I am Anthony Frausto-Robledo, editor-in-chief at I assemble the monthly INSIDER Xpresso—heir apparent to our ToshLetter—to help us understand emerging technologies (emTech) and social forces impacting CAD industries like AEC and manufacturing. 

This month. We have another special feature on Bentley in lieu of our planned feature. We have adapted our planned feature—focused on Apple Silicon Macs and the CAD industries in our Curated emTech section below. Our Bentley feature includes an interesting segment on the company's desire to retackle the Architecture market but with a specific type of focus based on building type and project scale.

We also run through the Update 7 to Bentley OpenBuildings Designer, the company's primary BIM competitor to Revit and ArchiCAD; our Curated emTech section has a segment on Apple Silicon Macs but it is not the originally planned piece, which we had to suddenly pull based on something exciting by the developer who spoke to us. We also touch on AAD tools news to round that section. And we finish with...the Biggest CAD Industry News Last Month in the last section. 
Starter Course

The Top Five Must-Reads

I've combed the Internet to find the most interesting, compelling, or controversial stories about the AEC and manufacturing industries, and the social and emerging technological forces at play on both:

1 - Gensler launches Blox, an algorithm-powered design visualization, and computational platform.  Nobody should be surprised to hear that a global AEC design giant like Gensler is launching a new digital design platform. The new tool is called Blox and is part of the firm's inFORM suite of "internally developed proprietary products" created just for Gensler, just to propel the architecture firm's overall practice abilities.  (LinkedIn Pulse)

A proprietary computational design platform has been created at Gensler. You can see Gensler's Blox in action on YouTube at the link below.  (Image: screengrab, YouTube video.) 

What has Gensler said to explain this? This is important for a range of reasons. Joseph Joseph, partner and global technology director, design technology studio, Gensler, writes that, "We believe that our craft as designers is founded on these superpowers that are innately human and irreplaceable by technology. As such, we believe that we stand to gain significantly by combining our human superpowers with computing cognition to achieve infinite possibilities thus elevating our value to a much higher purpose in the world." 

2 - Positioning computational designers in your business: 4 things to consider. We came across this series of articles from Nathan Miller of Proving Ground via a newsletter from Building Design + Construction. Miller starts by making the point that there is little industry consensus about what a "computational designer" position actually is. He provides guidance, which is useful for any architect in a leadership role trying to figure out if adding this title or role in their firm is of value.  (BD+C)

What’s the skinny?  Computational design is not a technical role, Computational design is not equal to BIM. Computational design is not for everyone! Computational design equals solutions. This is an interesting high-level read of the issues around this role. 


3 - Meet JAILBOT, Hilti's new construction robot. Construction industry toolmaker Hilti has introduced a new robot for construction, specifically for MEP work. The robot is a complete, self-contained, software, and hardware system that works semi-autonomously. It specifically is good at the layout and drilling of holes on the underside of floors above for anchoring suspended systems like HVAC ductwork, wire management trays, and suspended ceilings.  (BD+C)

Another specific-task construction robot, this one from Hilti. JAILBOT drills holes in ceiling situations like this one pictured, speeding up the work, increasing accuracy, and human safety.  (Image: screengrab, YouTube video.) 

Why is this important?    These systems require 3D spatial data in order to work, placing the emphasis on the usefulness of BIM models and their data in the overall AEC workflow process. The robot can drill with greater speed, accuracy, and safety, allowing human labor on the job site to focus their efforts on other tasks. JAILBOT works after data has been uploaded from Autodesk Revit or AutoCAD files to the Hilti Cloud. The robot comes with a rugged field tablet—which appears to be a tiny tablet running Microsoft Windows.  Watch the video of this robot here.

4 -  Meet the world's newest architects: algorithms. This article from the World Economic Forum (WEF) brings to the attention of its global intellectual audience, the changing state of design in the field of architecture.  (WEF)

What matters?  This article from summer actually does a decent overview of the role algorithms-aided design (AAD) technology is playing in the field. It doesn't get into tools but has some interesting links, such as this one on Introduction to Ant colony optimization (ACO). 

