What is the Right BIM Content Management Platform for My Firm?

BIM content management is an essential tool that saves AEC firms and Owners/Operators both time and money. While the benefits of implementing a system are straightforward, deciding which system is right for your firm’s needs is more complicated There are several BIM content management providers on the market and several key factors to consider while evaluating the right solution for you. Obviously features are important, as not all BIM content management providers have the same capabilities. Additionally, cost as well as training and implementation of a BIM content management platform are also critical attributes  to consider.

In this post, we will discuss the features of the leading BIM content management providers to give a brief overview of how they compare. To download a comprehensive, third party competitive analysis of the leading content management platforms, please click here.

CTC HIVE

HIVE is “…an industry leading content management system developed specifically for the AEC industry. Firms can organize, manage, set permissions and ensure the latest content is kept up to date and available for all project participants…”

HIVE has many features that are appealing to help with managing content:

•Dual Cloud based/Locally hosted system

•Interoperability with Revit

•Supports Multiple File Types and Libraries

•Support Type Catalogs

•Loading Individual Types

•Content Rating

•Manages System Families, Drafting Views, Schedules, Model/Detail Groups and Sheets

•View Parameters Directly in Application

•Custom Preview Images

•Meta tags

•Favorites per user

•Load Content in Batch

•See Active Project Content

•Permissions for Administrators and Libraries

•One-click / drag-and-drop loading

•BIM Data Review of families loaded/placed/purged with each sync

•Search by Type Name and Parameter

There are a few features that are lacking:

•Does not Manage Legends, Materials and Fill Patterns

•No automatic Meta Tagging

•Can contain duplicate content (same name)

•No manufacturer-provided content available

•Cannot modify Parameters in Families

•Does not provide automated Revit Version upgrades

•Self-serve Account Setup

•Backup & Restore Data

•Open API

•Interoperability with AutoCAD, Civil 3D and Microstation

•Free Version

Overall, HIVE is a robust BIM content management solution with many features that allow its users to be proficient in their work.

Avail

Avail allows your company to, “…bridge content silos so your design teams can search and access massive amounts of information quickly.”

Some of their key features:

•Dual Cloud based/Locally hosted system

•Interoperability with Revit

•Supports multiple file types and libraries

•Support Type Catalogs

•Loading Individual Types

•Manages System Families, Drafting Views, Schedules, Model/Detail Groups and Sheets

•View Parameters Directly in Application

Search by Type Name and Parameter

•Meta tags

•Favorites per user

•Can contain duplicate content (same name)

•Permissions

•Administrator and Library-specific Permissions

•Self-serve Account setup

•Free Version

•One-click / drag-and-drop loading

•Dockable UI

•Project Health Analytics

•Automatic Meta Tag from Subfolders and Parameters

Some things that could be improved:

•Content Rating

•Manages Legends and Fill Patterns

•Change Management / Versioning

•Saved search results / shared search results

•Modify Parameters in Families

•Content Request Management / Workflow

•Automated Revit Version upgrades

•Content Approval Process

•Backup & Restore

•Open API – Content and Projects

•Interoperability with AutoCAD, Civil 3D and MicroStation

•Review families loaded/placed/purged with each sync

AVAIL provides many ways to search out and find content for improved workflow.

Content Studio

Content Studio’s “…vision has always been to create a platform that turns BIM object management into a quick and seamless process. With Content Studio, our vision is now a reality.”

Here are a few of their key features:

•Locally Hosted

•Interoperability with Revit

•Multiple libraries

•Support Type Catalogs

•View Parameters Directly in Application

•Search by Type Name and Parameter

•Custom Preview Image

•Meta tags

•Saved search results / shared search results

•Loading Individual Types

•Content Rating

•Manages System Families

•Manages Model/Detail Groups

•Permissions for Content Approval Process, Administrators and Libraries

•Self-serve Account setup

•One-click / drag-and-drop loading

•Load Content in Batch

•See Active Project Content

A few things that could make it better:

•Does not manage Legends, Materials and Fill Patterns

•Does not manage Shared Parameters Text File

•Change Management / Versioning

•Automatic Meta Tag from Subfolders and Parameters

•Favorites per user

•Support manufacturer-provided content

•Modify Parameters in Families

•Automated Revit Version upgrades

•Generic content available through platform

•Backup & Restore

•Open API – Content and Projects

•Free Version

•Dockable UI

•Interoperability with AutoCAD, Civil 3D and MicroStation

•Project Health Analytics

•Review families loaded/placed/purged with each sync

Kinship

Kinship says they provide “…everything you need to manage your content, projects and team in Revit.”

