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 2022 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
Allow to create a BIM model whether it is 3D, 2D or BIM, parametric or not
- Sketch up
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.
- Vector works
- All plan
- AECOsim building designer
- Digital project https://www.digitalproject3d.com
- Bricsys https://www.bricsys.com/en-intl/bricscad-bim
Parametric design software
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.
- Grasshopper (Rhino)
- Dynamo (Revit) Visual programming extension for Revit
- Marionette (Vector works)
Generative design is new and made possible with the advance of AI based algorithm that are now capable to designing geometries
- Hypar https://hypar.io
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.
- Lumion https://lumion.com Allow adding more element to make the model more realistic with the surroundings, clouds, trees...
- Vray https://www.chaosgroup.com/vray/collection
- 3Ds MAX https://www.autodesk.com/products/3ds-max/
- Twin motion https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/twinmotion
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
- Solibri https://www.solibri.com/solibri-office
- Allow importing only IFC files
- Possibility to add your own rule or edit existing rule
- Naviswork https://www.autodesk.com/products/navisworks/overview
- Allow importing different types of BIM model files
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
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 https://speckle.systems
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 https://modelo.io
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 collab zoom https://www.bimcollab.com/en/products/bimcollab-zoom
BIM collab is a well know BIM viewer that allow to view any IFC file from your computer. It is further more free contrary to BIM collab cloud, which is the cloud version of BIM collab zoom.
- Solibri anywhere https://www.solibri.com/solibri-anywhere
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 environment 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
- Enscape https://enscape3d.com/
- Resolve https://www.resolvebim.com/
- insite VR https://blog.insitevr.com/
- Twin motion https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/features
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.
- 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:
- Autodesk 360 https://a360.autodesk.com
- Trimble connect https://connect.trimble.com
- Mezzo team https://www.mezzoteam.com
- Bim Plus https://www.bimplus.net/
BIM software to manage the construction phase
BIM software for construction management
BIM software for reality capture
- Holobuilder https://www.holobuilder.com : Allow to documentathe construction progress in real time with 360° photography
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.
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
- 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
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.
If you want to search more BIM software, look at this curated collection of BIM tools and other architecture software.