I visited the National Infrastructure Forum exhibition and conference at London’s ExCEL earlier this month and talked to staff on a couple of the technology vendors’ stands. Both the conversations focused on BIM and collaboration….
I have talked to people from London-based 3D Repo at various BIM events in recent months (and wrote about their BID4Free platform in March 2017). At the NIF event they were talking about a new version of their cloud-based BIM collaboration platform that offers additional support for leading software packages such as Autodesk Navisworks. It also provides enhanced support for large 3D models typical of infrastructure projects, as well as integrated VR functionality for applications such as training, safety and project consultation. CEO Dr Jozef Dobos said:
“The support for native file formats and software platforms further highlights our commitment to collaboration. We want to make project information as accessible and usable as possible, which is why we engage with as many open source and proprietary formats as we can, allowing users to share 3D models, issues and ultimately knowledge with the wider project team, in the cloud, but still in the context of the original model.”
The latest versions of 3D Repo’s Open Source, Starter, Professional and Enterprise packages include advanced integration with Autodesk Navisworks project review software. A custom plug-in (available free from the Autodesk App Store) allows data to be uploaded directly to the 3D Repo knowledge base without the need for file exchanges. Users can then view models and collaborate with the wider project team through their web browser, even on very large and complex projects. The Professional package is £100 per month for unlimited projects, issues and collaboration.
3D Repo has also announced support for the BCF file format, allowing import/export of collaboration and mark up data for issues tracking to software such as Solibri quality assurance solutions, Trimble’s Tekla product family and 3D architectural BIM software ArchiCAD (from the Nemetschek Group’s Graphisoft business).
Over the years, I have talked to several organisations that use Bluebeam‘s Revu PDF creation, editing, markup and collaboration technology to support their design and construction workflows, but I haven’t dug too deeply into the application, primarily as it was originally a locally hosted, PC-based solution rather than a cloud-hosted application (my core focus). As a then US-owned business, Bluebeam also did not have a high profile in the UK or mainland Europe.
However, Bluebeam has been mentioned in this blog when other vendors talked about integration (Box.net and Motion Computing in 2010, for example) or about their competition (Plangrid in 2014, Combinder in 2016, for example) as mobile apps grew in importance; and, of course, I couldn’t overlook the US company’s acquisition by Nemetschek in October 2014 – particularly as this put Bluebeam alongside a host of design authoring applications collaboration products (including Allplan, Vectorworks, the above-mentioned Graphisoft, SCIA, DDS and Maxon), since augmented by other tools including Solibri (December 2015) and dRofus (December 2016), in a group publicly committed to Open BIM as a basis for collaboration.
At the NIF event, I talked to Bluebeam staff about Revu, and, in particular, about Bluebeam Studio: a centralised collaboration platform included with every seat of Revu that connects project partners worldwide in real-time. This, of course, puts Bluebeam in competition with the SaaS construction collaboration technology vendors I’ve focused on, and not just in relation to conventional 2D documents and drawings, but also in relation to 3D BIM. For Revu CAD version also allows creation and markup of 3D PDFs from Autodesk’s Revit and Navisworks, plus Sketchup Pro and any IFC file. Bluebeam Studio Prime also has integrations with other collaboration products including:
- Procore – hot on APIs (post), Procore users can create Studio Sessions for submittals
- Egnyte – enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) services, and
- Fieldlens – recently acquired by WeWork (post), Fieldlens can be linked to selected Studio Projects, used to monitor for changes and alert users when it’s time to sync – ensuring updated drawings are available instantly to everyone in the field.
I also think Bluebeam has potential to work as the collaboration ‘glue’ between the many design applications in the Nemetschek Group portfolio. The group has historically tended to let its acquired businesses continue to run relatively autonomously and I have written previously about some of its collaboration-oriented projects such as Nemetschek bim+ common data environment (November 2013) and, in February 2014, Graphisoft’s BIMx Docs app for iOS devices (in March 2014, Graphisoft also launched its BIMcloud platform).