I am a manager of construction information, tools and people .
I believe that hands-on manipulating of project information by all project participants is the key to achieving any meaningful improvement of the AEC industry operating within the post-gambling-era.
I consider myself to be a model-based construction information practitioner (shortened to a ‘BIM- meddler’) rather than an ‘expert’ or even ‘specialist’.
Monday, December 29, 2014
BIM Viewers in the Cloud vs. PDF Spatial Re-constructors on Earth (Part 2 of the overdue PDF trilogy I promised some time ago)
The global AEC is swarming with BIM
Viewers, any service provider dealing in Building Related Information appears
to have a proprietary one on offer.
Some are better than others. Commonly
they offer the ability to view BIM models of various origins, maybe combine
them, rotate, zoom, filter information. Some have mark-up tools, others provide
fancy gadgets for tracking model-revisions. The models are usually stored on
remote servers, they live in the Cloud, so to speak.
While the intentions behind creating
these digital spectacles are usually good, the self interest of the owners to
get a larger market share combined with the genuine want to make the usually
exclusive and elusive BIM outputs more accessible to the non-BIM literate, I
can’t help but seeing them as ‘wasted efforts’.
In my experience, those AEC
practitioners, that (for whatever reason) do decide to ‘suddenly’ get familiar
with ‘a’ BIM originating software will always prefer the full software to a
dumbed down viewer and will learn to use the ‘real’ thing as opposed to the
somewhat idiot-proof substitute. The rest (majority) that are still doing fine
in their careers even blatantly ignoring anything BIM, will stay ignorant to ‘viewers’
too, no matter how user-friendly they may become.
My view is that the ROI on any
proprietary BIM viewer (apart from probably the absolute market leaders) is
likely to be far too low and those engaging in the development and maintenance of
these should think again about their investments and spend the efforts/money on
something more worthwhile, instead.
For example, PDF Spatial
These are 3D digital work environments
where large numbers of PDF’s can be placed in for the purpose of reconstructing
the physical environment they were originally created to describe. At a minimum
they are able to accurately place PDF sheets within the digital environment,
across 3 axes and to correct scales. The more advanced versions allow the users
to spatially connect corresponding points within various sheets to create a
digital mesh, approximating the end-(or originally documented) building. The
really good ones are either synchronized within comprehensive modeling programs
or offer a range of modeling tools to sculpture BIM ready models spatially tracing
I do not know of any comprehensive PDF
Spatial Re-constructors available on the global AEC market at the moment. That fact
by itself does not mean that they do not exist, i.e. are no tools to
successfully combine lots of PDF’s (hundreds and thousands) into usable digital
skeletons for BIM or other purposes.
The two BIM toolsets I’m reasonably
familiar with, each have cracked parts of this problem, unfortunately neither is
looking to be in much of a hurry to extend these, well established features
into a comprehensive system.
GS’s ArchiCAD is pretty snazzy with
large numbers of PDFs, able to bring them into the digital environment and
manages these through nifty color/trace/slider options. It copes well with
sizes and is very agile in handling them through all of its 2D views (plans,
elevations, sections). It however offers not the same option for the 3D
environment, falls short of making the PDF’s ‘dance’ in the real-imaginary-virtual
Autodesk’s Revit is pretty clumsy with
PDF’s, the last time I looked at this issue, their import was still in a very
around-about way. On the other hand, Revit will bring and manage DWG drawings
well, including in 3D, resulting in very satisfying looking standing up ‘line
section’ placed correctly within digital models.
Having got half way there, both of these
companies are in good position to offer up a really useful PDF Spatial
Re-constructor in the near future, should they decide to cater for this need.
Alternatively, those that are struggling with making BIM-viewers built from
scratch might also see some fantasy in going down this direction instead.
Admittedly this concept may not be as glamorous
as the ‘full-on’ BIM likes to think of itself to be, it definitely has the
potential to assist a large segment of AEC participants be more productive when
reviewing drawing based building documentation.
Part 1: http://debunkthebim.blogspot.ae/2014/07/pdfs-and-bim-trilogy-of-posts.html