Serving Up Collaboration with Graphisoft’s BIM Server
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Serving Up Collaboration with Graphisoft’s BIM Server

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Industry News
Serving Up Collaboration with Graphisoft’s BIM Server

By Susan Smith

A new approach to managing workflow and collaboration issues with building information models (BIM) can be found in Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD 13 with Delta Server Technology. ArchiCAD really addresses productivity and collaboration in this release, with the advent of their BIM Server. Secondly, the release offers 64-bit support for Windows, which may now be a de facto standard among CAD software releases in support of memory-intensive BIM files.

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BIM design workflow has created a more complex work setting, since it’s necessary to break up the central model in order to collaborate on it. Current team work sharing offerings are file based which means client computers do data exchange and synchronization that can be neither fast nor flexible.

With the introduction of BIM, teams had the benefit of coordination, but flexibility still presented a problem because the centralized files were so big. In recent years, the expectation that users will be online all the time has furthered the complications, because project members expect information immediately.

According to Akos Pfemeter, Graphisoft director of global marketing, data exchange can be changed from file-based to element-based, which allows users to exchange one wall, fill, line or slab. Client managed workflows need to be changed to a server managed workflow, “which makes it possible for synchronization to be simultaneous.” With the BIM Model Server based collaboration environment from Graphisoft, teams can have on-demand access rights management and project access to avoid bottlenecks and workflow management issues.

“Only the changed elements go up and down from client to server, this update is going simultaneously so there is no queuing for synchronization and everyone can work at the same time and be connected at all times,” said Pfemeter.

With this product, network traffic size is greatly reduced, thereby allowing users to join teamwork projects from the internet. They can participate from any computer which is connected to the internet without delay. Also they can participate from remote devices by wireless, which is good for being able to check on project status from a building site.

For team members, the ability to allow more people to access the BIM database at the same time increases coordination and flexibility in the workflow, increasing productivity.

What’s in the BIM Server:

The Graphisoft BIM Server is a database management system similar to other database systems which can be put on any computer.  This includes a BIM project management application that allows all the BIM managers and CAD managers to manage all the projects in the BIM Server. The BIM Server can contain many projects, and an organization can store all their projects on it, plus run multiple BIM Servers simultaneously. It’s also possible to join different clients to different BIM Servers.


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In the demo, Pfemeter had two copies of ArchiCAD running which are both connected to the same BIM Server. In this view the test user can see elements that are reserved by the other user and what is the test user’s own elements indicated by highlighted colors (see image 1).

If there is an overlap in workspaces or if the test user needs just one element, that user can reserve the element, or if it belongs to the other user, then the test user can implement what is called the “element regress and grant communication system.” A teamwork control panel has a messaging system so the test user can send messages to mates or can send requests and can highlight an element – “it’s a small chat app that comes up and I can say, please give that all to me.,” explained Pfemeter. “It will indicate whether something is mine or not, shows green when it is mine and is editable.” The system is both 2D and 3D.

This same system can be used to assign tasks to other team members.

With attributes such as layers, fills, wall types, etc., the user can go into the layer setting dialog and see an indicator that shows the layer attributes that are free for reservation. If the user wants to reserve it, it will change to green and indicate that it is editable.

click to enlarge [ Click to Enlarge ]

This new layer goes into the BIM Server and everyone on the team can have access to that layer. This whole project manipulation is very much the same whether reserving and releasing elements. “Previously in ArchiCAD, if one needed to change the high level project setting, then all the team members had to get out of the project so that an exclusive access could be provided to the project administrator or the project manager. Now there is no need for anything like that, the team can continue working while the user manipulates these project level settings.”

Server Management

The Server application is standalone and has access to the BIM Server. It can manipulate all the projects and users on that server. Settings can be created for user roles, libraries and custom properties. There are four roles for users: lead architect, architect, draftsman and viewer roles. These users can be customized to the utmost detail, according to Pfemeter.

There are no waiting times as everything happens online in a matter of seconds. The entire project can be duplicated in seconds, changes can be sent quickly and users can be online all the time.

Adaptable for Different Sized Firms

Small, medium and large firms can all benefit from the BIM Server. Small, one-architect firms will be able to use remote access to link to large projects. Small to medium-sized firms of 10-25 people have teams that are created and changed dynamically and three or four projects running at same time. The BIM Server makes it easy to assign new members to projects with its one-click project start – if the Server is up and running.

Large firms have strict rules, workflows and procedures that benefit from dynamic and flexible access to a project. Also they can create strict, controlled workflows from different teams and have support from the software to set up their specific requirements. The project management and server side control over users, project and roles and remote access for firms with multiple locations are also pluses.

