Share and share alike

Jerry Laiserin ‘s latest AEC Insight column at Cadalyst usefully segments the US market for online plan rooms and what he calls project collaboration networks (PCNs) – ie: construction collaboration technologies as they are described in the UK – as in NCCTP, for example.

In Share and share alike (which, in passing, rightly describes the term ‘extranet’ as a misnomer – hence the NCCTP’s alternative), Laiserin has created a diagram showing different solutions arranged in relation to two axes: content and functionality. FTP appears at the lowest end of the both axes, while US PCNs Autodesk Constructware, CTSpace (formerly Citadon and BuildOnline), and e-Builder feature towards the higher end. Just below these PCNs is Autodesk Buzzsaw, which, Laiserin says, “offers a bit less in the way of workflow functionality and transaction-based content… [but] provides lower price and easier access (the latter facilitated by menu-level integration with Autodesk’s design-authoring tools….”

According to Laiserin, there is also a lot of action in the middle of the US market for online plan rooms, but he admits there is no room in his scheme for peer-to-peer document collaboration systems nor the collaborative elements of tools such as Adobe’s Share, Autodesk Design Review or Microsoft Office Sharepoint Services.

Laiserin foresees the content axis expanding to encompass BIM-like models, and functionality expanding to accommodate activities beyond workflow, such as procurement and fabrication, before looking across the Atlantic at what is happening in the UK:

Emerging standards may accelerate both adoption and migration. United Kingdom–based PCN providers such as 4Projects, Asite, BIW Technologies, and Causeway Technologies have formed the Network for Construction Collaboration Technology Providers (NCCTP) to promote standards for data export and import among the participating providers.

(Having attended the NCCTP steering group earlier today, I can confirm that the body – now part of Constructing Excellence, of course (see post) – remains committed to developing its data exchange standard, as well as looking to promote industry adoption through concerted marketing and information campaigns during 2008.)

Digital asset management

October’s Cadalyst also featured an article by Edward Goldberg on digital asset management. Goldberg writes: to manage the physical project, you first must manage the information project” (original emphasis), before reviewing several solutions: attolist (a relative newcomer, conceived by an architect), the afore-mentioned Autodesk products, Bentley‘s ProjectWise, Expesite (another new one to me), Newforma Project Center (see previous post; also November 2007 Cadayst review by Jerry Laiserin), and WebArchives.

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