goBIM is awesome, but I need help!

That’s OK. Everybody gets stuck sometimes. Just shoot me an email.


Or leave a comment on the feedback page.

Goodbye goBIM. Hello Vela!

I’d like to thank the 1400+ users who have downloaded goBIM since its release. Users have downloaded the app in more than 52 countries, proof positive that there is a strong desire to have your model wherever you are on your mobile device. It is therefore bittersweet that after 18 months in the app store, goBIM will no longer be for sale. I’m excited to announce that I’ve recently joined Vela Systems as Solution Architect, BIM Products, and will be merging the goBIM technology into their existing Field BIM solution. The new solution will be called Field BIM Interactive and you can read the press release here.

With Vela, I’ll be able to take this technology where alone I could only dream that it would go. Imagine never taking another paper drawing or document into the field. Imagine being able to tie field issues to elements in the model with annotations and photos all acquired in the field with only your iPad. Imagine one-click syncing all this stuff back to the cloud to be shared with the entire project team. Vela’s software was already cool and with Field BIM Interactive it’s going to rock your world :)

Thanks again for all of your support and awesome feedback! If you’d like to contact me in the future regarding functionality you’d like to see in Vela products, feel free to drop me an email at ikeough@velasystems.com.

Determined to BIM….

First, let me apologize for the lack of updates on goBIM’s progress over the last several weeks. Many of you have been told in support emails of all the awesome things you have to look forward to in the upcoming version. Some of you, who have beta tested, have seen the future – and the future is good. My work on goBIM has been sidetracked in the last few weeks by a huge project at my day job. To give you an idea of how the development of goBIM works alongside my day job, imagine the chariot race from Ben Hur. goBIM is Ben Hur. My day job is the dude in the black chariot with the razor wheels.

I’m super psyched about the upcoming version though, and I promise it’s as good as you’ve all been told. Please be patient. And keep the feedback coming!



A little art…

After a coding marathon getting the video layer to sync up with the compass and the accelerometer, it was time to create some new icons for the new functionality.


I’m excited to announce that today goBIM surpassed 1000 downloads. Now, it’s no Angry Birds, but goBIM is picking up steam. Just think, 1000+ engineers, architects, contractors, and builders using goBIM on their iOS devices! Huge thanks to everyone who has downloaded the app and provided feedback. goBIM!

Coming soon to the Cloud…goBIM

goBIM has always been able to open files from URLs, but admittedly it was a bit clunky. You’ve also been able to open files from specially formatted link URLs in emails. But both of these methods suffered from the problem of being too complex for the every-day user. So, I made it possible to drag and drop files to goBIM through iTunes and that was better. But what if you wanted a bunch of people to be able to access the same file? Enter “The Cloud”. Over the weekend I dug into the Document Sharing capabilities of iOS, and cooked up the ability for goBIM to “own” the .gbz file extension such that any app that handles files and give you the option to “Open In…” will pop up goBIM as an option.

To test it I downloaded two apps that allow storage and collaboration with files in the cloud, DropBox, and Box.net. Box.net’s app is really nice, but it only gives you, as far as I can tell, the ability to preview your documents in the app. DropBox’s app also allows you to preview certain file types in the app, but also gives you the ability to “Open In…”. So for the upcoming version of goBIM, I’d recommend getting a Free 2gb account to DropBox and starting to play with storing goBIM models in the cloud. Drop Box functions like a folder on your desktop that syncs to your online storage, so just drop your goBIM models in your DropBox folder on your mac or pc and they’ll show up on the app ready to be opened in goBIM.


I’ve started working on the AR functionality for goBIM, and thought I’d post an initial screenshot. Although the camera is rotating using the compass and accelerometer, no attempt has yet been made to sync up the viewpoint with the camera. The model overlaid on the video is surprisingly smooth. This is only a tiny model though, things could go south quickly with larger models. This functionality will take a little while to develop because adjusting the video feed to match the aspect ratio of the camera and tying it to the user’s position in the model will take a little tickling to get right.

