I’m looking for a few good software companies

Hey! Thanks for visiting this page. Looking back at this post I see I was over-verbose to say the least. If you prefer more concise presentation please go here: https://tangerinefocus.com/2022/06/08/the-form-of-engagement/

I’m looking for a few good software companies.


Please build the “TGN” features that I describe, into your apps and platforms.

What is TGN?

I’ll get to that.

But I’ve done this before.

I’ve done this before and my work proliferated through the industry

Version 1, an earlier iteration, before TGN, has been built into commercial software by at least 7 different software companies. Version 1 is the automated fusion of technical drawings, in-situ at their true orientation within digital models. I keep some examples of the v.1 stuff here: https://tangerinefocus.com/tangerine-2/earlier-media-innovations/

Bentley MicroStation drawing-model fusion 2011, aka: “hypermodel”
Bentley MicroStation drawing-model fusion 2011, aka: “hypermodel”

More examples here, from 2011-2013: ttps://tangerinefocus.com/tangerine-2/earlier-media-innovations/

I’d been working for years in architecture firms building BIMs and using them to drive construction drawings production since 1997. After 10 years of that, this idea occurred to me one day in 2007, that the technical drawings (partially) automated from my 3D models ought to be displayed where they really are in the 3D model, automatically, as we imagine them anyway, to make sense of them (and the model). If the software would do this for me, give a digital assist to the mental exercise of drawing-model fusion, then I could understand my model better, easier, faster, more thoroughly, and understand the drawings better too, easier, faster, more thoroughly. And it would make it easier to evaluate both the model and every drawing for fitness, correctness, completion, suitability, and various other measures, according to whatever criteria I’m using for judging that.

This seemed like a no-brainer to me.

And I couldn’t believe that at the time, there weren’t any software companies doing it.

But at the time, there was at least one guy at at least one software company who would listen. I shared the idea with my favorite software company at the time whose apps I used, and by some miracle that turned into me working for them leading the development team that designed and implemented the drawing-model fusion features I’d imagined. The result was the release of automated drawing-model fusion features in MicroStation in May 2012. Ten years ago.

10 Years Gone great song…

That kind of fusion, of drawings into models where they are really are, at true orientation, was soon taken up by other software companies after Bentley did it. Today I know of 7 different software companies that deliver automated drawing-model fusion features within their apps, including Bentley, TEKLA, Revizto, Dalux, Graphisoft, and working cross-app together: Shapr3D and Morpholio.

Check out this presentation by a Revizto user: AU Revizto McCarthy presentation 2019

Well yeah I mean again, we have all of our McCarthy concrete placement drawings that our VDC team makes, (they’re) in Revizto, right. So you have your contract drawings, you have your concrete placement drawings, you have all the trade drawings. I mean that’s the nice part about this, is, it’s this one repository (the model), for all these different types of drawings, overlaid onto the model, so, it’s that one repository, right. So it’s that one… it’s the single source of truth. for multiple different people’s drawings, and people’s models. it’s all happening. yeah.

Alex BelkoferAU Revizto McCarthy presentation 2019 (1:19:30)
Alex BelkoferAU Revizto McCarthy presentation 2019 (1:19:30)

“But the drawings change… So how do you update that drawing?”

So, yeah for McCarthy, they’re using TEKLA for their concrete placement drawings. So as they go through coordination and they change something, as they’re doing their self-perform drawings, they adjust it in TEKLA, that adjusts in the sheet, the sheet lays-in directly to Revizto from TEKLA. We keep the XYZ information and do the section (overlay) for you. So there’s no manual work in doing the overlays. We keep the intelligence of the design software to lay that section into the Revizto model. So as you’re updating things in your authoring tools, it generates the sheets, the new sheets come in, and those changes take place just during the synchronization process between the two platforms.

Mark CiszewskiAU Revizto McCarthy presentation 2019 (1:20:15)
Mark CiszewskiAU Revizto McCarthy presentation 2019 (1:20:15)

The whole hour and 20 minutes of video is excellent. Here’s a point from 20:05

Alex BelkoferAU Revizto McCarthy presentation 2019 (20:05)

Version 2.0: TGN

Users want it. Software companies, can you hear them?