Here are a few features that stand out:

•Cloud based

•Interoperability with Revit

•Multiple libraries

•Support Type Catalogs

•Loading Individual Types

•Manages System Families, Drafting Views, Model/Detail Groups and Sheets

•View Parameters Directly in Application

•Search by Type Name and Parameter

•Custom Preview Image

•Meta tags

•Automated Revit Version upgrades

•Active Project Content (able to browse content in current project)

•Content Approval Process

•Administrator and Library-specific Permissions

•Technology / Administration

•Application Interoperability

•One-click / drag-and-drop loading

•Dockable UI

•Interoperability with AutoCAD, Civil 3D and MicroStation

•Project Health Analytics

•Load Content in Batch

Some features that could improve the platform:

•Support multiple filetypes

•Content Rating

•Manage Legends, Materials, Fill Patterns and Schedules

•Manage Shared Parameters Text File

•Automatic Meta Tag from Subfolders and Parameters

•Favorites per user

Support manufacturer-provided content

•Saved search results / shared search results

•Modify Parameters in Families

•Content Request Management / Workflow

•Generic content available through platform

•Can contain duplicate content (same name)

Modify Parameters in Families

Content Request Management / Workflow

Generic content available through platform

Can contain duplicate content (same name)

Self-serve Account setup

•Open API – Content and Projects

•Free Version

•Dockable UI

•Interoperability with AutoCAD, Civil 3D and MicroStation

Self-serve Account setup

•Open API – Content and Projects

•Free Version

•Dockable UI

•Interoperability with AutoCAD, Civil 3D and MicroStation

UNIFI Labs

“UNIFI Labs is a software company focused on providing the most comprehensive BIM content life cycle solutions for the building industry.”

UNIFI provides three main offerings for their customers. Along with content management (UNIFI Pro), they also provide high quality manufacturer content (UNIFI Connect), and health insights into Revit projects and files (Project Analytics).

UNIFI has many features that improve workflow:

•Cloud based – Can access content anywhere there is internet

•Interoperability with Revit, CAD,  and MicroStation

•Supports multiple filetypes

•Multiple libraries

•Support Type Catalogs

•Content Rating

•Manages System Families, Drafting Views, Legends, Materials, Fill Patterns, Schedules, Model/Detail Groups and Sheets

•Manages Shared Parameters Text File

•View Parameters Directly in Application

•Search by File Name, Type Name, Parameter, Category, Material Class and Tags

•Change Management / Versioning

•Custom Preview Images

•Meta tags with automatic Tagging from Subfolders

•Favorites per user

•Support manufacturer-provided content

•Saved search results / shared search results

•Content Request Management / Workflow

•Content Analytics

•Automated Revit Version upgrades

•Load Content in Batch

•Permissions for Content Approval Process, Administrators and Libraries

Backup & Restore data

•Open API

•One-click / drag-and-drop loading

•Interoperability with AutoCAD, Civil 3D and MicroStation

•Project Health Analytics

•Review families loaded/placed/purged with each sync

There are a few features that could be included for improvement:

•Cloud based – Cannot access content when internet is down

•Lacks automatic Meta Tagging from Parameters

•No ability to see Active Project Content

•No ability to view original source of content in Cloud

•No Free Version

UNIFI really packs a punch when it comes to overall features and functionality. There are very little drawbacks considering the endless ways UNIFI helps firms gain efficiency.

“UNIFI is the gold standard for managing Revit families.”
Marcello Sgambelluri 

With all of the options available, choosing the right Content Management System can be stressful and committing to something without understanding what features matter to your use case and how each provider’s functionality compares  can be a difficult decision. Seeing each content management provider for what they can and can’t provide should be a helpful start to adopting a Content Management System. For a downloadable chart of how features among the leading BIM content management platforms compare,  click here.

