cross-159805_150Many of my colleagues have recently expressed concern regarding the future of Revit. It’s not a terribly difficult observation to make; from the end-user perspective, Revit (the client application) has shown a reduced pace in the development of new features. Yes, there’s seemingly been for a number of years the long list of requests for better or new features in the core Revit product that are still unmet. So, is Revit dead? Certainly not. I don’t think any of you should be worried. I’m very hopeful for the future of this tool, and feel this lull is merely the calm before the storm.

Will something replace Revit as the de-facto BIM application? Perhaps. Nothing lasts forever. I cannot predict what Autodesk or its competitors will do over the next decade, however I’m sure we will see some significant advances in technology. Infinite Computing? What the naysayers may be missing is that Revit is no longer just a single desktop-based client application. It has evolved into a platform, or perhaps something more like a BIM ecosystem. It’s about connected-ness.

Autodesk is in this for the long-haul. And it’s not just about you and I, it’s about the next generation and ensuring the company can engage and continue to provide relevant innovation. Take for instance the Design The Future US campaign, to donate tools to STEAM schools across the United States.

I sincerely believe the Revit development team has taken a page from the Apple playbook. Much like the iPhone has become a new digital hub, replacing the Mac, the new, more mature Revit ‘the platform’ is replacing the Revit ‘the client’ of old. Revit is repositioning itself to replace, well Revit. The other page they are taking is more secrecy, which makes one wonder if they might just be working on that Next Big Thing.

This new role as platform is allowing Revit to stretch its legs and become even more important as it moves away from being perceived edge of design and focussed more exclusively on documentation. Revit has now and will become more deeply integrated with the core of planning, conceptual design, detailed design, fabrication, and operation of our built environment. Take, for instance the tools that integrate with BIM 360 Glue and Field as more details of the upcoming release are revealed.

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The Revit 2015 BIM 360 ribbon panel

To better predict what Autodesk might have up its sleeve, let’s look at the shape of the current ecosystem that may not be completely obvious, especially to those who only use a handful of these tools and services.

Let’s look at what we know from publicly available information:

  • With ‘prosumer’ iOS apps like FormIt and SketchBook mobile in the iOS Apps Store and Google Play, in-browser apps like Project ShapeShifter and Fusion 360, and mature professional creation tools like Maya and AutoCAD for Mac – the exclusive focus on Windows-based desktop applications is long behind us
  • Autodesk is investing heavily in the cloud – by some accounts up to 500 million USD per year
  • With Rendering, Daylight, Energy, Material Life-Cycle Costs, Wind and Structural Analysis all now available in the cloud, simulation is getting closer to the design tool, more real-time and more accessible
  • No longer just Buzzsaw and Vault, arguably little more than file management systems with some data capabilities, collaboration is something that they now are exploring on multiple fronts. With communities and tools such as: Autodesk 360, BlueStreak and the new iOS app Autodesk Instant, expect more to come.
  • Design computation within the Revit environment, with a relative newcomer named Dynamo, has become a reality in the last year. While still in Beta, the active community and rapid development pace has been really exciting. This is especially true since Dynamo is an Open Source project (found here), with a few interesting forks, including one for Autodesk Inventor on GitHub. Even though this is Open Source, it is a project that Autodesk is spending significant time and development to bring to bear.
  • Revit in the Cloud – with the last few releases being certified for Citrix, creating your own private cloud to allow access to your models, even while away from the office or without a powerful laptop is completely possible. When at home, I don’t need to bring my workstation laptop home. It’s very simple to access the Citrix farm from my own personal computer, even a Mac. With any stable internet connection, I sometimes use an iPad to quickly view models. I’ve written about the experimental cloud solution Octane Cloud Workstation in the past, and this now seems to be getting more recent press coverage – see this article on Architosh.
  • Revit interoperability with fabrication tools, facilities management platforms, Civil 3D and Infraworks means the useful data accessible to your fingertips is growing exponentially – to help make better decisions and incorporate the knowledge and experience of those in allied disciplines to ensure your architectural designs both take their environment into account, and are also more easily made and deployed and integrated into the built environment.

