Technical Report: Integrated Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) System


This wiki technical page supported Professor Martin Fischer's VDC course and is modified as lessons are learned and lab/class-based experiences are validated on the Merced99 experiment, please feel free to provide a peer review of this page (email for a username and password). As a 'living draft' understand that the expectation for spelling, grammar, and style are relaxed as well as the peer review process is incomplete. The technical knowledge contained on this page is critical to the implementation of Virtual Design and Construction; please feel free to reuse and share this knowledge, please cite as:

“CIFE Wiki Technical Report: Integrated Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) System.” CIFE wiki. Stanford University Center for Integrated Facility Engineering. Last accessed dd month yyyy.

Graphical Representation of General and Specific Systems

*you must be logged-in to view these graphics, similar graphics are published in the references listed at the bottom of this page.

This first graphic provides an overview of the information flows, process sequence, software tools and Product-Organization-Process (POP) concepts.

A general overview of the information flow in the integrated Building Information Model (BIM) system.

A detailed graphic of exactly how this information is exchanged. This graphic was intended to be a draft that would change but due to changing priorities has only one additional iteration, that contains significant errors. In the CEE241 lab one we covered the top three software tools, Revit, Primavera, Navisworks and the bottom production library RSMeans. In lab two we used the remaining software tools.

Link to powerpoint slide representing integrated system: scope-time-cost

VDC Software Tools

Software Licenses

Software Tools

We use some of the Project management software listed below in the CEE 241 Managing Fabrication and Construction course. Download the software. Then, contact customer support and make a support request (good to have an open request made prior to actually needing it), ensure the software functions properly on your machine and familiarize yourself with the graphical user interface. You need a working knowledge of these tools. Prior to each class phase, the TA will provide a tutorial session to review the software tools. Everything you need to build a VDC workstation (except direct funds) is on this page.

This page does not provide a complete representation of VDC software tools, the CIFE iRoom software tool page has a spreadsheet of the specific tools installed on each lab machine (out of date now).

These software tools, or their equivalent in successive quarters, should be installed on all the CIFE iRoom lab machines. The TA should request (don't take no) a BETA version from each vendor when the CEE241 class starts in the Autumn and provide feedback throughout the course to the vendor. Provide the installation file and license to Marc for the lab machine clone. A relationship and collaboration with vendors is important so that CIFE maintains a presence. We then can ensure the vendors have a complete solution. Most of the following software application tools were successfully tested with Win7 x64.

