Friday, 12 January 2018

Please spend 10 minutes to take part in our National BIM Survey

It's that time of the year again. When we ask the industry to give their thoughts on BIM adoption.

We've undertaken this survey every year since 2011. Our Market Research and Analysis team analyse the results and then we publish the report to the industry 'free to download' each Spring.

So please take the time to answer the questions.

Please circulate the link around your colleagues, collaborators and the industry groups that you take part in. It is very much appreciated. :)

Monitoring the adoption of BIM for some time now!
Free to download industry report

Using classifications in naming conventions

One subject that regularly comes up when discussing BIM and classification is how these should be including in naming conventions for labels/titles. This conversation could be around the naming of items such as layers, documents or objects.

I have been keeping an eye on this recent Twitter discussion - as I was tagged into it - so I thought I'd gather a few opinions and do a blog post.

At NBS, when developing Uniclass 2015 throughout the industry consultation it was clear that (a) more depth was required to classify a greater number of items – so double digit separators where required and (b) as a separator the ‘_’ was preferable to ‘-‘  or a space so that it didn’t clash with 1192 standard series naming convention.

On these two points, there was always a risk that this clashes with certain standards that require classification. For example some standards may put a maximum length on a classification and some may require certain separator symbols. However, a new unified classification was required for object-orientated BIM and the naming convention rules for 2D document names should not hold the industry back.

Naming convention rules for documents or layers or objects are primarily there to allow for sorting in an alpha-numerical traditional file system/list view/tree view. In a modern digital system, the data itself should be represented as attributes – parsing file names should not be the primary route. For example, if an object represents a 1700mm bath product – the core data should be in an attribute for length. Equally, If a file has been uploaded to a common data environment (CDE) by the company ABC Architects – this should be primarily recorded as an attribute within the CDE. The core data for BIM Level 2 is COBie and the schema for COBie is around objects and attributes.

In this above example, due to limitation on character length the company ‘ABC Architects’ might be shortened on the file naming – to ‘ABC’ for example. Equally, for long classifications, these can be shortened too. For example, a drawing or a layer showing radiators may just have ‘Pr_70_60’ or ‘Pr7060’ if space and limiters was restricted as the classification in the name. But in attributes associated with it – this would be stored as ‘Pr_70_60_36_73’ and ‘Radiators’. Some may simply put the highest level classification in the file name for example ‘EF_60_40’ to indicate the function of heating and cooling for the layer/document/object representing the radiator.

Two examples of this are shown in the illustrations below. It should be noted that in these examples Uniclass 2015 is used, but similar principles could be followed if it was another system such as Omniclass or Cuneco.

Fig 1 - Document naming (no restrictions) and associated attributes with full primary data
Fig 2 - Document naming (shortened) and associated attributes with full primary data
The most important thing for a project team is that the approach to putting classification into a naming convention is documented and understood in the EIR and corresponding BEP. By making this clear at the start of a project then the team will understand the rules. (Ideally the standards and associated guides should give very clear examples so it agreed industry wide.)

Equally, the important thing for a classification system is that it is not restricted by naming conventions for files/objects/layers. It must be allowed to serve its primary use case which is a being a classification system fit for a modern digital world.

Further reading:
An introduction to Uniclass 2015:
An introduction to BS 1192 naming convention:
Uniclass 2015 usage in layer naming (page 10):
Article from Bond Bryan:

Examples in practice:
In writing this post I picked the brains and gathered opinions from Sarah Delany@DRossiter87@bondbryanBIM and @StewartGH1970 (not sure we agree on everything - but thanks for that gents). Also, thanks to Rob for some screenshots of how they are doing this in practice on real projects (click for larger imagery)...

Fig 3 - Using layers to filter content in model checking software
Fig 4 - Using classifications to filter in model checking software

Fig 5 - Classifications attributesin a COBie spreadsheet

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

NBS Online Viewer showcased at Autodesk University Las Vegas 2017

The NBS Online Viewer got quite a bit of exposure at Autodesk University (AU) Las Vegas 2017.

One of the great things about AU is that it is all on video and the classes can be watched for free online. So here are the links below...

1. My class with Jim Quanci - 'Forging ahead...'
It was good to tell the story of the NBS Online Viewer alongside Jim Quanci who leads the Forge team...

