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Central File Transfer Processes

Overview
This whitepaper is one key to ensure that when Revit work-sharing files are transferred back and forth that they are prepared
and saved correctly and stay working.

When a team needs to transfer Revit work-sharing files to others or other, non-networked computers there are some very
important steps to plan for and to follow. These methods can be used for central model backup as well.

Explained herein are the procedures necessary for file transfers, backups, etc. when working for instance with remote teams
on a single Revit work sharing project, or when one needs to send files to consultants for them to use as part of their scope, or
when sending files out for coordination, to use on home computers or even final project delivery to clients and so much more.

While it is possible to check out worksets and check them back in later that is not a recommended approach, as even
Autodesk Revit’s help says that is dangerous and possibly won’t work properly anyhow.

Every time a Central file is sent to anyone or received from anyone these procedures should be followed. Share this document
with your teams and anyone who will be sending Revit work-sharing files to your firm, before they transfer files to your team.

I suggest an in-person review of these procedures with all necessary players, so expectations are met on both sides.

Whether transferring files back and forth via FTP or on disk or email, etc. the procedures are similar; except of course the FTP
folder needs.

Topics Covered
• FTP Preparation (if necessary)
• Central File Preparation
• Preparations Prior to Receiving Newly Updated Central Files
• Creating a Central File (From Incoming Files and More)
• Verify and create User/Local files
• BONUS!!! Ideas for working offline

FTP Preparation (if necessary)


If saving to disk or transferring via other methods please skip this section and go directly to the Central File Preparation
section below.

Use Windows Explorer or another file management application to setup the FTP transfer areas.
• Create a top-level folder on your FTP site for the project using your firm's standardized naming convention. If you
have no naming conventions now is the time to create one.

• Create two sub-folders in that folder called:


• To <Your Firm>
• From <Your Firm>

• Then create date-named Sub-folders within these (as needed). This will help to help keep incoming/outgoing files
from overwriting one another, as well as providing record copies of uploads and downloads.
• Example using August 13th, 2009 as the date of the transfer, use the following format: YYYY-MM-DD or
2009-08-13. (I like the dashes to keep them more reader friendly).
There are obviously many standard dating methods but this format keeps all files/folders arranged with the
year grouping, which has proven to avoid confusion, especially on long running projects.

• Perhaps add the project number and even the To or From value again in the dated sub-folder names to
keep "other" Windows' user errors abated.

White Paper Revit 2


(Image 1)

Example Folder Structure: 
FTP SITE
00.0000 Project Name
00.0000 To My Firm
00.0000 To 2009-08-13

00.0000 From My Firm


00.0000 From 2009-08-13

The file names themselves will keep everyone's files separated, if everyone uses standardized and consistent naming
conventions. These conventions do not need to be the same, just consistent within themselves.

I cannot count how many times I have found people using different naming conventions on the same project; so that
each time they transferred their files the names were different. I suggest that each of the central model names stay
consistent throughout the life of the project.

Central File Preparation


• Remove any lingering warnings/errors. This is mandatory (and could be covered in its own paper or blog
post...hmmm...like: Review Warnings. Do Not Ignore Them!!!). Removing warnings/errors is especially important
before sending to clients or municipalities, coordination work, final submittals, etc. Therefore it is highly recommended
to work with none, all the time and alleviate undue problems.
• All team members Save to Central and Relinquished everything.
• All other team members close out of Revit.
Note: having the rest of the team close Revit ensures the Central file is ready to be prepared.

-Now you are (nearly) ready to work in the central file; but first you have some thinking to do; preferably with the
team(s)...

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Consider these carefully and thoroughly.

These examples provided are intended to forward your deliberations and are only a limited set of possible solutions and
considerations.

• Does everything that is in the project file need to be transferred?


• Are Sheets needed to be included?
• Yes
• When a remote team is to continue work as any other in-house team would.
• When delivering the project to the client or end user.

• No
• In cases where models are transferred to consultants.
• In cases where the model is large and the end user does not need to print the sheets.
• In cases such as models specifically to be used for coordination.

• Can Views be removed?


• Yes
• User specific, Working Views or Unused Views, etc.
• In cases where models are transferred to consultants.
• In cases where the model is large and the end user does not need to use these
Views.
• In cases such as models specifically to be used for coordination.

