July 24, 2020

Updates to Navisworks NWD translation engine coming

A new Navisworks engine update is coming to Forge - will this effect you ?   Let's find out !

A new Navisworks engine update is coming - will this effect you ?  
Let's find out !

The Forge "Model Derivative Service" uses Navisworks to convert NWD files to SVF for ForgeViewer.  We will be updating this engine to "version 2021 Update 1" soon.  With this update, comes new 'flag' options, to control certain features.  We are changing the default behavior to improve speed, but it may cause a breaking change, so... we are looking for your feedback !


New Engine, New features:

The update will...

1. Significantly improve NWD/SVF conversion speed with reduced 'time outs' (for 1 GB+ NWD files)

2. ForgeViewer can now display "Full-Render" or "Shaded" style based on Navisworks "Render Settings"

3. New flag option to extract "hidden objects"

4. new IFC converter options (ie. rooms / spaces / levels ) and improvements (TBA)

So, what's the catch ?

We had to "turn off" these two default options, to get significant speed improvements:

5. Display "Appearance Material" as "meta-data" in properties panel.  (Off by default)

6. Convert Timeliner meta-data.  (Off by default)


* Remember, you can override these options in your "POST job" request via the Forge APIs.


Now... let's expand on these points:


#1. Improve conversion speed

These changes significantly improve conversion speed, particularly for large NWD files. Less data is stored in the propertyDB, that resulted from redundant material information and timeliner data. This, in turn, fixes the problem with very large NWD files failing to convert or causing a 'time out' error message.  This improves BIM360 too.


#2. "Full Render" or "Shaded" style

Inside Navisworks are two options for Render Style, see screenshot:


Unfortunately, Forge Services always picked "Full Render" to appear in ForgeViewer, no matter what was chosen in Navisworks render-style settings.  

Here's an example screenshot:

On the left is Navisworks.  It is using "Shaded Style".  Meanwhile, the same file viewed in ForgeViewer, seems to show the  'Full Render' style, which looks completely different.



With this new update, Forge-Viewer will use the Navisworks "render-style setting" saved inside the NWD file.  So, if Navisworks render style setting was set to "shaded style" and you then saved your NWD file, then you can expect the same render style appearance in Forge Viewer... ie. same colors, same transparencies, for all those semi-transparent / colored MEP, walls and floors. 


#3. Convert hidden objects 

Currently, the NWD extractor will skip objects that are hidden. Some customers have expressed a desire for these objects to be converted as well.

We propose to add a new option to "extract hidden objects" for Forge users. The default for this will be "false" to reflect current behavior.


#4. IFC options (NEW)

This is an initial 'preview' of what options to expect:

"ifc": {
  "conversion_method": ("legacy"|"modern"),
  "storeys": ("hide"|"show"|"skip"),
  "spaces": ("hide"|"show"|"skip"),
  "opening_elements":  ("hide"|"show"|"skip")

I'll provide more information, closer to the release.  So, watch this space...!


#5. Stop extracting "Appearance Material" meta-data

ForgeViewer displays "Ambient.Red 0, Green 0,  Blue 0", in the properties panel... (see screenshot): 


As you can see in the screenshot - not very useful, especially as a string!

In fact, it's redundant information, since the same information is available through ForgeViewer viewer.materialManager API.

The additional processing of this string data, is slow and also takes up valuable space in the properties DB.  So, we propose that this option to be 'off by default'.

To make this information appear, as before, in the ForgeViewer properties panel, you can override the default option during "POST job" conversion.  Or just pull the RGB float values from viewer.materialManager API.


#6 Stop extracting Timeliner properties

Timeliner looks like this in Navisworks:


We propose to not "extract Timeliner properties" as the default, with an option to turn it back on through "POST job" Forge API.

Why ?  It turns out that the process of looking up Timeliner properties can, in some cases, be very time consuming (i.e. in the range of several seconds per-object). By removing this extraction step, it took the conversion time down into the range of minutes, from hours.

It is because of this, we are proposing to make the default option as "do not extract timeliner properties", with an option to override this option via the "POST job" Forge API.

This may result in a user-visible change in the properties panel.

And that's it.

Reach out to us at forge.help@autodesk.com if you have any questions or concerns about this upcoming change.


Follow me on Twitter: @micbeale

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