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Tom Klaber

Project Sharing - Does this really work in the wild?

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We gave the project sharing its first test yesterday - and it was a disaster.

 

Some but not all information would be seen after a commit and refresh.  It would not allow editing of certain objects and layers because it claimed for each of us that the other had permission.  Then it would not let us commit because it said the other had taken our permissions away. 

 

Then the really strange things started to happen - all of our general notes disappeared.  All of our title blocks were converted from title block boards to "Parametric Objects" that were no longer editable. 

 

This was a small basic model of a kitchen renovation.  Thank goodness we did not try this on a project of any real size.   I have met with friends at offices who have given it good long test runs - and report that it is a constant stream of errors, crashes, and bugs like the ones here.  Is anybody using this in the real world with success??  If so - if anybody has any ideas about what would be causing our issues - it would be much appreciated. 

 

Thanks,

Tom

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Hi Tom. 

 

We use project sharing in all of our projects in the office, and we can report good success (except for slow syncing process- see end of post).

 

Up to four or five of us will share the project at the same time. One of the current model we are currently working with is 1GB in size, and has 300 sheets of drawings. 

 

Initially, we did experience the issues you speak of- not all information would be seen when saved and committed. We found that more of a problem when a file has a lot of 2D information, or if the 2D information is very far from the origin.

 

Our BIM models with very little 2D information do not suffer from the same loss of information. 

 

As our model grow it size, we do have issues with permissions (like you mentioned) and very long 'Save and Commit' times. You can see the issues we experience in the post below.

 

We do hope to see a massive improvement in the speed at which we can collaborate in an office. 

 

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To share an anecdote (one hour from my post above).

 

A member of staff just reported she lost a whole day of work....

 

She spent a whole day working on a 'working file' (the 'child' folder that lives on your terminal), and cannot sync what she has done for the past 9 hours*** back to the 'project file' (the 'parent' file on the server). Vectorworks just crashes every time we try a 'refresh' or 'save and commit' operation with her working file.

 

***Most of us in the office do not 'save and commit' as regularly as we should, preferring to 'save only' on our local working files until the end of day. We do this because of the excruciatingly slow sync process as described in the post above (see link in above post), and also, when you sync, others can't work on the model AT ALL, because permission requests cannot be sent to a file that is currently occupied with a 'sync operation'.

 

I just hope this really important issue of project sharing gets more attention from Vectorworks. We feel like we are battling with the software everyday.

 

 

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We have tried on a couple of projects, rather large in scope, and have had moderate success. That said, we have decided to avoid it going forward because the errors we did experience, which were mostly confined to edited resources not updating, are scary enough and sometimes not noticeable until much later when it is too late to fix.

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We also tried it on a couple of projects, and while we had moderate success, there were too many glitches where we couldn't save and commit or VW crashed and then we couldn't open the working file etc. It wasn't stable enough, so we gave up using it. If we hear that there have been improvements, we will be tempted to try again. 

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We are using Project sharing all day in every project needing more than one person. Usually the model file is shared and  layer referencing to plot files for each phase of the project. Sections and elevations is mad in the plot files from the model file.

Once in a while there seems to be some connectivity problems and it is usually solved with saving a copy of the newest working file to the serves as a regular vwx file, then changing the new file to a project file.

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Project sharing is a bug hell and not ready for professional use. I've set up a dedicated shared crash dump directory for tech support for analysis, which indicates the scale of troubles we encounter.

 

So far:

 

  • Commits fail and crash
  • Program itself crashes daily
  • Releases don't work, objects are not released the way they are supposed to
  • Objects change layer via refresh, they appear on different DL's for different users despite refreshes(!)
  • Objects shift location, windows and walls
  • Wall joins open seemingly randomly for other users while they remain connected for one user
  • Suddenly permissions go awry, not able to commit
  • Line types become corrupt (awful)
  • Not able to duplicate sheets, have to create a new one from scratch
  • False/misleading error messages
  • Ridiculously slow PF updates (15 minutes is the record for us, 200MB simple file)
  • Dead-end issues that force us to save the file as .vwx and then reshare it (really, professional users having to do this is ridiculous)
  • etc. etc.

 

To sum it up: Project sharing is like the stair tool and they should never have been let out of the padded room.

 

 

 

 

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Update:

After talking to VW techs I have been told that our use of Google's File Stream is partially to blame for our troubles as this is not currently supported.  Since we use Google Drive as our file server, and we use Team Drives - which is not supported by the legacy "Backup and Sync" client - we will have to put off running the second experiment until VW starts to support Google's new "File Stream" client.   

