8 Most Popular Building Information Modelling Software to Master in 2022 For Your Career

Thet Hnin Su Aung

9 mins read

April 24

conceptual 3D cityscape model in different shades of blue and white
Forward-thinking AEC firms and professionals are now flocking to BIM for its efficiency and abilities, and the ever-evolving building information modelling software and digital tools are proof. Thanks to the advancing technology, the BIM software list is also getting bigger and more updated than ever before. And a few of those have been or become the favourites among the users. Let’s take a look at the most popular BIM software for AEC professionals to learn in 2022.

Note that this list is not in any particular order.

The BIM software list to learn in 2022

1. Revit

Collage with a project created in Revit on the right and Revit 2023 written with the logo on the left

Latest Revit pack - Revit 2023 (Source: https://mobile.twitter.com/autodeskrevit)

A name well-known, Revit is undoubtedly now one of the representative software for BIM in design and has been so for years. It has numerous features that are beneficial to all stakeholders in the AEC industry. Beginning with conceptual design, where massing studies can be created, Revit can work through all design stages, all the way through to documentation. You name it, Revit has it! Analyses, before and after designing, can be performed within the software using plug-ins.

The ease of modelling is enhanced by the availability of ‘families’ with proper dimensions and properties included. These Revit families also allow parametric modelling, creating 3D models with a set of parameters that can be modified. For architects, photorealistic visualisation is also possible in Revit using plug-ins like V-ray and Enscape.

A superiority of Revit modelling is that all information is established in a single database, allowing automated updates to any changes and coordination with other stakeholders. In addition, its interoperability function with other Autodesk software improves workflow with more efficiency.

2. Navisworks

a 3D model in Navisworks, with a partial x-ray view of its services and infrastructure

3D model in Navisworks with services details (Source: https://www.autodesk.com/)

Described as software to review 3D models, Navisworks is another building information modelling software by Autodesk on our list. It allows the users a holistic review of models and data for project planning, including outcomes. Navisworks is similar to Revit in its function to mould all models into one for better collaboration and coordination.

What’s more, it comes in three variations: Freedom, Simulate and Manage. It is advisable to know the user’s needs before choosing one. Navisworks Freedom, or 3D viewer, is the free option among the three, sans its clash detection and other analysis features. It is a good choice for visualisation during the design stage when the client or contractor needs to view the model. The ‘Manage’ variation has the full features and tools that make Navisworks a perfect software for construction simulation and analyses for the entire project for review. It incorporates clash detection, quantity take-offs and 5D scheduling features etc.

On the other hand, the 'Stimulate' version contains all features of Manage except clash detection, hence being suitable for workflow without clash detection. In addition, it can integrate with other BIM software such as Revit or BIM 360. However, currently, Navisworks only works on Windows.

3. BIM 360

different features of BIM 360 shown on an isometric 3D model

A360 Collaboration for Revit (Source: https://blogs.autodesk.com/)

BIM 360 is a part of Autodesk Construction Cloud, which allows the amalgamation of project data and information into a centralised system. It can also integrate with diverse BIM and even non-BIM software (e.g. Microsoft 365). Autodesk BIM 360 improves the construction process from the design phase by supporting the collaboration of multidisciplinary stakeholders and even document management.

The advantages of centralised information are huge; project delivery is on time within budget due to improved decision making, and predictability of risks and hazards. Quality management reduces any chances of rework, and so saves time and money. BIM 360 is suitable for any AEC role, from architects to contractors and even owners.

4. FormIt

A rendered image of a 3D model on the left and a plain conceptual model on the right

Modelling in FormIt (Source: https://formit.autodesk.com/)

Unlike most BIM software on this list, FormIt is a 3D sketching and massing tool used widely for conceptual design. It is available for Windows, Web version and Apple iPad. FormIt comes in free and pro versions; the free version has only the basic features for massing, while the pro version comes with its full BIM features, including integration to Revit, computation with Dynamo, collaboration and analyses.

The models are produced with real-world site information, hence shadows studies, solar and energy analysis can be run afterwards. Subsequently, the designs can be stored in a centralised data system for easy access and integration with other software. FormIt can integrate with Dynamo (parametric modelling), Insight (analysis and simulations), and Revit (refining models and additional BIM workflows).

5. Infraworks

a rendered model in Infraworks showing high-rise buildings, road infrastructure and landscape

Road and infrastructure design in Infraworks (Source: https://www.autodesk.com/)

Infraworks is also one of the most used BIM software from Autodesk for infrastructure projects by civil engineers. With Infraworks, large-scale infrastructure models can be generated and managed with detailed data. It allows incorporating data from other CAD and 3D models, GIS, CityGML (information model and XML-based encoding of 3D landscape and city models) and satellite imagery. Design proposals can be created with accurate and appropriate details.

Furthermore, within Infraworks, the layout for roads, drainage and earthworks etc can be created and project feasibility can be assessed. For road design, details such as cross-sections and roadside grading, or even roundabout design, can be easily produced. Simulations for traffic, mobility and flood also allow an assessment of design feasibility before it gets finalised.

6. cove.tool

Shadow analysis gif from Cove.tool showing shadow formation at different times of the day

Shadow analysis (Source: https://www.architectmagazine.com/)

Cove.tool is not a BIM software, but a design analysis platform for the design process of intelligent building performance. Focusing on energy efficiency and sustainability, this tool allows various analyses to be performed on a single platform. This speeds up the data transfer process and reduces data loss and errors. It parametrically optimises cost and energy while taking into consideration several automated input factors such as energy codes and daylighting.

The cloud-based platform is divided into several features and tools: analysis.tool, drawing.tool, quote.tool and loadmodeling.tool. The workflow and plug-ins for Rhino 3D, Sketchup, Revit, Archicad etc. permit efficient integration with such software.

7. Twinmotion

3 different rendered images by Twinmotion put into a collage

Different render styles in Twinmotion (Source: https://www.twinmotion.com/)

Twinmotion software is a powerful real-time visualisation tool from Epic Games, the same company as Unreal Engine. It can convert BIM models into high quality renders, animations and even VR videos, with changeable seasons and weather, numerous lighting and material choices, allowing stakeholders and clients to experience the spaces virtually.

The visualisation can profit the sign-off with clients as they can already see and experience both the finished product and the process. Twinmotion projects can also easily sync with other CAD and BIM software. Its user interface is simpler and easier to handle than other visualisation tools so the learning curve is reduced.

8. Archicad

a 3D model with parts highlighted in orange and showing the features of ArchiCAD

Features of ArchiCAD (Source: https://graphisoft.com/)

Archicad, from Graphisoft, is commonly known as the first BIM software for commercial use since 1987. Despite the ‘cad’ in the name, Archicad is not a simple CAD tool, but a BIM software. It is similar to Revit in that it can generate 3D models with information integrated into all parts of the models. In addition, any changes get automatically updated throughout the model and any CAD files can be easily created. However, it is known to be less complicated to learn compared to Revit.

Archicad software can support a light operating system, and yet performs a streamlined workflow from sketches and conceptual diagrams to construction-ready details. The standard file format is .pln but it can also support other file formats for both import and export, including .dwg and .skp formats. Users can also create VR workflows for design reviews and presentations with plug-ins for Lumion, Enscape, Twinmotion etc.

The advantage of BIM technology is that most software can be interoperable, and the data transfer becomes relatively easy. Take a lead in the industry with your BIM software skills with Novatr’s BIM Professional Course, where participants will learn Revit and related BIM tools, including Infraworks and Cove.tool, then proceed to work on real-life BIM projects for an impressive design portfolio.

Head to the Resources section for more insights on software, careers and industry trends.

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