BIM software to use in 2021 ultimate list

BIM software to use in 2021 ultimate list

Finding a software you need in the BIM environment can be a hard job, as there are many software out there. Not all users need all software of course. But a global understanding of what all BIM software are doing is important. We built this list of the best BIM software available in 2021 to make it easy for everyone interested to find a BIM software and understand what is possible to do with BIM.

BIM software to design a project with BIM model

BIM & CAD software

CAD Software

Allow to create a BIM model whether it is 3D, 2D or BIM, parametric or not

  • AutoCAD
  • Sketch up
  • Archicad
  • Blender

BIM modelling software

Bim modelling software are obviously the most important part of the eco-system and the very minimum software you need to start BIM. Revit is by far the most popular, but of course BIM is not Revit !
Many other options are available like Archicad which is more user-friendly and easier to learn or more advanced solution like Digital project made famous as it is used by Franck Gehry architect to design his incredible geometries.

Digital project

Parametric design software

Image de géométrie paramétrique + Rhino interface

Parametric design software are generally used to handle complex geometries, though they can be used for simple as one! As BIM software, they are parametric by default. Which means that changing object is a simple as typing the value of a parameter, like floor height that allow to change easily at any time. Grasshopper was famous to introduce a pattern called Visual programming language and allow to a non-programmer user to do some powerful automation that are also possible in code for the more advanced users.

  • Rhino
  • Grasshopper (Rhino)
  • Dynamo (Revit) Visual programming extension for Revit
  • Marionette (Vector works)

Generative design

Generative design is new and made possible with the advance of AI based algorithm that are now capable to designing geometries

BIM rendering software

Bim rendering sofware aim is to render the BIM model in a way that is much more realistic that the standard 3D view. Often the software used in this category are also used in video game industry like Twin Motion.

BIM software to check and export data from a BIM model

BIM quality Checking

Allow combining multiple 3D models and run a series of automated tests to control their quality and the inconsistency between models. Those inconsistencies are often named clash.

Example of check that can be made are for example :

  • if a toilet accessibility is correct for disabled people
  • if a ramp have not too much slope percentage for disabled people
  • if there is enough clearance outside of doors or window to open it
  • if a wall have sensible dimensions (normal thickness…)

Example of clash that can be detected :

  • If 2 walls are drawned exactly at the same exact place in the 3D model

Main features of a BIM quality checking software

  • Import BIM files
  • 3D viewer

    • 3D viewer
    • File browser by object and family
    • Property viewer
  • Model checker
  • Clash detection
  • Export of issue with BCF format

Main BIM Quality checking software

To know more about BIM quality checking app I suggest that BIM girl 2019 comparison between Solibri vs Naviswork.

BIM software to view and give feedback on design

BIM viewer

3D models visualization

The goal of those pieces of software is to make all people involved in the project to be able to see and comment the BIM models. Giving feedback early on design where you are at your desk or on the field with your mobile phone is key to save time and design with agility.

Speckle viewer which allow to read multiple format and search by object  not by files

Speckle is a very interesting open source project that allow to display parametric model and allow exposing parameter to be tested, like for example in the case of a tower, size of floor, % of aperture… It makes 3D model more interactive and allow discussion.

Modelo import many types of 3D files and allow to view them in a user-friendly interface. It allows all teams members to see the latest version of the design and give feedback early.

BIM IFC viewer software

Allow to viewer BIM model thanks to their IFC export. IFC is an openbim format that allow to read geometry from any BIM modelling software

BIM Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

BIM Augmented reality software allow displaying BIM model in a virtual / augmented reality lenses. It is especially useful to do some BIM model review while in design stage. Or even to help workers to positioned element or check their work in the construction stage.

