Friday, June 7, 2013

Opening Linked Models for Editing

NOTE: This is a re-post from the HOK BIM Solutions blog

One of Revit’s annoyances is the inability to open a linked model for editing and keeping it loaded in the host project, all at the same time. This leads users to believe they need additional sessions of Revit in order to refer to the fully aggregated model and edit the link/s at the same. Doing so causes various problems, such as reducing available RAM consumed by the additional sessions (0.35 to 0.4GB/session observed) and the potential to run out of network licenses for other users.

Open and Unload

Revit’s UI gives us the option to open a link but at the same time, forces us to unload it. Somehow Revit seems incapable of having the same file in memory (based on filename) both as a link and opened independently in the same session. To make matters worse, most of our linked models are workshared, so opening a link in the way shown above is highly discouraged as you would be directly opening the central file. Revit does have safeguards for situations like this and does not let you directly do a Sync with Central if another user has synced since you opened the central file. Regardless, the current workflow of dealing with linked models is highly problematic and not sufficiently well-developed by the Factory.

Luckily we can work around the current limitations when the linked files needed for editing are workshared. We can in fact achieve this in the same session without unloading or requiring the user to open a separate Revit session by following these simple steps:

1. Make sure to not use the right-click option shown above (obviously!)

2. Navigate to the original linked central file and open through Revit’s Open dialog in the same session. If it is a valid Central File, Revit will automatically create a Local File by appending your username to it and happily open it for editing.

3. Alternatively, use the Revit Launcher (an HOK custom tool) to create a Local File for the linked model in question and open as usual.

NOTE: If the link to be edited is not workshared, you are out of luck and need to open it in a separate session if it is important to you to keep it loaded in the aggregated model.


There is no doubt that this functionality needs to be polished further. The current implementation might be a reflection of various technical reasons/limitations, but should not be a reason to leave things in their current state. Here are some thoughts:

  • Revit should be capable of opening non-workshared links directly and leave them loaded in the aggregated (host) model.
  • If the link is workshared, Revit should recognize this and serve a UI that offers the same options when selecting a workshared file in the Open dialog so we can 1) open a detached copy, 2) create and open a local file so we can make changes and sync them with central (default), and 3) offer the option to open the central file directly.
  • Give users the ability to edit a link in-context (in-place), whether it is workshared or not. This is not necessary functionality, but would be very nice to have.



Aaron Maller said...

A couple of quick notes-

1. Licensing- Opening a second session of the same version shouldnt pull an additional license. I would check your license server if it is. Even opening Revit and ACA from the same BDSP license pool wont pull a seperate license, unless they open two different versions (2014 and 2013).

2. With the exception of that one goofy year (2012) where you couldnt open a local of a loaded linked file either, i just dont eve nshow people that they can open them from the PB. Too easy to tech them File > Open > CNL, lol.

Dave Baldacchino said...

Aaron, at my last employer when I managed licensing, I always observed additional licenses pulled when a second session was opened. When another suite application was launched, it did not consume another license, but opening a second session of the same software did consume another license. I don't manage licenses now so I cannot verify, but based on my past experience, it could be affected. If there's some setting that prevents that from happening, then that's great!

For some reason people got used to the right-click context menu and didn't think about opening a local :) Hence my internal email and blog post! But it is true IMO that the righ-click context menu needs more work.

Clay said...

Dave, it doesn't pull two licenses now and I haven't changed a thing. Opening up two separate versions does pull two though. ;)

I love it when a license gets pulled for AutoCAD from the BDSP, it locks the unused BDSP Revit license to that user even if they pulled a Revit-only license earlier. This effectively takes up two Revit seats with only one session of Revit open.

Dave Baldacchino said...

Hmmm I might be mixing things up then but I could have swore that I observed it happen at one point. Good to know it shouldn't double up.

As for the BDSP license, the software will always try pull the cheapest. In Autocad's case, the only available is the BDSP. I think that's why Revit it pulling another license for the Autocad user. If you;re not running out, I wouldn't worry about it since Autocad use is spares (hopefully!). I wonder if you create/modify the Revit deployment and use the BDSP instead whether it will behave the same...might be worth talking to the reseller about the details.

Dave said...

I've been advocating for years that the whole "sometimes you open your Local and sometimes you open the Central" process should go away.
Well, not quite go away, but at least be completely transparent for the user. Users should ALWAYS go the the "Central" file, and Revit should ALWAYS make a new Local. However, this should all happen behind the scenes and the average user should never even know that there are two files. Of course, they still need a Detached option, and BIM Managers need a way to directly open a Central, but these should be the exception rather than the rule. Right now, it's FAR too easy to accidentally open the Central. (Double-click from Windows Explorer? Recent Files? Open and Unload?) Just make it go away!

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