Tuesday, February 15, 2011


BIMsight beta 1.1
has just been released by the Tekla Corporation. This is a free tool for the construction industry providing building coordination, communication and management across a few standard data types:
  • (IFC (.ifc)
  • IFC XML (.ifcxml)
  • IFC ZIP (.ifczip)
  • DWG (.dwg)
  • DGN (.dgn)
  • XML (.xml from Tekla Viewer)
First Take: Initially, it appears as a free replacement for Naviswork's Clash Detective, but before you jump in, a little review is in order. I tested the tool against the same dataset in Navisworks (two 3D DWG files). Both Naviswork's Clash Detection and BIMsight found the same number of clashes when the tolerances were identically set. Each software could zoom to the particular clash (though Navisworks will do this with more ease then BIMsight) and allow the user to redline, make comments or change the clash status. So far, so good you say?

Unfortunately, the similarities stopped there, as BIMsight does not provide tools for reporting or seamless tracking of changes over time. For some, this may be a non issue, as they are using Navisworks as a per incident on the fly tool, rather then a project life cycle tool. For others, this is a deal breaker.

So here is my short list of a very limited side by side, kick the tires review:

What I liked:
  • Its free!
  • The install was quick
  • Moderately easy to use
  • Minimal interface
  • Ability to load more then one file at a time
  • Easy to create clash types
  • Easy to assign clashes to various trades
  • Different view shade modes (Transparent, X-Ray, Solid)
  • Ease of adding notes
What I did not like
  • Slow loading multiple files
  • Slow click responsiveness
  • Graphics in Conflict mode hard to differentiate
  • Cannot assign color per trade
  • Cannot move individual elements only entire data sets
  • Cannot organize views
  • Small list of file types that it supports
  • Clash Report/Update History
  • Measure tool weirdness
  • Instability (crashed frequently on Windows 7 64 bit)
  • Lack of walk/fly tool
  • Difficult to move entire data sets unless you know exactly how far you need to move it in the xy & Z

Evaluation: As a replacement for firms using Navisworks Manage Clash Detective on small data sets that are *dwg or *dgn based it can be a useful tool in one's arsenal. For instance, a firm with Navisworks licenses, could deploy this tool for project managers whom want to just review very specific data sets. This would free up a Navisworks license for other staff dealing with larger and more diverse data sets and needing the extra reporting and Timeliner scheduling features. In this regard, BIMsights place in your toolbox falls somewhere between the Navisworks Freedom Viewer and the old flavor of Navisworks (Navisworks Review).

The lack of BIMsight's support for other file types (this is in part planned) other then IFC, DGN or DWG is a huge issue, especially with firms using Revit, Solidworks, or SketchUp. Moreover, point cloud support is lacking as is the ability to publish to Google Earth.

Conclusion: I realize that this is a beta release, and more features, etc. will probably be available in the final release. All in all, I think it is a useful tool in one's toolbox, but it no more a replacement for Navisworks Clash Detective then my hammer is for my framing nailer. Each has a specific use and function and should be viewed as such.

In regards to BIMsight (via Tekla Corporation) pushing the IFC issue (open source format for BIM) back into the limelight, only time will tell. IFC seems to come and go and occasionally shows promise, but there is a huge gap between the dream and day to day reality (i.e. production and getting projects out the door).

To find out more about BIMsight you can click here:


You can also read Revit Uberman Steve Stafford's review here: