the business of cad


Issue #777 |  May 28, 2013
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In This Issue


1. For Graphisoft, ArchiCAD 17 is all about details

     - Q&A
     - What Ralph Grabowski Thinks


2.  Out of the Inbox, and our other regular columns.


For Graphisoft, ArchiCAD 17 is all about details
Thirty years ago, a group of programmers in then still-Communist Hungary got hold of an Apple computer. They had been thinking of how software could be used on personal computers to create a central information model, from which everything needed to construct a building could be derived, like qualities and drawings.


The pioneers of BIM named themselves Graphisoft, and eventually got their ArchiCAD software running on Macs and then PCs. With new releases for 30 years, the problem becomes, what new could possibly be added?


Graphisoft Business Development Manager Eniko Pauko earlier this month told me that each new release now focuses on a specific problem, as they follow the aim of the BIM pioneers "to close the gap between the perfect vision of BIM and reality." She listed the specific problems solved by the last four releases:

ArchiCAD 13. Collaboration is as easy as allocating individual DWG files to members of the team, the same is not true for integrated models like centralized BIM project files. For release 13, Graphisoft created BIM Server.

ArchiCAD 14. BIM for architecture cannot exist in a silo, and so release 14 uses IFCs to add Open BIM workflows to work with software specific to other disciplines, like Scia, Tekla, and MagiCAD.

ArchiCAD 15. BIM cannot be limited to rectilinear designs, and so release 15 got the shell tool to draw free-shape buildings.

ArchiCAD 16. Buildings are more than construction elements, and so release 16 creates and shares BIM components through a cloud portal; also the BIMX portable app was released.

And now ArchiCAD 17 focuses on model-based details, because most architectural practices break the link between the model and the documentation at the construction phase and create details as 2D drawings. In release 17, however, ArchiCAD automatically generates correct junctions more than 90% of the time. Here are the tools it adds:

With these improvements, BIM works at up to 1:50 (1/4" scale).

Figure 1: Materials applied to flooring, with walls turned off

(Click image for higher-resolution image.)


With many detailed junctions in a model, computer performance might become an issue. Graphisoft solved this using background processing of as many cores as your computer has. Ms Pauko assured me that users will not require a high-end machine. If, however, you work on large models and can afford the hardware, then ArchiCAD scales.


For the demo, Ms Pauko showed me a residential tower being built in Moscow. It has three towers of 54, 32, and 12 stories. The model has 70,000 building elements, like walls, slabs, curtain walls.


The demo begins with the morph tool for push-pulling shapes. This is from the previous release, but now V17 shows guide lines with story numbers. Even at the conceptual stage, architects needs to be aware of local building codes, and so ArchiCAD generates schedules of floor areas for every floor, allowing architects to compare the numbers with code limits. Also at an early stage, it can be helpful to place and then modify zones for functional areas, like elevator shafts, hallways, and washrooms. In ArchiCAD, surface recognition makes it easier to draw on any surface in the 3D environment.


The most tedious job in the process is construction documentation, and so ArchiCAD 17 understands the order in which elements are built. It generates cleaned-up junctions automatically, based on rules. (See Figure 2.) Having a multi-core CPU allows ArchiCAD to clean up junctions as a background process.

Figure 2: Detailed junctions showing priority of materials calculated automatically

(Click image for higher-resolution image.)


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[For Graphisoft, ArchiCAD 17 is all about details, continues....]



Ralph Grabowski: How does ArchiCAD control all this automatic junction processing?
Eniko Pauko:
Through a new super attribute called "intelligent building material," which consists of sub attributes that control the appearance. The attributes include like cut, fill, and surface material -- as well as physical properties for energy evaluations. Each material is given a priority from 1 to 999; materials with higher priorities intersect ones with lower ones.


Ralph Grabowski: It must be a lot of work for users to set up attributes for 999 materials?
Eniko Pauko:
To solve the problem of setting up as many as 999 sub materials, Graphisoft ships ArchiCAD 17 with templates suitable to several kinds of projects, such as small houses and large buildings. Naturally, you can reorder priorities as required.


Ralph Grabowski: Why did Graphisoft spend so much time developing automatic junctions?

Eniko Pauko: The goal of BIM is to extract information and quantities of building materials, such as volumes of concrete. The new automatic junction system indicates that 3% less concrete needed for that Moscow building. This a benefit to the owner, for sure; for the architect, however, the benefit is the time saved by not cleaning up drawings manually.


Ralph Grabowski: Is there a limit to the number of junctions in a model?
Eniko Pauko:
There is no upper limit to the number of junctions, or types of junctions. This is possible due to all around performance improvements in ArchiCAD 17: 64-bit, multi-processing, multi-core, code optimization, OpenGL developments and background processing.


ArchiCAD 17 ships in mid-June and will include the BIMx mobile app.


What Ralph Grabowski Thinks

Smaller CAD vendors like Bricsys and ZWSOFT have announced in recent weeks that they have AEC (or architectural or BIM) software in an alpha testing stage. While ArchiCAD V17 shows them the direction in which they need to go, it also illustrates the difficult job these up and coming competitors will have to come close in matching functions.