For more information on how BIM content management systems compare, check out this webinar detailing Marcello Sgambelluri’s objective, third party competitive analysis on leading BIM content management platforms.

 To get started with UNIFI, the industry leading content and data management solution and platform of choice for Interior Architects, Stantec, Katerra, HDR,  CannonDesign, and 40,000 other users, contact us for a demo today.

July 29 @ 11 AM PDT: Webinar Invite

You’re invited to join our webinar, “The Future of BIM” with Bill Allen and Ben Glunz on July 29 at 11 am PDT.

Space is limited, please register below to secure your spot.  

How is BIM Content Managed?

How is BIM Content Managed

As BIM content management continues its upward trajectory there are many things to consider when implementing a system. You may find yourself asking questions such as, how will my content be hosted? How long does it take to get started and to adopt a BIM content management system? Will it disrupt our current workflow? Although each system is different, we will consider these questions and how each one will affect BIM content management adoption.

How will my BIM content be hosted?

There are several different ways BIM content can be hosted, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. We will quickly cover a few common ways BIM content can be hosted and what the pros and cons of using each method entails.

Local Drive Storage

How is BIM Content Managed

The tried and true method for storing content has been around since almost the beginning of time. Although storing locally has some advantages it’s starting to fall behind in the file storage race.

Pros of Local Storage:

1.Speed

Storing data on a local hard drive or server is faster than uploading to the cloud and there is no need for an internet connection.

2. Security

Hosting locally gives you full control of your backups, giving you better control of who accesses your data. If your drives are disconnected from the network, your data is safe from outside attacks.

•Cons of Local Storage:

1.Storage Limitations and Upgrading

As your files and data grow, upgrading your hard drives will be required. This can be a costly and difficult process.

2. Backup

Using local drives requires backup in case of either an on-site disaster or inevitable hard drive failure. Off-site backup is smart but each time your data needs updating, your off-site backups need updating as well. This can be a hassle and time-consuming.

3. Accessibility

Storing files locally means you only have access locally. If you are traveling or in a business meeting off-site, your files are not accessible without physically bringing them with you.

Wide Area Network (WANs)

How is BIM content managed

If you’re unfamiliar with a WAN, it is basically a computer network that spans a relatively large geographical area. Typically, a WAN consists of two or more local-area networks (LANs). WAN’s have been around for quite some time with roots back to the 1970’s.

•Pros of a WAN:

1. Performance

Unlike with the internet, your data does not have to compete with others for bandwidth. You get continuous, unimpeded access to bandwidth, which allows your business to avoid lags not uncommon to the internet.

2. Privacy and Security

A WAN provides a direct, dedicated connection through which your data can pass. This limits opportunities for others to intercept your data as it is in transit between locations. 

•Cons of a WAN:

1. Upfront and Maintenance Costs

Implementing a WAN will require investment in hardware, software, circuit costs, and testing. Once implemented, you will continue to incur certain WAN-specific costs such as managing the hardware, software, and other WAN components.

2. Security

WANs offer many privacy advantages, but all networks have vulnerabilities. WANs require specific security measures be added to your IT security capabilities.

Cloud Storage

How is BIM content managed

The new kid on the block, cloud storage is really taking shape and becoming a very popular choice for many businesses today. There are many reasons to love cloud storage but also a few things to consider.

•Pros of Cloud Storage:

1. Accessibility

Access your files from anywhere that has an internet connection.

2. Updating and Syncing

When changes are made to a file, it will be synced and updated across all of your devices that are accessible to the cloud.

3. Security

Cloud security has really come a long way and today is a fully secure and viable option. Cloud security providers go to added lengths to make sure your files don’t get accessed by someone who shouldn’t.

4. No storage limitations

Unlike local drives, cloud storage can grow with your business and there is no need to upgrade hard-drives as your files grow.

5. Data Redundancy and Replication

Most cloud storage providers keep multiple copies of your files to reduce any likelihood of data loss.

•Cons of Cloud Storage:

1. Internet Connection

Cloud based storage is dependent on having an internet connection. If you are on a slow network, or without the internet completely, you may have issues accessing your files.

Getting Started and Adoption of a BIM Content Management System

Deciding on the right BIM content management can be a complicated and stressful decision. It’s important to choose the system that works best for you and your company. Each BIM content management provider will have different ways of hosting your content as well, so weighing those options is critical.

