BIM technology: the necessary future
The construction of BIM models represents the future in the development of projects in the architecture, engineering and construction sector. It consists of the incorporation of new technologies, widely used in other fields of industry and leisure, to the production process or workflow that governs the daily activity of professionals and companies linked to this sector.
The need to abandon the traditional workflow, based on disconnected analysis models and the exchange of drawings and reports, implies that the implementation of this technology is already an urgent demand. The resulting workflow, based on the management of BIM models, will allow the development of projects, for all their phases, in a much more efficient, open, coordinated and error-free way.
BIM applications: the demand of the market
From the point of view of the applications used to prepare the projects, the incorporation of BIM technology materialises the real possibility of interaction between these applications, so that there will no longer be a set of isolated tools that are used by professionals who work without a real possibility of coordination. In a real BIM workflow, the professionals work in a coordinated and simultaneous manner, using applications that incorporate the possibility of updating models automatically, ensuring that information is constantly flowing, is exchanged amongst the different applications and helps designers when having to make decisions and detect and solve project errors.
Therefore, if you are an application developer for architecture, engineering and construction, you should consider, in the short term, the need for your tools to incorporate, in one way or another, the possibility to be able to integrate in a BIM workflow. Otherwise, it will imply being left out of the workflow when it is managed using BIM models, whose implementation is already an urgent demand on behalf of professionals in our sector.
The proposal of traditional BIM applications
The great traditional BIM applications propose a workflow based, fundamentally, on a single application, a single data file (in native format) and a single user (real simultaneous and collaborative work is not contemplated). With this approach, the only possible solution for other applications to be incorporated into the workflow is to develop a specific plug-in programmed on the API (particular programming interface) provided by each of the BIM applications.
Indeed, this is an admissible solution, but it raises, in our opinion, some serious problems that do not exist in an open workflow. From the point of view of users, it has the disadvantage that it involves changing the work environment they are used to, since the plug-ins only work on the main application that, additionally, must be acquired in order to work. On the other hand, from the point of view of the developer, the software must be adapted specifically for a specific BIM application, which has, in our opinion, very serious strategic implications, since we subordinate our commercial policy and our installed base of customers to the future strategy of the main BIM application.
The proposal of BIMserver.center
From BIMserver.center, in contrast to traditional BIM tools, we propose a workflow based on the exchange of information using IFC files (open and public formats), generated by each application. The project is developed based on a set of IFC files (not a single native file) generated by the professionals involved in the project (not a single user) and who use various applications of their choice (not a single program).
Therefore, for an application to be integrated into the proposed workflow, in principle, it should only read and write IFC files. This implementation, with open and public format files, does not imply a strategic subordination to another developer and, additionally, is a functionality demanded by users for any application. The updating processes of the BIM model can be implemented gradually and non-invasively with respect to the original user interface of the applications.
To summarise, the integration of applications in the proposed workflow is very simple, since it does not require for them to be redesigned and only a small design, not implementation, effort must be carried out for the BIM model update processes (interaction with the model). Additionally, users will not have the need to change to another application or user interface, and will remain exclusively within the scope of their acquired skills and knowledge.
For the design of new applications, the workflow allows for the functional design of the application to be disconnected from the design of its interaction in the workflow, which results in a scalable and disconnected, development and implementation effort.