The BIM Server has a safety feature for data built in to prevent a client side error spreading through the entire network. “There is an active BIM Server component that checks the data and if there is any corruption it simply does not allow it in to the central project database,” explained Pfemeter. “The entire office project environment is safer than previously.”

Productivity Improvements

This list does not include all the productivity improvements to ArchiCAD 13 but notes some of the more important ones:

1) 64-bit native optimization for Windows extends the performance of ArchiCAD 13 so that there is almost “no limit” to how much memory can be assigned to the computer, very useful with BIM models.

2) Annotated schedule drawings: Annotative schedule drawings help with the tedium of architectural work, where beyond the plans and drawings it is necessary to create a bill of materials, and annotations. In ArchiCAD 13 door and window previews can be annotated associatively, right in the Interactive Schedule window. Changes in floor plan or schedule will also be updated automatically.

3) Intelligent “Soft” Insulation for fills cannot be solved with simple hatches since they are curved. On connections and wall corners there were always problems with orientation. ArchiCAD 13’s dynamic soft insulation removes the need to create 2D hatches in wall corners. The composite structures solve it in both 2D and 3D documents.

4) Slab and roof edges are now fully editable as far as slant, angle, building material on the edges, etc.

5) Curtain wall editing capabilities are now improved so architects can edit geometry more freely, adding capability to the curtain wall system tool introduced in ArchiCAD 12.

6) Oriented views – In many cases, users want to rotate the view itself but not the whole project. The oriented view function in ArchiCAD 13 allows users to make certain views oriented into the perpendicular position so it’s easier for them to edit, and works on layouts so users can arrange different parts of buildings aligned in the same perpendicular orientation. This is integrated into the whole BIM environment.

Pricing for Graphisoft ArchiCAD 13 including the BIM Server is US$4,250.

Top News of the Week

Autodesk announced the availability of AutoCAD Plant 3D 2010, a new software product that brings the proven benefits of model-based design to mainstream plant design projects. Purpose-built for the design, modeling, and documentation of process plants, AutoCAD Plant 3D makes modern 3D design more affordable and accessible to project teams of all sizes. The announcement was made at the SPE Offshore Europe Oil & Gas Conference & Exhibition 2009.

Nemetschek North America announced the 2010 release of their award-winning Vectorworks line of design software, including: Designer, Architect, Landmark, Spotlight, Machine Design, Fundamentals, and Renderworks.

"Making Change Easy" is the theme for the Vectorworks 2010 product line. Building upon the integration of the Parasolid 3D modeling core in 2009, version 2010 is making change easy with the addition of bi-directional associativity features and an intuitive, easy-to-approach 3D modeling environment. These capabilities ensure that changes are intelligently reflected throughout the entire design which is a cornerstone for information modeling workflows in the building industry and beyond.

Acquisitions, Alliances, Agreements

Meridian Systems announced that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Public Buildings Service (PBS) has awarded Meridian Systems an additional contract to address new requirements as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and to accelerate field training and deployment of the electronic project management (ePM) solution that is built upon Proliance software from Meridian Systems.

FM:Systems, a provider of integrated workplace management systems (IWMS) and computer-aided facility management (CAFM) software, announced its partnership with CADD Microsystems, Inc. (CMI), a solutions provider in civil engineering, building architecture, federal government, and state and local government. The partnership enables CMI to offer its clients FM:Systems facility management products to deliver better customer service, reduce costs, and improve the productivity of their entire organization.

Leica Geosystems AG, global leader of survey technology and Bricsys NV, developer of Bricscad announced that the latest release of Bricscad now supports the Leica DISTO D8 plug-in, formerly only running on AutoCAD.

The Leica DISTO D8 is the most advanced handheld laser measurement device ever made. Equipped with a digital Pointfinder (4x zoom), high-resolution 2.4“ color display, 360° tilt sensor and BLUETHOOTH technology, the Leica DISTO D8 is a real world first and offers completely new measuring options.


“Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Construction Industry” is the theme and focus of the 9th Annual National Conference of Construction Owners, being held at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel in Orlando, Florida from November 16-18, 2009. Given the importance of the industry at this point in our economy, and the value and timeliness of the information to be transmitted at this event, for the first time in the 9-year history of this conference, the press and media are being invited to attend.
For additional information see the website.

