Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Another take on the use and misuse of colour in BIM (and CAD)

This is part of the daily drudgery of many BIM practitioners:
I am working on a job where the consultants provided DWG and DWF files of their drawings.
So far, so good.

The DWGs are coloured, legible. I navigate around them easily. (exhibit 1);
On the other hand, the DWFs are the black-scale type, thick-black blobs, occasionally intersected by thick-black lines.
(exhibit 2);

Maybe nitpicking, I am amused by this practice.
When I question it, as I often do – I get this kind of response (commonly, not on this particular job):

‘The DWF is the digital (non editable) representation of the contractual document.
The DWG is provided with no responsibility taken for it, just because we are being nice and helpful’.
(i.e. use it at your own peril)

Now, who is kidding whom?
Is the intention to have these two types of files worked on simultaneously?
Am I supposed to constantly check that the coloured one is in-synch with the black one?
If not, than what is the point?

Do they provide them separately to some parties?
Is someone given the coloured only?
How do they know that they are working with contractually up-to-date documents?

Is it just me or can anyone else smell the rat here?
(the point is not that DWFs can be  in colour too – the point is that they usually aren’t!)


  1. In my healthcare practice, many years ago, we provided drawings in color by offset printing from our overlay-drafted original drawings. But in recent memory, drawings (or DWF's as the case may be) have been black-on-white prints. Your consultant is correct - the DWF is merely a representation of the contract document. Interestingly, the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipal Affairs accepts (prefers) DWF submissions for building permit reviews, which they digitally mark-up and return.

    I have been appreciating your posts, but this is one instance where you need to get over it. Please return to your mission of Debunking the BIM, namely by helping us get building owners more enlightned, since they are the only parties to the process who can make it happen.

    J. Kevin Lloyd, AIA
    Philadelphia, PA

  2. Thank you Kevin for commenting –
    Just because drawings have been black for a long time we don’t need to keep doing them in black. TV used to be black (greyscale), also photographs.
    I may get over this-one one day, however while I get drawings like the ones shown (and many I am looking at the moment) – it will likely to stay an issue hard to ignore.