Project Alexandria Rises as BIM 360 Docs
Erin Green posted on December 02, 2015 |

When it comes to BIM collaboration, things are about to change. Again.

Meet the software platform formerly known as Project Alexandria. We’re not sure whether the name is supposed to reference the great library in Egypt, but that would be appropriate.

This reference to the library (famed both for its massive collection and for burning down) with this project suggests that the BIM software giant thinks saving data to the Cloud will preclude a similar disaster.

It also speaks to Autodesk’s ambition in creating its BIM collaboration service, BIM 360 Docs, to be the new document repository for our civilization.

We Call It the New World Order

BIM 360 Docs is intended as a comprehensive way to store everything related to construction projects.

 “Autodesk is delivering a new world order for construction management,” said Amar Hanspal, senior vice president of products at Autodesk.

“A comprehensive solution is long overdue and the delay has cost the construction trades too much money and too much time,” Hanspal continued. “Autodesk saw the challenge, owns the expertise and is delivering a powerful step forward for the industry.”

Autodesk has provided a project briefing for your cinematic enjoyment. Check it out:

Collaboration and Organization for BIM Projects

BIM 360 Docs is part of the BIM 360 umbrella platform, which connects Autodesk’s AEC products and customers.

It’s designed to be a cloud-based virtual workspace where those in the construction industry can do just about anything they need to do with building documents.

BIM 360 Docs users will have real-time collaborative access to project files on any device. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)

BIM 360 Docs users will have real-time collaborative access to project files on any device. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)

This means that users will be able to interact with project files in real time on any device and at any point in the project’s lifecycle.

So what does Autodesk say it will be capable of?

  • BIM 360 Docs will enable users to interact with 2D models and 3D renderings, even on the same page.
  • It keeps troublemakers at bay with a permissions-based access control and approval process to manage document releases and updates, so everyone has up-to-date information.
  • It will be capable of supporting large-format PDF design documents in an environment optimized for iOS.
  • It will be able to organize original and updated construction documents into sets, even using optical character recognition (OCR) for handwritten notes.

Autodesk’s “New” BIM Product

Before you get too excited, remember that we’ve had a very similar product in Bentley’s ProjectWise. It has been a tool for Bentley users to manage large projects, including BIM projects, since 1997.

The other thing to consider is that this isn’t Autodesk’s first foray into an all-important BIM project and collaboration service. Remember Buzzsaw? In all the fuss about BIM 360 Docs, it hasn’t come up once – not even from Autodesk itself.

One potential advantage of Autodesk’s BIM 360 Docs over ProjectWise is that it will probably work well with Autodesk products and affiliates. For those in the AEC industry who find themselves beholden to Autodesk products, this holds quite a lot of potential.

If you’re curious, you can get a reservation for a limited release and free preview version of BIM 360 Docs. It’s expected to hit the market in early 2016.

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