Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 18
Like Tree5Likes

Thread: Worksets and DropBox - how to do it without getting yourself in deep doodoo

  1. #1
    Junior Member FBlome's Avatar
    Join Date
    December 7, 2010
    Location
    Menlo Park, California
    Posts
    47
    Current Local Time
    03:39 AM

    Worksets and DropBox - how to do it without getting yourself in deep trouble

    I'd like to share my recent experience using DropBox as a way to create a WAN for a Workset enabled project. Bottom line was success within a VERY narrow set of work conditions. I needed to document this anyways, so this is a long post.

    This was a 2 person collaboration, 3 time zone difference. The project file hovered around 70 mb. Our work tasks were different through much of the project so we did not always need to work on the model at the same time. However, we did work on the file and the model at the same time successfully, which we HAD to do given our project goals and timeline.

    1. Here's the decision tree to DropBox
      1. I've successfully used Worksets on a WAN in the past using a VPN via Hamachi (see some of my old posts on Augi) but we had standard DSL speeds at the time and SWC were painfully slow as were permissions. We tested this setup again, and the speeds were still painful.
      2. We started down the path of a standard VPN but I quickly reached the peak of my tech knowledge and knew the speeds weren't gong to be any better.
      3. I checked out Globalscape who has a DropBox type system tweaked for Revit, but it was way too expensive for a one-up project like this, even their lite version.
      4. Remote desktop - too small and short term of a project, and no budget, which meant Riverbend solutions weren't an option either.

    2. DropBox
      1. There are a few forum and blog threads about using this setup along with the disclaimers of don't try it for real work. Uh, I ignored that recommendation, hoping to create a set of work rules that would keep us out of trouble.
      2. DropBox does not have a file lock mechanism to prevent simultaneous saves - that's the big issue.
      3. DropBox setup is simple and free for the capacity we needed. No firewall or router tweaks were needed.

    3. Locate the Central File
      1. The important key setup was creating a permanent Drive Letter mapping to the DrobBox folder were the Central file is kept.
      2. First create a folder in Dropbox for the project and get your DropBox sharing set up.
      3. Then map that folder to a drive letter. We used http://www.ntwind.com/software/utili...ual-subst.html.
      4. Everyone that accesses the Central file needs to do this and all use the same drive letter, ie everybody maps the same folder to say letter "S" or whatever nobody is using otherwise.
      5. When you create your Central file or any later Save As, you must navigate via the drive letter, not any other way or it will screw it up.

    4. Create your local
      1. Again, navigate via the drive letter and create your Local somewhere else not in the Dropbox folder. (no reason other than it keeps the Dropbox traffic down)
      2. Confirm in the Revit Synchronize dialog box that the Central File Location is via the drive letter, not anything else.

    5. DropBox syncing
      1. We found DropBox incredibly fast in updating the main Central file whenever we SWC for the size of the file and considering it's up and downloading, at the same time. I think it's doing a sector sync.
      2. The Central backup folder is also synced and that's where the problems are going to occur.
      3. DrobBox has a system tray notifications, but we ended up turning it off as they got annoying.

    6. Workflow rules - here's the key to getting this work without corrupting the Central file:
      1. No editing the same element, ever - this is a guaranteed corruption. Revit will allow this but you won't find out until you SWC. The eperms.dat file controls this but in the milliseconds between DropBox syncing this file, you could be both accessing it for various reasons and updating it. DropBox will recognize that this has happened and creates a second eperms file which Revit won't see. This means that Revit isn't really tracking permissions correctly anymore. We both continued to work with the corrupted eperms w/o issues.
      2. If you do accidentally edit the same element and know it happened, stop your work and figure out the best approach to recover. We had it happen once by accident so it is a definite risk. Our recover was easy as we were off the model and mainly doing 2D work.
      3. You have to coordinate your SWC, so that you are NOT saving at the same time. You need to also confirm that DropBox has finished syncing.
        1. Dropbox adds a little icon to the file icon to indicate it's state.
        2. If you have Carbonite running, it prevents those little icons from showing, so turn off Carbonite backup on the DropBox folder.

