New Features in Other AEC Applications
Analysis and Conclusions
With regard to Revit itself, the “guts” of the application itself are still so powerful and user-friendly that it’s a mystery why Autodesk does not make a free version of Revit available for anyone to use, similar to the free version of SketchUp. Sure, there’s Revit LT, but it is still designed for professional users and is not free. I think it would be terrific to have a very lightweight version of Revit for non-professional users, even if they are still students in school. A recent personal incident brought this to light for me. A few weeks ago, my middle-school son was assigned a math project, as part of a team, to design a residential floor plan and calculate floor areas and surface areas of walls to determine quantities of carpet and paint. While designing the plan and doing the calculations was easy for the team, they were also required to model the plan on the computer. They spent a long time struggling to do this in various online design applications including Autodesk’s own Homestyler and Floorplanner, and even the free version of SketchUp that they downloaded, but they found it extremely difficult. Finally, the day before their deadline, I offered the use of Revit on my computer, and after just a brief demo of how Revit works, they were able to model their design in Revit in less than 10 minutes. While they were thrilled and raved about how easy Revit was to use, I found it sad that middle-school students had to resort to a professional-level BIM application for their project. I wish Autodesk as well as the other BIM vendors would step up and provide free trimmed-down versions of their applications for the public at large.
I was also disappointed to find there were no new design conceptualization capabilities in Revit 2017, making it increasingly removed from the early stage design process—unless it involves the floor plan approach, in which case it works very well (like the middle-school project I mentioned). Autodesk did not share any updates at this time to its FormIt and Dynamo design conceptualization tools, and it’s possible that these will be revealed at the upcoming AIA Convention, similar to how they were shared last year at AIA 2015. While both FormIt and Dynamo are valuable applications in their own right, I think it’s a pity that Revit is becoming increasingly tuned primarily for detailed design, given how much potential it has for early stage design. If we compare Autodesk’s building design applications with its infrastructure design applications, Revit seems to be becoming more like AutoCAD Civil 3D which is intended for detailed design and documentation rather than an intelligent design tool like InfraWorks that has a lot of built-in automated smarts for modeling and analysis.
What does it take for Autodesk to come up with a BuildingWorks application, à la InfraWorks, for building design?