Is Revit the No.1* BIM** Platform?

Yesterday I published our ‘LandCADD for Revit’ manifesto and casually mentioned that Revit is the leading BIM platform. OK, OK, I said it was the no. 1 platform ‘by a long way’…  

Rob Jackson (Bond Bryan), who I have a lot of respect for, called me out on this. It happens that Rob’s practice use ArchiCAD as their main BIM platform, but it’s their Open BIM evangelism that they’re known for. Rob asked me to justify my claim about Revit, so here goes:


First, a couple of things.

We support Open BIM: Just this morning I sat in a COBie workshop and we use IFC extensively in our projects.

We’re not Autodesk fanboys / fangirls and until 2013 we used Vectorworks exclusively. We didn’t make that lazy transition from AutoCAD to Revit, but had to throw away our beloved Macs and start afresh to use Revit. We’ve also used Sketchup and personally speaking I’ve used Bentley and ArchiCAD too. Why we switched from Vectorworks to Revit is very illustrative. We initially adopted BIM workflows with VW, and tried to make it work, but found it a frustrating experience. VW is a minor player in the BIM league and we found sourcing content almost impossible. Vectorworks is (or was) also undeveloped as an authoring tool. Revit, as the market leader*, was the obvious alternative.

So, is Revit actually No. 1?

It depends how you define it. You have to define BIM and you have to define ‘leading’. You can define these goalposts subjectively and get any answer you want. That doesn’t mean I’m dodging the question.

Does Revit = BIM?

BIM does not equal Open BIM. In simple terms BIM is just an information model of the building project, i.e. geometry and data. Anyone using Revit for geometry without data isn’t using it correctly, and I’ve never found anyone using it like that. If you’re scheduling from your model though, I’d argue you’re doing BIM. It might be Lonely BIM, but it’s BIM. I’m therefore defining the majority of Revit use as BIM.

By which Metric is Revit ‘leading’

There’s no point giving you hyperlinks to surveys and statistics, because I didn’t check them before I made that statement yesterday. Surveys can also be nobbled by social media campaigns – just witness the NBS BIM Report 2015 where Vectorworks magically quadrupled its market share in one year.

What’s happening on the ground though is clear, Revit is squeezing out the other platforms in every area that matters (matters to a mid-sized architecture firm in the UK – that’s the extent of my claim). I’m not arguing that’s a good thing, just a fact. A few examples:

Take any multi-platform library and Revit wins for content. The National BIM Library has more Revit content than for ArchiCAD and Vectorworks put together. It’s the same for manufacturer content. Try finding an ArchiCAD revolving door on the Dorma website. How about configuring a parametric lift model for Vectorworks on the Kone website?

We regularly get approached with offers of BIM services. What they really mean is Revit services. We can competitively tender topographical surveys, to be provided in native Revit (toposurface) format, from at least three firms in our local area alone. None of them offer that service for other platforms. We also find it easy to outsource content creation, and again it’s local and it’s competitive, because Revit is everywhere. It was never like that with Vectorworks.

Business is booming isn’t it. We’re recruiting, and have little problem finding people with Revit experience. That’s a far cry from when we ran Vectorworks and could never hope to find experienced staff. There are pockets of ArchiCAD skills, and we in Nottingham happen to be a hotspot, thanks to the Nottingham University’s preferences, but elsewhere it’s not so rosy if you’re not recruiting for Revit.

How often do you hear the refrain BIM != Revit. Never mind market share, for which I have no doubt that Revit leads anyway, but it certainly leads in mindshare. When I meet new subcontractors and mention BIM, I’ve never yet had one of them turn around and say “oh, you mean ArchiCAD?”, but invariably they find BIM synonymous with Revit.

Is Revit the No.1 BIM Platform (by a long way)?

Rob and I won’t agree on this, but I’m happy to stand by my statement because as you can see, in my own experience it’s certainly true. I’ve not written this to get on the wrong side of Rob, not least because our firms are working together on a project in Derby, but also because he’s a dedicated BIM champion.

We support the cause of Open BIM, and in the UK at least, I think Open BIM is inevitable, thanks to central government’s leadership. The other software vendors have an uphill battle to fight though, to get level pegging with Revit.


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The BIM guys at Franklin Ellis Architects

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