5 -  Biomimicry enables architects to make a "positive impact" on the environment...  says Exploration Architecture founder Michael Pawlyn.  (Dezeen)

Architect Michael Pawlyn holding up a segment of architecture inspired by biomimicry.  (Image: screengrab, YouTube video.) 

What is biomimicry? Biomimicry is innovation inspired by nature. It involves looking at nature to understand how things work and can inspire architects and engineers to design more efficiently using morphological formations more similar to what we find in such things as trees, plants, and shells. 

Five More Stories

6 - Humanity is stuck in short-term thinking. Here's how we escape.

7 - Digital Twins to play a bigger role in post-pandemic construction

8 - An Overview of Digital Fabrication in Architecture

9 - Covid-19 challenges New York's future

10 - New School of Design degree focuses on using robotics in architecture

These additional stories and our analysis, commentary, and images are all available to yearly INSIDER Membership subscribers, inside our upcoming "Member Access—(emTech) Section" feature. Lands 13 November 2020 - see Architosh INSIDER page. 

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Special Feature

Bentley's Now Public—YII20 Highlights and Re-attacking the Architecture Market

This in-depth feature looks into Bentley's new positions in the global infrastructure market, including a deeper look at the Architecture sector.

BENTLEY'S YEAR IN INFRASTRUCTURE 2020 was held virtually this year, following the pattern held by almost all conferences due to the global pandemic. In this article, we want to cover two primary themes, the first being a general summary of highlights on this year's YII2020 conference and, secondly, a discussion about how Bentley aims to re-engage with architects in the BIM market with its OpenBuildings Designer platform.

Bentley YII 2020 Highlights

One of the key themes Greg Bentley made clear in his opening remarks this year was the importance of infrastructure resilience. This had new meaning this year, given the global pandemic's impact on the entire world. Certain infrastructure—like digital communications infrastructure—became suddenly much more important, as the world's population isolated at home and places of work in towns, cities, and suburbs largely became abandoned. 

"Many have said that ProjectWise was a saving grace for virtualizing their work in the world."  --- Greg Bentley, CEO, Bentley Systems

Bentley also noted that as a global software company, their own transition to work-from-home orders went seamlessly as they are already accustomed to working remotely amongst their various teams worldwide. They took that expertise and applied it to their customers to help them better transition to work-from-home (WFH) methods and workflows. "Many have said that ProjectWise was a saving grace for virtualizing their work in the world," said Greg Bentley during his Media Day remarks. In fact, Bentley offered the most generous and extended trial of ProjectWise 365 during this year's pandemic, taking free use from the spring time-frame all the way into the fall.


This year Bentley went public (only several weeks ago) and is now traded on the NASDAQ under the stock ticker BSY. As such, the company revealed market segment financial data as part of its communication to investors. As you can see from the first image below, Bentley's Commercial / Facilities sector—which the company refers to as "vertical infrastructure" extends from the 12 o'clock position to about the 1 o'clock position, making up about 1/10 - 1/12 of revenues by all sectors. Greg Bentley referred to this segment of their revenue as "relatively small."

A slide from Greg Bentley's Media Session, breaking down the company's revenues by infrastructure markets. On the third slide we indicate which markets Bentley says it is the market leader. (Image: Bentley)

The next sector, Industrial / Resources, relates to the energy and commodities markets and is "exposed to cyclicality," as Greg Bentley noted. The next sector is actually part of a larger public works sector and that is Roads and Bridges (what the company lumps into their "horizontal infrastructure" category), which makes up slightly more than twice the revenue as vertical infrastructure category where buildings and facilities live. Bentley's next sector is T&D Utilities (electric transmission and distribution), Municipal and Mapping, Rail and Transit, and Water and Waste are the final sectors. As you can see, the green sectors are all part of Public Works & Utilities and makeup approximately 60 percent of their entire revenue. (next image)

