Questions? We're here to help

You can contact the CloudScapes team to discuss your specific questions and requests, of course – just drop by the Contact Us page.  But please check our Help sections below first – you might find what you’re looking for in one of the Frequently Asked Questions.

CloudScapes and Cloud-based Resources

CloudScapes (previously CS Design Software) produces powerful, easy-to-use computer aided design tools for landscape architecture and garden design specialists in the UK and worldwide.

Established in 1996, the team has a long and respected excellent reputation for producing sophisticated solutions for landscape professionals.

CloudScapes launched its ArtisanRV specialist planting add-on for Revit and BIM for landscape in 1995 and has continued to push the boundaries forward within the landscape design industry as it begins to adopt and gain momentum in BIM, 3D visualisation and Revit workflows.

Cloud-based resources deliver software solutions as a service rather than a product. Shared resources are provided as a utility over the internet and can be classified as public, private or hybrid.

“The Cloud” focuses on maximising the effectiveness of shared resources. Cloud resources are usually not only shared by multiple users but are also dynamically reallocated per demand. With our Cloud-based resources, multiple users can access a single server to retrieve and update centralised data.

Installable products and Cloud-based services are controlled via the CloudScapes web licensing system. This offers considerable flexibility to accommodate a wide variety of user types and product options. Web licensing negates issues of technical support for third-party hardware protection devices (dongles) and provides users with an online profile interface to view and manage licences centrally.

Getting Started, Users and Licensing

Once you’ve downloaded your free trial, it’s time to immerse yourself in Revit©.  This is your biggest learning curve so invest in reading material and training courses if necessary and please contact CloudScapes if you require further assistance with learning Revit©.  Once your newly-acquired Revit© skills become like second nature (remember, you had to learn AutoCAD once, too!), you and your skills within your organisation will prove an invaluable resource.  With an active licence for CS Artisan and CS ArtisanRV, you will have immediate access to the searchable planting libraries and Cloud-based palette builder (available separately as CS Helios), to get to grips with plant palettes and specifications.  This web service is the same online resource used by CS Artisan and CS ArtisanRV.

The CloudScapes Buddy App allows users to install, update and directly manage the functionality of their CloudScapes software all in one place. When the latest version is installed, users can easily download the most up-to-date features and enhancements from CloudScapes and control the activation and deactivation of licences linked to their account.

The Buddy App will monitor all of your CloudScapes products and notify you of any available updates. These can then be run automatically without the need for separate downloads and installation.

You can manually check for updates at any time by right-clicking on the CloudScapes Buddy App from the Windows taskbar and selecting ‘Check for Updates’.

You can sign in to your CS Web Account here or by click LOGIN at the top of the CloudScapes website.

New or existing users who do not have a password should click on ‘Join’ on the Sign In page, where you will be prompted to enter your organisation’s unique CloudScapes credentials to create your account.

If the email address matches one that already exists under your organisation’s contacts, your account will be automatically registered. You will then be prompted to create a personalised CS Web App password to complete your registration.

If the email address does not match, then authentication by your organisation is required prior to registration. An email will be sent automatically to your organisation’s Main Contact who will be required to authenticate your details. Once this has been completed you will be able to create a password and finish setting up your account.

You will first need to install all of the CS products relevant to your organisation to each server that will host terminal sessions for your users. In all cases the Auto Update service will need

The configuration of all Artisan products can then be controlled via registry settings. In this case being able to: 

  • set Artisan into Citrix mode 
  • automate its enabled state 
  • add the licence information 
  • set the de-activate option on exit. 

To set the Citrix mode you need to manually set / add the following registry key:

Path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\CS 

Design Type: REG_DWORD 

Name: CitrixMode 

Values: 0 or 1 Notes: 0 will force Artisan Licensing to run in’ normal workstation mode’. 1 will force it into Citrix mode. If the registry key doesn’t exist, then ‘normal mode’ is assumed.

It is easy to access the software when working from home or a remote workstation.  It is important to bear in mind that the number of staff which are able to use the software at the same time must be in line with the number of licences held by the organisation.

Each user can manually deactivate, activate or reactivate their use of a licence via the CloudScapes Buddy App.  When a user has finished using the software, they simply need to open the CSD Buddy App and deactivate the licence. This then enables another user within the organisation to activate this licence and use the software.

