Release review

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    The newly released 3D Repo v2.8 allows users to simultaneously access, via the web, the latest 3D construction models, detect changes, collaborate on them, and make informed decisions.

    As usual, March proved to be a big month for announcements about software updates and technology partnerships focused on the AEC industry. Following, in no particular order, is a sampling of the news.

    3D Repo adds BCF support and GIS integration

    3D Repo released a new version of its cloud-based BIM platform that allows users to simultaneously access, via the web, the latest 3D construction models, detect changes, collaborate on them, and make informed decisions. With more than 30 enhancements and service improvements, the latest version of 3D Repo includes support for the most recent open standard Building Collaboration Format (BCF) to improve BIM workflow communication, as well as live GIS data integration offering real-world project context.

    The newly released 3D Repo v2.8 also includes additional support for mobile devices in Beta, including Android and iOS through a mobile web browser, Xbox controller support, and support for FBX files with embedded textures. Live map integration, with current support for standard base map tiles and additional publishers and data layers on the roadmap, provides real-world context for 3D models. The inclusion of GIS data also allows for external factors, such as proximity of another building or feature, to be included within the design and construction decision-making workflow.

    “3D Repo Version 2.8 is all about extending the reach of the functionally robust and feature rich 3D Repo platform,” said Dr. Jozef Dobos, CEO of 3D Repo. “With additional exchange formats supported and new hardware options added we are making it even easier to share, access, and collaborate on complex 3D models. The new version will improve communication, and therefore decision making, and increase collaboration beyond the traditional file-based BIM workflow and data confines.”

    The ability to import and export BCF files gives users of the 3D Repo solution a more efficient way to communicate design issues within their current workflow. The BCF file format is a vendor-neutral solution for collaborative design, construction, and operation information exchange. It allows topics, such as issues, proposals, and change requests, to be encoded and addressed within the BIM model. This removes the need to manually locate an issue using only a description or screenshot, reducing confusion and potential errors while speeding up communication.

    Xbox controller support is also included with the new version of 3D Repo to make the navigation of large models easier and more intuitive. Support meanwhile for the Autodesk FBX file format, with embedded textures, provides better interoperability between digital content creation applications and 3D visualization models, especially when using the 3D Repo Dynamic VR.

    Information provided by 3D Repo (http://3drepo.org).

    Using the “Share Design Views” feature, a viewable file is created in AutoCAD and circulated via a shareable link that can be viewed and commented on in the browser of any device with internet access.

    IBI Group launches Smart City Platform

    IBI Group, a global design and technology firm, launched its Smart City Platform, which it said allows cities to improve the efficiency and safety of city operations and urban environments, and equips both city staff and residents with the necessary tools to make rapid and informed decisions. Offered as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, the platform is designed to work with a city’s existing hardware and software systems and can be scaled for use on a single building, campus, or subdivision through to an entire city or region.

    The Smart City Platform’s suite of tools and dashboards combines predictive analytics gleaned from IoT sensors, control devices, and existing city networks to inform the design and management of more sustainable and resilient urban environments. Drawing on IBI Group’s expertise in urban technologies, and its experience designing and implementing smart city strategies, the Smart City Platform provides a flexible and cost-effective way for cities to manage their operations, inform better decision making, and give residents a voice, the company said.

    “With a rich history planning and designing cities, as well as implementing intelligent systems, IBI has the unique domain knowledge around how cities operate to make us the ideal smart city partner,” said Scott Stewart, IBI Group CEO. “As a technology-driven design firm, we are passionate about developing solutions to inform smarter, more resilient cities and communities. The Smart City Platform is an exciting step in this direction for the firm.”

    “Smart Cities are already a reality,” said Bruno Peters, IBI Group Smart Cities Task Force lead. “Government and private-sector initiatives worldwide are implementing innovative ways to make cities in the 21st Century more efficient, more livable, and more competitive. We believe that achieving these goals is not just about being technologically advanced — it’s also about urban reinvention and citizen engagement.”

    The platform’s public engagement module offers the ability to connect with city residents through apps, email, and social media, fostering a two-way dialogue between residents and service operators. Residents will access more accurate, timely, and accessible information and will be able to participate in the improvement of city services.

    Built on the fundamental principles of open data and sharing, IBI Group’s Smart City Platform is designed to connect stakeholders with the services, information, and insight they need. City services can be provided in a more efficient manner by prioritizing scarce resources where they are needed most, predicting needs based on a variety of conditions, and keeping all parties from the resident to the mayor informed and empowered.

    Information provided by IBI Group (www.ibigroup.com).   

