Panzura Best Practices: Revit

This article describes how to specify environmental variables to provide the best experience for Revit users

Panzura empowers real-time collaboration on shared Revit models over multiple sites or offices. Our global file system enables Revit’s file locking and byte-range locking to work in real time across sites, regardless of location.

Several environmental variables determine the quality of the user experience when collaborating on Revit models. These include network topology, bandwidth and latency between sites, number of simultaneous users working on the model, and organization of worksets within the Revit model.  

Revit stores the location for the model within the model itself. This is how it knows if the model has been moved and prompts to resave the model as a new central if it is moved. This location is embedded as a UNC path that begins with the server name (i.e. \\server\share\ProjectA\model.rvt). 

Since the path begins with the server name, this creates an issue when multiple users are working across multiple filers, each with their own server name. Even though Panzura keeps the models in sync, the server name would change with each user at different sites. For this reason Panzura recommends the use of DFS to create a common namespace across multiple sites. 

Size Doesn’t Matter

The size of the Revit model is not a significant factor when working with the Panzura global file system, because the Revit model itself is not transferred across the WAN or to the cloud. Only changes to the model are transferred. Response time of the network is a much more significant factor and has a greater impact on the user experience.

To help manage the latency between sites working on the project, identify the sites with the greatest latency. The following chart provides some latency ranges and what the typical experience is like when users have the same Revit model open simultaneously in these ranges.

Low

0-40 ms

Very close to LAN behavior. With this latency, using Revit is similar to working in a single office.

Medium

40-80 ms

Users may occasionally observe minor delays for certain operations, such as borrowing an element for the first time, but this level of latency is typically acceptable even in a production environment.

High

80-120 ms

Noticeable delays occur for certain operations. Productive work is still possible, but working in a production environment can become frustrating for some users.

Extreme

120-200 ms

Significant delays occur in some Revit operations. Editing operations are possible, but other workflows need to be adjusted using the guidelines in the following section.


Configuring Panzura Smart Cache

Panzura controllers maintain a disk cache of the most actively used files within the global file system. The best performance is achieved when the Auto Pre-populate setting it toggled on. This setting can be found on the Configuration page for each controller under Smart Cache Settings. 

This feature identifies files that have been accessed by users on this controller and when those files are modified on other filers, this controller will proactively download those changes, keeping the latest changes cached on this controller. 

 

Bandwidth Guidelines

It can be difficult to determine bandwidth requirements due to the number of variables involved. The number of people working, the type of work they are performing, and the applications they use can all influence bandwidth requirements. 

The following general guidelines can be used as a starting point. We recommend that you perform tests to monitor bandwidth in your environment to create more accurate requirements. Keep in mind that Panzura can work with much lower bandwidth than what is shown here – these requirements are based on supporting Revit and other highly collaborative applications. 

These requirements are based on users at multiple locations who are collaborating on the same model. If all users are in the same location (connected to the same controller) requirements will be much lower.

Requirements:

  • 1 user using Revit – 10 MBs minimum.
  • 5 users using Revit – 20 MBs minimum.
  • 20 users using Revit – 50 MBs minimum. 

Model Migration

When first working with Panzura, it is common to copy projects from other locations or servers over to the Panzura controller. The following are recommendations when first moving and working on these projects.

  1. Copy the whole project over. Particularly important are all the CAD files that reference each other. Even if they are in different folders, the goal is to get all referenced files for a particular project onto the Panzura controller.
  2. After the files have been copied over, follow this procedure for each Revit model (make sure that no one creates a local copy of the model prior to completing these steps).
    1. Open the Revit model and check the Detach From Central checkbox.
    2. Choose the Preserve Worksets option (unless you don’t want to keep existing worksets).
    3. When the model opens, choose Save As. In the Save As dialog, click Options. Set backups to at least 10 and select Create New Central.
    4. Save the file over the existing model. Keep the file open.
    5. Open the Manage Links dialog. For each link, choose Reload From. Browse to find the link on the Panzura Controller. This must be done for each link, even if the link type is listed as Relative. When projects are moved, relative links are not always resolved properly by Revit and might be loaded from a remote location, which can negatively affect load times. Re-path the links on the Revit tab and the CAD Files and Image Files tabs.
    6. Save the file again. Because you currently have the model open directly on the server, there is no need to sync with central in this case. 
  3. Close and Save the Revit model. 
  4. Open all AutoCAD files and re-path all cross references. Confirm that paths are set to the Panzura controller.

    The model is now ready to be opened by multiple users.