So, while some of you may not be pleased with the new features list (described in my previous post), you need to see the bigger picture. It may be made from Sketchy lines today, and it will sharpen over time. The new BIM workflow focusses more on collaboration, construction and not just design and engineering, simulation, visualization, and most of all harnessing and contributing to Big Data. I, for one, welcome our new digital design hub.

The future of design looks bright. Viva la Revitlution!

89 comments on “Is Revit dead?

  • Autodesk need to get their act together and show steady annual progress – they expect annual subscription fees – Yes I’m waiting for the next Quantum Leap in Revit, but I and other users expect value for our investment in the product and Autodesk

  • Without having the application in our hands yet, it will be difficult to see if there’s value in what’s been released. I am willing to bet there’s a few nuggets or even stability improvements that will be worth putting to use.

  • I can fall into the same pattern. I wrote this as a bit of self-therapy, and to better hone my message when the project teams I work with finally receive news of the new release.

    Doing what I can to stay positive and practice patience. Thanks for the compliment.

  • This may all be fair enough, however do you think the guys at Autodesk have worked hard enough (in your interest) for the annual subscription fees you are transferring over to them year after year?
    I think Revit rates quite poorly when it comes to value-for-money.

  • I cannot judge the value of this release before having it in my hands. Will I use the new features? Yes. Past versions of Revit have been plenty of value for the money, and in areas the general user may not notice, like stability, improvements in Revit Server for collaboration, API access for custom programming, etc.

    Also, bear in mind that Revit is not just for architectural design, there’s also a Structural and MEP engineering focus. Those disciplines are far less developed that architecture, as they were introduced later in the game. Every engineer that I know who uses Revit always has found something compelling enough to ask the entire team to upgrade. I think this release will be the same.

  • What with David Conant being let go, I wonder if they’re just trying to do minor maintenance and just milk the cash cow as much as they can. I honestly have no idea: it just looks bad from my perspective.

    Graphisoft feels like they have a superior product in ArchiCAD and if Autodesk’s progress is slowing, well: they can fill their boots; feel free to compete, people! From my time when I worked on the reseller side, I always felt that Autodesk management was dysfunctional. From talking to sales competitors, it seemed Graphisoft was downright pathological (at least in North America). The software world always seems rather disappointing.

    Still, each Revit release is more polished and runs better than the previous release, though the installer size is now completely ridiculous. The suite installer is 60 GB. Um, whiskey tango foxtrot?!

    The features list of 2015 looks more uncompelling than ever. I won’t install Revit till the first service pack in all likelihood, and only then because I need to teach the latest release at local colleges.

  • Nice post Sean. I’m new to your blog, and I really like the focus.

    It’s a rather interesting point regarding whether Autodesk wishes to copy the Apple ‘ecosystem’ with Revit as the center/’hub’. No doubt that this is an ambition, which business wouldn’t want apples succes 😉
    But I wonder whether Revit is the right tool for being a hub. Basically it’s ‘just’ a modelling tool, and theres to much more to the construction process than modelling.

    So maybe Revit is just an ‘app’ for another platform – maybe a platform that haven’t been developed yet…

  • I disagree about Revit being just a modeling tool. Revit is a database, which happens to also have a modeling environment. The ‘I’ in BIM, is what allows it to extend into all areas of design and construction. By intelligently passing the information-rich models to other tools, for analysis, construction logistics, fabrication, etc… It fits in a place that no other tool Autodesk makes can serve for our industry.

  • @Sean

    I get your point.

    My experience – based on the work we have done at http://www.3dbyggeri.dk digging into the Revit Database – is that the Revit DB has a very of modelling specific structure and some central Database architectural decisions have been made, which prevents Revit from being a good central DB for a BIM project. I thing a lot of Autodesk’s own Revit plug-ins (integration with other Autodesk products) also reveals this, as does the IFC export/import.

    We have seen some experiments with migrating the Revit DB into other (optimised) DBs, and some of the results have been very succesful. But the basis of this is making the new DB the central DB, and taking the BIM integration process from there.

