If you have Desktop Connector installed, you probably realise you can ‘upload’ Revit models and other files to BIM 360 Docs by dragging and dropping to the folder in Windows Explorer (using Desktop Connector). However, when you try and link this using the BIM 360 shortcut in Revit, you might not be able to see the file…

Here is a workaround that may allow you to link a non-initiated Revit model into your Revit file:

  1. Ensure you have Autodesk Desktop Connector installed
  2. Start Link Revit command from the ribbon
  3. Update: Click on the Address drop down
  4. Click on This PC
  5. Browse to BIM 360 from the window below:

  6. Select the file (non initiated) that you want to link

You should get the BIM 360 prefix in Manage Links:

There is a short video of this process here:

https://knowledge.autodesk.com/community/screencast/02ecf93e-6359-45e4-9253-48481e4e8ea6

I have developed a working BIM360 to on-premises backup mechanism. There were a few different ways to go…

 

I initially considered:

  • Hacking Windows Explorer to touch the files in the BIM 360 node and try and trigger the BIM360 Docs download and copy to local PC or network location
  • Developing a Forge app that essentially pulls the desired models out of the BIM 360 cloud to desired location?

In the end, I decided to use the Revit API (Dynamo and Python), along with VirtualBuiltApp, to essentially reverse engineer a folder structure from the local CollaborationCache folder. These ideas are hinted at here.

 

In simple terms, the BIM 360 Docs on-premises backup workflow is:

  1. Create a super federated BIM 360 model (with all other BIM 360 models linked into it)
  2. A Dynamo script reloads all links in order to cache them locally
  3. The same script interrogates, then determines the target file name and folder from VirtualBuiltApp
  4. Dynamo then copies the files into their ‘backup’ location on the local network

 

Some more detail is presented below:

 

A) Cache Cleaner CMD Script (may not really be necessary, as the ‘reload’ should overwrite superseded cache anyway):

Kill Revit if Open… be careful of below steps, particularly if Revit has crashed recently. You might need these local copies 🙂

cd "%LOCALAPPDATA%\Autodesk\Revit\Autodesk Revit 2018"
cd CollaborationCache
rmdir oldCache
mkdir oldCache
for /d %i in (*) do move "%~i" oldCache

 

B) Manual steps to setup Revit model environment to run the script:

  1. Open Revit
  2. Open Federated BIM 360 file (worksets closed)
  3. Unload all links
  4. Open all Worksets

 

C) Dynamo Script:
Run Dynamo (Python) script that reloads and unloads all links (this collects .rvt into cache). Key Python commands to use are: RevitLinkType.Load() and RevitLinkType.Unload(None).

Potential Problems:

  • Coordination Monitor alert, no longer exists
  • Instance of link needs Coordination Review
  • “Some numerical data within the imported file was out of range. This numerical data has been truncated.”
  • “Geometry in the file … has extents greater than 20 miles (33km).”

Local cached Models appear into

%LOCALAPPDATA%\Autodesk\Revit\Autodesk Revit 2018\mainCacheFolder\hostModelIdFolder\LinkedModels\*.rvt

 

D) Dynamo Script continues to:
Rename and copy to desired target location. How do we determine this?

Using proprietary VirtualBuiltApp schema:

  1. Use known directory data along with known JSON data for the BIM 360 files (harvested previously by our proprietary systems)
  2. Build list of target paths
  3. Run copy from Dynamo to copy to target network directory

Part of the script:

 

Note: you can actually browse some BIM 360 Docs data in a .sqlite3 file located in path shown below. You can use DB Browser for SQLite as a viewer.

Update: It was pointed out to me by someone on the inside that the workflow I describe below essentially amounts to a back-channel unsupported and in fact inappropriate use of BIM 360 Docs. I was surprised at this, as I had essentially obtained this information from the Autodesk forums. What is wrong with the steps below? The answer is apparently this: A paying BIM 360 Docs customer is not supposed to invite a free user into their projects. This is apparently part of the terms of use for BIM 360 Docs customers. I was not aware of this, and in fact I’m unsure where to find it in the documentation.

