This morning Autodesk and Trimble, the two largest AECO (architecture, engineering, construction and operations) software companies in the world, announced a significant agreement on increasing interoperability for the sake of their common customers.
The aims of the agreement are in reducing project costs associated with workflow inefficiency across different supplier technologies (or tool chains). This will benefit all stakeholders in AECO but particularly project building owners who will have more freedom to optimize technology workflows needed in today’s growingly complex work environments.
IFC and Exchanging APIs
Under the terms of the agreement, both companies have agreed to shared goals in meeting the evolving needs of the building and infrastructure industries. This requires excellent transfer of data in applications among various tool chains. Both companies are committed to supporting open industry standards such as the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) and the Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie), and can enable current and prospective Autodesk and Trimble customers working on the same project to work together seamlessly and through optimized file compatibility across applications.
The agreement says that both companies have agreed to exchange Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). And both companies have agreed to share developer tools to build and market interoperable products. This allows both companies to improve upon existing data exchanges, as well as open up new workflows between their products. Tighter product-to-product (as in Autodesk to Trimble products) integration can enable design and construction professionals to share models, project files, and other data between select Autodesk and Trimble solutions both in the office and the field, and allow for the reuse of information during design and construction throughout all phases of the project.
Commitment to Openness
“The strength of a company is best measured by its willingness to do what it is right for its customers and the industry and large. This interoperability agreement, like others we’ve signed, speaks to Autodesk’s commitment to openness,” said Amar Hanspal, senior vice president, Autodesk. “This collaboration with Trimble speaks to our shared dedication to making the building process more efficient and productive for all involved.”
“This collaboration demonstrates our mutual commitment to provide design and construction professionals with a seamless experience from both Autodesk and Trimble design-build-operate solutions,” said Bryn Fosburgh vice president at Trimble. “As a result all stakeholders across the construction lifecycle can optimize their workflow efficiency.”
A key word in this interesting agreement is the word “select” used in the press release. This meaning applying to which applications the companies will be willing to share APIs. Overall, this is a big announcement and continues the dialog Autodesk in particular has been having about “openness” and recognizing that the AECO world is too large for one single vendor to provide best-in-class software solutions. When an Autodesk VP says that it is not uncommon to see large projects require the use of up to 40-50 applications, today or in the future in particular, it means a recognition that “interoperability” is now a killer feature when comparing a company’s positions and capacity with working with, and accommodating, toolchains from rival software firms.
This is why Autodesk A360 was awarded a BEST of SHOW this year at AIA, due to is stellar positioning and technical capacity to work across platforms and interoperate with so many software file formats.