The only reason most firms are adopting BIM is because of government mandates. We're pushed into it or we can't bid on the contracts.
The workflow is hastily patched together with software that's incomplete and incompatible. It's not like just going from the drawing board to CAD. There is just too much which needs to be learned and formalized before a single wall is drawn.
What used to be an enjoyable career has turned into a nightmare of dis-coordination. Solutions are not ground-up reinventions, but layers of complexity on top of layers of complexity. There is never time for a more incremental approach as there was with CAD. - David William Edwards Dave Edwards Consulting
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It is rare that a statement in your excellent newsletter requires clarification, but in issue #926 you mention, "IFC is bigger than BIM." How can a standard be bigger than a concept? That’s like comparing apples to dreams. Do you mean that a file exported as IFC is larger than the original file? - Bill Glennie Autodesk
The editor replies: The link provided by IFC reaches out to hundreds of ancillary programs -- analysis, facilities management, and more -- as well as the BIM programs themselves. In this way, the business of IFC is a bigger than BIM.
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While the adoption of BIM in the marketplace does seem to be lagging compared to the adoption rate we experience with CAD, I still see its dominance as inevitable due to one simple fact: it can save contractors and owners huge amounts of money.
Traditional 2D architectural documents have a massive inefficiency in the lack of coordination of the building trades, which results in added cost. A properly-managed BIM project can significantly reduce those costs, allowing the contractor and/or owner to pocket the savings.
For us architects, there’s no real advantage. I’m a believer that we all do better quality work when we work in a 3D environment, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into increased fees or profits. And it certainly costs us more to buy, maintain, and train for BIM software.
But in the end, we’re the tail being wagged by the dog. Whether we like it or not, our clients will increasingly be requiring we use BIM software. because they receive a huge economic advantage from it.
All the above obviously applies most to large and complex projects, so it will be adopted quickest in that market. Trickle down to the level of getting your bathroom remodel done in BIM will take longer, or indeed, may never happen at all.
The added costs and complexity of BIM might well be enough that the market will bifurcate into a high-end (where large firms migrate to big projects with BIM), and a low-end (where small firms continue doing smaller projects with 2D CAD).
Love your newsletter. Keep up the excellent work! - Andrew G. Blyholder, senior associate architect Architectural Resources Group, USA
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I run a very small building company. I do most of the detail design work myself. Most architects are simply not able to do the required detail design work for manufacturing; basically, 95% don't use 3D CAD for final design.
I would love to be able to exchange 3D models with parties involved as the design evolves, but alas this is not possible. The only way to make it happen would be for me to manage the 3D model. This does not really fit the way responsibilities are shared in the building process.
If 3D models are still a problem, BIM is even further off. It would require a complete re-alignment of the building industry. Where BIM can work is in tightly-integrated building teams, but at present this does not fit with current contracting practice.
Governments requiring BIM is not the way forward. The benefit to all partners should drive BIM implementation and not a top-down requirement. A requirement would put smaller business to a serious disadvantage. A useful BIM implementation is no simple matter. - Rene Dalmeijer The Netherlands
The editor replies: BIM vendors are keen to have government mandate BIM so that design firms are forced to buy their software.
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We barely got CAD translation working. As long as there is profit in locking us into a proprietary vendor format, there will never be interoperability. Autodesk expects Revit to be it, as was AutoCAD. There needs to be a single standard format (similar to SQL) that is managed outside any vendor. -Charles Haber, client strategist Haber Group, USA
The editor replies: With all the additions to IFC, it has become a kind of STEP or SQL. I am unsure, however, how effective it is, such as if it is good enough yet so that both Revit and ArchiCAD could be used on the same project.
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Thank you for going to the conference and reporting to us. (We couldn’t make it, as we were busy waiting for Revit to 'synch to central'.)
One elephant in that room was no doubt the unavoidable truth about Autodesk, who have consistently proven themselves to be faithful to their shareholders first, which is as it should be in a free-ish capitalist market.
