Graphisoft Proselytizes the 2D Masses with BIM Kit

17 Oct, 2007 By: Heather Livingston

Company employs 30-day free trial and tutorial to convince users of the software's benefits through hands-on experience.

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Graphisoft has introduced a free BIM Experience Kit to help 2D design offices begin the transition to 3D with minimum time and effort. The BIM Experience Kit gives those interested in learning about building information modeling (BIM) software the opportunity to try the full version of ArchiCAD 11 for 30 days at no cost. Intended to be an innovative and fun way for professionals to experience and learn about BIM, the Experience Kit walks users through a two-hour, voice-led exercise, then tests their knowledge upon completion.

“Studies show that 2D users have two conflicting fears: they are afraid they will lose their competitiveness if they don’t adopt BIM, and they are also afraid that the BIM adoption is going to be too hard and they might fail. The BIM Experience Kit enables professionals to learn BIM at their own pace and get a high comfort level before making the production switch,” said Patrick Mays, AIA, vice-president, Graphisoft North America.

According to Akos Pfemeter, head of the company’s Global Marketing initiatives, although the company has been evangelizing 3D design for 25 years, the majority of architects still work in 2D with fairly unsophisticated line-work drawings instead of creating BIM designs on their computers. “We were wondering why that is, so we created a survey for 2D CAD users ... and asked them why they are so reluctant to change,” Pfemeter said. Three main reasons emerged for the reluctance of design professionals to transition to BIM. Pfemeter explained that the first reason is obvious: everybody is really busy. The second reason is that architects were concerned that BIM is too complex and complicated. The third concern is the ability to deliver the same quality by the same deadline.

“This is really a special time in the market,” Pfemeter said. “The AIA is preaching the move to BIM to its membership, and still lots of lots of people are reluctant to change. We think that this might be because BIM is a too-big chunk for most people to swallow, so what we have created with the BIM Experience Kit is an appetizer: a much smaller scale bite that everybody can swallow. Once they [get] the taste of BIM, we think that this transition will happen much [more easily].”

Images from the BIM Experience Kit tutorial show the progression of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Massaro House as it is transformed to a 3D BIM.

The Product
The BIM Experience Kit is a fully functional version of ArchiCAD 11, so no functions are grayed out during the 30-day trial period. During that time, users can even start a project within the trial version and save their work so that time spent learning is not lost. After the trial period, if the user decides to continue with the project inside ArchiCAD, Graphisoft has made it simple to convert to a full commercial license without any additional installation or activation. “Just simply plug in the [protection] key; ArchiCAD will switch to full mode for the next start-up, and all your trial projects will automatically convert to the full commercial form of ArchiCAD,” Pfemeter explained. “We really tried to eliminate all obstacles and issues that made people worry about [using] a demo version.”

Interactive Learning
Graphisoft wanted the BIM Experience Kit to be interactive, so the company developed a movie player within ArchiCAD for CAD users going through the training. The voice-led tutorial goes through all major steps in creating a complete BIM project. Steps include designing in a model-based environment and generating floor plans, sections, elevations, interior elevations, renderings, and quantity take-offs. “Everything is visually explained in front of you, so it is kind of a hands-on experience. Research has shown that adults learn best by doing,” Pfemeter said.

The two-hour learning exercise builds up Frank Lloyd Wright’s recently completed Massaro House, located on an 11-acre island in New York’s Lake Mahopac. “We chose this project to show the users of the Experience Kit that in two hours time, not only a box type house can be built, but a very complex [design]. You might see from the floor plan that a diagonal, triangular, very complex shape building can be built in two hours, from scratch,” Pfemeter explained. “It really is about starting easy."

The BIM Experience Kit focuses on the big picture in the first chapter; then the actual exercise starts in the conventional 2D environment on the floor plan. In the first couple of chapters, users remain in their comfort zone -- editing in 2D. Then the 3D window is opened, showing the users that what they created is an actual 3D model of the building. At the end of the exercise, users create a simple but complete documentation set for the house, which is then published to a PDF file. "This learn-by-doing approach leaves the user with the feeling of success,” Pfemeter said.

Once the exercise is completed, users can log on to Graphisoft’s Web site to test their level of comprehension. The 10-question, multiple-choice test gives users 15 minutes to complete the assessment, and then it provides a score. “If you score low, you can redo the test because the test itself is an education tool. By really reading the question and seeing the possible answer, you can improve your understanding of the whole topic,” Pfemeter said. “Or you can even redo the whole exercise.”

Once the assessment has been completed, users are automatically registered for a chance to win an ArchiCAD program (one drawing per month) and a chance to win a trip to Budapest, where Graphisoft is located, in spring 2008.

Pfemeter noted that the company also has created a DVD version of the BIM Experience Kit to include additional information. “We also put some nice BIM projects onto it, so people can see what can be achieved with the BIM workflow,” he said. “And, most importantly, there is a second, more advanced interactive training on the DVD version.”

Pfemeter says that the Experience Kit already has been “immensely successful” since its release in July and that he’s had good feedback from not just knowledgeable CAD managers, but professionals running the gamut from 2D draftspersons to firm principals. “One principal from Australia, for example, said to me, ‘I am not a computer guy. I hated CAD. I hated everything, [but] after I went through the two-hour exercise, a light bulb switched on in my head.' "

Click here for more information on the BIM Experience Kit.

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