Tekla Podcast #2 – How to solve and avoid Tekla errors (Juha from Trimble)

Podcast

11 min read + 1h32min interview

Today’s Tekla podcast guest is Juha Nieminen, from none other than Trimble – and no doubt virtually all of you know Trimble! He works in the Finnish HQ as a service manager providing support and also running webinars. 

Juha is a pretty unique guy in that he rides his bike to the office – all year round – in Finland 😲 and of course he has lots of experience with our Tekla problems. In this interview, we will share ideas on how to solve and avoid Tekla problems. In the second part, Juha will not hold back on sharing his tips on how to maximize Tekla efficiency and minimize errors.

Watch the whole interview video from here:

Tekla Podcast #2 - How to solve and avoid Tekla errors (Juha from Trimble)

or listen it in audio format here:

Don’t have time to watch the whole pod? Skim the questions and answers summary in a written format below! 👇

When was Tekla first created? And, what does the word “Tekla” mean?

The company was actually founded way back in 1966 when computers were still using punchcards! 

Tekla in 1966

The word “Tekla” is actually quite an uncommon Finnish women’s name. There is a particular Finnish woman (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tekla_Hultin) who was named Tekla who is quite well-known for her struggle for men and women to have equal rights – however, I don’t think that’s the true origin of the name. Officially, the name is a combination taken from Finnish words  Teknillinen Laskenta , which translates to Technical Calculation in English.

Tell us about how you ended up joining the company, and a bit about your team.

Well, it’s now been more than 13 years. Originally I saw a good-looking ad at some kind of (job) fair. They were looking for engineers for the support team, and, somehow they chose me 😊


As service manager, I’ve actually been running the team for quite a few years. The scope of software the team supports has grown quite a lot as well. Back when I joined, it was just Tekla Structures; now it includes Tekla Structural Designer, Trimble Connect, Tekla Tedds, Trible Vico, and most recently, Tekla PowerFab. 

What do you feel are the most common Tekla problems?

On the general level, roughly every fifth support request relates to drawings, and from those requests, there wasn’t any clear stand-out topic; things were more or less evenly distributed. Having said that, around one third of those requests were either feature requests, or things we ended up reporting as bugs.

Drawing related feature request

What would be the breakdown between feature requests, bugs, and a lack of user knowledge?

Interestingly, bugs without a workaround and feature requests would make up only around 5% of all cases. The rest goes to the situation where a user is trying to do something in the way they feel it should be done, but  we end up providing them with the correct instructions or help them with a workaround for trickier situations . And many times, we simply provide more information in the form of articles or recognize that the user has too great a knowledge gap and so we recommend they seek additional training.

Feature request - Bug

I understand that in Trimble there are people who do development based on client feedback and others who are about future product development?

That’s true; the support teams and the area offices take feedback for the future developments and then there is a development team with their heads in the clouds ☁️😄☁️ These ones are not looking ahead not to tomorrow or the day after, but a year or more into the future with their thoughts about where the software should go!

I have some slides prepared today about what users can do when they have errors; let’s go through them and you can give me your thoughts as well!

Search for the error code on Google

Google, of course, is always worth checking, as there is a good chance somebody else has already encountered the error. In fact, some of our staff will do that in the case of a new error, just in case they find a user who already encountered it and found the solution or even a workaround.

It’s just important to  prioritize the official advice given from Tekla Support over suggestions posted elsewhere . You can get Tekla official support from here https://support.tekla.com/

Finding the source of error

This slide helps to identify where the actual source of the fault lies:

Finding error source

The first thing to do is  check and see if the same issue exists when using a different computer  – and even better if that other computer was outside your office, if possible.  

If you can’t reproduce the error on other computers, then it’s a decent chance that the problem is unique to your computer. In that case, the best thing to do would be to re-install Tekla or apply the latest service pack.

 We don`t recommend changing Tekla main version in the middle of a project But if you need to do it, in a very long project, read this article before doing it https://teklastructures.support.tekla.com/support-articles/upgrading-shared-model-new-tekla-structures-version

In the case where a model or modeling error

These are the five steps that I follow when trying to resolve model or modeling errors.

