Geo Week News

February 28, 2011

Here come the free downloads


Tom Sawyer’s headline was pretty hard to miss: “Release of Free 3D Model Viewer Rocks the BIM World.”

What could be so causing such a tizzy?

Tekla’s BIMSight is causing such a tizzy. Tagged by Tekla as “the Adobe reader of the AEC community,” it’s pretty much just that. It’s a tool for sharing BIMs back and forth between stakeholders on a projects, allowing for mark-up, automatic clash detection, and just general collaboration. Tekla even has designs on eliminating 2D drawings altogether. 

I aim for a paperless office. Tekla aims for a “paperless construction process.”

For the full primer, watch the video here. It’s actually very well done and worth sitting through for the full three minutes or so. I like, personally, how the voiceover is not quite human, not quite robot. It’s like Tekla hired a cyborg to do its narration. Nice touch. 

More important, however, is that this whole piece of software is free for download to anyone who wants it. 

Yep. Free.

Looks like it’s fairly similar to Autodesk’s free Design Review, actually. 

Tekla’s BIMSight: So easy, even an architect could use it!

The idea, of course, whenever you’re downloading free software from a company that makes its money selling software, is to get you hooked. “Hey, this company’s software does some pretty awesome stuff even when it’s free,” you’re thinking. “The heavy-duty stuff probably rocks.” How many people have bought Adobe products because the reader is just ubiquitous and they can’t think of any other company?

But this is also a great sign for the market. Nobody bothers to offer free software into a stagnant market. Nobody bothers to offer free software into a market where there’s no competition. Companies like Tekla and Autodesk are looking to expand 3D imaging and BIM out into the mainstream and this is definitely the way to go about it.

Best of all, though, is that Tekla’s new free product isn’t just free, but is apparently making people weak in the knees. Did you read those quotes in Tom Sawyer’s story?

“I love BIMSight! It’s an incredible tool as it sits and is only going to get better,” wrote Gino Cecchetto, manager of BIM Services at Blach Construction, Santa Clara, Calif., responding to an e-mailed request for comment. “What really has me smitten is that it has completely broken down the collaboration barriers between us and our construction team members, and at no cost!” 

Gino’s giddier than a school girl who’s just seen Justin Bieber. We’re talking two exclamation points here. And the use of the word “smitten.” 

And I love the way Tekla is bringing mass-market thinking to BIM. In that video, they implore, “test it out with your kids!” Because that’s what software is supposed to be: easy. The quote from Andy Dickey in Tom Sawyer’s piece is so right on the money it’s like it came out of my own head:

“We’re not demonstrating Tekla BIMSight. Just download it and use it,” says Andy Dickey, Tekla’s U.S. construction segment’s business manager … “There are no training classes,” he adds. “If we have to do that, we haven’t done it right.” 

Yes. Yes. Yes. That’s how you think about software. Download it and use it. Figure it out. If you can’t figure it out, quit your job. 

BIM’s the new buzzword. BIM’s hot. That means people are going to be poking their noses into it. If the first tools they find for interacting with BIM are confusing and annoying, that’s how they’ll label the whole concept. 

“Yeah, BIM. I looked into it. It’s a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that people use to confuse those of us who actually know what they’re talking about,” said the recently discouraged newcomer who likes to look like he always knows what he’s talking about. 

If that newcomer finds easy tools that make his job easier so he can spend more time on the golf course (er, I mean with his kids)? Then you’ve got yourself an evangelist. 

I think we’ll start seeing the evangelists lining up pretty soon.

(Edit March 1: Speaking for free downloads, how about a free SDK for interacting with the Kinect? Might that be useful? Well, SoftKinetic has you covered, beating Microsoft to their own punch.)

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