Watch below:

2. Stephen Preston and Jim Quanci - Ten useful and cool Forge applications
Stephen and Jim from the Forge team at Autodesk present their favourite ten uses of their technology...

Watch below (NBS feature at 20'20):

3. Andrew Anagnost opening keynote
Chief Executive concludes his keynote with the NBS work as one of the examples of leading world-wide BIM applications.

Watch below (NBS feature at 56'15):

Thursday, 30 November 2017

BIM research for Manufacturers

We have just published a free-to-download research report for manufacturers interested in BIM.

As with all of our NBS market research reports, 100s of organisations have been surveyed and the results are presented alongside easy-to-read analysis...
Manufacturer attitudes to BIM
There are also a few case study articles looking at how manufacturers and BIM are working on real life projects today.

How an architectural practice is using manufacturer BIM content on housing projects in London

How a manufacturer is creating standardised content and distributing it to thousands of designers
Also, a quick plug for the excellent NBS research service - David and Adrian in my team have done some top work for leading manufacturers and organisations such as Microsoft, RIBA and DCLG over the years. If you are going on a digital transformation and want to understand what your customers needs are - then give us a call or drop us an email:

Download the manufacturer BIM repoort below:

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

AU2017 - NBS in the Exhibition Hall

If you are at AU2017, please come and see us in the Exhibition Hall.

We have two stands - please come over and say 'hello'.

1. As part of the Future of Making Things exhibition
Our stand in the Future of Making Things exhibition
Understand a little more about how we are encouraging the industry to move from paper to digital
Explore a 3D printed model of our NBS Old Post Office building
The fantastic BDP case study

Short video showing off the stand

2. In the Forge Partner area
You'll get a warm welcome from Head of Software Development Phil Scott at the Forge Partner area

Watch the BDP case study


Really good fun to take part in the AU fun run early this morning.

Good to see it in measured in metric too (5K) and not 3.2miles :)
Alarm goes off at 5.30am - glad I only had 3-4 beers the previous night

Up before sunrise

Some of the Autodesk UK gang

The Newcastle parkrun posse

Shaan Hurley - the man behind the run

Over 100 runners
The view at 6am on the strip

The time it takes to do 5k up and down escalators, across traffic crossings and avoiding the drinkers that were still out partying

AU Las Vegas - Presentation

Yesterday I presented with Jim Quanci from the Forge team. In the next week or two it'll be available to watch online - but for now the handout and presentation can be downloaded from:

As it was at the Dev Con, I decided against Powerpoint slide after Powerpoint slide and did some live software demos. Screenshots from these below...
Fantastic to present alongside Jim Quanci who leads the Forge team
Back of an envelope sketch #1 - Could we do a CAD plug-in in 2010?
Back of an envelope sketch #2 - Could we do a cloud integration in 2016?

Software demo 1 - Syncing cloud guidance and standards with the model

Software demo 2 - Syncing project specification with model

Software demo 3 - Not just BIM objects, but BIM objects with standardised data

Software demo 4 - Generic and manufacturer content all scheduled to show standard attributes

Software demo 5 - The published information now in the cloud (Forge Viewer in middle)

Software demo 6 - Click the object - see the spec

Software demo 7 - Basic training application using Forge

Software demo 8 - Live coding (with only one mistake on the day!)

Software demo 9 - Student project at NBS

Software demo 10 - Accessing data using Google Sheets API from a Raspberry Pi

Software demo 11 - The temperature in our office at NBS in the UK in real time

Software demo 12 - Accessing data from BIM 360

Software demo 13 - Selecting the model from BIM 360

Software demo 14 - Viewing the BIM 360 model in the NBS environment
To see some of this in context - please visit our NBS case studies page...

Monday, 13 November 2017


I've just been 'followed' for the 5,000th time on Twitter. A big thank you to everyone who has clicked the 'Follow' button - hopefully I tweet stuff of interest (occassionally at least). A quick look through the Twitter Analytics portal shows some of the more 'engaging' tweets from the last couple of years below...

October 2017...
June 2017...
April 2017...
February 2017...
June 2016...
First ever Tweet in September 2011 - no followers - nobody engaged :(

And of course - a big thank you to the 5,000th follower...
Thanks for the follow Mr Reis!