• Nhut Pham

It seems like a BIM platform

As the software shows it to us: our building in 3D visual shapes, with some kind of an itemized selection of the left and a data panel on the right-hand side. There, a computer program that can present a 3D model with information should be called a BIM platform, right?

It seems like a BIM platform...
It seems like a BIM platform...

Until we try to make some changes.

Let’s pick that door over there and increase its size using that attribute panel. But the field is gray out. We have to directly adjust the door frame’s geometry to produce changes in its size attribute. It’s properly just one-directional. It’s not parametric.

Then, we want to make sure that when we defined that door type in a new style, the ones which have been of that type should be changed accordingly, automatically. So after making the door larger, we look around for similar others.

But there is none of that happened. It seems like in this software, duplicated elements are just a pure visual copy of one the other, instead of being in sync at heart. It’s not made up of smart objects.

OK, one last try. How about moving that door again an arm's length to the left?

After we finished the drag-n-drop, the door is now overlapping with the wall instead of cutting through it, leaving an empty opening at its previous place.

Maybe, they are not really wired to work together. It seems like this BIM software has a limited understanding that doors & walls, beams & columns, pipes & sinks… are interconnected by their nature.

So the shapes we see are just pure 3D geometries that don’t distinctively belong to any specific categories. They’re just the same as each other: lines, planes, cubes… There are no classifications and dependencies.

Those are some major indications of any 3D software that although can be advanced & feature-rich, are easy to be confused with a BIM authoring platform.

There were also other symptoms of a not-so-much BIM platform, but those deprecated tools are no more popular or made available in the market, like allowing changes to dimensions in one view that are not automatically reflected in other views; or making models from combinations of multiple CAD references, etc.

Those kinds of programs make changes extremely labor-intensive and provide no protection against creating inconsistent or inaccurate views of the model. They also allow for errors in the model that are very difficult to detect (similar to overriding a formula with a manual entry in a spreadsheet).

Because eventually, if a BIM model is meant to be treated like a single source of ‘truth’, then a program can be called a BIM platform if only when it can maintain consistent accountability of that ‘truth’ whenever we come back to get information out of the source model, especially when changes happen.



Author: Nhut Pham

Visuals: Cuong Vo