Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), in partnership with CASE, a New York City–based building information modeling (BIM) consulting firm, recently launched AEC-Apps.com, a software-focused networking website. It combines the structure of social-media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with a user-generated database of software applications used in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industries. As David Fano, a founding partner of CASE, explains, visitors can browse the more than 1,000 applications available, or join and contribute reviews, create a network of software applications, follow other members’ profiles, receive software-update notifications, and share their own scripts and applications. Each application page provides basic information including cost, related software and plug-ins, mini-reviews, and links to the developers’ websites. Visitors can also look at the software collections from other members through an “app kits” window.
To date, AEC-Apps.com has over 1,000 members from fields such as design education, practice, management, and software development. Brian Ringley, a design-technology instructor at the New York City College of Technology, creates application collections for his students to reference. Ringley, who has himself contributed 17 reviews, also visits the site to explore new applications through the “similar apps” feature.
The site, which went live on April 15 after four months of testing, is free to use and join. It currently serves primarily as a database of design applications and member collections. However, according to Nicholas Holt, technical director of SOM’s New York office, AEC-Apps.com plans to expand its capabilities, allowing members to post workflow scenarios. Workflow, which Holt refers to as “recipes,” is the process of translating data between applications to achieve a specific effect or product. Holt says this feature could influence the development of future applications, providing insight to both programmers and vendors into how designers, engineers, and contractors work with various data types and applications. “The site will speak to vendors and let them know which tools we need,” says Fano. “We won’t need to limit ourselves to the tools that are currently out there.”