  1.  Model repairs If you can still open the model, running a repair is the fastest and easiest way to solve (some) problems. And of course, restart your Tekla. We recommend to  run “Model Repair” daily.  Make it as a good habit.
    Repair Tekla model

  2.  Model backup Tekla is continually making backups, and this means you can take the step of restoring the most recent backup. You just have to  rename *.db.bak to *.db file . Just in case keep your previous *.db files somewhere safe.
    Model backup
    Advanced option  XS_STORE_MULTIPLE_BAK_FILES  enables creating more than one bakup file. In this case you need to delete manually old bak files, when there are too many of them.

    Advanced option  XS_MODEL_BACKUP_DIRECTORY  is for controlling the location where bak files are stored.

  3.  Autosave If the model will not open, autosave can come in handy to re-open the most recent working version.
    Tekla autosave
    Remember that  Tekla does autosave after x number of different modeling commands and it`s not counting the work you are doing on drawing space. 

  4.  Autosave backup There are a few different ways you can automatically  make server backups to backup server or to the cloud  – redundancy is a powerful ally to have!
    Autosave backup


  5.  Tekla support Now that you have all these options available to you, in many circumstances you can resolve the problem yourself. But, if you don’t manage to, at that point your should get in touch with the support team. Browse for your local support here https://teklastructures.support.tekla.com/support-articles/browse-local-support
    Contact Tekla Support
     Make sure that your subcontractors are not using pirate version of Tekla.  Tekla support doesn`t like these models too much.

When contacting support, what information should customers provide for a faster resolution?

This information would be best to include:

✔️ Tekla version
✔️ Service Pack number
✔️ Environment type
✔️ Configuration / license
✔️ Single, multi-user, or model sharing setup
✔️ Your computer’s operating system (Windows version)
✔️ Tekla model files (where appropriate), support tool in Tekla zips it automatically for you
✔️ Description of what happens and what you are expecting
✔️ Screenshots (as attachments, not embedded) 🖼️ or even better – screen recordings 🎞️

Keep your documentation and support requests short and simple!

Any other tips on how to avoid errors?

Firstly,  don’t make cuts and fittings align to the object!  This error was common for a time but more recently has lessened, but doing this will definitely cause solid errors.

Next,  don’t open the model with the wrong environment . Opening a project in an environment that it was not created in can cause errors, for sure.

Another thing that will help you day to day is to  learn the difference between the selection switches  – your life will be a lot easier once you have mastered this!

This is just a good habit to get into – try to remember exactly what you did when an error pops up. Not knowing what your last action was prior to an error occurring makes it more difficult for both you and Tekla support to figure out what went wrong! 🙃

Don’t be afraid to go to forum.tekla.com and ask for assistance. There are expert users from all around the world who might be able to help with your problem, and they enjoy doing so.

 Don`t close Tekla separate macro windows or as I call them “black boxes” 

Any tips on hardware setup for running Tekla smoothly?

You can find  Tekla official hardware recommendations  from here https://teklastructures.support.tekla.com/2021/en/ins_tekla_structures_hardware_recommendations

If there is one thing I would say, it is that when you look at the minimum hardware requirements – make sure that the computer you want to run Tekla on has  MORE than the minimum requirements.  

You don’t necessarily need to have all of the recommended specs, but just scraping in with a computer that has the minimum specs won’t be a good experience, and gets worse as your models or projects increase in complexity.

Also, make sure that you  read and understand this article  https://support.tekla.com/article/tekla-structures-and-central-processing-unit-cpu-usage, before choosing a new computer. It will help you.

Plus, you can ask to  run Tekla Structures graphics hardware test  to find out how suitable your chosen computer is for working with Tekla. You can get it from Tekla Warehouse https://warehouse.tekla.com/#/catalog/details/ucac83627-77c6-4e39-a67e-400379dca22a

One other thing that does affect some users is that you should make sure that Windows itself is up to date. Sometimes a computer is set to not automatically update, and this too can be the cause of some issues.

What are some of the “rookie mistakes” you notice are common among users? How to avoid these mistakes?

👉 The first one, which was already mentioned but I will do so again now because of its importance – and that is to make sure you  open a project in the correct environment .