Avatech launched the Render Us Speechless contest to recognize the best digital rendering and visualization designers who use Autodesk design and engineering software. This year Avatech is accepting submissions in four categories: Manufacturing/Mechanical, Civil/Mapping/GIS, Architecture/Building Design, and “Wild Card.” Each category will be awarded a first place of $750, second place of $500, and third place of $250. One Wild Card (submissions that don’t fit into any of the other three categories) winning entry will receive $500.

For more information, please visit Avatech Rendering Contest

Avatech Solutions, Inc. announced the introduction of its latest service to its client base—the Avatech Client Portal. Designed as a destination for Avatech’s client base, the Client Portal will provide 24/7 instant access to information and services of special interest to Avatech clients.

Autodesk, Inc. is expanding its support for students and educators as they return to campus. Autodesk has announced that it is increasing access to its 2010 offerings, valuable curricula and additional resources for student and teacher communities.

With the goal of supporting the next generation of design professionals, Autodesk offers faculty and institutions complete multidisciplinary suites that group the 2010 releases of the latest technologies used by industry professionals around the world. In addition, educators have access to high-quality training resources, including instructor guides, student workbooks, data sets and videos that reinforce key concepts.

Dimension 3D Printing, a brand of Stratasys Inc. announced the launch of its sixth annual “ Extreme Redesign: The Ultimate 3D Printing Challenge.” The contest challenges computer-aided-design (CAD) students worldwide to submit their most creative, useful and innovative Extreme Redesigns – whether an entirely original concept, a new perspective on an everyday product or a fresh vision for a famous piece of art, animation or architecture.

The Dimension uPrint Personal 3D Printer has been named Best Product Winner in Design News magazine's 2009 Golden Mousetrap Awards. The award recognizes new and innovative products that help design engineers, and uPrint was selected from a record number of entries.


Bentley Systems, Incorporated has appointed Cyndi Smith, based in Tulsa, Okla., to the position of solutions executive for utilities and communications; Mark Biagi, based in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, to the position of solutions executive for power generation; and John Sanins, based in Houston, Texas, to the position of solutions executive for process manufacturing. In these roles, each will establish an integrated suite of software products and professional services that supports the infrastructure lifecycle of the solutions communities for which he or she is responsible.

Deltek, Inc., provider of enterprise applications software for project-focused businesses, announced that it has appointed Jim Dellamore as its new Executive Vice President, Global Services. In this position, Mr. Dellamore will be responsible for the strategic and operational direction of Deltek’s Global Services organization. Mr. Dellamore will report directly to Kevin Parker, Deltek’s president and CEO.

Riverbed Technology announced the promotion of Venugopal Pai to vice president of global alliances. In this role Pai will continue to outline the strategy and oversee execution of the alliances program, including jointly developing, marketing and delivering solutions to enterprise customers, thereby driving value to all the companies within the alliances ecosystem.

New Products

Matrox Video Products Group announced Matrox MXO2 LE, an HDMI, SDI, and analog I/O device for the Mac based on the award-winning Matrox MXO2 that streamlines editing with Apple Final Cut Studio on Mac Pros and MacBook Pros. Matrox MXO2 LE provides all the features of an I/O card in a sturdy, portable breakout box with professional audio and video connectivity. Matrox MXO2 LE is also available with Matrox MAX technology for faster than realtime H.264 encoding using professional application such as Apple Compressor and Telestream Episode.

HP announced several new imaging and printing offerings, the expansion of its 25-year relationship with Canon Inc., and new channel programs to help businesses streamline and integrate paper-intensive processes with digital workflows.

Version 2010 of the GRAITEC Advance suite implements the Building Information Modeling system (BIM). The BIM technology allows the user to simulate the behavior of the structure and to automate the production of various documents necessary in the construction process.

The new version provides engineers with the technology to better design and implement their construction projects by optimizing the use of materials, eliminating the inconsistencies between the different parts of the project, reducing the design cycle, ensuring the traceability of information, improving the communication efficiency among the project partners.

Kubotek announces that its Multi-CAD Viewer, Spectrum, is now on sale for $99. The Multi-CAD viewer views, manipulates and prints the most popular 2D and 3D CAD formats like SolidWorks, AutoCAD, NX, CATIA V4, Pro/E, IGES, STEP and many others. It also allows users to measure and calculate mass properties.

The QuadriSpace Document3D Suite is used worldwide to create documents, illustrations and animations from 3D CAD models and then share printed or interactive 3D documents with others through standard formats.

The recent release of QuadriSpace sets a new standard for large model support offered by 3D documentation software. Not only does QuadriSpace offer better raw 3D performance than competitors, QuadriSpace products have better tools for working with large complicated assemblies and documentation projects.