    All this taken into consideration I look very much forward to seing what the future brings in this area, as theres no doubt that it will be a bit step towards the ‘I’ in BIM 😉

  • @Tore – I suppose the decisions that have been made to Revit’s DB were done for performance reasons, and because Revit is firstly for modeling and drafting, and the decisions about the DB were made so that Revit could excel in that regard? I certainly would not want Revit saddled with extra project data that isn’t directly associated with the design of the building.

    What else does a central DB for BIM need to do that Revit cannot do?

    Thanks for the input – this is a very interesting discussion!

  • I agree. This is becoming very interesting. It might even spark a new post about the ways data could be managed in the future. I look forward to hearing more about Tore’s experiments.

  • It is nice to see a REVIT discussion and see what others opinions are. There are lots of presentations on BIM and REVIT that don’t seem to dig into how the software is actually being used by each phase of the process from design, construction and operations.

    For those that my be interested, here is another perspective that discusses more of the design to construction applications.

    http://www.swansonrink.com/latest/articles/the-red-herring-called-bim/

  • Thank you for that link. One thing that I think is missing from the author’s points, is that in more and more projects where the delivery is in a design assist, or even an IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) method, the mechanical and plumbing engineers are in fact using BIM to design, and those models are translated directly to tools like CADduct and CADpipe. The workflow is not seamless, however that is happening more and more and the days of single-line diagrams for engineering intent are dwindling. Those approaches don’t allow well-coordinated design. It is very challenging to run a clash detection on a line, without embedding some critical data on size and connection types. BIM, and especially Revit, does this quite well on the projects we work on.

  • To me its obvious autodesk is milking the cow since it has monopoly in N American market and hence no real competitors. Its not because Archicad is inferior the only reason is autodesk has all the firepower and logistic support of the home turf- no question about this

    And this part I understand, they are in his game for the money

    What I dont understand is whats it gonna take for you apologists to finally be critical of any revits release? They changed the default naming of new sheets and list that as a “feature”? How much time did that coding take?- ask any programmer not more than 30 minutes!!!

    If i showed to my boss something like current revits feature list as my years worth of work I would be out on my ass in a minute!!
    As I said, they are here for the money, they dont care if you get the proper tool or not and the only reason for them to change is to smell the user base dissatisfaction and learn that if the users are not happy you start losing money in the end

    I guess with you people they have nothing to fear….

  • I don’t think the quantity of new features in a single product tells the whole story, and that’s what I was trying to articulate in my post. Thank you for sharing your opinion. I do not consider myself an apologist and have shared critical opinions on various releases in the past. This version is simply much more stable, faster and fixes some important issues like the curtain panel flipping bug. I welcome the new features and will make use of them.

  • The user base is often oblivious to the effort that Revit’s development has required. Bugs, rewriting code, optimization — all of these things take some or a lot of effort. While the optics of Revit 2015s look abysmal, there is the possibility that whatever optimizations were done during this development cycle diverted a lot of effort from new features, or new features still need more work before they are released. I’ll have more to say once 2015 can be downloaded. I sure hope the installer won’t be another 50 GB monster like last year. What a mess that was.

  • Dear fdsfs, if that is your real name… I do not wish to resort to bashing other vendor’s BIM tools, however as mature as Revit is, a software (not to be named) that’s been around a lot longer, is now just getting tools like auto wall cleanups. That seems ridiculous to me. A function that is core to any architectural design tool, and one that Revit has had since before I started using it more that eight years ago.

    Sure, every vendor has to pick their priorities when developing new or enhanced features. No vender has ever made everyone happy with each new release, and they never will.

  • Of course its not my real name, was just to lazy to type….
    Anyways its Nesh nice to meet you

    Ive used “other vendors BIM tool” almost since it came out, was so dissatisfied with progress they made about 10 years ago that i switched to revit. It was indeed miles ahead at the time
    Same story repeats in reverse now, they got their act together and started listening to users requests and made huge advancements over couple of past releases
    The thing you say about wall cleanup could be also applied to revit, it seems ridiculous to me that after all this years you dont have area measure tool, or proper snapping or text formatting- in my view even more basic things than wall cleanup.
    Furthermore, if you tried that new wall cleanup in archicad you would see that its in many ways superior and offers more control than revits.