3D Model
Revit Architectural x64 available, this is the standard BIM software tool that is most commonly associated with building industry virtual design and construction. Some applications to the civil industry have been investigated and a dedicated tool for the civil industry should eventually be available.
Autodesk Civil 3D Highway corridor parametric modeling application, the 2011+ releases in x64 work best with minimum 8GB RAM, a dedicated graphics card, processor core speed of 2.3Ghz or better, and external cooling, laptop or desktop. See OpenGL (workstation) over Direct3D (gaming), autocad uses direct3D, settings
Autodesk ACAD Now a legacy software, this is useful 1) to interface with application that cannot interface in Civil 3D, such as Tocoman ilink, and 2) allows modifications to the 3D model with architecture modeling tools to represent things like falsework and forms.
Bentley MicroStation
Quantity Takeoff
QTO TR 2001
Tocoman ilink Tocoman ilink license keys and passwords are in Tocoman_Credentials_Student.txt located in the AFS/CEE241/data2/Tocoman folder. To use ACAD ilink you need a copy of AutoCAD Architecture 2009 x32 - plain AutoCAD or x64 does not work - the oldest CAD version on the Autodesk download site is 2010, a copy of 2009 ACAD x32 is in the CEE241 data folder.
Autodesk QTO install files are on the CIFE server
AgTek a common tool in heavy civil
OST a common tool in buildings
CivilPM this application from HarmonySoft looked like it was the 3rd party answer to C3D but their web domain name is now up for sale,
4D Modeling
Navisworks Manage x64 A 4D software with clash detection function, you must install Revit before Navisworks or the export option will not be available.
Common Point (Bentley)
IFC Engine Viewer
Oracle Primavera Project Manager P6 P6 v7.0 tested Win7 x64. The license file, license_Stanford_lab_80cu, is in the AFS Primavera folder.
Vico Control A location-based line of balance scheduling tool with production and crew resource driven durations
Microsoft Project 2003 (*.mpp), 2007 (*.mpx) & 2010. Note that Vico Control and Primavera P6.1/P5.0 import and export .mpx files. Navisworks imports .mpx files. This can be a means to exchange information if necessary. We otherwise do not use this software as part of the course. Scitor provides an *.mpp (2003) to *.mpx (2007) converter, discussion forum
Sage Timberline XP x32 upto 9.6, Win7 x64 from 9.7 on. Available on the AFS server: licenses available from CIFE license server (server license doggle must be plugged in / has a doggle and the server doggle, Professor Fischer has a doggle key). Check out a commuter license using the License Manager utility single server:
HCSS HeavyBid Win7 x64 tested. A bottom-up detailed estimating software used in the heavy construction industry
US Cost The estimating software used by the US Navy and is integrated Revit with a quantity takeoff function
Excel Cost Models
Tocoman Tocoman Express2 and the Timberline, Excel, & Vico Control add-on and passwords are in Tocoman_Credentials_Student.txt located in the Tocoman folder.
Form-z This is a cool software that works as a middleware (also has a 4D function), it imports and exports many formats, can scale in z, y, x in inequal scales, nice for preprocessing 2D highway plans that have a different horizontal and vertical scale., no CIFE license but cost is not prohibitive
Autodesk ACAD Now a legacy software, this is useful to interface with application that cannot interface in Civil 3D, such as Tocoman ilink and to import/export various file formats
File Format: these are not middleware but helps to move data around, if stuck try changing the file extension to one of these and see if it opens
*.csv typical rows and columns with commas between columns and each row is a row; import to excel, write or find a parser on sourceForge
*.xml typical hierarchical with indents representing inheritance of properties; import to excel, write or find a parser on sourceForge
*.txt try opening any file in notepad and see if you can read anything (if an open source exe file you will see the program code) if yes then consider importing into excel (often tab delineated) save as a csv and then import the file using the csv import that most software applications have
Specific Integrated Project Planning Software Configuration
Vico Office The combined scope, time, cost, 4D Vico product
Vico 5D The legacy combined scope, time, cost, 4D Vico product consisting of, as reviewed by cadalyst in 2008 , six components: (1) Vico Constructor 2008, to create VC models as the foundation for the other tools; (2) Vico Estimator 2008, for model-based estimating, more accurately than other methods; (3) Vico Control 2008, for location-based scheduling and linking time and space in new views; (4) Vico 5D Presenter 2008, to see model (3D), schedule (4D), and cost (5D) in one view; (5) Vico Cost Manager 2008, to monitor and control changes to a project's cost; (6) Vico Change Manager 2008, to track revisions for consistency across all representations
Building Explorer
Synchro Win7 x64 tested,
BIM Server
Open IFC
Central Server Space
AFS site Stanford Server -, should already be installed as part of Stanford system log-in. If problems logging on try mapping network drive to the path.
Dropbox Dropbox is a way to store, sync, and, share files online. Essentially places a web-based mounted drive in your documents folder. A good way to collaborate with non-Stanford, i.e., without AFS access.
SugarSync Similar to Dropbox; except - as found by Amir - it lets you sync ANY folder on your computer, not just the drop box folder, you can access it on your phone, you can archive stuff on web. so for example you can upload stuff on the web and then delete them from your computer to free up space, and it will retain the stuff on the web for you, and if you upload music and video etc on the web, you can stream them live on your phone or computer so you can basically have all your library with you all the time
ftp File Transfer Protocol, common for corporate servers and integrates with Micorsoft Internet Explorer as a mounted drive. If corporate IT is not skilled then the ftp connection can be very slow, to the point it almost can be said to not work, but not quite.
