THE GRAPHISOFT 2023 BUILDING TOGETHER | CONNECT CONFERENCE and online event on October 4 in Budapest focused on the latest lineup around four core products: ArchiCAD 27, DDScad 19, BIMcloud, and BIMx.
The Graphisoft core customer connection was immediately apparent as a top priority. This was evident with direct work with close customers prior to these current formal releases, which preceded the final software updates and conference. This work involved a formal pivot from their 2022 Product Roadmap, where this year, Graphisoft introduced a technology preview program about a month prior to release in September. This was essentially an early release candidate for a limited customer group to finalize and improve the software functionality for release while allowing customers to weigh in, have a preview of the new release, and prepare their own office rollout strategies. Numbers from this new technology preview program effort were 14,000 hours logged, 3000 customers involved, and 100’s of issues resolved, which Graphisoft presented as a successful and effective path to this year’s software releases.
While not a lot of new “major release” announcements were made at the Graphisoft 2023 Building Together | Connect Conference, there were significant advances to the Graphisoft ecosystem presented and demonstrated, and the intentional idea of connection was again quite clear and intentional, as stated by Marton Kiss, VP, Product Success: A connection to the core customers building the products together (with the early, limited release), open connectivity between the core products to provide the best workflows for any project, and helping customers connect with the latest technology for better efficiency and improved results. Across all four core products, these connections resonated and centered on improving the designer’s work experience for efficiency and value with architecture at the center. Huw Roberts, Graphisoft CEO, captured the company’s spirit with this work, stating, “This is about enhancing your creative expression to infinity while taking the boring out of design.”
Core Ecosystem Advancements
ArchiCAD 27’s largest new feature was around design optioneering. A unique approach in the industry that allows very efficient use of options within the same file and with the same elements to provide early insights and informed, data-driven decisions early in the project where they have the most value. Powerful new smart guides also dynamically provide parametric placement dimensions from objects or walls to grids or related elements.
This new feature resonated, and additional dynamic guides that go even further are already in internal development (more to come!) to extend these powerful new guides to additional objects and with elements such as 2D drawing elements. Enhanced attribute management was also shown to have extensive customization while providing an intuitive and even easier path for authors to navigate. Here, connecting the designer to powerful optioneering, management, and insights across the project was a clear motivation for Graphisoft to improve the user experience in measurable ways.
BIMcloud has also been improved to be faster and more secure for online collaborations to include multi-factorial authentication and additional high-level security features, with security being a central concern for customers. The importance of connecting customers was also shown in the new Pro subscriptions to have ArchiCAD and BIMcloud together, but with multiple options for licensing (perpetual and subscription) that provide users choices depending on the situation and project requirements.
BIMx‘s new release also revolved around collaborative improvements and unified across the desktop, mobile, and cloud. From this unified quality of “presentation to collaboration” was shown with the new streamlined revisioning that BIMx can now empower. Issue creation and messaging that is Building Collaboration Format (BCF) 3.0 compatible while also interfacing with ArchiCAD’s issue organizer on iOS can happen today (with other platforms coming soon). BIMx also now includes sun positioning and dynamic environmental skyboxes. Impressively, users can also access BIM data from layouts through interactive labels that are associated at the BIM element level. New features are available to all BIMx users that include unlimited 3D file size, Favorite saving and presentation compiling, and print layouts and 3D views. Additional new features are available to BIMx Pro users that include issue creation, the ability to customize BIMx with extensions, and integrated messaging for extra collaboration at no additional charge.
DDScad 19, as a core Graphisoft offering, complements the architectural toolset at a high level to perform peak building performance. This extended seamless collaborations for MEP design with integrated calculations and comprehensive design solutions. Important product data technology and manufacturer data are accessible out of the box. Aligned with Graphisoft, this is in an Open BIM workflow for engineers to experience greater collaborative freedom and flexibility. Today, through a streamlined data connection, even the design option power in ArchiCAD 27 at the front end of a project becomes more powerful with DDScad with advanced engineering integrations, even more so in the near future.
Not just multiple mentions and themes around connections but open and seamless connections were on full display at the conference. First, the general BIMcloud accessibility through licensing was a benefit all ArchiCAD subscription members can leverage for enhanced collaborations. Next, the extension of FBX import and export, in addition to strong interoperability with ODA and OpenBIM support with IFC4 and BCF3.0 format exchange and GDL improvements, speaks to a very open and extensive data environment that Graphisoft sees as important for a robust and collaborative design community.
Part of this philosophy from Graphisoft also extends to the emphasis around the current collaborative and project management feature releases (design options, smart guides, and enhanced attribute management) where the “stretch continuum,” as Huw Roberts described this idea during the conference, of customers advancing through different levels of CAD and BIM workflows (“overlaps and gaps”) that benefits enormously from this broad-connected user focus and attention that Graphisoft insists upon for its toolset—a high priority around added value to the architectural design process they described as “embedded industry knowledge” in the software. This is also reflected in the RVT RVA v24 support, where the expansion of the manufacturer libraries will significantly grow as this “industry knowledge” capacity is realized within ArchiCAD and DDScad libraries for rapid data-driven decisions and insights.
Lastly, on open connections, the advancement of usable, open, and well-documented APIs means that more modular extensions like “One-Click LCA” for advanced sustainability work and “One-click RESA” structural work (in addition to Rhino Inside) and similar integrations are very sustainable and able to advance with the connected tool and with the core Graphisoft products advancing and integrated very efficiently and modularly.
Currently, there are quarterly Graphisoft Innovation Days (GRID) in which internal company employees across the company brainstorm in interdisciplinary teams to build product ideas for discussion, presentation, and feasibility. These can be as simple as UI tweaks or as complex as a whole new feature set or even a new tool. This internal process brings the development and product advancement closer to the customer and the product itself in a very organic way. Exciting things will come from this practice.
And it would not be 2023 without a little AI to discuss. Graphisoft’s approach follows this connected and modular extensioning structure, and the conference saw pre-production tests that use Stable Diffusion for early concept development and iteration. “Stay tuned to the social media channel” was the message, but here were a few of the images on display and things to look forward to as Graphisoft continues to accelerate design processes and insights.
In closing, this year’s Building Together event showcased Graphisoft’s steady march on its development strategy outlined a year ago, increasing openness and connections to both other Nemetschek Group tools and technologies and third-party tools, including cutting-edge AI technologies like Stable Diffusion. All of this will no doubt benefit customers and intrigue AEC pros unhappy with their current solutions.
To learn more, visit Graphisoft online here.