are both engaging in their own ways, but The Expo is where you can be free to explore all of the new technology in our industry. In addition to the virtual reality headsets, 3D printers, and laser scanning devices, there will be rows and rows of software solutions which are designed to help you gain efficiency and manage data, which is exactly where the UNIFI team fits in.

You can be sure that The Expo at Autodesk University will have plenty of software to learn about and gadgets to get your hands on, so be sure to try to walk the floor to discover new and improved ways to design and build.

The UNIFI team will see you there!

We love conversing with current customers, new friends, and everyone else at Autodesk University. Come find us in The Expo at booth AE450 to learn about what we’ve been working on behind the scenes. We’ve had quite a few significant improvements to our suite of solutions this year, so stop by our booth and let’s chat!

In the meantime,  please check out our list of things to bring to AU.

See you soon!

Efficiency Gain: Store Entire Revit Sheets in UNIFI

When you think about dealing with dozens of detail sheets in Revit, what is your biggest pain point? What about schedule sheets?

Most commonly, users seem to agree that finding the right drafting views and schedules are extremely difficult using the out-of-the-box tools that Revit provides. There really isn’t a graceful way to organize and share drafting views and schedules. The good news is, UNIFI has provided a solution for this problem for several versions now by allowing users to store drafting views and schedules directly in the cloud thus eliminating the need for complex “container project” or “seed file” workflows.

Easily Share Detail and Schedule Sheets

In addition to the difficulty organizing and shared drafting views and schedules, placing them on sheets can be extremely time-consuming. This is the very reason that we’ve added the ability to store entire sheets in UNIFI Pro 3.4, including the drafting views and schedules that are placed them.

Easily Share Typical Detail Sheets Across Multiple projects

Leveraging UNIFI Pro to manage your company’s standard detail sheets can potentially save your team hours of time for every project. Without a tool to help manage these types of sheets, the typical workflow may look something like below.

This looks pretty simple, right? Well, consider a large project that needs over a dozen detail sheets and over 100 details. Plus, what about every project team across your entire company creating the same identical sheets? This suddenly become an extremely time-consuming task with extraneous duplicate effort across multiple projects.

Below is the new workflow as of UNIFI Pro 3.4. Once your team has access to your entire library of detail and schedule sheets, this time-consuming effort suddenly becomes a single-step process.

It’s that easy.

Create Sheets with Drafting Views and Schedules in Batch

As we look at eliminating the steps it typically takes to create these detail sheets for every project, you can increase efficiency even further by using UNIFI’s metadata to batch insert an entire subset of sheets.

In the screenshot below, you can see that this user has filtered their search by using three tags, [Detail Sheets], [Div 23-HVAC], and [Healthcare]. By using UNIFI’s metatags, the user is able to find their company’s standard mechanical detail sheets specific for healthcare projects.

From here, the user has selected all of these sheets (CTRL+A) and can now right-click and choose Batch Insert to load all of the drafting views and sheets into the current project.

Don’t forget to save this search so that you can access this very same subset of sheets easily using our saved search feature.

Efficiency Level: 1,000

You can be sure the new capability of storing sheets with drafting views and schedules in UNIFI will improve your efficiency on any given project at your company, especially when used in conjunction with the metatag and saved search features.

Helping our users become more efficient is one of our biggest priorities with UNIFI Pro and we hope this added feature makes a positive impact on your internal processes.

Pro 3.4 & Portal 2.10 Release Notes

Overview

We’re excited to announce our latest software update is available now! Pro 3.4 and Portal 2.10 updates include Revit Sheet Support, UI improvements, TLS 1.2 security update, several bug fixes, plus a special announcement of a game changing feature we have in the works! Keep reading for the low down and don’t forget to update your platform to access these features now.

Highlights

•Revit Sheet Support: 

You will now be able to batch export and store Revit sheets as individual assets in UNIFI.  

Any families, linework, drafting views, and/or schedules placed on the sheets will also be stored and inserted with the sheet.  Revit sheets uploaded to UNIFI will be automatically upgraded to newer versions of Revit and their parameters will be searchable as well. For more information on Revit sheets and how you can put it to good use, check out our blog here.

•UI Improvements – Search Results and Family Types

We’ve made various improvements to the UI for search results.  First, we added the category to all display modes which is the top requested feature on our ideas portal.  We also updated the grid display mode so it’s easier to navigate and made sure the same file information is displayed across all display modes.  On file details, we improved the UI for viewing family types and associated parameters.  Types are now displayed as a filterable list, making it easier to find the type you’re looking for.  You can also view parameters by Revit year, which is especially helpful for files that have been uploaded from multiple Revit years.