    Autocad 2019 includes specialized toolsets

    Specialized features and libraries for mechanical design, architecture, 3D mapping, and more; new web and mobile apps; and new features, specialized toolsets, and performance enhancements are included with new subscriptions to AutoCAD 2019.

    With access to seven specialized toolsets, subscribers have more than 750,000 intelligent objects, styles, parts, features, and symbols to choose from when drawing. Designers can automate floorplans; quickly draw piping, plant equipment, or electrical panel layouts; incorporate GIS data into the planning process; edit scanned drawings and convert raster images into DWG objects all while working in a familiar AutoCAD interface.

    The toolsets now included in AutoCAD offer intelligent features that will help users work faster and be more efficient, the company said. For example, by using the Architecture toolset to model a design, users save a significant amount of time by incorporating real architectural elements such as doors, walls, and windows instead of starting from lines and circles. Creating a wall in AutoCAD requires five steps; the same outcome in the Architecture toolset requires only three steps.

    Subscribers to AutoCAD 2019 gain access to the following toolsets:

    • Architecture — Use specialized building design features and more than 8,000 intelligent architectural objects and styles to speed architectural drawing and documentation.
    • Mechanical — Use specialized mechanical design features and more than 700,000 intelligent manufacturing parts, features, and symbols to speed product design.
    • Electrical — Use specialized electrical design features and more than 65,000 intelligent electrical symbols to boost productivity for creating, modifying, and documenting electrical controls systems.
    • MEP — Use specialized MEP engineering features and more than 10,500 intelligent mechanical, electrical, and plumbing objects to draft, design, and document building systems.
    • Plant 3D — Use the specialized plant design and engineering toolset to efficiently produce P&IDs and then integrate them into a 3D plant design model.
    • Map 3D — Use specialized mapping features to incorporate GIS and CAD data to support planning, design, and data management. Access spatial data stored in files, databases, and web services, and aggregate it with AutoCAD design data.
    • Raster Design — Use raster-to-vector tools to help edit scanned drawings and convert raster images into DWG objects.

    An AutoCAD 2019 or AutoCAD LT 2019 subscription also includes access to the all-new AutoCAD web app and the AutoCAD mobile app. The AutoCAD web app enables access to AutoCAD directly in a web browser via web.autocad.com with nothing to download or install. Log in to your Autodesk account and quickly access DWG files, core 2D drafting and editing tools (ex: Arc, Circle, Rectangle, Offset, Trim, and more), including Xref support and layer management.

    With the AutoCAD mobile app, users can view, edit, create, and share CAD drawings anytime, anywhere. Download DWGs to a device to access them when WiFi isn’t available. Available across Windows, Android, and iOS devices, AutoCAD mobile app is also optimized for the iPhone X, iPad Pro, and Windows Surface.

    A new feature that enables users to work seamlessly across the desktop, web, and mobile platforms is the capability to “Save To Web & Mobile” and “Open From Web & Mobile” from desktop AutoCAD. While in the field, view and edit any drawing on the AutoCAD web or mobile app and save it back to a local network drive to continue working at the office in AutoCAD 2019 or AutoCAD LT 2019.

    The new DWG Compare feature in AutoCAD 2019 and AutoCAD LT 2019 helps users identify graphical differences between two revisions of a drawing or Xref. Quickly view changes, see clashes, review constructability, and more. Turning on revision clouds further highlights the changes, and users can systematically cycle through each one to make sure every detail is accounted for.

    Shared Views is an enhancement to the “Share Design Views” feature. This AutoCAD 2019 and AutoCAD LT 2019 feature makes it easier to share designs with stakeholders without sending DWG files to them. A viewable file is created in AutoCAD and circulated via a shareable link that can be viewed and commented on in the browser of any device with internet access. Comments that collaborators make on the shared link appear in the AutoCAD desktop product.

    Autodesk said it invested in streamlining 2D graphics performance with this release. Operations that typically require AutoCAD to redraw or regenerate 2D graphics (like changing draw order, zooming, panning, and changing layer properties, particularly in large drawings or drawings with raster images) are now up to twice as fast, the company said. New controls in the Graphics Performance dialog box let users configure the behavior of 2D graphics performance.

    Updated, “flat design” icons in the Ribbon, Status Bar, Quick Access Toolbar, and Application Menu provide a better visual experience when using AutoCAD, especially on a high-resolution monitor, Autodesk said. The new releases dynamically match icon sizes to monitor resolution or pixel density.

    Information provided by Autodesk (www.autodesk.com).

    The new non-linear concrete slab design feature in Tekla Structural Designer 2018
    automates loading simulation through construction.