BIM and ArtisanRV

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a strategic process to design life-cycle project management from cradle to grave. BIM incorporates data – physical, commercial, environmental and operational, on every element of a development’s design.

Fundamentally BIM is about better data exchange.

Using BIM, you can create a virtual digital information 3D model that is rich in data that can inform the decision-making process and answer questions throughout the entire project lifecycle – but it needs to be implemented in a collaborative environment.

To use CS ArtisanRV, you need to have access to Revit operating on a Windows environment. CS ArtisanRV is not compatible with Revit LT as there is no third party support for this from Autodesk.

Yes! BIM is certainly about people and processes, but you simply cannot deliver without the appropriate software. Revit is synonymous with BIM in the same way as AutoCAD© has been to CAD.  Revit is widely adopted by fellow design professionals and is increasingly being specified as the platform choice for information exchange for all disciplines throughout the design and construction phases.  Clients and contractors are becoming more demanding with project delivery in Revit. Revit is built for BIM and CS ArtisanRV is built for BIM for landscape.

For public-funded projects, conformance to the UK BIM Framework is required on projects by the Information Management Mandate detailed within the TIP Roadmap to 2030 and by the Government’s expectations within the Construction Playbook, regardless of type (roads, rails, or buildings etc.)The considerable benefits of working in a fully collaborative, 3D environment to deliver structured project information are now very well established within the construction industry. 

There is a misconception that users can continue operating traditional CAD tools and only need to adopt new BIM, Revit and ArtisanRV workflows when projects specifically demand it – enlightened organisations adopt BIM, Revit and ArtisanRV because of the efficiencies gained in collaboration, the improved accuracy of project delivery and the readiness for future work.

CS ArtisanRV operates on the Autodesk Revit platform.  CS Artisan operates on both Autodesk’s AutoCAD and Bricsys’ BricsCAD platforms.  Cloud-based services (NPS, CS Flora, CS Helios) are integrated with both CS ArtisanRV and CS Artisan and these are totally platform-independent – you need only have an internet browser and web connectivity to access these services.

Revit has been built specifically to define the automation required for architecture, with a raft of associated underlying tools. Autodesk is starting to recognise the need for better tools for other disciplines, including engineering and landscape. Revit 2024 introduced TopoSolids, representing an exciting opportunity for landscape professionals☺.

CloudScapes’ mission is to provide the essential tools required in Revit by landscape professionals that are not available in the platform ‘out of the box’. Revit is not as easy to customise for a niche market as traditional CAD.  Revit is  much more regulated and highly structured – so CS ArtisanRV has to follow suit as a rigorously designed system! This is why CloudScapes employs the best skilled programmers to deliver landscape-specific and specialised tools, processes and objects to automate landscape!

An increasing number of landscape professionals have grasped the nettle and competently deliver BIM projects using ‘vanilla’ Revit.   However, CS ArtisanRV provides unrivalled efficiencies and extended functionality, with specific consideration of planting, plant growth to maturity and plant libraries.  This results in significant time and financial savings, stronger visual presentations for decision-making and better quality landscape project information for collaboration.

Organisations have reported a return on investment after 3 months after subscribing to CS ArtisanRV!

Landscape professionals are responsible for designing and delivering spaces.  So, why do we continue to use 2D imagery to define, test and communicate design intent?  Even if there is no explicit requirement for 3D in a project, the design intent, specification and quantities/costing can only be delivered if an accurate 3D model is implemented.

For proper consideration of planting, 3D in itself is not enough for landscape…time (age/growth) has to be considered for impact above and below ground!

Revit is about managing, manipulating and collaborating within a fully featured and structured project information model.  And that’s as important in landscape (if not more so!) as in any other construction environment.

Autodesk no longer offers Site Designer. Some of the former Site Designer tools are useful but these were built from the vantage of needing to place a building footprint onto a ‘plot’.  They were simply not robust enough for the complexities of professional landscape work.

CloudScapes continues to develop specialist Terrain Tools to facilitate the manipulation of topographies in Revit.

Sketchup is an extremely successful and widely-used visualisation tool, providing a useful tool for conceptual design. Revit by comparison is a BIM (Building Information Modelling) application for comprehensive design workflows with an emphasis on collaboration, data-rich models and project documentation. 

Visualisation is important but is only one facet of operating in a BIM environment. 

Revit is the industry-standard BIM-authoring solution – landscape professionals therefore need to be able to collaborate in the same environment.

