Getting Started with the GRAPHISOFT BIM Server

by GRAPHISOFT, Ed Brown and Greg Kmethy · updated: 03.20.2012

Watch this video to get an overall idea of what you will need to do to install the BIM server. More detailed information is available in this article.




Before Installing

Checklist for installing the BIM Server in the local area network (LAN)

  • Recommended hardware configuration: Make sure the computer on which you install the BIM Server software meets the recommended hardware configuration. See also: Bim Server Best Practices
    • Standalone computer dedicated to run only the BIM server application.
    • Quad-core CPU, 8GB Memory, 64-bit system
    • Fast, local hard drive with ample free space.
  • One BIM Server: Only one BIM Server can be installed on a computer.
  • Primary (system) drive: The BIM Server can only be installed on the primary (system) drive. The BIM Server will need at least 5GB of free space on the system drive to store temporary files while running.(This does NOT include the database files)
  • Local drive: The location of the “Project” and “Library” folders (practically, this is the “database” where the BIM server stores all it’s data) can be specified on a secondary drive, but it has to be a local drive. Although the interface will allow you to specify a network location for these folders, we advise against it. You are running the risk of data loss if you specify a network drive as the “project” or “library” folder. Note: Once you have installed the BIM Server, you will not be able to modify the location of the “Library” folder. It is possible to re-define the “Project” folder’s location.
  • Administrative rights: You need to have administrative rights on the computer where the BIM Server will be installed.
  • Disabling the wireless network: If there are two active network interfaces to the computer, disable one. This means usually disabling the wireless network. This also means that the BIM server can not be installed on a computer that also functions as the network gateway between the local network and the Internet.
  • Virus checkers and Indexers have been known to interfere with the BIM Server installation (more often on Windows 7 machines). If your server refuses to start after the installation, you should uninstall the BIM Server and prior to re-installing it disable the virus protection. If the problem continues disable virus checking in the TeamworkServer directory and everything below it. If you have relocated your projects and libraries directories, make sure virus checking is disabled in these areas as well.
  • IPv4 network: BIM server only supports IPv4 network. If your router is IPv6 enabled (commonplace) and your network starts using Windows 7 or Vista, then it is possible that clients will try to communicate with the BIM Server using the IPv6 IP address.
    See also: Network Specification
  • Static local IP address and a permanent host name: The BIM server has to have a static local IP address and a permanent host name. (these are DHCP and DNS server settings). BIM Server could start and stop randomly if this is not attended to !
  • DNS (domain name server): It is highly recommended that a correctly functioning DNS (domain name server) is employed in your network. This will ensure that computers can reliably connect to each other by host names. (/etc/hosts can be used to workaround the lack of a DNS server, but this is not advised. For more on this workaround see also: Teamwork/BimServerRemoteConnection )
  • Host names of computers can only use the letters a-z, digits 0-9 and the ‘-’. A hyphen cannot start or end a computer name.
  • Firewalls: All firewalls in the network allow communication on the Teamwork ports (default ports for ArchiCAD 13: 9991, 61616, 5988, 6005. default ports for ArchiCAD 14: 14001, 14002, 14004, 6005. default ports for ArchiCAD 15: 15001, 15002, 15004, 6005. Modular BIM server needs all these ports open). The ports are all TCP ports except the discovery port, 6005, which is udp.
  • “Broadcast”: BIM Server has a convenience feature that helps clients to “discover” the BIM server without typing the address. For this to work properly, subnet routers should be configured to allow “broadcast” otherwise the discovery service will fail. Other teamwork features will not be affected.

Additional checklist for remote (WAN) access

See the article Teamwork/BimServerRemoteConnection for details.

  • A static public IP address for your office. A static public IP address can be purchased for a fee from your Internet provider. You can test your BIM Server setup with a dynamic public IP address prior to purchasing a static one using steps in the article above.
  • A qualified domain name is not inevitable, but it makes accessing the server easier for remote clients (e.g. instead of using the external IP address, users can connect to the server by name, e.g. bimserver.company.com) For most firms, this (sub)domain name must be set up with with a hosting service to “point” to the static public IP address that you internet provider (not your web hosting provider) provided for your office internet connection.
  • Port address translation (PAT) has to be set up on your router (or the DNS) that forwards incoming traffic on the teamwork ports to the internal IP address of the BIM Server. For that to work properly, the computer that is hosting your BIM Server must have a static local IP address on your LAN – or your router must be able to perform port-forwarding based on the computer’s network name.
  • The Firewall on the router has to be configured to allow bi-directional traffic on the Teamwork ports.
  • The Firewall on the remote client’s side also has to allow communication on the teamwork ports (Note: Most home routers do not need to be re-configured. This is because the default settings usually allow the client to initiate communication on any port.)
  • External server address has to be specified under BIM server Control Panel/Preferences/Advanced Settings/Qualified Domain Name.