A slide from Greg Bentley's Media Session, breaking down the company's revenues by infrastructure markets.   (Image: Bentley)

Bentley's public financial numbers state the global CAD giant posted revenues USD 737 million in 2019, a 6.5 percent increase in growth compared to 2018. Gross profit was USD 593 million. Bentley's EBITDA margin is 28.12 percent, beating a sector median of 12.67 percent. It is a very efficient company in terms of its employees with net income per employee at USD 31.28 thousand, besting a sector median of 7.97 thousand. The stock IPO'd at USD 22.00. As of this writing, it is trading at USD 36.93.

Greg Bentley stated that Bentley believes they are the world leader in software technology for the global infrastructure market, with sector leadership in Roads and Bridges, T&D Utilities, Rail and Transit, Water & Waste, and in the structural engineering disciplines and the geotechnical engineering disciplines generally.

Bentley began with one application, the CAD application called Microstation, in 1984. That application in the United States and other western markets like the United Kingdom captured significant market share by the 1990s in the AEC industry, competing head-on with Autodesk's popular AutoCAD. By the start of the current century, and with the BIM market blooming around the high-profile Autodesk acquisition of Revit by Autodesk, Bentley began to focus more on horizontal infrastructure, becoming the world leader in CAD technologies for transportation departments in many countries, including the United States. (see image)

A slide from Greg Bentley's Media Session, showing the evolution of products and technology at Bentley Systems over the past three and a half decades.   (Image: Bentley)

Their Open Modeling application tools began in the early mid-years of the aughts decade, taking the company into the BIM market for AEC. Open Simulation applications came next, and then AssetWise emerged to help their clients manage infrastructure, a key new source of revenue after the Great Recession decreased global infrastructure spending. In 2018 they announced iTwin Modeling after Reality Modeling technologies also emerged. All of these vectors of tools and technologies have enabled the company to offer a complete stack for 4D Digital Twins, leaving the company very well positioned for the next wave of global infrastructure and smart infrastructure investments.

Markets and AEC

Greg Bentley says that his company's strong suit is its "comprehensiveness." Other competitors may have strong single or multiple applications addressing various parts of the infrastructure market, but only Bentley has this full stack of solutions. Larger companies like Hexagon, Trimble, and Autodesk offer a far less complete set of infrastructure solutions. And Bentley is a leader in "structural and geotechnical engineering software" that compliments infrastructure design software—whether horizontal or vertical in nature. 

In some ways, Bentley is similar to Germany's Nemetschek Group. Both companies make approximately the same amount of revenue with similar gross margins. While Bentley's focus and strength and revenue are more on its "horizontal infrastructure," the Nemetschek Group's focus is more on "vertical infrastructure." Both companies own leading engineering analysis tools for structural engineering, and both have solution portfolios focused on the management of infrastructure assets. A small difference with each company is that Bentley has just gone public while Nemetschek has been a public company for much longer and has seen substantial growth in its stock price.

A slide from Greg Bentley's talk to the media. Sectors with "stars" are where the CAD giant feels it has market leadership. Roads and Bridges is the largest revenue sub-sector within Public Infrastructure for Bentley. They have software tools (grey) that apply to each of the three major sectors and it is not clear how much revenue from these applies to each.  (Image: Bentley)

In the wake of the Revit Open Letter in the UK, I asked the company to discuss its position in the architecture market. Building design and engineering all fall in their "vertical infrastructure" category. Given the Revit Open Letter's timing and that, nearly all of the large AE firms who signed the letter were, or are, Bentley customers, it seemed appropriate to discuss with Bentley where its OpenBuildings Designer application is headed and if Bentley has any interest in re-attacking the architecture market. It turns out it does. But before we get to that, let's recap some of the highlight news from Bentley's YII 2020 conference.