Just to be clear, while the steps below *work* at this time, it apparently is an unsupported and inappropriate workaround and there could be risks (financial or otherwise) for BIM 360 Docs customers who invite free users into their projects. You should only invite:

  • BIM 360 Docs users for which you have paid for and applied an entitlement
  • BIM 360 Design (C4R) users who have purchased their own entitlement

I expect this workaround may eventually be disabled by Autodesk? You can view if you have exceeded your purchased package of BIM 360 Docs entitlements in the relevant Autodesk Manage pages. For example, it might show 16 of 10 licenses used in red? This is where I think there is potential for Autodesk to back charge users who abuse this current state of affairs.

My advice: check directly with Autodesk about who you can and cannot share your BIM 360 projects with…and proceed accordingly.

Situation:

You are a paying BIM 360 Docs user and would like to invite a non-paying user to collaborate inside a BIM 360 Docs workspace. Perhaps you just want them to be able to upload and download files, but not Collaborate in Revit…

Solution:

They need to create a free BIM 360 Docs account, and then get invited to your workspace.

(see above update)

Steps:

Non Paying User –

  1. Go to Autodesk BIM 360 Docs – Get BIM 360 Docs (Free Forever)
  2. Create a BIM 360 Account and Autodesk login if necessary (using email)

Paying User / BIM 360 host admin –

  1. Go to your Account Admin
  2. Add the User and Company (using email) (see above update)
  3. Go to Project Admin
  4. Add the User
  5. Go to Document Management
  6. Share a Folder to the User or their Company

Access and Upload Documents for Free User –

  1. Login to BIM 360 BIM 360 Docs Sign In
  2. Click on Change Account
  3. Select the workspace from the Paying User
  4. Access the Folder that was Shared to you – you can now Upload and Download with a Free account

Thanks to this forum page for the idea.

Previously, this was all working with the old Desktop Connector and b360provider.exe (I think?) but the new versions of Desktop Connector seem to have broken the ability to ‘browse’ C4R Revit models on BIM 360… and guess what? There is no Solution. This functionality is in fact ‘by design’. You can copy and paste a non-C4R Revit model to BIM 360 Docs via the connector, and that RVT will be visible in Windows Explorer. But if you have C4R initialised Revit models on BIM 360 Docs, they will not be visible under the BIM 360 (Preview) node in Windows Explorer. You can only view those C4R Revit files in their folder structure by navigating through Revit 2018.3 or newer.

This is the feedback from Autodesk:

Revit cloud models (C4R models) are not supported in Desktop connector. They won’t be showing up in Desktop Connector. Published C4R models are only available in Revit and Docs.


For C4R models, published models will have all versions in BIM 360. This will be recommended workflow to manage models:
https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/revit-products/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2016/ENU/Revit-CAR/files/GUID-AE6DBCDF-3DB1-41CB-9DC5-B0C336E6C851-htm.html

You can also save copies of the model locally to put in your backup system. Also from each user’s machine, C4R cache will be another source of backups. 

Also refer to How to backup Revit cloud models

I went looking for another answer, but there really isn’t one. Below is a list of steps I took to play around with the Desktop Connector installation. In the end, the only way I can foresee being able to ‘automate’ onsite BIM 360 Docs backups will be to leverage the CollaborationCache folder. You will need some Revit API know-how to forcibly populate this through some BIM 360 Reload methods (refer here).  Unfortunately this will be a flat list of files without descriptive names, so there will have to be some workarounds and cleanup scripts in place (we already have a system of BIM 360 file management in VirtualBuiltApp).  I intend to post some more about these workarounds in future.

Keep reading for excessive detail on my Desktop Connector journey …

___________________________________________________________________________________

I used Glary Utilities Uninstall tool:

Entry shown:

"C:\ProgramData\Package Cache\{b46602fe-a358-48c4-a0e0-905010df08e2}\DesktopConnector.exe" /modify

Uninstalled this old version. Interestingly, there were 3 different uninstall processors triggered? Like I had three different versions installed?

