02 Combined VDC model

In this tutorial you will combine all sub-models from tutorial 01 Creating submodels into one complete VDC model. If you did not pass each and every tutorial beforehand, do not worry, you can still experience the power of Explorer to combine data from different sources into one complete VDC model, because all sub-model final versions are included in the subfolders of 01_Creating_submodels.

You want to create a complete VDC model for various reasons. Some of those are:
  • experience the complete VDC model before the construction starts (main driver for stakeholders and helping to deliver the design intent including project coordination);
  • getting valuable information about crucial parameters/objects through object selection from the model or using intuitive measurement tools to check required clearances;
  • checking how different sub-models merge with each other and therefore reducing design errors with automated clash detection tools;
  • optimizing the construction processes by simulating various construction phases through 4D/5D simulation tools;
  • enhancing collaboration with various project partners through commenting into the model and synchronizing those over the cloud;
  • creating a simple web-based model experience to allow participation of various stakeholders without the need of installation of special software tools;
  • keeping a track of various design alternatives.
We first create a complete VDC model that includes existing as well as proposed situation of project site. In later sections we show different tools inside Explorer to see the power of various analysis tools that helps to minimize the request of information (RFI) on site as well as eliminating design errors as early as possible. From the collaboration side, we take a look into commenting and model sharing features/options (including VDC Live web-service).

You can find the tutorial file package from the first page. In this tutorial, ensure that you have installed (or can access) the following products:
  • Explorer (included with the MAGNET Modeler and/or VDC Design installation, or as a separate installation)
General workflow

In tutorial 01 Creating submodels you created different sub-models for various design disciplines. Some of those were concentrated onto giving a context of project site (existing buildings, forest area), some were adding details onto you proposed design (landscaping, road markings, road signs, lighting). Of course there were different major design works like proposed road corridor models, new pipelines, bridge design, noise fence. All those sub-models were exported into various formats depending on the nature of data. In general we created three types of data:
  • VM - giving a context for our final VDC model (landscaping, orthophoto mapping, existing building data, forest areas, existing utilities, existing bridge, road signs, pavement marking, lightings etc.).
  • LandXML - importing surface pipe network data as open standard format.
  • IFC - importing construction data as open standard format.
We typically want to keep the final design data in open standard formats or if those do not support some types of objects, also, in alternative formats. We start by creating our complete VDC model from those formats and take a look it in sections (based on file type).

In this tutorial you mainly work in the folder: 02_Combined_VDC_model

If you open the folder, you find three *.vmpx files:

VMPX files are Explorer files. And those that are included in here are just back-up versions of various sub-steps you start to practice. So, if at any time you want to quickly see the end result, please open the provided *.vmpx file. But please note that Explorer *.vmpx files are only referencing various sub-model files and if you have downloaded the project files to some other location than specified in saved *.vmpx, you have to fix those references one-by-one and for each given *.vmpx files. Therefore it is still recommended that you start this tutorial from scratch and while working you simply overwrite those files.

Start VDC Explorer

If you already haven't, please start Explorer. While no project is opened, your user interface looks similar to this image:


Please refer to User Guide > VDC Explorer (or MAGNET Explorer user guide) to get the feeling of main user interface elements in Explorer. In this tutorial we try to keep the workflow as simple as possible and focus only on those tools that we currently use. To start creating a new project, you can click on New button or simply go to Explore tab.

Main user interface (or project view) opens. And you can start to import various sub-models into your new (empty) project by clicking on Import File button.

Please follow the next sub-sections where you start to import different sub-models.

Importing Modeler files (*.vm)

