BIM Manager’s Corner: Aaron Maller of Parallax Team on upgrading Revit, part 1

Software Tips

By Aaron Maller

By now, you are probably aware that Revit 2022 is now live. While there will be myriad posts about new features, new tools, new offerings, rebadged and renamed offerings, in this post I want to talk about what this new release means for the BIM Managers and IT folks in the back, alike: those setting up and implementing the features in the yearly releases.

I’m Aaron Maller, from Parallax Team. We assist customers with all aspects of Practice Technology Implementation. We serve as BIM Manager for a lot of them. We also maintain Content Libraries and Project Templates for all the current versions of Revit, and we maintain those objects for a number of our customers, as well.

Year after year, as Autodesk rolls out new versions of software, we evaluate the entire BIM Implementation of our clients against these new offerings, looking for changes — small and large, positive and not-so-positive — that may need to be addressed or altered, to make working more efficient.

Over two posts, I am going to look at the case for Upgrading/Deploying a new version of Revit (from a BIM Manager’s perspective), starting here with some important considerations that come up any time there’s an upgrade available, before diving into some key considerations that will be specific to Revit 2022. In a second post, we will look at the business case for making Implementation Changes based on the new features that ship with Revit 2022, and how/why my team and I stay engaged with what is in development.

How do I know so soon after release what’s coming in Revit 2022? Because Parallax Team is in the Revit Preview, and it might make sense for you to be, too. More on that at the end of this post. But as we’re still waiting for official release from Autodesk, we’ll talk in generalities here, but I will say:

YES. You will want to Deploy/Upgrade to 2022.

Probably more so or with more urgency than other releases in the last 3-5 years. (If you know me, did you expect I would say something different?). Still, there are considerations to look at, even knowing that will be my recommendation. So let’s do this thing:

First principles: Considering a Revit upgrade

There are several aspects to consider, when a firm is evaluating what action to take with a new version or new release:

First, there are new features: What are they? How do they work? Will they be beneficial? But more so: What needs to change within the offices’ implementation internally to leverage them?

  • Changes to content libraries, to address or leverage new features? (If so, this means a slightly different library for the “new release” versus the old release)
  • Changes to the Project Template to address or leverage new features? (If so, this means a slightly different template for the “new release” versus the old release)
  • What to expect if a project gets upgraded?

These are important things to test and address. Every office needs to know: “Is this going to change stuff in a way I’m not expecting?”

How should my Firm decide whether to upgrade?

When we talk about “considering upgrades” there are two different meanings for any office:

  1. Should we deploy the new version, and start using it on New Projects? There are several things firms need to think about, when deciding to roll out a new version of ANY application, not just Revit specifically:
  • Are there performance implications to the software upgrade? (Imagine installing the latest version of your favorite rendering engine, only to discover none of your computers are powerful enough to leverage it!).
  • How much training/up-skilling needs to happen for your staff, to be acquainted with the new version? (This is more a factor when an application goes through a major UI revision, or specific critical toolsets undergo a complete overhaul)
  • Infrastructure considerations: Although IT is there to support the business, there are considerations that need to be taken in to account (especially during and post-pandemic)- Storage questions, connectivity questions (CAN we upgrade while people are at home? (the answer is yes, and if you need help with that, reach out to Parallax Team)).

Having said all of that, several of us at Parallax Team have been using Revit since 2006. There have only been one or two releases that even warranted pause. (Revit 2010 came with an entirely different UI, and- as with ANY platform, a full UI change does mean some relearning and training time).

While some years Revit versions have been light on new features and updates, performance has (almost) always improved, year after year. User benchmarks* and data from Autodesk both confirm this. (*User benchmarks can be confusing, as some versions of Windows Updates have negatively affected Revit Benchmark performance data, so the results can be misleading if you have not guaranteed apples to apples comparisons. You can read more about this here: ).

2) The second consideration is: If we are deploying the new version, should we upgrade projects already underway? The question of whether active projects should upgrade, will vary based on office standards and protocol. Some offices have policies/standards about not upgrading once a job is underway (which is unfortunate, as project teams get stuck in legacy versions for years). For the other firms, there are always considerations, though:

  • Checking with Consultants about their ability or willingness to upgrade (if they can’t, you can’t)
  • Timing of the release: Look… No one should upgrade software if you are within a two-week window of a deadline. It is just not the right time.
  • Specific Feature Changes: Are there any features in the release that will cause unintended hardships for a project upgrading? (2017 and 2018 made changes/improvements to Annotations and Text sizing/shapes. While a necessary improvement, for those two years it made it less appealing to upgrade a project already underway, as it had to be re-QA/QC’d for text issues).

