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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Introducing Cadsoft’s Envisioneer
by Susan Smith
A little known product that all CAD users and those interested in building information modeling should know about is Envisioneer from Cadsoft.
Cadsoft was founded in 1984 in Australia, and has been known mostly as a provider of home design software such as 3D Home Architect, IMSI Turbo Floor Plan, and The Home Depot 3D Home Designer. Yet these products are based upon the powerful Envisioneer 3D modeling engine which creates intelligent 3D models. Altogether the software sold by this little company has over 2 million users.
Products that are based on the Envisioneer engine include:
Envisioneer 4.0 (4.5 soon to be released)
3D Home Architect (versions 5-8)
IMSI Turbo Floor Plan
The Home Depot 3D Home Designer
Brad Finck, vice president of business development for Cadsoft Corporation, said that 100% of their client base uses 3D modeling because “we don’t give them a choice.” While the well known vendors of BIM are trying to find an entry point for their customers to access and embrace BIM, Cadsoft has had its customers on 3D for years.
“Most people are using 2D,” Finck pointed out. “Ours at the consumer side are using 3D while using 3D Home Architect. They’re rendering and generating their elevations from it, they’re using the bill of materials even at entry level stages. Anyone can create a truly intelligent 3D model with our product in five minutes, there’s not a lot of upfront customization that has to be done. When we export to AutoCAD, it comes across as lines on the proper layers, linetypes, dim styles, etc since AutoCAD really has no intelligent information outside of a program like ADT. In version 4, we now import AutoCAD drawings quite well into our “Worksheets” and now retain layers, linestyles and even blocks.”
Finck said that the majority of their customers are architects, remodelers or small builders who don’t have a lot of time to learn a new product. With Envisioneer, “they can be comfortable in the first hour. They can produce their first project in a week or two, and be very proficient within a month and experts within two to three months. We offer a 15 day trial. The only problem is we’ve had people complete their project in fifteen days and then not buy it.” This includes the model, presentation and drawings.
Envisioneer is not a parametric modeler yet the objects in the model recognize each other and have relationships. The software doesn’t allow multiple people to work on the same model, which is a feature of Revit and MicroStation BIM, as most of Cadsoft’s customers are not interested in sharing a model.
Envisioneer is priced at $995 for a single license, and no site license is offered. A small client can buy it easily and achieve ROI quickly, still using same approaches as a big BIM would do for a larger company.
“Small businesses are in the best position right now to utilize BIM because the large companies have a lot more sharing of drawings with engineers, consultants, mechanical, electrical, etc. which the BIM isn’t conducive to unless everyone is on the same platform,” Finck said. “Small firms have a lot less sharing of data with outside consultants.”
Comparing the U.S. market to that of Europe, Finck said that here we have builders, remodelers and architects. “Architects don’t do a lot of residential in Europe because there is not a lot of money in it for them, so they leave residential to the builder or remodeler.”
Finck said that products like Envisioneer or Vectorworks may do better in Europe because they have smaller architectural firms, and in the case of Envisioneer, its customers are also builders and remodelers. Larger firms may move to an Autodesk tool.
Cadsoft is creating links to SketchUp, a structural engineering package, and exploring writing to Architectural Desktop. The company is also open to writing to the Revit format if the API develops “robustly enough.”
Finck said Cadsoft presents a live demo at 1 pm each day on the website for 20 minutes on exactly how to use the product. One out of three demos results in a sale.
They also have Envisioneer Express freeware which is very lightweight, to introduce people to the concept of 3D modeling. “We have 500-700 downloads of that product per day. People are using it in schools, church groups, etc.”
Envisioneer 4.5 will be released in a few weeks.
Avolve Software, developers of ProjectDox(R) communication and collaboration software, announced it has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Solibri, Inc. - a Helsinki, Finland-based software technology company with a full line of products that support the viewing and analysis of Building Information Models (BIM), based on international Industry Foundation Class (IFC) standards.
Autodesk, Inc. will hold a two-day executive forum on October 4-5 in conjunction with the Melting Ice: A Hot Topic - Envisioning Change art exhibit, hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Natural World Museum (NWM) at the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts. The forum will bring business, technology and sustainability experts together to increase awareness of the importance of sustainable design and engage in a dialogue on how sustainable design practices can lead to a healthier environment. The exhibition, for which Autodesk serves as Title Sponsor, opens at the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts on October 5 and offers thought-provoking perspectives on the issue of climate change from more than 40 artists around the world.
Green Builder(R) Media (GBM), a leading provider of information about green building and sustainable development will aim to define the somewhat ubiquitous term 'green' as it relates to building related products and practices.
Beginning in November, Green Builder Media will launch Green Builder College(TM), a robust online educational platform that will certify building professionals as 'Green Builders'. The program teaches building professionals how to incorporate sustainable systems and practices into their projects, leading to the development of more environmentally appropriate structures.
Bentley Systems, Incorporated announced that its Haestad Methods product line has been selected as the No. 1 water resources modeling software in a national survey. The survey, commissioned by Bentley, was conducted across the readership of CE News' Civil Connection, a leading civil engineering newsletter published by ZweigWhite. This follows on the heels of the People's Choice Award that Bentley's WaterGEMS product in its Haestad line won at the American Water Works Association Annual Conference and Exposition and is being celebrated by Bentley through special limited-time promotional offers.
Bentley Systems, Incorporated announced that Anne-Marie Walters, global marketing director, Bentley Plant, has been named chairperson of the Engineering & Construction Contracting (ECC) Association for 2007-2008. Chief among her responsibilities as the new chair is to lead the 40th Annual ECC Conference (www.ecc-conference.org), being held Sept. 3-6, 2008, at the Westin Keirland Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Avatech Solutions, Inc. the nationwide technology experts for design, engineering, and facilities management, announced financial results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended June 30, 2007. See press release