This review will contain a general review of Tekla BIMsight with occasional comparison to existing products such as Autodesk Navisworks or the Solibri Model Checker, products the Tekla group likes to use in comparison. I have broken down this review into multiple categories so as to make it easy depending on what topic you would like to review.
~ This is a free software compared to $8k to $7k priced Autodesk Navisworks or Solibri’s suite of products.
~ Tekla BIMsight advertises it is a replacement for Navisworks & Solibri with more function, based on a list of 17 functions in total provided in a chart on their website.
~ Tekla BIMsight is a half web-based and half computer-based. What I mean by this is that you have to log-in to use this product, but the installation of the product is on your computer.
~ General video tutorials are very basic, but could be a bit more in depth.
~ With all the latest virtualized hardware setups that firms are adopting as we march toward ‘the cloud,’ such as WMware running Virtual Desktops, Tekal BIMSight like many others will not work as great on these virtual machines as they use and require a Graphics Card. So if you are using a Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) you are out of luck. This program definitely requires dedicated graphics and it will crawl if you don’t have it.
~ On a machine with the latest graphics card (I’m using Nvidia GTX850), the program works amazingly smooth and fast.
~ Testing the program on the sample project, it uses slightly less than 1GB of RAM.
~ The program requires you to use IFC format (Industry Foundation Class). An IFC export from Revit (which supports IFC2x3 (more information on the IFC file format can be found here from the IAI & bSA)) export will get your model into Tekla BIMsight.
~ Elements come grouped to their object Category which a great benefit, whereas in Navisworks there is a lot of time needed for setup, assigning each group of items into a ‘selection set.
~ All element information is pulled in from Revit and goes into great detail down to the version of Revit.
~ External Documents can be added to the project, such as cut sheets, specifications, etc.
~ Notes can also be added to the project and elements.
~ Colors of Categories or individual elements can be changed easily. There are preselected options as well as custom options.
~ Clash detection rules are very easy to set by selecting the categories and setting tolerances.
~ Running the clash detection on a basic project such as the sample house provided by Autodesk seems to take significant amount of time in the last 10% of the process (as indicated in the process bar).
~ Graphics visualization in terms of clash detection and seeing the exact location of the problem is hard and cumbersome, similar to Navisworks. To see the Conflicts you have to use put it in X-Ray view to see the elements that are clashing. At times it will only show an outline of the elements which gets even harder. A big project with multiple levels would be extremely hard to pinpoint.
~ Unfortunately, I did not find any real description of which element is hitting which element; it’s a real guessing game.
~ Walls are somehow recognized in different Categories, this depends on how the walls (combination of different wall type elements) were made in Revit.
~ Reports – There is no option for creating reports which should have been a basic requirement. So it can’t be used for any governmental project especially since their requirement is to produce reports. This is the biggest downside to this product, particularly for organizations such as the VA that require these reports as a deliverable.
~ It has the typical digital redlining & measuring tools (similar to Autodesk Design Review) that work quite well.
~ Snapshots – this is another item that is also a must and is missing. There is no way of documenting mark-ups. Users instead must rely on a screen capture tool, such as Jing or SnagIt.
~ The program does seem to hang and crash when running clash detection or even at times selecting objects. It is perhaps not as stable as should be.
In general, Tekla BIMSight is a product that has great potential, but has a long way to go in improvements to make it useful for a large firm where deliverables are based on generated reports. It really comes down to this: I would be reluctant to to train staff in a large organization on a product that is free, but lacking necessary options & end user easiness especially in clash detection. However, there are useful features for lighter work loads, and perhaps while it does not fit Cannon Design as a strategic tool, when we talked internally, we all agreed that we like where Tekla is going with Tekla BIMSight and plan to stay tuned to their progress.
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