Revit LT Users – READ THIS – A Little Knowledge Can Save You …

If you are using Revit LT, please be aware of this issue that came to our attention yesterday. Autodesk Product Support Specialist Lance Coffey recently posted this information to a popular Revit blog.

“We are starting to see a number of users reporting “Data in file is corrupt” error messages after upgrading a project to Revit LT 2014.

After some investigation, we have found that this can happen when saving an upgraded file on top of a previous version. The reason is that some of the prior version elements remain unchanged in the file, which then puts the project in a state which cannot be used by Revit LT, and when reopening the project, Revit LT will report data in the file is corrupt.

If this happens, recover a backup copy of the project before it was upgraded.

To avoid the issue, when upgrading a project in Revit LT 2014, use Save As to save to a new filename.

Once upgraded and saved to a new name, you can save the 2014 project normally.

Our developers are aware of this, and are currently working to address the issue”

This only affects Revit LT 2014. We sincerely apologize for any trouble this may have caused any of our customers.

Deploying Autodesk Design Solutions in the Cloud

From Doug Wietbrock, D|C|CADD President:

CAD and BIM, and most commonly AutoCAD and/or Revit, can be installed on a centralized server or servers for use by geographically-dispersed designers. There are several methods for achieving this, but care must be taken to comply with the Autodesk License and Service Agreement (LSA), formerly known as the End User License Agreement. This article discusses the merits of each and is intended to be a primer rather than a detailed implementation guide.

Cloud computing is a very popular topic, as it promises a lower total cost of operation. However, when it comes to CAD/BIM in the cloud, cost savings are harder to achieve because of the extreme hardware and higher bandwidth requirements. Unlike typical desktop applications (e.g. Microsoft Word, Excel), AutoCAD and Revit are intense graphical applications demanding more resources. This reduces the ROI for cloud computing, but this is changing rapidly as technology improves. It is also important to note that the system requirements for Autodesk Revit are significant greater than for AutoCAD. The type of work and size of projects will also affect system requirements. Thus, the primary justification for CAD/BIM in the cloud is performance when geographically-dispersed users are working on a large common file or model.

Another obstacle is that most CAD/BIM vendors have not yet determined how to charge for their products (e.g. on a monthly or quarterly basis) to accommodate public cloud use. It’s a vastly different business model, and they are moving slowly—as it has huge implications for everyone involved. For now, private clouds, which require each customer to deploy their own private systems, are often the only realistic solutions.

There are several ways to deploy Autodesk design software in a private cloud. These may be broadly categorized as One-to-One or Many-to-One implementations.

One-to-One

The One-to-One method allows a remote user to log into a single physical or virtual PC. It provides a separate computing environment that supports only one user. Many individual virtual PCs can be installed on one physical server.

1. Remote Connectivity to a Physical PC. This method allows remote users to connect to another PC via GoToMyPC, LogMeIn or other remote connectivity solution. This is, by far, the easiest solution to deploy, and it can be done with minimal expertise. If existing PCs are used, the cost can be quite minimal, although it doesn’t scale well. The disadvantage is that these remote connectivity solutions are not optimized for CAD, and the performance may be less than acceptable. They lack the ability to support hardware acceleration, which is important for quality graphics. It also requires management of a complete physical PC. This solution is probably best suited for small virtualized implementations with less-demanding 2D drawings. Autodesk allows both Standalone and Network licenses to be used in this manner. Autodesk does not officially support this type of implementation.

2. Multiple Virtualized PCs on a single physical server. This uses the concept of virtual computers, also known as virtual clients, virtual desktops or remote desktops. A single physical server is deployed with multiple virtual PCs. This method requires significantly more expertise, as the selection of the specific hardware components and their drivers can greatly affect performance and stability. This method allows one powerful physical computer to host 4-12 virtual computers. It reduces the overall hardware costs, but increases the setup, tuning and deployment costs. Virtualized PCs allow for easier systems management, and it scales well. It can easily be hosted in a datacenter or within your own offices. Most hosting service providers do not offer virtualized PCs running Windows 7 or 8, as they still focus on offering virtualized servers. But private clouds can be built and leased to your specifications. Autodesk allows both Standalone and Network licenses to be used in this manner. Autodesk does not officially support this type of implementation.