    Regarding your statement you welcome and will use whatever new features there are- well duh why wouldnt you, the point is you will use them once a year when in fact you could have benefited more from something you use on daily basis (let me know in whole honesty how many times have you used point clouds so far….)
    Statement that they invested in stability or performance just dont cut it for me- stability should be a given and not a “feature”. Fixing crappy material editor or ribbon or whatever should be done on sidelines otherwise its us paying them to fix their blunders

    Dont meen to be rude but so far I havent seen one bit of criticism from your end about what is without any doubt worst update yet (not that 4 previous ones have been much better), The future of design looks bright. Viva la Revitlution! and you dont consider yourself an apologet???

    Oh, and just a disclaimer, whatever I said goes for revit architecture, i have no clue whats going on with mep or structure or api

  • Revit is made for more than one person, and the usefulness of these new features will vary from user to user.

    All of the changes for this release seem good so far, advancing the product. Would it be better if they had not changed the default sheet naming or not mentioned that it had changed? I don’t think so.

    Default sheet naming might seem insignificant from a development standpoint, but it has a significant impact on the user, therefore it makes sense that it would be mentioned. Performance and stability improvements on the other hand are more transparent to the user, but require a lot of development effort for just that one little bullet point on the list.

  • Thanks for your thoughts. I hope you understand I was trying to be funny about your name.

    I will be writing. What I don’t like or don’t about the new version only after I have it in my hands. I am attempting to challenge all of us to think more broadly about what it means to develop useful software that looks at workflows, not individual features. Because that, is the most difficult thing for a marketing person to stick on a brochure as a billeted list. It’s about the experience, and asking ourselves I we could work differently, what would that look like.

  • Ben, do you mean view naming? Or did I miss something? Great discussion. I’m very much enjoying this chat with all of you.

  • Collaboration seems to be a key concept here.
    But I ask, does Revit pencil for the small firm, for the real world?
    We are a small firm. We use cad. We don’t even use Autocad, we use Datacad. This makes collaboration sometimes difficult because of translation issues with the majority of our consultants who use autocad. So, I understand the potential benefits of improved collaboration. But for us, moving to autocad would essentially eliminate any of these collaboration issues (and raise a host of retraining old dog architect issues that I won’t bring up here). We wouldn’t even need the latest release since most of the folks we work with are on 2007 or 2010, and there is basic backward compatibility.

    As I said, we are a small firm, but my guess is that the majority of practicing architects in this state (California) or even this country are likewise either on their own or in small firms. Small here means resource limited with regard to paying for annual releases. However, it seems that Autodesk is saying the cost of being able to collaborate in Revit is an annual subscription fee just so that we can even share drawings with consultants. That is a tough pill Autodesk is asking us to swallow, and one of the biggest hurdles I see for getting us and any of our consulting engineers on board with Revit.

    I agree that in the USA, Autodesk is the defacto provider of AEC software. I believe that they got to that position with Autocad, which they made into a powerful yet accessible program. In my opinion, Autodesk needs to focus on the making Revit accessible to everyday construction industry folks who still have a fax machine and a comcast email address. People who need a clean set of con-docs, not a sketchy rendering that is accessible from the cloud.

  • When you’re deciding on the value a new tool may bring to your practice, take a look at all its capabilities, and not just the minor advances in a particular release. I would argue that AutoCAD is developing much more slowly than any of its other siblings. It’s a question if maturity. And, there are only so many ways to draw a line.

    Do I think BIM, and by extension Revit, is viable for the small firm? Yes, and yes! I would never go back to drawing lines and manually coordinating views and information again. Drafting details in Revit is actually fun, because you are placing 2D parametric components. It may be easier to collaborate with your CAD-using partners because Revit will always put things on the right layer, something even the best CAD user can get wrong.

    Any change requires a learning curve. The benefits to your work in moving to a BIM workflow of any kind will be immeasurable.

  • Sean,

    “fdsfs” referred to it as sheet naming so I stuck with the terminology. It is indeed the default new view naming that I am referring to though.