•Transition to TLS 1.2 

In order to ensure the continued protection of our your data stored within UNIFI, we are transitioning all communications between our clients and our backend services to utilize TLS 1.2.  TLS 1.2 ensures that the data transmitted to and from our backend is protected from anyone trying to eavesdrop on the transmission by encrypting the contents of those transmissions from our customers to our backend system.  Want to check and  see if your computer supports TLS 1.2 ? Please visit this page.  If the TLS 1.2 section says “Yes” then their system supports TLS 1.2.  If the TLS 1.2 section says “No” then you will need to upgrade their operating system so that it supports TLS 1.2. Please reach out to UNIFI Support if you need assistance.

Coming soon

•Shared Parameter Management

Shared parameters are notoriously difficult to manage.  With this upcoming feature, you will be able to upload all of your company’s shared parameters to UNIFI and manage them in a single location.  All changes will be saved as a new version with the ability to compare historical versions.  You will also see a new button in the UNIFI Revit add-in that notifies you when changes have been made so you can sync the latest shared parameter file to your local machine. 

This upcoming feature was requested by our customers and is an unsolved pain point in the industry!  There is no current solution for companies looking to store and access their shared parameters in a single, managed location.  By managing your shared parameters in UNIFI, you will always know the shared parameters you’re using are the latest and greatest, ensuring consistency across your content library and minimizing re-work.

ADditional Updates

•Added the ability to view parameters by Revit Version.  There is now a dropdown on the file details page for Revit Version, which will display the parameters for the selected type that are associated with the selected Revit version.

•Revit template files (.rte) will now initiate a new model (.rvt) by default when opened from UNIFI.  To edit the template file itself, right-click on the file in UNIFI and select “Open in Revit”.  

•The default due date for content requests has been changed from 1 day to 7 days out.

In Project Analytics, data on the model dashboard Content tab can now be exported to Excel.

•Made enhancements to the process of collecting Project Analytics data.

•Project Analytics data collection now includes Revit session properties and family parameter data.

•Resolved issues where search terms were not yielding accurate search results.

•Uploading multiple copies of the same Revit file that were saved in different Revit version years will now all upload as revisions of the file rather than only uploading the lowest Revit version.

•Deleting a base file of a Revit file will no longer clear the category for that file.

•Navigating back to browse after having a filter applied and viewing file details will now display properly.

•After rejecting a content upload request that had previously been approved, the applicable content will now be removed from search results.

•UNIFI will now launch when using 4K resolution monitors with screen zooming enabled.

•The UNIFI installer will now update on machines that don’t have Revit installed as well as UNIFI installations that include the MicroStation Add-In.

•Resolved an issue where Library Admin uploads were not approved automatically.

•Browsing channel content categories that do not exist in the company library now only displays content in the selected category.

•Revit files created in version 2009 or older will now upload to UNIFI.

•Resolved an issue where preview images were not captured when uploading MicroStation .dgn files.

•The category search filter now only lists categories that contain actively searchable content.

•Resolved an issue where all content requests were displaying for all users.  Regular users will only see content requests that they have submitted.

•Inserting Revit 2019 materials with 2018 rendered assets can now be inserted from UNIFI.

•Uploading a revision for Revit family template files (.rft) to UNIFI will now display the proper Revit base file year.

•Batch exporting Schedules and Drafting Views will no longer fail when UNIFI is maximized.

•Resolved an issue where using Harvest Project to search for a Revit project stored in UNIFI would not generate results.

•Resolved an issue with setting pinned libraries via the API.

•Resolved an issue with users unable to login using an SSO provider.

•Identified a known issue: When updating UNIFI without Revit installed on the machine, the update process may get interrupted or end prematurely.  If this occurs, simply uninstall reinstall UNIFI using the latest installer.

Wrap up:

Thanks for being a valued UNIFI customer and taking the time to get the scoop on our latest update. We hope you find the updates and fixes in this release useful!

We wanted to quickly mention one last platform change to come; the Event Stream feature will no longer be supported and removed from the UNIFI Portal at the end of this year. It has been replaced by Project Analytics.  Information about content inserted from UNIFI and what revision of the content was inserted compared to the current revision in UNIFI can be found on the Content tab of the model dashboard in Project Analytics. 

Please stay tuned for updates on our Shared Parameter Management feature coming next month.Until then, please remember that your feedback is very important to us and we’re always looking for ways to improve our platform. If you have suggestions for future updates or changes, please click here to learn how to submit your recommendations directly in the UNIFI platform.

Open Sourced: A Sample App to Generate a Changelog of Revit Elements

Earlier this year, we launched our very first open source project which serves as an example of how to leverage our Content Management API to validate Revit family parameters for Revit elements in your UNIFI Pro libraries. This week, we’re excited to announce that we’ve released our second open source sample application which demonstrates how to implement the Project Analytics API. Please click here for the full UNIFI API documentation.