New Versions and Potential Gotchas

As we said, yes: you want to deploy 2022. While that was our answer anyway in 2019, 2020, and 2021, there are considerable convenience and workflow features in 2022. We have let all our clients know we recommend immediately moving forward with it. You can read more about the reasons in favor of the upgrade in the next post, but before we get into that, let’s talk about the things to be aware of.

Deployments and Installations: Get your IT person or BIM Manager to look at the Deploy and Install aspect of ALL of Autodesk 2022 here, in your Autodesk accounts portal, sooner rather than later. Not just Revit, mind you. Things to notice: the entire Deployment Builder is different.

You now do it INSIDE the portal on manage.autodesk.com, then it serves you up an EXE that unpacks your deployment on your server. If you blindly download the install media (as you have in years past) that will ONLY be the standalone installer, not the Deployment Builder. The Deployment builder still does most things the old one did, so it is not that big of a change. Again, there is no negative or “issue” here, as long as you don’t go looking for it in the same place it’s always been.

If your BIM Manager or IT Group uses automation to push deployments: Using something like SCCM, PDQ, or Pragmatic Praxis (aka PX Tools, which is what we use at Parallax for our computers, and several customers offices) these are still fully automatable, but it is an entirely different command you reference, since the deployment structure is completely different.

Shared Parameter Files, and Revit Versions: There have been several times (over the years we have been using Revit) when something changes, that makes it so that a Shared Parameter File can work with a new version, but it then no longer works with older versions of Revit. Suffice it to say, it is always a good idea to archive, backup, and evaluate your Shared Parameter file, as there are “some things” that can make it not work with older versions of Revit.

Dynamo Versions, and your Packages: Several years ago, Dynamo was incorporated into the Revit builds (which has been a blessing!) Point releases and new yearly releases now push you to the latest Dynamo Build. So check the pathing to your current Packages, since they move with every Dynamo version, in roaming Appdata.

Internet Communication Methods: It is also always a good idea to install a new build, on a demo machine, and let your IT department, Infosec team, security analysts, or whomever, evaluate what the app is doing in real time. It is more of a professional courtesy, as applications across all industries come up with new ways of communicating, through new releases. Always best to be safe.

Putting a bow on it: Depending on how you manage your Revit Implementation, you may have copies of Template and Libraries spanning various years. For instance, the PRLX Revit Template exists in three “muti-year spans:” 2016-2017, 2018, 2019-2021. There were Text changes in 2018 that were significant, and there were changes to VG:Filters in 2019, that were significant. That means (currently), all our templates in 2019, 2020, and 2021 are the same: They are upgraded copies of the 2019 version. When a year has significant features that warrant changing things in the Template, we create a new “Base year.”

This year, when 2022 is released, the 2022+ Template will become a new “Base,” that is altered from the 2019-2021. There are too many features in 2022 to not leverage their functionality in the Template and Libraries themselves. More on this, in post 2!

After reading all of that, there is one more thing to mention that I said at the start: we know about what’s coming in Revit 2022 because we are part of the Revit Preview community. It’s the best way to keep track of and contribute to Revit Development year after year.

Why do we participate in the Revit Preview program?

As you read through this (wordy) post, a lot of what you are reading might be *news* to you (you are just learning about it, and now you are preparing to react to it for your organization). If you are participating in the Revit Preview program, you are seeing and learning about these (potentially) upcoming things all year round.

You are testing them, and providing feedback on how they work, how they could be better, how they are not doing what you expected, and how it’s going to impact your users. In addition, you are testing the software, looking at it from aspects the developers are not always thinking about.

Now, so far all we have discussed is a general, year in and year out, “things to be aware of” with new Revit versions. This doesn’t get into ANY of the “good stuff” in Revit 2022, which is always the more fun and exciting part of evaluating a new release! More on that in my next post.

More on Revit 2022 on BIM AFTER DARK with the Revit Kid

If you want to hear more from me on upgrades and what we at Parallax are considering for Revit 2022, I’m joining Jeffrey Pinheiro aka The Revit Kid for BIM After Dark on Thursday, April 8th, 4:30 PT / 7:30 ET. We’ll talk the pros and cons of Revit 2022 and take your questions. Set a reminder and I hope you can make it. Click on the embedded player below and set a reminder, or watch us after the fact and at your lesiure.

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