You created *.vm files mainly because you converted 2D data into 3D data (using Modeler tools) because 3D data was not available or for giving a context to the project site (existing tree areas, landscaping, etc.). Please import the following *.vm files into your Explorer project from tutorial folder: 01_Creating_submodels (you can do that in any order, you can also select multiple files at once if in the same folder):
  • Existing data
    • 01_Existing\01_Terrain\Remain\VM\Context_Orthophoto.vm
    • 01_Existing\01_Terrain\Remain\VM\ProjectArea_Orhtophot.vm
    • 01_Existing\01_Terrain\Remain\VM\ProjectArea_Orthophoto_CorridorCut.vm
    • 01_Existing\02_Buildings\Remain\VM\Existing_Buildings_Only.vm
    • 01_Existing\03_Landscaping\Remain\VM\Existing_Forest_Only.vm
    • 01_Existing\04_Utilities\Remain\VM\Existing_Utilities.vm
    • 01_Existing\08_Structures\Demolish\VM\Existing_Bridge.vm
  • Proposed data
    • 02_Design\02_Buildings\VM\Proposed_Buildings_Only.vm
    • 02_Design\03_Landscaping\VM\Proposed_Landscaping_Only.vm
    • 02_Design\04_Utilities\VM\Proposed_Utilities.vm
    • 02_Design\05_Road_corridors\E1R2\VM\Proposed_Corridor_E1R2_Only.vm
    • 02_Design\05_Road_corridors\E2R1\VM\Proposed_Corridor_E2R1_Only.vm
    • 02_Design\05_Road_corridors\VT7\VM\Proposed_Corridor_VT7_Only.vm
    • 02_Design\06_Road_marking\VM\Proposed_RoadMarking_Only.vm
    • 02_Design\07_Road_signs\VM\Proposed_RoadSigns_Only.vm
    • 02_Design\09_Lighting\VM\Proposed_Lighting.vm
Note: Importing *.vm files is that simple, because everything was already defined during the generation of *.vm files. For example, *.vm files already know to where they should go in a project structure (groups, sub-groups and materials/colors). If you need to change that, you have to go back to the original design file, from where you created *.vm file, do changes there, and exporting a new version of that *.vm file. This also true when the design changes and you need to regenerate the *.vm file. If regenerate the new *.vm file to the original source, you can easily reload that while working in Explorer.

Note: If you have not added a project texture folder into Explroer Texture Paths, please do that, otherwise no textures do appear on your model components. Go toView > Settings (double click on Textures link). Point to folder: /Textures at your tutorial files location.

Texture Paths (VDC Explorer)

While importing and creating your VDC complete project, note that your imported links appear in the Explorer palette (by default it is on the left hand side, but can be rearranged if wanted). If you do not see that, check that on the ribbon tab you have clicked on the Explorer button (if it is with a blue shadow, it means that it should be visible on the main user interface).


While Explorer palette is opened, you should the the following VDC model so far:


Explorer palette can show your project structure in two different ways. You can select that by using a button on Explorer button tab (far right). By default it shows group view.

If you click on Hide sources button (pointed with a red arrow on last image), you get the source view. Explorer links your original files into its project. Nothing is actually imported, therefore the reload of some sub-item is really easy when in Show sources view. Just right click and choose Reload.

Please save your model, clicking on Save button on the top menu bar.

Save your model as: Combined-01_After_VM_Imports.vmpx

Explorer file format is *.vmpx. This file includes only settings (links to file's original location, settings, etc.). It doesn't hold any original files itself. You can find several Explorer projects files from the same folder. Those are meant for back-up purposes, or for cases when you want to continue/practice a special workflow. Let's continue by adding data from other sources.

Importing LandXML (*.xml)

LandXML is used to deliver road design (and its components) in open standard format. This is common format for all major design packages, and therefore corridor models, pipe networks, surfaces can be easily exported into LandXMLWhile importing LandXML files, you can affect its common parameters during its import. Therefore we recommend that in the current example you do it one-by-one (note: you can select multiple files if you want, but you have to be careful, while starting to change import settings, so that you affect the correct file). Please import the following *.xml files into your Explorer project:
  • 01_Creating_submodels\02_Design\01_Terrain\LandXML\Parking_lot_asf.xml
With each LandXML you need to fill in its parameter in dialog LandXml dialogFor Parking_lot_asf.xml use:
  • Group name: Design/Terrain/Parking lot
  • Material: Surf_Asphalt

Please also import the following LandXML files (one-by-one) and follow the next table for settings:
  • 01_Creating_submodels\02_Design\01_Terrain\LandXML\Parking_lot_slope.xml
  • 01_Creating_submodels\02_Design\05_Road_corridors\E1R2\LandXML\Surface Bridge.xml
  • 01_Creating_submodels\02_Design\05_Road_corridors\E1R2\LandXML\Talus_bridge_1.xml
  • 01_Creating_submodels\02_Design\05_Road_corridors\E1R2\LandXML\Talus_bridge_2.xml
  • 01_Creating_submodels\01_Existing\01_Terrain\Remain\LandXML\Terrain_ProjectArea.xml
  • 01_Creating_submodels\02_Design\04_Utilities\LandXML\Proposed_RoadDrainage.xml
  • 01_Creating_submodels\02_Design\08_Structures\Noise fence\LandXML\Proposed_NoiseBank.xml
Settings for LandXML imports:


Note: You have double information, because you exported Terrain_ProjectArea.xml (with no orthophoto), as well as ProjectArea_Orthophoto_CorridorCut.vm. We use those files for general purpose during 4D/5D simulation, to show existing situation and final proposed situation. Therefore right now you can simply hide those away. Go to Explorer palette, check that you have group structure and click on eye symbols for those that are duplicates.

Please save your model again and use the following name: Combined-02_After_XML_Imports.vmpx

Let's continue by adding data from other sources.

Importing IFC (*.ifc)

IFC is mainly used for delivering construction information (bridges, buildings, noise fences and other structures) in open standard format. This format (export) can be created from all major building/construction design packages. In our example we use *.ifc files that were generated from Autodesk Revit project files. While importing *.ifc files, you can affect its common parameters during its import. Therefore we recommend that in the current example you do it one-by-one (note: you can select multiple files if you want, but you have to be careful, while starting to change import settings, so that you affect the correct file). Please import the following *.ifc files into your Explorer project:
  • 01_Creating_submodels\02_Design\08_Structures\Bridge\IFC\Proposed_Structure_Bridge.ifc
When IFCPlugin dialog opens, select the following parameters:
  • Main group: Design/Structure/E1R2 Bridge
  • Filter sub group by: Layer (this affects how your model components are divided down below to set materials).
  • Material:
    • A-FLOR: Surf_Concrete
    • A-FLOR-HRAL: Surf_Metal
    • A-GENM: Surf_Concrete
    • A-WALL: Col_Yel40
    • I-FURN: Surf_Metal
    • S-COLS: Surf_Concrete
    • S-FNDN: Surf_Concrete
  • Origin: 310.260;287.953;-0.500 (by that we designate that model needs to be shifted by that amount of X,Y,Z - it depends on how the model was aligned in a design package).
  • Rotation: use only, when you need to apply a rotation to your model (for example if the model is not designed in true north).
  • Scale: use only, when you model needs to be scaled (for example in a design package it was created in millimeters/inches).
  • Create sub-groups: select this option, if you want to see sub-groups based on a given table.
  • Object info: select this option, because you want to access model components information.

Once you have entered given values, click OK and your new bridge will be imported into the scene.


Continue with the next IFC import:
  • 08_NoiseFence/IFC/Proposed_Structure_NoiseFence.ifc
When IFCPlugin dialog opens, select the following parameters:
  • Main group: Design/Structure/Noise fence
  • Filter sub group by: Object Type (this affects how your model components are divided down below to set materials).
  • Material: use <Object Color> as default value.
  • Origin: 0.000;0.000;-5.000 (by that we designate that model needs to be shifted by that amount of X,Y,Z - it depends on how the model was aligned in a design package).
  • Create sub-groups: select this option, if you want to see sub-groups based on a given table.
  • Object info: select this option, because you want to access model components information.

Once you have entered given values, click OK and your new bridge will be imported into the scene.


You have successfully imported all sub-models into your complete VDC model. Please save your model as: Combined-03_After_IFC_Imports.vmpx

Note: You can also create a model package for next tutorials. In that way the combined model can be easily opened in any computer without worrying about proper location of imported files. From the ribbon tab, select: Output > Export package.


Dialog: Export package... opens.


Save the file as: Combined-04_FinishedPackage.vmpz

Note: The file extension is now *.vmpz (the last z notes that it is now an archived package)

If you plan to send your model to somebody, who doesn't have Explorer installed, then it is possible to include a viewer into the package. In current step do to not select those options. Also, deselect Open explorer window after export. Click OK to export the package. Close the Explorer, and take a look into the location to where you saved the package.


You can see that you have one *.vmpz file and it is much larger because it now includes all links (*.vm, *.xml, *.ifc). This file can be opened just like *.vmpx files. Start Explorer again and open the exported package. Pay attention to, that in the package you are not able to change your model links anymore. Therefore the Import File is grayed out.


In the model package you are still able to see the same model as it was intended by the BIM manager, see analysis results, take measurements, create cross-sections and use collaboration tools.