What does the new application  do?

Project Analytics collects Revit data every time a user syncs with the central model, making it one of the few ways to review the “live” Revit model data without opening the Revit application itself. This tool is able to capture the data for each placed Revit element, including its parameter values, as of any given sync. Said differently, Project Analytics essentially creates a snapshot of the Revit model every time a user syncs.

What most users don’t realize is that these snapshots of the Revit model are stored in our database and available via the Project Analytics API. This sample application demonstrates how users have the ability to surface this valuable data using the API.

Please note that all users must have access to the Project Analytics API to use this application. If you have trouble logging in, talk to your company administrator or contact us.

Here’s a few of the many things you can do with the open source sample application:

#1: Review Historical BIM Data

The main feature of this sample application is to surface the Revit element parameter data as of each sync to central. End-users are given an intuitive interface to step through the data and browse model snapshots, placed Revit elements, and parameter data.

Revit Elements

1. Select a project from the Projects dropdown menu. If the selected project has models assigned, the Models dropdown menu appears and is populated with the models that are assigned to the selected project.

This action makes an API call to the /models endpoint to retrieve all models from the selected project.

2. Select a model from the Models dropdown menu to populate the Model Snapshots column with the snapshots (i.e., syncs to central) of the selected model.

This action makes an API call to the /models/{id}/commits endpoint to retrieve all commits for the selected model.

3. Select a snapshot (i.e., commit) to populate the Assets column with all of the assets (i.e., family instances) that were placed in the model at the time of the selected sync.

This action makes an API call to the /models/{id}/commmits/{eventId} endpoint to retrieve the data for that specific commit.

4. Select an asset from the Assets column to populate the Data grid to review the parameter values of that particular family instance.

This action does not make an API call because the data was previously collected from the /models/{id}/commits/{eventId} endpoint.

#2: Generate a Changelog for Revit Elements

In my previous life as a BIM manager, we had bounced around several ideas on how to track who was doing what in our models across our internal team or 3rd party consultants. We came up with more than a few time-consuming ideas such as having our staff add a narrative to a text file every day (i.e., a changelog). Of course, nobody had the time or energy to manually type up everything they were doing in their models, so that immediately compromised the accuracy of the changelog.

This sample application has the ability to automatically generate a changelog which compares any historical snapshot of the model to the current snapshot. In the current version, the application identifies Revit elements that were added or deleted from a Revit model. The Revit element ID is also included in the report (in square brackets) allowing users to track down the family instance within the Revit environment as well.

Note that this is just a small subset of the data that is collected at each sync. In addition to placed Revit elements, Project Analytics stores data such as project basepoints, sheets, drafting views, and more.

Revit Elements

Open Source on GitHub

These open source projects are available for the community’s contributions in any way. A few ideas that we had around additional features include finding changes to parameter values, checking for moved project base points, validating sheet naming conventions, and more. 

We’d love to hear your ideas as well. Please check out the repo on GitHub and let’s build something together!

Implementing a Sandbox Library in UNIFI

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!

Managing Your Revit Add-ins: A Must Have Application

These days, there are typically several Revit add-ins in any power user’s toolbox. Whether you use Revit add-ins to help you manage data, batch process tasks, or automatically model elements, there is no doubt that Revit has an ecosystem of productivity tools built around it.

If you tend to rely on several Revit add-ins, there may come a time where you need an easy way to temporarily disable them without uninstalling. The ability to disable Revit add-ins in this fashion can help speed up the time it takes to launch Revit as well as help identify which add-ins are problematic.

The good news is that one of our favorite clients, Stantec, has open-sourced their Revit add-in manager which grants users the power of enabling and disabling Revit add-ins on the fly. I prefer this Revit Add-in Manager over the one provided by Autodesk in their SDK because it is a standalone application, meaning you don’t need to run Revit to manage your add-ins.

Download the Revit Add-in Manager

Before we continue, it is worth noting that although you will be downloading a Visual Studio solution, you won’t need to understand C# or how to use Visual Studio to run the Revit Add-in Manager application.

Perhaps someday I’ll propose that Stantec hosts the Revit Add-in Manager code on GitHub in true open source fashion, but as of now Boost Your BIM has shared the Visual Studio solution as a zip file on Bit Bucket. Simply download the zip file and unzip it to any location on your machine.

No Installation Needed

Being as this is a lightweight application, you won’t need to run an installer. You can simply double-click the exe file to run the Revit Add-in Manager.

