‘No man is an Island’ is never truer than in creative projects. The world is moving towards inclusion and collaboration, not exclusion and privacy. Katerina Ollikainen, from the LI’s Digital Practice Group, encourages members to be part of a more collaborative and inclusive profession.

    What are you missing that would make your daily work easier and more secured against errors? Where do you find the most annoying and irritating points in collaboration between software? What would your ideal workflow look like? The Digital Practice Group wants to hear from you to help steer how the software industry develop their products.

    Most people are attracted to CAD programs for the ability to draw – to be able to accurately design on ‘paper’ what you have in your mind and then relay this to other parties. They’re often hailed as tools for creativity and exploration of ideas.

    What the software can actually do better than anything else is help you with a framework for your project; take over tedious, repetitive work and give your brain space for creative processes.

    This is where automations come into the picture.

    So, what is an automation? There are many flavours. Most of them we don’t even think of – we take them for granted, such as automatic saving and creating backups of your progress.

    But there are also more specific types of automations.

    • If you import a shapefile with information on buildings and then ask your software to process that data to create massing models – That’s an automation.
    • If you have a planting plan with hundreds of plants and then ask your software to create a plant schedule or a maintenance guide – that’s an automation.
    • If you have a tree survey report to import to your model, and instead of manually inserting each tree in its proper place, you have a command that creates the trees in their right place, shows the root protection areas and attaches all the data – that’s an automation.

    Almost all your workflows depend on automations.

    Now, collaboration is one of the cornerstones in any project, BIM or not, and anything you can do to make this go smoothly will make you more effective and your work life less complicated.

    Even in a typical project you’ll have many different parties to interact with. Architects, civil engineers, tree surveyors, governing bodies – you should not expect all these parties to adapt your own workflows or to prefer the same tools as you do. To help with this, CAD programs have heaps of automations in place to help them talk to each other.

    This sounds all very fine and dandy as a principle, but in reality, it becomes a bit more complicated. Different software is written with different parameters and this can quickly become an issue between applications.

    Take something as basic and grounding as origins. We do not only have the internal origin to think of, but we also have project origins and user origins. And if we then dive into the GIS world, we have to consider EPSG codes, what Mercator is used depending on where in the world we are, and so on.

    Without automations, collaboration between software would be almost impossible (or, at least very tedious).

    To get a better picture of where we are today and where the gaps are at the moment, the LI Digital Practice Group is creating a Matrix of the automations available for different software, with focus on collaboration. We’re looking at imports and exports, referencing and origins, how different software deals with geometry, and their processes to include and work with information from other parties.

    Digital practice is constantly evolving, and we can affect how and where it’s going by letting the industry know exactly what we need.

    We hope to present the results on the LI website so everyone can use this to figure out a workflow that works for their own situation.

    Of course, this is an ongoing project. What was the situation when I wrote this blog is probably already outdated. New ideas have emerged on how to resolve issues, and have created new ones in turn. But this is the beauty of the game – it’s constantly evolving, and we can affect how and where it’s going by letting the industry know exactly what we need.

    So, the point of this post is this: What are you missing that would make your daily work easier and more secured against errors? Where do you find the most annoying and irritating points in collaboration between software? What would your ideal workflow look like?

    We would love to hear from you – this is what should steer how the software industry develop their products, not the other way around. Please email technical@landscapeinstitute.org with comments and contributions. And if you have automations of any aspect of digital workflow you are prepared to share to help our profession stay ahead, please do.

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