The problem that arises from this (correct) orientation of their mission is that it is rare for the goals of Autodesk and the goals of paying users to align perfectly. This includes paying users who do work that is bounded by state or federal law, licensed AEC firms that design structures to comply with the myriad building codes and energy regulations.
Since shareholders come first, Autodesk’s goal is to mete out minimal improvements with every update, in order to maintain revenue flow. The software (Revit) is never going to work as well as it could, because if they were ever to make the software fully functional, the paying users wouldn’t buy the next release, and revenue will dry up for several quarters -- long enough for upper management to be voted out. They learned this lesson with AutoCAD R14, (which was nearly flawless) and they will not be making THAT mistake again.
Another scenario that could arise is that Autodesk no longer sees any profit in using a particular add-on or sub-licensed software module, which many customers may have relied on for years. Autodesk chooses to remove that portion, then re-writes their software for the next release, leaving many customers with no way to use the work that they had done previously. This happened with Revit MEP 2011, when Autodesk swapped out energy tool IES for GBS.
In short, Autodesk can't be trusted by state or federal entities to do what is best for the designers or for the final customers. Autodesk’s FIRST obligation is to its shareholders, everyone else is secondary.
If Autodesk were to be taken over (by millions of frustrated users buying up their stock) and converted into a non-profit, then using their software and file format as a national standard would be far easier, safer, and more likely. - Peter Lawton, mechanical Affiliated Engineers, USA
The editor replies: I get the feeling that BIM is at the level of PLM, in being complex to implement, and expensive to run.
Mr Lawton responds: Since I have only ascended to the middle rowing deck of this particular trireme, I only hear the beat of the production drum, and the occasional cracking whip, so I am not familiar with the level of development in other software silos. This is why it’s so important that we have you to keep an unbiased and experienced eye on these things, so thank you for your dedication.
Revit / BIM is an order of magnitude more complex than CAD, possibly two orders of magnitude in certain respects.
It requires higher end hardware to run quickly, but it will run slowly on the cheap stuff (which is another frustration altogether). The learning curve is long for old folks, less so for new grads.
Revit is terrifically maddening in many ways, and it is obvious that those shortcomings could be readily addressed by Autodesk, but again, they must maintain a steady income. Having said that, the software still has immense and impressive power to extract information from a given model, which can help to very quickly resolve issues that used to take weeks to figure out.
Our customers are architects or owners for larger projects (100k square feet+), so they decide what software we need to use.
We still use AutoCAD for 5% of our work, and probably will for another five years. Some of that is up to Autodesk – if they were to improve Revit enough, we could drop AutoCAD completely, but that seems unlikely.
Many customers will never adopt Revit, because they do not need its power and they can meet the needs of their clients with other, cheaper, less complex software – which should alarm no one. Irrational demands for "everyone to move to BIM" are stupid and pointless, and irrational. It shows a blindness to (or an intolerance for?) the workflows of others.
And One More Thing...
C3D Labs is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of St Petersburg's ASCON Group with a free conference being held just before COFES in Scottsdale Arizona. ASCON Group is Russia's largest CAD vendor, and the most aggressive in developing spin-offs, such as Renga.
C3D Labs is responsible for developing the C3D kernel used by the company's KOMPASS-3D MCAD software, as well as by other CAD vendors and a version is available through the Open Design Alliance. C3D consists of modules that handle 3D geometry, 3D constraints, import/export, and rendering.
