Architectural turmoil is on the rise regarding Autodesk and its support for the industry’s design business. The discontent has been brewing for a decade or more and has led to calls for action from the EU.
25 A recent open letter to Autodesk by 17 designated members of a team of top architects (July 28, 2020: Design firm requested Autodesk Changes received by more firms Support. They expand the geographic reach of those prepared to publicly criticize US AEC software vendors for supporting architectural design businesses—many of whom rely heavily on Autodesk’s Revit design software. There are now 18 more practices tied to the original letter’s signatories, Bringing the total to 35. Another 10 practices are supportive but not yet public. So in total there are more than 50 companies supporting the organization’s grievances.
The new signatories are: BC Architects and SAOTA (both from South Africa); Cooper Carry, Portman Architects, Idesign-solutions, Studio 3 Architecture, Goody Clancy, SGA, Bohlin, Cywinski, Jackson and Workshop Collaborative (all from USA), Atelier Tisso (France), CGL, Shepheard Epstein Hunter and PDPLondon (all from UK); Resonance (Netherlands); MIZA (Canada); Oslo Plant ( Norway); and Mochly-Eldar Architects (Israel). Over the past decade or so, from various software reviewers and end users. For example:
- SolidWorks accuses Autodesk of trying to monopolize the use of .dwg as a file extension (Ralph Grabowski – WorldCADAccess, December 2009)
- Is the European Commission investigating Autodesk? (Randall Newton – GraphicSpeak, April 2011)
- Autodesk confirms its unconscionable behavior (Steve Johnson – CAD Nauseum, July 2017)
- That’s why Autodesk’s monopoly on global AEC is not good, not even for Autodesk (Zolna Murray – Debunking BIM, Feb 2018)
- Avoid the mistake of Carillion joining the Autodesk monopoly unnecessarily (John Ford – LinkedIn Pulse, May 2018)
- Status of BIM software and Autodesk (MES – MES Blog, July 2018)
- Why Revit sucks (Dion Moult – ThinkMoult, Dec 2018)
- 24th February 2020, FIEC published a Position Paper (Download ) on Company/Editor/Service Provider Relationships. No vendor was named, but judging by the similarity of the claims, Autodesk is clearly one of the software vendors that the FIEC is taking enough care to urge the European Commission to review competition and data management regulations. Its paper discusses challenges and makes recommendations under four headings:
- The dominance of a handful of software companies/editors/vendors raises major concerns. – FIEC urges European Commission to address competition issues related to software user contracts
- The non-EU origin of these suppliers and their infrastructure is exacerbating the lack of autonomy of EU software capabilities. – FIEC says EU software users should be allowed to decide where their data is stored (“EU companies should be able to host their data on EU territory, by EU servers/company, in accordance with EU legislation” ), called for the creation of a secure European cloud, and said software services “should be required to meet EU standards for interoperability and open access”.
- Contracting authorities must maintain software neutrality and promote open standards . – FIEC calls for the implementation of EU public procurement rules and urges the promotion of open standards for data, protocols and file formats in public procurement.
- Rules need to be established for multi-user access platforms such as BIM models. – Likewise, FIEC urges the EU to take steps to protect data owners while ensuring appropriate data access rights for other users.
- Autodesk is not alone in hosting, US dominance, interoperability issues
Much of the construction software industry is focused on the growing dominance of US software giants through M&A activity. Autodesk, Bentley, Oracle and Trimble have formed a strong AEC software portfolio by acquiring strong players in Europe, Oceania and elsewhere, while some of the more general US software vendors such as Microsoft and IBM have also developed applications, services and relationship, as their foothold in the AEC field is growing stronger.
Software interoperability has been a longstanding issue covered by EE since 2005 (eg: New ROI: Return on Interoperability , September 2005). BuildingSmart (formerly the International Interoperability Consortium) started as an Autodesk initiative in the mid-1990s, but 25 years later, the global shift to open standards is still slow, with Autodesk’s leading BIM authoring product “widely ridiculed” for its IFC import/export functionality.
Autodesk Responds to Key Topics
- Autodesk’s open letter to the Godwin team initial reply ( see update to earlier EE post ) no mention of interoperability
full No. However, a follow-up blog post from Amy Bunzsel, published today (July 31, 2020), touched on the subject and said in terms of openness and interoperability: “ We continue to invest in support of IFC and based on customer feedback, we have recently added development for new industry requirements, focusing on IFCv4 certification .”
“Looking ahead, we believe that the way of working will continue to evolve, from direct modeling today to analysis-driven results-based design… to fusion Manufacturing and construction, and data needs to be unlocked from native formats and easier to flow in Autodesk and non-Autodesk products .”
No more software islands
- Jozef Dobos is a technology provider based in London, UK3DRepo (Open BIM proponent since 2017), recently argued the case for fair competition in software usage , in an article BIM+ article. He writes:
- “ All issues raised by FIEC must be addressed to achieve true digitalization of the construction industry .
The 3D Repo aims to make construction Industry collaborates better and creates better buildings. That’s why the AEC Delta Mobility [Open Source] initiative in partnership with BuroHappold Engineering and Specckle Systems is so important to Designers, integrators and manufacturers have created new standards to improve data flow.
The current method of sharing information as an entire 3D model file can hinder collaboration. Tracking Changes for Design Communication can also be problematic and inefficient. AEC Delta Mobility breaks down documentation barriers, enabling small design changes (called “Deltas”) to be shared faster, more openly, and more efficiently.
This is how the software industry should work with the construction industry. The real solution involves working with customers and giving them the tools they don’t want to leave, based on reality that facilitates the collaboration we want to see Commercial terms of conduct, rather than dividing us into software silos .”
Some of these issues are already familiar. Where to host project data has been an issue since the deployment of software-as-a-service applications began in the 1990s, and as the use of construction collaboration platforms expanded in the early 2000s, most leading vendors have responded by creating localized hosting centers Serving different operating areas. For example, hosting project data in the US has been resisted by most clients in Europe and other parts of the world (eg: Middle East, Southeast Asia, etc.); readEE Published August 2014 There is no SaaS “safe harbor” ).
Concerns about the monopoly of some software suppliers are also raised internationally by industry organisations including the European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC). propose.