You might call it BIM for the masses, or you might call it BIMSight, as its developer does, but the deal is that a 3D modeling software vendor is now distributing a powerful, free viewer that users say rivals the for-a-price alternatives.

Tekla BIMsight is available as a 46.6-megabyte download from the company’s website. It will import DWG format files from Autodesk, DGN files created by software from Bentley Systems and Intergraph and the open format IFC files as well. Capabilities include combining models, running clash detection and generating markups and pdfs, all in the service of sharing models and collaboration.

“I love BIMSight! It’s an incredible tool as it sits and is only going to get better,” wrote Gino Cecchetto, manager of BIM Services at Blach Construction, Santa Clara, Calif., responding to an e-mailed request for comment. “What really has me smitten is that it has completely broken down the collaboration barriers between us and our construction team members, and at no cost!”

James Tapper, Tekla administrator for KGS Group, a consulting engineering firm in Winnipeg, Manatoba, agrees. “BIMSight is the next big thing. Its got everything everybody was asking for.”

Even internally, when passing files between engineers and architects, not having to import into another authoring program, but share within the common viewer, will help prevent data loss and improve collaboration, Tapper adds.

“We’re not demonstrating Tekla BIMSight. Just download it and use it,” says Andy Dickey, Tekla’s U.S. construction segment’s business manager. He says it is simple and intuitive, although the company is hosting a lively forum for user discussions. “There are no training classes,” he adds. “If we have to do that, we haven’t done it right.”