Buzzsaw Autodesk file transfer software. Only works with >IE6 Free 30day trial
Adobe PDF writer Adobe PDF writer helps with printing schedule/estimating reports for electronic submission, CIFE has two licenses. An Adobe pro trial version is available.
CamStudio This screen recording tool allows presentation video of the integrated project plan.,
Project Independent Database
RSMeans This is one of the most commonly used sources of cost, crew, and production for class projects, free 30day license
Timberline database Available on the AFS server. CIFE has many of the available specialized databases including the Commercial Knowledgebase with assemblies.
American Society of Professional Estimators This webpage has links to publicly available cost indices
Software Source
Oracle The e-delivery site contains all the Oracle software tools; a password is required (2/2011) to download, you need a customer number or order number and CSI number from the CIFE TA
Autodesk Software 3D, 4D, and QTO software available free for download and install from the Autodesk Student site, provides an 18 month license
Vico Software Download the Vico Software student version 60 day trial from then register your copy for a license. New versions typically release in December, if requested they will often provide a BETA version in September
Microsoft Software Software and licenses are available electroinically, nice when you realize you need software at 2AM,
Stanford Book Store The software is not available electronically and you must either pay in person or by phone. From 8AM to 5PM you can order online, phone in the payment and have the software delivered to CIFE,
Stanford Licensing
Stanford EE Software is free and available online, registration process is a bit clumsy but once setup this is the best site for downloads, register here first
Stanford Software Search
SourceForge opensource opensource said it all,
Microsoft not a source of software itself but after you reconfigure the hardware setup and change harddrives your OS license will probably have exceeded the allowed number of installs. This is where you get licenses reset
Open not a source of software itself but a good list of software
Object Enablers
Map-software Select: CADmep+ & CADduct Object Enabler
AutoCAD Civil 3D Do a web search for current enabler
AutoCAD v2010 Do a web search for current enabler. ACAD 2010 and after uses a different format that ACAD 2009 and earlier. ACAD2010 is backward compatible with ACAD2009 files but the ACAD 2010 file is not backward compatible with ACAD2009. A simple test with mass elements crated in 2010 and opened in 2009 with the object enabler installed (did not seem to make a difference) resulted in an unusable for quantities takeoff (proxy) 2010 object. The alternative was to save the ACAD 2010 file as an ACAD only file but this exploded the mass element back into a 2D object.
Standards for Interoperability & Guidelines
BuildingSMART The Model Support Group (MSG) is a dedicated group inside buildingSMART International that is responsible for the development and maintenance of its technical standards, the IFC specification and related specifications.
InPro opensource
Standard Ontological Breakdown Structures [1]
OARPlan One of the earlier research ontologies, adds object to action and resource,
CMM-CARS An advancement of OAR with the addition of sequence and change from the term object to component,
FOAR Departs from OAR with the addition of features,
CMM-Spaces The addition of location to OAR, this is a distinctive transformation in the ontology representation to this date
AROW The addition of workzones and change in sequence from OAR to ARO
DoD DoD said it all, this is considered a standard, MIL-HDBK-881A
DoE Some helpful details about ontology,
AACE 20R-98 2003 A review of pragmatically used ontology,
CESMM An early format that has been used in the UK for many years,
CSI MasterFormat The commonly used format in North America for specificationsMasterFormat, CSI Masterformat
Uniformat The other commonly used format for estimating building projects, this is an assemblies or systems format NIST IR 6389
OmniClass A thoughtful format from Georgia Tech.
R. Clough, G. Sears & S. Sears The large projects standard, Civil Construction Work Breakdown Structure
Civil CICS An early suggested civil ontology that relfects changes actually made to CSI masterformat in 2004,
buildingSMART IFD If you are interested in ontologies then you should start here,
e-cognos “The European Construction Technology Platform (ECTP) will raise the sector to a higher worldbeating level of performance and competitiveness”
More There are many more specific WBS and ontological product, process, and cost formats available, often specific to industry, country, and language, there are also general formats,Upper ontology (information science), and for materials the Stock-keeping unit
Hardware Drivers
Hoops3D Graphics Cards Compatibility Tests tables detail the results for a given video card, operating system, driver version, and HOOPS version for test with DirectX 9 (DX9) and OpenGl (OGL)
Microsoft Windows Virtual PC helpful to allow a broader integrated system selection of 64 and 32-bit software
IT Service
advice Before you start a VDC project for coursework or professionally, place a service request with each software vendor and with a service provider. The chances are you will need support form at least one and the turn-around time from request to response can be a couple weeks. Also, budget for several hours (typical rates) of support and several hardware component changes to tune for your specific application.
Stanford Bookstore Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. , x338
Central Computers Locations in Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Newark 1-888-880-CENT (2368)
Geek Squad for minor issues with computing and hardware - everyone in the CEE241 course should have about the baseline computing and hardware knowledge for their own computer as a geeksquad agent
Stanford University
Stanford Tech Commons
Replacement for Displacement: Performance Settings
Civil 3D 2011

