Is the PDF revolution advancing BIM workflows?

Many project teams who struggle to get everyone up to speed with BIM, find PDFs a useful tool to bridge the gap between the BIM world and the paper world

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November 12, 2015 |
Sasha Reed
Is the PDF revolution advancing BIM workflows?

From left to right: Sasha Reed, V.P. Strategic Development at Bluebeam Software, Nathan Wood of DPR Construction, and Kris Lengieza, Director of VDC at Stiles Construction.

This question was asked by members of the Construction PDF Coalition during a presentation at BIMForum in Orlando. Speaking to a room full of Architects, Engineers, and VDC/BIM Managers the question sparked a bit of a debate between those who believe PDF is no better than paper and those who see PDFs as an enabler for better project communication. The conference entitled, “VDC for Design Phase Management & Preconstruction” was aimed at presenting stories of project “moon shots” resulting in “creative disruptions”. All of which lead to a very important question, “How do we recreate these great results, project after project?” 

One off wins are good but are we really going to gain mass adoption and increase BIM literacy if we can’t consistently recreate positive results? Many project teams who struggle to get everyone up to speed with BIM, find PDFs a useful tool to bridge the gap between the BIM world and the paper world. Yet, our national CAD standards and even our BIM standards don’t address the creation parameters for PDFs, one of the most widely used file formats within the industry today. The Construction PDF Coalition, a grassroots, multidisciplinary effort, created a set of guidelines aimed at giving project teams a framework to standardize the creation of smarter PDFs.  It’s these smarter PDFs, 2D and 3D which are enabling digital workflows and allowing teams to replicate success project to project.  

The Coalition’s presentation at BIMForum offered insight into the value PDFs are bringing to BIM projects. It was the second public appearance for the group, aimed primarily at creating a dialog around the topic of PDFs and BIM. The group invited project leaders and owners alike to weigh in and add their voice to the conversation.   

It was two years ago, I sat down with a couple members of the Coalition and reported on it in this blog post. My main reason for attending BIMForum was to catch up with the group and report on the progress they’ve made. Two years later, they now have a website which hosts a public survey so they can gather feedback from the industry at large. They’ve also started a LinkedIn page so others can join the conversation. At the end of November, they plan to launch a web based version of the guidelines allowing project teams to create their own customized set of standards for PDF Construction documents.  Gaining support from groups like, AGC and BIMForum the group will be featured in a webinar scheduled for Thursday the 12th of November. You can sign up to participate here

If you can’t make the webinar, you can watch my interview with them (above) and also see their original presentation at BIMForum.

Sasha Reed | StrXur by Bluebeam
Bluebeam, Inc.
Vice President of Strategic Development

As Vice President of Strategic Development at Bluebeam, Inc., Sasha Reed collaborates with leaders in the architecture, engineering and construction industry to guide Bluebeam’s technology, partnerships and long-term goals. She joined Bluebeam in 2007 and co-created the Concierge Approach, a distinctly branded process of customer engagement, product feedback and solution delivery to which much of Bluebeam’s success is attributed, and which today is replicated at every organizational level.

Sasha is known industry-wide as a “conversation facilitator,” creating platforms for exchanges necessary to digitally advance the industry, including the BD+C Magazine Digital COM Blog, which she authors and manages. She’s been a featured presenter at numerous national and international conferences, including the 2014 Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), Federal Project Delivery Symposium and NTI Danish BIM Conference. Sasha also co-chairs the Construction PDF Coalition, a grassroots effort to provide a common industry framework from which to create and maintain construction PDF documents, serves on the City College of San Francisco BIM Industry Council, and is Advisor to the Board of Direction for the National Institute of Building Sciences BuildingSMART Alliance.

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