Friday, July 20, 2007

Sharing the Work in Revit

Worksharing Vocabulary

In order to understand worksharing, let's first get acquainted with its basic terminology.

Central File: A master project database repository containing all building model data subdivided into logical areas created and saved in a shared location on a network so that more than one person can work on that project.

Local File: A copy of the Central file saved on a project team member's workstation or network location. This local file acts as an interfacing mechanism for working on the Central file.

Workset: A collection of elements that can be edited by only one team member at a time.

Element Borrowing: A process that allows a team member to edit an element with or without checking out a Workset. Element borrowing happens automatically when a team member selects an element for modification contingent on the fact that the object is not owned or borrowed by another team member. Objects owned by other team members will not be open for borrowing.

Editing Requests: When elements are modified by another team member, that person retains editing ownership of those elements. Therefore, when another team member wants to edit an owned element, they must submit a request to the owner for rights to edit it.

How Worksharing Works

The basic process of worksharing is outlined in these steps.

1. A single user creates a project and begins creating the initial geometry and information. The building information model is developed to a certain point.

2. Then, additional users are required and worksharing is enabled in the project.

3. Revit automatically assigns the various elements of the project to logical Worksets.

4. The file is then saved as the Central file to the network appending the project file name with "-central" for clarification.

5. Team members will then save the Central file as a Local file to their local hard drive or on the network and append the file name with an identifier such as "-bknittle" for clarification.

6. Additional Worksets can be created in a user's Local file to group the building elements into logical groupings.

7. Users make modifications by using Element Borrowing or checking out a Workset through their Local file. Element borrowing in a Workset checked out by another team member can be made through Editing Requests.

8. Each team member makes regular Local file saves and also saves to the Central file throughout the day.

9. Each team member makes regular reloads from the Central file to synchronize their own Local file.

10. Users with checked out Worksets can relinquish ownership at any time.


This workflow is described in more detail in the rest of the tutorial.

Beginning the process

1. Click on the Workset button on the Workset Toolbar. (It can also be accessed from the File pull-down menu.)

NOTE: There is no going back once Worksharing is enabled.

2. The Worksharing dialog will appear. The dialog prompts the user for a name to the shared levels, grids, and generic workset that will contain default model objects. These default names are a good start, therefore they need not be renamed unless necessary. Select OK when ready.

3. The Worksets window dialog will appear, allowing the user to view existing Worksets or create additional Worksets. The elements can be viewed all at once or filtered in the Show category. These Worksets are the User-Created, Families, Project Standards, and the Views Worksets. These different types are briefly described below.


Default Workset:

  • Views: For each view, a dedicated view workset is created automatically containing the view's defining information and any view-specific elements such as annotation.

  • Families: A family workset is created for each family defined in the project.

  • Project Standards: Each project setting is placed on its own workset. These standards include Materials, Line Styles, etc.

User-Created Workset:

  • Shared Levels and Grids: At the onset of enabling worksharing, this workset is automatically created for existing grid and level objects.

  • Workset 1: Everything that is left over is placed into this workset.

Create the Central File

1. Doing a File > Save As will create the Central File. Best practices recommend that the Central File be given a name followed by "-central" then saved to a shared network location. This will allow the additional team members to copy it locally or on the network. Click the Options button.

2. The check box for Make this the Central location after save will be checked after worksharing is invoked.

3. In the File menu, select Relinquish all Mine. This will relinquish all the Worksets that were created so that they can then be accessed by the rest of the team.


Create the Local Files

Each team member will open the Central File and perform a File > Save As. Best practices recommend that the Local File be given the same project name followed by "-[Login Name]" and save it to their local hard drive. A virtual link is created by Revit that connects the two files.

NOTE: Some project leaders actually create the Local Files for the team and save the Local Files on the network for back-ups. Users then open their specific Local Files. Verify network speed. The Central File should not be opened beyond this point.

Benefits of Worksets:

  • Large projects can be broken down into manageable areas.
  • Each team member can be assigned a Workset giving them sole responsibility of that portion of the work.
  • When opening a project, the user can specify which Workset to open.
  • Disciplines can work independently from one another by creating discipline specific Worksets within the same project (typical in an AE firm).
  • Visibility of a Workset can be controlled per view.

Limitations of Worksets:

  • Regular saves to Central and reloads from Central need to be coordinated manually to keep the team and Central file in sync.
  • Editing Requests must be acknowledged, both verbally and electronically.
  • Anybody can create a Workset.
  • Have to relying on team members to relinquish all Worksets at the end of the day to ensure the project still moves forward, even those going on vacation or falling ill.

Considerations when creating Worksets:

  • The project size.
  • The size of the project team.
  • The team member's role (modeling or drafting, Architectural or MEP, etc.).
  • Carefully planning with the team how the building model will be assigned and broken down into simple and logical Worksets.

Create Worksets

1. Click the Workset button on the Workset Toolbar. This will launch the Workset dialog window.

2. In the Worksets dialog window select the New button. This will launch the New Workset dialog window.

3. Give the new Workset a name that describes what elements will be assigned to it. This will prevent any confusion. Check the Visible by default in all views box. This will give the Workset the most flexibility.

NOTE: Creating a Workset will automatically make the user who created it the owner.

