There’s a strong trend toward hating Autodesk’s Revit for its slow development and monopolistic pricing and licensing methods. Yesterday I heard that even Autodesk itself might be planning for the retirement of its flagship BIM authoring product, with the announcement of Forma and the rebranding of Forge to Autodesk Platform Services.
All of that misses the point.
In today’s world, we demand a lot from our software. Software is a tool, and we need to always be able to select the right tool for the job. We can’t expect Revit to be the best at absolutely every possible design, construction and asset management task we can throw at it.
The idea behind open source is not that big enterprise solutions are bad. It’s just that, if we all spoke the same language, then we could swap information into whichever software solution is best for the task at hand.
Interoperability is key.
If you want to use ANY other software aside from Revit (and even if you wanted to use Revit), IFC is going to be the best option for universal interoperability. I want my BIM information to be usable on any number of web-based applications, or to transfer between ALL the different AEC project stakeholders, and then beyond, to provide asset information for the building owner, facilities manager, perhaps with some fancy backend which sends real-time IoT information back into a central data environment from accurate knowledge of their asset. Transferring your files in IFC allows for all of this.
And yet, it drives me crazy how hard it can be to edit an IFC file.
In fact, there are 2 broad categories of Model View Definition which can be used when exporting to IFC4. Design Transfer View allows the next user to keep working on the model as if they were the original author. It’s also a bad idea, unless you are actually the original author and are happy to check and make fixes to ensure the transfer was successful. It’s a tool for internally changing software, not for issuing information.
IFC4 Reference View, on the other hand, is specifically not trying to transfer editing ability. The point is to ISSUE information from one party to the next, and for that information to be as complete and accurate as possible every time. That “completeness” is not something you could ever do with a pdf or printed drawing, because those only reference, or look at, the model. IFC allows us to transfer the complete model to you, and for you to be sure that it’s very difficult to change the information we’re showing you after that model has been created.
Revit is a great tool, with a level of adoption across the AEC industry that far surpasses anything we’ve seen since AutoCAD. But it’s not the only tool. And it’s not a tool at all for the myriad of users who aren’t actually in the AEC industry at all.
An open-source, standardized way of describing a building means that there are many ways to read the file that don’t require expensive software, so any building owner, real estate developer or agent can easily see what’s actually in the model that they paid for.
As of 1st October, we’re now offering IFC as a default file deliverable for all BIMIT orders.