High-level overview of linking within Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro Trust Levels

5 October 2022Autodesk Construction Cloud, BIM, Collaboration, productivityBlog



Article written by Emily Modderman

In the past, when teams worked “together” on a project, they were very much separate. Architects did their thing, sent their documents to the Engineers who returned their own documentation. It was then all submitted as one package to the powers that be. Often, very little actual communication on design occurred after the initial contract was laid out. Some firms refused to even share more than PDF documents lest their IP be misused.

Construction began and when issues were found, the paperwork started in earnest while trying to avoid too many delays and accumulating costs.

Today, we claim to be removing those siloed teams and to be truly collaborating with our project stakeholders. Everyone is supposedly working from “one source of truth” when it comes to project documents.

But is this actually happening? Do we truly collaborate or are we just hosting our files in a common space while maintaining the same disconnects? Do we trust each other with our content or are we still flattening a model into a 2D document set and expecting that to be enough information?

Personally, I think it’s still a bit of a mix, but we are moving forward. Sharing Revit models is becoming more routine. PDFs, while still incredibly useful, are being printed less often and are becoming only a part of a project’s documentation instead of the whole picture. Digital models and workflows are expanding their potential and being embraced.  But within these digital workflows, how can we expand our trust levels, or at least know what our options are for sharing important information.

Before jumping into these options, let’s start with a brief summary of how BIM 360 team folders work:

Each stakeholder working on a project is assigned to a Team. “Teams provide members with designated spaces to store and work on designs, view project status, and provide a process for controlling how data is shared with other teams.

The Shared folder is a common space in the project and includes subfolders for each team. When a team shares a package, the contents of the package are copied to the Shared folder.” (Ref: AKN)

Within each team space, there is a Consumed subfolder for models from the other Teams. These are added when one Team consumes another Teams published package. Typically, models from this Consumed folder are used as linked files into that teams working model.

Now, back to the overview of the sharing options available to you within a BIM 360 hub!

High trust – Live linking between team models

What does it mean? Giving limited permissions to your Team folder to the other Teams so they can use your working model as a link in their working model. This is often referred to as “live linking”.

Why? Gives everyone an immediate view into ongoing model work.

Benefits? No wait times for packages to be published, live collaboration enables the potential for faster changes and design turnaround. Good for small projects.

Cons? Other teams’ design changes can mean uncertainty for your own design decisions. Requires good communication between teams to avoid rework.

Medium trust – Link to models in Shared folder

What does it mean? No one has permissions to your team folder. When a package is published, all files in the relevant Shared discipline folder are automatically updated. Any links to those models are automatically updated.

Why? When anyone publishes a package, you will see the updates upon opening your project file.

Benefits? Very up to date, but not live. Good for teams who will not be majorly affected by changes to a building model.

Cons? No review process before your link is updated. If you’re not ready for or expecting an update your linked models will reference the latest version and there is potential to be caught unaware.

Low trust – Link from Consumed subfolder in your own Team folder.

What does it mean? No one has permissions to your team folder. All links are contained within your teams own consumed folder.

Why? Classic workflow.  Allows for controlled consumption of published models after reviewing the package contents and changes

Benefits? No surprises, controlled integration of data after a review of the package and its changes

Cons? Depending on the publishing schedule, these changes can be a surprise if there are major adjustments to the design. Could make ‘catching up’ with the changes time consuming.

Conclusion about trust levels with Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro

A question that is often raised is “Am I doing it the right way?” and sometimes there isn’t a definitive answer to that question. Sometimes the right way is simply a series of choices within the system that provides you with the desired result. Knowing the differences between these sharing options can be important for different project types and different working relationships and understanding the fundamentals of the system will always help you make better choices!

What is Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro?

BIM Collaborate Pro is a cloud-based design collaboration software that enables teams to:

  • Organize project data, democratize access, and connect teams
  • Improve project visibility to deliver projects on time
  • Work together on increasingly complex projects
  • Co-author in Revit, Civil 3D, or Plant 3D

Need help getting started, implementing or using Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro?

You can ask to speak with a Graitec expert here.