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|No.1378||buildingSMART International, brief information about some ongoing activities|
Dear IC, ITM and friends of buildingSMART
There is currently many buildingSMART International activities, and several persons from the community are involved.
Even if the funding resources are scarce, several important projects are moving forward by contribution of time and effort form companies and individuals in the buildingSMART community.
The buildingSMART Norway project (lead by Per J?er and J?s Sj?ren) has also managed to "define" a couple of the International projects of being within the scope of what their mandate can justify to fund, and we are very grateful for that extra contribution.
Here are a brief information about some activities that may be of interest:
New web pages
Astrid Severin has lead the effort of getting a redesign of the buildingSMART international web pages. There has also been some technical issues regarding where the site could/should be hosted, but this has now been resolved. The new pages will soon be made available for review and commenting.
Astrid Severing has also led the effort of collecting all the different variations of IAI/IFC/buildingSMART logos, fonts, colors etc..
There is a need to reduce the number of "approved/official logos" and also document what colors should be used and define a kind of corporate identity for buildingSMART. There has been good progress in this project and the plan is to make the new profile manual official about the same time as the new web-pages.
Aquarium pilot project (QTO for MEP)
The Aquarium pilot project is being used both to test and adjust the concepts, in addition to produce results. The problem owner in this project is Statsbygg, and the case in to transfer necessary information from BIM with MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) to QTO systems to do price estimates etc. The leaning from this projects has been enormous.
One thing is that it becomes obvious for all that "coordination view certification" is not enough to expect this to work. There needs to be clearly defined Exchange Requirements (ER'S) where mandatory information. Other experiences is the influence from national standards and how to handle that. Perhaps the most interesting leaning goes to how it opens for new business processes and new opportunities to implement new software components with a different approach to solve high value problems.
The MEP QTO project has been harmonized with the efforts from Germany with base quantities etc. and there has already been shown implementations in accordance with the new Exchange Requirement produced by this project.
There was a presentation of the "Aquarium concept" (23rd June) the day before the last ISG (Implementer Support Group) meeting in Amsterdam. The following discussions and feed-back from the audience was constructive and generally very positive. The number of candidate projects to be the next projects are increasing and already passed 20. Lars C Christensen are in the US this week to discuss a couple of new pilot projects with "high value problem" owners.
International IDM coordination
Jeff Wix was appointed IDM coordinator at the ITM meeting in Tokyo. Jeff are working with creating a more permanent international IDM coordination group. This group will probably relate to the International User Group (se separate section) in a similar way that MSG related to ITM.?(We thank the buildingSMART Norway project for the extra funding to make this happen).
One other major activity on IDM over the summer has been the further development of the international standard (ISO29481-1) and the integration of the Dutch VISI/COINS work. This will also lead in the longer term to developments in business process transaction control as an extension to process modeling work.
New templates are in development to allow capture of IDM document content in XML. This will lead to the documents being able to be used as active components in the business rule based checking and validation of IFC files. It will also make it easier to manage documents via the IDM web site which is now being redesigned to make it easier to work with.
International User Group
There has been several discussions with regards to how to set up an international user group. Basically it seams to be a good idea to have one group with technical focus (developing the standard(s) etc.) and one group with a clear user focus. The proposed solution is to gradually build up an International User Group by using ITM as some kind of "organization model". Everything -including?ITM - has potential for improvements, but ITM has functioned as a fairly stabile and well organized institution within buildingSMART and managed the delivery of an excellent data model (IFC). The first meetings in this group will probably be as a small break-out session from ITM.
The suggestion is that each of the buildingSMART alliances/chapters will have local user groups. Each of these local groups will then have the possibilities to be represented in an international user group that will meet with regular intervals.
The user group(s) will serve an important function both in how to identify Aquarium projects and to prioritize IDM, but of course also to have influence on software vendors, focus at the deployment of buildingSMART standards, work with educational institutes and other issues that are important for user communities in both short and long term.
This will be presented and discussed more in depth at ITM/IC meeting(s) in Stockholm.?
Cooperation with OGC and AECOO tested
There has been a kick-of meeting for the AECOO test bed, and the MSG Chair (Thomas Liebich) represented buildingSMART International. (Thanks to Statsbygg for help with the funding) The scope of the AECOO projects has been changed and narrowed down a bit from the original proposal, but it will be interesting and exiting to see what the outcome of these processes will be.
As discussed in ITM Tokyo, the MVD coordination should be moved into and handled by the model support group (MSG).
Due to the limited funding, the focus from buildingSMART International has not been at funding MVD coordination spesifically.
MSG has had their priority on getting the Ifc2x4 release (se next item)
MSG published the first Alpha version the 20th June 2008. We all do appreciate the excellent work put in by MSG to achieve this delivery. We can just add a little reminder that the deadline for the alpha review is August 30th 2008.
The proposed changes in Ifc2x4 was discussed also with ISG in Amsterdam and the feed-back was good. One of the issues discussed was upward compatibility (i.e. if suggested changes to a few existing entities should be included or not) and how to handle the transition to a new version in various implementations and toolboxes.
The intension is that Ifc2x4 will be submitted to ISO for approval as a full International Standard - ISO16739
Ifc2x4 contains some capabilities that allows classification of both individual "properties" and their "values" even when part of property sets. This allows for a broader implementation of IFD beyond the capabilities of Ifc2x3. (In Ifc2x3 classifications and libraryreferances (such as IFD and other) could be attached to individual objects, but not directly to properties)?
