Vico Office Client FAQs
The Vico Office Client allows users to publish and activate BIM models inside Vico Office. The Client also contains all the reporting features for quantity takeoff, constructability analysis, 4D scheduling, and 5D estimating.
The Vico Office Client is a mandatory module for all Vico Office users. It is also recommended that project teams (architects, subs, Owners) also have a copy so that collaboration, reviewing, and reporting is seamless.
After reading through these questions, please navigate across the product line:
Q: Do the models need to be built in Vico for estimating to work or can you import other models?
A: Vico Office is not a model authoring system like Tekla, ArchiCAD, or Revit. We specialize in taking BIM models, combining them, and then performing constructability analyses, adding a location breakdown structure, and getting quantity takeoffs by location so that we can then do model-based scheduling, model-based estimating, and production control.
So we have two pathways for bringing in models and their geometry into Vico Office. One pathway is the Publishers and the publishers mean they run with the application and “come standard” with Vico Office. There are five publishers today and they include the popular BIM authoring tools: Tekla, Revit, ArchiCAD, AutoCAD MEP, and AutoCAD Architecture; and they work both for 32-bit and 64-bit.
Then we have several Importers. One is the IFC Importer which allows you to get data from any system that uses IFC. We’ve also created a specific importer for CAD-Duct, SketchUp, and even DWG files. The Importers can be purchased separately, depending on how your team builds and receives models.
Q: How does Vico Office interact with the Revit or ArchiCAD model? The model is still being done with separate software from Vico Office right?
A: Yes, absolutely. There are lots of great BIM authoring tools and we allow the publishing natively of the information from the BIM authoring tool. So you might have seen in one of the slides a button that says “publish to Office” This is located in the add-on ribbon in Revit. Essentially that is created when you install Vico Office on a machine that already has the BIM application. The benefit here is that people don’t have to export files or save as a certain file type and upload to and FTP site… with lots of problems in importing, etc. We negate that by allowing, for example, an architect working in ArchiCAD or Revit - they are able to connect and directly publish into the database that you are using for constructability, clash detection, location breakdown structure, quantity takeoff, scheduling, and estimating, and even production control.
Q: What if you don’t get BIM models at an early design stage? Can you use this software to take off 2D drawings?
A: There are two techniques you could use. I think all clients absolutely use 2D drawings. So the question is do you want to just measure off the 2D drawings or would you like to build the model from them? Both are good techniques… we of course prefer building the model and most of our clients use the 2D drawings as the basis of the model that they then use throughout construction planning and construction. But you can do it either way.
Q: Do you have to own Revit (or ArchiCAD or Tekla Structures) software to use it with Vico?
A: The person with Revit who is creating the model would need to publish, but the person who will be using Vico Office (Takeoff Manager, Cost Planner, Cost Explorer, Constructability Manager, or Control) does not need Revit… what they need is the model published by the author of the model who is typically the design firm or someone in their organization. So you can publish models from the Revit application to a server and then that server can be where you access the model removing the need to have Revit on your machine.
It is important to note that the person creating the model will need Vico Office Client in order to publish the model.
Q: What do you mean “publish the model”?
A: This is just the operation where you utilize Vico Software to create the proper representation for opening the BIM model inside Vico Office. I think there some confusion in the market because BIM models are so large. How do we make it easy to get a model into Vico Office and that’s simply through the integration. If you open up a Revit or Tekla model there’s a simple pulldown menu “publish to Vico” and that’s all it takes.
Here's a quick tutorial on publishing models from your BIM authoring system into Vico Office.
Q: If a CAD drawing done by someone else is imported how do you know what level of detail the quantities represent since you didn’t design the project?
A: You can’t tell what rigor the model was created with - to what level of detail it was modeled. That’s why it’s always better to use a plan and work together collaboratively with the Owner, design team, engineers, and subs. There’s a simple stage plan we call a Content Plan and there is a project plan we call the Model Progression Specification that help these collaborative teams build meaningful models.
