The program in the spotlight this time is Edificius from ACCA Software in Italy, Europe. They offer multiple programs but today we are just looking specifically at this one.
Its a BIM software that promises to accomplish a number of things according to their website:
- 2D & 3D Architectural design
- 3D Interior design
- Garden and Landscape design
- MEP plant modeling
- Job scheduling
- Dynamic cost estimation
- VR – Virtual Reality
- Video editing
- Online model viewing
These are my experiences in using the program over de last two days. Keep in mind this is from the perspective of someone who has never used this program before.
One of the first things you notice if you start it up is that the interface looks very familiar. The reason why is that the Microsoft office layout was once used as a template or something along those lines, It looks very similar to Word 2007 and the file sidebar that opens up is the exact same as office 365.
The other thing you will notice right away is the lack of ribbon tabs and buttons. The program is segmented into a few different workspaces which can be accessed by the buttons on the bottom left. This will give access to the different tools in that workspace This functions in the same way as the tabs in Revit. The strange thing which I think could be improved on is that nearly every tool in the program is accessed via a dropdown menu in the second button on the ribbon. Also tool functionality might not always be clear but there is a small help screen in the top right that should help with that in some cases.
There are also some UI inconsistencies which you will notice during use that make it confusing how to use certain windows. So there will be a learning curve on getting around the software.
Modeling is fairly straight forward for the most part and similar to other programs, Select your wall, constraints and go at it. Where things change is that modeling and manipulation of objects mostly works with nodes. This was a change to get used to but not in a negative way.
Where things get interesting is the generator/builder for windows and doors. it is surprisingly powerful and allows you to make pretty complex windows or doors with relative ease once you figure out how it works. This is also the moment when you really notice the Italian or Mediterranean flavor of the software, All the templates are in a style that’s common there, But it’s not hard to change it into something fitting your needs once you figure out how it works.
Another place where the Italian flavor is noticeable is in the roof creation which is very simple if you want to make a roof according to the styling in the Mediterranean area since it can auto generate it for you. If you want a custom or abstract roof shape you must model every individual face and make them line up manually. This is something to take into consideration.
Making stairs is also surprisingly easy with you just having to define your parts put them next to each other and end up with a proper stair. if you want to get creative you can then further edit the stair to make abstract shapes.
But every program has its flaws and in this case its the missing radius controls for circles and arcs, No join or cut controls afar as I could tell, Dimension lines are static and don’t update to the wall they are referencing to, Temporary dimensions for windows are there and actually show in a very nice way but there is no way to interact with them to position your elements. And there are no mirror or array tools apart from the basic flip mirror.
Due to this you need to add helping lines and the likes to properly position elements which is a shame since the groundwork does seem to be there.
You can also model MEP elements with the software and it seems pretty intuitive but since I don’t have much experience with this I wont comment on it.
Out of the Box Template
The base template which comes with the software is another point where the Mediterranean flavor really comes into play. The basic included materials and walls are very specific to that area of the world so for work in other locales you would have to manually add a lot. So this is something to take into consideration.
The program does some things, especially the way drawings are presented differently but there are a lot of simple ways to customize the way a drawing looks with the filter system they have, but for the most part it produces very clean plans.
The IFC capabilities of Edificius seem limiting because of the way it does the window and door generation it seems to not be able to handle different ways of representing them, This is also the case for curtain walls that don’t come over properly and default to the default setting in Edificius. In the image below you can see the difference from the IFC and as its shown in the program, Note that all the geometry and other information except the opening is gone.
The IFC export does not seem to be that much beter. While the geometry does export as intended there are a lot of strange artefacts which ruin the IFC. See the image bellow where the windows and doors have shifted down.
Rendering, VR & Video editing capabilities
This is the part which really sets it apart. Edificius boasts a rather capable rendering engine in some ways on par with Enscape and in some cases being better than it and including animations and animated objects. As you can see in the video from the company the render quality you can get out of it is really good, Even in empty scenes lighting is detailed and striking from my own testing.
If still scenes aren’t your thing they also have a real-time render environment which can be used for VR, Quality wise its a little les but its comparable to Enscape but with the option for weather and visual effects, something which Enscape including the animations does not have at this time.
Another function which i have not seen in another program yet is the ability to have a scripted video timeline which can control element visibility, Lights, Lighting and generic text and image manipulation as you would expect from a video editor. This opens up a whole new way to present your models via video with scripted events.
As an example: Walk outside and turn on the lights slowly exposing the pool and terrace.
Include in this the ability to send your model to the cloud for viewing and you have functionality which really makes Edificius a unique program at a unique price point.
Price & Functionality
So in the end what does all this functionality cost even with its quirks and sometimes missing features and how does it compare with the competition.
|One time purchase||–||–||€5520|
€2995 a year
€2995 a year
€480 a year
€480 a year
|Video editor||Included||VegasPro suite|
|Totall:||€648 a year||1x €600 + |
€6670 a year
|1x €6120 + |
€3475 a year
While not everything may be perfect, there are quirks in the software, some features are missing and a clunky interface, The price and the features it offers for that price make it a compelling option for those with limited financial means.
Check it out at https://www.accasoftware.com/en/bim-modeling-software