| Article Archive
Features List 13
Taking Teamwork 2 the next level
From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 22 No 9 - SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2009
David Chadwick says that Graphisoft may have found the 'Holy Grail' in BIM collaboration. Some claim - but then itís some software development!
Ever had a conversation like this around the coffee machine?: ďHi Paul, you wonít believe it, but just as I was about to drop in a couple of bathroom fittings in the plan for the hotel bathrooms, Felipe in Barcelona changed the position of the door from left to right!Ē
ďThat's nothing John, Hank in Boston, who's doing the analysis on the building, dropped in a new beam just where I was about to place a boiler - had to change the routing of all the pipework in the cellar!'
A nightmare scenario? If you are into BIM at the moment and working on a global project, with a number of different offices spread around the world engaged in different disciplines - but all working on the same 3D model - then you probably don't have the luxury of knowing what the guys you are collaborating with are doing until some time after the event.
That means that Felipe has to do his amendments to the architecture and then upload them to the project model, and John, who has sorted out his bathroom fitting placements, won't find out that his work has been superseded until he has been informed by Felipe's email, whereupon he has to dig out the latest version of the model that contain Felipe's approved amendments. Hank, meanwhile, slotted his new beam in at the end of his working day, and Paul didn't find out until the morning after, having downloaded the latest version of the model.
In themselves these are minor irritants that go with any sizeable project, but, as projects get larger, more global and increase in complexity, the whole thing starts to get more clunky! Models take longer and longer to upload and download, co-ordination starts to fall to pieces and users start to get generally fed-up! Which is normally the precursor to taking shortcuts.
Numerous attempts have been made to improve the way project members communicate and collaborate with each other, whether by allocating workspaces within a building model to users and locking other users out, by limiting the amount of data being passed between the user and the model server to minimise and speed up data flow, or, in extremis, by giving free reign to users to work on any part of the building they want to.
The first of these requires that anyone else wanting to work on a section has to wait until the previous 'occupier' has uploaded his changes before they can begin! The second group estimates that the probability of conflict will be within acceptable levels, and can be sorted out with a rash of emails - which at least allows some degree of progression on the project!
And, of course, there is the problem of co-ordinating and consolidating all of this 'data exchange'. Great if you have someone dedicated to the task, but a problem if you are working on a project alongside a large corporation and don't happen to have a BIM oriented IT administrator on-site!
None of the options above offer a particularly satisfying solution! So, let's look at the conversation again. John has noticed that Felipe has amended his design mere seconds after it was completed and approved. The modifications appeared as an underlay (in a different colour) to the section that John is working on. He can now change his design in real-time to suit Felipe's design - informing Felipe that he has done so. Paul can see Hank's addition the moment he logs on in the morning, without having to download any models, and can react to it immediately. They are on opposite sides of the world to each other, but they could almost be sharing the next desk. Hey presto - we have real-time collaboration!
And it doesn't just end there. Pop-ups on the screen will inform you immediately when changes are being made, by whom, and to what - a complete, ongoing, real-time dialogue to support the whole collaboration process.
The 'Holy Grail' of BIM? The concept is all about sharing data quickly and effectively - and you can't get any quicker or more effective than this! It's especially apt that itís Graphisoft who are leading us into the next level of collaboration, just as they were the forerunners of the BIM concept itself (at least of those equally forward looking architectural CAD software companies that are still in existence). The latest development of ArchiCAD, Version 13 of Graphisoft's flagship product, gives architects and designers the opportunity to get their hands on this groundbreaking product - Teamwork 2. In fact, ArchiCAD 13 is largely based around this latest version of Teamwork, the result of a massive reappraisal of the way that BIM operates, and a restructuring of a well known and respected software package to produce the next generation of building design and collaboration using BIM.
It is also a product of our times, when 24-hour access to broadband gives companies the ability to remain online as part of a 'global loop', able to receive data automatically and at any time. And, as the amount of information required to update the model you are working on is absolutely minimal, it can be sent in a matter of seconds - quicker than your ability to download even a modest 3D model from a central server!
THE ENGINE BEHIND TEAMWORK 2
Graphisoft has achieved something that nobody else has managed yet by sorting out the way it handles data in a 3D model, creating a relational database that treats each element as a separate entity - rather than linked to other elements - so that they can be updated independently. The whole 'model' can then be held on a central server DBMS - the Graphisoft BIM Server - that maintains and updates the central model with just the changes and edits performed by each user.
If a user requires a number of elements to work on, these can be 'reserved' or 'released' in the normal way, automatically informing other clients working in the same area. Any element that can be seen in a model view is available for selection or reservation - and this is what is shown, colour coded, in all other users views - with the other users notified by a system of 'lamps'. It's not only elements that can be saved. Attributes, annotations and other nonmodelled data and views can be selected and reserved as well. Changes to any element are relayed back to the project model held on the central server and validated so that it can be used to update the model - minimising the amount of traffic on the network. Besides knocking 100MB files down to a tiny fraction of the size, there is less chance of transmitting corrupted data between users and the server. And if any file data becomes corrupted should a connection fail then you won't lose much, either, as the system will automatically revert to the last complete successful update - and tell you that it has done so!
Supporting the Teamwork process is a real-time on-screen messaging system that shows users reservations, changes and releases. It also provides a means of communicating between users to solve any reservation or update conflicts. Besides providing an instant method of collaboration between users at all levels, it maintains a full history of communications - questions, comments and so on - with the ability to include mark-up sessions as well as edits. Teamwork is also flexible enough to allow users to request to 'borrow' elements from other users who are working on them, actioned by a button in the message palette, as well as offering standard options such as To Do, Pending and Done Lists. Hovering over individual reserved elements with the Mouse will also reveal information about it - who reserved it and when - and other useful information. Itís a handy, and nonintrusive, guide for managers to check what's happening within the project.
ArchiCAD 13 will be available at the end of this month, together with Teamwork 2. It's a major breakthrough in BIM workflow flexibility and collaboration, which can be used effectively by both large corporations or small, localised teams of architects and engineers. Even if you use an entirely different suite of architectural CAD tools, you should somehow arrange a live demo of TW2, so that you can see how BIM should be able to work together - and what your particular supplier will be forced to provide to follow suit! www.graphisoft.com
©2006 BTC. All rights reserved.
No part of this site may be reproduced without written permission of the owners.