Bricsys: We’re Not Holding Back on DWG, Part 328 Dec, 2017 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson
And the company is not holding back on BIM, either, as evidenced by updates to its dedicated module for building information modeling and the Bricsys 24/7 cloud-based collaboration tool.
Belgium-based software developer Bricsys is committing fully to the DWG file format for 2D/3D CAD and building information modeling (BIM) and pitting its flagship BricsCAD directly against AutoCAD, hoping to lure Autodesk customers who are grappling with recent licensing changes. At the Bricsys 2017 conference in Paris this fall, where the company hosted myself and several other members of the CAD media, the company described its DWG-centric software development strategy, outlined updates to BricsCAD V18, and introduced BricsCAD Shape, a free, simple-to-use DWG-based tool for 2D/3D conceptual modeling tool. (See “Bricsys: We’re Not Holding Back on DWG, Part 1.”) In Part 2 of this series, I detailed the general, mechanical, and sheet metal design updates found in BricsCAD V18. This final installment outlines updates to the BIM Module and the Bricsys 24/7 cloud-based solution for construction project collaboration.
Bullish on BIM
“BricsCAD opens the door to BIM for millions of AEC specialists using DWG,” said Bricsys CEO Erik de Keyser to conference attendees. Based on DWG and incorporating “the most intuitive user interface ... 80% of BricsCAD BIM V18 will feel familiar [to AutoCAD users] from the start,” while also enabling history-free 3D modeling.
Although BIM adoption is a relatively low 19%, de Keyser said, “Fifty percent of the AEC market is in the BIM space, so BIM is very important for us.” Rather than target existing BIM users for conversion, Bricsys is focusing on the 17 million AutoCAD users it estimates will move to Autodesk Revit.
“The problem with BIM is that the technology and workflow are too complex,” de Keyser continued, so ROI is not high enough. “We can open the door to BIM to millions of AEC users by making is easier to use. ... “We thought we could do a better job, but we had to start from a blank sheet.” With BricsCAD BIM V18, users need only three weeks to become productive, de Keyser said. “It’s so easy, it’s almost like playing with software.”
Bricsys CEO Erik de Keyser shared slides to illustrate what he describes as better ROI and performance of BricsCAD BIM compared with Autodesk Revit.
What’s New in BricsCAD BIM V18
From design through documentation in one product, BricsCAD BIM V18 “changes everything,” according to Bricsys, providing in one interface the power of advanced solids modeling, the simplicity of sketching programs, and the detailing power expected from “the leader in DWG-based CAD.”
An add-on module to BricsCAD V18 Platinum, BricsCAD BIM V18 supports the DWG 2018 format. It is designed to let users focus on creativity, starting with simple, expressive design capture tools and moving to BIM as the workflow requires.
Automated BIM. BricsCAD BIM V18 leverages advanced machine intelligence functions to simplify the process of creating a building information model. Each room “knows” its location in a building and its 3D boundaries. The new BIMIFY command analyzes the entire model and uses geometric information to define IFC classification types and spatial locations for all entities. It respects all user-entered data and does not overwrite manual settings. BIM Classify will classify a single entity, or a user-selected set of entities in a larger BIM, before or after BIMIFY has run. These classifications group into four categories: core, architectural, structural, and building services. Extended BIM properties include the area and volume of each room, displayed in each room’s properties panel. Xrefs are supported as BIM objects and may be classified and have a spatial location.
BIM Suggest supports the concept of “edit once, use many times.” Select two solids and BIM Suggest analyzes their connection, then highlights similar connections in the model where the same junctures (orthogonal ply-by-ply connections between walls, slabs, columns, and beams) can be used.
On the design side, BIM Drag lets users easily place multiple solids or groups of solids. When this workflow is paired with the new solid Manipulator tool, 3D mass modeling becomes easy and direct, according to Bricsys. The new Structural Modeling Toolset in BricsCAD BIM V18 recognizes linear solids and can automatically classify them as columns, beams, railings, pipes, ducts, and more, laying the groundwork for structural and building mechanical applications, which can be performed in the same model using the same software.
