Although some BIM vendors implemented a Revit translator this year, such as Vectorworks, they have all kept quite quiet about it. So when BIM6x issued a press release about their Revit translator plug-in for ARCHICAD, WorldCAD Access had to interview them. We spoke with Chris Clark, BIM6x ARCHICAD Solutions Director and Link Ellis, BIM6x ARCHICAD Technical Director.
(The plug-in is free, works only with ARCHICAD 21, and comes in a version each for Windows and MacOS. RVT is Revit's file format for its models, while RFA (Revit Families) is its format for sharing objects between projects, such as doors and windows.)
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WorldCAD Access: Is your translator based on the work done by the Open Design Alliance?
WorldCAD Access: Why did you decide to write the translator?
BIM6X: We provide ARCHICAD sales and consulting in the mid-west [of the USA]. The big wish of our customers was to get RFA content into their projects. We recommend that they still use the IFC workflow for interoperability, because translated RVT and RFA files don't carry much data.
WorldCAD Access: Why are you giving it away for free?
BIM6X: It is good for our users, with whom we have been consulting on ARCHICAD sales for over 20 years. It's also good for exposure.
WorldCAD Access: What does the plug-in do so far?
BIM6X: When it brings in an RFA file, it detects automatically if it is a door, window, or other object. The Import dialog box also allows you to give curved geometry different levels of complexity, to control polygon size. The RFA is converted to a GDL object.
It brings in the RVT model file as a group of objects. It is hotlinked, so that when the model changes in Revit, those changes show up in ARCHICAD. A hotlink is like a 3D xref; it does not bring in all the data, like IFC would.
We can export ARCHICAD models to RVT format, as objects with limited intelligence (such as properties and classifications).
The RVT parameters with which it comes into ARCHICAD can be put into schedules and labels, but they cannot be edited.
Our plug-in is excellent for inserting doors and other elements available only in Revit format, but RFA symbols are not meant to be edited, such as being stretched, as they are no longer parametric. This is a limitation we added deliberately, as the imported symbols are as-manufactured; they are not meant to be stretched.
WorldCAD Access: What kind of demand have you see for this plug-in?
BIM6X: Worldwide. We have had downloads from just about every country on earth. We hadn't even officially launched it, when we noticed the first downloads starting within 90 seconds of us posting it online. We don't know how people learned of it, and now we are still just getting out the word.
WorldCAD Access: Could IFC and RVT be combined to get best of both?
BIM6X: This is not the intent as they are quite separate. It would be hard to add IFC data to an imported Revit door -- maybe it could be done with GDL [ARCHICAD's graphic description language for parametric symbols].
The workflow we recommend is
- Continue using IFC for true collaboration
- Use RVT for visualization and visual collision detection
- Use RFA for parts available only in Revit
WorldCAD Access: Might you adapt your plug-in for other BIM systems?
BIM6X: This is not really in our scope, as we are focused on ARCHICAD.
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You can download the RVT/RFA plug-ins from http://www.bim6x.com/solutions