For a review of available software tools and the degree of industry use, the annual CFMA IT survey is a good resource,

Software Issues

Be aware of these issues, if you find anything, add it to the list, please include the date and software version (use help menu in software to see the exact version). Every year issues disappear, new issues appear, and old ones reappear - if new contact the vendor for support - feedback from the vendor is usually “we never tested that specific scenario, thank you for finding this, we will fix it in the next release, for now here is a patch or workaround.”

  • Install Navisworks after Revit (2009/2010)
  • keep the .nwc (all use .nwc in addition to Revit export) together with the .nwf Navisworks file (2009/2010)
  • the option for .mpp only appears once MS project is installed (2008)
  • Navisworks 2011 x64 v8.0.0.60144
    • cannot open 2011 in Navis 2010 without saving as earlier format in 2011 (8/2010)
    • links tab attempts to open MSProject, dialog box provides option to retry, after several attempts the box goes away and the links tab opens, appears to go away once MSProject 2010 is installed (8/2010)
    • raise oracle db priority to resolve (improve) busy issue in navisworks (3/2011)
    • if in C3D the file is saved with layers off then in Navis2011 those layers will lose the attached links to schedule activities, therefore requiring relinking the entire model if all the layers were off.
  • To use the SDK ODBC connection between Primavera and Navisworks the Primavera SDK (Software Development Kit) must be installed on the machine. You must install Primavera twice or select custom install to install other components feature, this includes the SDK integration with Navisworks. When installing the second time, the install files must be in the exact same location as the first install.
    • Navisworks 2009.1 crashes when linking to Primavera P6.1 SQL running Vista NW 2009, Autodesk has indicated they will correct this bug found by the cee241 students when they build the 2010 version.
    • Navisworks 2009.1 + Primavera P6.1 SQL + Vista = no schedule link (use Jetstream v5 to link), the following work-around on Vista machines works, follow these steps:
      • install Navisworks 2009.1
      • export the 3D model from Revit Architecture 2009 to Navisworks 2009.1
      • open the .nwc exported file in Navisworks 2009.1 and save it as the older type so Jetstream can open it
      • then link the file to Primavera in Jetstream


  • Select Primavera (P6.1|P7.0|P8.3) custom install/'advanced install' and select other components 'click the red X icons for “Software Development Kit SDK' (or install Primavera twice from exact same method, i.e., CD, USB, AFS) or Navisworks and Control will not link with SQL database (2009/2010/2013)
  • By default P6.1|P7.0 does not show activities (select in filter) or directory toolbar (right click and select) (2009/2010)
  • Primaver P6.1 if installed under admin credentials will not work under user credentials. Securities on a dozen folders must be changed.
  • Primavera export to Microsoft Project will not open in Navisworks (2009)
  • If you upgrade from Primavera P5.0 to P6.1, you must uninstall everything, including SQL database, restart machine, then install P6.1
  • The P5.0 version seem more stable, if you are using an XP OS consider installing this version.
  • P6.1 minimum is required if you are running greater than the Windows Vista OS.
  • After installing Primavera on lab machines you must change the registry to allow non-admin users access to the application; see instructions here.
  • Converting a SureTrak | P3 prx file to P6 xer file (3/2011):

Autodesk Revit

  • In Revit, MasterFormat must be manually designated while Uniformat is automatic (2009)
  • AutoDesk technical support is a misnomer


  • Sage-Timberline v9.5 & v9.6 cannot install over network but will if folder is copied to C: drive
  • Sage-Timberline existing license, doggles, and database does not work with v9.7

