People Say

People say:

Drawing Set Production Tools… A perfect example of perpetuating outdated industry practices.

But hold on a second.

We’ve seen that idea circulate for 25 years, that drawings are obsolete. But that idea itself, is a perfect example of perpetuating outdated industry practices.

Drawings are attention-focusing devices. That’s what they are, literally, a technique for expressing the act of focused attention. Focused attention comes into play during the creation of complex models. Then it comes into play again in their interpretation by others after models are delivered. Focused attention is expressed, used, and reused. And then created again, during construction, and again in operations.

The expression of clarifying focus is not optional. Attention-focusing technique is visualized in-situ within mental models, clarifying them. Whether the drawings are imagined in-situ within the mental model, visualized in-situ within digital models, or expressed ex-situ in flat arrays in electronic or paper books/sets/pages//sheets, the underlying fundamental motivation for the expression of focused attention is the same. The motivation is existence itself, the world as it is, the mind as it is, perception as it is.

Digital modeling is not going to change perception, the mind, and the world as it is so fundamentally that articulate expressions of focused attention can be discarded and written off the way buggy whips were, finally, on horseless carriages.

No, on the contrary, the more digital worlds become “like” the real world per se as it is, the more the need for articulate expression of focused attention is required, demanded in fact, precisely by those life-like digital worlds. The technique for expressing focused attention clearly, persists, and will persist. But that is not enough. The technique MUST evolve.

It’s been common for decades now to promote the idea that models (of any kind) should stand on their own, with the facility for articulating focused attention removed, abandoned. This is the single most destructive idea in this industry of the last 30 years. Continuing to perpetuate it today is fundamentally counterproductive. Counterproductive, and self-defeating.

What Kind of Evolution then?

How is technical drawing going to evolve, now that modeling has evolved so far from its former mental model (horse drawn carriage) to mental model plus digital model (horseless carriage)? What will the evolution of technical drawing look like, to keep up with the evolution of modeling?


TGN Rigs, rigging models for insight, clarity, interpretive power, communication

Download the TGN developer specification, a roadmap for the evolution of the expression of focused attention within digital models of all kinds (all apps, all platforms). In other words, the evolution and future of technical drawing. TGN Rigs are rigging for insight. They empower users to rig their models for clarity, rigging for interpretive power, putting real FORCE behind thinking while modeling, while building. 

Use TGN Rigs as an engine of interpretation, a vehicle of communication. TGN is your vehicle, baby. A machine of insight. An algorithm of understanding. Maybe you want to hear Tom Jones’ version.

The TGN developer spec is for free to anyone who wants it. A free book. Download

TGN: a digital model INTERACTIONS format standard (Apple Book)

TGN: a digital model INTERACTIONS format standard (ePub)

TGN: a digital model INTERACTIONS format standard (iCloud)


0 1 TGN: rigging for insight  (2:16)

02 TGN: what is TGN exactly?  (5:35)

03 TGN: demonstration  (3:40)

Self critique of this demo is here:

04 TGN: portability  (5:17)

05 TGN: industry value  (9:27)

(the dev platform I mention in the videos is iTwins.js, but TGN can be developed on every platform where TGN is useful and desired)

Knocking on doors at software houses

I’ve been knocking on doors at software houses for a year, fishing for people who want to include TGN as part of their R and D, or build it into  their products. My ideas are in the public domain. Anyone can take them and do as they wish. I’m available to help any team that wants my help.

Martyn Day says on LinkedIn:

The front cover of this months AEC Magazine makes a bold claim: BIM is Bust. If we are rethinking construction, we need to rethink the software, as opposed to working around the limitations of 20-plus-year-old computer science and the lack of long term vision in software development.

While AEC Magazine has been concentrating on pricing and proprietary lock-ins, there are more fundamental issues, decided decades ago, that limit what is achievable. The file formats which dominate the industry lock us in to an inefficient way of working.

Greg Schleusner, Director of Design Technology, Innovation at HOK has been engaged in identifying the capabilities and limitations that have meant that today’s BIM tools lack openness, create silos and inhibit the actual workflow of the industry.

This piece is a follow on thought piece from his talk at last year’s NXT BLD (

The new issue also contains articles on Autodesk’s future platform, Forge, Keith Bentley on the future of AEC tech. These three articles, by chance, give some interesting views on what’s next. There are similarities – openness, cloud connectivity, APIs, less silos. The issue will be giving not just data but the whole process to software companies that are keen to feed shareholders. Schleusner sees that technology is available for the AEC community to regain control, while still using today’s popular applications, and work on their town terms, levelling the playing field.

Martyn Day on LinkedIn

The article is excellent. Greg’s discussion in the interview is right on target. Personally, I think it is very inspiring to see people standing up from the grassroots to get this right and move the tech forward through fundamental re-thinking AND the use of existing tools to do it, combined with new research. 

