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The only constant is change: how we made Studio 3DX work in real-time with interactive 3D sessions and virtual meetings🧙🏻

The only constant is change: how we made Studio 3DX's tools work in real-time with interactive 3D sessions inside the BIM viewer and with virtual meetings🧙🏻

a year ago

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December 02, 2020 by Marios Messios, Anninos Loizou & Harry Collin

Up to now you used Studio 3DX to coordinate with your team for BIM projects using our BIM 3D viewer, reporting issues, uploading documents, adding members etc. Today we'll show you how we transformed our framework into the magical realm of real-time. We will reflect on Studio 3DX's past, and look into the new and updated toolkit.

Real-time, virtual meetings, cloud storage and BIM coordination tools for BIM projects

+ Real-time interactivity 🚀

Now this is the time for magic talk. Real-time coordination is not a tool, it's the refactoring of Studio 3DX's behind-the-scenes framework. Think of the Tesla's Model-S with all the amazing specs, speed, beautiful exterior and interior design, premium audio system specifically tuned for a Tesla’s ultra-quiet cabin etc. but with a diesel engine. Does it feel right? No, and that was the old Studio 3DX v0.68. Studio 3DX 1.0 is full of surprises. Our data show an increase of 38% efficiency during coordination meetings. We’re doubling down on this new real-time world.

+ 3DXChat: The first ever video chat solely for BIM coordination within Studio 3DX 🎥

Have your merry little virtual calls from inside Studio 3DX. No more using external apps to see your team or to share your screen and coordinate your meeting. With Studio 3DXChat you can coordinate your BIM project with your team while you are inside the Studio 3DX using video, audio and share screen. Simple as that.

+ Cloud storage: All Studio 3DX premium accounts now include 100 GB storage 💾

The BIM projects our clients share with us on Studio 3DX are getting more complicated and bigger in file size and with our addition of the documents tab there has been a need to increase the storage to all the Studio 3DX accounts. That's what we did. With the same pricing plan you get 100GB in your account with no extra charge. Isn't that a treat?

Studio 3DX's way of reporting issues is changing: issues are now aligned with BCF 2.1 schema and BCF API is on the way

Studio 3DX's first issue system was limiting the users interoperability. These issues were a static instance of a reported problem. We have aligned our issues now with the BIM Collaboration Format - BCF 2.1 and we keep the dynamic aspect of issues coordination and altering the issue. We will keep updating our API to include newer versions of BCF 2.2 and build a API-based BCF communication to stream issues directly into other vendors.

+ Issue Board & Calendar: Simple and easy 📅

We've heard what our customers were saying regarding their daily operations and we introduced B&C, a refurbishment of the old issues tab. Board and calendar are a brand new way of filtering and looking for issues. You can filter by the issues status (Backlog, Open, Review, Closed), their priority (Low-High), their type (Issue or Enquiry), who is it assigned to and the due date. These are all parameters you set when you create a new issue or enquiry. Coming up are 'tasks', read more about it in this section.

Hello Masterplan 2.0, goodbye BIM & GIS Viewer 🏙️

Adding geospatial context to a masterplan is key for the project's early-stage design and site analysis. We’ve merged the BIM and GIS viewer into a powerful Masterplan engine. The Masterplan is a dynamic 3D viewer that loads the project's BIM models on a 3D map alongside GIS data-sources, and generates a masterplan scenario for all stakeholders. We've seen this being used for infrastructure projects where the BIM models are automatically geolocated in the scene and form a long linear masterplan such as a highway or a bridge.

A Professor, a Student and a Freemium walk into Studio 3DX – Introducing our new pricing tiers 🍻

Our new pricing plan now includes an Academic license, a Student license and a Free tier. Drop us a quick email or book a quick 15 mins meeting, we will verify your request, and set your account up on the spot!

Revit Plugin (Alpha version)

For the last few weeks we've been experimenting with an Alpha version of our Revit plugin. Drop us a quick email and we'll send it over. We are now in the process of publishing it to the Autodesk® Store. For any questions on the installation please contact us at info@parametricos.com

Coming soon

  1. IFC model version compare is on its way soon.
  2. Revit plugin through Autodesk® Store and development of plugins for other BIM software vendors.
  3. We are working on an API-based BCF communication and continuous update of existing BCF versions.
  4. We will include 'tasks' as an issue's type for daily operations.
  5. Beta features will be an option to switch it on in your account. You'll have the opportunity to test all our new experiments.

The user's guide to Studio 3DX

A few words from Marios, CEO of Parametricos

Hey, I'm Marios the CEO at Studio 3DX. When we first started Parametricos we had a vision of a synchronous and instant collaboration between our users for their projects. It took us less than a year to develop and optimise Studio 3DX to become the first BIM coordination platform with virtual meetings and a live 3D session.

At Parametricos and more specifically with Studio 3DX we have the pleasure to work with clients from different parts of the world. That gives us deep insights on the features and benefits we develop. These depend on the local policies, standards, project requirements, workflows and even cultural aspects. In these fast and furious times we are living in, one thing is most apparent for my team; in software development an inclusive user-interface (UI) and real-time user-experience (UX) shapes how efficient is our users' workflow and how fast they coordinate.

In this post I will share all the details regarding the Studio 3DX updates and how these were designed to help you improve your workflow and increase your productivity.

