Thursday, 8 November 2018

Autodesk University 2018 - NBS presentation

Details on the class I am delivering at Autodesk University 2018 next week are below:

Hopefully see a few people there on Tuesday Nov 13 at 8am.

The class is completely full :), but in previous years they have let people queue and then take the place of those who don't show up.

Again, it's an honour to be co-presenting with Jim Quanci from Autodesk who has led out the Autodesk Developers Network for years and more recently the Autodesk Forge programme.

If anyone attending AU would like to catch up over a cup of coffee - please send me a tweet at @StephenHamilNBS.

My class handout can be downloaded from the link below:
- Stephen Hamil - NBS - Handout - AU 2018.pdf

As always, I'll do an accompanying blog post to go with the class as a record.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

An introduction to NBS Chorus

A similar blog post to the one below...

The video below gives an introduction to NBS Chorus from the back-up video sequences * I put together for my live demo of Chorus at the recent 'NBS Discover' events.

We believed NBS Chorus is the future platform for those wanting to write specifications collaboratively in a modern cloud environment. A few of the big improvements we have been working hard on include:
  1. All UK content structured to Uniclass 2015 to bring NBS completely inline with UK Government Level-2 BIM requirements.
  2. A cloud platform that works equally well on any device - PC, Mac, tablet, mobile...
  3. Fast. Chorus utilises the latest web technologies so the experience when multiple users are working on the same project is excellent.
  4. Specification library content for Australian and Canadian practices and standards... and addition global libraries on the horizon.
  5. A platform that can be easily embedded into other software solutions - check out Revit and ArchiCAD examples in the video below.
To see it in action, click 'play' below...

All video presentations from the event can be viewed at the page below:

* back-up video sequences of course weren't needed as live demos went fine ;)

An introduction to NBS Create

At our recent 'NBS Discover' events, I presented an update on our recent product developments.

NBS Building, NBS Create and NBS Chorus were presented.

Speaking to customers during the event, many commented that the NBS Create presentation was useful. In particular:

  1. How it contrasted the content structure between NBS Building and NBS Create. This aspect of the presentation looked at how NBS Create has a home for each individual system. The advantages of this include:
    1. The provision of a natural location for system performance content/completion that does not exist in traditional CAWS based NBS. This allows a level of clarity for jobs with contractor design portions.
    2. The ability to specify all related products within a system in one location without jumping between multiple work sections. For example a ceiling system can be specified in its entirety without going to different sections for the frame, the insulation, the fire stopping etc...
  2. How the strict system and product based structure maps extremely well to the modelling that takes place in the design tool. For example, a layered partition (system) and its material structure (products) or an MEP system with its connected families (products).
To watch the video sequences that we have put together following the event, click play below...

All video presentations from the event can be viewed at the page below:

NBS Case Studies

At our recent UK 'NBS Discover' events we had customer presentations from around the country.

There were presentations from small, medium and large practices who told their 'digital story' in terms of delivering architectural and engineering services. In amongst these presentation there were some nice examples of how the use of NBS supports their workflows.

The practices that featured were JDDK, David Miller Architects, Lovelock Mitchell Architects, Ryder Architecture, BDP and IBI Group.

I attended each of the events and the highlight of each was listening to these stories of how the NBS content and software helps organisations deliver fantastic projects. In particular:

  1. How drawings can be accurately annotated and linked to the specification to clearly communicate detailed design
  2. How the NBS National BIM Library resources (object standard, shared parameter files, templates) can be utilised to give large and small practices a fantastic free resource to support their practice BIM policies
  3. How customers have worked with NBS providing feedback every 2-4 weeks as we develop our latest 'next generation' collaborative, cloud specification tool NBS Chorus

To view these case studies please see the link below:

Select the thumbnail images within the article to see the larger versions of the presentation slides.

Monday, 24 September 2018

CanBIM Toronto 2018 - NBS presentation

To watch my presentation from CanBIM Toronto 2018, please click play on the video below.

It covers three areas:
  1. Setting a BIM strategy
  2. The importance of data quality
  3. Examples of tools to help with BIM implementation
I hope to be back in Canada for a CanBIM in 2019!

Toronto pics...

Friday, 14 September 2018

CanBIM Toronto 2018

Last year NBS acquired Digicon, the leading specification company in Canada.

Now we have this Digicon specification content available in our NBS Chorus specification platform.

Next week I'll be at the CanBIM conference in Toronto speaking about BIM and Smart Cities and also exhibiting NBS Chorus and Natitonal BIM Library. I'll also be with David Watson President of Digicon.

If you are based in Toronto, interested in specification/information management and want to catch up - please drop me an email through:
Stephen.Hamil [at]


Agenda for the main speaker day
I'll be tweeting from Toronto when doing customer visits and also from the conference from @StephenHamilNBS

Friday, 7 September 2018

Be specific

One of the topics that my colleague Dave Watson covered at the recent BiLT North America conference was the importance of language when writing construction documentation.

(This was actually a topic that had stuck in my mind after hearing John Gelder present on it back in 1999 as part of a set of NBS Education modules.)