ISG meeting in Amsterdam (24th - 25th June)
The agenda for the meeting in Amsterdam was well composed and contained a lot of really important issues especially seen from an implementers point of view.
During the general discussions about implementation quality and also from other topics it became quite clear that one of the real struggles that implementers and their organizations (both sales, support and training) experiences, are related to expectation management. The reasons for why the expectations vary so much - as described by ISG participants - can probably not be linked to one single topic or issue, but it's definitely a challenge we need to pay even more attention to. The same kind of experiences also came from the Aquarium pilot and probably also many other projects. The expectations for so called "round tripping" was one example that was discussed, and here we see a clear difference of the implementers understanding (based on realism and scope) and what we hear from end-users and some of the work processes they assume they can adopt. One thing is outside of the active buildingSMART community, but the views of the scope within the community (I do not mean ISG, but between we that are "selling" buildingSMART and "what it can do for you") is alarmingly diversifying.
Another topic on the agenda was what we can do to both close the gap between expectations and realism and perhaps at the same time make what current certification actually means more valuable and understandable for everyone. The title for this topic was "Ifc2x3 Step 3 certification".
The current certification with it's Step 1 and Step 2 documents a vendors ability to read and/or write Ifc models in accordance with the Ifc 2x3 schema (parts of the schema that is within the "coordination view") .
Passed certification does not say how much of the schema that is supported, what kind of data and properties you can expect to find in an exported Ifc model from the software and to what extent a certified software application actually uses information from Ifc after an import. This is up to the "scope of the application".
Things that is "out of scope" for the application in question for a particular reason - even if it's a part of the coordination view - does not need to be implemented. This of course because so many different applications are up for certification, and that the coordination view covers a several "subjects and disciplines".
There is also not much in the coordination view about mandatory and optional properties even for supported entities, which it again makes it close to impossible for a potential end user to know what he can expect of "interoperable information" being passed to him from software Y in a building project.
The result is of course that we hear many that concludes that "Ifc does not work" as expected.
The suggested "Step 3 certification" are that the Step 2 certified implementers needs to provide additional documentation that as clear as possible sais for which purposes Ifc can be used with their software. This includes both possibilities and limitations, but should be written in a way that also end-users will have a chance primarily which interoperable processes that can or should be supported.
There was also a strong recommendation that all software implementers creates user friendly import and export functions that also takes "purpose"?in consideration and help with both settings and issue warnings if the user has not done enough preparations to export/import models for that purpose. Examples of this could be user interfaces where one could choose functions like "export Ifc for energy calculation", "export Ifc for QTO", "export Ifc for clash detection" etc. The idea is that this will help the end user, but also in the longer term help focusing the implementation by introducing purpose/process.
Hopefully this will both address the issue of expectation management but also put what is assumed to be a software implementation quality in a different light (the implementation quality for the certified software is excellent in general)
This documentation will also put users in a position to ask for more specific process based problem-solving from their vendor, which in turns opens for new opportunities The ISG chair -Rasso Steinman - has undertaken the responsibility for creating some templates for how and where the implementers need to fill in this information.
These discussions will continue at the next ISG meeting and will of course also be coordinated with the work of the "Implementation Quality Group" established by ITM in Brisbane and lead by Jan Karlsh?.
The Amsterdam ISG meeting covered a mixture of deep technical issues and more "political/strategically" issues, seen from a buildingSMART implementing software vendors perspective. The attendants also represented a similar mix by having various focus and functions in the companies they represented (CEO, program managers, product manager, software developers etc.)
buildingSMART is strategically important for all of this active implementers, and also for a number of implementers that normally does not attend the ISG meetings (or ITM meetings for that matter).
At the next ISG meeting there will also be one day dedicated to these more "strategic and political" issues, and we will welcome CEO's, marketing managers, product managers to participate. (We will need the help form the regional alliances/chapters to get contact information to software implementers that has been a "little bit under the radar" so we can invite also them).
ISG are currently using Groove as their "collaboration" tool. Groove is a good tool for many purposes, but like most tools it has some limitations. In Amsterdam there was a suggestion to see if we could use a different and more open tool for the parts that is related to the "strategic and political" issues, and keep Groove for the deep technical stuff. Suggested tools was SharePoint and eRoom, and experiences from the use of these and similar tools are appreciated.
The next ISG meeting will be held in Munich (Germany) the 22nd and 23rd October 2008.
Build London Live
The Build London Live event was a huge success as an event, but also a fantastic success story for use of buildingSMART standards (IFC and IFD). ( http://www.buildlondonlive.com/ )
The number of high quality IFC files and models that was created and used by these teams in less than 48 hours was just massively impressive. One of the reasons why this worked so extremely well for most of the teams may also have to do with the level expertise they possesses. Not necessarily only in knowing how to operate the software, but probably more importantly in knowing what to expect and then being able to utilize this in that narrow time-frame. This kind of happenings really shows how much has been achived, and it's amazing to see the progress and increased quality of IFC's just over that last year or so. Another interesting issue was the number of different software apllications using Ifc during this event. When we see?number of applications actually supporting and using Ifc, and compare that with the list of Ifc2x3 certified applications we see that we still have some work to do.?