    Trimble introduces Tekla 2018 BIM software solutions

    Trimble introduced three new versions of its software for structural engineering, fabrication, and construction teams — Tekla Structures 2018, Tekla Structural Designer 2018, and Tekla Tedds 2018. These solutions provide increased control and improved documentation through constructible BIM workflows for stakeholders in structural steel and concrete, including designers, detailers and fabricators, concrete contractors, general contractors, and structural engineers.

    Tekla Structures 2018 brings faster 3D modeling processes, more precise detailing, better control over changes, and quicker production of drawings with less effort, in addition to workflow-related efficiency gains, the company said. The new version also supports point clouds, allowing delivery of coordinated, constructible designs that fit existing structures seamlessly. The improvements in drawings include quicker drawing production with less effort and reviewing and adding content faster. The collaborative workflow from design and analysis to detailing and fabrication is smoother than before, regardless of structural material.

    Tekla Structural Designer 2018 delivers new features and enhancements focused on structural design workflow productivity. For example, the new non-linear concrete slab design feature automates loading simulation through construction to help save engineering design time. In addition, enhanced analysis options for concrete and steel speed design cycles for complex structural elements. The new version also supports Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish annexes to the Eurocodes.

    Tekla Tedds 2018 introduces a variety of new calculations that enable improved productivity for civil and structural engineers. The software offers a quality assured library of code-compliant calculations that are visible for review and validation.

    In addition to the three new software versions, Trimble is also launching Tekla Developer Center. The new online hub for all Tekla Open API information supports the application developer community, advancing their opportunities to benefit from the customizability of Tekla Structures and demonstrating an open approach to BIM and construction collaboration. For more information, visit https://developer.tekla.com.

    Information provided by Trimble (www.trimble.com).   

    Vectorworks integrates with Bluebeam Studio

    Vectorworks, Inc. and Bluebeam, Inc. announced a new integration between Vectorworks Cloud Services and Bluebeam Studio that allows project team members to host real-time, online markups and review sessions for digital construction drawings and 3D models.

    Vectorworks users can publish drawing sets as data-rich 2D PDFs or models as 3D PDFs to Vectorworks Cloud Services, where they can launch a Bluebeam Studio Session and then invite participants to compare, mark up, and collaborate in real time using the tools in Bluebeam Revu. Marked-up PDFs can then be saved back to Vectorworks Cloud Services for storage and file management.

    “In a traditional drawing review process, PDF files are typically exchanged by email, then printed and manually marked up,” said Daniel Monaghan, vice president of marketing at Vectorworks. “By moving to a cloud-based review workflow, collaboration among project team members becomes easier and helps avoid mistakes, and ultimately allows projects to run more smoothly by reducing review time and costs. By making it easy to share and review files digitally, we’re helping to connect design and construction workflows in ways no other BIM program can offer.”

    Vectorworks has optimized its PDF publishing to better support Bluebeam’s workflow. For example, Vectorworks can batch publish PDF drawing sets, map layers, or classes to PDF layers and maintain Vectorworks hyperlinks in exported PDFs. Most recently, Vectorworks Architect’s space object was updated so room data defined in Vectorworks can be mapped to native spaces in Bluebeam Revu, saving time in the review and estimating process.

    “Platform integrations … based on open standards such as PDF create powerful workflows for project teams and are a big step forward in creating seamless exchanges between design and construction solutions,” said Bluebeam Chief Technical Officer Don Jacob.

    Vectorworks, Inc. also released a reality capture feature, Photos to 3D Model, as well as its virtual reality feature, web view VR. The two technologies, along with the Bluebeam integration, are available with the latest update to Vectorworks Cloud Services in addition to the third Service Pack (SP3) for the Vectorworks 2018 product line.

    The Photos to 3D Model feature allows designers to create 3D models without having to measure or recreate existing 3D geometry or pay for expensive laser scanners to recreate existing conditions before modeling. Simply snap some photos on a mobile device and use the Vectorworks Nomad app to send that data directly to Vectorworks Cloud Services to process the 3D model.

    The latest update to web view Virtual Reality (VR) provides the ability to toggle shadows off and on and to control shadow direction in the web view. The ability to interactively section or isolate parts of the model allows designers more flexibility and precision to communicate their designs. Plus, for those with access to higher-end VR gear, the web view feature now also offers support for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Google Daydream, upping the ability to use web views on five types of headgear.

    Information provided by Vectorworks (www.vectorworks.net) and Bluebeam (www.bluebeam.com). Vectorworks and Bluebeam are both part of the Nemetschek Group.