Backup strategy

It is essential that you have a backup strategy before you start using the BIM server. Note that there is a dedicated backup tool provided by GRAPHISOFT that can create backups even when the BIM server is running. If you plan to use third-party backup tools, you should be aware that a full backup of the BIM Server can only be created when the BIM Server is stopped.

See Teamwork project data management for details


Installation steps

STEP 1 – Server Name

When users join a project they will see the BIM Server’s name.
In general, this is the hostname of the server, and coincides with the name maintained on the network’s DNS server. (For small offices without a computer running a server version of an operating system, there is no local DNS server. Instead a “hosts” file is used, as described in another article.) Unless there is some overriding reason for changing this, the best solution is to accept the default computer name. This is especially true if later the BIM Server will be opened to Internet teamworking. When users access the project over the Internet they should use the fully qualified name of the machine.

In this example it would be macbim.graphisoft.com. Inside the local network the users would use macbim.graphisoft.com as well. Following this workflow you will avoid many problems with libraries and Hotlinks that are also teamwork files. Besides DNS names are much more readable than IP addresses. Additionally a cold database backup will work more smoothly if you have always refered to your BIM Server with its qualified domain name.
See Teamwork project data management

  • 1_ServerName.png

STEP 2 – Project Data Folder

The folder where the project databases will be stored should be located on the BIM Server on disks that have good read/write data transfer speeds.

“Project Data Folder” is a bit of a misnomer, since it should not be considered for all project data. Exernally linked non teamwork files, such as drawings from non-teamworked plns, dwgs, jpgs and the like will not be placed in this folder by the BIM Server. Users should not consider using this directory for those type of files. In fact those types of files should probably stay on their respective servers in their original folders. The project data folder from a BIM standpoint is strictly for the files that were once unshared pln, pla, or plp files, but have now become teamwork projects.

The project data folder should only be readable by the administrator. There is no need to share this folder, since the hierarchy and the files within it are strictly maintained by the BIM Server. For backup purposes you might consider placing this in a folder that also contains the library and separate from the BIM server components. Although this location can be changed later from the BIM Server Preferences dialog, the library folder location cannot, so it is wise to have the right placement at installation. It has been noted that virus checkers scanning in the projects folder could interfere with BIM Server operation, so it might be wise to disable them for this directory.

  • The dialog does not prevent one from hosting the BIM Server project data folder on a different machine even though this mode of operation is not recommended. Hosting the project data folder on a different machine would slow down data transfers from the BIM Server and could cause data corruption if the machine where the folders were hosted were to go offline. In most cases, permission problems will arise between the running BIM Server service and the folder located on a network drive. That is to say, in general, without special setup, this mode of operation will not work. If it is made to work, it is a failure point waiting to trigger. Please do not put your BIM Server databases on a network drive.
  • Also avoid to use external drives, which needs to be mounted. If you have e.g. an external Raid storage, which requires mounting on startup: disable – Start BIM Server with Operating System – check box in BIM Server Preferences, because if the BIM Server starts before the mounting happens, that can cause problems, so start the server manually after the external drive is mounted.

{i} For a completely consistent backup of the library folder (Attachments) the BIM Server should be stopped.

  • 2_ProjectDataFolder.png

STEP 3 – Library Data Folder

In the third step the server library folder is entered. On the BIM Server computer this folder is named attachments. This is the location where uploaded libraries are stored.

{i} This folder location cannot be changed later from the BIM Server Preferences dialog, so make sure to get this right at installation.

  • 3_LibraryDataFolder.png

STEP 4 – Administrator Account

In this step the server administrator data is given. The e-mail address will be checked for validity. Email addresses must have a “@” and “.” and cannot have anything else but alphanumeric characters. If the person who is the administrator will also be working with teamwork projects, that persons name might appear as a user and as an administrator. In a case like this it would be wise to put some sort of distinguishing character(s) in the full name.

  • 4_AdminAccount.png

Here is a sample of some names. Note that the Administrator and Smith have the same full name.

  • ManageUsers.png

Later when Smith shares a project, it will be difficult to distinguish “John Smith” the administrator from “John Smith” the user (called “Smith”). A possible solution is to append to the Admin user’s full name the words “(admin)”. That is, John Smith(Admin).

  • customaccess.jpg

STEP 5 – Startup and Port options

In the 5th step you can set up whether the BIM Server starts up with the operating system and you have the option to change the port numbers the BIM Server services. If you check the box for starting up the BIM Server with the operating system then, the computer need to only be powered up to have the BIM Server running. That is, nobody has to be logged into it to have it running.

The port settings have significance in light of other firewall and router settings. Most firewalls will have these ports blocked, so after configuring the BIM Server you will need to open up these ports on the firewall. Only the discovery port is udp, all of the other ports are tcp.

