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Issue #820 |  May 27, 2014
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In This Issue


1. Graphisoft renders ArchiCAD 18

   They love the rendering, I like the BCF


2. Letters to the Editor

    Learning the lesson


Graphisoft Renders ArchiCAD 18

For the 18th release of ArchiCAD, Graphisoft is emphasizing a new rendering engine in the 30-year-old CAD system. "Which means that BIM is turning 30 as well," added Graphisoft vp of marketing Akos Pfemeter.


Coordinating with the Discipline, Across Applications

While Graphisoft was most excited about the one-button and high-end rendering, I found the BCF function more interesting. BIM Coordination Format is a new way to pass comments and redlines between applications, bi-directionally. BCF is supported by BuildingSmar; see http://www.buildingsmart-tech.org/specifications/bcf-releases/bcf-intro.


For example, to look for collisions between drawings created by different disciplines, we import an MEP [mechanical, electrical, plumbing] model as an IFC [industry foundation classes] file into ArchiCAD, which highlights in orange the conflicts. Empty interior spaces can be turned off from collision detection.


Next, we attach notes to a problem area and capture a view that looks like a screen grab. To view the notes in another application, save the note as a BCF file, which is very compact and so easy to email. In the other application such as Tekla BIMsight, we open the BCF file and then click the image to view the model at the same angle as in ArchiCAD.


Now I would say that this approach is better than Autodesk's chat system, because BCF works between programs from different vendors; it does not store the data on a cloud -- the security concern for some AutoCAD users. While BCF has the potential to be a universal format, it is, by far, not universal.


Tracking the Changes, Semi-automatically

"The most time consuming, most hated part of the architect's job, especially revisions -- is keeping track of changes to the project," says Mr Pfemeter. There is the need to document changes: who owns the change? which drawings are affected? and so on.


In ArchiCAD 18, revisions are handled by the Change button, which places revision clouds and tracks the changes; it also works in 3D so that changes affecting multiple floors (stories) are captured.


The new Change Manager palette handles multiple changes, which no other package does according to Mr Pfemeter. For instance, it can assign multiple elements to a change in 2D, 3D, and perspective modes. This is done as by dragging and dropping a modified element (such as multi-floor staircase) into the Change Manager palette, simply.


Revisions are shown in colors in the tree of the Navigator. A new filter shows previous issues. Updates to the revision lists are handled automatically. Indeed, the revision list is a new type of GDL [Geometric description language] object, which can be customized through settings. See Figure 1.


Figure 1 (left to right): Issue History dialog box with list of changed drawings in blue; red revision history in drawing; Change Manager palette; and Navigator showing changed drawings in blue. (Click image for higher-resolution version.)

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Other Goodie, and Rendering

"Until now, PDF was an archival format for storing drawings," says Mr Pfemeter. ArchiCAD 18 now exports layers -- ho hum, so does everyone else. But the CAD system now also imports and explodes PDF files into ArchICAD lines and text, which then can be edited.


Multi-story editing lets us cut an elevator shaft by selecting all slabs, drawing a single rectangle, and then cut through all of them in an instant. This multi-story editing also works on meshes. Graphisoft is calling this "a temporary constraint," somewhat misleading in my opinion, as constraints are not involved: it's a multi-element, multi-story selection.


As for the new CineRender Engine 4 (aka Cinema 4D) rendering engine (compliments of one of Graphisoft's sister companies, Maxon), the most exciting function to me was the no-lights rendering mode, when using the Daylight Scene setting; no need to place lights is a huge time saver for someone as klutzy as me at placing lights in 3D space. In Night Scene mode, all placed lights are turned on automatically.


Many of the other functions Graphisoft demo'ed were already familiar to me from other CAD systems, such as ICS lighting specs -- but not these ones: the Noise effect simulates smoke or steam; caustics bends and focuses light through transparent elements; volumetric lighting simulates sunlight streaming through dusty air. Also, as a final touch, it can simulate the randomness of 3D grass.


Especially for architects, Graphisoft implemented white rendering with, again, just one click. It just ignores materials applied to elements. See figure 2. For experts, manual mode has 1000+ parameters and 800+ parametric materials.

Figure 2: White rendering with no materials is what architects like in early design stages. (Click image for higher-resolution version.)


The price is unchanged. The image on the box is a new medical center at Brock University in Canada. The software ships in early June. Get more information from http://www.graphisoft.com/archicad/archicad-18/overview


And One More Thing...

NVIDIA launches a test drive [is this like a beta?] of its GRID system running the equivalent of workstation graphics over the Internet, like for eDrawings and AutoCAD -- "anywhere on any device" is the claim, although the client software (that you download) is for now limited to Windows and to IP addresses located in North America. The press release intimates that Linux and OS X will be supported in the near future, and makes no mention of the even more popular Android and iOS operating systems.


Before you try it out, I suggest first reading the user manual at http://www.nvidia.com/content/grid/pdf/grid-test-drivers-manual.pdf to get an idea of the limitations and possibilities. After registering and downloading the client software, you have 24 hours to run pre-installed applications, or install your own.

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Letter to the Editor

Re: What I Learned at Solid Edge University 2014

Thanks for attending Solid Edge University and publishing your article in upfront.eZine #819! I work in marketing for Solid Edge and just a couple of comments from me that may be of interest to your readers:


The Solid Edge Apps web page that you refer to is a new resource to help our customers find the most commonly used Apps by category (Analysis, Manufacturing, Standard Parts etc.). We are adding the most popular apps into this area right now and you are correct that there are just 30 or so listed here right now. At the bottom of the page is a link to "All Solid Edge Partners" and it is here that you can search on the 500+ technology partners whose software works with Solid Edge.

Great that you were impressed by the Create Sheet Metal from 3D Part capability, and we would agree we should have featured this more prominently in our marketing materials for Solid Edge ST7. It is featured in the "Fast and Flexible Part Modeling" video on our Solid Edge ST7 web page.

     - David Chadwick, mainstream eng global product marketing

       Siemens Industry Software Limited



Is WorldCAD Access down? I'm getting 522 and 523 errors from http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/. Great running into you last week.

     - Blake Courter



The editor replies: WorldCAD Access is hosted by Typepad, and they are experiencing a DDoS attack. The workaround is to read the blog use Google's cache.



Your links under "For further reading" don't work. And don't make it sound like having KeyShot as an external rendering application is a bad thing. It is the way to go. Solid Edge is the first major CAD vendor to see the light.
      - Thomas Teger, vp of products & strategy



Thank you for all the information supplied over the years. As I have retired, I no longer have sufficient interest in the way CAD is changing to keep up with the changes.

   - DB

     New Zealand


Notable Quotable

"However, the cost of training workers to use the new tools exceeded the investment in software, and is not yet complete."
       - Stephen Wolfe, Graphic Speak



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Entire contents copyright 2014 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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