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Creating a safe mode to diagnose Revit add-in issues

June 09, 2016

This free tool for the design technology community can help you diagnose Revit add-in issues

I recently came across a thread on Twitter and a blog post about the idea of a “safe mode” for Revit. “It would be handy if there were a way to start-up Revit in safe mode—add-in free so to speak so it can run on its own and help us diagnose an issue,” Steve Stafford wrote.

Case in point, just last week I was troubleshooting one add-in with a vendor (Unifi) only to determine that another vendor’s add-in was causing the problem (names have been redacted to protect the guilty!). And in another Stantec office, there is an ongoing saga where Revit Groups seem to cause Revit to crash when a mysterious add-in makes the platform unstable (we still haven’t narrowed it down). I’m sure you all have similar tales of Revit woe you could share.

What did our Buildings Digital Practice Team do to assist our end users manage these types of issues? We wrote a tool!

Stantec’s promise is to “Design with Community in Mind.” We define “community” broadly. Where we live and work, yes, but also our client and professional communities. Engaging with and helping those communities is a big part of that promise. For me, that means chairing the annual Design Technology Summit (DTS), which occurs just before RTC (Revit Technology Conference) North America (RTCNA). DTS is a community of likeminded individuals who gather to discuss trends and issues around (you guessed it) technology in design.

Technology is the cornerstone of how we create better communities. To that end, I strongly believe peers from design companies need to share best practices and innovations so we can better design the built environment we all share. Sure, we’re competitors on the outside, but we share the same aspirations and struggles. We’re all in the same boat; it’s more a question of who can bail faster.

The safe mode tool

That’s why I want to give back something to the digital practice community. So ladies and gentleman, I give you “Add-in Manager,” which acts as a safe mode for Revit. This ridiculously simple tool requires no installation.

Here’s how to get it up and running on your machine:

  1. Download the tool from Bitbucket here.
  2. Find where you downloaded the zip file and unzip it.
  3. When unzipped, there will be a BIN folder; browse into the BIN folder then the Debug sub-folder.
  4. Run the tool by double-clicking on the .exe file.
  5. In the window that opens, pick your version of Revit (or go with all if you like).
  6. The data grid will update to display all of the machine wide and the logged in user specific add-ins installed. You can pick and choose, invert, select all, then simply click on the “Enable/Disable” button to either enable or disable the selected add-ins.
  7. Once you’ve made your choices, start Revit in the normal manner. Simple and easy.

Here’s what the Add-in Manager shows you: 

Are you giving me Stantec Spyware?

Not at all. The Add-in Manager renames the *.addin file(s) so you can manually take charge any time you like. We could have added a button to start Revit itself from here (a true safe mode, I guess) but it didn’t seem necessary. To prove that we’re not giving out spyware, and if you want to add that direct shortcut to Revit, the download also includes the full source code. You’re welcome to do what you want, fork the code, make it your own, and even give back yourself.

I hope you find this tool useful and that you appreciate our willingness to contribute to the larger design technology community. If you have any custom add-ins to share, please add a comment below.

If you’re a member of a 100+ person design firm, consider joining me at DTS this summer. You can also join several of my Stantec colleagues and me at RTC NA. We have four primary speakers who will be speaking on:

  • A case study on Parametric Modeling to Spherical Rendering for Google Cardboard
  • Super Schedules, Cost Estimation, and Managing Teamwork within Revit via Team Schedule.
  • 4D Simulations without Interrupting Project Delivery
  • WTF Would You Model That For?

Looking forward to seeing you at these events.

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