Autodesk Forge Example: BLDG360

Autodesk Forge is our platform that we use to create web services and allow our customers and partners to extend those web services. Though Forge is applicable to any aspect of the design/make/use lifecycle for places, things, and media, one of its first applications is for Autodesk customers to showcase design data to their customers. In essence, we're looking to help our customers reach their customers. Some customers use our application program interfaces (APIs) to develop their own solutions. Others reach out to Autodesk partners. The BLDG360 site is a perfect example of this.


The BLDG360 site was created by Autodesk partner, CAD & Company who offers its construction, civil engineering, and manufacturing customers a better workflow to improve quality and reduce time. They do this by selling Autodesk software subscriptions, training their customers, providing services, and developing software with technologies such as Autodesk Forge.

CAD & Company got started with Forge by using the Viewer to create BLDNG360. They soon discovered that the models did not have the quality they wanted. They analyzed the problem and came up with two ways to improve our building models:

  1. To provide better building components, they created a platform to host a collection of Revit Family components, providing a viewing capability of a high-quality building elements — a new public library, BuildingContent. This leveraged the Forge Viewer.

  2. To give their users a tool to check their building models, they used the Viewer and Model Derivative API to create a smart logbook that eliminates lists, spreadsheets, endless emails, cut and paste, and countless phone calls — Collaborea.

Collaborea consists of three elements:

  1. Collaborea for Autodesk NavisWorks — a rules-based model checker that "automagically" checks building models for clashes and data quality
  2. BLDNG360 — a site to communicate modeling issues to the extended team so designers and project leaders can instantly and easily see what needs to be fixed
  3. Colaborea for Revit — a way for designers to download issues from BLDNG360 and adjust their models

I tried BLDNG360 for myself. The site allowed me to select a building design and explore it in detail. I could pan, zoom, and orbit. For example, the site includes a model of the Amsterdam Arena:


This all happens using just my browser, Chrome in my case, without the need to download and install any software — not even a plug-in. This is because the BLDG360 site uses the Model Derivate API to convert this Autodesk Revit model into a simple vector format (SVF) file [referenced by a Universal Resource Name (URN)] that can be viewed natively in the browser.


In addition to simple 3D navigation, metadata about the arena is also displayed and/or computed. For example, I used the first-person mode to walk along the field and measure the distance between exits:


This is possible because CAD & Company are also using the Model Derivative API to export model elements for calculations, specifications, and for planning (i.e., ERP systems), enabling their customers to use the building model data in other functions without a lot of IT effort. They believe their use of Forge brought them into a position where they could talk to their customers about their primary processes.

For an overview of the Autodesk Forge process, see "Some like it hot: A little more detail behind the Autodesk Forge API." Are you also using Forge in an interesting way like Houzplan or CAD & Company to address your or customers’ challenges? Do you have any lessons learned from both challenges and/or successes developing with Forge to share with the community? Shoot me a note and tell me more. Perhaps you are interested in sharing your project or company’s use case with Forge cloud solutions at Autodesk Forge’s DevCon 2017?

Sharing design data is alive in the lab.