Message to the Project Management Software Industry: You need to learn ESPERANTO

Esperanto is an artificially constructed language, developed with the goal of being a lingua-franca across nations speaking different tongues, in the hope of facilitating collaboration, cooperation and good will. In this Viewpoint article, Gustavo Lima, Principal and Director of Construction Administration at Cannon Design, focuses on the need for Project Management applications to speak such a neutral language to each other, so that they can be used by all AEC professionals to communicate directly with one another, without the need for duplicate data entry and while keeping their own data secure and private.


8 thoughts on “Message to the Project Management Software Industry: You need to learn ESPERANTO

  1. I agree with the comment about Esperanto. In fact many people do not realise how popular, as a living language, Esperanto is.

    The new study course is now receiving 120,000 hits per month.

    That can’t be bad 🙂

  2. Thank you Mr. Lima, for staying with this. It is a little discouraging for a small practitioner to learn that Cannon Design is unable to produce a sufficient reaction from software producers to such a blatant need.
    The advantages of effective data exchange accrue to its users. Will someone please find a way for software houses to turn a better profit on users being able to exchange digital data than they can on advertising or on more bells and whistles?

    It wouldn’t be the first time that universal formats have covered the essential bases for moving data between applications. Rich Text, Data Interchange Format, SYLK, and HTML are all open file formats that most data systems on a variety of platforms can read and speak. TurboTax accesses data from dozens of banks, employers and brokerages who export that data from who-knows-how-many different systems. These are a few examples. I am sure there are more, and better ones, and I suspect that someone made some money on them all.

    I am no expert on data exchange, or programming. But can devising such a format for the exchange of design and construction data really be that tough? Or are innovations being metered to maximize the return on each incremental improvement, as Polaroid did with their cameras?

  3. Very interesting. The issue of neutrality and collaboration between different PM applications is very similar to what we face in the design space where DWGs are not so easily portable between different BIM applications. The only way to really collaborate is to use the same BIM platform for the best results.

  4. Mr. Lighthart: Your comment about TurboTax (and Quicken, I might add) is spot on. Maybe we need to convince Google that this is a market worth looking into.


  5. Several more avenues – or possible allies in occur to me, though Google is also a possibility. One is the Open Applications Group. This appears to be a sort of get-your-own-team-together-and-join, and bring your own project with you, rather like ASTM or NIST without the public sector imprematur, claiming non-profit status, but not for the light of wallet. Membership is not prohibitive for small operations, but training and consultation through OAGi is certainly not free of charge.

    Another is buildingSMART, of course – either US or International. Another is the Associated General Contractors (AGC), which has taken a swak at a standard for project management information exchange with AGCxml, which NIBS administers along with aecXML, from what I can see on Wikipedia and at

    So we are not the only ones that see this need as such, and I think the ball is rolling. No doubt the economy has stolen some of its momentum.

    Has anyone a tie-in to any of these initiatives?

  6. Construction Project Management software is typically a software which has the construction activities and accounting activities linked with your project management activities. As such, it can be said that a project management software does not have anything to do with construction software and why have an integrated one. But yes, there are some unique benefits that you can derive from this arrangement. For example, construction project management software integrates all three components, construction, project management and accounting, at one place.

  7. At Newforma, we have recognized the need for ESPERANTO ever since developing the first version of Newforma Project Center, a project information management (PIM) system for Architects, Engineers, Contractors and Owner/Operators.

    Newforma to Newforma (N2N) is our “peer-to-peer” (or B2B) project collaboration solution that enables multiple companies deploying Newforma’s enterprise project information management system to seamlessly exchange RFI’s, Submittals, Change Order Proposals and even BIM models and Shared Folders, with no manual data re-entry or downloads/uploads.

    N2N uses a neutral, XML-based schema to exchange information between companies using Newforma. We did this not only to enable compatibility between different versions of Newforma software deployed at customer sites, but also to support interoperability with other project management systems in the future.

    We only just launched N2N, but it is starting to be proven in the field. Check out the link to a case study on the N2N page on our web site:

    In its current form, N2N does not fully support Gustavo’s vision (unless each company involved in a given project uses Newforma).

    However, it is unique from all the hosted, cloud-based solutions in that it supports the two requirements in his Viewpoint article:

    1) “Each company needs to be able to have its own system, tracking its own documents, across all the projects it is engaged in”
    2) “Multiple document control systems, no duplicate data entry”

    N2N is a proof of concept that ‘peer-to-peer’ collaboration between two or more enterprise project information management systems operating within seperate company domains is possible. We have deployed 1700+ Project Center Servers behind AECO company domains that currently manage over 700,000 projects. Many of these projects involve 2 or more AECO companies that use Newforma, so N2N is going to take off, and the efficiencies of ESPERANTO-enabled data exchange is going to be realized by some.

    However, the real promise of ESPERANTO, as advocated by Gustavo, will only be realized when the Construction Project Management industry as a whole adopts a neutral, XML-based exchange format.

    Until then, we will be using N2N to enable the very first “project networks”. We are looking for both AECO companies and Construction Project Management companies to join us.

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