Category Archives: Teamwork

File Performance – Self Audits

Projects are routinely audited, or at least reviewed on the BIM Server to maintain a reasonable quality of model performance and accuracy. There are specific areas of the audit that are responsible for file performance. Some of these audit sections are worth paying attention to because they can affect file navigation, others can impact general teamwork performance. In any case, these areas of the audit are worth periodically reviewing, even between formal audits.

The areas that need to be self audited are:

  1. The Library Manager
  2. The Library Loading Report
  3. The “Error” Report
  4. The Drawing Manager
  5. Solid Element Operations
  6. Total Model Polygons
  7. Attributes

Library Manager

The Library Manager needs to be periodically reviewed for organization. A disorganized Embedded Library is difficult to maintain, manage, and review. More than the organization, the contents of the Embedded Library are a critical element to file performance. Because the E/L is part of the file, rather than linked to the file like a BIM Server Library, it directly impacts the overall file size; even if content is not placed in the model. Ideally, .gsm content embedded in the file should be less than 10 MB and images used for surfaces should be less than 1 MB. These should be the targeted max for embedded library content. The more frequently an object or image is going to be used in the model, the smaller the file size should be.

Library Loading Report

The library loading report will appear when first opening/joining a file if there are any library issues. These issues may include missing, duplicate, or substituted library content. It may seem like this is just something to close out of and ignore, but this palette is warning that your model may be suffering from poor performance and accuracy. For more on the Library Loading Report, see this WWABIM post here.

Error Report

The report tab will come up when there is processing error in any non-plan model Viewpoint. Like the library loading report, it may be tempting to ignore this tab, but this report is a warning that your model is suffering from invalid geometries, missing attributes, or other errors that can not be resolved. If there are too many errors in the model, the result can be beach balling, slow send/receive, and slow navigation between Views. To review how to clean up Error Report content, see this WWABIM post here.

Drawing Manager

The Drawing Manager often suffers from missing content. Although missing content here may not slow a file down noticeably, the drawing manager is a good place to review externally linked content such as .dwg & .pdf files that have been dropped onto layouts. The drawing manager is a good place to review the update status of content on layouts, which can speed up layout book navigation. This is also a good management tool for tracking external content’s paths to review linked content file size. Linked drawings with large file size can slow the model significantly, and even more so if large files are embedded in the drawing manager. Always review pdf/dwg file size before embedding in the drawing manager. For more information on the Drawing Manager see WWABIM posts here and here.

Solid Element Operations

Solid element operations have been reviewed in past WWABIM posts here, here, and especially here, as well as in a previous internal DD L&L. In running self audits, any element with more than 100 connections should be reviewed, with any unnecessary targets, operators, or other connections removed.

Total Model Polygons

The most important aspect of a model’s performance is often the number of visible polygons. But even if layer and view settings are carefully managed and reviewed, you may run into situations where the entire model needs to be viewed, or may be accidentally viewed. If there are too many polygons in the model, this may result in an slow file performance, beach balling, file or computer freeze up, or even a file crash. With our current hardware, we should be aiming for no more than 5,000,000 polygons for a standard file.

It may not always be a clear line, since the source of polygons as important a role in file performance as the total polygons. For example, in some basic tests and overall experience, 60,000 polygons from a single mesh can perform worse than 1,000,000 polygons from objects. Also, 3,000,000 polygons from a single library part (object tool) placed several times will perform significantly worse than 3,000,000 polygons from 50 different library parts. In general objects contribute to the most polygons, but GDL also handles polygons significantly better than other tools. Overly complex mesh elements and excessive use of morphs can be a bigger performance issue to a file than objects.

Attributes

Attributes can have a huge impact on file performance, as well as document and output file sizes. A large, complex, custom cut or drafting fill can result in an incredibly large pdf or dwg file; in some cases so much so that the files can not be emailed or, in many cases, even printed/plotted. Additionally, custom profiles can result in poor model performance if not properly applied to the model. Profiles applied to walls should be used sparingly, as the intersection between walls results in excessive polygons and slow model performance. Custom profiles are better applied to beams, instead of walls.

The last part of attributes that should be self audited is the naming and file size of the attributes. If surfaces are using large images, it can slow the file down (see Library Manager above). Beyond the image size, the image naming of surfaces is critical to BIMx output. See the WWABIM article here and here for more information on BIMx surface errors.

Delete Local Data

It is critical to keep your local data clean and current. The first step in doing this is to periodically leave the projects you are working in. This forces your local data to rebuild from the server data on the next open/join. This has all been outlined in our BIM manual under the Collaboration section. It is also outlined in part here and here. For more information on ARCHICAD errors and possible solutions, check out this article.

So lets assume you have a local data error that will not allow you to send or receive. The solution is:

  1. Save a .pln to your desk top, so that you do not lose any of your work
  2. Leave the teamwork project and completely close ARCHICAD
  3. Open ARCHICAD and “Browse for Teamwork File” and immediately click “Cancel”
  4. Go to the Teamwork menu > Project > Local Data Manager
  5. Delete ALL content from the list (libraries and project files). This will need to be done line by line.

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As a bonus tip, you can set your work environment to schedule the local data clean up reminders under Local Data Manager > Options. This should be set to send a reminder every 30 days minimum, for projects older than 30 days. Always delete local data when prompted! Unless you are opening from a crash recovery, there is no need to ignore local data clean up warnings.

In 2017, we need to make it a goal to Send and Receive often (every hour at least); lets pay attention to the Teamwork protocols in our BIM manual and avoid lost work!

Teamwork Views, Drawings, and Layouts

Since most of our projects involve multiple buildings on a single site, we often rely on hotlink modules to place those buildings onto a site in separate Teamwork files. This means the site plan needs to be placed from one teamwork file to another.

