BIM Collaboration Beyond Revit: Part III, Revit Server, Vault Professional, and Buzzsaw
Posted on November 11, 2015 by Bill Knittle, Building Solutions Engineer:
In Part I, we looked at how Revit Server connects a Revit project team through server-based worksharing across the wide area network (WAN.) In Part II, we explored how Vault Professional complimented Revit and Revit Server by capturing historical versions of a Revit project at key milestones as well as, managing references to linked files, providing a search engine for loadable families, and much more. In Part III of the BIM Collaboration beyond Revit let’s explore BIM collaboration beyond your company’s needs with the addition of Buzzsaw. Autodesk Buzzsaw extends BIM workflows within your company to the entire AEC team. How does it work? Simply put, Buzzsaw aggregates project design data and documentation in a secure and centralized location in the cloud. Through features such as Vault’s Project Sync and applications such as, Buzzsaw Sync, project teams can synchronize and share project information back and forth through a Buzzsaw project site. Because Buzzsaw is software as a service (SaaS), project team members can collaborate anywhere and anytime through the use of various devices such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. The intent is to remove the manual overhead of managing the exchange of data.
In Part II Vault behaviors were loosely covered. When it comes to extended collaboration between Revit, Vault, and Buzzsaw there is a means to facilitate a desirable workflow. Vault comes with configurations containing preset Lifecycles that can be easily configured to jumpstart your workflow. In Vault, the best way to begin the process is through the use of Categories. Figure 1
- Categories not only organize folders or files in the Vault but, they also can define which behaviors folders and files follow. These behaviors consist of Rules, Lifecycle Definitions and Revision Schemes.
- Rules are a behavior in Vault that automatically assigns a recorded file to a Category. Rules are assigned to a Category. Therefore, when a file is recorded for the first time in Vault it is tested to see if the condition of the assigned Rule applies. If it does, the Category the Rule is assigned to is assigned to the file. If it does not, the default Category is assigned to the file.
- Lifecycle Definitions are behaviors that indicate the status of a file as it transitions through the defined workflow or Lifecycle. Lifecycle Definitions are assigned to one or more Categories. Each Lifecycle Definition consists of two or more States. States are used to define the status of a file in the workflow. They also provide Security in the form of who can read, modify, or delete the file. Transitions are the paths between States that allow the file to go back and forth between States in the Lifecycle Definition. Transitions also provide Security in the form of who can transition the file from one State to another.
- Revision Schemes are behaviors assigned to a Category in order to milestone changes to an approved design. In Vault, revisions are different than versions. Versions are recorded iterations of changes to the file over time. A revision is a labeled collection of versions that have achieved a design change.
Making the automated connection between Vault and Buzzsaw starts with the Lifecycle Definition assigned to the file’s Category. A Lifecycle Definition may look like this. The States are indicated as blue boxes. The orange arrows are the approved transitions between States. The Revision Scheme is activated automatically during the transition of “Approved for Release” back to “Work in Progress.” The Revision Scheme automatically switches from the default “Preliminary” to “25% Complete.” Figure 2
How does all this relate to Buzzsaw and automated file exchange to external AEC partners? To understand this, we turn to the Lifecycle Event Editor. Autodesk Vault ships with the Lifecycle Event Editor that can be installed on a client workstation. The role of the Lifecycle Event Editor is to submit a file from Vault to Buzzsaw when a particular transition within the file’s Lifecycle Definition occurs. Finally, the event must be linked to a Job Type associated with Project Sync. Figure 3
Project Sync is the tool in Vault that synchronizes files between Vault and Buzzsaw by allowing a folder in Vault to be mapped to a companion folder in Buzzsaw. Mappings within Project Sync can be added, modified or removed per the administrative rights given to a User in Vault. Project Sync must also be enabled. Figure 4