One final point, though. Greg Bentley noted that 30 percent of the world's infrastructure expenditure comes from China, while 50 percent comes from Asia. It is not surprising then to see the sheer amount of projects submitted for its YII awards program coming from this region of the world. From the image above, we can also see that the global infrastructure market is worth USD 3.2 trillion, while Roads and Bridges are worth 1 percent of global GDP, and Rail is worth 0.4 percent of global GDP. Using 2019 global GDP, that amounts to 1.42 trillion and 0.56 trillion, respectively. From 2016 until 2040, the infrastructure market is worth USD 79 trillion.

Announcements at YII 2020

This year, there were several interesting announcements, including items we have already covered on Architosh, such as its finalists and winners of its Year in Infrastructure Awards, the appointment of three new key executives, and Bentley expanding its alliance with Microsoft to accelerate infrastructure digital twins. You can read all about these at the links just provided.

The first of these interesting announcements was about FutureOn, a fast-growing Norwegian software company with a growing global customer base of energy giants. It has secured an investment from Bentley's Acceleration Fund and partnered with Bentley to combine FutureOn's award-winning field design app (FieldAP) and its API-centric collaboration platform (FieldTwin) with Bentley's iTwin platform. This will give joint customers a next-generation digital twin solution. You can read more about that here.

Another announcement was that Bentley and Siemens Energy are now offering a joint solution to deliver intelligent analytics to oil and gas operators. This solution should help equipment uptime and reliability while reducing the cost of maintenance and safety risks. The new solution is known as Asset Performance Management for Oil & Gas or APM4O&G and taps the power of AssetWise. You can read more about that here

Bentley and Architecture

During Bentley's conference, I had a virtual meeting with Susanne Trierscheid, who is a senior director at Bentley (and educated as an architect in Germany) who took over from Andy Smith and is now the lead person for all the "vertical modeling" tools (including OpenBuildings products and all similar products around Plants and all the structural engineering tools); I also spoke with Eduardo Lazzarotto who is the product manager for all the "building" modeling tools, of which the most prolific tool is OpenBuildings.

"We believe that this is a good opening for us to tackle that again with the architects."  --- Susanne Trierscheid, Senior Director, Bentley

One of the things I brought up in this conversation with Susanne Trierscheid and Eduardo Lazzarotto was my discussion with Elaine Lewis of Cadventure in the UK. I told them that I was surprised to learn from that conversation that many of the firms who signed the Revit Open Letter were at one point (five or more years ago) on the Bentley platform. I asked Trierscheid if Bentley was now, in light of the Revit Open Letter, recognizing new opportunities for them back in the world of Architecture.

She answered in the affirmative, saying, "we believe that this is a good opening for us to tackle that again with the architects." "We talk to Cadventure a lot, and we know each other well," she said. "And of course, we listen to their messaging because they talk to a lot of users. So we believe that at the moment, the opening is very good."

While it has appeared that Bentley has backed away from the architecture market, Trierscheid explained that Revit's dominance in common sized firms, which range from very small to medium to very large made it more logical for Bentley to retarget where they would market their building solutions. But things are changing for them now due to a confluence of inputs, and the Revit Open Letter was just another one highlighting some factors. For example, a major complaint of the UK firms who signed the letter had to do with performance and commitment to interoperability and open standards.

"I think we are going to really go after the larger projects and tackle this whole collaboration angle, as well as the modeling because that is also where we are really strong."  --- Susanne Trierscheid, Senior Director, Bentley

Bentley knows from their own award program that their Microstation-based products like OpenBuildings Designer can handle massive projects on the performance front. This is why it has been successful in large infrastructure, whether that infrastructure is vertical or horizontal. "So we need to focus on the larger practices," said Trierscheid. "They need to feel our rekindling of focus on building and modeling again." 

"I think we are going to really go after the larger projects and tackle this whole collaboration angle," said Trierscheid, "as well as the modeling because that is also where we are really strong. " For those who are not aware, Bentley's Microstation-based technologies tap the power of the Parasolid modeling kernel, the world's most advanced 3D modeling engine.

