Alongside Archicad 25, Graphisoft has announced enhancements to its BIMx model viewing and BIMcloud design collaboration applications, though these are consciously not ‘CDE’ products.
Hungary-based BIM software giant Graphisoft, part of the Nemetschek group, has announced (7 July 2021) the release of the latest version of its BIM software, Archicad 25. It has also released significant enhancements to its BIMx model visualisation technologies and to its BIMcloud hosting and collaboration product, including an SME-oriented BIMcloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering.
BIMx is based on technologies originally developed by Swedish developer Zermatt Virtual Reality Software, acquired by Graphisoft in 2010. The first Virtual Building Explorer, for ArchiCAD 13, was launched in late 2013 (post) and enabled users of Apple iOS devices to view and navigate around building information models. Over time the solution has been extended to include support for Android devices and web browsers, plus a desktop application. Some services were made available via free iOS or Android apps, while others required a paid-for BIMx PRO application (iOS only)
BIMx is described as bridging the gap between the design studio, the client’s office, and the construction site. It features the BIMx ‘Hyper-model’ – a game-like navigation tool that helps anyone easily explore the building model and understand project deliverables. And it offers real-time model cut-throughs, in-context measuring, and project markups in the model.
At a press conference chaired by Graphisoft CEO Huw Roberts (post), the company announced that BIMx now features a 3D engine available for Android users. With BIMx, Android users join iOS users with the capability to:
- Get precise data from the 3D model or 2D plans with the Smart Measure function.
- Play animated Archicad client presentations in BIMx
- Access BIMx hyper-model elements from outside of BIMx.
- Get photo-realistic views with real-time illumination calculation.
- Open models in no time thanks to a faster startup.
In addition, new BIMx PRO in-app subscription plans available in BIMx unlock the following features:
- Open 3D models of any size and complexity.
- Save favorite 2D and 3D project views for later easy access.
- Create BIMx presentations using favorite animated sequences and still views.
- Print hard copies of any 2D and 3D project vie
Soon after BIMx’s introduction, Graphisoft launched its cloud computing option, BIMcloud, in Tokyo in March 2014 (news release). As a BIM collaboration platform, BIMcloud allows teams to collaborate on native BIM data in real-time regardless of location, with file element differences fast-tracked via Graphisoft’s Delta-Server technology, with secure local caches to further reduce network delays. It could be deployed on-premise as a private cloud solution or in the public cloud as a cloud service.
Since 2014, BIMcloud has been in continual development. Multi-disciplinary design capabilities enable sharing of architectural, structural and MEP elements, plus the integrated analytical model. Model Compare and Rollback help users quickly identify what has changed between models and, when necessary, to annotate and revert to previous states.
Integrated with Archicad 25, Graphisoft says BIMx and BIMcloud are now better than ever. BIMcloud has been rebooted with an expanded file capacity per instance. Users can host up to 100,000 project files in one location. And the BIMcloud desktop application incorporates the BIMx desktop viewer for 2D and 3D file viewing.
BIMcloud SaaS license transfer
Smaller practices and sole practitioners can take advantage of a new “BIMcloud SaaS license transfer” — enabling them to pool resources while delivering projects in joint ventures, without any hidden costs. With a flexible a Graphisoft ID, architects and engineers can identify themselves across the BIMcloud SaaS network, and bring their own BIMcloud license to participate in projects. Graphisoft says this will enhance designers’ competitiveness so that they can form flexible design teams and work on much larger projects together.
No Graphisoft ‘Common Data Environment’
However, these are not ‘common data environment’ (CDE) platforms. Extranet Evolution asked Roberts whether BIMcloud constituted a CDE and, as well as models, was able to share other files and workflow content. He said:
“The way to think about BIMcloud is that it is a design hub. It is about connecting the design team and the design experience, whether that is issue resolution, sharing models, or integrating the work of different team members. It is about supporting that whole design team experience.
“I think the common data environment – a buzzterm in the industry (if you ask ten people in the industry you’ll get 20 answers what that means) – is fundamentally about being able to store information somewhere. Sure BIMcloud can do that: you can put all your information in there and get to it. BIMcloud has workflows and added benefits that are specifically designed to design teams.”
Ákos Pfemeter, VP for Technology Partnerships, expanded on Roberts’s response:
“A number of years ago, we learnt from one of our UK customers (CDE is a UK invention) that they actually run six CDEs because they work on six different projects with six different clients, and the CDE is decided by the client in most cases – or the contractor. It is not like there is one CDE for one customer… . BIMcloud is more geared to collaboration and active work on the BIM data as opposed to the core functionality of CDEs … documenting, archiving.”