Between the Lifecycle Event Editor and Project Sync is the Job Server and Job Processor. The Job Server is a feature in the Vault that submits jobs to the Job Processor. The Job Processor is installed with the Vault Client. It manages and processes jobs submitted by the Job Server. Once the Transition being tracked by the Lifecycle Event Editor occurs, the job is sent to the Job Server which then, submits the job to the Job Processor via the mappings provided by Project Sync. If the version in Vault is newer than the version in Buzzsaw, the file is shared to Buzzsaw as a new version. If the version in Buzzsaw is newer than the version in Vault, the file is updated in Vault as a new version. Figure 5
In cases where one external partner does not have a Vault installed at their location, there is still the ability to collaborate with the project team. Buzzsaw Sync is an application similar to Project Sync in Vault. It allows an individual to select a folder inside their private network and add the folder as a Buzzsaw Sync Folder. Following this operation, Buzzsaw Sync will synchronize the private folder to the companion folder in Buzzsaw. There are Synchronization Settings that dictate when Buzzsaw Sync synchronizes with Buzzsaw. Like Project Sync, Buzzsaw Sync can be set to daily, continually or manually synchronize files between sites. Figure 6
When the synchronization is established, files locally from both locations are synchronized to Buzzsaw and exchanged automatically at selective or timed intervals. This automation keeps everyone up to speed with the latest versions of design data and documentation. Figure 7
In regards to Buzzsaw itself, it provides much more flexibility than simply being a glorified FTP site. Files can be accessed using the desktop, web browser, or mobile device applications. Model files in Buzzsaw can be viewed and explored. Even the properties of model elements can be viewed. Sheets can also be opened and viewed. This allows individuals to see the files from anywhere without the need for the original authoring tool. Figure 8
Within the Buzzsaw desktop application, user access is administrated. Individuals are invited to the site via email as they are added as members. This allows notifications to be sent to project members when files are uploaded to Buzzsaw. The site administrator can also set users with access permissions to enforce security. Figure 9
The Buzzsaw desktop application offers even more project workflow related features such as the ability to use the integrated Design Review functionality to markup files. These markups can then be saved to the Buzzsaw as a new version then, synchronized back down to the Vault to record a new versions in Vault. Figure 10
Once in Vault, the Revit team can log into the Vault, open the Project, and Link the marked up sheet into the Revit project as a DWF Markup. This checks the DWF of the Sheet out of the Vault for write access. Then, the design change can be made in Revit. The markups can be saved. Finally, the Sheet can be checked back into the Vault to record a new version. Figure 11
As you can see, Buzzsaw completes the collaborative workflow between project collaborators by securely centralizing and managing a project’s design data and documentation in the cloud making the most recent version accessible to all project stakeholders. Vault securely manages the design data and documentation within the stakeholder’s private network and provides the links between Revit and Buzzsaw. Revit Server runs in parallel with Vault to connect a company’s remote offices through server-based worksharing. In all, all three applications fulfill the collaboration effort promised by Building Information Modeling.
See some of Bill’s other posts:
- Using Parts in Autodesk Revit
- How to Build Your Own Roof Truss Families
- SET’g the Stage in Autodesk® Navisworks®
- Revit Tip: Worksharing between Revit and Revit LT
- Revit Tech Tip 26: Construction Modeling and Phasing
For the past seven years at Synergis, Bill has been training, supporting, and implementing the Building Solutions offered from Autodesk, primarily the Revit applications. His accomplishments include many certifications which include AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture, and Revit Architecture. He is also an Implementation Certified Expert for Revit Architecture and Structure. Bill’s latest achievement was acquiring the MEP Systems Specialist certification from Autodesk which has propelled Synergis as a Platinum Service Provider. Bill’s interactions with customers have provided him with constant challenges that lead him to think outside the box. As a result, he has authored several technical solutions for publications which include AEC Bytes and Cadalyst as well as, produced several tips and tricks videos for the Synergis Website and You Tube channel. He enjoys consulting with a many different Architectural or Engineering firms struggling to implement the BIM process using the Revit application. Bill has been certified many times on Autodesk products, including Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, AutoCAD , and AutoCAD Architecture.