      4. I deleted the "Synchronize Now" button off the quick access ribbon as it is right next to the save button. Too risky miss and hit sync by accident.

    7. Real life
      1. We did this for a couple of months. Primarily we timed our work sessions so that we didn't overlap when we working on the project. This meant late nights in some cases
      2. We communicated closely when we were on or off, and when we needed to SWC.
      3. When we were both working, we were clear as to who was working on the model vs 2D work, like mostly detailing. That kept permissions simpler.
      4. We separated out a huge chunk of work with Worksets, so that it could be checked out (Editable). We made sure we did this at separate times so that the eperms file updated first. Our setup was simple so we didn't need to get into the family/views/standards worksets.
      5. It was pretty cool at the end of the day to both SWC and reload latest in a couple minutes.

    8. Conclusions
      1. I'd do it again but only under similar circumstances. It would work great in a substantial time shift situation, eliminating having to move the file around.
      2. The easy separation of work tasks would be only one person on the model and one on 2D detailing. Two on the model would be risky unless you divide it up with worksets. It requires a real conscious effort, as there is no fail safe against stupid errors.

    9. What Autodesk ought to do for small networks like mine (this ignores Revit Server which I've never used):
      1. Use Dropbox as a sanctioned sync system, or relabel it and incorporate it into Revit
      2. Pull out of the Central Backup folder anything related to permission etc that can't be sync'd properly. Put them in the Autodesk cloud server so that each Revit station has to check there. (is that what the Revit Server does?) Add something to coordinate SWC permissions.
      3. Or allow us to choose where the central backup folder can go, so we can put the backup file on a server or on one workstation with a VPN connection in, ie outside the DropBox. That way normal Windows file permissions work.
      4. That's it. DropBox handles the heavy work, Revit handles permissions separately, or Autodesk cloud handles permissions.



    Whew - your mileage may vary, and of course never try this on real work....
    Fred
    Last edited by FBlome; August 11th, 2011 at 05:08 AM.
    rezaabedi, Alex F., eks_al and 2 others like this.

  2. #2
    Administrator Munkholm's Avatar
    Join Date
    December 7, 2010
    Location
    Kingdom of Denmark
    Posts
    4,142
    Current Local Time
    12:39 PM
    Great write up! Could come in handy one day for us self-employed and small company┤s who don┤t have the resources to set up a Revit Server

  3. #3
    Moderator
    "Mark Twain"
    mdradvies's Avatar
    Join Date
    December 16, 2010
    Location
    Boxtel, Netherlands
    Posts
    4,553
    Current Local Time
    10:39 AM
    Thanks for the extensive review! I've looked at this options but never really got the guts to use Dropbox. This will surely help...

  4. #4
    Forum Co-Founder Alfredo Medina's Avatar
    Join Date
    December 7, 2010
    Location
    Orlando, FL, USA | info@planta1.com
    Posts
    2,788
    Current Local Time
    06:39 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by FBlome View Post
    I'd like to share my recent experience using DropBox as a way to create a WAN for a Workset enabled project. Bottom line was success within a VERY narrow set of work conditions. I needed to document this anyways, so this is a long post...
    Welcome to the forum, Fred, and thank you very much for taking the time and effort to share this information with us. This post is very useful, since it explains the pros and cons of your experience with Dropbox, and other means different than Revit Server. I found the information very interesting since I am in the middle of considering options for setting up a connection for remote collaboration, and I have been reading about Revit Server, and about all the stuff I need to set it up, etc. Thanks.

    I have a question, though: if you had to do this remote collaboration again, or more often, will you stick to this alternative, or would you consider going through the expenses and struggles to set up Revit Server?

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    June 27, 2011
    Posts
    19
    Current Local Time
    12:39 PM
    So where is the "like" this button for the topic?

