AECbytes Tips and Tricks Issue #69 (December 19, 2013)

Mobile Model and Document Review with BIMx Docs

Thomas M. Simmons
President, ARCHVISTA Building Technologies

BIMx Docs was presented at a recent ArchiCAD User Group in San Francisco where Michael Chacon of MAC Architecture | Construction said, “BIMx Docs brings fun back to architecture." Why is this new App from Graphisoft receiving such high praise? Simple - it’s an easy to use, fun to work with mobile App that creates interactive presentations and is a valuable tool for construction document review.

So what is BIMx Docs? It’s an innovative “Hyper-model” technology that brings the full scope of Building Information Models into the dynamic touch screen environment of mobile devices. Integrated context-sensitive 2D and 3D building project navigation with smooth transitions helps even non-professionals find their way in a full BIM project. What makes BIMx Hyper-models so unique are model-based, context-sensitive hyperlinks. Conceptually, they are very much like any hyperlink on the Web. At the same time, due to their orientation in the 3D space and on 2D drawings, they add an invaluable extra dimension to understanding the model while simply navigating in it.

Creating BIMx Docs

The steps for creating a BIMx Docs file are easy. With your ArchiCAD file open, go to the 3D Window. Select the File menu and click the Publish BIMx Hyper-model command.

In the Publish BIMx Hyper-model dialog, first select a Publishing method. You can choose to Upload to the Graphisoft cloud which will require you to create an account or you can choose to Save File. If you choose to save the file, then you can transfer the BIMx Docs file to your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch using Email, DropBox, iTunes or any other file transfer service that uploads to your mobile device.

Next, give your Hyper-model a name and choose how you want your 3D Content and Layouts defined for the BIMx Docs file. Click the Next button to publish to the cloud or to select a path to save your BIMx Docs file. When finished click the Publish button.

The BIMx Docs publishing dialog will appear showing you the status for creating the model and linked documents as well as controls to stop or pause the process.

To share the BIMx Docs file through the Graphisoft Cloud, select the Upload to Cloud option in the Publish BIMx Hyper-model dialog, follow the steps for registration, and once finished, upload the file for Public Domain access or to a Private Folder. The Publicly shared files are visible for everyone to access and download on https://bimx.graphisoft.com without signing in. The Private Folder (with Premium account) is a “cloud-service” offered to BIMx users with active Software Services Agreement. Users are entitled to 5 GB free cloud storage space for each commercial BIMx license they own. For more security, you can also protect your documents with passwords.

When your BIMx Docs file is created, it is saved as a shaded model. If you want to publish the model with Global Illumination to add radiosity rendering to the model, then go to the Navigator after the BIMx Docs model has been published and open the BIMx Docs Publisher Set. In the Publisher Set, select the 3D view icon and click the Options button. In the BIMx Exports Options dialog, check the option to Generate global illumination for Realistic Shading.

Here are two examples showing how the two rendering options look. The top figure shows the image with Shaded rendering (the default option), while the lower figure shows the image with Global illumination rendering.

Sharing BIMx Docs

To share a BIMx Docs file via email, attach the file on your computer to an email message and send it to the desired recipient. The recipient then opens the email on their iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, taps the email attachment and selects the Open in “BIMx” option to open into BIMx Docs.

To share the BIMx Docs file using DropBox, upload it to a DropBox shared folder on your computer. Then download the DropBox App and navigate to the BIMx Docs file. Select the file and choose the Open In... option within the menu and select the BIMx option to open the file.

To upload a BIMx Docs file directly to your mobile device, connect your device to your computer and open iTunes. Click on the device in iTunes, choose Apps in the menu and scroll down to File Sharing. Select BIMx and use the Add... and Save to... buttons to transfer the file.

Using BIMx Docs

Once the file is open in BIMx Docs, you can begin to explore the model and linked documents. The blue icons and bubbles within the model are links to floor plans, sections, elevations, details and other linked drawings within the Hyper-model. Simply click on a link and the magic of BIMx Docs comes alive with animated movement between the model and documentation environment.


The BIMx Docs App is currently only available for iOS devices, and BIMx Docs files can only be viewed on an iOS device. BIMx Docs can be purchased in the App store for $49.99 which allows for unlimited project viewing or you can pay $4.99 to view a single project. To view the 3D model on a Mac or Windows computer or to view on Android and Kindle Fire mobile devices, you must save as a BIMx file format (note that this format does not include documentation). To view these three options in more detail and how the features compare go to the following link: http://www.graphisoft.com/bimx/#bimx_feature_comparison

Note that saving a BIMx file format is different from saving a BIMx Docs file format. To save a BIMx file, go to the 3D Window and select the Save As option from the File menu. In the Save 3D dialog select the BIMx format and click the Save button. If the Start BIMx after save option is clicked in the Save 3D dialog. then the BIMx Viewer will automatically launch when the BIMx file processing is completed. If you send your BIMx file to a client or other user, then they can download the BIMx Viewer for free for desktop and mobile devices from the following link: http://www.graphisoft.com/downloads/bimx

To learn more about modeling through priority based connections as well as how to use ArchiCAD more efficiently in your practice visit: www.learnvirtual.com/ArchiCAD.

 

About the Author

Thomas M. Simmons, the founder of ARCHVISTA, Inc. and LearnVirtual, has spoken at major industry events including AEC Systems, Ecobuild, AIACC Desert Practice Conference, and the AIACC Monterey Design Conference. He has authored several books on Building Information Modeling, ArchiCAD and architectural technology. He was formerly the Director of Technology with the award winning firm of EHDD Architects, San Francisco, and has earned a Masters of Architecture from UC Berkeley. He can be reached at tsimmons@archvista.com.

 

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