Tech Blog

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Switch to Subscription: Product to Product

If you have a seat of AutoCAD, or a seat of Civil 3D or Revit, and are switching to subscription, your path is the easiest!

To switch products you currently have installed, follow the steps here:

To install your new subscription software, follow the steps here:

1: Download:

Downloading Autodesk Software

2: Install:

Installation on a Single Computer

3: Activate (either Single or Multi User)

Mailing List Unsubscribe Request

Activating a Network License (Multi-User)

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Switch to Subscription: Changing License Types

With a Maintenance plan, you had two license types:

  • Stand-Alone
  • Network

With a Subscription plan, you have two license types:

  • Single-User
  • Multi-User

A Single-User license is the equivalent to a Stand-Alone license.

A Multi-User license is the equivalent to a Network License.


Before, you would use a serial number and product key to activate a product on a workstation. With Single-User licenses, you may still need a serial number and product key, but you’ll also need access to that serial number and product key – granted by the Autodesk Account. When a company purchases subscription software, a Contract Manager is assigned. The Contract Manager will set up the Autodesk Account, and add users via email address. Once the users have been added to the account, they’ll get emails asking them to log-in, activating their Autodesk Accounts. The Contract Manager can then allow those users access to the Subscription software seats.


Not a lot changes here. You’re still using LMTools and a license file to license the software. While you don’t have to sign-in to Autodesk Account to access Multi-User software, the benefits, like cloud rendering and various analysis tools will require permission. So even though it isn’t needed to launch Revit, it’s a good idea to add users and configure the Autodesk Account so that those users can take advantage of the Subscription benefits.

There are two things happening in this scenario, you’re switching license models (Maintenance to Subscription) and switching license types as well.

So, if you’re switching to Subscription and moving to Multi-User licenses, this post is for you:

If you’re switching to Subscription and moving to Single-User licenses, this post is for you:


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Creating Surfaces from a Point Cloud in Civil 3D 2018

One thing that I like about AutoCAD and the vertical products is the developers just do not delete features.  They bury them in the software somewhere else or create a new work flow.  The Civil 3D development team did something similar.  They removed the ability to create a surface from point cloud from the prospector tab.  However, they did not remove the ability to do this.  There are two different ways to do this.  You can go through the ribbon and do it or you can do it with this process.

Point Cloud to Surface Work Flow:

  1. Make sure your point cloud is in either .rcp or .rcs format.  If it is not, you can do this through Recap which you have through your AEC Collections.  You may need to install it on your machine.
  2. Once the point cloud is in the correct format, go to the Insert tab of the Ribbon, over to the Point Cloud panel and click on the button that says “Attach”.

  1. The select point cloud file dialogue box opens, browse and select the point cloud you need.  It will then ask you where you will want to attach your point cloud.

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Assemblies vs Groups: Revit

While working in Revit, the need  to create copies of layouts of rooms or elements is common, and Revit provides two options to do so: Groups and Assemblies. But what do each of these tools do and what are the differences between them? To understand both tools let’s start with groups.


Groups enable a user to gather elements together to work as one unit yet tag and schedule the individual elements. There are three types of groups:

  • Model Groups: Consists of model elements only
  • Detail Groups: Consists of detail or annotation elements only
  • Model Groups with Attached Detail Groups: Consists of a model group with the associated detail group attached to it

Creating a groups is as simple as selecting the elements (detail or annotation) needing to be grouped together, then in the Modify | Multi-Select tab, select Create Group and name the group.

Once created, groups are easily modified by selecting the group and in the Modify | Model Groups, choose Edit Group

Inside the editor, elements can be added or removed, and detail groups can be attached to a model group, whether lines, text or detail components.

Groups can be rotated and copied easily within the project. While they can also be mirrored, when dealing with model components with systems connections or specific manufacturer specs, it is a better practice to create right and left groups so that the individual elements are not mirrored in a way that cannot be manufactured.

Individual elements can be excluded from an instance of a group, without editing the group, by using <Tab> to cycle through the group to select the element to exclude, then click on the Group Member icon to remove.

Groups can be saved out as separate Revit files to be used in other projects. A Revit file can be loaded into a file as a group, and a linked Revit file can be bound to the Revit project file which will convert it to a group. Please note that walls in linked files will not join to walls in a hosted project file, but if converted to a group the walls will join as in a typical file.

Elements within a group will tag and schedule according to their specific category When creating instance parameters for elements within groups, it is important to note the option for Values can align per group instance. For instance, creating a Material instance property with this option allows an element to have varying materials assigned in each instance of a group.

As a best practice, when including hosted elements in a group it is a good idea to include the host as well. It is also recommended not to include datum objects in a group and not nesting groups within groups. Groups can contain elements from different phases.


Assemblies also organize related elements within the project, but unlike groups this feature is designed to help track and schedule a collection of elements as a single entity. As with groups, select the elements to assemble, and in the Modify | Multi-select tab click Create Assembly. Elements in an assembly must be in the same phase.

If selecting objects of different categories you have the opportunity to select which category the assembly will inherit. The assembly will tag and schedule based on this category.

