Spring is in the air and with it comes a slew of software updates and digital tools from the major developers. Here’s an overview of the digital tools to improve how your firm works in the office and in the field.

Autodesk Revit 2015 has a sketchy lines feature to give building models a handcrafted feel.

Autodesk Revit 2015 has a sketchy lines feature to give building models a handcrafted feel.

Credit: Autodesk

Autodesk 2015 Building Design Suite
Today, Autodesk released its 2015 Building Design Suite in the U.S. Offered in three editions—standard, premium, and ultimate—the software portfolio can include everything from AutoCAD to Revit, and from 3ds Max Design to Navisworks Manage. Updates include sleeker interfaces that give designers more straightforward access to user tools and to Autodesk BIM 360, which can be used to collect and manage construction data through mobile devices and the Cloud.

With reality capture picking up steam in field surveying, construction monitoring, and as-built documentation, Autodesk has also improved its programs’ processing and visualization abilities of point cloud datasets, which are processing-power hogs and typically unwieldy to work with.

Autodesk has improved the processing and visualization capabilities for point-cloud data in its 2015 Building Design Suite, including ReCap.

Autodesk has improved the processing and visualization capabilities for point-cloud data in its 2015 Building Design Suite, including ReCap.

Credit: Sunny Hira / Courtesy Autodesk

The increasing complexity of building projects and size of project teams require the production and manipulation of more complex models, says Jim Lynch, vice president of Autodesk’s Building Products Group. The release also includes improvements to background processing and scalability and new user tools. In a manner reminiscent of finishes that are purposefully distressed, Autodesk Revit 2015 can now emulate a look of hand sketching in building models through its aptly named sketchy lines feature.

Revit 2015 enables images to appear in project schedules.

Revit 2015 enables images to appear in project schedules.

Credit: Autodesk

Building performance assessment tools were also improved, Lynch says. “We have new energy analysis capabilities that provide a lot of savings in both the time and skill required.” Several programs in the suite integrate these tools, which are powered on the backend by Autodesk Green Building Studio. These energy assessment tools are intuitive enough for use by architects in the conceptual design phase, in a program such as Dynamo (which is free and on the cloud), Lynch says, but robust enough for use by energy consultants in later design stages in programs such as Revit.

Pricing for the 2015 Building Design Suite varies depending on the edition and purchase option. The suggested retail price for a perpetual license for the premium edition is $6,825 in the U.S. while an annual desktop subscription will cost $3,415.

Though the Building Design Suite is for the Windows operating system, Autodesk supports Mac users running the suite through Parallels, VMware Fusion, and Bootcamp.

Autodesk also released a 2015 version of its Infrastructure Design Suite and Plant Design Suite.

Graphisoft BIMcloud Solution
Graphisoft, a part of the Nemetschek Group, recently announced its forthcoming BIMcloud Solution, a cloud-based collaboration platform that allows teams of any size, in multiple locations, to work together on native BIM data in real-time. Graphisoft’s Delta-Server technology provides the processing muscle for the service, which requires users only to have a basic Internet connection.

The system is flexible and scalable, according to Graphisoft. It can be deployed on public and private cloud setups that demand different levels of security. As the number of projects using the cloud-based platform grows, Graphisoft can automatically call in new BIMcloud servers to handle the workload.

BIMcloud Solution’s built-in conflict resolution alleviates the issue of server locks, where users vying to access the same data may find themselves locked out until another user closes out the resources.

Graphisoft BIMcloud was released in Japan on Mar. 25 and will be rolled out worldwide with the forthcoming ArchiCAD 18 in the first half of 2014.

Bentley Systems ProjectWise Construction Work Package Server
Introduced last fall at Bentley Systems’ Year in Infrastructure 2013 conference, Bentley Systems’ ProjectWise Construction Work Package Server presents a relatively new concept to the AEC industry. The work packaging methodology distills information needed for construction from multiple sources—designers, engineers, and manufacturers—into installation work packages, or bites of actionable information.

ProjectWise Construction Work Package Server allows team members to visualize construction processes in 3D based on different installation work packages.

ProjectWise Construction Work Package Server allows team members to visualize construction processes in 3D based on different installation work packages.

Credit: Bentley Systems

The work package server draws information from plant design and structural design programs, such as Bentley PlantSpace programs and Tekla Structures, and helps users create, publish, edit, manage, and distill work packages. When viewing a building model, contractors can then see the relevant infrastructure and components associated with the particular installation work package.

By targeting construction inefficiencies, including poor field planning, cost overruns, and schedule delays, the result is safer and more predictable construction processes, according to Bentley. Architects and owners also benefit by more streamlined and productive project workflows. And who doesn’t want that?