4. Open a view to work in. Plan or 3D views work really well for moving objects to a Workset. Select common objects (walls, doors, windows, etc.) and on the Options Bar select Properties, or Right Mouse Click to select Properties. In the Element Properties dialog window under Instance Parameters, find Identity Data. Find the parameter Workset. Activate the cell's flyout and select the new Workset.

5. Continue this procedure to create and assign elements to additional Worksets.

Saving Local, Saving to Central, and Reload Latest

It is very important to have a well regimented plan when it comes to worksharing. The times for doing project saves and updates during the day should carefully be selected so as to not disrupt the project workflow, for example, during lunch break or prior to leaving for the night.

1. Saving the Local File can be accomplished by either clicking the Save button on the Standard Toolbar, going to File > Save, or the command alias Ctrl+S. All three options execute the save command.

2. Saving to Central can be accomplished one of two ways. The first method involves the Save to Central button on the Standard Toolbar. This command updates the Central File with recent changes. However, it does not return the user-created Workset. The preferred method is using File > Save to Central. This will provide the user many more options when executing the command. The File Save As dialog window will be launched.



3. In the File Save As dialog window, the user can relinquish any owned Workset, as well as save their own Local File. A Comment field is provided for specifics.

4. Synchronizing the project can also be accomplished in many ways. File > Reload Latest is one method of updating the Local File. The command alias RL is also available when synchronizing.

Working in a Shared Environment

Modifying elements in a Workset checked out by you is one story. However, if that element happens to be of a Workset which is not owned or owned by another user, modification will require element borrowing.

Element Borrowing occurs when a modification is made to an element(s) that is not owned by you. A small icon resembling a puzzle piece with a line through it is displayed to signify that it is locked.

Two things will happen at this point. The user will click the puzzle piece and:

1. The user will click the icon and the element(s) will be free for editing. This occurs when an element(s) is part of a Workset that is not checked out or owned.

2. The user will click the icon and a warning will appear flagging the object as being owned by another user. You will then be given the choice to place an Editing Request.

Editing Requests are delivered via Revit from the requesting user to the receiving user.

1. The requester will click the Place Request button to alert the owner electronically and then call, IM (instant messaged), or email the other user. The requester can wait a minute and Check Now to see if his request was granted or Continue to work while the request is answered.

2. The owner of the element will receive a call, IM, or email and click the Editing Requests button on the Workset Toolbar.

3. This will launch the Editing Requests dialog window displaying all pending requests from other team member(s). The owner will either click the Show button to see the element(s), click the Grant button to allow the requester to borrow the element, or click the Deny/Retract button to disallow the borrowing of the element(s).

4. If the requester waited and clicked Check Now, Revit relays the granted request from the owner.

5. If the requester clicked Continue, the owner either called, IM'd, or emailed the response. But if that did not occur, the requester could simply click the Workset button on the Workset Toolbar and view the Borrowers column to see if the request has been granted.

NOTE: Editing Requests still require a measure of verbal communication outside of Revit to acknowledge or confirm a request for modification. Once a request has been granted, it will no longer appear in the Editing Requests dialog windows of all parties.

Improving the Performance of Worksharing in Revit

Projects tend to take on a life of their own, sometimes often leading to increased file size which can really slow performance. Revit offers the ability of selectively open the project through its Worksets.

A user will begin the process of opening a project either through File > Open, the Open button, or the command alias Ctrl+C. In the Open dialog window under Open Workset, several options are available as to how the project is opened.

  • All opens all the Worksets of the project.
  • Editable opens all Worksets checked out by you.
  • Last Viewed opens the Worksets that were opened when the project was last closed.
  • Specify opens the Workset selected from a list in the Opening Worksets dialog window shown below.

Visibility of Worksets

A prominent benefit of Worksets is having the ability to control its visibility settings, whether it is On or Off or grayed out for clarity.

Gray Inactive Workset Graphics is an option that can be activated from different locations: clicking the Gray Inactive Workset Graphics button on the Workset Toolbar, or by check box in the Workset dialog window.

Visibility Graphics provides an additional tab called Worksets which turns the visibility of all elements in a Workset on or off. Simply access it by Right-Mouse-Clicking in the view, going to View > Visibility Graphics, or using the command aliases VV / VG. Then select the Worksets tab. Finally check the box(es) to view the Workset(s) or uncheck the box(es) to hide the Workset(s).

Additional Tips

Back-ups: When Worksharing is envoked, Revit automatically creates a back-up folder for the central and local files. The incremental back-ups are controlled by the Save As options.

New Releases or Builds: When a new release or build is rolled out, the IT manager or Project Leader needs to open the Central File and save it as the new version. Then the users can create Local Files from the new Central File and continue working.

Linked Data: External project data can be linked to Revit and assigned to a Workset for additional visibility control. Revit also creates a tab for Revit Links in the Visibility Graphics dialog window.


Detaching from the Central File: This will break the connection between the Local File and the Central File. This option is accessed by opening a Local File and checking the box for Detach from Central. Revit will explain what this process will do and request your approval before proceeding.

The Worksharing Roadmap

In conclusion, the steps described in this tutorial can be captured by the Worksharing diagram shown below.

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