 

 

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Chiming in from the lower southern hemisphere:

We started with project sharing the year it got released, 2016. Our experiences since then have been mostly the same as with everyone else, including;

- crashes during commit,

- commit reports as succeeded but opening the master file the next day shows no commits;

- having to resave a master file every so often (a single project went through 4 master file re-saves during a 6 month period)

 

These being said; we wouldnt have completed projects fast enough WITHOUT project sharing. We've managed to split our tasks to floor plan draftees; detail draftees and designers. So we need all 3 groups working at the same time on any project. We're quite a small office with the type of projects we're taking on, but the project sharing has allowed us to keep the tight-knit numbers and push out the projects.

 

I'd add also our network server had to be upgraded from a 1gb to a 10gb switch to handle the network traffic of 5 people saving and committing multiple projects at the same time (projects' file sizes ranging from 600Mb to 1.5Gbmax); After the upgrade we have not experienced any crashes during save and commit (this is from 2017 SP4 onwards; 2018 is the most stable release so far); So I think the network infrastructure plays a big role. We tried onedrive for remote access, but it was way too slow. Any cloud solution failed actually (tried dropbox and google drive); meaning there would conflicts with file names etc.

 

So they work for us now; after multiple headaches.. its been smooth sailing for us for a year now.

Edited by twk
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Hi @twk we also use a 10GBe network in our setup but our ‘save and commit’ speeds are still extremely slow.

 

You team doesn’t experience any slow ‘save and commit’ speeds like I described in the following post?

 

 

How big are your Project File/Working File sizes? (We find that working files are always twice the size of the Project File it derives from)

 

Do you use a seperate ‘model file’ and ‘plot file’ and link them together, or do you have everything in one file?

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Hi Julian,

Nice list!

A1

- our file sizes are similar but we dont experience the problem of save and commit times

- we keep everything in one file (sheets/model elements); just a seperate DETAILS file (project shared as well, but in no intelligent way connect to the PLANS file, ie workgroup referencing)

- save and commit times have improved with 2018 SP4; what used to take 5mins now takes 1min

- We also dont have an issue with releasing a single element as you described. Releasing a wall its very quick. It doesnt do a full save and commit the master file when we do this.

A2

- Section viewports are slow

A3

- Same experience; terribly slow

 

Good post; I shall upvote!

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6 hours ago, Tom Klaber said:

Update:

After talking to VW techs I have been told that our use of Google's File Stream is partially to blame for our troubles as this is not currently supported.  Since we use Google Drive as our file server, and we use Team Drives - which is not supported by the legacy "Backup and Sync" client - we will have to put off running the second experiment until VW starts to support Google's new "File Stream" client.   

 

 

I was initially told it was our RAID setup. However the issues where the same with RAID 1 and RAID 5, no difference.

 

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I was advised that Dropbox was the much better cloud solution.  I am working hard - trying to avoid an in-house server - but I fear I am losing the battle. 

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We are using a Macmini as a server with an extarnal raidbox with ssd disks for the files. We don't have much trouble with this setup.

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5 minutes ago, Hans-Olav said:

Thanks for the long post @Amorphous 

 

We keep our working files locally and only the Project file on the server, do you do the same?

 

Hi Hans, yes we save the Project File to the NVMe drive on the server and the Working Files to the local SSD drive locally on the client computers.

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Thank @Amorphous - very informative.  As new small firm... on PCs... and something less than a small fortune in the bank - it feels like Project sharing is out of reach.  We are working on trying to establish flexible working hours and remote working options.  I was SO excited about the support for online storage - it seemed to completely open up these new possibilities.  

 

Google Drive with Team Drives and File Stream works fairly well sans Project Sharing.  Team Drives vastly simplifies the permissions // sharing issues that cloud storage comes with, and File Stream gives us access to 2 TB of data, yet we only need to actually sync 200GB of that data - and it all feels like a local or server drive.  The biggest issue is that because you are working on a synced local copy of the file - there is no way to know if anybody else is working on that file.  Project Sharing seemed like the perfect answer... until now.  Since we are small - its fairly simple to communicate who is working on what - but it is not a scalable solution.  

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18 minutes ago, Tom Klaber said:

Thank @Amorphous - very informative.  As new small firm... on PCs... and something less than a small fortune in the bank - it feels like Project sharing is out of reach.  We are working on trying to establish flexible working hours and remote working options.  I was SO excited about the support for online storage - it seemed to completely open up these new possibilities.  

