Trending Technologies: BIM 360 Design

To be honest I can’t stand the term Trending. Especially when my brand of technology is wrapped into it. I tend to avoid the topic. I’m more comfortable with the term reliable technologies. Yeah, that’s not a real term but I assume you know where I’m going with this. It’s been a while since I’ve actually felt there was a technology we were using that didn’t have scary gaps where it’s only a matter of time when all our stuff gets broken. To me trending means, it’s what the cool kids are doing, so you should too. Sure, day-to-day devices such as iPhones, and the fact that we are actually finally away from physically having to own a blue ray player and a tilting stack of movies is great. The thing is; however, those technologies are actually pretty old and most of the bugs have been systematically worked out. Our industry is a tad different though isn’t it? Also, our industry is now being dragged through the “I should be able to work from home” trend. The trend that seems to have emptied out offices where people would actually plug into a network because they knew doing that was the best way to open and sync a huge Revit. How on earth do we keep people productive on the technology side when someone is working from their couch, using God knows what for an internet connection.

Well, luckily the BIM 360 workflow wasn’t really a technology trend until the “I can no longer work in an office” trend hit. Brought to us by COVID. It has actually been around and a lot of the bugs have been painfully worked through.

Where did it start?

BIM 360 started off as Collaborate for Revit (C4R). It was just for Revit. Nobody else, outside of Revit users got to play in the cloud. Just like during COVID it was there at exactly the right time. About 6 years ago, my firm had just won a huge airport project where we were working with multiple firms. We were not using C4R. It was going terribly. First of all, between our Syracuse office and Orlando office, synchronizing the models was awful when it worked… but most of the time syncs were simply failing. Of course, when we needed to see an update to the other firms models we had to do the ugly process of overwriting their models. Even worse, to solve that, we were mapping our C drives to other firm’s servers. Yikes. Luckily for me (and all of 200+ users on the project) the decision was made to use the new cloud solution C4R. Not too many projects were on it nationally but hey, it couldn’t be worse. Once we moved over it was like a weight was lifted.


The inaugural BIM 360 icon in the Places panel within Revit

Because it was so brand new, there were no bells OR whistles. Just straight up direct linking and syncing. I like that. I still like that. It was so basic, you couldn’t even set up a folder structure. It was just a pile of models all in one spot. BIM 360 Docs was in beta. Although it was much better than the traditional server based worksharing (and of course Revit Server), it still would get hung up on syncs and you had to audit your models at least once a week. But the platform was there. It was happening. We were actually working in the cloud and being productive. We could see updates in other company’s models just they were sitting in the cube next to us.

Then Autodesk started adding stuff. Instead of doing Navisworks clash detection and coordination we were now “Gluing” models weekly. Yep. BIM 360 Glue. Instead of working off our F drive we were working in the cloud. And it all actually worked. That’s my favorite part.

Where are we now?

6 years later, on the design side, the combination of DOCS with 360 design made a big difference. The next move was to create and rebrand the suite of products to BIM 360 Team. It’s currently, at the time of the writing of this article, called BIM Collaborate Pro. Now the project administrator can set permissions and have a project workflow that reflects a typical workflow you would see in a traditional Windows Explorer environment. A folder for each trade or company etc. We can still direct link Revit models the “old fashioned way”, which is the way I like. We can also publish models and each trade can consume the newest version instead of constantly getting the updates. I prefer the constant update approach, but hey, each to their own. At least the choice is there. Also marking up drawings and viewing published models is wonderful. Because it’s in the cloud, non-Revit users can open the models in their internet browser. They can take dimensions, slice the models and make notes.

Also, on the construction management side Autodesk is trying their hardest to take a share of the market away from Procore which has owned the construction admin space for quite a while. The biggest advantage Autodesk is touting, is the ability to integrate with design models. It will be interesting to see if Autodesk can keep or gain traction in this market.

The current BIM 360 icon seen in the Home screen within Revit

Since most firms have at least been exposed to BIM 360, I suppose it’s the trend now. I have moved any project that is allowed (there are some federal restrictions as to if you can use it or not) over to BIM 360. It is a fantastic workflow. Outside firms that are either our clients or are our subs work with us with no delay in the passing of information. I dip you dip. I sync you sync. It’s the way to go.

And oh, yeah. Working from home on large projects is no longer a huge concern. At least not on the Revit side. Heck, I even publish point clouds to BIM 360 which runs off of Forge. Call me old fashioned though. I still feel like I need to be in the office.

Appears in these Categories