RVT, the future of interoperable BIM?

A post by Rob Clark on his BIM Implementation blog followed up by my response:

So, I want to put a thought out there.   I’m sure it’s not original, but I’ve never heard anybody suggest it and I am beginning to wonder why.

Is the Revit RVT database the future of interoperable BIM in the design phase?

I know, I know, I can hear the screams already!  It’s under the control of a massive commercial outfit. It’s not an open format. Why RVT over other formats? Why not IFC?  It purely serves the interests of Autodesk, everybody else has to put the effort in to make their data fit. Wouldn’t it harm competition?

All reasonable points, if I do say so myself.

Can we all agree at least that the requirement for a person working with Autodesk Revit Structure wanting to work intelligently and collaboratively with somebody using Bentley Architecture in a standard UK AEC model sharing arrangement (i.e. without having to go via 3rd party formats which debatably don’t work) is a reasonable one?

What we have seen over the last year especially in the UK is Autodesk Revit establishing a major dominance.  According to the recent NBS BIM Survey (Link), Revit is used by 55% of all those using object orientated software – the other major titles, Vectorworks, ArchiCAD and Bentley Building Suite each have 15%.  Personal opinion, I expect that market share to rise over the next couple of years.

When we looks at the Sony Blu-Ray and the Toshiba HD DVD, we see how capitalism solved that issue.  Blu-ray won out because it was more popular.  Toshiba and other DVD player makers now all produce their players to play Blu-Ray, but they do it to their own design, with their own features and they do so in an openly competitive market.  Indeed, it could reasonably be said that the death of HD DVD helped Toshiba and the whole industry move forward.

So, and this is a open question, is selecting a dominant format the answer for BIM in Design?

If Bentley, Graphisoft and Nemetschek worked with Autodesk to overcome some of the issues I list above and become complimentnatively with the RVT format, perhaps even with RFA becoming the standard content holder, wouldn’t we all be better off?  Wouldn’t it allow for more and fairer competition between the software developers while allowing us all to move forward into truly interoperable Building Information Modelling instead of messing around with flaky middle men file formats?

In anticipation of the shouts of technical nativity – the technical challenges are of course there.  There will be things the Bentley software will want to put into the database that isn’t present in RVT.  Autodesk would need to make RVT more flexible and of course open.  Why would they do that?  Best I can come up with is that an open market is one with much more opportunity.

My response: 

Nice article. In a community where the programming and development of new software is created and utilised internally, it is difficult to say that one company i.e. Autodesk should have complete ownership and control of the whole process. Those who are working hard on developing IFC, COBie etc. will have a hard time agreeing with this article and understandably so.

In my personal opinion as a Revit user, what you are suggesting seems like the ideal solution, (we make no sacrifice, and keep working on what we love, and everyone else is forced to jump on board.) But for those who are pro Bentley, ArchiCAD etc, this will be a tough one to swallow I think!

The only way that this could work in my opinion, is if Autodesk (as you say) begin to develop the .RVT file format with the input of their main competitors to become more open and compatible with rival software packages. At the end of the day, these users are not going to want to change their primary work tools to suit us Revit lovers! Can’t see it happening in the near future anyway unless Autodesk buys out their competitors!

Head over to the BIM Implementation blog to let you’re opinions be heard!

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About Ben Malone

Information Manager for BIM.Technologies in London

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