How to Incorporate BIMx into your Business over your Lunch Hour
This article has been updated here!
By now you should know how awesome BIMx PRO is. As the marketing material says, it’s “the ultimate BIM project presentation application — featuring the BIMx Hyper-model, a unique technology for integrated 2D and 3D building project navigation.”
And it’s more than just a novelty app used to show clients their new home. BIMx is used by contractors, on site, for real projects. Big projects. Like $500 million projects. It’s the real deal, a huge differentiator and you need to start using it ASAP.
Because it is so cool and offers so much, many newcomers tend to think that it must take a lot of work to set up and implement into their workflows. This couldn’t be further from the truth. And this post will show you how to start utilizing this revolutionary technology in your business. Once and for all. And you can set it up in your lunch hour. But before we get started, let’s make some things clear.
BIMx comes in two flavors: BIMx and BIMx PRO. In a nutshell, BIMx is simply the 3D model in which you can navigate and explore. BIMx PRO contains the same 3D model that BIMx does, but also contains hyperlinked documents. These are linked together by blue markers that appear in the documentation and in the model. You can view both flavors on the Desktop BIMx viewer that is installed with ARCHICAD, but the hyperlinked documents in BIMx PRO files can only be viewed on a mobile device such as an iPhone, iPad or Android device. Don’t worry, we’ll discuss this more later, but we’ll focus on learning to create BIMx PRO presentations, because those will cover BIMx also.
So let’s open up your office template. You do have one, right? Good. If not, consider one of ours. BIMx files can be created using various methods. The fastest and most easily re-usable method is publishing, so that’s what we’ll cover. When we publish to BIMx, there are essentially two ways to store BIMx files we make: Save them to your computer or network and then share it manually; or upload it directly to the internet. GRAPHISOFT provides everyone on SSA (subscription) with up to 5Gb of free space on their BIMx Transfer Site, because you know, sharing is caring. We’ll discuss both storing methods, but first we’ll need to make sure we have the views and layouts to include in our BIMx publisher sets.
BIMx presentations need at least one 3D view and then the layouts you want to include. These layouts become the hyperlinked documents within the final presentation. ARCHICAD will create all the hyperlinks automatically, there is nothing we need to do to make that happen apart from including the layouts. It’s like magic. In case you’re interested, the hyperlinks are made by knowing where the source views and markers are in relation to the model and the layouts, but you really don’t need to concern yourself with these technicalities.
So make a 3D view in your View Map specifically for the BIMx PRO presentation, preferably with its own unique view settings. Make sure the 3D View is made from the Generic Perspective 3D viewpoint or from a camera viewpoint. You only really need one, but if you want to create a bunch of them, be sure to put them into their own BIMx folder. They'll all be available in the final presentation and the first one in the list is the first view the viewer will see when they open the BIMx model in 3D.
It is important to note that views made from camera viewpoints have a very special function when it comes to BIMx: these views will become available as Gallery Views. Gallery Views are available from the book icon in the BIMx PRO app. Tapping on any of these views will navigate to that part of the model. This is handy for people to find their way to specific locations or back to a starting point if they get lost.
If the views are just made from the regular generic perspective viewpoint then they will appear in the regular list of views. Either way, these views can have different appearances, such as architectural and structural, where one may show the full building, but the other just shows the structural model, by using a different layer combination and partial structure display options. Or views may be created using the marquee or cutting planes to just show part of the model. Whatever 3D views you decide to include, the viewer will be able to switch between different views easily in the BIMx presentation. Incidentally you can include views made from the Generic Axonometry 3D viewpoints but the viewer will only be able to spin around them, not venture inside them. Perhaps this is an option if you haven’t yet completed the inside?
Note that the opening and gallery views are different than the preview image for the whole project. The preview image appears in the list of projects that is presented when the BIMx or BIMx Pro app is opened.
This preview image is taken from the Project Preview which is set in ARCHICAD under File> Info> Project Preview.
So that’s the 3D view(s) made and presumably you have a layout book in your template with layouts in it, so that part is also done and we’ll cover that here soon, but for now it’s time to create the Publisher Set. We’ll start with Saving the BIMx file locally and cover the upload method afterwards.
In the Publisher Set pane of your Organizer, create a new Publisher Set and give it a suitable name.
Select this Publisher Set in the list and hit the Publishing Properties… button so we can start entering the required information.
In the Publisher Set Properties dialog, set the Publishing method to Save files and select Create single file. Make sure the Format is set to BIMx Hyper-model at the bottom. Enter a Name for the BIMx presentation and a path. This path can be set to a project folder on your computer or on a network, including a path to a Dropbox folder. Remember that since this is in your template you will need to specify these for each project you work on, so it may be best to reset these to be blank or something generic, after you’ve tested it.
The Info Set is a little trickier and you can leave it set to Undefined or None for now. Basically ARCHICAD is asking you to select a schedule which it can use to pull element information when the viewer clicks on elements in the BIMx presentation. Check out page 2217 of the ARCHICAD 19 Reference Guide when you want to explore this option.
Next step is to add our content to the Publisher Set. That’s the 3D view(s) and the Layouts you created earlier. Double click on your Publisher Set to open it. It will be empty. From your View Map, select the 3D view or folder of 3D views and hit the Add Shortcut>>> button. You should always use this shortcut button when creating Publisher Sets. The advantage of using it over simply dragging the folder over is that it creates a shortcut and any subsequent changes to the contents of the View Map folder will be automatically updated in the Publisher Set, especially when new items are added.
