Making COBie Sexy

I’ve had the pleasure of being part of the team responsible for the Autodesk Revit Interoperabiity Tools, and it’s been a treat helping to figure out how to make the best tool and continue to refine them. They have been in development and available in one form or another for a couple years now, but our website has only been live a few months and we’ve gotten a tremendous response. Couple the with the recent UK BIM Mandate, and the need to get our Revit models to work with other applications has never been greater.

I was only loosely familiar with COBie before I got involved with the tools, so working on the Autodesk COBie Extension for Revit has been a great way for me to learn more about it. Put simply, COBie is a standard format for sharing data between applications, in this case from Revit to… whatever application you need it to go to. COBie is not software specific, and that’s is strength and why it’s being adopted by so many government and public entities.

I had to give an presentation recently on all the tools, and I wanted to quickly sum up what impressed me about the COBie Extension. To be frank, COBie by itself is kind of lackluster. I mean, it shouldn’t be exciting, it’s about data exchange and it needs to be fast and efficient. But a little glitz goes a long way in selling a concept.

That’s what the COBie Extension does, it makes COBie for Revit users sexy. The utility is a Revit add-on that does the best job of any COBie tool in collecting and creating applicable COBie data. I say “applicable” because the extension will generate as much data directly from the Revit model as it can, but a lot of the information is simply impossible to get from the model; you don’t track that kind of stuff in Revit.

Where possible, the tool has added some great features to enhance the model and keep track of things that COBie cares about, but Revit doesn’t understand (see the awesome Zone Manager feature).

The big thing for a lot of folks I imagine, as it was huge for me, is simply integrating the creation and collection of that data into a Revit interface and relating it backs to the model. As a Revit user this was HUGE in helping me understand what COBie wanted and what it didn’t.

“Sexy” may be too strong a word, but the COBie Extension certainly make COBie more accessible and easier to use for Revit users.

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