But if you want to try to use the model straightaway then really you must spend some time interrogating that model and becoming familiar with it. There are a lot of techniques for turning things on and off, looking at the groupings, etc. to get a feel for whether you’re comfortable with the model. In Vico Office we can filter by many means: by floor, type, element type, model, etc. We can filter by manual selection. We can create sections vertically, horizontally… This makes it easy for someone who isn’t a modeler to still participate in the BIM process and understand more about the model.
Q: How do you link existing data to a new BIM model that you've just published?
A: First you need to get the data into Vico Office and that's done with Excel Import. Now estimators and schedulers can connect their existing data to a BIM model within a day. This means data from Timberline, MC2, RIB, and Primavera can be associated with BIM model elements.
Here is a quick demonstrate of getting that information into Vico Office.
Q: Owners or designers may be reluctant to share models because of a concern that the model may be altered. The architect might provide DWF files instead. How do you get around this situation?
A: A DWF is a view-only file and that’s not helpful because we can’t extract any properties from it. You would have to have the source model published so you would either have to have the owner or the architect publish the model. But once they do that there is no changing the model in Vico Office. So I think you do actually cover that concern: just ask the design team to publish from Revit to Vico.
To learn more about model management in Vico Office, please watch this informative tutorial on model versions.
Q: When you’re renaming descriptions what happens when you bring in a new model? How do you manage revisions of the model?
A: There is a simple checkbox and when you bring in new versions of the models – simply use the checkbox that says “apply to new elements only.” So if the architects design has changed, Vico Office remembers what changes you made last time and will not change that data. You only have to deal with anything new that has been brought in. If you have made a lot of changes and you want to wipe out what you have already done and start fresh, you can uncheck the box and import the data in from scratch. So the flexibility is there for you to choose. The system remembers what you did and how you organized things, where you put the quantities, etc., and it will organize the updated model and put everything in the right place and update the quantities.
Q: What is the export ability of Vico Software?
A: We can export into XML, XLS, DOC and PDF. And just to clarify we are exporting data we are no longer exporting the model. So we are exporting the data information of the model.
Q: How do you link to other data that exists in other estimating or scheduling applications. What do you do to port information back and forth?
A: We developed a feature called Excel Import to transfer data in and out of Vico Office to other applications you might have in-house. You can then use Compare and Update to evaluate two like projects and use the data that makes the most sense.
In this example, Excel Import is used to bring subcontractor pricing into the estimate. Excel Import acts as a bus to transfer data and then Compare and Update puts you in control of what is added to the calculations.
Q: Can you import an IFC generated from another BIM authoring software?
A: Yes, we have an Importer for IFC files, as well as guidelines to help you tune the data.
Q: How many different kinds of publishing can an architect provide? Is it possible they publish something that you can’t use?
A: All of the different objects they can publish can be brought into Vico Office. As you saw, there was a model that wasn’t built using a model progression specification, so it wasn’t built to a certain rigor. But we can reclassify those elements and reassign the takeoff items. Also, the takeoff quantities and the Vico algorithms would then be used to recalculate certain properties such as the quantity properties. The system is flexible at the front end for the takeoff. We can do some manipulation, but it is better if we work with the architect and explain why we want to follow a certain specification. It’s amazing the results that we’ve seen so far - most architects very much welcome the MPS profess and levels of detail from 100 through 500 and understanding how they can better build construction quality models and that they can then be passed through to the rest of the project team. That’s a plus from the Owner’s side of things and the architect can then suggest to the Owner that they’re going to multiple models.
Q: Does the Architect need any part of Vico Software to publish their Revit models?
A: The answer is yes. They would need the $500 Vico Office Client which will enable them to publish any ArchiCAD, Tekla, or Revit model to any Vico Office user (for quantity takeoff, location breakdown structure, constructability analysis, 4D scheduling, and 5D estimating).
Q: We use Revit models in our practice. How do we publish the models to Vico Office? How does the system know which project it is to be used with?
A: It’s easy to publish ArchiCAD, Revit, and Tekla BIM models to Vico Office. Simply click the Publish to Vico Office button in the CAD application and your model is now ready for quantity takeoff, constructability analysis, location breakdown structure, cost planning, and scheduling. The user tells the system to which project to publish the model.
