Collaboration with Revit Structure - Work Sharing

October 12th, 2011

Collaboration means working together to achieve a goal. Follow these recommendations for doing it right or risk sabotaging the effort.


The first step in preparing a project for multiple users is to divide your model into logical groupings of objects that are set up for single-user access. In Autodesk® Revit® this object grouping is achieved with worksets. When setting up the worksets, you must take into consideration the size of the project, each person’s task, and the size of the team. Workset naming should be related to the function and/or location of the objects that will be in that grouping, which will allow new team members to easily adapt to the project.

To enable worksharing, select the Worksets tool located on the Collaborate panel.

Figure 1: Worksets tool

When you first activate worksets, a couple of things happen. First, the initial dialog box is automatically moving levels and grids to a workset and then assigning everything else to a different workset. Some default workset names are provided in the dialog box; however, you can change them at this time.

Figure 2: Worksharing default worksets

Other standard groupings that happen automatically when you activate Worksharing are Families, Project Standards, and views. This is important so if one user is annotating a view, another user cannot be doing the same.

To create a new workset select “New” in the worksets dialog box. Note that worksets also can be turned on and off in different views. When you create them, you can have them on or off in all views as default. This is very useful if you are modeling something you do not want to appear in all views.

Figure 3: Worksets dialog box—creating a new workset

Central file vs. Local file


When worksets are activated, your Revit file becomes a Central file. A Central file allows multiple users to create a local copy of the model and synchronize their changes back to the Central file. When you activate your Worksets for the first time you are creating a Central file. This means once your worksets are established you need to close the Central file and open a local copy to begin the project. Figure four illustrates this action.

Figure 4: Create a local copy

Another way to create a local copy is to make a copy of the Revit Central file in a browser window, place it somewhere locally, then rename the file. To ensure you are connected and synchronizing your changes to the Central file, you can check the settings in the Synchronize drop-down on the Collaborate panel.

Figure 5: Synchronize settings

If the Central file ever becomes corrupt, misplaced, or deleted and unrecoverable, you can change a local copy into a new Central file. When you open up your local Revit Structure file you may get an error that the Central file has moved. You can accept this error and still get into your local copy of the Central file. Then you can save your local file as a new Central file.

Figure 6: Create a new Central file

Once the new Central file is established, other users can make a new local copy of the Central file and it will be up and running in no time.

Element Borrowing and Editing Requests

Any member of the project team connected to the Central file through a local copy can borrow parts of the model to work on. To understand how this all works we have to start with the user name. The user name will appear in the worksets dialog box showing what worksets are borrowed for editing.

Figure 7: Worksets borrowed

Recommendation: Make your user name descriptive enough so other team members can identify you. In a large firm, adding your phone extension to your username is useful in case someone needs to talk with you to collaborate. To set your user name, select options from your main application drop-down menu.

Figure 8: Setting your user name

If you select an element belonging to a workset that someone has borrowed, you need to place a request to edit that element.  To do this select the element and click the “Make element editable” button indicated in Figure 9. If no one is editing that element it will open to make it available to you. If someone else has that element you will get an error and need to place a request to edit.

Figure 9: Make element editable

If you place a request to edit an element the user will get a notification alerting them of your request. If they grant you permission, they need to synchronize with the Central file. Once they synchronize, you do the same to receive the permission to make the edits.

Figure 10: Request notification

There are a couple of ways you can get a status on your editing requests. First, you can select Editing requests from the Collaborate panel. Second, there is a counter for the number of requests next to your active worksets.

Figure 11: Editing requests in the Collaborate panel

Figure 12: Number of requests

Recommendation: When you are done working and performed your last synchronization, DO NOT forget to relinquish all your worksets and elements. Do this by selecting “Relinquish All Mine” from the Collaborate panel.

Figure 13: Relinquishing all Worksets and Elements


All views in your Revit Structure model have visibility settings that allow you to globally turn on and off items that belong to a workset.  When worksets are activated in a model, a workset tab can be found in the visibility settings of a view.

Figure 14: Workset visibility

Closing Tip

There will be an occasion when you are in a collaborative environment where a team member forgets to relinquish a workset he/she had control of. To make it even worse, this team member may not be in the office and you need to work on some elements that belong to that workset.

The workaround for this is to change your user name to that of the team member, then relinquish the workset. Once the worksets are relinquished, synchronize with the Central file. Finally, change your user name back and continue to work on the file. The caution I must add is to make sure the user synchronized his/her changes to the Central file—otherwise,  any changes that users made will be lost.

Follow these rules, recommendations, and tips and you will have success collaborating with your team. Don’t be a traitor and break the rules! The team will suffer the consequences.

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About the Authors

Elizabeth Shulok


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