As I was writing the article about cross-referencing NWC models with 2D DWF sheets, I started thinking about the new workflow that this introduces around the Project Browser, and thought that you may find this of interest.
For long standing Navisworks users, you'll be familiar with the Selection Tree, which provides a hierarchy of all the models you've appended into the scene.
However you're probably less familiar with the Project Browser, introduced in the 2012 release.
On the surface these may seem conceptually similar - a window that shows you what files you have in the Navisworks project. But with the introduction of 2D support, there's a big difference, as you no longer have everything loaded into the same scene. The project can now contain any number of 3D models and 2D sheets, and whilst these can exist in the same project, they cannot exist in the same scene, as the 3D and 2D scenes use different engines to display them.
If you aren't working with 2D data in Navisworks, then you probably don't need to use the Project Browser at all, at this stage at least – and you can probably stop reading this post too, unless you're:
b. Thinking about using 2D data
c. Paranoid that I might be talking about you whilst you're not looking J
As soon as you start using 2D data, then you will need to become acquainted with the Project Browser, so let me give you some tips and info to help you out.
The moment you start Navisworks (or click New), there is no concept of a project – you need to Open (or Append) a supported file (see image below), which will effectively create your project, and populate the scene.
The file you open will appear in the Project Browser:
To add your 2D sheets into the project, rather than using the Append
button (which you would have previously used to add additional 3D files to the project), you will need to use the Import Sheets and Models button in the Project Browser:
You can then choose your DWF file containing your 2D sheet(s). So your project now contains (in this example) a structural model and 230 associated 2D views, sheets, elevations, sections and plans:
Next I'm assuming that you'll want to add files for other disciplines. Again the Project Browser's Import Sheets and Models button can be used. In this example I'm importing Architectural, MEP and Site models in the NWC format (each exported from Revit).
What we've done at this point is merely import them as separate models into the project, and you can review each of these models in isolation, simply by double clicking any one of them (the same as you would do to view any of the 2D sheets). You can also repeat this step to import any of the 2D DWF files that correspond to these additional disciplines too.
When you view any of these models, notice the Selection Tree - it changes! Each model/sheet in the Project Browser is in effect its own scene, hence when you double-click on any of them the scene that you're viewing updates and in turn so does the Selection Tree (as it provides a hierarchical representation of the scene).
This is great for quickly reviewing any of these in isolation, but I'm also guessing you'd still like to see the project model as a whole. You can do this easily using the following procedure:
- Double click on one of your models in the Project Browser (loading it as the current scene) - in my example, this is the Structural model
- Select all of the other models in the Project Browser that you want to combine (e.g. Arch, MEP, Site)
Right-click on the selected models and choose, Append to Current Model
Again in my example, this results in the Arch, MEP and Site models being appended into the Structural model
So now whenever I view the Structural model, I will no longer see the Structure in isolation, I'll see this integrated scene. As a result of this, I'd recommend an additional couple of steps:
- In the Project Browser, right-click on the Structural model (or whichever model is now your integrated model) and choose, Rename. You can then rename this better identify it as the integrated, or project model.
- Use the Import Sheets and Models button again to import the Structural model file again (i.e. the original model you've just renamed), so that you again have access to this discipline model in isolation.
In my opinion, this is a giant leap in the right direction for Navisworks and Autodesk – we're not dealing with files, we're dealing with projects and information. Models and sheets are representations of the project information, and different users will need to see that data in different ways. So the fact that these can now be found in one place, with components cross-referenced between representations can only be a good thing, making it easier for team members to see what they want, when they want. Let us know what you think.