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Open Source Tools / Open BIM

Anonymous
Not applicable
This discussion gets very interesting. I sense a lot of frustration from ArchiCAD user community. I also share that frustration and it is less about terrible new ArchiCAD release and more about diminishing faith that ArchiCAD is the best industry solution for the next x years.
Just a thought that maybe the reality of feasible business model for professional software companies is shifting and Graphisoft (Nemetschek) are too big to be able to adapt.

In many other professional fields new software packages that are super affordable (or free of charge) challenge the giants. Film post-production industry is a good example. New release of Davinci Resolve is equally good (better?) than Adobe Premier and it is completely free. We have Blender in 3D modeling business that in many areas outshines 3D Studio Max and it is completely free!
I am sure there are other cases among different professional fields that pave the way to new business models that will push professional software development further on.

Maybe sooner or later we might expect a new kid on the block that will change the game. What do you think about that?
24 REPLIES 24
Anonymous
Not applicable
Hi everyone. I was pointed to this discussion by a friend on the osarch.org forum ( https://community.osarch.org ) where we were discussing the problems with current software and how to fund alternatives. He thought this thread here might be interested in what we're doing.

Basically, very basically, we're working to strengthen opensource / libre software projects in AEC. I did an interview recently with Ralph Grabowski where you can read a bit about us ( https://upfrontezine.substack.com/p/upfrontezine-1103-open-source-architecture )

oh dear ... now I was going to start referencing people in this discussion by their user name so they'd get a notification ... I guess graphisoft hasn't updated their forum software for a while ...

Podolsky, you mentioned writing a letter expressing users frustrations and DGSketcher wonders if this would make a difference. I agree with Bricklyne Clarence that it has made a difference (I'm a Revit user at my day job). One difference it seems to have made is with some more openness. If you do want to write something I've created a page on our wiki for people on this forum, you are welcome to use to do some collaborative writing on a letter expressing your concerns: https://wiki.osarch.org/index.php?title=Talk:ArchiCAD&action=edit&section=1 ( you may want to help on other pages on the wiki as well )

What interests me in your discussion most is ideas about supporting projects bringing new ideas in developing designs for AEC. Over at OSArch we're doing lots of work, and supporting lots of work, doing exactly this. We'd love to hear from anyone who thinks this sounds interesting. Two examples of projects looking at solving similar challenges to ArchiCAD are BlenderBIM ( https://wiki.osarch.org/index.php?title=BlenderBIM_Add-on ) Add-on and FreeCAD ( https://wiki.osarch.org/index.php?title=FreeCAD ). Don't get me wrong - these are not replacements. They can do parts of what ArchiCAD does very well and much they cannot so at all. But maybe single big software packages are on the way out anyway ...

Here's my elevator pitch for why you should be interested in what we're doing:

The old software firms have dropped the ball and just make small changes to old platforms. They only support interoperability when it suits them and try and keep us locked to their product. Smaller, faster, more focused projects and developers can achieve more with less. Binding tools together with OpenBIM standards and opensource software ensures that progress and interoperability is guaranteed. Any components in your toolchain can be replaced by something better if it comes along because all the software sourcecode is open - no one can trap you with their file format or guarded proprietary tools.

So, what do people think? Is this interesting or should we keep trusting and relying on the current projects to keep us productive and relevant in our field?
Podolsky
Ace
Duncan wrote:
Hi everyone. I was pointed to this discussion by a friend on the osarch.org forum ( https://community.osarch.org ) where we were discussing the problems with current software and how to fund alternatives. He thought this thread here might be interested in what we're doing.

Basically, very basically, we're working to strengthen opensource / libre software projects in AEC. I did an interview recently with Ralph Grabowski where you can read a bit about us ( https://upfrontezine.substack.com/p/upfrontezine-1103-open-source-architecture )

oh dear ... now I was going to start referencing people in this discussion by their user name so they'd get a notification ... I guess graphisoft hasn't updated their forum software for a while ...

Podolsky, you mentioned writing a letter expressing users frustrations and DGSketcher wonders if this would make a difference. I agree with Bricklyne Clarence that it has made a difference (I'm a Revit user at my day job). One difference it seems to have made is with some more openness. If you do want to write something I've created a page on our wiki for people on this forum, you are welcome to use to do some collaborative writing on a letter expressing your concerns: https://wiki.osarch.org/index.php?title=Talk:ArchiCAD&action=edit&section=1 ( you may want to help on other pages on the wiki as well )

What interests me in your discussion most is ideas about supporting projects bringing new ideas in developing designs for AEC. Over at OSArch we're doing lots of work, and supporting lots of work, doing exactly this. We'd love to hear from anyone who thinks this sounds interesting. Two examples of projects looking at solving similar challenges to ArchiCAD are BlenderBIM ( https://wiki.osarch.org/index.php?title=BlenderBIM_Add-on ) Add-on and FreeCAD ( https://wiki.osarch.org/index.php?title=FreeCAD ). Don't get me wrong - these are not replacements. They can do parts of what ArchiCAD does very well and much they cannot so at all. But maybe single big software packages are on the way out anyway ...

Here's my elevator pitch for why you should be interested in what we're doing:

The old software firms have dropped the ball and just make small changes to old platforms. They only support interoperability when it suits them and try and keep us locked to their product. Smaller, faster, more focused projects and developers can achieve more with less. Binding tools together with OpenBIM standards and opensource software ensures that progress and interoperability is guaranteed. Any components in your toolchain can be replaced by something better if it comes along because all the software sourcecode is open - no one can trap you with their file format or guarded proprietary tools.

So, what do people think? Is this interesting or should we keep trusting and relying on the current projects to keep us productive and relevant in our field?
This is probably the best answer on this thread to all frustrations user showed. Yes, open source projects are one of the best alternatives we currently know in computer world. Of course a lot been done by commercial software development companies, but the open source software always appeared as lifebuoy during crises. Apple adopted UNIX FreeBSD as their MacOS core, Microsoft now moving into support of Linux and of course excellent example how Blender grew up into serious 3D platform in past several years, becoming strong competitor to packages like 3DS Max, Maya, Cinema 4D and similar.
We always lived in the world, where common rules applies - you can mess with free software, but if you want to have serious business - pay money. Annual prescriptions were as a guarantee of stable state of the art software solution, with knowledgeable technical support and the whole infrastructure AEC software giants are providing us. But at some moment of time anyone can ask - is it really true? When we are paying to life insurance company - does this process preventing us from accidents and disasters? Then finally fees, that goes to the company-developer, do we know how they distributed? There is a big network of sales managers, offices, representatives, call centres, that need to be funded - infrastructure, that aim to provide better communication with users, but not related to actual development process. Then let say if we imagine, that 50% of money, paid for software, goes to the company, that sales you a software; then 30% pays to companies bureaucratical machine, 10% to advertising and maybe 5% goes to salaries of programmers, who actually are working on real developments. And users got frustrated - I'm paying them a lot of money - why they still cannot fix it! The answer can be very simple - programmers are receiving very little from what been paid and real developers team is very very small to compare to amount of people just involved into selling and advertising process. Then the annual prescription can be just to pay for brand, that works more less the same way as insurance companies. I'm not saying that numbers I'm providing here are correct - I simply don't know - it just imaginary model. But I know for sure that ArchiCAD distribution network (at least 20 years ago) did work this way - company that sales you ArchiCAD is getting half. Maybe this model been taken from old Apple distribution network, because we know that Steve Jobs helped Graphisoft to establish ArchiCAD distribution worldwide, but please do not forget, that Apple since there had bad time and needed to reorganise almost everything - from computers architecture, OS, how they sale their product...
Because this is not government driven service or business, we cannot require complete transparency of finance distribution, development roadmaps or any direct responses. It's private business and information can stay private. We cannot say nothing about corruption level (when corruption can destroy even powerful countries like Rome empire) - we cannot say for sure about nothing, because we don't have information (and shouldn't have it).

Of course Open Source projects give the best alternative to all that - it's just gigs, that really do things, it's totally free and anyone can take our codes, take a look, modify and join to our development.

What big AEC software companies do have, that is not catched yet my Open Source projects - it's specific and stable platform, where all operations happens. Graphisoft was developing their platform more then 30 years, Revit - about 20 years and similar. The platform is like small operative system with virtual 3d space, working planes, main database, bunch of different settings to manage all this, API and internal programming language (GDL for example). So I might say the platform is a little bit different from one or another tool or feature we are looking at - it is a background that let the tool operate. But here is rising another discussion - which platform is better? Funny enough, we all have one common reality, where we live, work and rest - it's a same 'platform' we are building buildings with the same gravity and law of physic, with materials that are the same around the world, but in computer we need to choose which world simulation is better. And after we have chosen our virtual world we must continue to believe, that our choice was right.

It's sometimes even comic how terms like OpenBIM or Common Data Environment are not really open and not really common. If company A is using CDE called B and company C is using CDE called D - they are working in totally different working environment, that is is not common for both A and C. If OpenBIM means we can use file format, open for all AEC platforms - IFC in this case, then why this IFC can be interpreted by various platforms differently and even loose some data? It's like having a movie, that preferable to watch on Mac, because on Windows it has glitches and actors all have green faces - this is what quite often happens with IFC.

Let see where all that will bring us.
Anonymous
Not applicable
Your comments on IFC & OpenBIM point at part of the problem. I expect that ArchiCAD has been big in supporting OpenBIM & IFC because they needed interoperability to compete with other larger platforms. The promise of OpenBIM is being met by OpenSource BIM - only with open source in BIM is there true openness. Only with open source in BIM can you know if your IFC is actually representing your project correctly. And what about native IFC? Blender BIM doesn't export IFC - it's the native format. That's IFC at a whole different level. I'm not going to wait and see what happens, I'm actively working for a change, and welcome anyone curious about what OSArch is doing to come and say hi. Our software directory is full of interesting things and our forum is happy to discuss whatever is on your mind about BIM & AEC Tech.

One thing you mentioned was how ArchiCAD & Revit have tried to be complete packages. I don't think that the way forward. If we truly support openbim is doesn't need to be. Different software packages can work on the same file and each bring their strength to the project. "Suddenly" we have the promise of your preferred tool for the job being as much a part of a project as any other tool. The HVAC engineer can use their favorite tool, the architect uses theirs - and they don't have to agree on software - they just agree on openbim data structures. Speckle and LadyBug are each addressing parts of this problem in their own way. They are two superstar projects of open source in architecture.
Eduardo Rolon
Moderator
Duncan, I think that that was the slogan for Archicad 20.
Eduardo Rolón AIA NCARB
AC27 US/INT -> AC08

Macbook Pro M1 Max 64GB ram, OS X 10.XX latest
another Moderator

torben_wadlinger
Virtuoso
TMA_80 wrote:
Considering how things are going on, my expectaion is that for the next version, the M1 compatiblity will be the 'lonely' feature
Well, I don't think so. AC depends on MongoDB as it's database core and MongoDB is still not native M1 (and won't be before August 8th):
https://www.mongodb.com/community/forums/t/support-for-apple-m1-silicon/12442
https://jira.mongodb.org/browse/SERVER-42427
Anonymous
Not applicable
It's sometimes even comic how terms like OpenBIM or Common Data Environment are not really open and not really common. If company A is using CDE called B and company C is using CDE called D - they are working in totally different working environment, that is is not common for both A and C. If OpenBIM means we can use file format, open for all AEC platforms - IFC in this case, then why this IFC can be interpreted by various platforms differently and even loose some data? It's like having a movie, that preferable to watch on Mac, because on Windows it has glitches and actors all have green faces - this is what quite often happens with IFC.
Hey there, I'm the developer of the BlenderBIM Add-on, and have been working with Native IFC for a few years now. I thought I'd help shed some insight on your statement.

For any digital system to integrate, they need a shared protocol or language. If the language is proprietary, like the .Rvt format or .Dwg, your options are to purchase, or reverse engineer (and potentially be sued). Open protocols and languages, like OpenBIM and OpenCDE, are free for everybody to implement, inspect, and improve. From a technical perspective, of the two options, the open option is better.

Unfortunately, the impression of open given to users is often quite poor - and this is expected. Our industry is not actually using OpenBIM! When you export an IFC file, you are not using OpenBIM ... you are still using your proprietary, traditional BIM system, which you then translate into OpenBIM. This is akin to having a conversation with two people using Google Translate - of course there will be translation errors. The more complex your BIM data, the bigger or more unexpected the translation errors will be. From users who are living within the bubble of Traditional closed BIM vendors, the only OpenBIM they experience is Translated OpenBIM, a poor substitute for the real thing. Within ArchiCAD, there are dozens of dialog boxes and translators and options for the user to attempt to get a better translation, but unfortunately ... it remains a translation.

This is not necessarily Graphisoft's fault. Traditional BIM vendors have spent decades building a strong foundation and don't want to cast it away for a new OpenBIM-based core. Sometimes, translation is really difficult, and they do the best they can, but due to technical reasons due to the legacy Traditional BIM core, they cannot reach a good solution. Sometimes, they aren't paid to work on it - their priority is traditional BIM, and OpenBIM is a low priority for them. So there are numerous bugs in their implementations, and nobody is paid to fix it, and nobody can volunteer to fix it since they are proprietary. Also, sometimes it is user error - users have an incredibly poor understanding of how OpenBIM should work... because they are never actually exposed to it. They are instead only exposed to translation options. Imagine trying to speak a language well but you've never learned it natively and your only options are to tweak numerous settings in your online translation software.

The end result is that the only viable technical solution to natively integrated digital systems is given a poor reputation ... by the Traditional BIM vendors.

Our industry needs to move past this superficial game of integrating using Traditional BIM and Translated BIM. We need to move to Native OpenBIM.

How do we solve this? We can wait for vendors to do something, and hope that they do what we hope they will do. Or, we can start just building stuff ourselves using Native OpenBIM. Yes, it will be slow. Yes, we will have 20 years of catch-up to achieve first. But at the same time, right now, the most advanced OpenBIM developer systems are all 100% free and open source. This is our best chance at changing the industry, permanently. If we crack it, Traditional BIM will forever be a thing of the past, and we will be in full native control of our digital systems. This migration has happened already in other industries. It will happen to the AEC industry, because open source software always builds up over time. The question is, how fast will this change happen, and will you help accelerate it?

P.S. I didn't talk much about CDEs. CDEs right now are all closed from an open data perspective. People advertising an "Open API" to say they are open are misusing the term (which actually means "Public API") as an advertising trick. There is a new initiative to actually fix this called OpenCDE, but it is incredibly immature right now, and from what systems I've built and seen with OpenCDE so far, it's not yet there. If anybody advertises OpenCDE right now to you, they are probably lying.

Hope it helps.
Anonymous
Not applicable
Apologies for the double post (see previous post on page before), but I wanted to add a further comment on the completeness of a BIM package.

All Traditional BIM packages right now are incomplete by design. This is a sad fact. It may seem complete from the perspective of your discipline (e.g. as an architect), but when seen from the perspective of the entire lifecycle of our digital built environment, from design to construction to teardown across all disciplines, Traditional BIM tools are grotesquely incomplete. This incompleteness is by design. ArchiCAD was not designed to be a costing tool. ArchiCAD's database was not designed for material lifecycle systems analysis.

OpenBIM standards are designed from the beginning to be complete and holistic. IFC, for example, natively supports not only parametric architecture and engineering elements, but also cost planning, construction scheduling, lighting simulation, designed environmental properties, structural analysis, permits and liability tracking, facility management, maintenance and operations, assets and inventory systems, GIS, geolocation and horizontal construction, civil alignments & infra, and a hint of LCA.

Given the huge scope of this, it is unsurprising that Traditional BIM software which are incomplete by design to only implement partial Translations to OpenBIM. It is also the reason why IFC development takes longer ... building a wall tool is easy ... but building a wall tool that ingrates across all these disciplines correctly takes a great deal more care.

Looking past siloed Traditional BIM apps, if we want to digitally integrate fully across disciplines in the future in our built environment, there is no other choice that we have as an industry. Most vendors have no interest in covering all these scopes and integration via partial translations are and will always be flakey at best. There are a few vendors who are already pushing this (Bexel, ACCA, GeometryGym) but progress is slow. Most users are not even aware that OpenBIM has been designed for this full scope and it is already possible today to use Native OpenBIM this way. If you think you had a poor experience using imports and exports within your disciplines, wait until you try it across the full breadth of disciplines. We as users need to look past vendors and apps and start taking a data-centric approach to our digital built environment systems.

Just my 2 cents, I hope it covered an aspect that is lesser discussed in vendor-specific forums.
Podolsky
Ace
I want to remind, that Revit is not completely built on IFC as a core. IFC was created by Autodesk but as re-designing US military STEP classification. When Revit been bought by Autodesk, started work on IFC integration.
This is typical problem of main vendors - they somehow ignoring common rules and inventing their own. Funny enough that none of modern commercial platforms simply are not following national CAD standards.
Also it is obvious, that developing Open Source is much easier and it cuts several potentially idiotic and unsolvable problems caused by human greed. Any Open Source got founding. But money from this founding are not split between managers, offices, banks and agencies. Today BIM first at all is commercial swindle, but people cannot figure out how to make money of that. BIM started to suck money of their users giving promise that it happens tomorrow. Every time when I have conversation over the phone with recruitment agent, who want me to hang on paying him 30% - I'm wondering what happens in his head - why his got this formula Revit=BIM. I could imagine such a person can 'sell' position in Open Source and would like to get his 30% from that also. Very possible why projects like Cheesegrater by Rogers - where all subcontractors lost money - constantly facing to financial disasters, as anyone moving forward through the businesses, that always trying to rob someone. Maybe, the more we are rising value in life of money, the more power we are giving to corruption, that leads to self-destruction.
In this terms OS more reminds socialistic society - this typical non-commercial institution, that by the way was very efficient and, actually from where Graphisoft appeared.
It is definitely much more beneficial to use IFC as a core of program. I had an idea in to have native IFC support on BIM Cloud - then this becoming really BIM cloud - when anyone can connect with any program and be part of TeamWork.
I think global 'TeamWork' - as universal Internet protocol (language, technology) - like today HTML - must be essential for real OpenBIM.
Ahmed_K
Advisor
The stair tool, railing tool, shell, new column and beam, curtain wall, theese all redesigned tools are more compatible to ifc exchange, graphisoft tries to make balance between good design options and a robust ifc translation.
We have a lot of wishes that may look easy to realise for us, but, for programmers, surely there is complications of how the tool should work, and how the created geometry should be exported \ imported
When graphisoft introduced the opening tool, openings have their own ifc class, it can be exported as a real opening, for us, architects, it's a simple hole in a wall\slab, but in reality, that hole have to be parametric and smart enough to keep it's parameters when exporting with ifc.
I'm sure there is a lot of good features i the near future, wall, doors and windows, all tools will e updated, with more ifc compatibility,
Openbim is the future of AEC despite the efforts made by autodesk to encourage closed bim and make revit the only bim tool
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