Many-to-One

Many-to-One implementations utilize a single server operating system as a host to multiple users. Terminal Server (now called Remote Desktop and Remote App Services) and Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop are the most common solutions. The significant difference with the Many-to-One strategy is that all users are sharing the same server operating system environment, whereas the One-to-One method allows each user to have their own individual client operating system environment.

1. Microsoft Remote Desktop Services. Formerly known as Terminal Server, this ubiquitous functionality is free with almost every Microsoft Server operating system although it does require low-cost access licenses for the remote users. This method allows multiple remote users to log in to a single server and share the common resources. Graphical performance is improving with the recent addition of RemoteFX. Autodesk allows only Network licenses to be used in this manner. Autodesk does not officially support this type of implementation.

D|C|CADD has deployed a non-optimized Remote Desktop server in a hosted environment with AutoCAD, Revit Architecture, Revit MEP and Revit Structure for testing and evaluation purposes. Performance is quite good from a variety of remote devices.

Installation and configuration are more complex than regular Network deployments, and special attention must be paid to the IT requirements.

The hosted applications can be deployed as Remote Apps, where only the AutoCAD or Revit application is remotely available, or as Remote Desktop, where an entire virtual desktop environment is remotely available. One benefit of this deployment type is higher security. It can be configured so that the drawings or models cannot be saved off the central server.

2. Microsoft Server with Citrix. Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp are the only implementation types officially supported by Autodesk. Microsoft Remote Desktop, as discussed above, shares common technology with Citrix under past cross-licensing and technology sharing agreements. XenDesktop looks and functions the same as Remote Desktop, and XenApp functions the same as RemoteApp, but Citrix provides significant features and functionality to provide better graphics performance and user administration than the lesser Microsoft product. Autodesk allows only Network licenses to be used in this manner. Autodesk officially supports this type of implementation.

D|C|CADD has deployed an optimized Citrix server in a hosted environment with AutoCAD, Revit Architecture, Revit MEP and Revit Structure for testing and evaluation purposes. Performance is quite good from a variety of remote devices such as an iPad (although these apps are not designed for touch devices), Android phone (not recommended because of the tiny screen), laptops, desktops and $500 netbooks. Bandwidth is the primary obstacle, but we’ve found it to be very usable, even with WiFi and Hotspot connections.

Installation and configuration are more complex than regular Network deployments, and special attention must be paid to the IT requirements.

The hosted applications can be deployed as Citrix XenApps, where only the AutoCAD or Revit application is remotely available, or as Citrix XenDesktop, where an entire virtual desktop environment is remotely available. One benefit of a Citrix deployment is higher security. Citrix can be configured so that the drawings or models cannot be saved off the central server.

If you use third-party add-ons with your Autodesk software, make certain that these applications are technically and legally supported in a cloud computing environment.

One final consideration is that your Autodesk right-to-use licenses are for a specific geographic area. If you purchased your licenses from D|C|CADD or another Autodesk Partner in the USA, your licenses are restricted to use within the United States or Canada. The same applies to licenses purchased in other geographic areas of the world. If you wish to have users from other locations use your cloud-based software, contact Autodesk or your Autodesk Partner for information about acquiring Extra Territorial Rights.

D|C|CADD is available to provide knowledgeable advice and consulting services to help you successfully implement a cloud-based Autodesk design solution. Contact us at Info@dccadd.com or (800) 454-5499.

Please note: The information above is time-sensitive as the technology, systems and licensing requirements continually evolve. While D|C|CADD has made every attempt to validate all information, please confirm and refer to the official Autodesk System Requirements posted on autodesk.com. Unless otherwise noted, all information applies only to the Autodesk 2014 versions. There are different licensing requirements and mechanics for older versions. Please let us know at Support@dccadd.com if you spot an error in this document.

