AEC Tech News (#235)

10 Sep, 2008

Empowering the "I" in BIM

Solibri CEO Jonathan Widney shares his thoughts on the direction BIM is heading and how Solibri is finding its niche.

By Heather Livingston

Heather Livingston photo

Last week I had the opportunity to talk with Jonathan Widney, CEO of Solibri, about his product's role among rapidly evolving BIM technologies. Widney is an interesting figure in the CAD and BIM world because of his vast experience across multiple platforms. Widney spent 14 years in government service as a Chinese (Mandarin) and Arabic (multidialect) linguist. After that time, he returned to the University of Oregon where he earned his undergraduate degree in political science and international business and completed his graduate studies in public administration, with a focus on Middle- and Far-Eastern business development. For the past 16 years, he has been developing CAD markets in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and most recently in the Americas. In this capacity, Widney has been involved with multiple CAD platforms and tools, both with end-users and with channel partners. In 2001 he founded NavisWorks, Inc., as a subsidiary of NavisWorks Ltd. (United Kingdom). In 2008, he launched Solibri LLC, a subsidiary of Solibri, Inc., based in Finland. Here he shares his thoughts on Solibri and its place in building information modeling.

HL: How has your background prepared you for the CAD market?

JW: I've been heavily involved in market development and have worked with firms from a very small developer all the way up through Autodesk. Before my involvement with CAD, I was a linguist. I speak quite a few languages, among them Chinese and Arabic. The one thing that languages and technology have in common is that they both allow you to bring together more people and focus on issues, not differences.

HL: How does Solibri fit into the building information model?

JW: Solibri Model Checker has been used extensively by the General Services Administration (GSA) and others who are focused on the use of Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) and the use of analysis tools — real BIM versus building modeling — but it didn't have a lot of traction with commercial users. One reason why it was a good fit for me was my expertise in building markets, but perhaps more important, I believe it represents the next generation of tools that are applicable to the development of real BIM. I was pretty successful with creating a market for NavisWorks here, so I have a good understanding of how the tools are being used in the interoperable environment and also am aware of some gaps that technology like Solibri is well positioned to address. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Heather Livingston is a Vermont-based freelance writer specializing in design, sustainability, and architectural technology. She can be reached at


First Look Review:
AecBatchStylesEditor 2009

By Ron LaFon

AecBatchStylesEditor 2009 from CADaptation is a relatively new program that works with AutoCAD Architecture and AutoCAD MEP to configure, implement, maintain, and upgrade CAD standards. Versions are available for the 2008 and 2009 editions of the host applications.

With only a few mouse clicks, AecBatchStylesEditor users can change settings that typically are buried deep in AEC styles and definitions and affect as many styles or display representations as necessary. Normally, users would have to make such changes individually — which is tedious, not to mention prone to errors or oversights.

Features fall into four broad categories, represented by tabs in the user interface: Property Sets Editing, Materials Editing, Classifications Editing, and Display Properties Editing. A fifth tab is included for Preferences. Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

Sustainable Development, Green Retrofit, and Construction Congress Seminars
October 29-31, 2008
Baltimore Inner Harbor, MD
Hosted by FMA International, these events focus on energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable building technology and how to implement it in today's facilities. The events also explore how to benefit from current environmental initiatives. Read more »

Ecobuild Fall and AEC-ST Fall
December 8-11, 2008
Washington, DC
Ecobuild Fall and AEC-ST Fall covers green building, sustainable design, renewable energy, environmental planning processes, and more. Attendees include AEC professionals, owners, developers, and facility managers. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on