Why is Virtual reality useful in Architecture and construction

Here is a small list of new usage than can be achieved with virtual Reality (VR) or augmented Reality (AR) :

  • Virtual collaboration (VR) : Work together in a virtual environment to define the project design !
  • Digital training (AR): train workers on the construction site and guide them through the task they need to perform thanks to an on site superposition of what the need to do and the reality of construction site
  • Virtual selling (VR): Sell to customer thanks to a very realistic 3D with virtual reality
  • Immersive design: Design not your project but in your project ! As if you were building it entirely. As an architect, it changes a lot in the way of “evaluating” the project design

Why virtual reality is good for the client in AEC

Having a much more precise understanding of what the building will look like is full of advantages especially for the client.

  • The client can understand way better the project especially in design stage and share useful feedbacks earlier. Problems can be solved faster and the sooner a problem is solved the less expansive it is
  • It can be incorporated in an agile BIM approachand enhance the demo session of the agile Sprint with VR tools which is also a way for team member to see their project differently
  • It augment the customer satisfaction as the client feel he can really orient the project design and is reassured to see concrete elements he can understand
  • At the end the it is a huge cost saving as it helps save problems and mis-understanding

At which LOD (Level of of detail) does it worth to user Virtual reality?

Using Virtual or Augmented reality is useful an any level of details. It does not matter the geometry be totally refined, as you will loose the advantages of getting early feedbacks from the project stakeholder. The main idea is not to get a “Wao” from customer, but honestly show him the current state of the design and how he can react to it. So at early stage you can show the model with Virtual reallity sofware to show the global massing and the quality of space of your design. While at more advanced level of details, the discussion can go further on more constructive issue relative for example to the precise product you want to build with.

Main features of virtual reality software

  • Integration to Common data environement or BIM modelling software to get the 3D model data
  • Integration to VR headsets like Oculus : to be able to show the 3D meeting
  • Rendering: Before to visualize in a VR meeting a layer of rendering add more realism to the scene
  • Real-time Walk-through : Ability to navigate in the 3D model in real time like a video game
  • Export to muttiple format: video, image, 360 panorama…
  • Virtual meeting: Ability to organize a meeting virtually in the VR scene

Main BIM Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented reality software

BIM software to store and version files

Cloud base file sharing

Simply share your files on the web, with not specifically for architecture & construction. These solutions allow also to create a document online equivalent to a word, excel or PowerPoint.

  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • Microsoft 365

Common data environment

Common data environment are special cloud base file hosting specific to BIM. Often it “understands” the 3D model, provide a 3D viewer and handle versions. It can also serve a BIM model in real time, without the need to have it in our own machine.

Main features of a common data environment solution :

  • Import IFC files : the format that allow to import from many BIM software and is interoperable
  • 2D - 3D viewer : view the model in a browser without having the original modelling software
  • model combination : combine several model to compare them
  • file sharing : share file easily to give access to it
  • read object metadata : inspect all the objects to see their properties and metadata
  • file storage : store BIM model in the cloud
  • file versioning : store versions of files and history of modification
  • access from any device : accessible from any device (mobile, desktop…)
  • annotation, comment and review : give some reaction to a design directly from the collaboration app
  • Task management : maintain a collaborative list of tasks to be done in context with the BIM model
  • Clash detection: detect automatically coordination problem with different models or part of a model

The main BIM Common data environment solutions are:

BIM software to manage the construction phase

BIM software for construction management

BIM software for reality capture

BIM software for IOT and exploitation

BIM software to share BIM objects

BIM sofware to collaborate online and plan project

Project Management App for architecture

Allow to have a global view on the project, the design decision, track tasks and plan the work to be done.

  • Trello
  • Bricks
  • Monograph

Instant messaging app

Instant messaging app now became the first solution to discuss especially when remote working but not only. They are much more easy to use as email, and allow to have some work

  • Slack
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Google chat

BIM coordination management app

These applications allow to manage all detected issues found after combining the collaborator’s BIM models. They generally get the information thanks to a BCF file or API connection. They also allow for not designer people to quickly see the issue found in the model 3D context, right from their browser.

  • BIM track
  • BIM sync
  • BIM collab

Conclusion

The list of BIM software is quite big and growing! If you use a software we did not talked about, don’t hesitate to leave us a mail or a comment. We will keep this list updated with the new BIM software trends.