 

 

Also tried removing this folder and reinstalling:

I found a pile of errors in the diagnostic logs:

CDX pipleline builder output
Output=Warnings received from AddInStore.Rebuild
========================
Could not connect up a part in a pipeline to its neighbors: AddInAdapter Name: "ISecureSettingsProviderViewToContractAddInAdapter" Location: "AddInSideAdapters\Comet.AddInFramework.DataSourceProviders.ProviderAdapters.dll".

and a few of these

========================
Could not connect 2 valid add-in model parts.
========================

========================
While inspecting an assembly, caught a BadImageFormatException: The file is not a valid binary: C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Desktop Connector\AddIns\ADriveConnector\AdWebServices.dll This occurred while inspecting assembly C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Desktop Connector\AddIns\ADriveConnector\AdWebServices.dll.
========================

========================
While inspecting an assembly, caught a BadImageFormatException: The file is not a valid binary: C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Desktop Connector\AddIns\ADriveConnector\AdWebServicesUI.dll This occurred while inspecting assembly C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Desktop Connector\AddIns\ADriveConnector\AdWebServicesUI.dll.
========================

This note seemed useful:

Starting CDX pipline builder: C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Desktop Connector\Comet.Applications.PipelineBuilder.exe C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Desktop Connector

 

I scanned through the Registry and deleted old references to Desktop Connector.

 

Found this link with the command line switches: here

Tried an install from elevated command prompt:

C:\Temp>DesktopConnector-x64.exe /install /quiet

Note: you do not actually need the Desktop Connector to collaborate on BIM 360 Revit projects in the cloud. You only need Revit 2018.3 or newer, and the relevant license for Revit Cloud Collaboration (too hard to keep track of the names but I think ‘BIM 360 Design’ is the current terminology).

You will be able to see this link in Revit 2018.3 or newer:

When ‘linking’ Revit models, CAD files, and other resources, you will see this option when working in a cloud workshared model:

These models will be temporarily stored in the CollaborationCache folder:

If you have moved your project onto BIM 360 Docs, it might make sense to store related project resources (Shared Parameter files and Classification resources like Uniformat) in the same cloud as well.

 

Here’s how you can do it (using Revit 2018.3):

  1. Setup the BIM 360 connector still currently in beta
  2. Ensure you can see the BIM 360 (Preview) item in Windows Explorer
  3. Using BIM 360, create a suitable folder under the Project Files area, and upload your resource file, such as UniformatClassifications_2010.txt
  4. Browse to that folder in Windows Explorer:

  5. Open Revit
  6. Navigate to Manage – Additional Settings – Assembly Code Settings
  7. Click Browse
  8. Copy and Paste the folder address from Windows Explorer (which actually shows the local sync location for BIM 360 data, typically C:\Users\YourUserName\BIM 360\YourBIM360License\YourBIM360Project\Project Files\
  9. Back in Revit, after navigating to the correct BIM 360 folder, select the text file resource and click Open
  10. Revit detects that this resource is stored on BIM 360 Docs and you can proceed…
  11. Sync your model to save the settings

You should be able to use the same process to save other files like Keynote references and Shared Parameter files in the cloud. Keep in mind that you will still have to manage BIM 360 access control, as you probably don’t want multiple people actually be able to edit these files.

Assembly Code on BIM 360

Don’t forget you can also get the free Autodesk Classification Manager for Revit here.

 

Check out this page from Autodesk Knowledge base. Notice how it describes three different ways of linking for BIM 360 Design projects that involve Revit worksharing:

  • Method 1 – Controlled Sharing – ‘Consume’ Published Models from Packages
  • Method 2 – Controlled Sharing – Link from the Shared Folder
  • Method 3 – Live Linking

Each method requires fundamentally different sharing standards, and varying degrees of prior BIM 360 permissions and team setup.

Notice that Method 1 includes the concept of ‘packages’. The overall intention here is to try to emulate some existing workflows. While BIM files continuously change during project development, in traditional workflows a ‘team’ only interacts with a snapshot of the available BIM data from other teams (a package).

At this point, it is key to keep in mind that these different methods exist, and if you are a BIM Manager on a BIM 360 Design with Revit project, you will need to discuss and agree on the linking Method for managing the Revit data throughout the BIM creation phase of the project.

 

Interesting to see that many BIM360 services are offline right now (approx 10am Australian time, 1 June 2018):

You can always check Autodesk online service health at this link:

Autodesk Health Dashboard

 

It is something to think about as we move forward with reliance on cloud services – how important is 100% uptime with collaboration cloud products in the BIM world? Is 100% uptime even possible with current technology services, and the stacks (like Autodesk cloud) that rely on other stacks (like AWS cloud)?

