Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Graebert Seeks to Smooth the Workflow Between 2D CAD and BIM

7 Jan, 2021 By: Cadalyst Staff

Graebert neXt 2020, Part 2: ARES Commander, which received a raft of BIM-friendly features in version 2020, will include still more in version 2022.

Editor’s note: Click here to read Part 1 of this article, “Graebert’s Growth Fueled by CAD Users Leery of Licensing Changes.”

In lieu of its typical in-person conferences, Graebert hosted a virtual Graebert neXt event last month to showcase the new features forthcoming in the next version of ARES Commander, which is scheduled to launch in March 2021. (A public beta is available now for macOS and Windows [64-bit only].) 

With this version of its flagship CAD software, Graebert will skip from ARES Commander 2020 directly to version 2022. By taking the name of the year following the release date, the company is aligning with a naming scheme widely used in the software industry. This change “will make it easier for our customers to compare ARES Commander with competing solutions” such as AutoCAD, said Cédric Desbordes, Graebert’s business development and marketing director.

Redressing a Rift between 2D and 3D

According to Desbordes, building information modeling (BIM), with its 3D models, and 2D CAD are separate processes running in parallel. “But unfortunately, the workflow between BIM and CAD users is broken,” he continued. “It is a terrible waste of resources for the AEC industry, and this is what we believe is our mission: Make the best-in-class solution to create DWG drawings for your BIM projects.”

Graebert is approaching this “broken workflow” with a three-pronged strategy: enabling CAD users to access a broader scope of BIM project information, accelerating and automating drawing production, and minimizing the effort needed to update CAD drawings when BIM projects are modified. To that end, the Graebert team is expanding capabilities in ARES Commander that can help CAD users work more efficiently on construction projects with BIM users, especially during the documentation phase.

A BIM-Coordination Boost in ARES Commander 2022

Graebert reports that the new additions in ARES Commander 2022 include the following BIM-focused features:

  • BIM dimensions. Users can select multiple entities in a BIM drawing, and BIM Dimension Chains will generate aligned dimensions automatically. When the BIM model is refreshed, the BIM Dimension Chains automatically update in response to BIM geometry being moved, added, or deleted.
  • BIM labels. This feature lets users automatically generate labels for multiple entities in a BIM drawing that will remain associated with those BIM entities, automatically updating when the BIM model is refreshed. Users can control label graphics and the BIM data properties the labels display.
  • BIM material mapping. The new ARES Material Mapper enables name mapping from the material name properties of BIM elements to the corresponding material styles in the ARES Styles Library. Users can configure rules customizing the style of BIM entities, and assign specific colors, hatches, or graphic styles to materials for re-use in future drawings and applying styles across multiple drawings.

These features come on the heels of version 2020’s BIM-related additions, which included the ability to import BIM files, extract BIM data into tables or CSV files, extract 2D drawings from BIM models, and more. 

In addition, ARES Commander 2022 will become the first version to offer feature parity for BIM features in the MacOS and Linux versions of ARES Commander. “Although the majority of our users are working on Windows, we take pride in taking good care of our Mac and Linux users,” said Andre Neumann, CAD software engineer for Graebert.

Embracing the Cloud

One upside to the trials of this year is that the pandemic is accelerating CAD users’ transition to the cloud, as scattered teams see the value of cloud-based workflows, Desbordes explained. Wilfried Graebert noted that some industries that have held off on moving to the cloud now must do so in order to increase their agility and communicate well with their customers. “This is what more and more people are looking for,” he said.

The cloud is a crucial element of Graebert’s ARES Trinity suite of CAD solutions for desktop, mobile, and cloud platforms (Commander, Touch, and Kudo, respectively). “It’s not just for storage, we can do everything [in the cloud],” Wilfried Graebert noted.

It’s also central to Graebert’s value proposition moving forward. When it comes to 2D CAD functionality, “there’s not much left to invent,” observed Wilfried Graebert; “those features were created in the ‘80s.” Now, CAD technology development is “about the importance of collaboration and integration ... integrating CAD tools with drawings whenever and wherever you want them to be,” he explained. “We can help to optimize processes themselves.” That’s where the cloud plays its starring role, ensuring that “all the information in the right place and everybody has [individualized] access,” Wilfried Graebert said.

As for those customers who still harbor concerns about storing data on the cloud, Desbordes said, “customers have already made their choices, so [we] need to adapt to choices they have been making.” For example, for a cloud-wary customer, Graebert may support a private server on the company premises instead; that way the customer can still take advantage of centralized data, he explained.

Graebert is open to “all kinds” of storage systems that are available in the market, Wilfried Graebert said; “users can decide whatever makes sense to them in terms of security,” he confirmed. “Some customers ask us to use their single sign-on technology ... it’s not only storage, it’s also about authentication.” Graebert's range of options includes cloud-storage providers like Google Drive and Dropbox; enterprise solutions including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Nextcloud, and on-premises servers; and industry-specific solutions such as the newly announced integration with Trimble Connect. Trial users and subscribers who are evaluating storage options can try out Graebert's own ARES Kudo Drive, which is powered by Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3), for free. 

And for those companies who have been “left behind” as the transition to the cloud has become mainstream, “we offer connectivity of their business, [we can] migrate their solutions from the desktop to the cloud,” noted Desbordes. “We are in a good position to do that because ARES Kudo and Commander use the same API [application programming interface].”

All that said, Graebert does not traditional desktop CAD software to be made irrelevant by cloud-based CAD anytime soon. “You cannot imagine a future that will be cloud-only for, I think, ten years,” Desbordes predicted.

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff