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Today’s post is a discussion of current industry trends, rather than our usual CAD tip post.

I read an interesting article today on AUGI.com, the website of the Autodesk User Group International. It was written by Brian Andresen, who is Director of CAD/BIM Systems with WLC Architects in Berkeley, California. The article was very thought-provoking, and I thought I’d share it with our readers.  There’s a link to the article at the end of this post.

The article recounts Brian’s experiences working inside two different architecture firms, one large and one small, while each firm was navigating a transition from CAD (Computer Aided Design) to BIM (Building Information Modelling) in their respective office’s workflow.  In Brian’s case, both firms were moving specifically from AutoCAD to Revit software.

Getting from Point A to Point B

The real-world path from point A to point B, and the ideal path, which occurs in geometry and dreams

The CAD to BIM transition is on the minds of many firms today, and it’s a tough challenge, whether your firm is large, small, or in between.

Around the world, we’re in a time of  big changes in our digital design and documentation tools. Architecture, interior design, and engineering firms, as well as the design departments of other types of companies, are struggling with whether, and how, to move from CAD to BIM.

When you’re a business owner and you’ve invested years of time and countless person-hours building your libraries, standards, and workflow systems around CAD, and now you see the whole world apparently shifting to BIM, what is the best path to take? Should you look at it purely from a business standpoint, profits versus expenses, or do you give more weight to other factors, such as cool, creativity-enhancing design tools, attracting young talent, and the appearance of being cutting-edge, or behind-the-curve?

Do you jump in all at once with the new technology, or do you move more slowly, waiting for things to sort themselves out? And how do you reconcile the short-term financial and productivity setbacks, which are certain to come, with the possible, yet far from certain, long-term benefits that many BIM proponents say will eventually be realized?

It’s not an easy question to answer, in my opinion.  I, too, have worked inside large and small firms who were struggling with this transition question. As someone who enjoys working in both AutoCAD and Revit, I was able to contribute in either software environment. I was also able to help judge which platform was better suited for a new incoming project.

I could make a strong case for doing everything in AutoCAD.

I could also make a strong case for doing everything in Revit.

My personal opinion? I see a place in the future for both platforms. They may continue to run side-by-side, or they may merge into a single hybrid software platform, with each component maintaining its individual functionality.

If I were predicting, I would say neither software type will completely supplant the other. While Revit has many compelling strengths, it also has undeniable weaknesses in areas where AutoCAD has solid strengths that make it the tool of choice.

If I’m right, and both platforms continue into the future more or less in parallel, that assumption leads to a host of other tricky questions related to efficiency, office standards, workflow standardization, training, and staffing.

Nobody said it was going to get simpler, or easier. And if they did, they were mistaken.

That’s why I advise my college students to take continuing education classes and become fluent in both AutoCAD and Revit. It is absolutely do-able. I recommend this because I believe it’s important for all of us to be well-prepared for whatever comes in today’s highly unsettled professional services marketplace.

Looking at the common term “CAD/BIM,” with its central slash, reveals the unresolved, schizophrenic nature of today’s digital design and documentation work environment. Maybe, come to think of it, the term Digital Design & Documentation, or DDD, call it “triple-D” for ease of speaking, might become the new, slash-free, unified term for future high-tech-systems-based design departments and personnel. (Insert sophomoric joke here.)

I’d love to get your thoughts on this matter. What are your experiences? Please leave your comments below.

As promised, here’s a link to the AUGI article. Prepare to be a bit shocked by the featured photo.

BIM Implementation Article

Thanks for reading, and Keep on CADDing!  🙂

Mark

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