BIMx Brings ArchiCAD Models to Desktop, iPad & iPhone

Graphisoft has adapted its Virtual Building Explorer (VBEG) program to be compatible with mobile devices, and at the same time it has been renamed BIMx. i.e. BIM Explorer. In addition to sending files, BIM models can now be shared via new routes where the platform is Facebook and a cloud server.

CAD software producers are currently competing to devise solutions that make it possible to view CAD information models on mobile devices. Smart phones and tablets are suitable presentation devices for use in meetings and other situations where BIM models are studied in 3D. Graphisoft has made progress on this front and has chosen Apple’s iOS as its platform, i.e. ArchiCAD information models can now be viewed on iPad and iPhone. Especially iPad is well suited for the above situations as its screen is big enough, it can be plugged into a video projector and it is considerably easier to handle than a conventional laptop. The user experience is positive thanks to the device’s smaller size and touch screen operation.

Viewing BIM Models with Different Devices

In the background of BIMx is the familiar VBE program, i.e. Virtual Building Explorer, which was in use for a year and a half before its features were extended for mobile compatibility. BIM models are still viewed on the computer as in VBE, i.e. licence holders transfer directly from ArchiCAD’s 3D window to BIMx, from which the model can be saved further as an independently used file or to be shared with others via a cloud. The viewer thus does not need ArchiCAD to view a BIMx model; the saved file contains both the model and the viewing software. When the model is imported from a cloud server onto a computer or a mobile device, for the first time a free viewing program has to be downloaded – BIMx viewer or from Apple’s App Store for iPad or iPhone. With the iPad or iPhone navigation is done by the touch screen, which makes it simple and easy. The software reacts accurately and swiftly. The program automatically recognises whether you are in or outside the building, thus turning a corner or rotating the model function predictably. BIMx’s help menu provides brief illustrated instructions.

When operating BIMx on iPad or iPhone, navigation is done according to the touch screen operating system. At the bottom of the image is a small circle that is used as a joystick controlling movement forward and back. The viewing direction is controlled by touch.

At this stage the mobile versions do not support all the functions available on computer screen. These include the switching layers on and off, use of the measuring tool and showing element data. Graphisoft already has a long list of wishes that will hopefully be implemented in future versions.

Now that it is possible to save a model from BIMx without a viewing program, the size of the model file to be transferred over a network is considerably reduced and it downloads faster. In fact the file containing the viewing program is compressed to about 40% of the original size. The version of your mobile device affects the functioning of the viewed file. iPad and iPhone 4 allow you to view files of considerable size, but in iPhone 3 the model size is limited to less than 10 Mb. The computer viewing program file size is 7.8 Mb for Mac and 29.3 Mb for Windows. The mobile device program file size is 9 Mb.

Sharing a Model Over a Community Website

From BIMx the model is shared directly via the Internet cloud. For its service Graphisoft utilises the Facebook platform and Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology. The servers are not under Facebook, so sharing and downloading files does not require the BIMx user to have a Facebook account. BIMx files can still be sent by e-mail or, e.g. via DropBox to other project stakeholders. It is hardly likely that anyone would share models of an ongoing project on a public server. At this stage sharing a model via the Internet above all enables the examination of the possibilities offered by the technology and presentation of the completed project to a wider public. Sharing project models via a cloud naturally requires project accounts to be established as well as appropriate data protection.

BIMx community page and the latest models. The links can be used to down-load a model or the viewing program, and to send the link.

How to Try It Out?

When installing ArchiCAD 15, users have the possibility to use BIMx and public models in BIMx format until the end of October 2011. The program is also available as an EDU version in addition to the commercial licence. If you missed the try-out possibility provided with the ArchiCAD update, you can test BIMx with the Trial version. The Trial and EDU versions are available at During the writing of this article Graphisoft’s statement was that the program download links will be added to the site shortly.

Service maintenance customers with a VBEG licence will have received the BIMx update. As yet BIMx is not operational with ArchiCAD SE, but the VBEG can be utilised with it.


BIMx community page:
Trial and EDU versions:
More information: or

Written by Vesa PutkonenThis article was published in the 4/2011 issue of ArchiMAG in December 2011.

