Network specification

by GRAPHISOFT and Ed Brown · updated: 03.19.2012

Network requirements in a LAN environment

Network speed
LAN Networks slower than Fast Ethernet (100 Mbit/s) should be avoided for everyday work. Although networks slower than Ethernet (10 Mbit/s) can appear robust as long as the user is not performing large updates, joining or sharing a project.
DHCP and DNS services
Without the DNS service the /etc/host file will need to be configured to resolve names. It is recommended to have the DNS service running and avoid the subtle problems that could arise when depending on the /etc/host file for name resolution.
Router settings
If a local network is joined by a router, it is possible clients on one subnet will not learn of a BIM Server running on the other subnet. ArchiCAD’s discovery service relies on broadcasting UDP datagrams, and frequently routers block broadcast messages. If you would like the BIM Server pop-up list to be populated for all clients no matter where they are on your local network make sure the routers are set to pass broadcast messages.
Firewall settings
Firewalls should be open to the ports used by Teamwork. The used ports are presented on the BIM Server Preferences panel that can be viewed from the Graphisoft BIM Server Control Center. If these ports are not open it is possible that a user could see the Internet, download email, but still not have access to the BIM Server.
Host names/Computer names
Host names are restricted to the same standard naming convention as domain names. That is, they should only contain the letters a-z the numbers 0-9 and the hyphen ‘-‘. A hyphen cannot start or end a host name. See RFC 1178 Choosing a Name for Your Computer

BIM Server IP address
This must be a static IP address.

Network requirements in a private WAN environment

As long as the above LAN requirements are met, Teamwork will operate fine. In a WAN environment unicasting and multicasting may be disabled to reduce bothersome network traffic. If broadcasting is disabled then users will have to add the BIM Server to their server lists.

If VPN over the Internet is being used, the bandwidth of the connection may prove a bottleneck. Users should be warned that they should send/receive more frequently, and avoid tasks that could change large amounts of data, for instance, bulk layout or section/elevation updates.

Network requirements over the Internet

Teamwork over the Internet will require a static public IP address. This is not an IP that comes standard with Internet access, but an option that must be specifically ordered. A small office would not need more than one static public IP address. (This requirement can be circumvented, see “Exception to the public IP address requirement when connecting via the Internet” below.)

Although working with a modem/dialup bandwidth (56 kbit/s) can be done, it will be slow and for that reason it is not recomended. Remote users should consider ADSL (1.5 Mbit/s) or better.

Common network problems that interfere with BIM server operation

The computer name and the IP address of the BIM server are two important points of failure in the connection process. The project remembers which method you used to connect: either hostname or IP address. If either information were to change or not be available then projects that use this information to connect would fail to connect.

IP addresses are not necessarily permanent in a network.
In most local networks a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is used to assign an IP address to a specific computer. A computer has an IP address for a given lease period. If the lease runs out, or the computer is restarted a new IP address is obtained from the DHCP server and it could be different. This poses a fatal problem if a joined project uses an expired IP address to link to a BIM Server. The solution is to guarantee that the BIM Server has a fixed IP address via proper configuration of the DHCP server.

IP addresses are not necessarily reachable
Any company may have a group of smaller subnets linked together via routers. Routers can be configured to control the traffic between two subnets which might mean the blocking of connections between certain IP addresses. Make sure that your BIM Server is ping-able from where you want to join it from.
To access a BIM Server over the Internet presents a different hurdle. Up to now we have been primarily discussing private IP addresses. The type that are most likely assigned by a local DHCP server. Unlike private IP addresses, public Internet IP addresses are guaranteed to be globally unique. For this reason, a private IP address cannot be used for a BIM Server that will be accessed from the Internet via its IP address. Public addresses are managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority and your Internet service provider may be able to help in the application process. When you apply for an IP address you generally apply for a domain name as well.
The Port to the IP address is being blocked — Firewall
The BIM Server listens for activity on several ports. If any of these ports are being blocked by a Firewall or are already in use by another listener the BIM Server will fail in one way or the other. The ports are defined in the BIM Server preferences dialog.
Computer names or hostnames are not necessarily permanent
It is possible that your computer obtains its name from a Domain Name System (DNS) server. (I have seen this happen with Macs thats do not log into the domain) If this is the case you should configure the DNS server to always provide the same hostname. If the hostname does not resolve to a static IP address the BIM Server might stop and start randomly as it receives new IP addresses or hostnames.
Computer names are not necessarily resolvable
The DNS server’s main task on your network is to translate the computer names to IP addresses. Since office networks often resides in one “domain.” a hostname is all it takes for one computer to connect to another. When you connect your home PC to a BIM Server via the Internet a fully qualified hostname is required. For instance, joes_pc.graphisoft.com. You will need to add this manually, since the Discovery protocol does not work over the Internet. Additionally, this means that your hostname.domain must be resolvable by an Internet DNS server. That is the domain must be a publicly registered domain name. If you do not have a registered domain you will have to resort to tricks.

Exception to the public IP address requirement when connecting via the Internet

{i} This is for a small office that is experimenting with Internet access to its BIM server. This is not a suggested workflow.

The below example used Server: T-Online ADSL dynamic IP address, Linksys WiFi router, attached to a MacMini Client: A laptop somewhere

Setup Steps

  1. Register with a dynamic dns service provider. We used the free services of DynDNS.com.
  2. Provide the DNS service provider with your desired hostname. Your dynamic IP address will route to this hostname.
    1. The LynkSys router Administrative Interface already offes the DynDNS service as an option. At this point you need to provide a username/password and host data. After this the router will register itself with DynDNS and power on or whenever its IP address changes.
    2. If your computer is directly connected with the modem, (router is not present) there is an application with which you can register.
  3. The connections that reach the router IP address via DynDNS and hostname must be forwarded to the BIM Server’s port on the internal network’s IP Address
Special notes
  1. Arbitrary remote computers can connect with the BIM Server using the DynDNS hostname, but only if the Port is not blocked by a firewall.
  2. If users within the local network wish to access a project that will also be available from outside the local network then all teammates must use the external hostname to connect. Otherwise the library paths will not be the same and user with the “wrong” path will not see the loaded library.

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