I’m looking into ways to batch initialize Revit models onto the new BIM 360 Docs (Document Management) platform. It is a work in progress at the moment – in Revit 2018, I think that there is limited ability to use newer API features for creating a Cloud ModelPath for batch processing. But more on that later…

For now, I wanted to replicate a folder structure from a local network onto the BIM 360 Docs platform. To do this, you just need the Desktop Connector + Preview installed, and then you copy and paste the data.

Here are the steps:

  1. Clear Pending Actions on Desktop Connector for BIM 360 (recommended, use with care)
  2. Work Offline (recommended). Folders will appear blue in Windows Explorer.

  3. Set the folder path in the and create a CMD script using code below. It populates each subdirectory with a text file indicating the contents of the directory.
    @echo off
    chcp 65001 >nul
    for /r "C:\Your\Folder\Path\Here" %%d in (.) do dir /a:-d "%%~fd" > "%%~dpnd\DirectoryFilePlaceholder.txt"
  4. Run the script on your target directory (the local directory that you want to mirror into BIM 360 Document Management platform)
  5. Run a FreeFileSync task with filters to include only the ‘DirectoryFilePlaceholder.txt‘ as a mechanism of building the file structure. This task copies those txt documents to the BIM 360 using the local Desktop Connector path, as shown here:
  6. Then, disable ‘Work Offline’, so the sync to cloud should begin.
  7. Wait for ‘Processing’ to complete

To force the sync you may have to toggle the ‘Offline’ status in the tray.

You can review sync state with the ‘Pending Actions’ link from the system tray:

After the file structure is copied and synced, you will be able to see it in BIM360 Docs.

You can then proceed with adding Permissions or uploading other files.

Previously the Desktop Connector was built for BIM 360 Team projects running C4R. With the shift to B3D (BIM 360 Docs) platform, you need to:

From the help:

This plugin is a connector that establishes BIM 360 Docs as a recognized data source for the Desktop Connector – making it available in your desktop folder and file structure for easy file management.

As with Desktop Connector, this means your BIM 360 Docs files are replicated in a connected drive. You can manage files in BIM 360 Docs through the connected drive, just as you would any other folder on your machine. Changes made on the desktop are automatically uploaded to BIM 360 Docs.

How do you get it?

After install, you will see this in Windows Explorer:

If you are already a C4R user, for a while you can keep working as you are. But the entire platform is shifting from C4R to B3D (BIM 360 Docs), and you will eventually have to make the leap. In the long run, it will allow for more control, like folder-level permissions, so for big projects it is going to make a lot of sense. For now, there is some confusion out there (like in this Twitter thread), so here are some basic steps to activate a new BIM 360 Docs account, setup a Project, and then invite some collaborators into the project.

First, you can go to your account and use the special link to create a new BIM 360 Docs workspace. That is, if you are starting fresh in the new platform.

Here is the activation form notes (read carefully). Note: the links are different depending on how you activate it. For example, if you have an existing C4R account and you want to ‘transition’, you would use the relevant activation link for existing C4R customers :

New BIM 360 workspace

 

Transitioning from C4R

 

Once done, you should have a new BIM 360 account:

And you just have to click the activate link in your email:

After that, you should be able to login to your BIM 360 workspace and start setting up some company settings, like adding a Logo and Business Units:

Setup a Business Unit:

https://help.autodesk.com/view/BIM360D/ENU/?guid=GUID-6A8990E7-A640-4267-83AF-64003B015F98

 

Finally, you can go ahead and Setup a Project:

https://help.autodesk.com/view/BIM360D/ENU/?guid=GUID-9C991F4C-7012-4770-B8F7-A1D45F5D9197

 

 

Then,

  • add Companies to your Workspace
  • Add Users to Companies.
  • And invite these Users to specific Projects.

In Revit 2018.3, after clicking Collaborate, you should be able to choose from 3 options:

You should see this in your Open dialog (if you have both a Team and a Docs entitlement):

Finally, you should be able to access Document Management, add folders, apply Permissions, and generally start work: