Surrey, UK-based software developer CodeBook International has started to offer cloud-based data hosting for its solutions, which complement most well-known BIM authoring applications.
A little CodeBook background
CodeBook was founded in 1993 by architect Peter Mann who developed an application to help those involved in brief preparation, design, construction, fitting-out and operation of large, complex buildings to work with coordinated graphical and textual information. While CAD and BIM authoring tools are adept at managing graphical data, they are less efficient at managing non-graphical information and metadata, and CodeBook was devised to help project teams efficiently produce schedules, themed graphical views and room data sheets.
The company’s core database application has been widely used by UK, Australian and north American design firms engaged in healthcare projects, where the data management challenge requires client teams to coordinate vast quantities of information about the building and its fixtures, furnishings and equipment (CodeBook CEO Andy Hamer cites the example of a large hospital project comprising six buildings, 14,000 rooms, 500,000 items of equipment, 27,000 doors and 100,000 power outlets – over 50 million pieces of data!).
Room data collation and management
At Autodesk University 2014 in Las Vegas, CodeBook launched a new product, Room Data Collector, which is aimed at clients wanting to specify their needs at the level of individual rooms. CodeBook has long been used to manage room-level data (room data sheets), but RDC provides an initial tool to capture and collate that information (from existing documents, spreadsheets, photos, CAD images, sketches, etc) and store it in a centralised database rather than in, say, an Excel spreadsheet. (The RDC tool is currently a download but I am told a web-based edition is in development.)
The original core CodeBook Pro application, now named Project Room Data Manager, can then be used by teams to produce schedules, graphical views, room data sheets and BIM outputs. As an information repository and gateway, CodeBook RDM complements all the leading architectural and engineering design authoring tools. A change in one system can then be reflected across all systems relevant to a project, with information fully related, analysed for consistency, and synchronised, helping validate and maintain a ‘single version of the truth’.
And to complete the CodeBook toolset, Asset Data Collector allows users in the post-construction and pre handover phase to complete conformance and compliance programmes, do snagging, collect warranty, serial and asset numbers, and then synchronised this data with that already stored in the CodeBook Project Database for reuse in facilities management.
Previously, CodeBook was a locally-hosted application sitting on a user’s computer, perhaps with a database behind the firewall of a designer’s IT system. With BIM placing increased emphasis on multi-company information sharing and collaboration, this was less than optimal, so the company now offers its own hosted instances of CodeBook Project Databases, freeing customers from having to procure, manage and maintain their own hardware and software
CodeBook offers a wide area network option for those still wishing to host the system in-house, and an option for customers wanting to use their own third-party hosting. But for those content to outsource the service to Codebook, the company offers Microsoft Azure hosted facilities. In each case, CodeBook Project Databases run on enterprise-strength SQL servers, helping customers achieve high levels of data security and multi-user access (particularly important when sharing federated models), and reducing database/BIM authoring integration issues. CodeBook also takes on responsibility for support and for maintaining adequate back-ups.
CEO Andy Hamer told me:
“We believe our hybrid offering of Cloud-hosted data and desktop clients means users won’t sacrifice functionality. Hosting allows customers to take advantage of SQL’s superior performance (up to 75% faster than Access) but without the costs and hassles of buying servers, etc. The managed option is useful to clients working on federated workflows with multiple collaborators, and we have projects where teams are spread across different continents – all connected to the same CodeBook Project Databases.”