Saturday, June 12, 2010

SketchUp: A Natural BIM Platform

I was hoping to hear Google say it first..... but: 

Google is the best placed company to help create a true Open Standard for BIM*

Why is this?....

  • It is obvious that Google doesn't have a problem about sharing this platform with anyone else. SketchUp is free after all...
  • Interoperability with Google Earth (or any current or future equivalent public platform) is of fundamental importance for any self-respecting BIM package.
  • Google is quite good at writing code... ; )
  • Other BIM software vendors, (who have some very good products by the way) are operating on antique business and revenue models that seem to ignore the fact that the internet has arrived.
  • BIM is in danger of hitting a dead-end without a strong champion to make Open Standards work.
  • Aspire Architecture is already using SketchUp as a standalone BIM/ CAD tool on successfully completed projects up to €850,000 and is currently working on a €1.5 million project using the same approach.
  • Viewsion has written a training course that shows how SketchUp is used for creating Construction Documents.

Google- Its time to take on this challenge.... (please!)

*Its not too late for AutoDesk, Graphisoft, Bentley, Nemetschek and others to get on board... If you have the best platform (like you say you have) then you shouldn't be afraid of opening it up... 


Georges said...


A software which cannot even deal with a circle precisly, neather with nurbs, or solid modeling... which can't find a tangent on a curve or let you draw scale compliant component alone (whithout at least to plug to help !)

How could you possibly imagine that this program could have enought impact in the AEC CAD domain to define BIM Standard !

Moreover, the BIM standard is already inprogress, it's call International Foundation Classes. It's used by ArchiCAD, Revit, RhinoBIM, Vectorworks, MicroStation, Allplan, Arc+, GreenStudio, Energy+...

If you want to put a mess in it, just send them google explain that what they did the past ten year is so false !

viewsion ltd said...

Georges, thanks for your comments. I am aware of IFC, and support such an initiative. Its just that I am worried that its not being taken seriously, hence this statement on BIM Open Standards yesterday from the American Institute of Architects:

I am not trying to downgrade the alternatives to SketchUp. I don't care who creates the standard, as long as it gets done.

I did say in the article that the software packages were good. But they are too expensive and don't focus on the user. The BIM revolution will come from small flexible practises who don't have the money to spend on Revit.

Georges said...

From that point of view, your are totally right, AEC CAD Soft with BIM support are to expensive... I would like to find some soft as Sketchup with BIM standard.

But we have to wait for a long time before Google put STEP compliant geometry and begin to deal fluently with nurbs and solid modeling...

I use it every weeks for private and professional modeling, but It's no longer the Sketchup we know... It's full of plugins, to simulate nurbs, curves and enable volume calculation, better use of layers, automatic sections... All those things scripted in ruby, really helpful, but quite slow when dealing with big geometry... Just because they aren't inbuilt solutions...

For that reason, I am slowly searching my way with other soft : Rhino, Sapceclaim, or freecad... Soft initialy developed for mechanical design, with user -based UI, and which can evolve to AEC soft, and deal with complex geometry and history-based construction modeling more easily...

But, of course, Google is full of surprises, so wait and see...

Andrew Dwight said...

Plug in BIM for Sketchup free and pro
... I have Sketchup doing an impressive take off with costs, component counts,lineal and square meters. Its a fast, easy concept and works well, yet I have a few bugs to be ironed out.
I hope to complete the ruby in my spare time, this way I can keep it affordable to all SU users.

Cyrille said...

I agree SketchUp could play an important role in the real breakthrough in BIM.

Especially since it's FREE. 98% of all architecture building and planning students at my university are using SketchUp.

Furthermore, just imagine what would be possible if Google would put some of its cash behind developing a mature BIM version of SketchUp, maybe incorporate some of its Google docs features in there to really make use of the I, the Information within a 3D model...

I also support IFC, open standards, Building SMART, COINS, etc. but to me it seems most 'BIM' softwares (like Revit, Vectorworks, Arkey) use IFC according to their own standards! The IFC 2x3 "seal-of-approval" on the box means squad-all when you're trying to communicate between different softwares! Neither is there a possibility to script within the code, since it's not open source, unlike SketchUps Ruby API...

p.s. who uses nurbs in buildings anyways? The last time a true "nurby" building was made, it was in Bilbao and the architectural firm had to develop it's own CAD software to figure out the geometry! I say, build boxes! It's just cheaper ;)

p.s.2. I really think it's just a matter of time before Larry and Sergey realise there's a lot of Google-potential in the multi million CAD world, since we can seriously use some structuring of information in our building proces.

Andrew Dwight said...

Can anyone give me an example of how they would like a SU BOM to read?

I am confident I can make it happen.

viewsion ltd said...

Muy thanks for the comments guys. Andrew apologies for the late inclusion. I had read your post and was very intrerested in it. Please email us We want to talk to you about your idea- It sounds great.

Ric said...

I think that open source for this kind of standard is really necessary. The construction industry is an inherently secretive and adversarial.

Open source would, I hope begin a sea change to the industry in the long run.

Right now the values embedded in the current BIM paradigm are very old world.

I'm working on a way to apply some of the of the opensource collaboration software currently used for software engineering as the starting point for a new BIM standards creation platform.

The existing BIM paradigm is rigid and cumbersome. The Information should flow seamlessly into the at the time it is needed for design decisions, not rigidly as you construct the model.

I think sketchup is an adequate platform to begin an open source effort on while keeping the data open and portable.

Autocad has turned into nothing more than a giant bureaucratic greed driven machine with no respect for the people who depend on these kind of tools to earn a living. They are just another quarterly profit statement producer focused on surviving the next quarter. Personally I'm done participating in that kind of crap.

I think eventually an open source engine would be preferable to skethup in the long run, but you know what they say " Rome wasn't built in a day".

I will be following your site to see how your efforts evolve.

Good Luck

Andrew said...

One important point - SketchUp is not free for commercial use. If you are using it for a paid project, then you need to pay for the licence, at which point you would probably be better off paying for a licence of Rhino3D.

Cyrille said...

@Andrew: SU BOM?

What do you mean by this?

And I have no experience with Rhino whatsoever, but can it create building drawings? As Sketchup can with Layout?

Andrew Dwight said...

SU =Sketchup
BOM = bill of materials.
sorry my typing is so bad I abbreviate 2 much

Alan said...

This is extremely interesting. I don't know if this is already out there, but it would be incredibly convincing if someone created an extensive post showing a set of construction documents created in sketchup and the model (for download) used to create them.

Penna said...

Check out SketchUp 8 with it's union-subtract- etcetera tools! Parametrics enough now to seriously start the BIM quest I say!

Cyrille said...

Hello there,

everybody heard the BIG news yet? Trimble is aquiring SketchUp!!!

Looks like Trimble is moving towards an workflow portfolio for A E and C!!!

In oterh word, SketchUp will be BIM pretty soon now!?


Andrew Dwight said...

Hi guys for some time now we have been creating a plug-In for Sketchup that allows users to do a cost analysis with Sketchup ( and many other things like adding windows through double walls and much more. As we got further into the project we realised how much is involved. Essentially the process BIM (building information modelling). Which seams to be the buzz word around the industry at the moment.
If you would like to find out more about what we are doing you can check out the software page here
see more about the plug in that we created here
currently the software is only available in Australia yet you can apply for a pre release version if you are interested in becoming a beta tester.