Speckle and IFC.js: Open Source Tools for BIM

Towards the end of December, I had the opportunity to attend a webinar on two open source tools I knew almost nothing about: Speckle and IFC.js. The webinar was put together by a community called Agile BIM, which I also knew nothing about.  However, what I do know for a fact is the importance of open source software development in any field, in which developers come together as a team to create software that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution, allowing it to be developed even further. The technology that is developed with open source is often something that commercial software companies, whose business it is to develop proprietary software, cannot offer.

For the AEC industry, we do have organizations such as the Open Design Alliance and buildingSMART International working to promote openness and interoperability. The IFC format has been well established for OpenBIM and is almost unanimously supported by all the leading AEC technology developers to allow their applications to exchange data with each other. So, what then are Speckle and IFC.js, what do they do, and why are they needed? The Agile BIM webinar on these two open source tools, which was held on Dec 15, 2021, gave me the opportunity to find out more about them.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/newsletter/2022/issue_113.html

Bentley Year in Infrastructure 2021 Conference

Bentley’s annual Year in Infrastructure (YII) conference continues to be held virtually, and this year’s event, which was held last week, was focused entirely on the projects that won Bentley’s “Going Digital” awards. As Bentley’s product lineup continues to expand and diversify to include more infrastructure disciplines, so do the award categories — there were 19 this year. While the event did not feature “product updates” as such, there were a few tidbits here and there that I found noteworthy. An overview of these and some of the award-winning projects from all over the world — including the US, UK, Sweden, China, Singapore, Russia, Qatar, and India — is captured in this article.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/newsletter/2021/issue_112.html

BIM in Canada: CanBIM Innovation Spotlight Awards

CanBIM is a non-profit organization focused on advancing the development and adoption of AEC technology in Canada, and as part of its mission, it hosts an annual awards program, the Innovation Spotlight Awards, to highlight the most innovative work that is being done in the industry. The Awards program — now in its seventh year — also helps to benchmark trends and chart the evolution of AEC technology adoption in Canada. I was able to attend the 2021 Awards presentation a couple of weeks ago and came away with a better understanding of what is happening on the AEC technology front in Canada, the cutting-edge work that is being done, the solutions that are being developed and used, and the research work that is being undertaken in the field at Canadian universities. This article captures the highlights of some of the award-winning projects and solutions.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/feature/2021/CanBIM-Awards.html

BricsCAD Digital Summit 2021

It’s nearing the end of 2021, and technology events are still being held mostly online. While the energy and vibrancy that comes from face-to-face interaction is, of course, hard to replace, the upside is that these events are now being produced for virtual viewing anywhere in the world, enabling them to reach many more people who might otherwise not be aware of the technology developments they capture. One such event that was held last month was the BricsCAD Digital Summit, which I was able to tune into to get a better understanding of the BricsCAD ecosystem and its latest developments. I learnt more about BricsCAD, how it connects with other Hexagon solutions (Hexagon is the parent company of Bricsys, the developer of BricsCAD), and how it is being used for the design of buildings as well as infrastructure.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/newsletter/2021/issue_111.html

AEC Highlights from Autodesk University 2021

This article provides an overview of the AEC-specific updates provided at the Autodesk University last week, including Construction Cloud enhancements, the integration of GIS and BIM in the new ArcGIS GeoBIM, Autodesk’s expansion to specific infrastructure domains with Innovyze, the launch of Autodesk Tandem and the new SpaceIQ for digital handover, and sustainability updates in Spacemaker and Autodesk Insight. It also discusses Autodesk’s expansion of Forge as the platform for all its applications and its new data-focused approach.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/newsletter/2021/issue_110.html

ODA Summit 2021

The Open Design Alliance (ODA) is one of the oldest organizations in the AEC technology industry committed to openness and interoperability. It was launched in 1998 with the objective of providing an API (application programming interface) for working with the DWG format, including opening, creating, and editing DWG files. This work is what has made DWG an open exchange standard for the CAD industry and enabled vendors around the world to develop low-cost versions of AutoCAD-like drawing applications such as IntelliCAD, BricsCAD, progeCAD, 4MCAD, etc. Over time, the work of the ODA has expanded to support additional CAD formats like DGN and DXF, 3D formats such as OBJ and STL (for 3D printing), and BIM formats such as IFC and BCF. It has also developed dedicated toolkits for working with popular Autodesk applications such as Revit, Navisworks, and Recap.

The ODA has a conference every year to provide the industry with an update on its latest developments. I had the opportunity to attend the 2021 event that was held last week and came away with a good understanding of what the ODA does and why it is important. In addition to the technical presentations by the ODA development team, there were also presentations by some ODA member companies showing how they were implementing ODA technologies in their products, as well as a couple of panel discussions on the topics of interoperability and Scan to BIM. The highlights of the 2021 Summit are captured in this article.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/newsletter/2021/issue_109.html

CORE Studio: AEC Technology Development at Thornton Tomasetti

The AEC industry is seeing an increasing trend towards dedicated software development by AEC firms themselves, a trend that was highlighted in recent AECbytes articles such as Technology – A Catalyst for Innovation, Sustainability and Design at Foster + Partners and AEC Technology Development at Bryden Wood. This article captures the cutting-edge technology development initiatives at Thornton Tomasetti, a leading structural engineering firm with a global footprint, including a staff of over 1,500, offices in various cities across the world, and projects in over 54 countries. These applications are developed by a dedicated software group in the firm called CORE Studio.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/feature/2021/CoreStudio.html

AEC Technology Development at Bryden Wood

I was first introduced to the cutting-edge work the A/E firm, Bryden Wood, is doing in AEC technology at the August 2020 event of the San Francisco Computational Design Institute (SFSDI), in a presentation by Phil Langley who leads this work at Bryden Wood. More recently, I had the opportunity to learn more about it at the April 2021 Glimpses of the Future event, presented by Jaimie Johnston of the firm. It was fascinating to learn about the innovative tools for design automation and industrialized construction being developed by the firm, showing that AEC firms do not always have to rely on software vendors for pushing the state of the art of technology in the field. They can take the lead on this themselves.

This article takes a closer look at some of the technologies being developed by Bryden Wood.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/feature/2021/Tech-BrydenWood.html

BIM Software for Infrastructure

It has been close to seven years that I first wrote about the extension of the BIM concept of model-based design from the building domain to the infrastructure domain. At that time, Autodesk had recently launched InfraWorks as a “BIM-from-the-ground-up” infrastructure design application and was transitioning its flagship civil design application, Civil 3D, from being more CAD-like to BIM-like. Since then, there have been several developments in the field of BIM for infrastructure, including the software that is available for it, the implementation of BIM by infrastructure firms as well as government agencies, and the expansion of the IFC open standard for BIM to include infrastructure elements.

This article is focused on capturing the developments along the software front. As we will see, the field for BIM in infrastructure has expanded beyond the initial offerings that were limited to Autodesk and Bentley solutions. Let’s start by exploring these more recent offerings before going back to look at the solutions from Autodesk and Bentley for infrastructure design using BIM.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/feature/2021/BIM-InfrastructureSoftware.html

NVIDIA GTC 2021: The Omniverse

The biggest news out of this year’s annual GTC conference that NVIDIA — best known for its GPUs (graphics processing units) for gaming and professional markets such as AEC — puts together to showcase the latest developments in its products was the Omniverse. It is a 3D virtual world that can contain models created by many different people in many different applications in diverse locations around the world.

This article looks at the Omniverse in more detail, including what it is, how it works, and how it is being used by leading architectural firms like Foster + Partners and KPF (Kohn Pedersen Fox).

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/newsletter/2021/issue_108.html