The article on our website is below:

And there is a print-out-and-keep infographic for those that want to either print out and stick on the coffee room wall or email to colleagues:

Seven essential tips when writing specifications.

Of course master specification systems, such as NBS, can help everyone across an office or on a project produce documentation that follows these principles. The template content provided follows these principles - in addition, the software guides/enforces the user to maintain the structure when making a specification project specific.

...and what is the alternative? I saw this amusing poster on Twitter the other day...
(Not sure who originally did this - but happy to credit if someone drops me an email)

Find out more about our NBS specification products below:

Friday, 10 August 2018

Creating BIM Objects to International Standards

This blog post includes a few extracts from my BiLT NA presentation at St Louis, USA. Rather than a printed 'hand-out' this is a brief summary with hyperlinks to useful links and some of the video sequences from the live examples...

1. The need for standardization
Standardization allows for efficiencies and reduced risk. The illustration below shows a number of examples of where geometry has been standardized (bricks, blocks, opening sizes or ceiling tiles, air conditioning units, lighting) and where technology has been standardized (HTML, CSS, Scripting in websites. The earliest examples of standardization are believed to be from the Indus Valley civilization when weights were used for trading.
Improve efficiencies and lower risks through standardization
The history of NBS has been around standardization, more specifically around standardization of specification structures in the UK. NBS was formed in 1973 around an industry need for this and has played a leading role in the Uniclass initiative over the decades.

When the UK Government BIM mandate was announced, process, information exchange and classification was standardized for BIM projects. However, at NBS we believed that there was a gap in the market with respect to standardizing BIM objects. We had been part of the team developing the BS 8541 series, but believed that the industry needed more.

2. Common areas of frustrations
Following a number of customer focus group sessions and practice visits we discovered that there were a number of frustrations around the quality of BIM objects being distributed and used in the industry. An illustration of three of these frustrations are highlighted in the examples below..

Example problem 1 - Badly built objects
Modelling tools such as ArchiCAD and Revit had allowed functionality to be linked to parameters. But many objects broke when these parameters were modified. In the example below, when the generic tank object is modified, the geometry completely breaks.

Example problem 2 - Objects with inconsistent information
BIM is about information in addition to the geometry. However, if care is not spent keeping the information consistent, then it cannot really be utilised for scheduling, material take off, analysis etc... In the example below, two doorsets are shown from the same content source. Immediately inconsistencies are apparent.

Example problem 3 - Objects that are 'over-modelled'
Modelling tools allow the object author to model as much geometry as they wish. Equally, many tools allow for fabrication models to be imported into workflows designed for architecture. The result is objects that have a file size that is far bigger than needed for the purpose. In the example below, every screw-thread and bolt is modelled on an air conditioning system.

3. NBS BIM Object Standard
In order to support the industry, at NBS we developed an easy-to-understand BIM Object Standard. This can be accessed for free at:

This standard was developed in consultation with industry, working with experts in the UK, Australia and Canada. The standard pulls in the best practice from sources such as IFC, COBie, international classification systems and the BS-8541 series. Although the examples provided in this blog post are illustrated using Revit, the standard has been written to be platform independent.

This standard is split into five main sections and examples are provided below from each of these sections:

NBS BIM Object Standard - 1. General requirements
This section covers the use of language, generic or manufacturer identification and IFC class type.

NBS BIM Object Standard - 2. Infomation requirements
This section covers the type/instance properties, naming, IFC and COBie property sets, standard properties and properties to cover certification and environmental credentials.

NBS BIM Object Standard - 3. Geometry requirements
This section looks at the Goldilocks principle of 'just right' - not too much geometry, but enough geometry that it is fit for purpose. An example of too much geometry would be the nuts and bolts on the air conditioning unit. An example of not enough geometry would be wanting to show doors and windows at a particular scale and not showing the correct visuals per the international standard.

NBS BIM Object Standard - 4. Functional requirements
Considerations such as what surface an object should be hosted to, indication of operation and maintenace zones and functionality that doesn't break the object. The example below shows a generic MEP object that assists an engineer when designing around spatial constraints.

NBS BIM Object Standard - 5. Metadata requirements
Considerations around file naming and abbreviations. The example below shows that objects can easily be located when displayed in a list if they are named consistently.

4. Useful resources
This is the object standard that all NBS National BIM Library objects are authored to. This now represents objects from over 300 leading manufacturers and it is increasingly becoming the content creation guide used by practices around the world.

In addition the standard itself, the following links are useful for anyone creating objects.
  1. buildingSMART
    IFC 2x3 and 2x4 schemas are particularly useful for the class types and standardising key performance properties.
  2. BIMForum LOD
    Illustrative examples, mainly around geometry, for typical elements found in the built environment.
  3. BIM Toolkit
    Thousands of LOD and LOI definitions mapped to Uniclass 2015.
    Classifications for use when working to North America standards and practice.
    Classifications for use when working to UK BIM Level 2.
  6. National BIM Library
    Shared parameter files, Revit templates and plug-ins for Revit and ArchiCAD.
  7. National BIM
    1000s of generic and manufacturer objects that may be downloaded for either immediate use on a project, or for a basis of customisation to create an object for a particular purpose.