Vico Control

  • Vico Control 2008|2009 has option to export to Primavera SQL, but does not work and if it does it does not include activity codes (2009/2010)
    • Vico Control 2009 v4.0.30.53937 import option from ODBC-source Primavera P6 SDK returns an error (2010)
    • Vico Software Technical Support reference case ID is TT#12526
  • Vico Control export to Microsoft Project does not include activity codes (2009)

Vico Office

See Min, Henning, and Rene

  • Crashed when creating a new project; solution: uninstall “Windows Live ID Manager” through control panel\
  • A refresh issue; Solution: Do not install over the existing version, you must uninstall Vico Office and Versant database before installing a new version.



  • Timberline add-on is for Timberline v9.5.0
  • ilink Architecture 2009 does not work with Architecture 2010 (2010)
  • ilink Architecture does not work in Civil 3D (2011)
  • ilink ACAD cannot call to the QM server through a VMware virtual machine (2011)

Quantity Manager

  • Tocoman Construction Model Server does not have copy/paste function (2008/2009)


  • Project 2010 opens *.mpp files and with a change to file/options/trustCenter/trustCenterSettings/legacyFormats/allowLoadingFiles the *.mpx format is also opened. Only *.mpp can be saved. Indicating the Scitor *.mpp to *.mpx converter download, discussion forum , is a useful tool. This is important because:
    • Navisworks 2011: imports 2000 to 2007 *.mpp (presumably also 2010 but not tested yet) and *.mpx
    • Primavera: imports xml and mpx, and exports *.xml (2002/3), *.xml (2007), *mpp, and *.mpx
    • Synchro: imports and exports *.mpx
    • Vico Control 2009: imports and exports *.mpx
  • MS Office 2010 x64 requires uninstalling MSProject 2007 and other 32bit MSsoftware (8/2010).


  • does not handle 2011 Autodesk Civil 3D objects (2011)


  • good explode of 2011 Autodesk Civil 3D objects (2011)

Central server space: About the AFS

AFS is server space provided by Stanford University. A benefit of the AFS is the ability to edit files without downloading to your local machine.

Note: Do not provide write privileges to the AFS folders holding executable files. The write privileges must be constrained to a select group of users who understand the significance and relevance of virus security procedures. See Marc Ramsey ( for this knowledge.

Install the Open AFS Client and the Kerberos authentication service on your machine.\

Once installed you can access the the folders by:

  • mapping to the network folder, for example \\afs\\class\cee241\ or
  • the Open AFS client; Start → Programs → Stanford → OpenAFS → Open AFS Client and select Class in the Mount volume belonging to… and type cee241 and hit Mount. If everything is working as it should a window will open with the AFS Class folder, and
  • online through AFS web access


What hardware setups work with the integrated project planning tools used in this course? Please share setups that work for you, particularly those using Mac and lower-end systems. Even the high end systems do not work without VDC specific modifications.

Empirically, we [the TAs] found that the integrated software applications are particular to the hardware & OS setup; here are a few guidelines:

  • Stay with Win7 x64
    • Do not use Windows Vista There are compatibility issues and the OS is crap compared to Windows XP (Server 2003) or Win7 (Server 2008R2). You can get the software tools to work but you are also wasting your time.
    • Mac users: Although it is possible to get the software tools to work on a virtual machine, such as Parallels Desktop for Mac, you are more likely to get everything to work if you run Windows XP or Win7 directly on the hardware, such as BootCamp, to set up XP, Win7, and OSX as boot alternatives.
    • Android (Linux) OS - starting in 2011 this operating system is gaining construction applications
  • Be aware that Primavera <P6.7 & Timberline v9.5 use SQL databases installed as background services, that is, you will have two databases running in the background. These consume system resources so you may want to shut them down when not using Primavera and/or Timberline.
  • Memory: fill up the RAM to greater than 24GB (3 slots) on Intel machines and 16GB (2 slots) on AMD [probably not cost effective until after 2011]. Some software cannot run in a x64 environment and for these install a virtual machine (VM) such as VMware; some software applications tools that are no longer supported but are still useful for integration solutions will have issues with a VM environment and for these use a second HD and boot in a native x32 OS. The parametric 3D modeling applications appear to respond well to faster harddrives, the solid state drives reduce startup times for Navisworks from 2 minutes to 20 seconds and have a similar effect when saving the 3D model.
  • Graphics: Your graphics card is important when running 3D simulations or rendering - else it is nearly irrelevant. You have either a dedicated graphics card with its own dedicated RAM card or integrated graphics that shares the motherboard RAM with your operating system. A dedicated graphics card is a separate circuit board that is replaceable unless it is soldered to the motherboard. Integrated graphics is a chip soldered to the motherboard; it is permanent and therefore a limiting constraint for the useful life.
  • Processor: The central processing unit (cpu) can be changed to extend life, some are soldered and are permanently attached to the mother board, therefore another constraint for the useful life.
  • Hardrive: many computers are configured with a harddrive made from a rotating assembly and a magnetic reader attached to arms that sweep across the platter face - similar to the 19th century vinyl record player technology. A nonmechanical harddrive technology is the solid state drive (SSD), performance and shock resistance is vastly improved.
  • Example setup

