It seems it was only yesterday when we were sitting down with Graphisoft CEO Viktor Varkonyi, talking about ArchiCAD 13 with its new Teamwork 2 technology and BIM Server. Now the company–after just a short 9 months–has announced ArchiCAD 14. In a WebEx meeting between Boston and Hungary, as I watched demonstrations of version 14’s new features, I had this explained to me.
“We wanted to get back to the standard spring release,” said Akos Pfemeter, Director of Marketing, “but more importantly with ArchiCAD 14 we are completing what we started with ArchiCAD 13 and the BIM Server.” “With ‘Open’ interdisciplinary collaboration being one of the main themes for this release, now ArchiCAD users are fully equipped to be part of any design workflow regardless of the size and composition of the design theme,” continued Pfemeter, “in addition as traditionally in every ArchiCAD release we try and put an extra emphasis on serving our existing users worldwide with lots of local wishes.” This last point is about building into ArchiCAD 14 features that can serve particular markets (localities) and the company does this by listening very closely to its customers.
In this In-Depth feature article we are going to discuss and show ArchiCAD 14’s new features focused primarily on “collaboration” and round out talk about productivity features.
An Open Platform
Akos Pfemeter made it clear that Graphisoft, which is a subsidiary of Germany’s Nemeschek AG, believes in open standards in the BIM world and that the theme of “open” means more than just that. “We think the world is plural…and we think we best serve our clients [globally] if we provide them with workflow possibilities that are open,” he said. This openness can be summarized by two images below from our WebEx presentation. (see images 01-02)
Firstly, as many are already well aware, Graphisoft is not only a world-leader in BIM (Building Information Modeling) it is the world-leader in Mac/Windows “cross-platform” BIM. “In many countries the Mac is very strong in architecture and we believe in giving our customers the option to choose the hardware and OS platform they wish to work on,” said Pfemeter. As we noted in our Varkonyi interview Graphisoft continues to see uptick in interest in the Mac as Apple gains continued global influence and prominence in the digital world.
With the halo effect of iPod/iPhone, and now the double halo effect emerging with iPad, more and more people are interested in Mac OS computers. ArchiCAD 14 delivers unrivaled platform neutrality and choice and near perfect platform parity between Mac and Windows. It supports the latest Windows 7 and Mac Snow Leopard operating environments. Platform parity is important to the company, which just delivered 64-bit support on Mac with Graphisoft BIM Server in this release just as it said it would when version 13 was released.
Open also means “interoperability” and “collaboration.” In Architosh’s recently released Architosh 2010 BIM Survey Report of over 410 architects worldwide, we learned something beyond the eight major findings of the report. We learned there were 17 sub-major “unexpected findings” from our data collected. Two of those unexpected findings deal squarely with interoperability and collaboration. They are:
- Interoperability is often seen as the most troubling BIM adoption headache for firms making the switch to a BIM workflow, and;
- The IFC format is not considered to be working at the level the industry truly needs
After speaking, often directly, with global leading firms like SOM and NBBJ and working all the way down to typical smaller and mid-sized architecture practices around the US and beyond, it is clear to us that the global BIM architectural market (and global BIM AEC market, of which architecture is just a third) understands the paramount importance of affective exchange of BIM geometry and data. Therefore, what Graphisoft has contributed to the industry at large in the last two releases cannot be overstated.
In ArchiCAD 14 Graphisoft has addressed the importance of interoperability and collaboration centering its attention forthrightly on the exchange of data via both “open standards” and public-proprietary standards. By doing so the company has turned ArchiCAD 14 into arguably the world’s most “open” BIM program across any sector of BIM in AEC. (see image 03)
The vast array of data exchange possible with ArchiCAD can be see clustering around three segments of BIM: MEP, Structures and Architecture/Green Design providing architects great flexibility both in collaborating with the engineers and in having their BIM model exported for running all sorts of analysis, coordination and model checking in external applications. Key aspects to this new release are the development of IFC translators and specific Revit plugins for import and export processes. If you look at the chart above you can see that ArchiCAD 14 speaks to nearly all the major BIM programs in these three segments and has the potential to aggregate BIM information from all trades for model coordination. Some notable ones include IES, Solibri, Vico, Scia, Tekla and Revit MEP and Revit Structures. Let’s take a more detailed look at how this all works.