This is the third part in my series on Static Thoughts. I’m not looking to be all encompassing and comprehensive. Instead I want to spur your imagination into the different functions at our disposal. I’m confident there are even more solutions to preventing accidental changes to critical information. And I could go in to so much more detail for each of the options mentioned in these three posts. But I’d rather hold off for now. Perhaps I’ll share more specific examples later. Some of these measures are a little extreme. But that’s okay. Think of these posts as collective brainstorming. If you think I’m way off base or crazy, let me know in the comments.
Now let’s move beyond locking Elements and Layers. There are plenty of other ways to restrict and isolate information in an ArchiCAD project.
Hotlinks and external content. As is no surprise, external content is another way to keep data static. Whether it’s a hotlinked .pln or .mod file, a placed .dwg, a pdf, or some placed image file, each can place useful content in your ArchiCAD project and decrease the risk of your changing that information by accident. This warrants a blog post (or more) unto itself because linked content goes way beyond the narrow focus of this post. A few caveats about using external content. To really make this information static, you’ll need to set the update type in the Drawing Default Settings to manual or go and break the link to the source file. More on all that later. Beyond intentional breaking of links, Hotlinks can get lost (file viewed from outside your network), they can change (meddling coworker), or perhaps you don’t control them (referencing a standard file that someone else manages). Therefore managing all this extends beyond the ArchiCAD environment. For instance, you could change the privileges on that external content to read only via your OS. Though that could raise other complications. Perhaps too much complexity for the resultant benefits. So let’s end this section with this: using placed external content prevents changes within ArchiCAD, but doesn’t stop changes from beyond.
Isolate by Story or by an Independent Worksheet. I use both these tricks regularly. By placing external content or critical static data on an isolated story or worksheet, the information can be accessed via Trace and Reference without risk of change. For example, I prefer to put survey data on a story below the foundation (or whatever my lowest model story is). The survey can be placed (typically as an external drawing) and then locked into position. Now you’ll have access, but it won’t get in the way or get shifted. For more about placing external content check out this blog post from earlier in the summer.
Teamwork 2. Teamwork 2 and the BIM Server could fill a blog unto itself. Anyone interested in writing that blog? Teamwork 2 is a great way to manage change. Pay attention to Roles when you create users in Teamwork. Think about more than individual people. Consider project stages and control. Should every team member be able to change Attributes, Project Information, or Layers/Layer Combinations? Or should these be heavily locked down, perhaps after a certain phase? One thing we haven’t talked about is locking and templates. If every project is a Teamwork 2 project and only the BIM Manager can add/remove layers, does this help force compliance to company standards?
With a wise Roles/Role Settings set-up, we can do a lot to handle who can change what on a team of varying size. But often we need to protect the project from ourselves. So here’s another potential advantage to using Teamwork 2 with a team of One. Create a new user, sign them in, reserving a few critical layers/pieces of information, then close ArchiCAD (without signing out of the Teamwork 2 project). I’ll give this user a fancy name: Control Freak sounds okay for now. Now sign in as your usual self and go about your business. Those elements reserved by this Control Freak user will be inaccessible to anyone, even you. So no accidentally reserving all and messing up something when you’re too tired or uncaffeinated to think straight. A little bit of extra order allows that much more wild freedom…
In all honesty, I haven’t used Teamwork 2 that much (maybe 2 or 3 projects, plus one I started last week), though I did work on a Teamwork 1 project for a good year plus back on version 9. So I’m not an expert in all the intricacies of Teamwork. But I know there are plenty of readers that use Teamwork 2 on every project. How have you been using Teamwork to control access and ‘protect’ information from accidental changes? And since we’re sort of on the subject, how else are you using Teamwork 2 in a creative manner? I’d love to know.