Several weeks ago I got a chance to see Graphisoft’s upcoming ArchiCAD 13 with its new breakthrough Graphisoft BIM Server technology. What makes this software update so significant is what it does to allow teams to work so much more affectively, remotely if need be and with better integrated communication and teamwork management. And it does this with Graphisoft’s new Delta Server Technology.
Of course such a breakthrough approach is not to be unexpected coming from the Hungarians at Graphisoft. Additionally, such innovation should not be a surprise coming from a longtime Mac programming stalwart either. This company, Graphisoft, has been punching above its weight-class in the architectural CAD world since its founding in 1982 and is widely recognized as the leader in the 3D virtual building concept now commonly understood as BIM (building information modeling).
The Big Revolution: Staying on the Bullet Train
This is about teamwork collaboration, and the big news here is that unlike its existing self (version 12 for instance) or its largest rivals, ArchiCAD 13’s new teamwork functionality doesn’t ask you to do something as archaic as pick up the telephone in the middle of your all-electronic, computerized process, in order to collaborate affectively…the way things should work.
Not that telephones are all that “oh-so 20th century” but rather that the computer software is telling you to leave the realm of the computer–telling you to move to a different device entirely to make a phone call, to communicate–to finish the process you started on the computer.
It’s a little like taking a high-speed bullet train from Paris to Rome and then transfering onto a bus from Rome to Milan only to get back onto a high-speed bullet train to travel from Milan back to Paris.
In other BIM programs you literally are asked to make a phone call in order to communicate the part of allowing others on the team to know you would like to make a “borrow” request, to ask them to release elements for you to work on, and to complete that loop of communication. That is assuming they are not standing right next to you, which in today’s globalized world means many key members of our teams are not.
Today’s social-media generation expects the communication processes to be built into their collaborative software applications, expects them to be instantaneous and rapid. ArchiCAD 13’s built-in messaging makes the BIM leader feel completely one with the era of social media. ArchiCAD 13 feels completely modern from the point of view of what is possible today. And this inherent flexibility in ArchiCAD 13 with BIM Server provides a big leap in productivity for teams. (see image 00)
Working Remotely via BIM Server
Graphisoft’s new BIM Server is a powerful RDBMS (relational-database management system) that the company has developed entirely internally. The actual database core system is licensed by a third party. It is powerful, says Graphisoft, and it was chosen because it offered the company an industrial strength database engine that worked on both Mac and Windows. We asked what database engine was licensed but the company isn’t talking just yet.
The BIM Server technology is referred to as Delta Server™ because it actually just focuses on updating the database based on the differences or “deltas” in the model data between clients and the BIM Server. Instead of a 100 MB sync of an entire model the BIM server focuses on syncing deltas that typically may range about 100 kilobytes or 1000 times smaller than the whole BIM model.
Accessing the BIM Server is easy from remote locations. You simply type in an IP address and login. A fast home, hotel or remote office broadband Internet connection is all you really need to work effectively with the BIM Server. You are still working and saving your changes locally within ArchiCAD 13 on your own machine. What happens is you update the model when you initiate synchronization by the send and receive commands or by reserving and releasing elements.
Akos Pfemeter said the company had the option to allow automatic synchronization to occur at all times creating a real-time but very busy and potentially disturbing BIM workflow. Especially over a LAN the issue wasn’t one of “can the BIMServer technology keep up” with the real-time effects of a team working together on a single model but rather what would the user see and feel in the workflow?