  • Sean,
    I agree that CAD has reached a plateau, and I hate drawing meaningless lines. To that end, I have used 2012 for a smallish remodel project. Everything worked OK, particularly to start with, bogging down a little more when it came to putting together the final set of con docs. As you noted, collaboration wasn’t too bad, either. I’m sure that some of my difficulties are down to (a) learning curve and (b) literally pounds of hard drive space with site plans, overall floorplans, fire-life safety plans, typical details not to mention titleblocks, all in CAD. I’m also sure that I could get past these and realize some real benefits of Revit/BIM.
    My point is that I found it difficult to put together a “set” of con docs that have the look our firm is accustomed to. That and the fact that it seems Revit development is not trying to address these basic problems, but rather some “larger” ecosystem issues. Autodesk is footing users with increasing costs for features they may not have any use for, and further requiring updates due to lack of backward compatibility.

  • Starting something new requires patience. Revit can definitely make your drawings look exactly like the way you’ve always done it. And you can use all those existing drawings as reference materials right in the Revit model. You will likely find that making everything look the same, and using a new tool may miss some opportunities to rethink your process and produce some output that works better for you. For instance, more 3D views would be an initial benefit, and perhaps more schedules used as a way of communicating detail and intent.

    I recommend complementing your training and software investments by choosing to work with an experienced Revit consultant. Or, you could go about hiring a qualified individual who has made this transition and can offer strategic guidance as well as the skills to get you closer to your adoption goals in an efficient manner.

    Revit’s documentation capabilities, and please if I’m wrong on this someone can correct me, are it’s most mature aspect. There are a few things users still request, such as better multi-line text, and small productivity enhancements related to sheet duplication and view alignment across sheets. The real room to grow is not in this area. Again, you could make everything look the way you’ve always done things… however it may not be achieved easily while you are trying to also learn the tools, and complete billable hours.

    Perhaps there are some residential modeling challenges that are not handled well yet for the small practitioner. I’ve always wanted to be able to model birds mouths, quoins and gable end returns without resorting to manual workarounds. For every one of these that get implemented, there would be someone else who felt it was meaningless, if they didn’t do buildings of that nature. It’s a hard thing for a company the size of Autodesk to deliver well on the diverse work of all of it’s customers.

  • Ben,

    I like the change in the naming of copied views. It was a real pain in the ass to lose those views somewhere in the Project browser to have to rename them anyway. This seems to least controversial among all the experienced users I’ve talked with. I am not sure what the issue is. Perhaps, if you have not already, both you and Nesh should sign up for Beta testing to have a more direct impact on the future development of the software. http://beta.autodesk.com

  • No one says its not useful. It would be super difficult to come up with a feature which would be completely and utterly useless, even if they wanted to.

    What I said is that its so minor it should have been mentioned under “other tweaks and bugfixes”. Dont advertise it to me as one of 16 new features, I know it took you 5 minutes to do that. Most of them actually.

    Too little. And too poorly chosen- no matter how you try relativize it Ben

    What I also said is, Im amazed how no matter how crappy they give it to us, there will always be someone to like it.
    No offense
    Well maybe a little (kidding)

    Sean, I couldnt disagree more there is nothing else left to improve in 2D drafting/documenting department. Wow, not by a long shot!
    Seriously, better multiline text, better view alignment- thats all you are missing? Or do you think revit is a modeling tool so drafting is not so important?
    Ive seen many companies who leave their drawings on the level derived from the model only, let me tell you those docs look like trash!

    ps. installed demo and tried it out yesterday. Sketchy lines- look awful. Maybe someone should have showed them how it looks when an architect sketches. Will never use

  • fdsfs:
    “installed demo and tried it out yesterday. Sketchy lines- look awful”
    Seriously?
    You installed the demo, tried it for 5 minutes, and now you’ve condemned the feature as awful and useless. Did you reject Revit the first day you tried it? I’ll bet your first AutoCAD drawings looked awful, too. Probably because there weren’t any OOTB Layers, and you didn’t like the default Pen settings.
    Also, several of the other people above who are complaining about Revit’s graphics not looking like their company standards out of the box. Might I remind you that those standards you revere today most likely went through the same arguments 15 years ago when the firm was transitioning from hand to CAD. AND, you’ve had 15 years to develop and tweak those standards.
    People who are still finding excuses to avoid Revit these days are willfully ignoring the fact that AutoCAD didn’t look perfect on day one, either.

