Thursday, August 28, 2008

AutoCAD Architecture: The Unsung BIM application?

The "I" in BIM is the defining factor of what makes a software a true BIM application. Any software that allows you to attach, store, and extract information from a model (whether 2D or 3D), and allows you to present design intent and investigate constructability, goes a long way towards implementing BIM and Integrated Project Delivery. (Notice, I'm not saying that a software is BIM. I'm just saying that it is a tool to help you create BIM and integrate your processes with the processes of other. OK, rant over.)

Given that, I wonder why Autodesk chooses to market its products the way that they do. Revit Architecture (RAC) is the flagship BIM platform in Autodesk's armada of software. AutoCAD Acrhitecture (ACA) is billed as a tool designed to increase the productivity of "Architects who know AutoCAD." No mention is given in the advertising literature about ACA's use for BIM.

Alot is said about Revit's ability to attach parameters (information) to elements in the model and schedule them out. ACA has similar ability. ACA let's you use a ubiquitous file format (.dwg)(remember, interoperability is KEY in Integrated Practice) to produce a 3d model that uses "smart objects" to represent and document the built environment. These objects "know" what they are and how they should interact with objects around them. Doors "know" that they go in walls, as do windows. Roofs are modeled based on complex rules running behind the scenes with limited input from the user. These objects also have information attached to them (manufacturer, material, etc, etc.) and they can communicate that information to schedules created within the program.

I DON'T think that ACA is as robust as RAC in some functions. Sections and elevations aren't "live" you can't select objects in them and modify those objects. When you make changes to plan views, you must update the section or elevation that is produced from them (which could lead to uncoordinated documents.) You can't select objects in schedules and make changes to them that effect the model.

However, all said, ACA is a pretty darn powerful modeling, drafting and information organizing software. Wow, sounds like BIM to me. It is especially useful in leveraging the training and skills of users who are experienced in AutoCAD.

I'd love to hear the opinions of anyone who has used ACA or by its former moniker ADT Architectural Desktop (either in a BIM capacity or not) on real life projects.


JTB World said...

I fully agree that ACA can be a part of BIM and have been using it in many projects like this one.

Anonymous said...

We have been using ACA (ADT) ACMEP for several years and have won BIM awards using these platform. Anyone who says BIM cannot be done with ACA and ACMEP dors not know the eaning of BIM. They drank the kool-aid!

Rob Miller said...

I know this post is over two years old, but I honestly feel Autodesk is doing a disservice in how they are approaching the AutoCAD verticals. There are areas that Revit excels over AutoCAD, but there are areas that Revit is even farther behind the AutoCAD verticals (flexibility).

What really amazes me is those that use Revit have accepted the idea that each version is cut off from the previous releases. I know that this could very well be a holdover from before Autodesk purchased Revit. It still makes me scratch my head that a file saved in 2011 can't be opened in 2010.

I know some people that don't like the typical (3) three year cycle on the dwg format ... just imagine the outrage if they were forced into a yearly update process.

Lord Terror said...

I completly agree. I've been using Plain AutoCAD and switched to ACA in 2004. I love it, and it especially has become powerful since 2008. What people tend to forget is in an ideal world you would have all the time and could model everything down to the last screw. But in practice I found that when deadlines come in, you need to "cut corners" and substitute 3D models with good old fashioned 2D linework. And we all know that is an area AutoCAD shines in.

Fred said...

I´m with Lord Terror! Working with ACA since ever (started with SDSK, predecessor of Architectural Desktop!), and besides all the inconvenience of updating seccions & elevations and other things I have full control of whats going on in the model, still having lots of flexibility in 2D drafting. Not mentioning the full .dwg outgoing archives..... :)