Bentley’s i-Models for the basis for the exchange of any information related to a project including models, documents, and soon, Point Clouds.
Over the past year Bentley has introduced its i-Model approach as a way to improve communications between people involved in projects. In addition it has rolled out its free i-Ware tools which enable communication and data exchange for specific products and situations. An i-Model is a container for data exchange and enables bidirectional feedback. The creator of an i-Model can define what information is visible and how it can be interacted with. Since introducing the concept of i-Models, Bentley has introduced an i-Model plug in for Revit, and i-Models can of course be used within Microstation and other Bentley software products. Bentley also has a tool called Bentley i-Model Composer which is available with a ProjectWise Passport. The i-Models can combine different types of information including 2D/3D geometry such as DGN, Revit, DWG, DXF, Rhino (3DM), and 3DS files. It can also include business data and i-Models includes data about where the information came from, its provenance.
Since their introduction last year, i-Models have been available within Bentley applications as an exchange tool, but at Be Inspired the company announced that it has been working with Adobe to enable support for 3D PDFs so now people can create iModels and view them using Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader. Along with support for Adobe Acrobat comes support for BlueBeam’s Acrobat tools for mark-up and Review. BlueBeam Revu will work with iModels delivered in Acrobat format. Documents marked up using BlueBeam’s Revu can be sync’d with ProjectWise to maintain information integrity throughout a project. In addition, Greg Bentley told the audience that the ability to package Point Cloud data in 3D PDFs will be coming soon thanks to Bentley’s newly acquired point cloud capabilities that have come with its acquisition of Pointools and their OEM Vortex Engine which enables access to point cloud data within applications.
iModels for iPad
It’s almost a given that i-Models go mobile. Bentley has introduced the Bentley Navigator for the iPad along with ProjectWise Explorer for the iPad. Using Bentley Navigator for the iPad, people can view and navigate through i-Models. In addition, annotations can be made on the iPad and updated. ProjectWise Explorer for the iPad is available to ProjectWise Passport holders and, as the name implies, it provides another window for ProjectWise users to access project information. Bentley is also taking advantage of Adobe’s DRM (data rights management) tools so that the creators of the information can define who has the rights to see i-Model data and they can set expiration dates and add points to updates. One of the most important underlying messages at the Bentley Be Inspired event was that communication is the point of design and engineering documents. Increasingly, how information was created is becoming less of an issue compared to how that information is communicated to the people who need to know.
What do we think?
Adobe’s 3D PDFs are becoming a standard for delivering 3D information along with relevant supporting documents. The standard is widely used in manufacturing and as part of a PLM workflow, so it’s logical it be incorporated into BIM workflows as well. The beauty of the PDF format and 3D PDFs specifically is that the data can be organized so the the person getting the document can be directed to the relevant points. They can turn on and turn off information. They can navigate through the document and annotate it. What they don’t have to do is learn how to use and maintain a resource-heavy content creation tool for 2D or 3D CAD if all they really want to see is the information. — K.M.