Bentley's OpenBuildings Station Designer features LEGION for pedestrian simulation which can now factor in social distancing criteria into its operations.  LEGION can actually be used on any building type where social distancing simulation may be important.  (Image: Bentley)

OpenBuildings Designer has a sibling product called OpenBuildings Station Designer to address rail and transit station design. It features industry-leading pedestrian simulation technology, which can now address social distancing and other pandemic response design. (see above). This is a sub-sector focus backed up with specialized tools for this sector.

Trierscheid also noted that OpenBuildings Designer could focus on sub-sectors like manufacturing and large campuses, in addition to architecture related to rail stations. With the former, Bentley's GenerativeComponents (GC) algorithms-aided design (AAD) technologies can address layout optimization inside factories. GC and OpenBuildings Designer (OBD) core strengths in modeling also make it highly suitable for buildings with complex forms. While a lot of this work is now done in Rhino with Grasshopper, OBD can reference Rhino files. A smarter move might be to tap the Rhino.Inside API and enable Rhino and Grasshopper directly inside OpenBuildings Designer. Such a move might seem to conflict with Bentley's own GenerativeComponents. Still, I would contend such thinking led to the hesitation of integrating third-party renderers in leading BIM programs, but today the more rendering tools you can tap into, the better and more flexible the BIM solution is to users.

ProStructures is now integrated into OpenBuildings Designer, Update 7. This can help increase LOD in BIM models.  (Image: Bentley)

It is time all BIM platforms start recognizing that generative design or AAD tools from third-parties need pathways into these BIM solutions, even if those BIM solutions feature home-grown AAD technologies. The mantra in the market is "agility," and the democratization of tools aids that agility. Bentley should take its GC technology and build-out "ready-to-go" computational design workflows that buttress and support targeting sub-sectors of the building and campuses market. Tools for large, expansive complex roofs typical of airports and large rail hubs could be dovetailed within OBD and Bentley's structural analysis tools, for example. GC technology can be customized for optimized layout design in factories and manufacturing, as Trierscheid suggested. Those efforts are not mutually incompatible with allowing Rhino.Inside into OpenBuildings Designer (OBD). Allowing Rhino and Grasshopper functionality directly inside OBD gives OBD instant access to a large ecosystem of AAD specialized toolsets.

OpenBuildings Designer—Today

Lazzarotto ran through the latest version of OpenBuildings Designer (Update 7). It was released a few months back. A big new feature is integrating OBD's structural elements with Bentley's ProStructures, a software used for structural detailing. "What this means said Lazzarotto, is that the architects or engineers can now detail some parts of their project to a much higher level of development for their project, and it makes it a lot easier for them to integrate with products like STADD and RAM for structural analysis."

ProStructures is now integrated into OpenBuildings Designer, Update 7. This can help increase LOD in BIM models.  (Image: Bentley)

They also integrated Bentley's separate product Hevacomp Dynamic Simulation into the latest release of OBD. "What we did is convert that tool into what we now call OpenBuildings Energy Simulator," said Lazzarotto. Bentley also offered two language versions of OpenBuildings Designer, targeting the Czech Republic and Russia's growing markets. "Russia is a growing market for us, not only for OBD but for a range of Bentley products like OpenRoads, OpenRail, and so forth," he added.

Update 7 also addressed major fixes and added new features, like improvements to the stair tool and also curtain walls, which are relatively a new feature in OBD.

OpenBuildings Designer—Future

Without getting into specifics, Lazzarotto said that GenerativeComponents (GC) was now a technology at Bentley and that Update 8 for OpenBuildings Designer will tap more of this AAD functionality. Providing a clue, both OpenRail and OpenRoads tap the power of GC now. "What we are doing is treating GC as a technology rather than a product...and we are investing in the technology itself and the functionality and capability of that technology," he added. 