Switch to the Layout Book and add the layouts or the Subset you want to include in the BIMx presentation. Remember that these will become the hyperlinked documents. You can even add the whole layout book if you like, just bear in mind that layouts will add to the BIMx file size. Adding a whole book may render the file so big that it could be unusable on mobile devices, especially ones with less memory.
Before we publish it's worth pointing out Global Illumination. This setting is available when you select any 3D view. Go to the Format panel, hit the Options... button and choose to enable Global Illumination. This will give superior lighting and shading in your BIMx presentation. I totally recommend checking this option - but only for your final publish. If you set it before you have run a test or two, you may be cracking a beer at the end of your 'lunch hour'. Needless to say that Global Illumination takes a while to calculate, but it's completely worth it.
That’s it – your Publisher Set is created and you’re ready to publish. Simply hit the One Level Up button and with your Publisher Set selected hit the Publish button, but be warned this may take a while and eat into your lunch hour, so perhaps just read along for now.
Once it is published you may double click on the file in your operating system and the Desktop BIMx Viewer app will launch. Remember this will only show your 3D Model not your hyperlinked documents, but you can use the following keyboard shortcuts to help you navigate. F for Fly is the one you want to use first and just use your mouse to turn and your keys to move.
To view the hyperlinked model in all of its glory though we need to view it on a mobile device. To do this you will need to get the BIMx file onto your device. The most common way apart from GRAPHISOFT’s BIMx Transfer site (which we’ll get to) is to upload your file to the cloud using iCloud, Google Drive or Dropbox.
This post assumes that you have at least one of these services activated already and you know how to use it. If not please follow these links:
Google Drive: https://support.google.com/drive/answer/2424384?hl=en
Once the file is up on the cloud, we need to download an app for our Apple or Android device to view BIMx presentations with. There are two apps that GRAPHISOFT has created for doing this: BIMx and BIMx PRO. Sound familiar? BIMx is a free app but acts like the Desktop viewer, only allowing you to navigate the 3D Model*. BIMx PRO is US$49.99 and lets you view all your hyperlinked BIMx PRO models, including the 3D model and the 2D documentation, on any of your devices - as long as they are all under the same account.
For more detailed information visit http://www.graphisoft.com/bimx/#licenses and follow the links to download the apps from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Now if you want to share your models with other people, such as clients or contractors, you have two options. They will have to pay for the app and download it on their devices, and then they can view an unlimited amount of BIMx or BIMx PRO presentations. Or you can choose to gift the app to them through the online stores. Either way, compared to the price of a rolled up set of drawings this is not as bad as it first seems.
The other option is to share the project through the app. This will also cost US$49.99 and you will receive an activation code which you can send to your clients and contractors. They will use the code to view just that one project (including any updates you make to it) using the free BIMx app. *This is the only time the free BIMx app can be used to view a BIMx PRO presentation.
Anyway, let’s assume you see the amazing value and have purchased the BIMx PRO app. Now you need to open the BIMx presentations that you have uploaded to the cloud. Easy – just tap the + icon in the top left corner of the app, select your cloud storage of choice and tap on your BIMx file. It will download to your device and appear in your list of projects. Boom. Done. Click on it to view or swipe left to delete it.
So that’s how you can save your BIMx presentation and manually upload it to your cloud storage solution to view it on your mobile device. Now let’s cover uploading it directly to the BIMx Model Transfer site that GRAPHISOFT so generously provides for us. Luckily this method is very similar so you should be able to cruise through it as you’re washing down your lunch.
Create a new Publisher Set as we did previously and give it an appropriate name.
In the Publisher Set Properties dialog, set the Publishing method to Upload BIMx Hyper-model. You will need to sign into your GRAPHISOFT account, using the same GRAPHISOFT ID as you may have used to download ARCHICAD originally at myarchicad.com. Or you can choose to sign in with your Google or Facebook credentials, or choose to sign up for a GRAPHISOFT ID if you do not have one yet.
Enter a Name for the BIMx presentation and choose to save a local copy if you want to. And again just leave the Info Set set to Undefined or None for now.
Also, once you’re signed in you can choose whether to upload to the Public Domain or to a Private Folder. Publicly shared files are visible for everyone at bimx.graphisoft.com without signing in. These files can be downloaded by anyone as well. If you choose Private Folder, you can optionally password-protect the file. As mentioned, Software Services Agreement users are entitled to 5Gb free cloud storage space for each commercial BIMx license they own.
Hit OK. Once the Publisher Properties are established, follow the same steps as before to include the contents and to publish the documents.
On your mobile device tap the same + icon in the top left corner of the app and select BIMx Model Transfer.
You’ll be asked to sign in using the same credentials you used when uploading to the BIMx Model Transfer site.
Now you will have access to all your private folders and public models. Tap on your desired BIMx file. It will download to your device and appear in your list of projects. Boom. Done again.
So that’s about all there is to it! Now you have no excuse not to be sharing awesome BIMx presentations. You will love it, your contractor will love it and your clients will love it. When’s the last time your clients got excited about a rolled up set of drawings? Never. But they’ll show off a BIMx presentation to friends, family, co-workers, just about anyone who will watch. Including future clients. All you need to do is come up with the models and documentation!
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