A couple weeks back, I attended a meeting of the London Revit User Group where Paul Fletcher from ZBP and Through Architecture presented Beyond BIM: Cooperation for a sustainable future. Paul seemed to be a man of strong convictions who had no qualms creating some controversy when discussing where we’re heading with BIM and the tools we’re using to get there. I very much enjoyed his talk and especially liked his focus on the Information in BIM.

I agree with Paul that the way we can move forward as an industry is via Information. Information that can be shared and reused. Because what’s the point of having a piece of data in a model if no one knows it’s there, or if it can’t be reused throughout a project? There is no point, really.

So when you look at standards that require information to be provided in a particular format, you can only feel a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. But when a standard, claiming to be a Revit standard rather than a general BIM standard, requests to have that same information in a format that is not reusable, one’s enthusiasm quickly turns to frustration.

There’s no stopping anyone from publishing whatever they like, nor should there be. But we should critique any standard that claims to be a Revit standard and has parameter requirements like the following:

What’s wrong with the above picture? Substituting NUMBER by WATTAGE would allow this information to be truly reusable, such so that it can be made part of formulas or calculations by engineers working on a project. When set in Number units, they lose their electrical properties within Revit. As another example, take a look at the table below.

I substituted LENGTH by TEXT. It doesn’t make any sense, does it? Those parameters won’t be driving any geometry, nor directly driving any dimensions in a model. Calculating the Width that 10 objects occupy in a project when placed side by side is no longer possible with a simple addition of their respective Width parameters. Well, the same goes for electrical parameters.

Hopefully standards like these can be avoided more often than not, leaving us no worse for the wear. Or, better yet, they can be updated following feedback from users.