 

Google Drive with Team Drives and File Stream works fairly well sans Project Sharing.  Team Drives vastly simplifies the permissions // sharing issues that cloud storage comes with, and File Stream gives us access to 2 TB of data, yet we only need to actually sync 200GB of that data - and it all feels like a local or server drive.  The biggest issue is that because you are working on a synced local copy of the file - there is no way to know if anybody else is working on that file.  Project Sharing seemed like the perfect answer... until now.  Since we are small - its fairly simple to communicate who is working on what - but it is not a scalable solution.  

 

Hi Tom. We were also excited at the prospect of remote working or flexible hour working with cloud storage.

 

We also thought the possibility of outsourcing drafting and modelling gave us a glimpse into the future.

 

However, the way that Vectorworks currently do Project Sharing binds us to our office seats.

 

That said, three or four months ago, Vectorworks sent out a survey asking what we thought about a web-based version of the software. I was of course very excited by that and enthusiastically responded.

 

Let’s just hope web-based Vectorworks is genuinely a way to help us achieve remote working etc, and not another way to make money, like the way VSS requires us to buy ‘processing credits’ to generate ‘walk throughs’ on Vectorworks Nomad. (We have plenty of processing power in our office, and would rather not have to pay for something we could have done ourselves- except such option isn’t even available)

 

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BTW,

 

Curiously, NONE of the other software we use (Office, Rhino, Maxwell (heavily networking with render nodes), Syncback, Autocad, etc.)  experience ANY file transfer/permission/speed issues, or ANY other major issues AT ALL, on ANY disk/network/server setup we have used.

 

There is clearly something wrong with the PS code and it should be rewritten so that it works on ALL mainstream computer/network setups like every other piece of common  commercial software.

 

I'm really fed up beta-testing. At architects' practices, we do rather demanding work. We DO NOT WANT TO beta test! There are enough other things to worry about. 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Amorphous said:

That said, three or four months ago, Vectorworks sent out a survey asking what we thought about a web-based version of the software. I was of course very excited by that and enthusiastically responded.

 

I guess I have never seen a web-based version of a desktop software that was worth the cost of a free browser.  If they really can get all the functionality they need to run on Chrome - then I guess it would be great - but it is hard to be anything but skeptical. 

 

I guess the way it would work would not be web-based - but closer to something like remote access?  Where you are really using a supercomputer in India, but just accessing it through your Asus Zenbook.  


I am at a place now where I feel I can not encourage any new big ideas because I am scared resources will be pulled off simply making the program they are selling now work.  2019 - for a release that was not really introducing many new features - and reportedly was meant mostly as a back of house bug fix release - there are a disappointing number of bugs. 

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Agreed @Tom Klaber we have downloaded and installed VW2019 onto all computer terminals in the office but asked staff not to use it.

The scary stories we have read about VW2019 and the time it takes to fix or revert back to 2018.... it is just not worth our time and effort. 

I'd much rather see VW released on a bi-annual cycle... so they get more time for feature upgrades and bug fixing. 
We're architects, not financiers - Nemetschek's need for annual reporting on profits to their shareholders is not our concern. Stability, efficiency and reliability of the software we pay them to provide to us IS our concern. 

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On 9/20/2018 at 7:20 AM, twk said:

its been smooth sailing for us for a year now.

 

 

Hey @twk since you are the only one reporting good success so far, can you tell us what your save and commit times are?

 

I recorded a video of our save and commit, see below, and it is 6 minutes. 

 

The file with the biggest issue is a 1000-sqm residential alt and adds , with 300+ pages of documentation. Everything lives in one single file, lots of hatches, wall types, slab types, worksheets etc. Is that the type of project you are using VW for? I'm interested to know.

 

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PS works stable on Windows and our Synology NAS with a Gigabit LAN. We use it in every project since it was released. Had some troubles in the beginning. Some of our users did some nasty things with PS that were leading to errors. For example they reconnected their backup-files with the project file, or they misused their admin rights to overwrite other users drawings. We also had some technical related problems in the beginning. But since vw2018 it works stable at least on our network environment.

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^ Very interested, which Synology NAS do you have and what kind of disk setup?

 

We use windows 10 64-bit, 2x gigabit LAN and Synology 1517+ on RAID 5 setup. We have nothing but crashes and errors. We try to be very disciplined with the files.

 

We previously used to have RAID 1 on LaCie NetworkSpace Max but it was the same. Updating that was of no help.

 

Project size is about 2000sqm apartment blocks mostly. 

 

 

 

 

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