  • Dave,
    I agree that OOTB needs tweeking to look how we want, and I also agree that the firm has had years to develop our “look” (still doing it). That said, it still seems difficult to customize in Revit (more difficult than in CAD), something I think the factory could improve on.

    But since this blog post is about the relevance of Revit’s new features, my complaints are:
    1) the cost barrier to entry is higher than it was with CAD (http://www.bonaireinsider.com/index.php/weblog_articles/1994/09/ adjusts to about $4900 today http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=3100&year1=1994&year2=2014)
    2) no backward compatibility. This is a killer, for when I or one of my consultants does jump on board, there’s a strong possibility we still won’t be able to share, because we’ll have different releases.
    3) it seems like the last several releases have not focused on schedule or text development. It’s still difficult to format large swaths of text (these may literally comprise half our con-docs on some projects) or to put a smart / linked reference to a detail in a text callout (again, we do this ALL over ALL of our drawings), it’s even difficult to show rated wall conditions (there seem to be at least 2 work-around philosophies on the forums).

    I’d like to see some improvement for these features that *I* deem important (see (3) above) without having to incur such a burdensome cost just to stay up to date with anyone else. Conversely make the cost less burdensome by firing some of the programmers responsible for the “minor” features ;). Conversely, figure out a way to make this backward compatible, so that *I* can choose when to upgrade, instead of being force to upgrade.

  • Yes seriously!
    The lines are too chopped up and the style looks amateurish if jitter is set to any value other than 0, and besides it only affects geometry, not linework, grids, dimensions etc qwich for me is a deal breaker

    You may or may not agree with me if it LOOKS bad or not, this is my personal opinion and you are free to have yours- but dont tell me I need more than a day to form an opinion about it, its not rocket science you know

    As for the rest of your post dont condescend us please with captain obvious remarks that have no connection whatsoever with what was discussed

  • Justin,

    Sure text needs more work, although it got a boost in 2013…

    2014 had significant schedule improvements and 2015 continues this trend.

    Backward compatibility argument is a lark. We all must be on subscription now anyway, and there’s no reason not to be on the latest version any longer because of this.

    If you compare a single seat of AutoCAD to a single seat of Revit, the cost differential is pennies per hour of use over a year. Like a nail gun, it cost more than a hammer, and you can get much more done a lot faster in Revit than CAD. Your burdensome cost is the same as ours, what is subscription now? 750 per year? That’s less than a day of billable work. I can understand if it’s not your primary tool. For a lot of us, it is. I wouldn’t want that any other way.

  • Hi Sean,

    First congratulations for your blog and particularly this post.

    Even in the case Revit was dead, Autodesk it is definitely not. Anyone who is on the AEC industry working on BIM can take a look to the tools are out there: Navisworks, Autodesk 360 Field, Autodesk Buzzsaw… I actually understand they might be taking some time out from Revit.

    I get really frustrated when I see people (mainly architects), again, talking about lines weights when it comes to BIM and only hearing Revit “looks bad”. First of all Revit is one of the tools you will use in the process. BIM is not only modelling: it is clash detection, it is sustainable simulation, it is FM…and in that side Autodesk can offer tones.

    At the end of the day, in this transition to BIM, still a long way to go, but the mindset has to change, do you want beautiful lines or a nice geometry you can use in clash detection and more? of course we want both but takes time.

    In my humble opinion: Leave the lines give me the model.

  • Great to hear your perspective. I agree, 110%.

    One thing I used to tell students when frustrated about the graphics, is that you worry about mastering the craft of design first. You can make the graphics read better later, if you want. It’s just a communication tool. A means to an end. Is an architect’s role in the universe to make beautiful drawings or beautiful buildings? I think it is the latter.

  • Revit is the ONLY BIM software to enable with bi-directional associativity. With all the new object oriented add-ins now in place, it is here to stay for a long time.