All BIM content management systems will have some form of onboarding and implementation. Whether that be self-paced onboarding through articles, videos, and tutorials, or trainings provided by the BIM content management supplier, learning and adopting a new system will take some time and effort. Just as with choosing the right file hosting format, choosing which the right BIM content management platform can make all the difference.

Fortunately, UNIFI is here to help. Our onboarding process is top notch with qualified professionals who will make the undertaking not just painless, but. enjoyable. We have many self-paced onboarding resources as well to make the process seamless. UNIFI’s support team prioritizes responsiveness to ensure we’re always here to help and combat any roadblocks you may encounter. To get started with the industries leading content and data management solution, don’t hesitate to reach out for a demo today. 

July 8 @ 11 AM PDT: 15 Min to BIM Invite

You’re invited to join our 15 Minutes to BIM webinar, “Shared Parameters Made Easy” Join us to get back to the basics and explore how to build a library adaptable to change.

What is BIM Content Management?

The famous 18th century statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke once said, “Good order is the foundation of all things.” Obviously, he was not speaking directly about BIM content management, but anyone who has dealt with managing such content knows this saying rings true.

BIM Content Management

Any design professional working in the industry understands how difficult and time consuming BIM content management can be without the right platform in place. As libraries and content grow over the course of time, it can be overwhelming to keep track of all the content that has been accumulated from project to project.

Unfortunately, the typical file folder structure on today’s operating systems does not lend itself to finding and managing BIM content in an efficient way. What typically happens is design professionals pour through old project files searching for content they’ve used in the past, only to not find it or realize it’s not what they need.

What is BIM Content Management?

So, what exactly is BIM content management? It is so much more than simply storing and finding content. It is a solution that facilitates the collecting, ordering, sorting, searching, updating, auditing, and archiving of content.

Fortunately, there are many BIM content management solutions available today. Hive, Avail, Content Studio, Kinship and of course UNIFI all provide BIM content management. You can see how these platforms compare to one another here or listen to Marcello Sgambelluri’s content management evaluation here. 

What’s Wrong with Using a File Folder Structure to Manage my BIM Content?

Sadly, ignoring problems does not make them go away. As stated by Earl Wilson, “Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.”

BIM content Management

In a world of do’s and do not’s, all design firms have two choices: ignore the problems they are currently facing by not using a BIM content management system or bite the bullet and implement said system. It can be a scary and difficult proposition, but all design firms, no matter the size, should seriously consider adopting a BIM content management system.

One thing to keep in mind prior to implementing any BIM content management system is first, how you want to set up your library structure, and second, setting up a standard naming convention for your content. Implementing these two practices will keep your content organized and allow users to not only quickly find content, but also recognize what the content is by the name alone.

Is the Cost of a BIM Content Management System Really Worth It?

As with all big purchases, making the decision to adopt a BIM content management system can be time consuming and difficult. Many questions need to be answered. How much will it cost?BIM Content Management How difficult is the implementation? What is the return on investment (ROI)? Therein lies the conundrum.

Consider the following case study conducted by UNIFI in January of 2019. Nearly 100 clients were polled regarding search capabilities. Customers provided a range (low to high) of searches per week per designer. Customers provided a range (low to high) of how many minutes it took to search and find content prior to utilizing UNIFI, and after implementing UNIFI. UNIFI compiled the low range on both survey questions to provide hard numbers for firms to understand ROI. UNIFI recognizes that these figures do not provide the full value of ROI as it is limited only to search and load exercises; however, this should provide an adequate representation of a starting point for a firm’s value in implementation.

The following numbers are based on a firm size of 25 users with an average salary of $65,000 per year:

BIM Content Management

“After 5 years of a competitor product with little implementation and user interest… We switched to UNIFI with what could be described as a 10 fold increase in usage by our teams.”

 – Mike Engel, Design Technology Manager – ESG

As one can see, based on these numbers a firm with only 25 users can save more than $125,000 per year. This study also only takes into account searching and loading of content. Most BIM content management systems will provide many more features than just searching and loading of content. The survey also only takes into account the user’s salary and not lost revenue based on the firm’s billable hours so it’s easy to see how a quality BIM content management system will pay for itself.

