Worksharing in Revit

If you plan to work as part of a team within Revit, it is essential to set up file sharing capabilities within your model. Revit behaves differently to other software, and it isn’t always possible to do a simple, copy and paste from one file to another as you may be used to in other programs like Rhino or AutoCAD. Because Revit is a BIM authoring tool, elements can be hosted into other elements making a simple amalgamation of files difficult.

Only one person can use a non-workshared Revit file at any one time. This file can be copied and pasted like any other file you typically use. However, to allow multiple to use the same model simultaneously, you’ll need to enable worksharing.


Worksets, which are part of the worksharing process, allow you to divide up portions of the model along logical building divisions. Don’t think of these as layers; think of them more as building assemblies and components. Whereas in 2D CAD you might have doors and walls as separate layers, in Revit you might have Facade, Core, and Interiors as separate worksets. Worksets act on many levels:

  • On a large project, worksets afford team members a way to manage what goes into the active RAM on their workstations. Each workset can be selected to load or not load when you open a project. Think of this as partially opening a project. Choosing to leave a workset off means that you won’t load that information into the active memory of the computer, making the model easier to manipulate and manage. It will be ‘lighter’ and more responsive. Views will open quicker. And when you need to see your work in context with the other worksets, simply turn on the worksets that weren’t previously loaded. This workflow is a much more powerful way of controlling graphics than only using Visibility Graphics.
  • When working on a shared model, sometimes two people will try to edit the same element at the same time. If desired, worksets can be used to ‘own’ an element. This method will prevent anyone from being able to edit that element. Generally, it is recommended that you don’t ‘own’ a worksets (or in Revit’s terminology, make it ‘editable’). Instead, it is better to ‘borrow’ an element. When you edit an element that is not being edited by another team member, you automatically become the borrower of the element and can make the changes you need.

To activate worksets in Revit 2016 or earlier you could click on the ‘Workset’ button in the bottom ribbon or go to Collaborate > Manage Collaboration > Worksets.


However, for whatever reason, in Revit 2017 it is no longer possible to activate worksharing via the Workset button. It is only possible via the Collaborate tab > Manage Collaboration panel > Worksets. In Revit 2017 you will be prompted to save the newly created central file before you can proceed.

When you enable worksharing, Revit creates default worksets and assigns project elements and settings to these worksets. The default worksets are as follows:

  • Shared Levels and Grids. Contains all existing levels, grids, and reference planes. You can rename this workset.
  • Workset1. Contains all existing model elements in the project. When you create worksets, you can reassign elements from Workset1 into the appropriate workset. You can rename this workset, but you cannot delete it.

Hit the New button to create as many worksets you require, then select OK.


When saving the project, you will be warned that you are about to create a central model. Select Yes to proceed.


Once the central model has been created, you can then use the Synchronize With Central command and relinquish all the worksets you just created and hence own. Similarly, you can use the Synchronize With Central command when you are ready to publish your work to the central file for the rest of your team to see. Using Synchronize With Central also acquires all the changes that other team members have made and loads those into your local file. You can access this command in a couple of ways:

  • Collaborate tab > Synchronize > Synchronize With Central¬†
  • Use the Synchronize With Central button up in the top left. This button has a lightning bolt on it and is different from the standard save button, which only saves your local file without publishing to central.

For both options, ensure to check all the available checkboxes so that you relinquish elements so that your teammates can work on them.


Now that you’ve made a central file, you should work in a Local File from now on. There are two main ways to do this:

  • Firstly, you can simply open the network location of the central file and drag a copy from the network to your desktop or anywhere on your C: drive. Be careful not to move the file – only copy it. This option is fine, but you must repeat this option each time you want to open the file so that when you open it, it will have the latest information from the Central file in it. Otherwise, there is a risk that your local file will be out of date and have trouble Synchronizing with Central.
  • The second option and preferred option is to use the open command, browse to the central file and open it. By default, it will be set to ‘Create new Local’ file. This setting prevents you from accidentally working in the central file, which can corrupt the file.

3 Comments on “Worksharing in Revit

  1. Do you know how sometimes edit request dialog box don’t work properly? You click on someone’s element, select request but element’s owner don’t receive the alert.

    • Hi Andrea. I haven’t seen this before. For the editing request to work, the other user has to have the file open. Are both of you in the same model at the same time? And are you using a normal server, not Dropbox or something similar?

    • yeah we get this. We found as the model got bigger it gets worse. We’re talking models approx. 400MB for large retail developments.

      I suspect its down to model size and network speed. Fortunately we all work in one room together so its easy enough to turn around and shout “oi synchronise” to whoever has borrowed the workset.

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