CDE common data environment everything you should know about

Common Data Environment – What is it and how does it make your life easier?

Catenda Team

Common Data Environment

ISO 19650 introduced the term Common Data Environment (CDE) into the public domain. It immediately became one of the most difficult terms to understand and apply. Why? Because CDE does not refer to a specific solution/platform/software. Everyone has a different view of the term. Is it software? A file nomenclature? A process? What data should be stored in it? Who can access it? Designing an environment is a complex task. 

In concept , the use of a common data environment means that all project-related data should be stored in a conscious and systematic way, with predefined rules and parameters. There are three parts: 

  • “work in progress” part where each project participant stores information in progress and for their own use;
  • “shared” part where information is shared between all project participants;
  • “published” part which is a formal set of plans that may have been accepted by the client.

In principle, it is a good thing that the standard requires an information management system, because it makes the process much more transparent. This way, the project members know where to look for what information and which is t the latest version of each document/model. 

So, a common data environment sounds simple in theory. However, it is a bit more difficult in practice. We will show you how you can still start to set up a common data environment by taking a simplified approach.


Or rather a common model environment?

A common data environment is closely related to a common model environment (as defined by Opinion Builders). The concept of Building Information Modeling (BIM) essentially began its conquest from three-dimensional building modeling, so let’s return to that area for simplicity.

Today, three-dimensional models are not only created by architects, but also by many other disciplines: structural engineers, building services engineers, electrical engineers, usually all in their own proven software, where they can work most efficiently. While all design software can import models from other disciplines to support the design work, the combined model may not be accessible to all project participants, may not be viewable, and may be of limited use for interdisciplinary coordination.

If you are working on a BIM basis, the first and biggest problem you will face is: where and how do you bring the disciplinary models together in a common environment so  it is accessible, viewable, and useful to all project stakeholders-including me-in a way that can be tracked and user-friendly?


New solution

A completely new solution is needed to combine all the models, or to use the new term: common model environment. There is no specific solution defined in the ISO 19650 norm.

OpenBIM based software

“But how and what makes it all work in practice? “. Opinion Builders has successfully used Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync)as a common model environment for several projects. Today they shared their feedback. 

First of all, Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync) works with a file format – Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) for models – that all design software can now save in good quality. A designer can use their favorite software. In addition, designers do not leave their familiar environment, as Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync) is integrated with Archicad, Revit, Solibri, Navisworks, etc. By downloading a simple add-on, Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync)’s comment management and messaging functionality is integrated with  these programs.

Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync) is a cloud-based platform. This means that models shared on the platform are easily accessible to anyone and can be viewed together or separately in a browser using the built-in model viewer. Even those who do not have very powerful computers or are not comfortable with design software can view them. Clients and project managers often tell us how happy they are to be able to access the models in a browser during meetings, as they do not have to undertake a series of additional purchases and installations. 

With Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync)’s 3D viewer for a building model under design, for example, as shown in the figure below, it is possible to turn on and off the models of the different trades to view them in context and check their relationship to each other, on demand. In this case, for example, you can view in 2D and 3D the architectural model, the structural model, the mechanical model, the electrical model, the technology model, or any of the disciplines providing models. Through the platform, all participants in a project can collaborate in real time. In fact, within this interface, all models can actually connect.  


Through centralized communication, Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync) ensures that stakeholders always have access to the latest and correct information, regardless of the software they are using. By creating comments in Bimsync, you can send a message to another project stakeholder with the same ease as writing an email, regarding the planned building, the building model, and the tasks related to the project phases. These comments and messages can be retrieved and filtered, allowing for much more accurate communication than the countless emails and phone calls that are exchanged every day.


How do we work together?

As with anything multi-stakeholder, the members need to agree on some ground rules. For example, what should the branch models be named? How often and who will update them? Who will hold the plan coordination meetings where we review errors and comments we find? These few ground rules ensure the success of the project. Once they are defined and a common model environment is established, model-based design becomes much easier. These rules are also described in ISO 19650.


Catenda Hub

BIMSYNC CATENDA Common Data environment

Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync)provides an environment where models of the designed buildings are easily accessible to all project participants. Up-to-date information is used and project participants can easily communicate. In other words, it is the common modeling environment of the project. Combined with the design documentation produced during the design process, including any digital document, technical description, specification, and spreadsheet, it is also a common data environment. With Bimsync, these documents can be shared among all project participants, or at least those who have access to them.


Start Catenda Hub (previously Bimsync) Freemium now clicking here


Tamás György Erős, Head of BIM Services at Opinion Builders.