💡 Remember that there are  different tools for creating steel and concrete objects  – try not to mix them up!

Steel-VS-Concrete-tools

👉  Be careful when you’re picking points . You have the ability to create clip lines and plane views, but if you aren’t very experienced, choosing the wrong one can lead to trouble down the path, so pay particular attention to that. Use object edges and corners; avoid using surfaces in transparent view mode.

💡 Perhaps not so much a rookie mistake, but making sure that your  common modeling rules  in any project are clearly defined. These affect numbering, and you need to have those settings properly in line.

💡 Location in the  model should be coordinated near to orego 0, 0, 0 . Use Base Point feature if needed.

Tekla Base Point

👉 In multi-user projects, divide the project between users and make sure that  they will not modify the same objects at the same time 

👉 Make sure you know how to model manually, but don’t forget to  use components and save the settings for the next times . It will raise your modeling speed and reduce typing mistakes.

👉 It doesn’t matter how high your skill level is –  never be afraid to ask for help ; you might avoid some big issues later! Help others if you can. Sharing your knowledge will help other users improve, and it’s karma that will pay itself back in time.

👉 Get training. Whether it’s in person or online, whether paid or free, getting yourself further training is going to improve your understanding of the system and expand your skills, ultimately meaning your projects will be more accurate and have fewer errors, and you can work on more and more complex things.  Training is essential! 

Contact us here https://www.tsguide.eu/tsguide-contact/ to get personal training or read our very good article (with links) where else you can start learning Tekla https://www.tsguide.eu/11-ways-for-beginners-to-learn-tekla-structures/.

👉 Use Tekla locking possibilities , e.g grids, references, objects and drawings. 

Any tips on getting the best performance from Tekla?

First off, and easiest, the performance of Tekla can be increased by  maintaining a smaller model size  (eg. create separate buildings in separate Tekla models and don’t model every brick if you really don’t need it) and  having fewer visible objects  (eg. hide reinforcement when you don’t need them and show only the area of the building that you are working on, using Work Area and View Depth). Both of these tips work in model and drawings.

In your modeling,  use reasonable precision , for example with round shapes. In Tekla, there are no true ’round’ objects; they are always built using smaller and smaller segments. The smaller the segments, the slower they will be rendered, so make sure you don’t go overboard with the segments if it won’t affect the accuracy of your design. Read more from this article – https://teklastructures.support.tekla.com/support-articles/roundness-objects-displayed-tekla-structures

In Tekla version 2020 and newer,  don’t use “Use legacy rendering”  = open GL rendering mode. It means that your Tekla will use DirectX rendering. It has been improved a lot.

 Use drawing snapshots, check the whole drawing, make notes, and then do all changes in the model in one go;  this will be faster than fixing them one at a time as you find things you need to change.

An easy way to streamline your work is to remember that create  CU drawings for smaller elements and GA drawings for large areas.   Use keyboard shortcuts.  There are cheat sheets available, but you can define your own favorites.

On drawings, your zooming and panning performance can improve if you will  use XS_USE_SMART_PAN  from advanced options. Read about it more from here – https://support.tekla.com/doc/tekla-structures/2021/xs_use_smart_pan

In fact, if you go to our support and search for performance, you’ll find a lot of articles on this and they are constantly updated. These are only some of the articles that we recommend to read:

Finally, the question I ask of all guests: What do you see in the future of BIM?

While I’m not an oracle, I certainly believe that  AI and machine learning  will become more and more of an important part of the industry. I believe that AI will ensure engineers will need to do less repetitive manual work.

Hopefully, this AI and machine learning becomes more prominent in the field and on sites; this would mean huge savings from streamlining work and realizing real productivity gains.

Thanks Juha! Any last comments or advice?

Always keep a curious mind! And try to be humble; while you might have a certain amount of knowledge today, always remember that there will always be room for improvement, and try to plan your next steps.

Having an eagerness to learn to bring joy to your work, despite sometimes having heavy workloads. 😊

Go also check our first podcast episode Tekla Podcast #1 – Consolis CES Estonia advanced Tekla system and development.


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