Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a process used in construction and engineering to create and manage information about an asset. Although BIM was done on smaller computers in the past, it has become a much more involved process, with cloud computing and multi-disciplinary data collection used to create digital assets to work from. BIM mainly relies on software to turn data and information into models and digital assets, or programming languages to help engineers get the most out of their data.
Building Information Modelling (BIM): An Overview
In construction and various other types of projects, the management and representation of information across a project’s lifecycle are critical. To make the representation, description, and management of the build easier, engineers use Building Information Modelling (BIM). The model uses information collected from various sources and combines it into one single model that everyone involved in the process can access, see, and use.
Creating such a model is a collaborative and additive process, where the model is updated as key information is added at key stages of the project. Because of this, BIM has become a modeling and information management system in an environment composed of various team members and stakeholders.
While we may take BIM for granted today, it is important to remember that the representation of data in a 3D model that we can work with was not always possible. Visualizing dimensions and requirements was very challenging in the past, especially when you consider that all engineers had been 2D representations.
The BIM Model as we know it today uses components known as BIM objects. Each of these objects is a fundamental part of a BIM model, with each object having specific data and geometry associated with it. When the geometry or data associated with an object changes, the model changes to accommodate this change and remains accurate throughout the project.
The representation of these models in 3D space, as well as manipulating data associated with a model, could be done using AutoCAD or another Computer-Aided Design program. These days, programming knowledge is required to create custom programs and APIs to enable BIM in various industries.
The following programming languages are used in the BIM industry.
Python has remained one of the best and most popular programming languages since it was released. Python’s popularity has increased in the past five years due to its use in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence applications. Python is also being heavily used in different facets of data science. Because of how important Machine Learning is poised to become over the coming years and decades, it makes sense to start learning Python to include it in your skillset right now.
Although python can be used for different kinds of programming its main staple is in server-side programming. Here, python is used to work with file systems on servers directly. Python’s power can also be used in data analysis for machine learning, maths, different fields of analytics, and data science. Because of the long list of uses and applications, interest in Python is unlikely to wane soon.
PHP is seen as more of a legacy programming language, although it deserves to be ranked higher for its use in the construction industry. PHP is a server-side language. It is one of the easiest programming languages to use, especially if you are working with data hosted on a MySQL server. PHP also works well with other SQL server implementations, although those might take some work to play nicely with PHP.
At some points, most engineers have to work with data housed on a MySQL server. Additionally, they may require database customizations to allow for easier access to data. With MySQL being a very powerful database and PHP being able to work with this database seamlessly, it pays to have these skills. PHP and MySQL are used together so much that it is likely that your machine already has both of them installed, especially if you run any version of Linux.
While some may argue that PHP has no place in BIM, most managers do not care about the tool used as long as it gets the job done. To make the most use of PHP in these settings, programmers can set up a simple local server that runs PHP scripts and works with a MySQL database. These scripts can be used for material and spool sheet tracking and can be the right size of an implementation that individual and smaller organizations need.
Although larger and older programming languages such as C# and Java have been used in the past to develop BIM software, newer languages are taking over. Many of these new languages are easier to learn, which is lowering the barrier of entry for people interested in programming. If you are doing BIM, you need to learn to code so you can either create software that helps the industry or be able to work with the various APIs that would make your life infinitely easier.