Friday, 11 September 2015

NBS Create and BIM

Yesterday I was in London with a number of large architectural practices who have been NBS users for many years. As part of this session we looked at how NBS Create can work within a BIM environment.

As always with live demonstrations, it's always a good idea to take screenshots in case the technology doesn't work on the day - so I thought I'd blog these screenshots here as they may be of interest to others.
(All images can be clicked on to make them bigger).

Figures 1 and 2 below show how an NBS specification can be linked to a Revit model so that the user can quickly view the specification for a system or a product without taking up an NBS licence. Within the NBS viewer all hyperlinks to clauses and external standards may be clicked and sub-sections can be expanded and collapsed.
Fig 1 - Select an object to view the specification
Fig 2 - The specification is accessed in the viewer
Figures 3 and 4 below demonstrate how annotations may be quickly added. When any linkage is broken, the user may correct this through the NBS plug-in functionality.

Fig 3 - Report on incorrect annotations
Fig 4 - Correct the annotations by selecting the appropriate clause from the specification
For those needing to access the NBS design guidance, this also may viewed in a single click. In the example below the user is considering the security guidance with respect to doorsets from the context of the model.
Fig 5 - NBS design guidance from the context of the model
To learn more about the free NBS plug-ins for BIM platforms (Revit, ArchiCAD, Vectorworks) please visit -

Following the demonstration on specification and model linkage we then looked at the standardised content that is available free from the National BIM Library. The screenshots below show how objects can be dragged and dropped directly from the National BIM Library into a model and how the objects synchronise with the guidance and notes on the web.

In addition to the development of generic objects to manufacturer and the specification linkage, the other big benefit of using National BIM Library is the consistency and quality of the information within the objects. The screenshots below show how the IFC, COBie and NBS properties are consistently authored to the NBS BIM Object Standard. This gives assurances of quality to any end-user or manufacturer using the library.

Fig 6 - Technical guidance on the web for the objects in your model
Fig 7 - Consistent IFC properties authored to the NBS BIM Object Standard
Fig 8 - Content from almost 200 manufacturers all authored to the same standard
Fig 9 - Property sets showing standard international definitions
Fig 10 - Pragmatic levels of geometric detail in the objects to keep the file sizes to an acceptable level.
The NBS BIM Object Standard is a free PDF download and also a website with associated guidance. It's great to see so much manufacturer content to this standard and more and more design practices adopting this standard for their own internal use. The screenshots below show a little from the standard website.
Fig 11 - NBS BIM Object Standard 
Fig 12 - Free-to-use standard and associated guidance


  1. This is functionality looks incredible but when will us Mac & Vectorworks users be able to take advantage of it? There doesn't even appear to be a Vectorworks plug in available when I click on the link. And if there was, I know it only works on windows!

  2. Alan,

    There is a Vectorworks plug-in - but you are correct that this is for PC (or virtual machine). Please contact your Vectorworks distributor for further information. I blogged about this a couple of years ago...

    With respect to the question about developing new products for PC or/and Mac. Our two most recent new developments have been 100% in the cloud. This means they work equally well on the PC and the Mac.
    - RIBA Building Contracts -
    - BIM Toolkit -

    The trend across the software development industry seems to be going this way.

    1. Hi Stephen

      Thanks for your reply. I have contacted Computers Unlimited who have confirmed that it is only available on Mac via boot camp. From our experiences of running NBS Create on boot camp it will be incredibly slow; There is no comparison when we have run NBS Create on Boot Camp and on Windows side by side.

      Computers Unlimited also confirmed that usage of Vectorworks in architectural practices is split approximately 50/50 between Macs and Windows. Given this equal split [and the market penetration of Macs generally these days] it's frustrating there's no support for the NBS plug-in on Macs. Do NBS have any data regarding the percentage of practices using Windows Vs. Mac that guides which platform software is developed for?

      I appreciate your point about new developments being 100% cloud based and having had a play around with the BIM toolkit I do think it's a great step forward - keep up the good work on that! However, as I mentioned in my previous comment, we'd love to be able to use the NBS annotator tool [and run NBS Create directly on a Mac] so it would be great to know if there was a proposed timeline for taking these onto the cloud...

      Thanks in advance.