What’s new with Revit Server 2014?

Autodesk Revit Server, in it’s 3rd gen, improves upon previous versions and allows users within an organization across multiple locations to simultaneously collaborate on Revit workshared projects. I’m going to explain what’s new in Revit Server 2014 and also show you how to set it up in your office. Understand the concepts, and then get the servers ready by installing any prerequisites. It might sound obvious, but before implementing Revit Server in your office, it’s highly recommended to do some planning and draw it out logically how you want / expect it to work. You don’t want to make a bunch of Revit Servers floating around your network and cluttering your VM.

AutoCAD 2013 Deployment Creation & Automated Installation Methods

There are many ways you can deploy Autodesk software and in this post/video, I’ll try to explain the different methods. I’ll also show how you can easily create a deployment of AutoCAD 2013 on a DFS location, using my office as an example. In the video, I’ll also go through different methods of automated software deployment, including batch files, Group Policy, and SCCM.

Deploying AutoCAD 2013 via Group Policy

I initially created a group policy as I’ve always done. Set package installation paths, point to the MSIs. Seems like that didn’t work too well. After a gpupdate /force, the workstation will look like it’s installing the software but when you log in and actually try to install it, you’ll get this errror with ACCORE.DLL crashing.

After looking through a lot of different discussions boards and PDF white papers and going through a few trial runs in our lab, AutoCAD 2013 is now installed in my training rooms, pushed automatically via OU association with Group Policy. It was a little bit of a hassle to figure out the various MSI and MST files needed for successful GPO push, but alas, all is well in the universe again 

Source: Autodesk Wiki Page on GPO deployment

Where’s my remote?!

Have you ever been shipped a server to an office and banged on the table ‘cuz you forgot to turn on remote desktop? Well, this isn’t a new trick by any means, but still something very helpful. By manually tweaking a registry on the remote system, you can enable remote desktop on your machine, local or virtual.

To enable Remote Desktop remotely by using the registry

  1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.
  2. On the File menu, click Connect Network Registry.
  3. In the Select Computer dialog box, type the computer name and then click Check Names.
  4. In the Enter Network Password dialog box, provide Domain Admins credentials for the domain of the server, and then click OK.
  5. After the computer name resolves, click OK.
  6. In the computer node that appears in the Registry Editor, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server.
  7. In the console tree, click Terminal Server and then, in the details pane, double-click fDenyTSConnections.
  8. In the Edit DWORD Value box, in Value data, type 0, and then click OK.
  9. To implement the change, use the shutdown command to reboot the server remotely, as follows:Open a command prompt with root credentials, type the following, and then press Enter:shutdown -m \\ DomainControllerName -r

More details here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc782195(WS.10).aspx

The command for remote desktop is MSTSC – type it in the RUN dialogue box to get it up and running quick. If you have multiple servers you need to remote into, install the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7, found here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/958830

Conditional Forwarders in Windows 2008

A few questions that came through my inbox included how resources from domain A can access resources in domain B in conjunction with using Revit Server. Additionally, when you install Revit 2012 (Architecture, Structure, or MEP), you also have the option of specifying the name of your Revit Server to connect your Revit instance. If you’re on the same domain, your DNS will take care of name resolution to your domains. Trouble starts when you’re working with RS environments between different domains since server1 from domain A can’t talk to server2 from domain B since it doesn’t know it’s IP. To fix it, you will need to configure conditional forwarders.

This from the DNS snap-in from the Windows 2008 R2 server, and from there, you have a few options:

You just place the DNS domain name in the top section and the IP address of the DNS server that is authoritative for that domain below.  Storing the conditional forwarder in AD is not default, but recommended (check box). You can also specify the amount of time the DNS server will wait before it times out (default is 5 seconds). If you’re going between different domains in different countries / continents, I would increase the time out period.

This will allow different domains to establish connection between users -> local Revit Server -> Central Revit Server. Hope it helps you guys configuring and expanding RS! If you have trouble, feel free to drop a comment!



Virtualizing my SharePoint server….

Going green… and just jumping into the hype, I’ve giving myself the project of taking our company physical server that houses the SharePoint site and … virtualizing it. The old server was a Dell PE 2500 with a whoooping one CPU 1.00 GHz processor. Ha! I laugh cuz the machine I’m typing on is dual dual core and a ton of RAM. My how technology has been speeding along!

Anyways. Before I started the project, I did the typical. Backup twice, practice restoring it, back up again. Everyone, I know it’s been said but I keep finding people doing projects and jumping into them without first backing up AND testing your backup. Backups FAIL and you don’t want to be in the server room at night!!!! So with all the precautions in place, I proceeded and… ::drum roll please:: succeeded! Okay okay, most of my projects usually succeed (cause my job depends on it! Ha!). While researching the process, I noticed that a LOT of people are trying the same thing and failing at certain steps. So I decided to document my steps to virtualize my server and hopefully someone can get some benefit out of it.

QUICK NOTE: If your server is called server1 and you created the Sharepoint site already, it’s tedious to change the server name to something else (like server2) and reconnect the dbase and other connecting points. It’s quicker to reinstall the entire server (less than an hour).

  1. Preform backup of the existing sharepoint site using the sharepoint central admin interface.
  2. Restore the Windows SharePoint Services Web Application – default site port 80. If you already created a site in Sharepoint, you’ll have to use the existing db. Otherwise, you’ll have to make a new one.
  3. You’ll notice the failure on WSS_Content. Object WSS_Content failed in event OnPostRestore. For more information, see the error log located in the backup directory. SPException: Cannot attach database to Web application. Use the command line tool or Central Administration pages to attach the database manually to the proper Web Application.
  4. When you see that error message, that means that you MUST USE THE STSADM command line utility from the SharePoint site to upgrade the existing SharePoint to the latest. The GUI will NOT work. Stsadm is located at the following path on the drive where SharePoint Products and Technologies is installed: %COMMONPROGRAMFILES%\microsoft shared\web server extensions\12\bin. You must be an administrator on the local computer to use Stsadm.
  5. General command line that I found online:
    • copied a production site this way: stsadm -o backup -url http://myproductionserver -filename myproductionsite.cab
    • create a new empty website with the administrator web on the same server using another IP port number or another server like: http://testserver or http://productionserver:12345 (You can do that with stsadm)
    • then i restore the backup file: ststadm -o restore -url http://testserver -filename myproductionsite.cab -overwrite
    • Maybe a iisreset may be needed in between the creation or the restore.
  6. Use that same restore command: ststadm -o restore -url http://testserver -filename myproductionsite.cab -overwrite
  7. SharePoint server has been moved from a physical server to a virtual server.  Since it’s different server name and different IP address, I modified the DNS entry on the domain. Requests to the old SharePoint server will be directed to the new one.
  8. VOILA!

That’s that! Going from a MS Windows Server 2003 physical machine to a MS Windows Server 2008 virtual machine. Hope everyone finds it helpful!