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Features List 13
From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 18 No 01 - JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2005
The latest version of NavisWorks – JetStream – finally succumbs to the lures of the computer games industry, by adding the details that make kid’s games more lifelike – and exciting!
Anyone with children (the small creatures that you don’t see very often
because they are upstairs in their bedrooms, playing the latest computer games!)
will have noticed the distinct similarity between design review software, such
as NavisWorks, and the ‘shoot-em-up’ and other games that they waste their time
on. Except for a couple of small omissions. In their vivid scenarios they
experience a definite reaction if they bump into things! Their characters also
suffer the effects of gravity – they can walk along gantries, climb stairs, fall
over the edge of buildings – normal sorts of activity that you and I in the real
world seem to be subject to. They can also see things from more than one
perspective – the subject.
Small matters. Not of great consequence when you are navigating your way through a complex piece of process plant. Exceptionally important, though, to the demanding participants in the gaming world, where failure to create lifelike and interactive scenarios can be the kiss of death to the software. Kids have an infallible grapevine through which they can transmit their positive or negative impressions that transcends the Internet.
Provide the same simple capabilities in a design review package, and you will not only heighten the viewing experience, but will also widen the potential scope for the software’s use. It becomes much more than just a handy way of looking in detail at the geometry of a particular construction, but enables it to be used as a training tool for those people that will be employed on the site, enable them to interact with particular pieces of equipment – such as turning on valves, and checking access clearances – and to see the construction from a ‘human’ rather than an agile bats perspective.
JetStream, the latest version of NavisWorks design review software, includes just these capabilities. They have added collision detection, gravity and third person view to the software. They have added a lot of other things as well, in the fourth major revision of the product, transforming the use of it into a much more pleasurable and interesting experience!
NavisWorks was always quite a simple product to use. It has always possessed considerable strengths in its user interface, and the way in which it could be used to navigate the smallest mechanical component to the largest building project. Some construction companies use it as the focal point for projects, because of its ability to work with a multitude of file formats, combining all construction data into a large, easily accessible whole. The new navigation tools enhance its ease of use, giving the viewer a more natural perspective on the model.
Not just the navigation tools, either. The photorealistic renderings used in earlier versions of the software ‘lacked realism’. By completely redesigning the Presenter JS GUI, NavisWorks can go through a simple 5 step process to produce far more photorealistic output.
When it comes to handling small or large models, NavisWorks has put some work into rewriting the real-time engine, as well, so that, whatever the size of the model, or the hardware that it is being viewed on, navigation through it remains smooth and straightforward.
NavisWorks is designed to simplify a designer’s access to his, or her, model. This entails allowing the review tool to be integrated with the way in which they use their existing design tools, and not force them to learn a new style of working. Its import and export functions have been expanded, therefore, to allow NavisWorks to be tailored to a users requirements, whatever software they are using – part and parcel of the JetStream that aims to streamline the design review process.
Part of the streamlining process (hence, presumably, the name given to the new version of the software) is exemplified in TimeLiner JS rules which simplify task creation in 4D construction simulation – a process that enables users to view models over specified time scales. Clash Detective JS can import and export XML rules, created as company standards, for use by all designers across different projects within a company, saving considerable time in developing scenarios.
Handling large models, again – something that could cause major problems when users try to stream them over the Internet. NavisWorks JetStream has made significant improvements to the way in which this is usually done. Now, models can just be published out as .NWD files, without having to pre-prepare the model, or to use third-party server hosting, with the user merely having to open the URL in Roamer JS or Freedom JS, download the model index, the size of which depending upon the original file format and metadata, and navigate those parts of the model that they are interested in – the remainder of the model being available, should it be required, on demand.
Other areas that have been enhanced include Redline text and tags, enabling users to enter text directly onto viewpoints, or unique ID tags to objects. Viewpoints can be automatically created, and tag comments can be added, together with status setting and search capabilities.
TimeLiner extends its usefulness with hierarchy support for MS Project, enabling users to specify planned or actual scheduling, and will now allow for the import of multiple fields.
There is also a new style for animation and image export, allowing users to choose different styles of source, renderer and output, such as Presenter rendered TimeLiner .AVIs. AVIs can also be set up to export static image sequences.
Autodesk users are particularly well catered for in JetStream. NavisWorks already licenses Autodesk ObjectDBX for full file format fidelity. Now, in addition, they have added some enhancements to the software to satisfy demands from Autodesk based customers.
For instance, textures and materials used in ADST have been mapped to Presenter JS, negating the need for re-work on the models. JetStream now has 8 and 24 bit colour support – inherent, perhaps, in its increased photorealism! Improved xref layer handling provides the familiar component tree, and Viz exporter has been improved to handle Bump Maps.
Freedom JS is a piece of free software that can be used to view and roam through 3D .NWD models created by NavisWorks’ Publisher JS. It allows users without design software skills to explore project models, free from the limitation of pre-programmed animation. Some of the features enjoyed by Roamer JS, the professional viewer, have been added to Freedom JS, such as the powerful real-time 3D engine for large model handling, and the ability to open, view and walk through JetStream .NWD files using the Internet. Freedom JS users can now, also, view animations. They can also experience the latest goodies in the software – collision detection, gravity, 3rd person view and hyperlink viewing.
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