Q: In what format is Vico Office able to report? What types of reports are there available today?
A: All reporting capabilities are a part of Vico Office Client. It’s important to note that Vico Office is a database system, so you can report on any property contained in the database. The report editor in Vico Office is very similar to Crystal Reports and so you can design and customize many different reports and create exactly what you want to see. We do have some standard reports for quantities by location and the cost plan. As we said before if we have Uniformat for the elements we can produce the elemental costs, provide the CSI activity level, produce the resources, produce constructability reports, report on any properties in the database and customize the report with your company’s logo, layout, and formatting preferences.
Q: How do the compare and updates, check and changes information get transmitted to the architect so that the change can be made to the model?
A: If you’re talking about constructability issues, those would be transmitted using constructability report generated after using Constructability Manager.
Additionally, part of the MPS plays into that. The MPS gives a standard communication or language between the architect and the CM or subcontractor to say “this is what is missing from your model based on the MPS.” It gives a very detailed RFI feedback to the architect based on the MPS. So the process is not simply a software issue it is very much a process issue.
If the architect does have the Vico Office Client (which is only $500) you can just review the model together and he can view any aspects of it so you can point out the differences/concerns/comments very visually and move through it with him onscreen. S/he can then update the original BIM model and re-publish it as a newer version.
And to reiterate the benefit of owning Vico Office Client, it removes the requirement for them to save as different formats and upload to FTP sites, etc. So it’s quite a good bonus of having Vico Office as a server based system with the architect having the Vico Office Client as well.
Q: How is Vico Office architected? It's not a file-based system, is it? What interference is there with antivirus software?
A: Vico Office utilizes a TCIP communication pathway between the Vico Office Client and the project databases. If there is difficulty communicating, we recommend turning off your antivirus software.
Q: What types of reports can you generate with Vico Office?
A: Because Vico Office is a database application, you can report on any combination of data just by organizing the report design with the field names. For example, you can generate reports based on the takeoff, the cost plan, the budget, the constructability analysis, the schedule, etc.
Here is a quick tutorial on the Report Editor focused on expressing information about the project budget.
Q: With Report Editor, how do you create reports which can be easily filtered and sorted in Excel? For example with no empty rows and cells properly set up.
A: During the demonstration I emphasized that you want to make sure there is no space between rows by moving the band below it exactly at the bottom edge of the table. You can do that by just moving it up and letting go right over the table and it will automatically snap to the bottom of the table. Also you want to make sure that you are using tables and not labels for data. Always use tables… that way you get the excel report that you want to get without additional rows and columns. Aligning tables obviously helps as well.
Q: In the Quantity Report how do you sort alphanumerically?
A: In the detail area… right click and select “sort fields” to access the group fields collection editor. If you want to sort by description you add a field name based on which you want to sort. I guess typically you would want to sort by name. Click ok and they will be sorted correctly. By default it uses the project name so that is why you saw it that way.
Q: Can you create detailed settings for font type for all of your reports?
A: You can. If you have a master report you can assign font and font type and size to the report property. What I did repetitively during the demonstration is assign default font and font type to the whole report. So you basically start with one template, set your fonts universally for that template and copy that template over and over.
Q: Is there any point in formatting the detail header if you have to set the detailing rules for each cell individually anyway?
A: During the demonstration I did it for each cell individually, but you can apply formatting rules to the detail band as well. I found out later the reason it did not work for me was because I had some wrong assignment of the data type. So you can assign formatting rules to the detail band which means applying those detailing rules to all content, and then what you typically do is apply overrides for certain things like indenting. So the code and description for a cost plan report would not include those in the detail level formatting rules but you would in the individual cell rules.
Q: Are the cost versions always auto-created depending on how many cost versions you have saved or is it always two?
A: What you see in the parameters are the cost versions that you’ve created in the cost planner. You always compare two at a time but you can choose any two. So I selected three and four but I could also have selected two and three or the current and one… Any combination is possible.