The following are examples of laptop and desktop vendors, these are not endorsements and the index has not been pragmatically validated though it seems logically valid. The examples are given here to show a comparison analysis example and a start in your search for a vendor; the example values are as of March 2011. Check reviews and call to speak with several vendors to get a 'feel' for how responsive they are before making a purchase. If you are making a purchase through an institution and will use a Purchase Order (PO) be aware that some of the lower indexed vendors are accustomed to taking direct credit payment from an individual and will be confused by the PO, same with your PO issuing department with the smaller vendor's accountant, so allow a couple weeks to get through this learning process as they swap invoices and POs until they match or get the PO in advance. The plus is that these vendors provide essentially 'open source' hardware and are an alternative to the well known but also potentially 'locked-up' hardware from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Apple, and Sony. The flexibility to specify the machine components and an open BIOS is important to adapt to a wider range of integrated VDC solutions with less IT support expense. You will notice that most of these are directed at gamers, they focus on this market but are usually knowledgeable and have a smaller market to 3D modeling workstations; maybe the same machine just without the glass windows, neon lights, glow in the dark cables, and tomb raider graphics, unless you really like these.

Laptop & Tower Supplier Stars1 Reviews Index2 Location Notes 7.5 80 0.11 Ohio purchased machine 3/8/2011, negotiated Stanford University to MagicMicro purchase order communication circle, delivered 4/15/2011; tested on MER99 experiment; after long tuning process - works very well 7/26/2011 9.0 850 1.38 10 25 0.05 9.9 921 1.65 9.2 1542 2.56 10 40 0.07 9.8 306 0.54 you will have to put the subcomponents together and test yourself - service has declined drastically in past couple years you will have to put the subcomponents together and test yourself you will have to put the subcomponents together and test yourself network, cables, adapters 5 30 0.03 5 44 0.04 Cali standard in laptops 9.5 728 1.26 Ohio /

1: Stars are out of 10
2: Index equation [(stars/maxStar) * (#reviews/Ave#reviews)]; average # of reviews is 550

See Also


[1] Obonyo, E., ”Towards Agent-augmented Ontologies for Educational VDC Applications,“ Journal of Information Technology in Construction (ITCon), Vol 15, June 2010.

Peterson, F., Fischer, M., and Tutti, T. “Integrated Scope-Schedule-Cost Model System for Civil Works”, K. Belloni, J. Kojima, I. Seppä (Editors), “VTT Symposium 258: CIB 1st International Conference on Improving Construction and Use Through Integrated Design Solutions (IDS)”, Julkaisija - Utgivare, Helsinki, Finland, pp 176 – 199, 2009. ISBN 978-951-38-6341-8

Peterson, F., Fischer, M., Seppänen, O., Tutti, T., See, R., and Wingate, T. “Teaching Integrated Scope-Cost Methods with Model-based Tools”, A. Dikbas, E. Ergen, H. Giritli (Editors), “Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on Managing IT in Construction / Managing Construction for Tomorrow”, 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, London, UK, pp 63 – 73, 2009. ISBN 978-0-415-56744-2

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