In a recent blog post, Lio Lingier of Bricsys talks about the power of artificial intelligence (AI) in BricsCAD V17 in general and the BIM workflow in particular. It is very heartening to note desktop software vendors like Bricsys have started to anticipate the CAD user's next moves and offer predictive intelligence to make the most-probable right choices. This is nothing but AI, machine learning, smart defaults, most likely choices or plain common-sense, however you may want to call it.
Talking about artificial intelligence, when I graduated from college in 1989 and started working as an AutoCAD Technical support engineer, we did hear about the term, but then it was only a theoretical subject taught in universities and stuff that grey-haired scientists in American universities would pontificate about, publish papers with complex theories. We had no clue how it would really apply and be useful to the real world. Almost 30 years later, all of that is now beginning to make sense and show up in real life - now backed by well tested algorithms, rules and analytics.
One of the first companies to do massive research on this and deliver visible results to both B2C and B2B segments has been Google. We have all come to realize how quickly google search or google maps learn, adapt, re-learn and deliver meaningful results.
Taking a cue from mobile apps and user experience, intelligent behavior and AI-like techniques have started to appear in mainstream CAD software like BricsCAD, and I am aware that more is brewing that we will see in the near future.
Why BIM? BIM is the technology platform on which an architect can walk through the complete life-cycle of modeling, from conceptual planning, to pre-sales animations and visualization, to geometrically accurate 3D modeling and finally precise detailing. It is here the complete thought process of an architect-engineer-detailer is executed and offering smart choices, defaults and suggestions to intelligently build your model as you go along is what makes the difference.
For example, if I have chosen wood as my flooring material, it would help if my software knew what goes with wood as far as connections are concerned, and offer a most probable list of connectors or side panels, instead of giving me a standard list all the time. If I use a 300 mm x 5000 mm wooden panel, 20 mm screws and always connect or lay them in a certain way, it would be nice if my software knew it, and offers to do the rest of the process automatically.
8 out of 10 times, designers work in a standard and way once the workflow is identified. CAD Software should identify and run these snippets of CAD as automated tasks, much like Google already knows what you most probably are looking for next, in your map or in a search result.
It is exactly the same philosophy we have in CADPower software, to improve CAD productivity for BricsCAD and AutoCAD users - by automation of repetitive tasks. While CADPower currently only automates static tasks, today's generation of cloud and desktop software have the ability to dynamically automate, improve and learn as the user works longer and longer on the CAD.
Lio Lingier lists the following few examples in her blog:
Automatically classify solids as building elements
Repair your model
Intelligent “copy style” command
Photo credits : Bricsys blog
One of the most important ingredients for the success of software is that it must be easy to use. And I hope the stuff that we discussed in this article will make it easier for people to use software, especially new and first time users who can be guided through the workflow. One other software I may mention that makes it easier for its users to learn is Microsoft Visual Studio. Although the subject matter of Visual Studio is heavy, it does its best to shorten the learning curve by tooltip, tutorials, help snippets, syntax prompter and so on. We would like to see BricsCAD software head in a similar direction.