Assemblies vary from groups in that you can create a series of views dedicated to the assembly. Simply select the assembly and select Create Views. In the dialog box, choose the View Scale, Views to create, and Titleblock for a sheet as well.

The views and sheet are grouped under assemblies in the Project Browser.

The views can then be added to the sheet. Note that the rest of the model is not shown.

In summary,  use both Groups and Assemblies to streamline the project into repeated parts, thus saving time and simplifying your model while providing all the needed information for scheduling and detailing.



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Maintaining Your Computer

As with all man made things, there is maintenance required.  Even when it says “maintenance free”.  For instance, when you own a car, you have to do periodic oil changes or rotate tires.  You can take it to a shop and have it done or if you are like me, you like to do these things yourself.  In order to do an oil change, you will need some tools like wrenches, oil catch basin, funnel, towels, maybe a screwdriver, floor jack or ramps and possibly Youtube videos on your smartphone.  Also, you will need new oil, an oil filter, maybe an air filter or PCV valve.

The nice thing about maintaining your computer is that a lot of the tools are right there and you probably did not realize it.  The tools are built into the Operating System like Windows, Apple or Linux.  Updates and downloads are just a couple of clicks away through different websites.

Disclaimer:  This Tech Tip will not tell you how to do it, but advise you what needs to be done.  Also, before doing any of these suggestions, check with your employer, IT manager and/or employee guidelines on whether you have permission to do these tips.

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Loading and Updating Consultant Files: Collaboration for Revit

When working in Collaboration for Revit, the need to link consultant Revit models is a very common workflow. However, if the consultant does not have a license of C4R, they cannot upload their model to a project folder within your company’s hub. Also, even if they upload the model to BIM 360 Team, files within Team cannot be linked into a C4R model. So what’s the solution?

The ability to link models in C4R is tied to all models being pushed up to the cloud through Revit. So, the first step is simple: take the consultant model and open it in the same version as your main model, then initiate Collaboration in the Cloud just like you would your own model. Once the consultant model is uploaded to the project, simply open your main model and link their model to yours. This process is quite simple.

But, this now creates a new problem, which is how to update the consultant cloud model when they send updated files. The issue is that C4R does not have automatic versioning when uploading new files, similar to Team, so it will not allow uploading a file with the same name as the original. In this case, there are two options for updating the file, both of which require starting the collaboration process as discussed above.

Option 1 is to append the newly received file name with a date or other description. For example, the original file may be Building-MEP.rvt, so naming the new file Building-MEP-20170908 will push a brand new file up to the cloud. Once the new file is uploaded, simply open your working model and to to the Mange Tab> Manage Project> Manage Links and choose Reload From to point to the newly uploaded file. This process must be repeated each time you receive a new file.

Option 2 is to rename the existing file in the cloud before updating the newly receive file. This works similar to a Revit backup file, where the current file is always named the same and the backups have appended dates. To do this, in Revit go to the Collaborate Tab> Manage Models panel and choose Manage Cloud Models. Go to the project folder for your file, find the file to rename and click the icon to the right to rename:

One the file is renamed, open the newly received file and initiate collaboration as described previously. Unlike a standard Revit file, your C4R model will update the link to the original Revit link to match the new name. So just like option 1, open your working model and to to the Mange Tab> Manage Project> Manage Links and choose Reload From to point to the newly uploaded file.

Until Autodesk finds a way to link files from BIM 360 Team to Collaboration for Revit directly, this workflow will allow files to be linked and updated regularly. Of course, there is an Option 3, which is to convince your consultants to purchase a C4R license and make everyone’s lives a little easier.

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Creating Exploded Views: Revit

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A useful and overlooked tool in side of Revit is the Displace Elements tool, which allows you to create an “exploded” 3D view for showing parts and assemblies. The process is quite simple and offers a great way to enhance your documentation.

Because displacing elements is view specific, it is best to duplicate an existing 3D view or create a new 3D view specific for this purpose. To displace elements, start by selecting the element(s) that you want to displace. Selecting more than one object will group them together and displace the elements at the same distance. Once you’ve selected the elements, in the Modify contextual tab>View panel, select Displace Elements.



Three grips will appear to displace the elements in the X, Y or Z direction. Elements can be displaced by selecting one of the grips and dragging the in desired direction. Alternatively, the displacement distance can be set to a specific distance in the Properties palette:

To display projection lines from the original location to the displacement, with the object selected, in the Modify|Displacement Set>Displacement Set panel, click Path and then select the corner of the displaced element where you want to locate the path.

To display a door, window or other hosted element separately from a wall, press < Tab> until the element is highlighted and follow the steps for displacing. Groups cannot be displaced as a whole, so to displace elements that are grouped, press <Tab> to cycle through and select the individual elements to then displace. If you no longer want an element to be displaced, select it, and in the Modify|Displacement Set>Displacement Set panel click Reset.

To display the displacement sets in a view, in the View Control Bar, click  (Highlight Displacement Sets). The sets will display in color to make it easier to know what has been displaced in the view.