BIM360 is a Cloud platform offered by Autodesk for Building Information Management.
The platform integrates with their suite of industry-standard CAD applications and offers a shared online workspace for users to collaborate on projects from design through to construction.
BIM360 provides a wide range of APIs to extend its functionality and integrate its services with custom applications. We have worked on several projects that interface with the BIM360 platform to offer end-users a seamless user experience spanning custom line-of-business applications through to the Cloud platform.
Line-of-Business/BIM360 Application Integrations
As part of the roll-out of BIM360 across their organisation, a client required integrations between their custom applications and the Cloud platform. These integrations included:
User Management and Synchronisation
The client had an existing user and role management solution that needed to be extended to manage BIM360 users and roles. This allowed managers to control access to the Cloud platform from a user interface they were already familiar with. In the background, changes to user access and roles was automatically synchronised with BIM360 by custom integration software we developed. By allowing managers to control access to multiple systems from a single interface, user training requirements were reduced, day-to-day manager’s time was saved, and user error and inconsistency was eliminated.
BIM360 to On-Premises Data Synchronisation
For several legacy batch processing workflows, our client needed copies of CAD drawing assets copied to on-premises file storage. The file synchronisation system needed to run on a regular schedule, so reducing the time each sync job required to run, as well as avoiding excessive bandwidth usage was paramount.
To meet this challenge, we developed a custom file synchronisation system to copy drawing assets and folder structures existing in BIM360 to local storage. To optimise performance, and eliminate unneeded data transfers, the custom file synchroniser kept track of file meta-data, using it to ensure that only files that had been added or updated since the previous run would be copied. The change detection mechanism used the file hash (SHA1) to identify changes, thus guaranteeing that only modified files were synchronised. This was necessary, as in some cases users would upload the same file content to BIM360 multiple times. Each upload would create a new file version in BIM360, but because the actual file content was unchanged, our synchronisation system was able to identify these duplicates, and avoid copying them to the local data store.
Common Technical Features of Custom BIM360 Integrations
The BIM360 API is based on the widely used RESTful web service pattern, and as such we were able to leverage our previous experience with similar APIs, plus an industry-standard set of development tools and frameworks to rapidly integrate our client’s custom systems with the BIM360 Cloud platform.