Responding to customers who have been pushing them for greater workflow efficiencies when using their products together, Autodesk and Trimble have entered into an interoperability agreement that enables both companies to share Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and developer tools for products in their respective portfolios.
The collaboration is also meant to show each company’s commitment to supporting open industry standards such as Industry Foundation Classes (IFC), and Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie).
Autodesk and Trimble have similar arrangements with Bentley, and Autodesk recently struck an agreement on the manufacturing side with Siemens.
“We want to allow our customers to focus more on projects and spend less time moving data between Autodesk and Trimble products,” explains Jim Lynch, Vice President for AEC Product Development at Autodesk’s Boston office. He says this agreement will help “fill the API gaps.”
Tighter product-to-product integration can enable AEC users to share models, project files, and allow for the reuse of information throughout all phases of a project.
Lynch says the two companies have been working on this agreement for more than a year. His main contact at Trimble was its Vice President Bryn Fosburgh. Another key person in developing this agreement was Nicolas Mangon, Vice President of AEC Strategy and Marketing at Autodesk.
Lynch tells BD+C that this agreement does not entail any financial arrangement between the two suppliers, nor does he anticipate that either company would need to set up a separate team or department.
“Trimble benefits by our customers benefiting,” says Mark Sawyer, General Manager of Trimble’s General Contractor/Construction Management division.
Sawyer adds that going forward, each company will have access to the other’s APIs to test. Trimble also has an advisory group of customers that is likely to be involved in the testing.
Lynch expects that the industry will continue to pressure software vendors to develop products that integrate seamlessly. Sawyer agrees, and thinks the most immediate streamlining will be evident in document and data management, and BIM-in-field. But, he cautions, don’t expect interoperability agreements such as Autodesk-Trimble to be “wildly prolific,” either.