The idea Greg describes of an external framework to separate out ownership/existence from representation (of items) which then allows exchange/communication between many users and apps, about each item at least NAMED in the external framework, that sounds essential to me.

It is exactly such an external framework that would make TGN work correctly, too. As I mentioned before, TGNs are attention-focusing rigs. And they’re meant to be shareable across all modeling apps and platforms.

Drawing can neither be abandoned, nor can it remain stuck locked in its current FORM. The only productive and effective thing to do is to embrace its evolution.

TGN will never happen unless forward thinking brilliant people take it up and incorporate into their modeling systems.

I’m searching for interested developers, from at least two different apps.

TGN Rigs, rigging models for insight, clarity, interpretive power, communication

I’ve been knocking on doors at software houses for a year, fishing for people who want to include TGN as part of their R and D, or build it into their products. My ideas are in the public domain. Anyone can take them and do as they wish. I’m available to help any team that wants my help.

TGN Meets Users Where They Are

TGN meets users where they are. See in the demo at viewing position P2 position of each TGN rig, the rig’s viewing camera, on the built in rig viewing path, transitions from perspective to parallel projection, and we specify in the TGN spec (the T2 features) a CAD I/O there. This allows (DWG, PDF, SVG) or other formats to be both generated there, imported, exported and any combination of workflows. Users can do all the CAD graphics (dims, notes, labels) in their favorite CAD app and the TGN rig will incorporate that, or, some developers will build graphics creation tools into their app and users can author those items within the TGN rig, then export each TGN at P2 to any CAD format.

It all depends on how much of the TGN spec each developer wants to build into their app.

The TGN spec envisions a TGN shared core, so TGN rigs can be shared across different apps and platforms and expressed with fidelity. While above the core, different Apps can do more, or less.

It’s not easy to get software companies to adopt new things. But I’ve done it before. I invented hypermodel, the fusion of construction drawings in-situ within BIMs. I proposed that to Bentley in 2007. They hired me to lead the team to build it into MicroStation and we released that as part of MicroStation in 2012. At least 6 different software companies after Bentley have developed their own version of that since then including TEKLA, Revizto, Dalux, Shapr3D together with Morpholio, and Graphisoft in their mobile BIMx. Here’s a page on my website showing videos of the Bentley drawing-model fusion from back around 2012: 

That was nice and useful. But it was only a first baby step and it had flaws. I’ve addressed many of those flaws, with the TGN spec.

  • For one, these fusions should not be siloed in one app. If the user does a drawing fusion in a model, he should be able to share that fusion with others in other apps.
  • And the viewing experience should be much better, with more control for the author and the viewer alike. The cinematic camera rigging options built into each rig are an important advancement.
  • And likewise many other graphics control features built into each TGN rig, with controllable progressive display along the TGN rig’s built in viewing path.

Triple Fusion

TGN is the triple fusion of modeling, drawing, and cinematic camera rigging (incorporating the lessons of a hundred years history of film), along with the lessons of digital interoperability of our time. Oh, and by the way it’s totally about being good friends with existing CAD apps. The exact opposite of ignoring them and calling them archaic.

I thought of trying to get employed at 1 software company to do what I did last time: build fusion ideas into one software, siloed. But I don’t want to do that again. I want TGN to work for everybody everywhere in every modeling app and platform. I want the rigs to be portable from one app to another.

I’m sitting here in Sweden where I moved 3 years ago, building a cabin, while I wait for my fishing expeditions to get something on the hook:

I’ve talked with ESRI, Revizto, Bentley, Catenda, Rhino, BIMCollab, Xeokit, BlenderBIM, IFC.js, buildingSMART, and others. And many express interest. But you know how it is! YOU! You do. You know how it is. It takes some kind of spark to start it.

My great hope is that 2 or more existing companies, it could be more at the start, but at least 2 companies who are already working together to get their models working together, that these 2 companies would want to work together to build TGN into their apps in a cross platform way that they would prove that it works. The proof being, that the TGN rigs ARE portable, expressed with adequate fidelity in each of the two apps when TGN rigs are shared from one app to the other. I talk about that in my demo videos above.

The download links to the TGN spec above are in 4 document formats (ePub, iCloud, Apple book, PDF). The book is in sections:

T4: TGN rig authoring

T3: TGN rig viewing


T1: legacy drawing upgrade to TGN

T0: TGN rig structure

in a cabin by the lake…

I’m in my cabin by the lake, waiting…

TGN: rigging for insight

Rob Snyder

Helsingborg, Sweden



[Tangerine] Makes Insight Tangible

Spatial Media Innovation and Cognitive Computing

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