  • I agree completely. Wouldn’t want to switch, however I am not counting on this being the last platform I’ll ever use in my career either. This blog started in 1996, when it looked like ADT (now AutoCAD Architecture) still had a future. I and the blog adapted. This might be a good time to make an announcement…

  • Autocad is little more than a program to draw vector lines and arcs, and they have been releasing new versions for 32 years. I don’t think this is really an issue…

  • Yeah But.

    For God’s sake can’t we just a few improvements to the text tools? Seriously, they suck beyond any imaginable standard.

    How hard is this? Are they holding out, and we’ll get the “change case” command buttons when they release that super-fantastic paradigm-shifting app of tomorrow?

  • Even if I had such a list, I couldn’t share it. Autodesk is a publicly traded company and there are lots of things I have to sign to see anything in development. Sorry. Springtime is near. That’s usually when announcements are made. I will happily share at that time.

  • Everyone has their preference. My firm switched away from Bentley to Autodesk Revit six years ago and have never looked back.

  • The ideas of improving Revit are all very wonderful. Things like being able to attach data to objects and maintaining and adjusting a database outside the model while retaining links to objects for visualization and coordination are things we discussed with the Autodesk development team in 2008. Finally being able to maintain a model of a building and its systems through changes (both those in FM and those in construction) to give the model and its data life after substantial completion. They will come, of that I am certain (some have). But they would come faster if more professionals were invested in true collaboration – not just badly rendered visualizations and clash detection with a rudimentary model created by the engineers they employ. But, working on issues of constructability through collaboration with the engineers, contractors and fabricators doing the work. Integrating the model into widely used energy, lighting and structural design tools. Even having 3D Civil retain its data and be compatible with Revit are all necessary. Employing prefabrication techniques and sharing the vast knowledge of owners, operators, contractors and design staff under one umbrella of true collaboration brings the model into its true value. Are the cloud and subscription based software the answer? Not really. They are only tools, like Revit. How these tools are utilized and changing the paradigm of silo based knowledge and information control that has plagued our industry for the last 75 years will force the tool makers to make better tools. Yes the line weights are; terrible text is difficult to manage and looks bad – all of these have been true since the software attempted to became more than an electronic drafting tool. If a model is to be truly effective and utilized by all parties, there would be no two dimensional drawings to worry over line weights, data would be accessible and fully descriptive in a screen format with easily controllable text.

    The challenge is integration and true collaboration of ideas with common goals amongst all parties on common or at least accessible platforms. The tools will come if the need is there. The AIA and AGC have fostered a climate that is anti collaboration seemingly forever, all in the name of protecting the professional. In doing so they have created an environment where the construction industry is the only industry that has seen declining productivity through the use of technology in the last 50 years.

    Having new tools is great. Employing them to the betterment of the project, the owner, the contractor, the facility manger and yes the user should be the focus of our profession. Only then will the tool makers take notice and improve and provide what is necessary to accomplish that end. They have to. They are profit driven industries. As I have heard all to often,” I need a business case to prove that this would be valuable to our users”.

    One other gripe, if I may, Like other software providers (Adobe and Microsoft forcing people into subscriptions through limiting downward compatibility and access to upgrades only through the cloud creates a known or anticipated cash flow. It doesn’t automatically mean better usability or even more productivity. Needing better tools isn’t necessary to practice today. As noted numerous times in this blog, a lot of folks are still on 2010 or earlier versions. Why, because they see no need to pay more to resolve some bugs or reformat their documents. It like the Microsoft Office dilemma – formatting letter a thousand different ways doesn’t make the Word product more useful to a business with a standard format. How do you increase sales and cash flow? Change how you can buy it and its degree of compatibility with everybody else; tout collaboration and access through a private cloud as a necessity. These firms all own the legacy tool. Most of their consultants own the same legacy tool. It does what they know how to do adequately. Change and retraining are costly and scary. It’s not just the cost of software, its the time of training and assurance that the new tools are being used properly and not opening up anyone to liability. (that AIA/ AGC voice again). Truly, better productivity that will impact a project will not be provided by line weights and text and having your engineer view the model “in real time”. So the argument for constant upgrading is leaky at best. Until the process demands a better tool that is more useful by all parties involved.

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