BIM 360 Sync vs Publish

“I sync my Revit model regularly, but it is not the same as the BIM 360 model”

If this statement is something that you have said in the last couple of months, then you are not fully aware of the process of getting a live Revit model updated in BIM 360.

Since the release of BIM 360 Design in early 2018, there have been multiple and continuous updates to the platform. One thing that has stayed the same since the beginning though, is the workflow of creating and sharing your Revit design with the broader collaboration team.

Use the Revit Cloud Worksharing service to author Revit models in the cloud concurrently with other team members

I always try and relate the BIM 360 workflow back to how we used to work in the office, before emails and cloud platforms.

Traditional Workflow:

When you were done with a design, you would save your work, and then start with the printing process. During printing, you might print the entire job, or you might have only selected a certain set of drawings to print. Then, once printed, you would take these sheets, roll them up in a tube and take them to the site where you will hand it over to the correct stakeholder.

BIM360 Workflow:

Most people are unaware of the servers that are being utilized when working on a cloud workshared model.

Let me explain:

There are two servers, yes, two. The one that we all know, is the BIM 360 Docs server. This server is where all our documents, Revit models and other design information is being stored. This is the server that we can “view” when we open BIM 360 Docs on a web browser or a mobile app.

But there is another server. This is called the Revit Cloud Worksharing/Cloud Models server. You might have spotted this name when looking at the Autodesk Health Dashboard to see if any of the BIM 360 services are not working as expected.

Health.Autodesk

This Revit Cloud Worksharing Server (RCW) is another Cloud service you should subscribe to on the Autodesk Health Dashboard.

So, what does this Revit Cloud Worksharing server do? Well, when you synchronize your work, you would have seen how Revit shows you what it is saving.

 

Saving in Revit

 

First, it saves your changes to your Local CollaborationCache [1] folder hidden on your C-Drive. Next, it reloads any information that you did not have that your colleagues would have synced. Then it saves all your changes to the Central file (on BIM 360). And lastly, it again saves a local copy in the CollaborationCache.

What is really happening here is that your Central file is not actually the file that is “viewable” in BIM 360 Docs. This Central file is stored on the RCW server. This is where all the synced or Work-in-progress data is stored. You might have noticed that the version of your model in BIM 360 Docs does not increase every time someone syncs. That is again because the synced information is stored on a different server, the RWC server, not on the BIM 360 Docs server. The copy in the CollaborationCache on your C-drive ensures that only delta changes get uploaded every time your sync. This means that time spent waiting for a sync to finish is much less than on a file-based worksharing model that takes the entire size of the model back and forth.

When we choose to “synchronize and modify settings” in Revit, we can add a comment. Although this comment is not visible in BIM 360, it is highly recommended that all team members add a comment at any major change when syncing back to Central, especially by those who publish the latest model to BIM 360. This may aid in the decision when rolling back the model to a previously sync version if necessary.

 

 

When reviewing the HISTORY (Revit Menu COLLABORATE > SHOW HISTORY) these comments are visible as well as provides insight which team members have accessed and synced the model.

Up until this point, the workflow is very similar to file-based worksharing. Where we would just create a central copy, make locals, work on the locals and just sync to the central.

Publish Revit workshared models to the cloud so other team members who don’t have Revit can view, search, and work with the cloud models

The difference is, because of the 2 servers, in order to get our latest work in BIM 360, we need to add another step.

Revit gives us the ability to publish a set of drawings. Referring to my “Traditional workflow” example, this would be the printing step. In the Publish settings (Collaboration Tab > Publish Settings), we can choose to create different sets of drawings for different stakeholders. You can create a set of drawings for the Interior Designer, the Landscaper, the Structural Engineer or any other type of set you might need. You can also choose to publish all these sets at the same time, but they will stay organized in their sets when we get to share it with others.

 

 

Once you have created your Publish sets and saved it, we need to publish the model to get all that synced data to BIM 360 Docs.

Revit Server Sharing

 

In the background what this means is that all the data that was synced on the RCW server and you local C-drive now gets copied to the BIM 360 Docs server.

And at this point, the local model and the BIM 360 Model will be the same.

 

C-Drive and Docs Server Example

 

The version of the model that you see in BIM 360 Docs, is not the document version of the model i.e. “Issue for Construction” or “Issue for Tender”. It is however the number of times you have published your model. Technically this means that you will have a very large number of synced versions (on the RCW server that we cannot view), and only a few published versions.

Not every team member that works on the Revit model would publish their work every time they have synced. One person from the team should publish on the frequency according to the BIM Execution Plan that should be part of the project, be it daily or weekly.

A published schedule can be set up in the BIM 360 project settings by the Project Administrators without access to Revit or BIM 360 Design Collaboration.

 

 

Remember that once you publish, only your own team can see the updates [2]. There are still a few more steps before the collaboration team can see your updates and use your model in their own designs.

Make sure that regular publishing is part of your BIM 360 workflow to ensure that models are up to date in BIM 360.

*Article was originally written by Elrina Mills, part of the CADPRO Team.

[1] C:\Users\{UserName}\AppData\Local\Autodesk\Revit\{Revit version}\CollaborationCache

[2] This is the suggested team set-up in a “Low-trust” environment to in a way, “ringfence” your work until you are ready to share it with the collaboration team.

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