"We name our products 'Open' because we want them to be interoperable with other applications in the market."  --- Eduardo Lazzarotto, Director of Product Management, Bentley

In asking about the future of API integrations with OBD, Lazzarotto said it was a great question. "We name our products 'Open' because we want them to be interoperable with other applications in the market. All of our digital twin apps are actually open-source code. iModel.js is actually open for any developer who wants to build solutions on top of it," he said.

Another issue that came up in the Revit Open Letter was standards. Lazzarotto said that they are working to align their data sets to ISO 19650. "That is something we will definitely want to talk about early next year with our next release," he said. Bentley is also still investing a lot with buildingSMART given IFC 4, Reference View. He added that it is more than just the architectural side but the structural side as well. "Of course, the whole idea of Reference View is that users can make their data portable and take that data into other applications and add value to those applications."

Closing Commentary

Bentley looks to be acknowledging the importance of convergence in our world. By building out solution stacks (combinations of apps that work together in well-honed workflows) built specifically for "vertical infrastructure" related to the "horizontal infrastructure" where the company is a market leader, you end up with offerings like OpenBuildings Station Designer. This product's unique selling point (USP)—a topic in itself we covered in our last Xpresso issue—is its ability to simulate a station's usage and operations and predict real-world performance. With COVID-19 now a part of simulation criteria, it was not surprising to learn that LEGION's latest updates could handle new social distancing simulation.

Could there be more OpenBuildings-branded product suites to come? Susanne Trierscheid noted that it might not make sense for Bentley to compete against BIM tools like Revit that are aimed at the whole of the entire architecture market. Specializing on large buildings, buildings tied to horizontal infrastructure, campuses, and manufacturing seems like a strategy that will enable Bentley to offer deeper capabilities and unique selling points (USPs) that separate them from the crowded BIM market.

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Siemens and Parasolid: Apple Sillicon

In the last issue, we said we had something special coming up that delved into Apple Silicon-based Macs (ARM Macs) and the CAD markets. Just about three weeks ago when we took that article to the company from which the interview came, they said something had changed between the months when we last spoke and now and that we could not publish it. Instead, they said, "hold off another two weeks and things will become more clear." In fact, they wanted us to come back in two weeks and do another interview because they had new news. 

A week later, Apple announced its "One more thing" event.

I won't say any more about that particular unnamed company but another part of our planned Special Feature for this issue of Xpresso was our discussions with Seimens about Parasolid and Apple Silicon. What follows below are some highlights from my discussion in the summer with Phil Nanson, Manager, Parasolid Components, Siemens PLM Software, where he is located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. 

We had an extensive discussion. We will just jump into some of it below:

(Xpresso) What was it like in terms of investment time to build out Parasolids for Apple's iOS platform and how might that relate to the effort to transition support for Parasolid for macOS on Apple Silicon? 

(Phil Nanson, Siemens) iOS was a harder port but not our hardest. Most of our challenges were in testing rather than getting Parasolid to run. Obviously, supporting so many customers we do a lot of automated testing. Currently, we are running 90,000 tests a night on the iOS platform. We run about 4 million tests a night across all platforms and builds. Getting all that infrastructure to work in the very different environment of a tablet where there is a whole different set of assumptions to the usage model and productivity...that's where the main cost was.

So infrastructure we could then reuse very easily when it came to supporting Android because a lot of the problems are the same. And I would expect Apple's ARM Macs would be easier, one that that is more likely to follow the paradigms of a desktop.

Further Analysis & Commentary:  So the challenges for the modeling kernel on other operating systems aren't just about differences among chip architectures but very much also about how devices are used and how that impacts usage models at the point of interface with software. This impacts testing infrastructure. Apple ARM-Macs will be used like all Macs today are used. We don't see Apple making their new Macs hybrids with touch screen interfaces. Such a move makes them iPads. Instead, we see the Touch Bar and the touch-based functions of the Track-Pad as being the only areas where new challenges for the Parasolid modeling kernel may come up. 