Conclusion

BIM content management systems have steadily progressed and become readily available. Not implementing such a system can be a detriment to any firm not utilizing these resources. As shown, the payoff is well worth the time and cost of implementing a BIM content management system. The real question that needs to be posed is, “Can I afford to wait?” If the answer is no, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a demo today. 

What is BIM Content?

The design and construction of buildings has been around as long as recorded history. As technology has evolved, so has the sophistication of buildings. In today’s world we utilize that technology to create the most complex buildings the world has ever seen. One of the greatest technological tools we use today is Building Information Modeling or BIM.

The concept of BIM has been around for more than 40 years. Since that time, it has progressed a long way, reaching its pinnacle of popularity today.

BIM Content

According to Autodesk, BIM is, “an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure.”

BIM would not be possible today without the software technology that has been created and improved throughout the years. There are many BIM software products available, such as Revit, Archicad or Microstation, to name a few.

Each of these BIM software programs are useful in many ways, but they would be unusable without the BIM content needed to create and populate the BIM models. Therein lies the biggest challenge with BIM software, finding and creating quality BIM content.

BIM Conte

The three previously mentioned BIM software products use BIM content to achieve the goals of the designer. Revit uses Families, Archicad uses GDL objects, and MicroStation uses DGN files. All of these BIM content programs use BIM content in a similar way.

One of the great things about BIM software is the 3D capability it has. Designers are able to use that 3D technology to better understand and convey how a building will look and come together. But BIM is more than just a pretty 3D picture. Sometimes we forget the “I” in BIM is for information.

That is where BIM content really comes into play. Quality BIM content will not just be a 3D representation of the object but will also have parameters and information associated with it built right into the content. AEC professionals and building owners can leverage this information to manage a buildings lifecycle – before, during, and long after construction.

Unfortunately, not all BIM content is created equal. Any design professional will tell you it’s much easier to design a quality building with quality BIM content. Finding and using good BIM content can be a challenge, but one that is worth the effort. There are many BIM content resources out there but sifting through it to find quality content is all part of the challenge.

Good BIM content will provide exceptional 3D models, with a low polygon count, and plenty of useful information built in. Bad BIM content typically consists of overly complex 3D models with no information built in. Bad BIM content can be more of a hindrance than a help in creating BIM models by inflating file size and only doing half the job by not providing the critical information that is needed.

BIM content

In addition to the modeling benefits of good verse bad content, there are costs associated with good and bad content management Good content is easy to find, place; quick to document, schedule, and coordinate and can be found in 2 minutes by implementing a solution like UNIFI. Poorly managed content on the other hand is hard to find, nearly impossible to place, does not document, schedule. Or coordinate correctly. It can take up to 20 minutes to find and even crash your Revit projects resulting in costly downtime. Please click here for a downloadable chart that showcases the cost associated with good and bad content management.

In conclusion, BIM technology is a wonderful and useful tool that can be used to create complex and beautiful buildings for all the world to enjoy. BIM content is essential to that task and is a must to the longevity and lifecycle of any building. Managing that BIM content properly will save your firm tens of thousands annually. To get started with the industry leading content and data management solution, contact us for a demo today.

June 10 @ 11 AM PDT: 15 Min to BIM Invite

You’re invited to join our 15 Minutes to BIM webinar, “Tag You’re It! – How Effective is Your Tagging Strategy?” Join us to get back to the basics and explore how to build a library adaptable to change.

Pro 3.6 & Portal 2.13 Release Notes

Overview

We’re thrilled to announce our latest software update is available now! Pro 3.6 and Portal 2.13 includes support for Revit and AutoCAD 2021, enhanced support for large shared parameter files, and bug fixes. 

Keep reading for the full scoop and please note that in order to access these enhancements, you will need to  update your platform.

Highlights

•Revit 2021 and AutoCAD 2021 Support

UNIFI is now compatible with Revit and AutoCAD 2021. In addition, we removed support for Autodesk versions 2015 and older.

Please note that families saved in Revit 2015 and older can still be uploaded to UNIFI and will be automatically upgraded to all currently supported Revit versions.

•Shared Parameter Management Enhancement

We’ve enhanced the functionality of our Shared Parameter Management feature! You will now see a pending version notification appear for large shared parameter files that take some time to process.

