Written by Emily Bisaga Dunne and Lance Coffey
Key Contributors: Harlan Brumm, Lainie Ransom, Chris Aquino, Sasha Crotty, Joy Stark
It’s a difficult and challenging time for us all. We’re being asked to do new things, including working remotely. Autodesk is committed to supporting you and your teams during this time of unprecedented change and uncertainty. To help you stay more connected and productive, we’re sharing our best practices about how to use Revit remotely —in a variety of situations— including working from your kitchen island.
Understanding your options
Let’s review the basics of working remotely with Autodesk products. Basically, you can bring the Revit project data to you, or you can “go” to the Revit project data where it is stored. Here’s what you need to know:
There are three main approaches for working remotely in Revit.
- Revit cloud worksharing (think BIM 360 Design)
- Accessing your office system remotely (Remote Desktop)
- Working offline
The image above is a conceptual diagram showing the two main options for staying connected to your work with Revit – connecting to the cloud and remote desktop connection.
Revit cloud worksharing – bring your project to you.
This is generally seen by end users as the most seamless way to transition to remote collaboration.
This environment has the following requirements:
- Revit running on a local system capable of working with your models
- BIM 360 Design
- Internet connection of 5Mbps Up/Down or better (If your setup is close but doesn’t quite meet the requirements you may still be able to use cloud worksharing with reduced performance.)
When you have a laptop or desktop with Revit installed, you can use BIM 360 Design to access your files from anywhere with an internet connection because your central models live in the cloud. You can also use a tablet or a phone to review published project data in BIM 360 Document Management without Revit.
If you don’t have BIM 360 Design, check out this helpful article called “Helping You Stay Connected for Collaboration.” The article covers what BIM 360 Design is and how you can get started, along with additional learning resources to get your projects going.
If you do have BIM 360 Design, or are new to using it remotely, this post covers how to be successful when working remotely.
The most common setup we see for this workflow when working from home is a laptop with both Revit and BIM 360 Design access. If you have a workstation at your office that already has Revit and BIM 360 Design access, then you could take that home as well.
- More hard disk space will be required for Revit cloud workshared models.
- If BIM 360 Design cost is a consideration, Autodesk is providing extended free trials with the Extended Access Program.
- If you will be installing Revit in a new location, review best practices for accessing Autodesk software while working remotely.
- If you don’t have the hardware needed to run Revit available to you where you are, virtualization might be an answer. Virtualization is where you run a virtual computer in the cloud (or on another machine) and access it through remote desktop software. There are several commercial providers that can help with this setup and allow you access to powerful machines. Providers like Fra.me, Microsoft Azure, Workspot, or Amazon Workspaces are a few that all offer solutions for setting up a PC in the cloud. Using this setup would require that you BYOL (Bring your own License) and install the products you need separately as well – including any add-ons, as if you were setting up a new machine. It’s important when considering an option like this, to think about the CPU, Memory, and Graphics card you will need to be productive – ensuring you have a system capable of running Revit. You will also need to ensure enough storage space on the virtual computer to install the applications you’d like to use. You will also need a way to access your projects on this cloud computer – BIM 360 Design will help you with that as well.
Accessing your computer remotely – go to your Project
If Revit cloud worksharing doesn’t seem to be an option, then remote desktop may work for you.
In summary, how this works is where you (or your IT support) sets up a remote desktop solution, where you are essentially creating a portal through which you view your office machine. Your keystrokes and mouse moves on your machine at home are replicated in real time on your machine at work and you are effectively working on the machine in your office, and should have all the same access to all of your data and systems just like you would if you were working at your company. This option works well when you don’t have the hardware on-hand capable of running Revit, but you do have access to that hardware located somewhere else – like your office.
Special considerations and frequently asked questions:
- A Broadband Internet connection is required, but the specific speed needed varies depending on screen resolution and remote desktop provider
- Depending on the remote desktop solution used, you (or your IT support) may need to create a VPN or similar connection between your home system and office network
- Printing: If there is a need to print from Revit, instead of printing to a physical printer (which would be output at the office) print to a PDF, then transfer the PDF file to a location you can print the document
If you are the only one that needs to work in the Revit model, then you can make changes while offline, and then transfer the updated model when/where an Internet connection is available.
If multiple people will be working in the model (worksharing) and you can’t be online, you can try working at risk.
This is a far less preferable scenario for working remotely. When you are working at risk, you have essentially checked out a copy of the local model file and are working disconnected from your Revit central model file and any network.
Here are some best practices to mitigate issues if you must work at risk to stay productive:
- When connected to the network, take ownership of the worksets containing the elements you will need to modify.
- Keep an open line of communication between everyone working in the model about elements modified that need to be borrowed while offline. If two users modify the same element at risk, only one will be able to synchronize their changes. (The other will need to start over in a new local model.)
Common Scenarios and Recommendations
There are a lot of unknowns on our end as we come up with strategies to help you with worksharing from home – we don’t know your internet bandwidth, hardware, etc. Hopefully these common scenarios will help guide you through the process of getting started with remote worksharing.
Scenario: Your desktop computer is trapped in your office and you don’t have a system you can install Revit onto locally.
Recommendation: Remote Desktop
Scenario: You brought your desktop computer home from the office, you have a laptop from your company, you have a personal laptop that can run Revit, you have a personal desktop that can run Revit
Recommendation: Cloud worksharing
Scenario: You don’t have anything
Recommendation: Balance the cost of not working versus purchasing hardware / services to continue working.
Scenario: You have an iPad or similar tablet device
Recommendation: Acquire a physical keyboard and use remote desktop
- Additional information on options above as well as more options: Options for Remote Access in Revit
- For information on performance and specking hardware for Revit see Graphics Card and Hardware Info
- Please check this COVID-19 Autodesk Resource Center page for ongoing information – COVID-19 Autodesk Resource Center
- HELPING YOU STAY CONNECTED FOR COLLABORATION
- BEST PRACTICES FOR WORKING REMOTELY IN BIM 360 DESIGN
We recognize that this is a challenging time and that worrying about remote work setup isn’t a stress you need right now. With either BIM 360 Design or Remote Desktop, we hope that these solutions will support your workflows, help you collaborate with your teams, and lead you to greater productivity.
Best wishes for health and project success in 2020!
Emily and Lance
Emily Bisaga Dunne
Emily is the Industry Outcomes Lead for Building Design at Autodesk, a global and strategic position in which she leverages her expertise from experience in the industry to help Autodesk understand key business outcomes for architectural and engineering technology customers.
About Lance Coffey
Lance is a Product Support Specialist at Autodesk, with 11 years of experience troubleshooting Revit.