• Perhaps
• When a remote team is to continue work and return the file for in-house continuation.

• No
• Views that are on sheets (hmmm...unless sheets aren't to be transferred...)

• Should a Purge be done before transfer?


• Yes
• When models are transferred to consultants, etc. -usually they don't need all of the unused
items, as these just create wasted time and slower working conditions for them.
• When a remote team is to continue work as any other in-house team would and there are
unnecessary items that can be readily had if necessary in the future.

• Perhaps
• When a remote team is to continue work as any other in-house team would and there are
unnecessary items that can be readily had if necessary in the future.

• Do linked files need to be transferred?


• If so then include copies of the linked files in other appropriately named sub folders (CAD
links as well). The sub folder names should perhaps be the same as the originating folder,
found in your project's network location.

• If the linked files are Revit Central files themselves you must complete the steps in this
section for each and every one of them as well, prior to transferring.

• If the linked files are CAD files, etc. it is acceptable to use copies, as long as their name
remains the same, their path type is set to "Relative" in Revit's "Manage Links" dialog and
they are in a correctly named sub folder within the main folder used for transferring.

Again; please consider these carefully and thoroughly; come up with your own methods which will probably be different for
each project.

-OK that's resolved so now you are ready to continue to prepare the central file.

• Open the Central File, ensure you check the Audit and Detach from Central check boxes at this time, then choose
Yes in the dialog that comes up next. -See Image 2-

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(Image 2)
• With this new, detached file go to FILE>SAVEAS...

• Click the Options button


• if the check box for Make Central File After Save is grayed out and checked by default then you can move
on -See Image 3-; if it is not checked you must make it checked but beware; something went wrong
previously so it's best to not save and retrace your steps...

(Image 3)

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• Click OK and save the file using the original Central File's name, in the appropriately named FTP sub- folder or disk,
etc.
The previous step makes the new Central Model File but you're not done just yet...

• Finally go to FILE>SAVE TO CENTRAL and relinquishing everything.


• Be sure to check the User Created Worksets button, as well as all others available
• Check the Compact box at this time
-Now you have a central file ready for transfer...

• Close the central file.


It is not recommended to use the date in Revit file names; keep the file names consistent with the standard
naming conventions of your firm for central models throughout. As previously discussed it is suggested to use folders
to delineate date specific versions of files.

• Communicate to the appropriate teams where and how to retrieve the file(s).

• Include this document so the team can follow standard Revit work-sharing file procedures.
If transferring files via Disk or Email, etc. the above procedures are similar, other than the FTP folder
protocols.

Preparations Prior to Receiving Newly Updated Central Files


• Provide this document to any teams sending you files, to ensure that you get correctly formatted files.

• Back up the existing Central file


• Make a date named sub folder inside the project's "Record Files" or similar sub folder.
• With no one in any of their User models, open Revit
• Go to FILE>OPEN and immediately check the "Detach from Central" box
• Navigate to the existing Central Model and open it (make sure the "Detach from Central" box is still checked
and choose Yes at the next dialog. (See image 2 above)
• With this new, detached file go to FILE>SAVEAS...
• Click the Options button
if the check box for "Make Central File After Save" is grayed out and checked by default then you
can move on (see Image 3 above); if it is not checked you must make it checked but beware;
something went wrong previously so it's best to not save and retrace your steps...

• Click OK and save the file using the original Central File's name, in the appropriate date-named record sub- folder.

The previous step makes the new Central Model File but you're not done just yet...
• Finally go to FILE>SAVE TO CENTRAL and relinquishing everything.
• Be sure to check the User Created Worksets button, as well as all others available
• Check the Compact box at this time.

-Now you have a backed up central file...

• Close the file.


Again, do not use the date in Revit file names; keep the file names consistent with your firm's standard
naming conventions throughout; it is suggested to use folders to delineate date specific versions.

• Communicate and document where the backed up files are located, for future needs.

Creating a Central File (From Incoming Files and More)


• Delete (yes delete) all User Model Files and User Backup Folders.
• Make an Incoming Files sub folder inside the project's Record Files (or similar) sub folder.
• Make a date named sub folder inside that, following your firm's protocols.