    Great write up. Thanks for the info.

  6. #6
    Moderator
    "Mark Twain"
    mdradvies's Avatar
    Join Date
    December 16, 2010
    Location
    Boxtel, Netherlands
    Posts
    4,553
    Current Local Time
    10:39 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by Elmo View Post
    So where is the "like" this button for the topic?

    Great write up. Thanks for the info.
    You can either bookmark the post (left icon under the writer's username) or give the user reppoints for it (star under user icon)
    On the top of the page you can retweet, facebook like or Google +1 the whole thread

  7. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    January 14, 2011
    Posts
    5
    Current Local Time
    08:09 PM
    Thank you for sharing your forward thinking. I have trialed your dropbox solution with great success. I am a small company with one employee inhouse and one employee remote user. I used a file of around 30MB in size and found the initial save as a central file took a bit of time to upload but subsequent SWC took no time at all. With proper management as suggested this idea could be a real solution for small companies that do small to medium size projects.

    Thanks again I will be using this on my next project.

    gjettner

  8. #8
    Junior Member FBlome's Avatar
    Join Date
    December 7, 2010
    Location
    Menlo Park, California
    Posts
    47
    Current Local Time
    03:39 AM
    Cool thanks - again a big caution because if you accidentally save to central while Dropbox is up or downloading the central file from somebody else's save, somebody's work is gone as you'll end up with 2 centrals who think they are sync'd but are different. You can't sync again or unsync, so the only recourse is to cut and paste stuff back into the correct file. You'd have to pick which Central to use, decide which local has lost stuff and rename it for temp use, and toss the rest of the local files.

    Shoot, I was going to go for a second post of the month with only 2 posts to my name. Can't now.

  9. #9
    Junior Member FBlome's Avatar
    Join Date
    December 7, 2010
    Location
    Menlo Park, California
    Posts
    47
    Current Local Time
    03:39 AM
    I missed your question back then - would I do it again?
    It depends. These projects are high end custom homes. It would have to be a small team and I don't see think how I could easily break up the project for simultaneous modeling. But, typically the modeling is on one person anyways, so the team comes into play later with 2D documentation. I would certainly explore alternatives depending on the project budget as I'd rather not have the risk/worry factor. But yes probably do it again this way given similar circumstances.


    Quote Originally Posted by Alfredo Medina View Post
    ...clip...

    I have a question, though: if you had to do this remote collaboration again, or more often, will you stick to this alternative, or would you consider going through the expenses and struggles to set up Revit Server?

  10. #10
    Revit Maestro
    Join Date
    December 10, 2010
    Posts
    36
    Current Local Time
    02:39 AM
    Great thread. I've done this with a colleague, but instead of using the virtual drive, me and a colleague ensured that the path to the central file was the same on both computers. So we setup Dropbox to have its folder right off the C:\ directory (so the path would be C:\Dropbox for everyone) -- this will negate the need to have the extra software involved to create the virtual mapped drives.

    Our results were the same as the OP with the same caveats.
    Last edited by Wes Macaulay; March 28th, 2012 at 10:46 PM.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

LinkBacks (?)

  1. February 23rd, 2012, 02:28 AM
  2. February 9th, 2012, 05:33 PM
  3. February 2nd, 2012, 09:34 PM

Similar Threads

  1. Working on worksets if not connected
    By mdradvies in forum Worksharing, Revit Server & C4R
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: June 6th, 2011, 08:17 PM
  2. Managed Worksets with a RVT Link
    By Alex Cunningham in forum Architecture and General Revit Questions
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: May 20th, 2011, 03:44 PM
  3. Problemen met worksets
    By Bloks in forum Nederlands forum
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: May 20th, 2011, 10:08 AM
  4. Replacing Worksets as a visibility tool
    By Gordon Price in forum Architecture and General Revit Questions
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: March 21st, 2011, 01:12 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •