Behind enemy lines

Next week I am lucky enough to be visiting Autodesk University (or AU as its more commonly known) which takes place at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, USA! Of course I am ‘lucky’ for three reasons.

Firstly, a trip to the states for a week is not a cheap exercise although in reality a trip for a couple of days even to our own capital is not a cheap affair these days. My Directors have been incredibly supportive and recognised what a great opportunity this was both for the company and me as an individual. In many ways the opportunity is reward for the efforts the company has made to push forward the agenda regarding interoperability. Its been a hard road and not without its frustrations but I see a bright future ahead.

The second reason I am fortunate is that the primary reason for attending is that we were successful with our submission to present our class on IFC. Now, I have to confess that it was not my idea to submit. This came from my fellow speakers, Nigel Davies and Daniel Heselwood, who are both Directors at Evolve Consultancy. The presentation titled “IFC: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” is similar to the one we teamed up to deliver earlier in the year at BIM Show Live in London. I was sceptical we would be accepted given it contains a lot of non-Autodesk content but they are Autodesk University veterans and thought we had as good a chance as anyone. I didn’t think much of it until the day arrived when social media went mad with who had and hadn’t made it in. Luckily, we did make it!

The third reason for feeling lucky is that presenting at Autodesk University may seem a little odd for a non-Autodesk user! (although we do use Autodesk software for visualisation and testing purposes, its not our primary authoring tool). However, for me this is great news and perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity. As a practice we have been committed over the past 18 months to really interrogating where the issues with IFC file exchange exist. File exchange is about collaboration and that includes collaborating with what can be perceived as ‘rival’ software. As an industry we should not be held back by software, we have enough issues to deal with. Autodesk ‘letting us in’ is a sign that Open BIM is alive and well even on the so called ‘dark side’.

I am looking forward to seeing some of the other IFC presentations – there are 4 in total – although one unfortunately is on at the same time as ours. This always seems to happen. I also hope to talk to others about the subject to increase our understanding. There are also so many presentations to choose from and I largely intend to go to those that I can take some benefit from. In particular, these include those related to general BIM management and collaboration.

Of course it will be interesting to experience a truly different BIM environment, find out about other software developments and meet new people. We aren’t the only ones attending from the UK with somewhere in the region of 50 of the #UKBIMCrew (plus a few non-tweeters) in attendance. Fellow blogger Casey Rutland is keeping a full list of attendees here. I will report back when its all over! (minus the stuff they won’t let me talk about!! ;-))

Rob Jackson, Associate, Bond Bryan Architects

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2 thoughts on “Behind enemy lines

  1. Good luck at the conference. We have to realise that interoperability is the key to the future of BIM and I hope the delegates will be open-minded enough to recognise the work that still needs to be done. No one should fear IFC, we should embrace it! I look forward to your post-conference blog!

  2. Rob,

    Hope your trip went well. I am currently a Revit user (and former ArchiCAD user), and passionate about the use of IFC, having used it very successfully on my last project (Pioneer Square Bicester) a £38M shopping centre development for Sainsbury’s.

    I think ArchiCAD probably is ahead of Revit in IFC import/export functionality. Revit is still a little flaky on IFC export, but slowly improving. I exported an IFC today only to find some custom elements got rotated from vertical to horizontal. Revit can’t yet open an IFC object as a library object (family).

    Interoperability is key, and as you point out steelwork fabricators use Tekla, and Civil engineers Bentley software. To insist the whole supply chain use one software to build an entire BIM model/building seems uncompetitive and would stifle innovation.

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