Parametric arrays. Also new to V18, parametric arrays support creation of dynamic groups of entities, driven by numeric parameters, offering flexibility in creating all types of repetitive objects, such as windows, staircases, and curtain walls. The new Window Creator Tool lets users create fully parametric windows from any solid, as easy as 1-2-3: Define a polygon and select, choose a window style, and apply or alter parameters. Users can vary all elements of a window design interactively via the Properties panel.
Multiuser collaboration. BricsCAD BIM V18 supports a multiuser approach, meaning a project can be split any number of ways — for example, floor by floor or by staff groupings — to keep file sizes in check; more easily manage complex models; and enable users to download and work on a portion of a model, then upload it back to the project via the Bricsys 24/7 cloud-based collaboration solution.
IFC compliance and data extraction. Greatly improved IFC import capabilities and data extraction tools in BricsCAD BIM V18 speed communications across the entire BIM workflow. The standard data format for open exchange among BIM software, IFC is supported by more than 205 applications, and IFC import in BricsCAD BIM is now certified by BuildingSmart. Acknowledging that IFC is not a perfect solution, de Keyser said, “For BIM and civil engineering, we will become IFC compliant. We must accept it as the standard.” Windows imported to BricsCAD BIM V18 via IFC are fully parametric and associative to their adjoining walls.
When documenting a BIM model, Data Extraction now supports ply quantities and materials. The SECTION command can create interior elevations as volumetric solids with full control over their display properties. Interior elevations can be displayed or suppressed to control the visibility of section entities.
Civil engineering. A new object-enabler technology mean BricsCAD BIM V18 users can access the full range of custom civil engineering objects stored in AutoCAD Civil 3D DWG files.
What’s New in Bricsys 24/7
Formerly known as Chapoo, Bricsys 24/7 is a cloud-based solution for construction collaboration. Users can securely manage documents and projects from any Internet-connected location, upload and share BricsCAD BIM models and drawings with full X-ref management, and view 2D and 3D CAD files and 70 other file types via browser using the Bricsys 24/7 integrated viewer. Users can view information for multiple buildings in a complex and see which data is available and which is missing.
“We don’t really need the cloud for CAD work,” said Don Strimbu, vice-president of communications for Bricsys, at the Paris conference. “We have powerful desktop machines that are fully equipped for that. But ... when we collaborate, there’s no better platform than the cloud.”
New features in Bricsys 24/7 include:
- flexible project/file structure that users can change any time as needed,
- a Communication tab that consolidates all project-related communications (including a chronological overview and other insight accessible from one location),
- one-click access to drawings,
- access to drawing annotations of project participants,
- automated workflows and process reviews and tracking that are customizable according to project needs,
- forms for storing information, and
- tracking for meetings, action items, and more.
At the Paris conference, presenters described Bricsys 24/7 projects, including the Brussels airport, which used the tool to help develop a new baggage-handling facility, two new fire stations, and other expansions and renovations. For Belgium’s new A11 motorway, participating organizations used Bricsys 24/7 to move documents through the review and approval process, and for the Port House in Antwerp, a smaller but historically significant project to renovate a derelict fire station and unite the port’s 500 staff members under one roof, Bricsys 24/7 offered the necessary support for unlimited users and data storage.
BricsCAD Platinum and the BIM Module are available for Windows now, retailing for $1,760–$2,100 as a package (with the higher price reflecting All-In-Maintenance, which includes priority support and an upgrade to the next major version). Updates of Linux and Mac versions are to come. A free 30-day trial is available for BricsCAD and the BIM Module. BricsCAD V18 for Windows is available in 17 languages.
Bricsys software is made available through perpetual or subscription licensing options, available from BricsCAD resellers and the Bricsys online store; volume, network, and rental licenses are available through resellers. For those considering a switch from AutoCAD, Bricsys offers an extensive comparison chart of BricsCAD vs. AutoCAD features as well as a free copy of Ralph Grabowski’s e-book, BricsCAD for AutoCAD Users.