Sunday, November 13, 2016

FormIT and the Process Gap

Autodesk has a new-ish tool that it is promoting as an alternative to Sketchup.  In the world of AutoDesk, Sketchup seems to be the thorn they can't remove, the program that must not be named.  FormIT is their current answer for how to take over that market.  It might work.

What I have found in my work as a Revit Traininer to BIM Manager to Director of BIM, is that if there is a solution from AutoDesk, use it.  I am of course like everyone a bit bitter about this, and have my opinions of the subscription model, pricing structure, and all over feeling of being hosed that comes with AutoDesk - but if I were the CEO over there I would be quite proud of my self.

The thing that FormIT does it it provides a workflow that is more streamlined workflow between a conceptual model and a production model.  When you import to Revit from Sketchup, you get a model that isn't very manipulative, you get simple static boxes.  You can export to an IFC model and import that model, but that extra step is many times not completed, and can feel like a burden.  With FormIT, you import to Revit with the handy-dandy add-in AutoDesk provides and you get masses that you can manipulate and tweak.

(There are many other things the program does, but I will post about those during my sessions next week at AutoDesk University...)

Still, it doesn't mend the gap.  I don't mean in terms of "minding the gap" in technology acceptance, I mean the gap between working conceptually and working for production.  I am going to call this the Process Gap. The Process Gap can not be mended by this simple type of technology, and we might never want a technology that can mend this gap.  

My firm tends to be separated out between Designers & Production staff.  The funny part is that this has become totally a misnomer as these roles are fulfilled by the same people - it just depends on what hat they have on that day.  When someone is designing, they are pulling ideas out of the ether, they are making the concept work, not making the construction work.  Some designers will model more exactly than others, but many times there can be a 5' tolerance between what is modeled and what will be built.  

We will never pull a model with a 5' tolerance to reality into a production model - never.  We will remodel it.  Now we might just start doing that remodeling in FormIT, use the tool to get the proportions correct and then import into Revit - but why do that when Revit could support this workflow just fine.  Now what if we pushed the process in the other direction, and conceived of an idea where we do the documentation in Sketchup?  We would still remodel.

We would remodel, because each of our designs are completely unique from the previous design and we like it that way.  One can not be restricted by what has been done to invest in what could be done.  Instead of looking at the Process Gap as a negative, I propose re-framing the problem as an opportunity.  

The Process Gap is what give us the ability to research what architecture could be, not what it is.  

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