Q: Are there any default reports included with the purchase of Vico Office?
A: Yes there are - the reports that you saw today have been included as templates in the templates folder in the Vico Office program files folder.
Q: I understand reporting of cost planning but what about a standard method BOQ? Can this be done from the coding shown or does a new coding need to be used to get that type of report?
A: What I did was filter out the resources level by using node level 6. If your methods or activities are on level 5 then I would isolate level 5 and group my quantities based on the codes of what we use to call methods or activities in the cost structure. And that way I would be able to generate that kind of report.
Q: Are report templates stored in the project database or in the shared database?
A: They are stored in the shared database. So once you have defined them for one project you can use them in all projects you have on the Vico Office server.
Q: How do you back up report formats?
A: In the Report Designer there is an export function and with that you can save a file that has the *.repx extension. And when you save that you can import it.
Q: Can you explain what you mean by having a "live" construction model?
A: Having a BIM model to spin on a screen does not mean you have full construction reporting capabilities. It takes an integrated BIM platform like Vico Office to extract the model geometry for quantities per location for scheduling and estimating. This video compares a Hollywood BIM model – which looks great on a computer screen – to Vico’s 3-way-view showing the same BIM model connected to its quantities report and estimate. And because the disciplines are integrated, every time the design changes, the schedule and estimate are automatically updated.
So as soon as you publish the latest design model to Vico Office, your cost plans and schedule are immediately updated.
Q: Where do you get the report templates for use with Vico Office?
A: Those reports templates are delivered inside Vico Office. So when you buy Vico Office you receive those templates in the install folders. You can also download the reports online as you need them.
Q: Can you add customized values in the report?
A: Yes you can… There is the ability to define in the report designer calculated values. With calculate values you can combined a number of available standard fields or come up with your own calculations as well. Pretty much all properties that you would need to include in your report can be calculated using that functionality. You can also put a customized value in the tags field. And quantities that you might miss from the model can be included as manual quantities in Takeoff Manager.
Q: How do I put my company logo in the reports instead of the Vico company logo? Is that part of project settings or part of the report editor?
A: It can be both actually. You can add a logo per project if that’s what you would like to do but you can set up your templates also by clicking the Vico Image and selecting from the properties pane which image you would like to use. You can just browse to your company logo image on your computer and replace the Vico image with your own.
Q: Can you show me how to navigate through the Report Editor?
A: First, it is important to note that Vico Office is a database, and as such, the Report Editor can pull information from every field that you have included for your construction project. With all the moving parts on a construction project, from procurement to payment planning, we have developed standard template reports that you can customize to your company’s brand.
This video offers a quick overview of conditional formatting and creating new layouts for your reports, including charts, graphs, and snapshots from the model or 2D drawings. We discuss a typical report layout and how to format the report header and footer sections, as well as the detail report bands which extracts data from your project according to the parameters you set.
These reports can be reused across all your company’s projects and once they are in place on a project, each update to the design models means that the reports are recalculated automatically. Why? Because Vico Office is the only integrated BIM software that ties the 3D model geometry to the quantities by location to the 4D schedule to the 5D estimate.
Q: Is it possible to mix field bands? Can you mix a constructability issue and the associated cost of the associated line items in the cost plan in the same report band?
A: You cannot mix them in the same band. They need to be separate bands in order to allow the report engine to iterate through the collection of those items. So it first needs to go through all of the constructability issues and then it needs to go through all of the cost plan items. Filtering may offer you a feasible solution.
Q: As you know BIM models can be provided by different utilities and many different kinds of parameters will be added to these models so there will be a lot of customized information. Can I add this information to a Vico Office report?
A: The great thing about Vico Office is that it calculates the quantity properties internally so regardless of what application was used to create your model once published and activated inside Vico Office all of the quantities are named the same. So when you combine a Tekla model with an ArchiCAD model the net volume of a slab will be called exactly the same and can be added up. You can add custom quantities in the Takeoff Manager or change the name as needed as well.
Q: Can you show me how to build a cost variance report in Vico Office - I want to compare two different versions of my cost plan.
