Friday, 7 April 2017

Publishing your specification - Post 3 of 3 (Online model viewer)

This is the third of three posts looking at publishing information from NBS so that it can be used by the wider project team. The first of these posts looked at exporting to Microsoft Word to improve the aesthetics of the published output, the second post looked at exporting to the open data format COBie.

This post looks a little more to the future where the specification can be published to a secure website where the wider project team can view the information from the context of the 3D model.

The traditional method of publishing a specification is to print it out or export to PDF format and send to the project team. A hard copy/PDF record is clearly required (and still will be required) contractually - but problems can arise if multiple copies of this are distributed around the project team and as the specification is intended to be viewed from the context of the design - it means that there is a lot of navigation required to find what is needed. Figure 1 illustrates this.
Figure 1 - Recreating the paper workflow - but with PDF
Figure 2 below displays the concept of (in addition to the PDF record) the specification being uploaded to the cloud in its native format so that the rich data can be viewed from the context of the model.
Figure 2 - Access the model and specification using the cloud
I put together a video explaining this new development...

To try out the functionality, simply create a project in the BIM Toolkit and then hit the 'model' button upload your specification and/or model. This will then be hosted in the cloud and you can invite project team members to view this information read-only without installing any software. These steps are shown below:
A. Select 'Model'

B. Browse to specification and/or model

C. Invite the project team
The specification information may be viewed by clicking on the specification to the left. This also selects any linked instances of this in the model. Alternatively, items in the model may be clicked and the associated specification will be shown.

Models may be in IFC or Revit format. With IFC format the author must link objects using the viewer. With Revit format, the objects may be pre-linked using the NBS Plug-in for Autodesk Revit. Figure 3 below shows the viewer working with the 'famous' IFC Duplex Apartment model. Figure 4 below shows the viewer working with our model of our own NBS office building in Newcastle.
Figure 5 - IFC linked to the NBS spec

Figure 6 - The spec for our cafe roof up in NBS Newcastle
There are lots of nice things to discover such as classification mappings, first person walkthroughs, clause linkage, automated quantities, links to standards, links to manufacturers, standardised object properties - but maybe they are a subject for a follow up post.

Please try out this functionality and let us know what you like and your suggestions for improvement at our ideas board:
- Try it out now -
Give us your ideas

The technology used for the 3D model viewing is Autodesk Forge. NBS are Autodesk Solutions Associate partners.

With all developments, I love to look back at the initial sketches for the idea. Below is a couple of photos from the Forge Conference in 2016 and some sketches on the back of an envelope over a beer with Jim Quanci.

Forge DevCon 2016

Scribbles that start the development process

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