Tuesday, February 15, 2011

BIMSIGHT Review





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:

http://www.teklabimsight.com/

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

http://revitoped.blogspot.com/2011/02/tekla-bimsight-free-divided-by-free-is.html

56 comments:

  1. Good review for the most part but why get so caught up in clash reports. The model is the report... and it is Free!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi. As I said in my post, for some work flows and per instance checking during coordination meetings, this could be a great tool. A number of firms however, need the reporting feature to track week to week progress and such. They cannot submit the model as their report. They need the report to be well, a report!

    Moreover these firms are using the reports as part of their RFI and CO practice. As mentioned,it really depends on how you are using the tool and your current work flow practices.

    Think about it like this - you can make table objects in both MS Word and MS Excel. However, Excel has a lot more tools for calculating formulas and automatically updating as you make changes. Word does not do this. If you just need a simple table though and do not need the updates, then Word is fine. It just depends upon what your needs are. Both pieces of software have their specific uses.

    I would use them both! Just like I use Word and Excel as well as Photoshop and Powerpoint, Revit and Autocad and SketchUp. The right tool for the right job.

    ReplyDelete
  3. How's the visibility control in comparison? Do you have full control? And can you find the objects you want easily? I wish BIMsight would come out for Mac too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi. The visibility control is pretty good. I like that there are a number of different options. I wish Navisworks had some of these options more easily available as a quick toggle. In terms of finding things, it is a little cumbersome. When I brought in an Autocad data set, the layers did not come in, which is an issue. Zooming is a little funky as well. You could probably run it on a MAC using Bootcamp.

    ReplyDelete
  5. the comments made by the original reviewer seem like good advice for Tekla's BIMSight to base their improvements/upgrades on.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think you need to update your review soon since all the negative stuff you mentioned is now ifxed and there are some new features coming as well.

    Remember you did the review on the first BETA version.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The Tekla BIMsight 1.3 has been now released. It would be nice to hear your review about that.

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