Allplan 2009 Timber Construction, the integrated solution for planning, production and machine control in timber construction from Nemetschek Allplan and Weto AG, is available now. The application links solid construction and timber construction in an integrated system. User-friendly operation and timber construction-specific functions enable timber designs to be created from Allplan. As a result, designers can extend their area of application and benefit from higher productivity.

Bricsys announced that KTF and KeyGML – so far only available for AutoCAD - are now released for Bricscad V9.

KTF is the mainstream product for Civil Engineers, Land Surveyors and Landscape Architects. It has a large established and steadily growing user base and is used by a diverse range of professionals. KTF makes Bricscad extremely appropriate for 3D use in Civil, Infrastructure, Land Survey, Environmental and Landscape design.

Oce announced the new Oce VarioPrint 6000 Ultra line of high speed, high volume digital perfecting systems. Based on the successful Oce Gemini Instant Duplex Technology, the new Oce VarioPrint 6000 Ultra simultaneous duplex digital printers offer significant advances in speed, quality, productivity, media flexibility, scalability, connectivity and environmental sustainability.

Autodesk, Inc. launched Autodesk Lustre 2010 digital color-grading software and Extension 1 releases for the 2010 versions of its visual effects and editorial finishing software: Autodesk Flame, Autodesk Inferno, Autodesk Flare, Autodesk Flint and Autodesk Smoke. Autodesk showcased these releases at Autodesk Booth #7-D21 during the International Broadcasters Convention (IBC) 2009 in Amsterdam's RAI Convention Center, September 11 - 15, 2009.

Reed Construction Data released three new reports of proposed Federal Stimulus Projects, which identify potential job opportunities through Ohio educational projects, New York state projects and a list of federal projects from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

By registering at Reed Construction Data, visitors can download all three reports at no cost, which contain more than 8,000 proposed projects, including new construction projects as well as additions or alterations to existing structures.

Research and Markets has announced the addition of John Wiley and Sons Ltd's new report " Introducing Revit Architecture 2010: BIM for Beginners" to their offering.
Introducing Revit Architecture 2010 presents the core features of this building information modeling (BIM) software with focused discussions and practical exercises to get you up to speed quickly.

StudioGPU continues to democratize the 3D production space for broadcast, cinema and design with the release of MachStudio Pro 1.2, a real-time 3D workflow and rendering package that leverages the horsepower of off-the-shelf professional graphics processing units (GPUs) to deliver real-time and near real-time workflow performance on a desktop workstation. Now available worldwide, MachStudio Pro 1.2 includes many dynamic new features powered by the new AMD ATI FirePro V8750 professional 3D workstation graphics accelerator, which is included with the program. This powerful combination of hardware and software gives 3D artists a seamless way to create and interact with cinematic-quality 3D objects and environments in a non-linear desktop workspace.

Envista Corporation introduced Envista 2009 Release 2 of their web-based software for infrastructure project coordination. The map-based system facilitates the planning process for construction and maintenance work in and under roadways. This new version unveils breakthrough features generated from customer feedback, including Permit View, Event Coordination, Collaboration Ready Maps, Custom Spatial Query, and Multipoint Map Sketching. The Envista coordination solution optimizes project timing and detects project conflicts among towns, cities, utilities and highway agencies. The efficiencies gained through better coordination result in fewer street cuts in newly paved streets and less disruption for commuters and neighborhoods during the construction season.

Around the Web

Revit Online Help Inside the Factory -- Help and related documentation for the three Revit products is now available on the web.

CADbuddy for modo 401 - A set of tools that help you to work with CAD (polylines) inside of modo: From clean-up to creation of geometry.

Autodesk University keynotes announced

AutoCAD Architecture 2010 Product Update 1 Released



The Business Value of BIM: “Getting BIM to the Bottom Line”
Date: September 21 - 22, 2009
Place: Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF
1675 Owens Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 USA

You will learn how BIM and IPD are delivering real business value for owners, design professionals and contractors on a variety of project types and delivery methods. Come see the future of our industry.

PLM Road Map™ 2009
Date: September 22 - 23, 2009
Place: The Inn at St. John's
Detroit, MI USA

At PLM Road Map™ 2009 join leading industry analysts from CPDA, key industry players, and front-line implementation experts as they discuss their experiences in addressing strategic PLM topics. Find out about their successes in making technology work by linking it across the whole product lifecycle, the obstacles they encountered on the way, and how they developed strategies to overcome them. PLM Road Map™ is a strategic conference focused on the critical trade-offs that shape product development. At PLM Road Map™ 2009, find out first hand which issues are confronting end users.