There are many reasons to avoid changing the defaults and very few arguments for changing them. If the defaults are taken, remote users only need the DNS name of the BIM Server (e.g. macbim.graphisoft.hu) to add the server to their remote computer. If port defaults have been changed the administrator will have to supply twlink files to remote users so those users can add the BIM Server to their server lists.

  • 5_Startup_PortSettings.png 5b_PortSettings.png

Additionally, if you change the discovery port, expect to travel to several client machines and change the setting below so that their server list will be populated.

  • DiscoveryPort.jpg

One weak reason where there might be a need to change port values, is when you have multiple BIM Server machines accessible to the Internet. If your site only has one public IP address then the port numbers are the only way that your gateway can route the communications to the individual BIM Servers on your private network. Even in this case the real solution is to obtain another static public IP address. Serious involvement in BIM Server Internet teamwork should be backed by serious infrastructure.

STEP 6 – Mail Server

The e-mail server data is given in the 6th step. {i} SSL is not supported currently for mail server communication. If your mail server requires this (for instance gmail uses SSL) you will not be able to use email functionality of the BIM Server.

The main function supported by providing the e-mail server is the optional sending of the login ID and password to a user when a new BIM Server account is created for them. The messaging functions within the Teamwork palette do not use e-mail, but rather communicate directly to active Archicad sessions joined to a project.

  • 6_MailServer.png

The “from” field of email that is sent from the BIM Server cannot be changed. The account name/password are strictly for those users whose mail server requires an account name and password. Most likely these are when the site is using an Internet service provider’s mail services instead of an in-house system.


Troubleshooting

How do I disable IPv6 on Windows 7? (my IPv6 clients do not see the library)

To disable Ipv6 on Windows 7 I found the below in a google search: http://windows-7-help.blogspot.com/2009/10/disable-windows-7-ipv6.html

Here it is quoted: Click Start button –> type regedit in the box and press Enter –> in the registry editor window, navigate to

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > services > TCPIP6 > Parameters

–> in the left sidebar, right click Parameters to create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value –> name it as DisabledIpv6 and set its value data as 0 –> click ok button –> then restart your computer.

or here is an easier way – without the need to use regedit: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929852

Are there any diagnostic tools I can use to make sure my network and ports are okay

In a terminal window on the Mac or a command prompt in Windows try the following:

  1. nslookup YourBIMServer.yourdomain (for instance company.com company.co.uk etc)
  2. nslookup yourBIMServer
  3. ping YourBIMServer.yourdomain
  4. ping YourBIMServer
  5. tracert YourBIMServer.yourdomain
  6. telnet YourBIMServer.yourdomain 5988 (replace 5988 with the port you use. If no error message show and there is a blank screen then the port is listening. You will have to ctrl-c out of the window)
  7. ifconfig /all

Additionally with the a TeamworkServerConnectionTest.jar java script TeamworkServerConnectionTest.zip

  1. Copy the test program to a machine that cannot connect to your BIM Server
  2. Note what ports are used on the BIM Server, see the Bim Server preferences dialog (the defaults are 5988,61616, 9991). The order is important for step 3
  3. Run the TeamworkServerConnectionTest.jar program in a command prompt window (cmd.exe), see twconnect.jpg
  4. Create a screenshot of its output.

TeamworkServerConnectionTest.jar requires java to run. See the below screenshot.

  • twconnect.jpgIn the example screenshot, you can see that I needed to include the full path to the java.exe executable, since it was not in the path. Similarly you should include the full path in the command to the folder where TeamworkServerConnectionTest.jar was copied. In place of “macbim.graphisoft.hu” substitute your BIM Server. Finally the number after that are the port numbers of the Management Service Port, Messaging Service Port, and Model Service Port in that order. Those ports are set up in the preferences dialog as shown below. As an example I showed what might happen on your side if a port is not accessible

I checked my preferences and the BIM Server is not set up to use port 10000 but it is, and my program needs that port

The BIM Server might use the 10000 port (or any other for that matter) if it is free when it needs a new port for inter process communication. The use of any specific numbered port is not required, and the BIM Server dynamically searchs for free ports skipping those that are already taken.

If the user is using a backup system like beremote (the 10000 port is somewhat of a dead give away), then here is some advice:

The beremote server can be changed. See, http://seer.entsupport.symantec.com/docs/255498.htm

Additionally, you can coax the BIM Server to search for ports above 10000 by changing the Model Service Port for the BIM Server to a number above 10000 or delay starting the BIM Server until the software needing 10000 has reserved it.

Tricks to getting a small mac only network without DNS server to work

BIM Server stops shortly after starting

BIM Server is running, but not everyone can connect to it

Port 1099 is in use by BIM Server but this port is needed by another application.

“Server running with errors”

I cannot change the project folder location

I have AVG Anti-Virus and I cannot use TeamWork

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