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KNOWLEDGE BASE

Options for Remote Access in Revit

We’ve looked at the licensing aspects of using design software from home in this article: wfh-primer-for-revit-designers.

Whilst that’s taken care of the licensing and setup of the applications, perhaps the even bigger consideration that is vitally important for Revit users to consider is that of how to access the Project Files and how to collaborate with others on the Revit Project if necessary. A very important thing to be aware of is that when saving a Revit file, whether it be a standalone or Worksets file, the speed at which the file need to be saved is very critic. Unsupported workflows (such as for example using file-based worksharing via VPN connection) can cause data corruption when synchronizing local files with the central model. Avoid any unsupported workflows when using worksharing with Revit.

Listed below are what I would consider the most viable technologies to enable this along with a discussion of some of the considerations involved with them:

Revit Cloud Worksharing

Connects project teams with centralised access to BIM project data in the cloud.

Benefits:

  • Allows multi-firm collaboration (including user level controls for project access)
  • Includes access to BIM 360 Document Management service
  • Does not require purchase or maintenance of server hardware
  • Users are not tied to single system or location (access within Revit is tied to Autodesk Account sign-in)
  • Project data is stored in the cloud

Limitations/Costs:

  • There is a recurring (Annual, Quarterly, or Monthly) cost for each user accessing the service
  • Revit LT is not supported in this environment
  • WAN performance will impact operations that require interaction with the server (opening the project, synchronize, reload latest)

NOTES: This technology requires a copy of Revit to be installed locally or it can be accessed using one of the technologies below.

Remote Desktop

With local systems already set up, you can use Remote Desktop from another location to access Revit and work on projects.

Benefits:

  • Remote Desktop is included with Windows
  • Project Data remains on the local network
  • System performance is not limited by the remote system
  • No special licensing required – existing licenses on the end-user’s work PC is used

Limitations/Costs:

  • It’s necessary to maintain the local systems to remote into
  • Network performance will impact higher resolutions (for example, high resolutions require more data transfer)
  • Usability will suffer over larger geographic distances

NOTES: This solution can be quite fast to setup. I’d recommend some testing from the end-user’s sites to make sure that they have the necessary bandwidth to be able to work productively from their home.

Citrix

Citrix allows you to set up a centralised server, and serves out a virtualised Revit software to users in the office and remotely.

Benefits:

  • Users are not tied to single system or location
  • Project data remains on the local network
  • User’s system does not need powerful hardware (since processing is done on the server)
  • Updates can be applied to a single system (server) instead of individual systems
  • This solution can used for other software that is Citrix ready so you can move your software to this platform which enables greater work flexibility in the future

Limitations/Costs:

  • Requires server hardware
  • Requires maintenance of the server
  • Single point of failure (if the server is down, no one can work)
  • Revit LT is not supported in this environment

NOTES: Setting this up may require an investment in hardware to provide the necessary processing power as well as investment in getting your internal or external I.T. people to set it up. It may also require some time to set it up so it’s not an instant solution.

Some quick calculations about File upload times

Whilst we’re looking at this technology, it will be worthwhile to have a rough estimate on how much time is required for uploading files to the cloud, here is a Calculator:

In Australia we typically have:

  • ADSL 15-20 Mb/sec download to home and 1-2Mb/sec upload to office/cloud
  • NBN 25/50/100 Mb/sec download and 10/20/35 upload to office/cloud

For example a 100MB file will take 14 minutes to upload on a ADSL connection, meanwhile only 30 seconds on a NBN connection.

CONCLUSION:

We hope this provides a rundown of the different options available to you.

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