BIM 360 – Model Sharing Workflows

IMAGINiT Technologies

Greetings all. Teresa Martin here from IMAGINiT and proud member of the Building Solutions Division.

Having delivered numerous presentations and implementations of BIM 360 Documents and Design, one question I get asked frequently is “How should I share my model in BIM 360”. The answer is, “it depends.”.

Model Sharing Workflow Options:

Currently there are 4 different workflows that you can utilize to share your model:

  • Schema 1: Non-Workshared Models. In Revit, use the “Save Model to the Cloud” option available under the “Save As” option in Revit.
  • Schema 2: Live Linking – Worksharing is enabled and the Central file sits in a common folder what everyone on the project can access. This includes external partner Revit models.
  • Schema 3: Controlled Sharing Link from the Shared Folder. Revit models that you link in as backgrounds are in the “Shared” folder. If you link Revit models from this folder, your backgrounds will be updated automatically every time a team member creates a package through the design collaboration module.
  • Schema 4: Controlled Sharing – ‘Consume’ Published Models from Packages. This is a more regimented. It enables your external partners to review changes to linked in models before updating (consuming).

Which do you use and when?

Schema 1: If you are utilizing BIM 360 to simply pass data and files to team members (both internal and external) then using Schema 1 will work quite well. This is using BIM 360 as a glorified FTP/Dropbox type of scenario. However, similarities stop there. BIM 360, unlike FTP sites or Dropbox, provide much higher security as well as versioning. This option will supersede your old FTP workflow of archiving the old model to different server folder, pushing the new model up to the FTP site and then notifying everyone that the model is there. BIM 360 will do all of that automatically and provide the ability for you to compare different versions of the models through the BIM 360 interface.

Schemas 2-4 are variations of a common theme: Workshared Models in the Cloud.

Schema 2: I would utilize Schema 2 on fast track projects where you need live, up to the minute revisions. Think of it like having everyone on the project in the same room and making changes and exchanging data as you progress. In this scenario, every time you sync with central and reload latest, you will see changes to linked in models in your local file as they develop. In other words, if you’re the structural engineer, you will see the architects changes to edge of slab conditions and structural walls as they develop.

Scheme 3: I would use Schema 3 on projects to eliminate the task of manually updating external teams’ Revit models. It is more of an automated updating of backgrounds utilizing Design Collaboration and the notion of “Packages”. In a nutshell, using this option, external users would link in your Revit model from the Shared folder. Every time you published the model and created a new “package” a copy of the model would be placed in this folder. The old model version would be versioned out and updated. When the external users reloaded the linked in files, they would see your updates.

Scheme 4: This is a more graduated approach. It lets other teams review your updates after you have created a new package and decide when they want to update your model within their environment (i..e. Consume). If you go back to the old FTP scenario, its like putting a new file on the FTP site and having external team members review it, download it and replace the old file with the new one within their work environment (inside their firewall, local server). When external team members consume your latest package, it puts the newest version of your model into their team folder under consumed. This is the folder they will link from in their local environment. Design Packages also show up on the Design Collaboration Card on the landing page in BIM 360. This notifies users of available packages for consuming. This workflow is regimented and provides transparency for all parties involved. And the virtual cherry on top is that the publishing of packages can be automated!

Wrap Up

Schemes 1 and 2 do not require BIM 360 Design Collaboration to use. All users only need a license of BIM 360 Documents. Schemes 3 and 4 do require BIM 360 Design Collaboration as this is where you set up teams, swim lanes, and create packages.

Further, each workflow is fundamentally different and should be vetted at the beginning of the project. You will need to get full agreement and sign-off from all parties involved since changing workflows mid-stream will take quite a bit of effort, especially on large projects.

For some additional insights into these workflows, you can review this Autodesk Knowledge base article:

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