The design process is still a very critical part of any construction project, commercial or residential. From residential builders that are looking to make the leap to BIM (building information modeling) to those just looking for greater efficiency associated with the tools they already have in place, some recent releases help fit the bill.

With the release of Envisioneer 7, Cadsoft Corp.,, Guelph, Ont., wants to provide residential builders and light commercial contractors with an easy-to-use, complete solution for BIM. Advancements in this regard center on strategic design enhancements, precision documentation, and productivity gains in digital quantity takeoff. This is particularly useful for building and material supply dealer clients; an area in which Cadsoft seems to be growing nicely.

Regarding the digital takeoff in particular, added flexibility in performing takeoffs on screen is highlighted, as are enhancements around material list reporting, cut list optimization, and report writing accuracy.

Collaboration is a major part of this release. According to Cadsoft, builders and designers are able to improve upon collaboration efforts with their lumber and building material dealers early in the design phase. Such early collaboration can go a long way in ensuring critical errors, or data duplication, does not occur.

While in years past Cadsoft has focused primarily on the builder and contractor, this latest release continues to demonstrate an expanded focus on more part of the supply chain, in particular the building suppliers and dealers. Such efforts seem essential in providing that complete end-to-end virtual design and build process, as it allows all parties to have critical input early and often throughout the process.

In other news, SoftPlan,, Brentwood, Tenn., announced the availability of SoftPlan Network. The company bills this offering as a more economical way to run multiple SoftPlan offerings in your office. Available with two keys, master and registration key, the SoftPlan Network eliminates the headaches of keeping track of multiple keys.

The master key must be plugged into a computer on the network at all times, however the registration key is only required when initially enabling a SoftPlan WorkStation.

Design options are aplenty these days in the market. However, having the right technology tools can make all the difference when trying to eliminate inefficiencies and reducing costs. Technology providers are coming to market with new enhancements and features that help builders worry less about whether or not their technology will fit the bill.