With CS ArtisanRV, it’s all there, information and visuals, for all people and all processes in an easy-to-share-and-collaborate format.

IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) is the defined open source file format for exchanging BIMs.  When IFC is sufficiently developed to include ‘landscape’,  it really shouldn’t matter which software is being used to write/read the project information, whether graphical or non-graphical.

BUT! The system is not yet sufficiently defined.  That’s why BIM landscape designers seek the benefits of Revit – a consistent software platform with common data requirements. CS ArtisanRV operates with native Revit components and models can be exported directly to IFC. An IFC Export Mappings tool is included with CS ArtisanRV – enabling users to rename components (families, types, parameters) to conform to defined information requirements.

Tech, terms and other BIM references

COBie stands for Construction Operations Building Information Exchange. COBie is an information exchange specification viewed in spreadsheets or within more sophisticated design, construction and maintenance software. The fact that the specification is so versatile means that COBie is ideal for all sizes of projects, irrespective of their scale and complexity.

In essence, COBie serves as a bridge between BIM models and practical asset management, ensuring that relevant data is available for building owners and operators.

In collaborative 3D BIM projects, various project participants (such as architects, structural engineers, building service engineers, contractors, sub-contractors, and suppliers) create separate distinct models. These models originate from different construction disciplines.

These individual models are then uploaded to a shared data environment called the Common Data Environment (CDE).

Once these models are imported into a single software platform, they become what we commonly refer to as a federated model (although some references term them as a “combined model”).

The idea of stakeholders working on one shared model is central to BIM Level 3, where an integrated approach is emphasised. It brings together diverse BIM models, fostering collaboration and informed decision-making in construction projects.

IFC, or Industry Foundation Classes, is a global standard for the digital description of the built environment, including buildings and civil infrastructure. As an open file format, it allows for interoperability and data exchange between Building Information Modelling (BIM) programs.

IFCs play a crucial role in enhancing collaboration, data sharing, and efficiency within the construction industry.

Level of Detail (LOD) in Building Information Modeling (BIM) refers to the degree of development and specificity of information within a BIM model.

As a project progresses through various stages, the amount of information required evolves. LOD, encompassing graphical and non-graphical data, helps define the level of detail needed at each stage, ensuring efficient collaboration and informed decision-making.

LOD levels range from LOD100 (concept masses and basic shapes) to LOD 500 (as-build conditions, accurate measurements and verification)

Graphical LOD relates to the visual representation of elements in a 3D model in terms of geometry, shape and volume. Non-graphical LOD is text-based, focusing on specifications, performance requirements and testing data.

Defining LOD ensures stakeholders have clear expectations on who produces what in terms of data at each stage.

Product Data Templates (PDTs) describe the data fields required to define products used in the design, construction and management of landscapes. PDTs are presented as a spreadsheet based repository and by standardising fields to describe objects, will allow like-for-like comparisons.

A Product Data Sheet (PDS) is a completed PDT available to a designer, installer, maintenance team to properly understand the functional properties of a product. Ordinarily a PDS will be completed by a manufacturer/supplier.

Within BIM projects, a data drop refers to a critical point during the project lifecycle where specific information is exchanged among stakeholders. 

Data drops act as stage gates, allowing stakeholders to analyse data and make informed decisions at key points in time, e.g. the design brief, concept, technical design, product data and tender documentation, practical completion.

Data drops are pivotal moments in BIM projects, ensuring that relevant information flows smoothly across the project lifecycle.

The National Plant Specification

The National Plant Specification (NPS) is an important tool that is used to support the selection, specification and delivery of plants throughout the UK’S horticultural and landscape industries.

The NPS provides detailed guidance on how to accurately specify planting material, with clearly illustrated definitions and descriptions, as well as a thorough explanation of associated terminology.

The planting libraries within all of the CloudScapes products use the NPS and its planting structure as their basis.

The original “green book” is no longer published. The NPS is only available within the CloudScapes suite of tools in digital format.

The description of terms, illustrations and summary information are available for free.

CloudScapes have been delivering and supporting NPS with the Landscape Institute and Horticultural Trades Association since 2000.   All of the NPS data has been incorporated within Artisan and ArtisanRV.

The low-cost annual subscription for CS Helios has been created to continue to provide and extend this essential service for the landscape profession.  This includes the Plant Selector, Palette Builder, Report Generator and Scheduler.

The fully-searchable library of plants is available in CS Flora.

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