bim interoperability tools

We have asked our colleague Jorge Canales Bruno, Senior Product Engineer, to join us for an interview about BIM interoperability tools. With the increasing demand for interoperability between various software packages, we have approached this topic in more detail to help our customers and fans to understand this topic better.

Jorge has been with BuildSoft since October 2014. He does software development for BIM interoperability, which has been his area of expertise for the past several years. He works in our Spanish office in Alicante. Please continue reading to see what he says about this topic from his rich experience.

1. How did you meet BuildSoft? Tell us more about your beginning in the company

I met BuildSoft through one of its resellers, with whom I have had a great friendship for many years. He arranged a meeting with BuildSoft’s CEO, and we had a coffee together to talk about how we could join strengths and experiences to contribute to the nascent BIM Expert project.

We shared the passion for creating high-quality software that helps users be more productive by providing what they truly need. It was the beginning of a solid friendship with the BuildSoft lovely family.

2. What are your current development projects?

I am responsible for BIM Expert plugins’ development. I like connecting different apps among them. It is indeed a challenge that requires knowing the app's capabilities and limitations and its API (Application Programming Interface).

This kind of project forces you always to be a few steps ahead to be ready for new versions, new features, and enhancements, and that is cool indeed.

3. What are your favorite aspects about BuildSoft’s BIM software?

I think that the first one is that BIM Expert respects the data format of each app without using any exchange format. Furthermore, BIM Expert is exponentially scalable since every new supported app can carry out conversions with the rest without any custom implementation.

Thanks to its remote communications within your network, with BIM Expert, you do not need to install all apps on your computer to exchange models seamlessly.

The BIM Expert API is also a fantastic feature that anyone can enjoy by creating custom plugins since, nowadays, most users have development skills.

Having this user-friendly solution to exchange models prevents users from wasting time and data. As such, the risk of mistakes is lower.

Moreover, the notification background system lets the user know when a new conversion is required without looking every minute.

4. Who should use BIM Expert and for what kind of projects?

BIM Expert should be used by engineers, architects, drafters, and any other professional or company involved in the design & analysis of a structural project. It can integrate all the changes, updates, or adjustments made by all the people involved in the project without losing information during the model exchanges.

All projects are alive in a sense. They are dynamic because each project member partially designs and implements changes, and thus, errors can occur. However, BIM Expert is the best ally in any structural project since it ensures essential interoperability.

5. About BIM interoperability tools: why is BIM Expert a great solution?

BIM Expert is an excellent interoperability solution because it lets users keep the state of a structural project up to date in a clear and straightforward way.

When users take advantage of BIM Expert, they will see how much time they can save, increasing their productivity.

In the past, when CAD software appeared, it significantly improved the efficiency of creating drawings and modifying them. By analogy, BIM Expert is a more robust and modern concept. It can boost productivity for structural engineers in their day-to-day work.

6. What’s the key feature in a BIM tool that structural engineers should use?

It is hard to find one. I would probably mention “the specialization”. Every part of the structure (connections, steel members, concrete floors, foundations, detailing, etc.) should be designed by the corresponding specialist because the model can then be exchanged among them and can be adjusted as the designs change.

For example, when the “Connections Engineer designs semi-rigid connections”, the global behavior of the structure changes: deflections, seismic response, and member’s verifications, among others, must be re-checked by the corresponding Engineer/s/Office. Moreover, these connections could be validated/adjusted by the Steel Detailer, so the loop and workflow start. BIM Expert shines in this case and ensures interoperability.

7. What are some common mistakes in model exchanges and how to avoid them?

There are several common mistakes in model exchanges. Sometimes, some elements are ignored either because the corresponding app cannot handle them or because their influence in the entire structure is ignored.

Since BIM Expert handles the analysis and physical models, it creates a synchronism between the physical object and its structural behavior. A solution that only handles the analysis object without the corresponding physical object will create significant problems for the user. A clear example could be: for structural analysis, the engineer wants to consider center-to-center bars, but connected physical parts have eccentricities according to the real positions. Afterwards, any connection designed from the analysis positions will be wrong.

Underestimating the non-linear behavior of connections, foundations, materials, and other elements could be extremely dangerous in the whole structure. A secure design can be performed only when a consistent exchange is carried out. For that, BIM Expert is the solution.

8. Give us an example of a customer project that was done with BIM Expert

bim software


For example, Borreman Constructie Adviesbureau, one of our customers, has used BIM Expert to expand an existing industrial building and adjoining offices for Van Dijk Transport (Kampen, the Netherlands).

They started from a Tekla Structures model that the client approved. Then, they used BIM Expert to do a fluent model exchange with Diamonds, our core structural analysis software. During this process, our BIM software performed vital checks of the model to ensure a match in cross-sections and material properties.

In the next step, they used Diamonds for a 3D structural analysis and did a verification to follow Eurocode 3 requirements. Since the original model was adjusted, they took advantage of BIM Expert’s workflows to report all geometry changes to the whole team.

Read the full story at at this link.

9. How do you see the future of BIM interoperability?

I see the future of BIM interoperability led by software like BIM Expert. I am enthusiastic to see how mentality has changed in the last 15 years in software companies because they are thinking about integration, cooperation, and exchange with other third-party software packages.

Currently, software companies do not want to stay trapped in their ivory tower. They have learnt that users want to take advantage of each app’s strengths to become more efficient and profitable. Products like BIM Expert solve the link between apps.

Nowadays, projects are done by multiple teams from multiple places, even from different countries. So, now more than ever, concepts such as interoperability, communication, integration, efficiency, and BIM are all requirements in a project, not “nice-to-have” options.

BuildSoft understood the emerging trends, the ever-growing needs in the market, and the new rules that appeared. The company immediately detected that it needed a new powerful and user-friendly exchange tool. That is how BIM Expert started. We will soon see how this BIM software will become a must-have tool in every structural engineer’s toolbox.

Try BIM Expert at no cost

Sharing BIM models between various software packages is easy if you use BIM software to ensure interoperability and save time. With our BIM Expert, you get endless exchange possibilities from and to Tekla Structures, Tekla Structural Designer, Idea StatiCa (Connection & others), SAP2000 and Etabs, CXL format, and our Diamonds and PowerConnect products.

Try BIM Expert at no cost by choosing the free trial option. Start from there to see if it fits your needs. We guarantee a short learning curve for beginners and experienced users as well.

If you need more help in better understanding and using our BIM interoperability tool, you can always check our how-to videos on our YouTube channel.

At BuildSoft, we focus on fast, easy-to-use structural analysis software. Start your journey with us and see why our software is loved and recommended by structural engineers.