Everyone knows a full set of Design Review DWFx drawings can take a long time to export. So long in fact, that it makes everyone say design review sucks because it takes too long to make the file. At our company we've created a crude macro that will open revit, select the proper worksets and export the right set for a dwfx export. It can take up to 30hours to create the macro. We need to do this for every central file.
The setup time vs the savings time is well worth it. 30hrs setup time with 10hrs maintenance can save roughly $25K in employee downtime related to single central export (based on a daily export). Our macro is an .exe that operates through windows scheduler.
Automated Design Review exports require some new features. First, we need an ability to make Workset profiles so that we have an easy way to open / close the right workset for our export. A saved 'set' in the worksets window would really be of benefit to this process. A picture is included to show this dialog box. Select your custom workset set and your Dwfx exports will include the correct elements.
Now for the Export utility. In this app you want to be able to select the central file, the workset 'Set' and the DWFx export set or create an entirely new export. This thing would be simple and run independently of revit. You would also be able to save profiles. This profile would be able to sync with windows task scheduler to automate the entire process. Attached is a sample of the DWFx Export software.
I feel that this type of solution would help Design Review become a better option for most. It is currently a time theif to any project.
Correction on the $25K. The number is:
1 Hr @ $25 x 5 days x 52 weeks = $6500 Per central file. (150 Drawings)
30 min @ $15hr = $1950
Conservative estimate for central files:
Architectural exterior, interior and furniture
The number per year is: $15,600 - $52000
Lean construction teaches us eliminate waste. Even on a smaller scale, this is a lot of wasted money.
Sorry for being misleading.
So if I'm understanding you correctly, you guys are finding that it takes 30 hours to export a 150-sheet set to DWF? That can't be right. I can export 15 sheets in about 30 seconds, so that would mean that 150 sheets takes about 300 seconds, or 5 minutes. Do you have tons of high-res images and page after page of nothing but text? Or lots of shaded 3D views? Those are the only things that I've seen make DWFs take a bit longer to export, but nothing on the scale that would make it take anywhere close to 30 hours.
Have you tried exporting the set in batches (15-20 sheets at a time) then combining them in Design Review? Even that has got to be faster than the time spent writing up a macro and letting it run in the background.
Call me skeptical, but there has to be something else going on here.
It is about 30 hours of setup time to write the macro in the specific macro writing program we have. Everything is keyboard based. Setting a dwfx export inside revit is simple and quick (few seconds), but writing a macro is a different story. Every single event has to be programmed and tested as you go, you can't use a mouse. It needs to be failsafe.
Our central files usually exceed 150MB. At that size everything takes more time. Our models can have 10 - 70 central files. This may seem crazy to you and you can feel skeptical, but in our line of work, wasted time is money. Our export time is long enough that it is a hassle to the teams. If we can speed up this process, we can be more effective with our resources.
OK, but you didn't really answer my question. Why would you spend 30 hours writing a macro for this issue? How long does it take a user to export the DWFs? Like I said, it shouldn't take more than about 5-10 minutes for a 150-sheet set, regardless of the size of the file or how many linked models you have.
How long does it take someone to initiate the macro, and control its settings (sheets to export, file save location, file name)?
I guess what I'm saying is, can you explain why you went down this road to begin with? I am definitely not of the opinion that Design Review (I assume you meant exporting to DWF) is a "time thief," so I was hoping you could offer some explanation as to why you think that.
If you can automate the export every day. You don't waste a resource (who has better things to do than watch an export). This idea from an issue that an engineer had with the architect. Architect was under tight deadlines and the engineer was working off the last issue of drawings. Obvious discrepencies from what the Revit tech had and the engineer. Anyways, the architect was was too busy to export the drawings (and didn't want to because of the export time which at the time was about an hour.) The architect also wasn't contractually obliged to to create these sorts of files nor did they have the budget. So the engineer whose draftsman are under gun is suffering because he can't get the most current information. It reduced the speed to which he could work.
It was explained to me that in the AutoCad days that a read only DWG could be opened as a person was working on it. Not so easy with revit. Sure revit in demo mode an do this but usually the machine of the engineer is not a work station. Also is the needless learning curve for the engineer to use Revit.
The macro is a band aid solution to a task many don't really want to do anyways.
The macro runs on off hours and takes literally 3 mins to export. It recreates the same tasks that any user would just slightly faster. The DWF export is a time thief because a workstation is idle for an unpredictabble length of time. Add that time up over the course of a year. When you dollarize it, you can see the waste. Your 10-15 minutes is still waste that this wish could reduce.
So are you exporting DWGs, or exporting DWFs? Those are two completely separate things, each with different end-goals.
If it's DWGs, then I assume you're sending them out for coordination? And you're sending them out every single day? And expecting your consultants to overwrite their reference files every single day?
If it's DWFs, then who is using the files and for what purpose? Is it something that really needs to be done every day, or every week, throughout the entire course of the project?
Either way, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree regarding the need for some kind of automated export for DWFs from Revit and the issue of whether or not exporting to DWF is a "time thief". I'm not convinced that such a tool would be even marginally useful, but then again, I don't fully understand your end-goal with this whole process, so I'm going to bow out of the conversation.
Good luck to you.
Thanks that would be great because I can't write and you can't seem to read, and as a result, this conversation is going down the tubes pretty quick.
What's with the new profile?