The Autodesk CAD/BIM products I use run on Windows. BIM requires integrating many information sources to create a graphic and data model of a project so it’s probably worth keeping an eye on anything that will change the way Windows manages data. The WinFS team have just launched a new blog to go with their products beta release and it’s worth a look if you currently use files and folders to store stuff…
I suspect you do but first; what is WinFS?
Microsoft’s description is:
WinFS is the new relational file system for Windows. As an essential piece of Microsoft’s Integrated Storage strategy, WinFS bridges the gap between file systems and databases and provides a unified, rich programming platform for all data: structured, semi-structured, and unstructured.
With WinFS, Developers will be able to use its unified Item Data Model across applications, present new relational organisation constructs for data, and create applications that exploit data more powerfully. WinFS is a development platform that will improve developer productivity and reduce organisations' time to market.
The easiest way to understand this is seeing it in action. In a video interview/demo, on MSDN Channel 9 site, the developers introduce WinFS concepts and show how it works for the user, applications and the operating system. While WinFS is intended for future versions of Windows OS, and applications, it can be added to Windows XP/Server 2003 and works with legacy applications which expect disk/folder file structures. There aren’t any CAD specific demos, or even a mention of CAD, in the WinFS material online but the concepts shown certainly are relevant.
There has been much debate on the merit of distributed file vs single database technology in the CAD component of BIM. Irrespective of which CAD tool you use there is a myriad of other information that relates to a BIM Project. The ability to associate data from multiple applications in multiple forms using relationships, rather than disk file/folder structures, seems useful for users trying to bring together the masses of distributed data which represent a BIM Project. I’m just speculating but perhaps WinFS will provide a relational framework for applications to deal with distributed information and assemble a more complete BIM resource.
The WinFS Blog, and beta, is aimed at developers but it’s a technology that is well worth watching, it certainly looks promising.