Lots to do…

Apologies for the delays in updating the blog. goBIM 1.3.1, a maintenance release with a lot of nice little fixes is coming along nicely. Some things that are planned for the 1.3.1 release:

  • Updates to the goBIM Revit exporter to handle nested instances.
  • Smoother rotation and panning control in the goBIM app.
  • Fixes to the cameras that caused inverted NW,SW, NE, and SE viewpoints.
  • Support for the Geographic Location and rotation tags on the scene nodes. This will properly orient your project given a project rotation in Revit.
  • Better handling of file names with spaces.
  • A Tekla exporter, provided I can sort out some normal flipping issues.
  • And much more…

I’ve also started implementing some functionality that won’t be available until the 1.4 release. A couple things worth mentioning:

  • BIM goggles, the ability “look” around your model.
  • QR code scanning. This will allow you to encode element ids or camera matrices in a QR code to take users to a location in the model.
  • Support for textures in the COLLADA file.

Also, goBIM is nearing it’s 1000th download. Close to 1000 architects, engineers, and contractors browsing BIM models on their iPhones!

BIM Goggles

For the next version of goBIM, I’d like to do augmented reality. Easy right? Well, there’s the small problem that the one piece of hardware for locating your device in space, the GPS, is horribly inaccurate indoors. Most of the augmented reality demos that you see involve BIM models overlaid on real-time video. This is problematic for a couple of reasons. First, you need to have a constant video stream mapped into the 3D environment. With goBIM, the device is doing enough just trying to render all the triangles that we throw at it, without having the added overhead of 30fps video as well. Then it’s really difficult to smooth out the data coming from the device’s accelerometers and compass. Under-smoothing causes the model to jitter against the video. Over smoothing makes the model appear to slide around. Do a Google search for “augmented reality”, and you’ll see hundreds of examples of these problems.

The funny thing about the human brain is that it is incredibly capable of filling in the gaps in information. Have you ever received one of those emails wth evry thrd leter reoved? Perhaps you don’t need a 100% synchronous stream of video and 3D, but could instead rely on the brain’s innate ability to stitch together and associate data. Applications like Layar and Star Walk use this relatively synchronous data to present augmented reality of sorts. But even these great apps work mostly because the data being overlaid is far away. Synchronous visual data at short distance is much harder to achieve because the disjuncture between what you see in the real world and what you see on the device is more apparent.

On a building site how close do you have to be to an object to understand it’s context? One meter? That’s about arm’s length. The challenge to goBIM is to see whether using a method of callibration for positioning the viewer in a context within one meter of accuracy yields acceptably synchronous data. The first half of this challenge is making the device motion-aware. This was achieved through the use of the accelerometer to synchronize the pitch of the camera, and the compass to synchronize the yaw of the camera. The results, without having yet created a matching BIM context for experimentation, are surprisingly cool. See this video.

The next step is to create a method for calibrating the user’s position in space with regards to the BIM model. I’ll be exploring this problem in the next couple of weeks with some colleagues, and will post the results of our experimentation as they are available.

This functionality will appear in goBIM 1.4 under the name BIM Goggles.

goBIM 1.3 API coming soon…

For those of you interested in writing goBIM files using the API, the updated version of the API is coming soon. I promise. The API is actually done, and it’s what I used to create the newest goBIM Revit exporter. Because I added so much new stuff in this version, I need to brush up the example files and documentation for the API so you can make some sense of it.

The new version of the goBIM API will enable you to:

  • Create meshes, materials, levels, phases, etc.
  • Serialize your meshes to COLLADA
  • Create an .xml data file.
  • Compress your goBIM file to .gbz format


I’m heading off little issues with the newest version of goBIM from all over the world. I’m going to try to keep the FAQs up to date with these. So, if something isn’t working, check there first.

Welcome to goBIM

goBIM is a tool for browsing BIM models on your iPhone or iPad. Use one of the application exporters available on the download tab to export to goBIM from your BIM application.


For all your support issues, you can now email support@go-bim.com

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