8 Responses to “BIMx Brings ArchiCAD Models to Desktop, iPad & iPhone”
  1. Yutaka says:

    Alas, in several tnimuomcies where people talk about BIM, they equate this to Revit, which is indeed frustrating.I am an ArchiCAD user, but stand neutral in all the things I say and teach about BIM. And I do hope that more open BIM solutions will arise. (E.g. IFC modellers, where all data and information stays open, platform and application agnostic). Not sure this will happen though. It did, more or less, for programming (e.g. HTML, javascript, java, c++) where you can change platforms, shift from editor to others and still retain control.

    • Ribeiro says:

      Very nice!Ib4m looking forarwd to use the new release of archicad!Thank you graphisoftBut, you really could make the mesh tool something easyer to use, donb4t you think (not talking about survey data xyz)

  2. Raja says:

    Hola, hace poco vengo siguiendo el blog, en laraided archicad tiene me1s de lo que yo podreda imaginar vengo use1ndolo desde el 3er ciclo de la universidad, ahora estoy en 7mo y no dejo de sorprenderme. Felicitaciones por el blog.Tengo una consulta, por que9 cuando paso mis planos a PDF algunas palabras salen mutiladas ?Por ejemplo, cuando coloco la palabra VESTcdBULO , en el PDF termina diciendo VESBULO pense9 que era algfan error por usar la tilde pero cuando puse la palabra sin ella igual segueda diciendo VESBULO o tambie9n cuando pongo la palabra Matedas , en el PDF dice Maas La fanica coincidencia que encuentro es que se omite la sedlaba TI pero de todas maneras no creo que sea normal. Hay alguna solucif3n? porque estar corrigiendo mis planos impresos y escribir la palabra de nuevo a mano le baja la calidad a mis presentaciones de la universidad Gracias de antemano.

    • Vailsinho says:

      Wow, this is very upsetting. Here is a very butfaiuel ArchiCAD project being misrepresented. The reporters did not do their homework. They probably just Googled BIM and copied the first thing they found. Also, the term BIM is so confusing. Many have no idea what it means and simply use it because it is the buzz word. I think Graphisoft’s term Virtual Building , which is essentially the same thing, is much clearer language of what is trying to be achieved.

      • BIM stand for Building Information Model, which I think it’s more precise term than virtual building. This only my humble opionion but even Graphisoft uses term BIM now rather than Virtual Building.

        • Maiara says:

          ArchiCAD is amazing!!! Revit is not!!!After using ArchiCAD for sreeval months (not just a trial), I realize how and why Revit waists time and fails.I would not go back to Revit.Join the leaders and innovators.Join ArchiCAD.

  3. Tennis says:

    In my opinion BIM Model shloud be oriented to decission making and CAD, just geometry. Current most of BIM Softwares are geometry + database, which performs some geometric analysis and that is not a Building Information System in my opinion.I believe BIM is in the same position that GIS was in the 90 s when they were defined as a computer based system that provides four sets of capabilities to handle geo-referenced data: data input, data management, manipulation/analysis and data output. BIM shloud be use to estimate/assess performances of buildings integrating not only geometry but thematic data as well, establishing relationships between variables in order to monitor them, understand their performances and make preventive actions. Obviously most of buildings do not need such a huge information, but some significative buildings, which keep particular conditions and changes in them could alter its balance could be the scope.Without any doubt it is a very interesting topic that will offer lots of debates in future.

    • Omayma says:

      I totally agree. I’m an ArchiCAD users since, let me think, raelese 6.0, around 1998 or so. I have created a few GDL objects, not that many.I am also programming in C++ and have used a few editors: Visual Studio, XCode and some text editors (TextWrangler, Notepad, Crimson Editor). I have to say that the GDL concept, while great, is quickly getting outdated.I have mentioned this in person to the current Graphisoft CEO on a local user meeting, but wasn’t expecting much change.In short: the GDL editor needs either: support for external editors (that is, decent support) or a strong internal editor:- syntax coloring- code completion- auto formatting- robust text editing tools.They don’t need to develop their own. There are plenty of commercial and also Open Source editors out there.AFAIK, there was once an announcement of the missing link (I think it was called White Rabbit), but it never arrived properly.