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Out of the Inbox

This week is the big marketing push from Russia's two kernel developers. ASCON C3G and RGK are hoping to get attendees of COFES Russia to take a closer look (and I wish I were there!):

We tend not to think of Siemens PLM being involved with AEC (architecture, engineering, civil), but it is: its Parasolid kernel in use by Vectorworks, and now Korea's Building Information Management (K-BIM) consortium is licensing Parasolid for a new suite of AEC programs. Why? The head of K-BIM figures Parasolid will let them write "applications that compete successfully at a functional level with other AEC software suppliers." [I could not find a Web site for K-BIM.]


Autodesk has two million MAUs (monthly active users, the standard for measuring actual use among mobile apps, as opposed to downloads, of which there are twelve million) of its AutoCAD WS app, and now the company has changed the name to "AutoCAD 360." [Interesting that it reports users of individual mobile apps while refusing to do the same for its desktop programs.] While a free version is still available, Autodesk really hopes you will prefer to pay $5 a month or as much as $100 every year for extra functions, like being able to start a new drawing or display coordinates. [The pricing may come as a shock to phone and tablet users used to paying nothing or a $1 for a lifetime of updates. But this is professional software, not a toy.] https://www.autocad360.com/mobileplans


In other Autodesk news, the company is acquiring Tinkercad's browser-based 3D design technology, and will add it to its 123D line of consumer apps. The modeler still works at https://tinkercad.com. [This is one future for all of these new browser-based CAD editors that sprouted up over the last year: get acquired by a big CAD vendor. The alternative, I am unhappy to report, is to go out of business eventually; I see no future for independent-minded ones.]


ShipConstructor is an AutoCAD-based CAD/CAM add-on for shipbuilding and offshore design, and now SSI updates it with piping, distributed work, and 2D associative drawings created from 3D models. http://www.ShipConstructor.com


Lower-cost modeling software usually does a dreadful job of rendering grass, showing it as an irritating repeating pattern. Now VIZERRA is working on volumetric, realistic-looking grass for its Revizto browser-based and Android/iOS viewing app. Also, a light editor for models imported from SketchUp. Look for in June the v1.2 update from http://www.revizto.com


IMAGINiT Technologies releases the 2014 versions of its Clarity, Clarity LT and Clarity Workshare collaboration software for Revit Server. They control server set-up, automate tasks, and provide data to non-Revit users. http://imaginit.com/clarity


I've not heard of Tarklish Technologies before, a firm from a country in Africa I dare not name lest it trigger spam filters. They are offering a Document Management System at http://www.tarklish.com



On the Blog
Here are items that appeared recently on our WorldCAD Access blog at http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com:


Letters to the Editor

Re: CAD Wars Erupt in Russia

"It's nice that you always pay much attention to the Russian market; of course, everybody will be excited by your presentation of 'the battle... between two competitors with modeling kernels'. You know, LEDAS is involved in both C3D and RGK, and I hope my comments can be of some value for you.


"I believe that due to a drastically different amount of information available about C3D and RGK, it is today hardly possible to fairly present the relationship between these two Russian kernels. ASCON's C3D is a commercial system with a 15+ years of history, while RGK [Russian geometric kernel] started 1.5 years ago and all its IP belongs to the Russian state. The commercial status of RGK is still under consideration. The first of several really public and detailed presentations of both kernels will happen May 28 - June 1 at conferences by ASCON and Top Systems, and then at COFES Russia.


"I am sure the situation is very far from what can be called 'market competition'. Yes, there are some small comments [by them] in media, but mostly they look like friendly taunts (or opinions of people who know nothing about what modelers are). Also, the key managers and developers of the two projects have had for a very long time good personal relations.


"All this is very difficult to grasp remotely and without knowing the background. Anyway, it look nothing like a battle between two Russian kernels -- although we media very much love such situations and sometimes invent them ourselves.


"I believe that the really serious competition/battle in the Russian CAD market is between ASCON and Autodesk. However, it's difficult to find a reliable data: ASCON always opens its finances, while Autodesk's results in Russia and CIS are never published. What is clear is that they are comparable."
      - David Levin
       isicad, Russia


The editor replies: "I plan more coverage of the Russian kernel wars in the coming months."

"In your article on Russia CAD Wars, you stated the 'geometry kernel wars' were settled years ago. We beg to differ. Our SMLib product suite is used by hundreds of development sites, and the products using our kernel are used by thousands of end users. We have customers in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and we continue to find new customers that find our product suite compelling and very productive. Further, we continue to enhance and add new functionality as the technology matures and is ported on more platforms each year."
      - Jim Presti
       Solid Modeling Solutions


The editor replies: "At the moment of writing the article, I knew I was leaving out another kernel vendor, and so thank you for reminding me of SMLib!"

Re: Dual-Culture Wedding in Germany
I received many emails from readers congratulating my daughter Heidi and her husband Manuel on their wedding May 18. Thank you! The wedding was a wonderful, fun event taking place on pretty much the only sunny days offered by the unusually cold and rainy northern Europe -- a day marred only by the bride and groom coming down with colds that week.

Notable Quotable

"What's a 'Vista moment', you say? It is from this point onwards when those Microsoft troops -- who'd previously chalked up reports of problems in the new Windows to the evil doings of the media and people who didn't 'get it' -- suddenly find it acceptable to talk about the problems."
      - Gavin Clarke, The Register


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Entire contents copyright 2013 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $840. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "WorldCAD Access" are trademarks of upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and brevity. Translations and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.


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