Studio 3DX's powerful shift: from a normal online platform to a dynamic real-time engine

The decision to develop behind the scenes a powerful and game changing framework for real time collaboration, was the best we could take. We now deliver a wholistic experience to our customers that cleans their current workflow from using other unnecessary apps and software. In a simple use-case scenario, our customers would need a video-audio chat application, a documents archive system, a cloud coordination solution for BCF issues and a BIM viewer. In the newly and updated introduced tools we will mention below we will dive deeper into each of this tools and how it replaces the traditional methods.

3DXChat – The first video chat for BIM coordination meetings

We spend numerous hours each week working with our customers to identify their needs to ultimately refine our offering. We realised that in order for them to save time, they need to reduce the tools they need to operate. On an average use-case, our customers traditionally use  3 to 5 software in order to coordinate and document correctly. We don't cover all the operations just yet, but we managed to reduce that to 2-3 software. Let's have a look at the traditional methods that our customers used before 3DXChat was introduced.

In the case of a BIM coordination meeting over a virtual meeting:

  1. Open a virtual meeting application such as Teams, Zoom, Skype etc.
  2. Generate a meeting ID and send an invite or send an invite beforehand on a calendar invitation etc.
  3. Open the meeting, share your screen.
  4. Open Studio 3DX or any other BIM coordination software to coordinate.

Traditional method: The attendees would mostly need to fixate on the virtual meeting application without having the flexibility to navigate around the information environment since most of the time the BIM coordinator will share his screen.

Now let's look at the new way of coordinating with Studio 3DX:

  1. Open Studio 3DX and start a virtual coordination meeting with video and chat within Studio 3DX. Result: No need for another virtual meeting's app.
  2. Send over the meeting ID to the other participants to join.
  3. Share your screen or join a BIM model in the 3D viewer and see the location of all the other attendees in 3D space and what they are looking at.

Note: We are adding an option soon to virtually follow a meeting attendee or the host around in Studio 3DX. In this way we are making the necessity to share your screen, redundant.

With 3DXChat all the team members are on the same platform and can navigate around the information environment in real-time with video chat attendees being picture-in-picture.

Live 3D Session – The 3D position of your team in the BIM viewer in real-time

We know that for most of you, shared your screens to describe what you are looking at in the BIM viewer, and if the internet connection was laggy you would get a slow fps (frame per second) response. With the introduction of 'Live 3D Session', you automatically know what each of the user is looking at in the BIM 3D viewer. It shares the same principle with Google's Suite apps (docs, sheets, slides etc.) where you actually see where is your team member located in the document and what are they editing. The difference would be that this happens in 3D space (xyz coordinates).

Here’s how Live 3D Session works:

3D Live Session automatically and continuously tracks where your team is located in 3D space in the BIM 3D viewer.

Note: 3D Live Session is a premium feature but we are temporarily offering it as part of all Studio 3DX's payment plans for the next few weeks.

Benefits:

From testing this solution with a selection of our customers we saw an increase in their productivity and a reduction of the time and money their team or office would spend with traditional methods and other software.

Issues: BCF, boards and calendar

We recently hosted a workshop with P.I.R Labs* where we discussed in depth with industry experts several subjects and one of them was the reporting of issues and other ways to collaborate such as agile methodologies. Always within the BIM framework.

*P.I.R Labs stands for Parametricos Industry Research Laboratory. In simple words, it's the mindset place (or lab) we go for our research, to organise workshops and to really dive deeper into the problems of the construction industry. The latest 3-hours workshop we did was at the end of October 2020 with 12 industry experts.

In combination with the research that Anninos, COO of Parametricos did on the Agile project management in the construction industry, which I encourage you to read; we decided to polish our issues dashboard to include more the option for the user to add different boards, we also added a calendar view of the issues by deadline and we aligned our issues with the BCF V.2.1 XML schema.

What we added:

  1. Aligned issues with BCF V.2.1
  2. Option for the user to create different boards within one project.
  3. New issues dashboard with extensive filtering.
  4. Calendar view of the issues by deadline.

What's coming:

  1. BCF API for seamless connectivity with external applications.
  2. Plugins for sharing and viewing issues in different BIM software.
  3. Kanban boards that displays the issues on Issue Lanes and empowers you to dynamically change the status of the issue by drag n' dropping.

Masterplan 2.0

Everything that a masterplan is, it's in the name. It's a master-plan, a small section of the built environment. It merges the two worlds of 3D buildings and geospatial layers such as roads, highways, green areas and many more or in our case BIM & GIS integration. Studio 3DX is the first BIM and GIS cloud solution that can be used out-of-the-box. I suggest to look into the article from a speech that Marios, CEO of Parametricos gave at the TEE, Technical Chamber of Greece that dives deep into the benefits of geospatial data in BIM.

About price changes on some plans

I must mention that we didn't change our premium pricing plan that's still €49 /user / month with a discount from the original price at €99. What we did was to add new tiers such as a Freemium, an Academic and an Enterprise option and included new features in the pricing such as Virtual Meetings (1000 mins/ month), Live 3D Sessions, Masterplan 2.0 and many more.

Check our complete pricing plan with features and benefits.

The future of Studio 3DX

The future of Studio 3DX is powerful real-time tools and analytics but it will always be based on our customers' needs, industry focus, workflow optimisation and a few more parameters that are aligned with our vision and mission and what we believe in at Parametricos. That is, to improve our built environment with the best way we can, and that's software tools.

We are always open for feedback and deep discussions over a nice cup of coffee, in a virtual meeting, so feel free to drop us a line at any time or book a meeting directly.

Co-written with Anninos Loizou, COO and Harry Collin, Lead Software Developer @ Parametricos Ltd.

Marios Messios

Published a year ago