Envisioneer v13 Brings New Detail and Automation to BIM
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on December 20, 2017 |

Cadsoft has released the 13th edition of its Envisioneer software, bringing a series of updates designed to address the needs of users and a new level of innovation to the company’s building information modeling (BIM) software. 

The latest version of Envisioneer has improved material settings for even more photorealistic environments. (Image courtesy of Cadsoft.)
The latest version of Envisioneer has improved material settings for even more photorealistic environments. (Image courtesy of Cadsoft.)

The updates include automated part placement features, improved material settings for rendering and virtual reality (VR), as well as improved VR navigation and partial quantities. To learn more, we received a demo from Chantale Pitts, Cadsoft director of the Customer Service Group. 

Improved Workflow and Automation

According to Pitts, Cadsoft brought a cleaner and more efficient workflow to Envisioneer v13. Settings were divided and subdivided in such a way as to make for clearer navigation.

Further improving productivity, the software now features new automation features, in particular for the placement of outlets and columns. The software will rely on user-generated rules to automatically place outlets throughout a room. A user simply has to set the minimum wall length and maximum distance from outlet to outlet, as well as the maximum distance an outlet can be placed from an opening, and the software will lay outlets throughout the room.  

Similarly, columns can be laid out in an array. Footings can even be attached to columns, if such an option is selected by the user. 

Framing now includes automated features, too. When putting a roof at the gable end of a building, ladder framing is automatically generated at the gable end. This meets the demands of Envisioneer users who once had to put framing in one member at a time. Now, a comprehensive dialogue box allows for specifying the roof’s framing, rafter, header and ridge board to create a specific ladder.

With the Truss Run utility, trusses can be automatically placed by users specifying their span, height and details of the truss’ core members. Multiple trusses can then be laid down as a part of the software’s roof routine, taking into account the roof above and ceiling below. The trusses can then be incorporated into working drawings as profiles. 

Layering of items in a document also has been improved, reflecting how layers are implemented in Adobe design software. When working drawings are put onto a sheet, it is now possible to prioritize elements within the document. Layers can be prioritized so that those with the higher priority are given a higher number. Layer visibility can be turned on and off. Elevation and section marks can be added within the same dialogue box, as opposed to a separate pull-down menu.

Improved Material Settings

“In the past, we’ve simplified our material settings for improved ease-of-use for our clients,” Pitts said. “We didn’t want it to be too difficult to get good results for a rendering, but what we’ve noticed is that our clients are getting savvier and savvier.”

In the past, simplified sliders allowed users to determine such rendering features as how reflective a material might be. Rather than allowing the software to run operations based on predetermined settings in the backend, Cadsoft incorporated advanced settings to cater to the evolving Envisioneer user. Now, users can incorporate bump texturing, for example. 

Users have greater control over the material settings in v13. (Image courtesy of Cadsoft.)
Users have greater control over the material settings in v13. (Image courtesy of Cadsoft.)

The end result is higher resolution rendering, both for finished renderings and VR scenes. The Envisioneer VR app, released in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store in 2017, also has been improved. Previously, users could navigate 3D scenes by moving their heads. Now, it’s possible for users to navigate via touch, as well.

Users are now able to navigate around even more photorealistic environments in VR. (Image courtesy of Cadsoft.)
Users are now able to navigate around even more photorealistic environments in VR. (Image courtesy of Cadsoft.)

Entire material catalogs can now be exported as an Excel file, where mass changes can be made. Pricing or size of different elements can all be done at once and then imported back into the software, which will update the settings. If the import doesn’t recognize an element, such as a door with changed measurements, Envisioneer will automatically create a new element, including the 3D geometry. Change a door’s height from 6 feet to 6.25 feet, and it will create a new 6.25-foot-tall door.

Improvements to the software also make for faster navigation. According to Pitts, the software moves up to 10 times faster on some computers due to more efficient programming and reliance on a user’s GPU. This includes improved speed in 2D, 3D and VR.

Director of Development Ray Groothuizen said of the speed increase: “Framerate in live views (both 2D and 3D) increased on average by 50 percent on a variety of sample drawings, with up to 10X improvement on large documents.”

Quantity Reports

Envisioneer has always featured quantity reports, which perform cost calculations for material throughout a project. Now, this functionality has become more flexible, with users able to select individual objects to generate reports solely for material selected. A user can determine whether or not the cost of an individual element, say a unique window or roof element, will dramatically affect the cost of the entire project.

Moreover, it’s possible to get the total cut length of material required to build multiple objects. Pitts demonstrated this with a beam and eye joist. By placing multiple wooden elements to create the beam and joist, she was not only able to determine the length of wood required to cut each element, but the total wood for both elements. 

Sharing and Importing

Sharing and importing have become more efficient in the latest version of Envisioneer. “Save as” now includes the option to save a project as “packs of resources.” This makes it possible to save not only geometry ,but everything that goes with it, including material, line waves, line types and hatch patterns. When a collaborator opens the pack, they receive all of the necessary BIM data as well. This is a significant improvement from the need to send these files individually, as in the past. 

Users can now pack all of the BIM data associated with a project for easier sharing. (Image courtesy of Cadsoft.)
Users can now pack all of the BIM data associated with a project for easier sharing. (Image courtesy of Cadsoft.)

Envisioneer always had the ability to import SketchUp, AutoCAD, Revit and other files, and now it is possible to import IFC files. When importing an IFC file, all of the associated data comes with it, with the software recognizing layer names and 3D components. The file can be sliced or shown as an outline and added to 2D plans.

Entire projects can be done in IFC and the software will recognize the data. A camera can be placed into a scene and a wall will be recognized as a wall, a window as a window and a roof as a roof, all with different surfaces. In other words, it’s not just geometry brought in, but the surfaces as well. As of now, Envisioneer can recognize walls, doors, roof surfaces and floor surfaces. 

According to Pitts, Cadsoft has an established method for addressing user concerns. Every time a user requests a new feature, the request is inserted into a database, which Cadsoft management looks at on a monthly basis. If those changes can be made quickly, they are added to the next release. If it requires years to accomplish, it’s incorporated into the company’s long-term plan.

For that reason, as each new version of Envisioneer is released, new user needs are met. It’s also for this reason that the company’s dedicated fans will likely be happy with v13, as well. For more information about the release, visit the Cadsoft website.

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