So at this point, you have completely supported Parasolid on other ARM-based platforms? 

Yes. They are supported on Apple's iOS and Google Android.  

Those 90,000 tests per night on iOS, do they include actually testing CAD applications as part of your tests? 

Our general tests include CAD applications. We don't do that on iOS but we do it on Linux and platforms with heavy service. Our standard tests include all the project tests we've written. And we are normally testing all the PRs anyone's ever submitted to us. We try to have a combination of testing the things that are developed in QA and testing anything anyone has ever found as an issue. 

Further Analysis & Commentary:  We can safely assume iOS developers doing CAD/3D pro apps have submitted issues and these are being tested regularly as part of standard tests. 

(Xpresso) Apple offered developers the opportunity to acquire ARM-based Macs in the form of Mac minis for testing. Is Parasolid in possession of one of those machines? 

(Phil Nanson, Siemens) We are expecting to be in possession soon. (Editor's note. this was back in July when we spoke.) 

When you did your iOS version of Parasolid, what was the general duration of time to port Parasolid? 

I think it took us 6-9 months. That was one of our harder ports because of the infrastructure changes. 

If it took you the same time with Macs on Apple Silicon, it would probably put you in a really good position. 

We are targeting the point of production, early next year.

Tim Millet, VP Platform Architecture, Apple, inside an Apple Lab focused on Apple Silicon. (Image: screengrab from Apple Event in September)

Do you have any sense of the CAD industry, in general, moving to ARM architecture platforms? You have said you see a greater interest in tablets. Do you also see a greater interest in CAD in the data center, where people can access these machines through virtual desktops? 

I believe it will be completely driven by performance and price. The effect of that transition will make people much more agnostic because the machines won't be sitting in front of them. People are more likely to switch more quickly and dramatically than when they have to invest in the hardware. So it definitely increases the likelihood people will switch. 

Further Analysis & Commentary:  On this last question, what I am driving at is will ARM-based workstations (remember Apple's Mac Pro will likely be the first) placed in the cloud enable greater switching between platforms?  If 'CAD tool A' is new and written for Apple Silicon Macs and a user is considering it, would it be easier to consider switching if it was available in cloud computing form? Phil is making the point, which I agree with, that depending on cost and performance, if they don't have to invest in the hardware it can definitely increase their likelihood of switching. One hopes then that Apple fully supports its new ARM-based Macs to be used in data centers for robust support for virtualized application serving. This can enable fluidity in the software market giving developers more incentive to enable ways for potential customers to try their new apps. 


A SketchUp Killer? Meet Snaptrude from India

Architosh was recently contacted by a new company out of India. Meet, Snaptrude

Snaptrude is a cloud-based concept design tool that aims to close the gap between design phase work and BIM phase work. Quoting their website, "With Snaptrude Architects can literally squeeze the mundane manual tasks of hours into a few minutes on a single  platform on the cloud."

The company is very new and we hope to go through a demo with the company's CEO, Altaf Ganihar very soon. Ganihar is a mathematics genius and realized the problems architects were facing while a young scholar working in the field of computer graphics and machine learning in 2014. He was surprised to learn how real architects and designers actually work, how fragmented and tedious the existing design process actually is. 

Snaptrude is cloud-based and can run on multiple device types as shown here in this image. (Image: screengrab:

The goal of Snaptrude is to change this, to introduce new technologies that allow for seamlessness in the design process. 

Further Analysis & Commentary:  On the surface—and again we have yet to actually engage with this new tool—Snaptrude looks similar to SketchUp in its web version, but clearly there is much more going on here from the visuals seen on the company's website. What is enchanting about its main graphics is that the design process begins with a napkin sketch, then a photo of the napkin sketch, then it finds its way in Snaptrude from where the design process accelerates from rough concept modeling to the beginnings of a 3D architectural model with wall thicknesses and openings and then furniture and data appear. 