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This process is actually very simple to do. All that is required is to open both Teamwork files and use the organizer to link a view from one project to the layout of the other. With the file containing the layout book, search for the other open t/w file in the left hand column of the organizer. Lastly, you only need to click import to bring the view from one file to a layout of another.

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Now comes the real issue, that is to update the views. In the past, we have run into the issue of this warning:

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To effectively update drawings from a separate projects view map, start with the drawing settings. The drawing should be set to manual, or you will receive repeated update warnings and, in the best case scenario, a slow update for any externally linked drawings.

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After extensive tests and trial and error, I have found the most reliable way to update a drawing. Follow these steps and it shouldn’t fail to update:

  1. Open BOTH projects, the one containing the view and the one with the drawing that needs to be updated
  2. In the project with the view, do a send and receive. Once you S/R, do not make any changes to the ARCHICAD file, do not even change zoom or pan the view. Even the smallest change to your local data will result in the “Drawing Checking Process has Failed” warning
  3. Immediately switch to the project with the drawing that needs updating. I use com+tab, rather than the mouse to avoid any accidental zoom or pan to the view.
  4. Once the layout/drawing that needs updating is open, simply right click and select update

Follow these steps exactly, and you will find it much less frustrating to update your external drawings.

Don’t Forget the Teamwork Palette

If you don’t have the teamwork palette included in your work environment, you should. It is great to see who else is in the project, make reservations, release, reserve all, release all, send/receive… but one of the unsung features of the palette is the messaging and assigning feature. By simply clicking the “message” icon   Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 1.54.29 PM.png  on the palette you can send a message to any team member:

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This message can include a screen capture view created directly from the above dialogue. The teamwork palette also allows you to assign elements to a team member for review. This has been very useful to me, when I needed to ask a question to a busy team member.

The last thing you can do with messages is assign a task. You can request a team member s/r, release all, leave the teamwork project, receive changes, etc. This is very helpful to avoid the “hey can you send and receive” comments or “can you release all”, that get thrown around regularly and disrupt other users.

This is certainly not the only way to communicate, but it is a lot less disruptive than continually asking questions on mundane or non-urgent details.

Teamwork (BIM Server) Etiquette

The WWA BIM manual has a list of teamwork and ARCHICAD best practices. I want to reiterate some of those hear and give a little explanation of why we need to be aware of these practices.

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  1. Send and Receive often; I recommend 2x per hour and whenever you leave your work station for any period of time:
    • This ensures BIM server backup files are created
    • More frequent S/R means quicker S/R times (less data synched at one time)
    • In the event we experience a teamwork or BIM Server errors less data will be lost upon file recovery
    • Other team members will be more up to date to the changes you have been working on, and can more easily coordinate their work with yours
  2. Release or release all occasionally:
    • Whenever you leave your computer for breaks and at the end of the day
    • Whenever you are finished with a specific task that required reserving large portions of the project
    • This prevents other users from constantly requesting portions of the project that they may need to work on
    • This prevents other users from kicking you out of the project because of your absence or unresponsiveness
  3. Do not reserve all unless you know you are the only one in the project; and release all when the task is done:
    • A reserve all is necessary for coordinating some attribute changes (delete and replace), and should be a coordinated effort for the entire team. Notify other team members that you will need to reserve all for x-amount of time, and perform the task as quickly and efficiently as possible so that other team members can get back to work as soon as possible.
  4. Leave the project at the end of the week (2x per month minimum):
    • The BIM server is reviewed for team members joined but inactive in the project for extended periods of time. These members are removed from the project to prevent file bloat.
    • Leaving the project keeps the list of users in the teamwork palette to a minimum- and clearly identifies who is actively working on the project
    • Leaving the project rebuilds your local data from the server next time you join
    • Leaving the project reduces unnecessary teamwork file bloat and keeps the file running smoothly and efficiently
  5. Incorporate the teamwork palette into your work environment:
    • The teamwork palette is more than just the s/r and release all buttons
    • The teamwork palette gives an indicator that you are in fact working online, so time is not wasted working in a file that has been disconnected from the server due to a teamwork or BIM server error
    • The teamwork palette is a great tool for messaging and assigning tasks to other team members as well as tracking requests and reservations made throughout the day
    • The teamwork palette as onscreen view options which allow you to quickly identify what you have reserved or elements that are reserved by others

Work Environment & Teamwork Etiquette

The WWA BIM manual work environment section describes what is permitted to be customized and what should remain as an ARCHICAD Default. As a reference, your work environment settings should look something like this:

Work Environment CustomizationUser Preference Schemes, Company Standard Schemes, and Command Layout Schemes should be set to ARCHICAD defaults. Tool Schemes can be customized, but in most cases it is best to use the ARCHICAD default to avoid missing any new tools from software updates.


All of this is just to lead me into reenforcing our BIM manual general practices section on teamwork. This section states:

  • Release all before breaks & at the end of the day or whenever closing the project
  • When leaving a project send & receive then release all before leaving the teamwork project
  • Only remain joined in teamwork projects you are regularly actively working on. If information or model elements are being copied out of another project leave the teamwork project without sending/receiving once the copy/paste is done.
  • If prompted to save a PLN backup when doing a send and receive always save
  • Leave the teamwork project at the end of the week
  • Clean up local data for all projects and libraries every 30 days min. or when prompted

It is important to remember to release all as described in the BIM manual. This will prevent other users from needing to force you out of the project to access some elements you left reserved at the end of the day, which leads to local data and BIM server connection problems, and potentially lost work.


All this ties together in the Company Standard Schemes > Data Safety & Integrity portion of the work environment. The default work environment has a setting to release all when you close or leave the project.Work environment release all