Sunday, May 29, 2011

Great Discussion on Revit Server

So of late my post: Taking Revit Server "off-road" has proven to be on the of the most popular. It has inspired some great comments and discussion from several different people, and raised some really good questions about using Revit Server. If you have not gone back to see the comment thread, I highly recommend you do!

Some key highlights:

  • Q: Will Revit Server work better over slower connections then Citrix? A: Most likely it will perform better because for the most part RS has to move far less data then Citrix does on a per time unit basis (second, min, hour).
  • Helpful Tool! Rod Howarth has written a little app that can run on Server(s) to let you know when the server(s) is moving data.
  • Q: Does Revit Server synchronize all the data between Central & Locals? A: No, Revit Server should only synchronize data to a Local that has been called by a user connected to that Local Server. Keep in mind a call can be initiated by creating a local file, or via file linking.
          There is more in the comments, so take a few mins to read through.

In regards to the last question, I think it is important to keep in mind that the Central Server plays no direct role in the caching of data to Local Servers. It is the Local Server's responsibility to get data from a Central Server. The Central Server does not sit around "broadcasting" that is has new data, rather each Local Server queries the Central on a regular basis (computer time regular basis) to determine if there is new data that needs to be cached. A user choosing to SWC or Reload automatically trips that query and when a user is pushing data back, it goes both to their Local and the Central server simultaneously.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Revit Technology Conference USA: Why you should attend

Steve Stafford has been busy posting about how RTC Australia is getting underway (two thirds done now!) in the down under. So I thought this would be a great time (a little less then a month out) to remind everyone about RTC USA. Why you should you go?!

  • Intimate Gathering of industry leaders and experts - I happen to know the cut-off for attendees, and its less then 1,000. Compare that to AU where you're one of thousands.....
  • Top Experts in the field/industry - so you're with less then 1,000 people, and you know what, that means that more then 10% are likely to be those top experts and leaders, the people you always wanted to talk to, meet and ask important questions such as "What's your favorite beer/wine?" (oh wait, inside thoughts Robert.......)
  • Great classes and topics - I'm speaking for one course, but I'm just plain excited about the courses I'm going to, all of them somehow related to Revit its use and its ecosystem and none of the speakers are afraid knows better then to mention competing software companies too loudly. (Lets talk about the real world...)
  • Not AU - don't get me wrong, I love AU and I look forward to (hopefully) speaking again this coming year. But at the same time RTC is specifically not AU, its being hosted and put on by users for users of Revit (it is the Revit technology conference after all), its smaller, and more dedicated in some ways, and I think it will be a great experience!
If you've been to AU before, and you can only talk your boss/management/SO into letting you go to one conference this year, I would highly reccomend considering RTC. I've always wanted to attend the one down under and I may make it there yet, but I'm excited that we're going to have our own here in North America. I hope to see and meet some of you there, and by all means, come on up and say hello!

Cheers! (as they say in the Queen's English :-) )

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fun Tech

Jim Balding (The Ant Group) has posted up a demo he was apparently running at a trade show recently of what I consider some really fun tech. If you've been in a Lego store recently you've probably seen this, and Autodesk demo'ed something similar a couple of years ago at an AU keynote. What he is featuring is a an Augmented Reality (AR) demo that simply uses your webcam, a free player software and model.

What is particularly nice is that AR Media provides a free authoring plug-in (limited functionality) to play with, and the next step up is really not too pricey either. So head on over to Jim's website and click on the big buttong at the top of his site to download his demo files. AR has more demo files on their site too. What can you think of to do with this tech?

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Taking Revit Server "off-road"

Borrowing from the title of a recent post by Mr. Revit OpEd I wanted to bring up what I think is a rather critical point to be aware of if you're thinking of running Revit Server on your laptop to solve what is often termed the "Construction Trailer" problem. I've been in touch with the two sets of folks who I know have installed RS on a Win7 computer, that is Mr. Baldachinno and Mr. Cone (Beck / Aaron Maller). For David its an experiment in "low cost" servers for a small company. For Kelly & Co. its an attempt to make an easier way for users in a construction trailer to work on their Central Files.

What I want to highlight is if you're running RS on your laptop, so you can "work" on your central files live over the Construction Trailer's DSL connection with a VPN tunnel, is that your user(s) need to learn how to shut down Revit Server gracefully. The very clear and present danger here is that a user in the trailer, simply turns their computer off, or worse yet, "pulls the plug". I can guarantee that you're playing with fire here if your users do that. There is a good chance that at some point they'll corrupt some or all of the Revit data cached locally to their  "server". Autodesk has some clear instructions on how to shut down a Revit Server properly, the problem is, that it involves locking the whole infrastructure while you take down whichever local server you're shutting down. The good news here is that there is a much smaller risk to the data on the actual Central Server. It does a good job of protecting itself and the data it is responsible for, so a Local Server suddenly going off-line should* not affect any of the data at the central server.

Just a word of caution for those attempting to push technology to the bleeding edge and not just the cutting edge.

*Note, I say should, there are conceivably instances where the sudden shutdown of the client or the local server might cause harm to the Central Server data store, but theoretically these should be pretty remote. Worst case is that a lock is left in place on the Central Server due to the "user" disconnecting in the middle of an operation. Keep in mind that when a user SWCs data is committed directly to the Central and Local Servers, and the data is not committed to the project data store until the transaction is 100% verified.