Material Thermal Properties and Energy Analysis in 2014

When Autodesk added thermal properties to materials in 2013, I suspected (hoped) they were going somewhere with it. Well, in Revit 2014 we see the beginnings of the payoff. You can now include the thermal properties of materials in your energy analysis calculations. There’s a nice article and an even better video of it in action on the Building Performance Analysis blog. Check it out…

Revit COBie Toolkit Download Available

Autodesk recently competed against Bentley Systems and Graphisoft, entering it’s flagship BIM authoring product, Revit, in the Design COBie challenge, and won. From Autodesk:

“The Design COBie Challenge is an opportunity for software vendors to demonstrate the conformance and accuracy with the vendor-neutral interoperability format that supports the exchange of building asset information. COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange) is a framework for organizing data developed and collected during the course of a building project for delivery to facilities owners & operators involved in lifecycle management. The COBie approach is to enter the data as it is created during the design, construction, and commissioning phase(s).

The Autodesk Revit 2013 COBie Toolkit allowed the user to streamline the export and comply with the COBie xml table format (e.g. MS Excel) with almost zero errors. The user utilizing Autodesk Revit 2013 software is estimated to have to spend 9 minutes cleaning/fixing the COBie file.”

You can download your copy of the Revit 2013 COBie Toolkit (and other free resources) and try it out for yourself!

Navisworks 2014 New Features Posted

The blogs are full of information on the new Revit 2014 features, which are cool, but the authors of Beyond Design have posted the new features coming in Navisworks 2014, which looks like it’s getting a major (and long overdue) facelift in a lot of areas, including increased compatibility and interoperability with other Autodesk products. Check it out here.

Convert an In-Place Family to a Component Family

I was getting caught up on some long-neglected blog posts today and I ran across this little gem. Actually I was pointed to it by my good friend and colleague Paul Aubin during a discussion concerning some upcoming presentations we’re doing. Check out Luke Johnson’s post in “What Revit Wants” with instructions on how to convert an in-place family to a component family – something that is not supposed to be possible. I haven’t actually tested it yet, so beware, but it looks plausible!

 

Today’s Pet Peeve…

I talk to my computer a lot. Usually when I talk to it, I tell it what a blooming idiot it is.

For example, why is it that whenever you load a family from the Family Editor using the “Load Into Project” tool, no matter what view you last left the project from, Revit always places you in the Level 1 floorplan view?

Chances are probably better than 90 percent that isn’t the view you were in when you left the project to go edit/create the family (especially with Murphy’s Law, Revit Corollary factored in).

Chances are equally probably better than 90 percent that the view you were in when you left to edit/create the family IS the view you wanted to put it in.

It’s especially frustrating when you are creating a family that can’t be placed in a plan view… such as… oh… a Titleblock, for example. Revit throws you into the plan view and then starts pouting because it can’t place in instance of that family in that view.

Makes me want to smack Revit’s face off sometimes. If Revit had a face…

Thanks for listening. That concludes today’s pointless vent. I feel better now…

3ds Max Design 2013 File Link Manager and Revit… or… Who Stole my Maps?

There is an apparent defect in 3ds Max Design 2013 when linking files from Revit 2013. When you first link your Revit model in (I use the “Combine by Revit Material” preset, although I’ve tried other settings with the same results), the materials in your Revit model are imported just fine. Bringing up one of the scene materials in the Slate Material Editor shows the texture maps, with the correct path to the FBM folder that is created when the link is established.

Once the Max file is saved and closed, however, that path is apparently lost – or worse…

When the file is re-opened, the linked geometry is still there, but the texture maps for all of the linked materials are no longer valid. In the Slate Material Editor they all show up with a lovely pink color, and checking their properties simply shows “Invalid Asset Instance!” (whatever that means – don’t you just love these oh-so-informative error messages?). Worse, you can’t fix it – unless you detach the texture map, then re-apply it manually. (Don’t do that, by the way, the mapping coordinates will probably be more than a bit messed up).

Fortunately there is a workaround. If you simply use the File Link Manager to reload the link, the maps get restored and all is well (until you save and close again). Make sure to uncheck the option to keep the 3ds Max scene parameters on reload as shown below.