BUG FIXES

We’ve fixed an issue in Project Analytics where syncs from models with large amounts of collected data were not displaying in the Project Analytics dashboards.

Wrap up:

Thanks for being a valued UNIFI customer and taking the time to get the details on our latest update. We hope you find the updates and fixes in this release useful.

While we have you, we want to reiterate that journeying with our customers through their BIM data management strategies remains at the forefront of our focus.

To support this, we created step-by-step videos and articles that walk you through every detail of our platform in our Knowledge Center.

Utilizing this resource is a must to get started in UNIFI, touch up your skills, learn a new feature, or add a new user from your team to UNIFI.  If we can help your team adopt UNIFI or implement these recently released enhancements, please don’t hesitate to  reach out here for additional training.

As always, if there’s a feature or update you’re hoping for in a future release please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Revit Rendering

Revit Rendering

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, which has never been truer than in the building industry. Never before has technology been so powerful such that it allows designers to showcase their work. What was once only available to those who had the amazing skill of producing hand renderings has blossomed with technological advancements to be available to everyone no matter their skill level. Autodesk has made it exceptionally easy to produce high quality images. With their built-in Revit rendering feature, you are set up for success from the start. After modeling a building, with just a few easy adjustments in the settings, Revit rendering allows for great results. Here is a quick overview of that process as well as a few tips, tricks, and best practices.

The key to a quality Revit rendering  is materials and lighting. Having high quality materials, many of which are built into Revit, will make or break an image. Having photorealistic materials gives the viewer a real-world look into your design.

Lighting, along with shadows, is also key. Setting up the sun location as well as any artificial lights will greatly enhance the results of a Revit rendering and provide depth as well as realism to your image. As with anything, practice makes perfect with these settings. If one relies on their real-world experience, adjusting materials and lighting will become a breeze.

After modeling your building and setting up the desired view, the rendering process begins. Simply clicking the View tab followed by the Render icon, the dialog box for the render settings will appear.

Revit Rendering

Many rendering programs can be overwhelming with all of the settings associated with it.

Revit Rendering

The Revit rendering tool keeps it simple but also provides great results. As the Revit rendering dialog box appears you can see that all the functions are very self-explanatory, providing just the tools you need.

The first setting to take note of is the Quality drop down menu. It is recommended that you start off running the rendering as a draft. This will give you a quick view of materials, lighting, and composition to see what adjustments need to be made. Once you’ve achieved the desired results as a draft, then you can work your way up to High or even Best, to produce a top quality image.  

The output settings determine how large and how many pixels the Revit rendering will have. The larger the image the longer a Revit rendering will take. Start small and only render a large image when you are ready for final output.

Revit Rendering

In the lighting section you are able to pick and choose different lighting schemes. These can be interior or exterior and range from “Sun only” to “Artificial only” to “Sun and Artificial” lights. In the sun settings dialog box you have the option to do a sun study, set the location, date and time, and choose a solstice or equinox. You can also make adjustment to your artificial lights.

The background settings allow you to change the sky appearance of your Revit renderings. These range from no clouds to very cloudy, to a selected color, an image or even a transparent background to place your own image in Photoshop. The background feature allows you to achieve the exact desired results.

Revit Rendering

The image settings provide a powerful tool to adjust the image exposure in either pre or post-production, saving you the time of having to work in Photoshop. Play with these settings until you achieve your desired results. You can also save to project or export to an image file.

 

As with anything, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to jump in there and play with different settings to see exactly what they do and to achieve the perfect rendering.

It can feel a little daunting to start out in the world of Revit rendering, but the feature is one that takes the difficulty out of creating beautiful, photo-realistic images. As an architect I have seen the delight of a client as I’ve shown an amazing rendering of their space and how that can change their perspective on the design. Gone are the days where we have to only rely on 2D line drawings to tell the story of a building. With BIM and Revit rendering, no question has to be left unanswered.    

Revit Rendering
Image courtesy of Dr. Osama Hassan Ismail Ali and Autodesk Rendering

 

May 20 @ 11 AM PDT: Webinar Invite

You’re invited to join our webinar, “Let’s Talk About Content Management” with Marcello Sgambelluri on May 20 at 11 am PDT.