The comment above from Forrest Huff is a reply on linked to my post, Bad Analogies:


Check out the post. It’s about analogies, even those in common use, that are, as sometimes people make, bad analogies

Analogies not apt. 

(very) Poor fit to the situation. 

They’re off target. 

They miss the relevant point(s) entirely. 

Sometimes they take a useful analogy and misapply it where it fails, oh, massively.

The classic horse-drawn carriage buggy whip (and whip holder) analogy, applied to shaming the entire field of technical drawing, might be the worst misapplication of analogy anywhere, ever.


Bad analogies cause problems. If they’re a poor fit to the actual situation, if they’re off target, if they miss the relevant points entirely, and if even so they’re widely believed, or widely repeated like some kind of mesmerizing chant, then they self perpetuate while they derail us for more productive thinking. Better analogy makes better thinking, better advancement, better technical evolution.

People commonly mess up the analogy regarding drawings and digital models by comparing drawing and model to horse-drawn carriages and automobiles. That’s a wrong analogy. Look: this analogy is not apt, it’s a (very) poor fit to the actual situation. It’s off target. It misses the relevant point(s) entirely. It fails, oh, massively:

The bad analogy above is in fact a (bad) mixing of two (good) analogies:

  • Mental model evolves toward digital model

The predecessor of digital modeling is mental modeling. The successor of mental modeling is digital modeling.

  • Drawing evolves toward TGN (TGN software developer specification and demo videos are below. Keep reading!)

Technical drawing (2D drawing by hand or CAD) is not the predecessor of digital modeling. The idea that it is, is part of a bad analogy that compares drawing and modeling to horse-drawn carriage and automobile. The analogy is off target and misses the relevant points entirely.

Drawings are attention-focusing devices. 

That’s what they are, literally, a technique for expressing the act of focused attention. And this act has a purpose. Attention focusing is action in pursuit of understanding. 

Understanding of what? 

Of models! 

  • Mental models
  • digital models
  • and reality as it is

There simply is no such thing as understanding the world around us, without engagement of the act and apparatus of focused attention. There is no understanding, of anything, without this. Focus is fundamental. Nothing happens

There simply is no such thing as understanding the world around us, without engagement of the act and apparatus of focused attention. There is no understanding, of anything, without this. Focus is fundamental. Nothing happens without it. A world without focused attention is a world of inanimate objects. Stones. Wearing down to sand. Blowing across dunes.

TGN is the successor to technical drawing as it has been known. Technical drawing is the predecessor of TGN, a proposed software development specification and framework for sharpening focused attention within models, compelling better understanding of models through more tactile user engagement with them. TGN will further increase model utility and utilization. TGN is the second generation evolution of my earlier drawing-model fusion work (hypermodel) and provides both a strategy and a vision for the future of modeling and technical drawing.

Whether the drawings are… 

  • imagined in-situ within mental models (and by the way, they are; no one understands any technical drawing without imagining it in-situ within a 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. It’s the way the mind works, an interplay dynamic between the world as it is, and concise coherent symbolic representations of it. See Picasso’s remarks on the “plain bull” for more on this.

There is an interesting short book with some Picasso drawings and the following remark:

plain-bullPicasso’s work – just plain bull.”

In 1945 through 1946, Pablo Picasso produced a powerful series of drawings of bulls. When you arrange his bulls in order of detail the most detailed is a realistic drawing of a bull. All the features are there. Then, in a series of 18 drawings, Picasso step by step simplifies the previous image. The shading of the hide vanishes. The details of the muscle disappear. The texture is gone. The three-dimensionality evaporates. By the 18th bull, we see a line drawing – a simple image consisting of 10 curves and 2 ovals. But those 12 marks distill the essence of that bull – its strength and masculinity. The clutter is gone; the essence remains.

This final image was the only one in the series that Picasso entitled the bull. By systematically cutting peripheral parts (being careful not to turn the bull into a cow), we force ourselves to appreciate what’s important. Isolating those elements can give a great deal of focus…” – Edward B. Burger / Michael Starbird

There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.” – Pablo Picasso

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 4.14.19 PM
the bull

Recall Spencer Frederick Gore (1878 – 1914):

‘By drawing, man has extended his ability to see and comprehend what he sees.’


if you still doubt that, have a look at this:

The technique for expressing focused attention clearly, persists, and will persist. Imagining its elimination is, well, there is no greater absurdity. But its persistence is not enough. The technique MUST evolve.