Navigate to \AddInManager\bin\Debug. For reference, the full path on my machine after extraction is:  C:\Users\Jay Merlan\Downloads\BoostYourBIM-stantecaddinmanager-03365f381880\BoostYourBIM-stantecaddinmanager-03365f381880\AddInManager\bin\Debug.

In this folder, you’ll find a lonely file called AddInManager.exe. Double-click that file to run the Revit Add-in Manager.

How to Use the Stantec Revit Add-in Manager

Revit add-ins

I love the simplicity of this tool.

Immediately upon launching, you’ll see a list of every single Revit add-in that is installed on your machine. The interface is really straightforward and easy to understand, but let’s cover the two most important features.

1) Filter Revit Add-ins by Revit Version

Revit add-ins

At the very top of the Revit Add-in Manager application window, a dropdown menu allows you to filter the list of Revit add-ins by the version of Revit. This proves extremely helpful for navigating through the Revit add-ins for the several Revit versions that you most likely have installed.

2) Enable or Disable Revit Addins

Revit add-ins

Select any Revit add-ins that you don’t have a use for. Note that you can select multiple Revit add-ins by holding down the control key or shift key on your keyboard while clicking. Once you’ve selected the Revit Add-ins that you would like to disable, click the “Enable / Disable” button in the lower right corner of the window. You’ll notice that the “Enabled” column now read “no” for the Revit add-ins that you’ve disabled.

Launch Revit and you’ll discover that the Revit add-ins that you’ve chosen to disable no longer load.

Revit add-ins

How The Stantec Revit Add-in Manager Works

Even under the hood, this application is actually rather simple. If you navigate to your add-ins folder (C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\Revit\Addins\2019), you’ll notice that the Revit add-ins that you’ve disabled now have a new file extension, *.disabled. The Revit Add-in Manager has simply changed the file extension from the default *.addin, so Revit no longer sees the file as an add-in and does not load it. Simple!

Revit add-ins

This means that you can easily re-enable the Revit add-ins, with or without the Revit Add-in Manager application itself. If you no longer have the Stantec Revit Add-in Manager, simply rename the file and revert the “*.disabled” file extension back to “*.addin”.

Thank you, Stantec.

A special thank you goes out to Stantec for sharing this simple, yet useful, application with our industry. I hope that it will help you maintain control over the many Revit add-ins that you currently have installed, especially if you only need to temporarily enable or disable them.

The Benefits of the Cloud for a BIM Manager

Over the past several years, there seems to be a trend for the AECO industry to move their data to the cloud. Many areas of our business are being affected by this movement including file sharing, collaborative documents, and knowledge sharing.

Although the adoption of cloud technologies has continued to grow exponentially, there are many opinions on the pros and cons of implementing cloud technology. In today’s post, we’ll cover the top three benefits of cloud technology as it applies directly to a BIM manager.

#1 Access Anywhere

As with any cloud storage solution, the most obvious benefit of moving data to the cloud is its accessibility from any device with an internet connection. Conventionally, IT departments would need to be involved in setting up any sort of remote access to a local network drive.

This ease-of-access proves to be particularly useful for BIM managers who work with multiple offices or have team members that work on a construction site. For example, if a VDC coordinator or BIM specialist is working remotely and needs access to the company’s library of standard Revit families, a cloud solution such as UNIFI Pro would significantly reduce the amount of effort it would take to give that user remote access.

#2 Automated Revisioning

Many will agree that one of the benefits of cloud storage for file sharing is the automated versioning capability. Cloud providers such as Dropbox, Egnyte, and Google Drive all provide revisions of any files that you overwrite, mitigating the risk of accidental overwriting of files and loss of data.

Digital assets, Revit families and other forms of BIM and CAD content should be treated no differently, which is why UNIFI pro provides a full change management system which allows you track the revisions of any content stored in the cloud. UNIFI not only automatically logs who changed what and when, but also allows users to add notes so that the team can always reference the revision history of a file.

#3 Cloud Computing

Simply put, cloud computing allows users to make changes to data by using a remote server, aka “the cloud”. This allows you to free up your local machine for other tasks while the cloud delivers the computing services over the internet.

One example of how UNIFI Pro uses cloud computing is it’s automated Revit version upgrade feature. Any Revit content that is uploaded to UNIFI (e.g., loadable families, system families, schedules, materials, and more) is future-proofed by our cloud. Said differently, you’ll no longer need to upgrade your Revit family libraries manually or maintain libraries for multiple versions of Revit, because our cloud will do so automatically.

Embrace the Cloud

These are just a few benefits of the cloud for BIM managers. As you can see, there are many opportunities to save time and money by letting the cloud handle your data and do the computing for .you. Contact us for an evaluation of how we can help you move your BIM content to the cloud to maximize your team’s productivity.