A: Since Vico Office is a database, we can take snapshots of our project at any point along the time continuum and compare the two versions of the Estimate. When we see the delta between quantities and/or costs (highlighted in our report by red and green cells), we can pinpoint the elements contributing to the cost change. We can also show this report graphically in Cost Planner which shows a color-coded tree structure of the two cost plans. We can highlight any piece of the 3D model and see how its costs have changed in the estimate.
Q: Can a cost variance report show a highlighted view of the model element that’s changed alongside or within the cost plan report?
A: We have a dynamic view for that which is called the Cost Explorer. The Cost Explorer is a tree which shows the differences between the two versions of the cost plan using a graphical component. That actually interacts with the 3D model and if you click on one of the branches that show that there is a difference it will highlight the model elements that are included in that branch of the cost plan. Or you can switch it to isolating so it only shows those elements that are associated with that change.
Q: How many costs versions can be compared at the same time?
A: You can compare two at the same time. There is another report type which is the comparison of two versions to a target which makes for a three way comparison. But for the variance report I showed today, it is two versions at the same time.
Q: How do you organize the images to appear in a Constructability Report?
A: You can use the Vico Office Reporting Engine to organize your coordination meetings by distributing constructability reports to your teammates. The reports can be filtered by system, by trades involved, by severity, and with a complete description of the issue including screenshots and supporting images. This video explains how:
Q: Is it possible to create a CSI Masterformat Cost Plan Report in Vico Office? We like to organize our cost plans using Uniformat, but we are also interested in creating estimates broken out by CSI Masterformat 2004 Divisions and paragraph. Is this possible?
A: This is done by a combination of Codes and Tags. The example in the video shows how to group all the carpentry scope, the concrete scope, etc.
Q: Which Uniformat code system is used in Vico Office? The traditional sixteen division system or the new thirty plus division system?
A: In the example used above it was the 2004 CSI Masterformat. But of course, it works as well with the sixteen division five character version. It is just whatever your preference is... and you can carry both as well if you would like… It’s just defining a new tag in your cost plan and it becomes available for reporting purposes.
With our international customers we’ve seen that owners would like to see costs reported in the breakdown structure that they’ve defined and with the tag system that we discussed this is possible. So for each of the cost line items that you use… that are in your standard database…you can add your own codes and tags so that you can report using the customer breakdown structure.
Q: Is there an elemental or a Masterformat reference project that customers can use to build their cost plan?
A: Absolutely. I think that what you are looking for is what we call the virtual warehouse or 5D Data Pack that we have available. That has three layers of Uniformat with the activities and materials and labor resources coded in the CSI Masterformat. You can contact us for more information on it.
Q: What types of reports are avilable for our planners, PMs, and Supers?
A: Resource Histograms can be used to show labor resources by number, labor hours, or materials for a construction project. You can filter for specific materials or trades and use the reports to communicate directly with Subs, suppliers, and the Owner. All of these report types are available in Vico Office – no need for tedious spreadsheets.
Q: Is tagged data from the database exposed in Schedule Planner for things like cost codes?
A: At the moment it is not, but further integration is on the way. The tags are available in the Task Manager view where you do the actual mapping of the cost information to the tasks that you defined and want to use in your project.
Q: How can we create a cash flow curve for our project? Does it involve scheduling our payments received and payments sent out?
A: An important part of construction project planning is scheduling the payment of vendors and the payment milestones from the Owner. This can be done easily in Vico Office and then generate the resulting cash flow curve.
Q: How does the Super or PM register the actuals completed on the jobsite?
A: Another key report in Vico Office is generated out on the jobsite by the Superintendent or PM. By simply walking the jobsite and noting the percent complete per location, s/he tracks the actual productivity of each Sub. When these actual productivity rates are charted against the baseline schedule, we can quickly forecast where problems may occur and take remedial action right away. Completion reports in Vico Office keep track of the targeted vs. actual quantities, consumption, and production rates of each Sub. All of this information can also be viewed as a target vs. actual histogram.