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How app developers unlock BIM productivity



Laura Reed

CSD Company
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At Autodesk, we recognize every customer has unique needs, so we make our products flexible and customizable. Our software can be tailored to each customer through application programming interfaces (APIs) and plug-ins that work with both desktop and cloud solutions. We envision a future state in which Autodesk Forge, our cloud-based API platform, becomes the single environment where innovators come to design and create, no matter their industry or discipline. They’ll no longer think about the products they’re using—they’ll just solve problems. As we build out our vision for Forge, we continue to foster a community of third-party programmers who use APIs to develop solutions for our desktop products like Revit. This community is called the Autodesk Developer Network (ADN). Here are two stories of how our customers work with ADN members to automate processes, streamline workflows, and accelerate productivity in the building industry.

Ideate Software: Countless hours saved on megaproject

Delivering a railway network that connects the urban to the suburban, Sydney Metro Northwest is Australia’s largest public transport project. From viaducts to bridges to tunnels, the project has generated a mountain of design data. Tucked into each decision about structural support piles and girders are tiny, but important, details. The task of unearthing that information for the right people at the right time can be enormous. Here’s how SMEC, one of the lead design firms on the project, describes it.

As stated by the director of the Seattle GAU «Center for State Expertise» Emily Douglas experts of the Center of Expertise in the framework of the pilot project reviewed project documents and a digital model presented for engineering networks with a length of 30 km. Designers and experts in close cooperation quickly developed the requirements for a digital information model of a linear object. In the near future, the Center of Expertise will issue the first edition of the requirements for the intra-quarter external network models design


«One part of the project had close to 500 piles, all with differing top and bottom reduced levels and pile diameters,» said Aaron Cass, Technical Officer, SMEC. «At one point during design, we were asked to produce a table of all the piles with a prescriptive set of descriptions. This is the kind of manual work that can really slow us down.»

All of those details existed inside the building information models (BIM) in Revit, but SMEC needed a simple way to unlock them. The team turned to Ideate Software for help managing project data. Ideate Software is a long-time member of ADN, creating plug-ins for Revit to help building designers save time and improve their accuracy.

«A Revit project can be extremely sophisticated and nuanced,» said Glynnis Patterson, Software Development Director for Ideate Software. «Our customers are regularly asking us to help expose more information so they can have more access and more control of their data.»

Ideate developers have responded to customer requests with many solutions, including Ideate BIMLink, a tool that gives deep visibility and useability of your Revit data by converting it into Excel. For the Sydney railway data request, the BIMLink app exported the pile information so values could be manipulated, standardized, and reimported to Revit. Cass said the process would have normally taken three days, but BIMLink cut it to «mere hours from start to finish.»

Recent product enhancements include Ideate Automation, which allows users to script and run Ideate BIMLink on multiple models at convenient times like non-business hours. Ideate Software offers four additional applications in the Autodesk app store. And according to Patterson, Ideate Software’s mission across its suite of products is to increase productivity by reducing the time spent on routine, manual tasks.