BIMcollab vs BIM Track

Paul Deckers | 16 Apr 2020

Five things to consider when choosing your issue management platform


Choices. We are forced to make choices every day. Some are easy while others take a lot more effort to make. For instance choosing to make use of an issue management platform is an easy one. The time savings alone are enough for anyone to abandon the old spreadsheets, sticky notes and emails and start working in the cloud. But which platform to choose may be a much harder one to make.

At first glance most BIM issue management platforms seem very similar. And that makes sense as they all started out being based on BuildingsSmart’s BCF-file format. They also seem to offer the same core functionality and benefits. And none of the platforms have a lack of marquee customers to boast about. So how do you choose?

The devil is in the details.

Despite the many similarities you will find that the various platforms do differ greatly in their general approach. And these differences can be of some important consequence as you start integrating the platform in your current workflow. We therefore compiled a list of things to consider when choosing between BIMcollab and BIM Track.

1 | CDE integrations as a strategy

One of the most prominent features of BIM Track is their integrated model viewer while BIMcollab does not offer one out of the box. But that is for a good reason.

At BIMcollab we made the strategic choice to integrate with existing CDE’s instead of building an online viewer ourselves. This is why:

  • An integration offers best of both worlds: powerful CDE ánd powerful issue management combined.
  • There is no need to maintain a (2nd) repository of model files when you are also using a CDE with functionality of your choice.
  • Users can make use of the model viewer to which they are accustomed, removing any learning curve.
  • Ability to view all model-file formats supported by the CDE and not be limited to only IFC.

BIM track offers a simple online model viewer and it seems as if they want to compete with major CDE platforms. But they currently lack many of the features offered by other CDE’s. 

The integrations currently available for BIMcollab are BIM360 Docs and Trimble Connect.

2 | Integrated Model validation

We asked ourselves what ís essential for creating high quality models for an efficient construction process. Actually there are two pillars:

  • Model validation, to find clashes, data errors and other glitches.
  • Issue management for getting these glitches solved.

The smooth integration between the two brings the real productivity gain: how easy can you publish found issues? Can you resolve clashes automatically? Are all issue properties from the issue management system editable, etc?

That’s a real benefit of BIMcollab ZOOM. A desktop BIM application available on Mac and Windows which provides functionality for model validation fully integrated into the issue-management workflow.

This has multiple advantages:

  • BIMcollab ZOOM integrates with BIMcollab’s cloud not only for issue management but also for sharing data validation rules (called Smart Views), clash rules and information schedules.
  • Because these validation-rules can be shared, a project-leader can prepare rules and make them obligatory as part of an IDM.
  • Sub contractors can pre-check models with BIMcollab ZOOM against this IDM before uploading to the project’s repository. 
  • There is no need to upload and convert IFC files in the cloud just for pre-checking a model, speeding up the process.
  • BIMcollab provides an upgrade path to ZOOM Pro which offers more advanced model checking features such as clash detection, scheduling and mor to come.

3 | Connections with BIM tools

Plug-ins with standard BIM authoring and model checking tools are an essential part of a issue management system to include all participants in the workflow.

BIMcollab has so called BCF managers which work semi-offline so you can choose what you publish with a 'Send- and Receive changes’ approach. BIM Track works with plug-ins based on web-technology meaning you directly edit the online content. Not always what you want when publishing thousands of clashes.

BIMcollab’s BCF managers were released before BIMcollab’s cloud system and allow users to open BCF files to work offline. This is why they are widespread. Where BIMcollab has connectors to many BIM tools like Revit, Navisworks, Solibri, Tekla Structures, ARCHICAD, simplebim, Bexel, TRICAD MS, DDS CAD, and more, BIM track currently only offers 4 (Revit, Navisworks, Tekla Structures and Solibri).

Next to supporting more BIM applications, the BCF Managers of BIMcollab have a number of advantages when compared to the web-based plug-ins provided by BIM Track.

  • New or modified issues can be verified and checked before committing them to the cloud. This is not possible with BIM Track’s web-based plug-ins. We consider this essential when you want to prevent large number of erroneous issues in your project, for example when generated from clash results.
  • The BIMcollab BCF Managers provide users with more control over how viewpoints are added to issues.
  • Data transfer is noticeably faster when compared to BIM Track, especially in large projects.

4 | PowerBI Reporting vs. build-in reporting

BIM Track dedicates a full page of options allowing you to perform considerable customizations in reporting results. These are however limited to which content is being shown. You are not able to customize your report layout nor are you able to add additional metrics.

BIMcollab provides basic reporting and extended functionality by integrating a much better alternative: Microsoft Power BI. The BIMcollab Power BI connector is ready to use and needs no programming skills; Just install, connect to a project and you are ready to go. While BIM tracks connection to powerBI is offered as a programming interface only usable for developers.

The Power BI platform (desktop, cloud, report builder, on-premises data gateway) will allow you to create fully customizable reports as well as interactive dashboards. These can be embedded into your own intranet or, for instance, into BIM360. The BIMcollab Power BI Connector supports this all and can be downloaded for free.

5 | Both offer API’s, but there is a difference

Both BIM track and BIMcollab offer API’s for 3rd parties to extend their eco system. But once again you can see the differences in strategy. BIMcollab goes further in helping others to connect to their ecosystem by offering several options on different levels of needed expertise.

This attracts more developers, resulting in an already faster expansion ecosystem.

  • BuildingSmart’s open BCF-API is offered by both.
  • BIMcollab offers three levels of libraries to build BCF Manager alike connectors by 3rd parties (even one including a user-interface for consistency)
  • BIMcollab recently started to offer a CDE Integration API (currently used for BIM360 Docs and Trimble Connect) and a File sharing API to integrated Dropbox or OneDrive type of services.

We at BIMcollab focus on actively working together with other 3rd party software developers such as BricsysFormitasVexel and more in order to expand the eco system as fast as possible.

Conclusion

In the end there will be many factors to consider when deciding which issue management platform to choose. It is our hope that we have made that choice a little bit easier.