The two-hour event takes place at 10:00am on April 6 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, with the keynote address by ASCON Group ceo Max Bogdanov. Attendees can take home "Geometric Modeling," Dr. Nikolay Golovanov's book on the mathematics of 3D modeling. Register for free at http://c3dlabs.com/en/sources/events/?ev_id=1544#events_reg
Even More News
There is more at our WorldCAD Accessblog about the CAD industry, tips on using hardware and software, and our popular travelogues. You can keep up with the blog through its RSS feed and email alert service. These are some of the articles that appeared on WorldCAD Access during the last week:
We're on Twitter at @upfrontezine with late-breaking CAD news and wry commentary throughout the day, such as....
upFront.eZine (@upFronteZine) Feb 7: Getting ready for retirement, Carl Bass made as much in 2 days as the rest of us make in 320 years: $7.9M Jan 10 and $8M Jan 13, shares sold
Letters to the Editor
Re: Open Design Alliance opens up the Revit file format
I understand the need to be able to interact with Revit files, but I don't understand why this is under the "Teigha BIM" label. To be BIM-compliant in any way you have to be able to interact with a BIM model and that means .ifc or .ifcxml -- Revit is just not relevant in this context. - Simon Geard (via WorldCAD Access) CAD-Schroer, England
The editor replies: The ODA could not use Revit or RVT in the name, as Autodesk has in the past been particularly litigious with regard to similar efforts by ODA and other CAD vendors. I agree that the use of "BIM" in the name is unfortunate as the product has nothing to do with the pioneer of BIM, Graphisoft ArchiCAD, or any other BIM program -- except that these programs now can read RVT and RFA files directly.
Re: pdf2cad: From PDF to CAD Drawing
Did Visual Integrity tell you that we’ve been a reseller of pdf2cad for years and that we actually helped create the Mac version of the product? - Bob Mayer, president IMSI/Design, USA
The editor replies: I don't recall these items coming up, so it is interesting information to learn from you.
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Thanks for writing about PDF and CAD. I found your article to be entertaining.
There are a couple of points that you make on which I have a different perspective than yours. I don’t find 3D to be a kludge in PDF at all. Quite the opposite, I find it to be a very useful tool that can create extremely compelling engineering documents. It is true that you have to click on a poster image to activate a 3D model and while I agree that is not optimal, it is a pretty low barrier to overcome. Companies like Boeing, GE and Honeywell and institutions like the U.S. Navy have all had great success using 3D PDF in their engineering processes. - Phil Spreier, technical director 3D PDF Consortium
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Finally I find out how where and how PDF and Acrobat Reader fit (or fit not) in the picture. Thanks for letting me in into your secrets. - Herb Grabowski
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I want to let you know about a new blog recently started by AGACAD CEO, Donatas Aksomitas called “InfiniBIM: BIM to the point”. It’s linked to some of our current R&D at AGACAD and focuses on new approaches to BIM data management and exchange. Here are two initial blog posts:
LOD [levels of detail] is wasting our time and holding BIM back
SOI [sets of information] a potential revolution in BIM data management
I see the same problem in cloud based software. The idea of installing nothing, letting the browser do it, is a race to the bottom of a common denominator, HTML5. CAD looked better in 1979, even on the green screen. Looks good on middle management, though. Hey we just took it to the cloud.
What can it do? Vapor trails. But hey, it runs on any system. But what can it do? Very little, but the buzz is so loud we can sell it anyways. What if the customer gets informed? No problem, we have a team of 12 in marketing and just got rid of our expensive software developer. China will do it for free.
So we can sell a piece of cr*p by spinning it AND eliminate our IT group? Do it! - Chris Hannukainen
The editor replies: There was a reason we left mainframe-based terminals as fast as our PC-buying abilities allowed us!
Re: Change of CEO at Autodesk
Thought you might be interested: http://www.enr.com/articles/41476-autodesk-ceo-carl-bass-steps-down-but-no-successor-named - Dick Coates Canada
The editor replies: The surprise retirement announcement came just a few months after Autodesk was forced to take on three activist board members last fall. When the ceo announced his retirement, two of the activist board members immediately announced that they too would be leaving -- once a new ceo is in place.My understanding is that the agreement was mutual: the ceo would leave, as would the activist board members. As one insider put it, "Both won, and both lost."
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