Posts Tagged IFC
Can this really happen? The Intellicad Consortium did it with Autocad and .dwg, so much so that Autodesk countered with RealDWG. How about a generic IFC model that can be digested by all BIM packages, or imported directly for Energy Analysis. And before anyone states that all BIM packages can import IFC, you ever try to round trip an IFC model, that is export it to IFC, from say Revit, and then import that same IFC model, does it look the same, behave the same?
How about a system evaluated solely on its feature set, in fact, what it can do to the model becomes more important than the modeling itself. Now that would be a nice arms race, who could offer better compatibility between programs, offer programs and add-ons, come up with a real server centric model that wraps in all the subs in a coherent and logical way. No more design model, model for constructability, model for FM. One where any updates are integrated to the model and available.
Where is the Linux of the AEC world?
So straight out of Budapest….and Boston comes the PR Release of Open BIM. I am for Open BIM, I love the idea of working in a platform agnostic environment and make the building all about the data not the platform, however, when Open BIM is made up of a consortium of companies that have a vested interest in the process, such as Nemetshek, Tekla and Trimble at least the antennae are going to go up.
“Open BIM Programme is a marketing campaign initiated by GRAPHISOFT®, Tekla® and other members of buildingSMART® to urge and facilitate globally coordinated promotion of the Open BIM concept throughout the AEC industry, with aligned communication and common branding available to programme participants.” This is taken right from the buildingSMART website. Now buidlingSMART appears to be the outgrowth of the IFC initiative which was started by Autodesk in 1994, however, Autodesk now does not appear to be a part of this? Why not?
I think fighting against the hegemony of the Autodesk dreadnaught is okay but one has to a question an open standard in this space. As far as I know there is no open source BIM authoring tool, which would be super cool; so then who has a vested interest in the ‘open’ standard and supporting it? I know if I have an ancient CAD file I can still open it in AutoCAD because you have a for profit company investing in itself and it’s long tail, open standard? Not sure if it works. Would I be able to open a file that was saved in an IFC format twenty years from now? I can still open a Revit file that is 7 years old. Is this a capitalism vs. socialism equation? I would not go that far but there is a whole lot invested in software to design/manage buildings digitally so what does Open really mean in this case besides just a ‘marketing campaign initiated from Graphisoft…” As my dad always says, usually when you want to know the motivation for something, “follow the money.”
I’ve written about this before and I think in the ideal world the building, the BIM, is open and people just write apps for the model, as current apps put a nice wrapper around open data so can BIM apps. Need energy analysis, buy the app, space management, buy the app but the initial creation and file formatting lies in the BIM authoring tool, Revit, Archicad, etc. How does the centralized BIM server model work when changes are made, etc. and what file format is it kept in that will have the legacy to support it? Perhaps after the building is designed or existing building is captured in a BIM platform it can be translated into the IFC, whathave you, open platform and then becomes the defacto standard for existing buildings (EB), but during the design process? There are a lot of people with a vested interest to keep it in their ecosystem. Who will invest, support and nurture an Open BIM standard and to what end?
While on of the benefits discussed ad nauseum about BIM is the ability to find and fix problems digitally the other is the hope of interoperability, that data will seamlessly port from one program to the next, energy analysis, to collision detection, etc. with that in mind we have the NIBS (National Institute of Building Sciences) and NBIMS (National Building Information Modeling Standard). NIBS NBIMS, kind or rolls of the tongue, like three month old jelly but it is available HERE. The reason for pushing the standard is for “the acceptance of an open data model of facilities.” The UK, has also published their own, available HERE which begs the question where is the International BIM Standard (IBIMS) because if we want to best put a lasso around this thing best to be under one big tent. Okay that’s a tremendous overuse of metaphors, and granted I have not gone over each on in detail to see where they may diverge but it would seem the manufacturers who sell globally would have a big interest in a single standard and the ability to produce an ‘object’ to one standard rather than many and that alone should push the agenda.
As for the data transportation between object we have IFCXML schema that is meant to be the open standard that will allow this, and if you want to get technical read the article from Dr. Mhamed Nour in the Journal of Information Technology in Construction (www.itcon.org), the title of the article Performance of Different of BIM/IFC Exchange Formats suggests that there is flavors within IFC itself, from a lay perspective this seems well too open.
What is the future of BIM? While this may seem premature as many people are new to BIM and IPD and their implications we can see parallels in the computer industry itself. And we look at the computer industry what we are really looking at is the storage/management and use of data since the computer is only a tool and if we are not using it really its just a paperweight.
The computer originally was used to compute data, numbers, and one of its first big hits for mass consumption was Visi-Calc, an electronic spreadsheet that did the math for you, which took the place of paper. That was good. The spread sheets got more robust in power and features. New entrants came in, remember Lotus 1-2-3. It started getting really popular and more entrants came in, Microsoft brought out Excel, and now Microsoft Office, which Excel is a part of is the main revenue generator for the company. Companies were created to add functionality to these programs, in templates and automated worksheets, bolt ons and the like. It became such a big industry that a consortium lead by Sun created Open Office, free for the taking. Google then created its own spreadsheet program on the Web utilizing cloud computing. And google, if anything, is about the data, and cloud computing with its data available to all allows firms and individuals to add value with products and services and bid on projects immediately accessible to them.
BIM is the format for data that will allow this same revolution take hold in the A/E/C Community. And its already starting to happen. The building in 3D allows all sorts of data to be embedded or available in the project. Revit, Microstation, ArchiCAD all allow you to build on a 3D platform. Navisworks for collision detection, Ecotect or IES for performance analysis, etc. Now with the adoption and creation a new data portability standards IFCxml, AGCxml, etc. it starts to become easier to work cross platform. Companies like Onuma are working on BIM servers that will host the models so everyone can start to work together. Once the BIM gets up in the cloud it afford more firms to add value through products and services.
Andersen comes up with an app that can pick out the windows and provide bids for replacement windows, with ROI and energy savings calculators built in, Trane same thing for retrofitting. Contractors can bid on the digital projects, anyone who fabricates or installs building products can so digitally. Rendering firms, etc. The building becomes the operating system that people build on. This type of platform breaks up the hegemony that is Autodesk, but that acquire companies to fortify it, like the purchase of Naviswork and Ecotoect so you can program a building from design to destruction within their family but their business model will also have to shift. IBM made the transition to a powerful services vendor. But you need to get energy analysis on a building, get bids on a new roof, find a new commercial cleaner, yea there will be an app for that.
Following up from last post with the open question, Open Engine and IFC. I found this but need to dig to see what is in development, who’s using it, succesful implmentations. I know this blog is one in kajillion but would love to hear what the programming community is doing around this.
So the GSA took the lead and states are starting to follow. Wisconsin announced that on all addition and alteration projects that require $2.5M or greater that a BIM is required. With this announcement they also released there own set of guidelines. Interesting note is that both the GSA and Wisconsin are platform agnostic and refer to software as BIM authoring software or discipline specialty software, and that it must be IFC compliant.
So when does the movement around IFC begin like Linux?