Here are two matrices. They’re commonly mixed up with each other:

Matrix 1: Model (environment) Evolution

mental modeldigital model (plus mental model)

Models transition, from mental models (only), to digital models assisting the formation of mental models.

The modeling evolution:

Matrix 2: Drawing (attention-focusing) Evolution

technical drawing (attention focusing):
CAD or hand drawn
technical drawing (attention focusing):
TGN attention-focusing rigs in digital models

Drawings transition from 2D (CAD or hand drawn) to TGN attention-focusing rigs within digital models 

The evolution of attention-focusing technique (from drawing to TGN):


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 https://youtu.be/CGXrk9nGj0Y  (2:16)

02 TGN: what is TGN exactly? https://youtu.be/byIW0T8MCsk  (5:35)

03 TGN: demonstration https://youtu.be/wTh2AozTHDc  (3:40)

Self critique of this demo is here:

04 TGN: portability https://youtu.be/Je859_cNvhQ  (5:17)

05 TGN: industry value https://youtu.be/Ka0o1EnGtK4  (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)


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. 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: https://tangerinefocus.com/tangerine-2/earlier-media-innovations/ 

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, NO SILOES! Tthese 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.

NO SILOES: An Industry Standard TGN Core

All modeling applications and platforms should build-in TGN support for a common TGN functional core so that TGN rigs can be created in any modeling app, and shared for expression in any other modeling app with adequate fidelity. See the short TGN videos above for discussion of technical aspects of this. Beyond the TGN standard core, each developer could add domain and app-unique TGN features while, importantly, maintaining standard support for the TGN core.


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. 

CAD developers turn toward modeling, distracted from drawing. For anyone offended by the meme, many objections are catalogued here: https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/distracted-boyfriend

My 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…

What happens in a world without focus, without attention-focusing technique:

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.:

From Ralph Grabowski’s UpFront eZine, a couple of recent articles:

Drawing as algorithm of understanding: https://upfrontezine.substack.com/p/upfrontezine-1118-which-comes-first

what’s actually needed are models in our heads. A set of drawings is an algorithm of understanding. It is impossible to replace the reading of this algorithm with something else, such as wandering across a computer model.

– Alexander Yampolski

Leo Schlosberg laments the difficulty of conveying real knowledge in a knowledge-hungry industry: https://upfrontezine.substack.com/p/upfrontezine-1122-old-timers-on-new

The big issue in much of constructech, especially in the segment related to design (CAD, BIM, generative design, and so on), remains knowledge, or rather the lack of it, embedded in designs. The complaint that CAD made drawings worse is based on the observation that the knowledge embedded in the drawings has declined. This is undeniably true.

– Leo Schlosberg

I’ll end the post with a link to a LinkedIn post: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/mattenstrom_i-have-these-two-prints-from-the-original-activity-6894879691954638849-YPxt

I have these two prints from the original set of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium hanging on the wall of our home office because 1) they are GORGEOUS, 2) they make a fantastic Zoom background, and 3) they serve as a reminder that nothing beats a clear and concise set of drawings.

That entire stadium was built off of 48 sheets. FORTY EIGHT SHEETS! I’ve worked on single family homes with more drawings. BIM and 3D are great for coordination, but the reality is most projects are still built from old school 2D plans, sections, and elevations. If you ever want to make my blood boil, tell me “it’s in the model.”

The technology has changed, but the fact remains: there is no substitute for a good set of drawings. (/old man rant)

– Matt Enstrom on LinkedIn
Nebraska Memorial Stadium, photo from Matt Enstrom on Linkedin

TGN is about shareable interpretive devices, authored and shared within models. TGN should be everywhere, not siloed. TGN standard core functions should be built into all modeling apps and platforms. Shareable TGN rigs help bring apps and platforms together and build better design and construction collaboration, better relationships, more effective communication.

background image credit: Polymachine.com


https://tangerinefocus.com frozen sea at Öresund bridge

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