5 Working From Home Tips For Hassle-free BIM Design Review

Apr 6, 2020 · 7 min read

We hope you’re doing well and staying healthy. It’s been quite disruptive since everyone started to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The scale of the problem became evident when we received many messages from our clients saying that they were having problems accessing large files stored on the intranet, as well as not having stable internet connection at home, finding it difficult to communicate and collaborate well with colleagues, etc. The sudden increase in home working puts enormous pressure on some cloud services. Tech giants, such as Google and Microsoft, were all hit by outages intermittently. In the AEC industry, we’ve also heard about some downtimes of the essential yet cumbersome software, such as Autodesk BIM 360 Cloud Worksharing, Bentley ProjectWise, etc.

During these unprecedented and uncertain times, the bimU.io Team were responding as best we could to the needs of our customers. Our objective is single-minded: to make rapid improvement to make bimU.io more accessible and easier to use, or if possible even, for our users and their external collaborators to work more seamlessly together. Recently some users have been talking to us and asking for some basic comment functionality in bimU.io Viewer. While the bimU.io Dev Team were developing it, I’ve also shared a few useful technical tips for them to stay productive when working with conventional BIM/CAD software at home. It’s definitely worth to make them common knowledge before I introduce the awesome new feature.

1. Only connect to VPN when needed

I was in a video call with a client who was connected via their corporate VPN and talking to me simultaneously. The screen sharing was totally a disaster before closing the VPN connection. I appreciate there are times when VPN is needed to access an intranet website, connect to an on-premise licence server, etc. But it is literally making a detour when connecting to other cloud-hosted services. As a workaround, you can open BIM/CAD software with VPN connected in the first place and then disconnect it after a file is fully loaded. Just remember to switch off VPN when you don’t need it. On bimU.io, we’ve also tried to optimise the download size of BIM data. It’s a lot quicker than other online BIM platforms. More information can be found below.

2. Move everything to the Cloud

This sounds a little bit unrealistic especially when there are still lots of engineering programs that rely on some old-fashioned licencing mechanisms. Looking on the bright side, it is now the best time to get rid of network drives and ask your software vendors to provide secure cloud solutions. As a starting point, your team can co-edit an online spreadsheet that serves as a centralised drawing issue register rather than saving a copy on everyone’s machine. Passing files around is going to be a mess. We’ve built bimU.io entirely in the Cloud as it offers so many advantages: fully-managed, scalable, accessible from anywhere and anytime. You can also learn more about bimU.io’s data residency and security in terms of cloud hosting.

3. Use software licences properly

Do you know you can borrow an Autodesk licence that allows offline usage? Yes, it makes sense to do that when you visit a construction site without internet connection. However, that is going to be very costly if you check out a licence during uncertain times, say for a few months, because you would still get charged on weekends and bank holidays. There are also alternatives to full version licences when you don’t need them. For example, you can:
- Use bimU.io Viewer to share BIM models for online review when you don’t need desktop-based BIM modelling tools.
- Use Navisworks Simulate or Freedom when you don’t need clash detection in Navisworks Manage.
- Use Revit Viewer to run a third-party add-in, such as uploading model to bimU.io Viewer, when you don’t make changes to an RVT file.
- Use DWG TrueView when you don’t need AutoCAD.
As usage-based or token-based pricing model becomes mainstream, it is also NOT recommended to leave BIM/CAD software opened overnight.

4. Keep your laptop plugged in

This is all about graphics performance and battery life. Make sure your laptop charger is connected when using graphic-intensive programs. The slowness is obvious when using BIM/CAD software on battery. Also, running a high-performance GPU at full speed while on battery can damage the battery or require more power than the battery can safely supply.

5. Stream desktop applications

Video and music streaming services, such as Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, etc. are getting more and more popular. But have you heard about “live streaming” a desktop application and interact with it using mouse and keyboard? It’s pretty much the same as live streaming a video and therefore depends heavily on stable internet connection. Workstation PC is generally more powerful than laptop. As major cloud providers have made pay-as-you-go application streaming service available, you can easily stream BIM/CAD software with workstation-class experience and get it delivered to end users via browser at a manageable cost.

What’s new in bimU.io Viewer’s latest update?

In a nutshell, guest users are now able to create markups and leave comments within a password-protected BIM model without creating an account.

While we are still working on a holistic BIM issue, comments, tasks tracking solution called bimU.io Agile, bimU.io’s Dev Team has added a basic comment functionality to bimU.io Viewer as a quick response to the urgent requests from our users. Furthermore, you can also let guest users create markups or comment on markups. Please take a look at the user guide below you haven’t been aware of the interactive and cross-platform markup functionality in bimU.io Viewer.

To give you more flexibility, we are offering the new features at no cost, including large model support, guest comments, guest markups, etc. These will be freely-available until the end of this year, 31st December 2020.

How does the comment work?

Once your BIM model is shared via a password-protected link, whoever has the link and knows the password can view it, create markups based on current camera viewpoint, and give comments on markups. Some self-explanatory screenshots are provided below for a quick walkthrough.

Whoever can view a password-protected BIM model can create markups or comment on markups.

Don’t know yet how to share a BIM model on bimU.io? Here is the docs.

There is a tooltip that explains how it works in the new Share Settings.
Guest user will be asked to provide their name in addition to password on the login screen. The name will be used for comments in the current session.
Model owner will also get notified when guest users make changes.

Microsoft Teams has also become viral thanks to WFH! Do you know you can embed a bimU.io model in Microsoft Teams and SharePoint? See below.

An embedded bimU.io model in Microsoft Teams.

If you use multiple BIM software, please don’t forget bimU.io can synchronise camera viewpoints among different authoring tools based on the BCF standard. This function is available in the toolbar as well as from the markup.

We are here to support you!

The COVID-19 outbreak is leading companies to ask their employees to work from home. Transformosa is a digital and cloud-based company. Most of our staffs have been remote since the company’s inception. So it’s fairly easy for us to continue to provide support wherever we are and wherever you are. We’ve got multiple teams working on how we respond to this pandemic, so we can adapt to changes and keep supporting you. Please do not hesitate to log a ticket on bimU.io’s support centre or email support@bimu.io if you have any query. Most importantly, stay healthy and safe. Also if possible, stay productive at home : )


The best digital solution natively built for BIM


The best digital solution natively built for BIM


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The best digital solution natively built for BIM