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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Coming Soon: AECCafe Special Report on Interoperabiiity for BIM

September 28th, 2017 by Susan Smith

When everyone on a team uses a different BIM software, it can be painful to maintain accurate model versions, control user access, compare versions and analyze different models. On big projects, there are many teams coming together, all using whatever BIM technologies they have been tasked with and making all those interoperate, multiplying the challenge severalfold.

How is this achieved in the BIM world? Many times, organizations use multiple types of software because clients come with what they deem “industry standard” software. “Industry standard” may only mean that a higher percentage of people use it, but it doesn’t mean everyone uses it.

Some companies have referred to interoperability as the interoperation between their own products, but customers demand interoperability between all the disparate technologies they use on a project.

There is also the standards industry such as the IFC, the benchmark of interoperability. Standards are great but it takes a long time to develop them, and technology generally moves faster than the standards.

So what are your ways of dealing with interoperability, as a software company, consultant, professional user?

How do you navigate the morass of different technology solutions for BIM out there, and intake information into your BIM, or the information in someone else’s BIM product?

The following is a questionnaire about interoperability and what you are doing about it aimed at BIM software companies/developers:

  1. What products/technologies does your firm offer to provide interoperability with competing BIM products?
  2. What do you think the main challenges are that need to be solved for BIM interoperability?
  3. How often do you think users change software because they are encouraged to use on “industry standard” BIM software?
  4. What are the preferred technologies used for interoperability? Open source? Plug-ins? Others?
  5. Describe their effectiveness.
  6. Do you see the cloud playing a role BIM interoperability offerings? How might that manifest?
  7. Do some countries do a better job of BIM interoperability than others?
  8. Do you see BIM interoperability challenges as a deterrent to some organizations who may balk at using BIM because of it?
  9. How much research and development is spent on interoperability within your own BIM software suite and how much on competing software outside your BIM software?

If you are an AEC professional please consider the following questions:

  1. Is BIM interoperability an issue at your workplace?
  2. How much time does it take to integrate BIM software from another vendor into the BIM model that you are using?
  3. What kinds of technologies are you using to accomplish this?
  4. Do you use an industry standard BIM software and if so, how well does it interoperate with other BIM software?
  5. What changes would you like to see in BIM interoperability?
  6. What companies do you feel do the best job currently of providing BIM interoperability for AEC?
  7. What are the main challenges in interoperability for BIM users today?
  8. What kinds of data do you need to integrate into your BIM model?
  9. What BIM software do you use and what BIM or other software do you need to be interoperable with your existing BIM model?

Include with your replies the name and title of the individual responding, and one or two images (no headshots or logos please) that may illustrate your product or people working with your product, or a diagram. Deadline is October 15th. Please write to me at with replies to this questionnaire.

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Categories: 2D, 3D, AEC, AECCafe, Archicad, architecture, Architecture 2030, Autodesk, Bentley Systems, BIM, building information modeling, buildingSMART, Civil 3D, collaboration, construction, Dassault Systemes, engineering, file sharing, generative design, IFC, IMAGINiT, IMSI/Design, infrastructure, integrated project delivery, IoT, Nemetschek, ONUMA, plant design, project management, site planning, sustainable design, Tekla, Trimble

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