Evan Troxel Talk: 

Architect Evan Troxel, of the TRXL Podcast, which focuses on how technology is changing the architectural profession, has released a video recorded talk he gave at HMC Architects, of Ontario, California. This has actually been up since March of this year but I wanted to bring this to your attention because it fits squarely on the emerging technologies (emTech) focus of the Xpresso newsletter. 

Architect Evan Troxel, Director of Digital Practice, HMC Architects, and creator and host of the podcast TXRL presenting a talk on disruption in Architecture. (Image: screengrab)

The topic of his talk is "Disruption." Really about how technology is disrupting the field AEC fields and in this case how technology can disrupt the field and profession of architecture. 

Architect Evan Troxel, Director of Digital Practice, HMC Architects, and creator and host of the podcast TXRL presenting a talk on disruption in Architecture. (Image: screengrab)

Evan goes over what defines technology "disruption" using Clayton Christensen's definition from his book "The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Firms to Fail (Management of Innovation and Change)." Evan also mentions "The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts," by Richard and Daniel Susskind. These are both books I have read and worth re-reading, in fact, and Evan does a great job of going through examples of disruption and looking at a range of newcomers in AEC that could be disruptive. To watch his talk go here and check out the video on YouTube. 

You can learn more about Evan and hear his superb podcast series, TRXL. here.
The Briefing

Biggest CAD Industry News Last Month

(the biggest news and features from October)

Feature: What's Beyond Revit —Anagnost on Autodesk AEC Futures This exclusive interview following the Revit Open Letter moment has Autodesk's CEO explaining the issues and how Autodesk will address the needs of the AEC profession for architects in the near future.  [10 min. read]  (Architosh). Highly recommended for all AEC professionals.

Feature: Synergy and Alignment — The APIs Democratizing Role
The second most popular of our three features on the Revit Open Letter moment, this feature dovetails with the Anagnost feature and stresses the importance API connections will have in un-bottlenecking the AEC digital backbone and leading us to a truly Flexible Production System in AECOM.    [12 min. read]  (Architosh). Highly recommended for those following our analysis of the AEC industry with respect to economist-historian Carlota Perez.

AEC News: NVIDIA announces Omniverse Open Beta — global real-time collaboration
Leveraging technology from Pixar, NVIDIA's new Omniverse opens to everyone via an Open Beta stage after a year-long Early Access success period with partners like Foster + Partners.  
 [5 -min read] (Architosh). Highly recommended for all AEC professionals.

AEC News: Bentley Systems expands alliance with Microsoft — accelerates infrastructure digital twins
At the company's annual Year in Infrastructure conference, they announced the news to combine Microsoft's Azure IoT Digital Twins and Azure Maps with Bentley's iTwin platform.   [5 min. read]  (Architosh).

AEC News: Autodesk Announces Winners of 2020 AEC Excellence Awards
The annual technology implementation and design competition have ended with its winners being announced. Always a source of inspirational projects.  [2 min read]  (Architosh).

AEC News: Big new BIMcollab ZOOM update — Including Power BI
KUBUS's well-regarded BIMcollab ZOOM AEC collaboration platform gains new powers including integration with Microsoft Power BI.  [2 min read]  (Architosh).

End Note
Remember you can sign-up for architosh INSIDER Xpresso here -- a unique CAD industry newsletter with a special focus on emergent technologies (emTech) like AI, ML, robotics, 3D printing, AAD, computational design, and smart cities tech.

As we move forward, our format will evolve but will aim to focus on emTech in AEC and MCAD. We welcome your suggestions (

To see Past Issues visit this link here.  (sign-up for the newsletter here)

Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP

This is a free newsletter and companion publication to 
Companies mentioned in this newsletter where I have a financial interest will be listed in this section. This is consistent with Architosh's Disclosure statement on our Ethics page here. 

Architosh or its owner has a financial interest in Simulicity, which was mentioned in this issue.
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