MicroStation V8i for CAD Users
Date: September 22 - 24, 2009
Place: 404 BNA Drive, Suite 302
Nashville, TN USA

This course is designed for experienced CAD users who want to transition existing CAD knowledge to MicroStation skills. To ease the transition to MicroStation, parallel references are continually given, showing how MicroStation handles operations familiar to the CAD user. Subjects covered range from the initial setup of a new design file, to incorporating existing data from non-MicroStation CAD products. Plotting and other output considerations are covered, including PDF creation.

TennDOT Standard GEOPAK Road I, 2004 Edition
Date: September 22 - 25, 2009
Place: International Conference & Business Center
6465 N. Quail Hollow Road, Suite 200, Memphis, TN USA

Students will learn to use GEOPAK for road design using the design standards of Tennessee DOT (TDOT). This hands-on training walks students through the project design cycle including: setting up a project, existing ground data, geometry, superelevation, volume calculations and drawing (plans) production. This hands-on course uses a workflow focused to meet the delivery needs of TDOT, but teaches skills in GEOPAK that are applicable for any customer.

Webinar:Capturing decisions as they're being made: facilitating e-discovery
Date: September 25, 2009
Place: USA

Join us to explore how software for project information management supports a more integrated practice by facilitating e-discovery and transparent digital workflow.

Time: 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

IHEEP 2009
Date: September 27 - October 1, 2009
Place: The Westin Riverwalk
420 W Market Street, San Antonio, TX USA

The annual international conference is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and experiences in the transportation engineering technology field with colleagues from around the world.  As with previous meetings, the meeting format will include presentations and demonstrations on the latest technological advances of interest to departments of transportation and their business partners.

MicroStation V8i for CAD Users
Date: September 28 - 30, 2009
Place: NC-Cary ModernTech SI
Cary, NC USA

This course is designed for experienced CAD users who want to transition existing CAD knowledge to MicroStation skills. To ease the transition to MicroStation, parallel references are continually given, showing how MicroStation handles operations familiar to the CAD user. Subjects covered range from the initial setup of a new design file, to incorporating existing data from non-MicroStation CAD products. Plotting and other output considerations are covered, including PDF creation.

ISEIT America 2009
Date: October 6 - 7, 2009
Place: Grand Hyatt
Berlin, Germany

Today especially, businesses must focus on delivering more, in less time and at lower costs. So the theme for ISEIT this year is 'Effective execution - from Concept to Operations'. Whether in design and construction or plant operations, information, and the technology and work processes wrapped around it, holds the key to effective execution.

IFMA's World Workplace 2009 Conference & Expo
Date: October 7 - 9, 2009
Place: Orange County Convention Center
Orlando, FL USA

IFMA’s World Workplace is hosted annually by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), the largest and most widely recognized professional association for facility management. IFMA’s World Workplace encompasses the vast educational, networking and buying opportunities available through IFMA year-round.

Interbuild 2009
Date: October 18 - 21, 2009
Place: NEC
Birmingham, United Kingdom

Interbuild is the leading exhibition for the construction industry, featuring the bestSustainability Street innovations for building and refurbishment products, materials and equipment. Interbuild 2009 features two new shows - Interbuild Specifier has been created to meet the needs of specifiers, with ground breaking new feature areas such as Sustainability Street. Whilst Interbuild Onsite offers the building trade everything they need for when they go onsite.  Find out more about visiting Interbuild 2009.

11th Annual Lean Construction Congress
Date: October 20 - 23, 2009
Place: Millennium Harvest House Boulder Hotel
1345 Twenty-Eighth Street, Boulder, CO 80302-6899 USA

The 11th Annual Congress will feature owners, designers, contractors and suppliers describing what they have experienced and learned adopting Lean Construction. Sessions will include reports from healthcare owners and their project teams, companies undergoing a lean transformation, project reports, advances in lean construction practices, and International and LCI Chapter reports.

2009 Axium User Conference: Unlock the Possibilities
Date: October 22 - 24, 2009
Place: The Benson Hotel
Portland, OR USA

Users of Axium’s Software Solutions - both firms and individuals - are increasingly able to open your options for growth and success. The 2009 Axium User Conference will create opportunities for you to discover a world of endless possibilities. Axium wants to encourage you to explore unknown capabilities in order to increase your business’ productivity and overall profitability. Principals, Project Managers and Accountants can all benefit from the in-depth product training or industry best practice sessions.