Revit worksets and AutoCAD layers do share something in common, and it is their worst trait. Ask your BIM Manager candidates how to avoid it.

In my last post, we conducted an imaginary interview for a BIM Manager role and saw how Revit worksets can provide a good line of questioning. To the simple question of "What are worksets in Revit?", I explained why the all-too-common answer of "They are like layers in AutoCAD" should set off alarm bells.

While Revit worksets are not analogous to AutoCAD layers, this idea does point to something that the two have in common. And it is their worst trait.

I often joke that, other than with an empty DWG, no drawing in the history of CAD has ever had all its lines in the right layers. And that is in spite of having various tools to keep the issue from occurring. So why does it happen?

The issue is due to the nature of assigning layers in CAD. It is generally a manual process and depends on the user paying close attention. The simple odds are that, over time, a wrong layer will be used — a line is drawn in the correct layer, a new line needs to go into a different layer, but the user forgets to change the layer before that next line is drawn.

Worksets in Revit suffer from the same dynamic. So much so, in fact, that hopeful candidates for a BIM Manager role will routinely mention fixing workset assignments as one of their responsibilities in a current or previous position.

I'm certain that a solution to this could be devised and implemented. Revit could change how worksets are created or how elements get assigned to them. Or some other workflow could be created that would avoid the problem.

But none of that hasn't happened yet. So what are we to do in the meantime? This is another good question to put to your BIM Manager candidates.

They might answer, "Train everyone on correct workset assignment," or "Have everyone pay more attention," or "Flog them when they mess up," or some other approach requiring closer oversight and elimination of user error. But we know that no such approach will work – the history of CAD layer assignments is there to prove it.

A better approach is to remove the very thing that causes wrong workset assignments in the first place, i.e. having to change worksets. And how can we achieve that? The answer is simple: use as few worksets as you can get away with.

If you truly boil it down to the bare minimum number of worksets, then chances are that, from time to time, you will actually find a Revit model with all its objects in the right worksets.

Next time, we will look into more questions for hopeful BIM Managers and follow that up with some commentary on workset strategies. Until then.