• Copy the incoming file from the ftp site or disk to the appropriately date named, incoming subfolder.
• Open Revit.
• Open the incoming file using FILE>OPEN (BTW: Never double click Revit or any other Autodesk file to open
them; always open files from the software itself; without going into too much detail just know this can/has
and does corrupt files) be sure to check the Audit and Detach from Central boxes. -See Image 2- above.

• Use FILE>SAVEAS and click into the Options button and check the box Make this a Central File after Save. -See
Image 3- above.

• Browse to the project's existing Central Model folder and save this new file over the existing Central Model file,
accepting the Windows prompt to replace the existing file.
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The previous step makes the new Central Model File, but you're not done just yet...

• Finally, go to FILE>SAVE TO CENTRAL and relinquishing everything.


• Be sure to check the User Created Worksets button, as well as all others available.
• Check the Compact box at this time.

• Close the file.

-Now you have a new central file and can get to the business of working in the Revit project again...almost...

Verify and create User/Local files


• Create new Local/User file and accept ownership of the new User File when prompted.

• Once the user files are created (and you are paranoid (or careful) like me) verify that they are linked back to the new
central file by using <FILE/SAVE AS...> and look at the location of the associated central model. -See Image 4-

(Image 4)

• Create other User Models, as necessary.


• Work as normal (but create no warnings/errors, right).

BONUS!!! Ideas for Working Offline (Not on the Network)


• Create a new central file similar to the concepts above.
• Bring it offline (home, etc.)
• Open it “Detached”, SaveAs to the offline computer, ensuring it becomes yet another new central file.
• Open a new empty file.
• Recreate any Levels at the same elevations, with the same names as in the original file, as necessary.
• Link in the offline central file, do all work live in the new file; use origin to origin as a rule.
• When completed working remove the link, save etc.
• Bring the new file to the network, link it into the main project, origin to origin; select the link, look at the options bar
and select “Bind”. Do not bring across levels or grids under this scenario.
• Let the link be removed by Revit if prompted (if not prompted remove it later).
• Select what used to be the link, notice that after the binding it is a group… Ungroup it and it is now live geometry…
• Remove the group from the project browser.

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Summary
Creating and maintaining Central Files and their connectivity to User model files is of utmost importance and needs to be
carefully considered and accomplished. The procedures explained herein shed light on proper Central file transference.

Topics Covered
• FTP Preparation (if necessary)
• Central File Preparation
• Preparations Prior to Receiving Newly Updated Central Files
• Creating a Central File (From Incoming Files and More)
• Verify and create User/Local files
• BONUS!!! Ideas for working offline

Resources / Tips & Techniques


Links to other methods and mindsets to use that help create successful Revit projects:
Review Warnings. Do Not Ignore Them!!! 
 
Knowledge... He said base... Some Revit Best Practices 

Jay B Zallan
Art, Architecture, Technology, Ideas. These are
Jay's professional passions. He is a Designer, an
Artist and a BIM futurist.

Jay has more than 20 years of Architectural experience and


enjoys a varied & diverse portfolio ranging from High-end
Custom Residential Design to large Mixed Use Development
projects as well as many practice areas between. As Co-
President of the Los Angeles Revit Users Group and one of
the few people with Autodesk ICE (Implementation Certified
Expert) qualifications Jay finds himself uniquely qualified to
implement and teach BIM concepts including leading the Southwest Region BIM deployment at Gensler. Jay combines his uniquely
qualified Architectural and technology insights into the creative & business process of Architecture, Engineering and Construction,
with proven production strategies.
Being an international public speaker and consultant on topics ranging from BIM, IPD and Virtual Design & Construction Jay has
been a recurring presenter at Autodesk University. Additionally; as a certified Instructor for Revit, AutoCAD Architecture and
AutoCAD Jay has taught thousands of Architects, Engineers and Contractors in the uses and integration practices of Autodesk
products, as well as being a professional user of many technologies since the early 1980’s, starting in ACAD version 2.14.

As an Artist Jay works in a variety of styles & media, constantly experimenting with subject, concept and material. Most works are
iconic, large, multi-panel mixed media works.

As an instructor Jay teaches Art, Architecture & Creativity classes both privately and as a guest instructor at the Los Angeles County
Museum of Art (LACMA). These experiences allow Jay to enable, empower and inspire others to realize their own dreams and
creative potentials beyond limitations whether real or perceived.
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