The Open Design Alliance (ODA), a leading provider of CAD interoperability and component technology, has announced the first release of IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) SDK, a new toolkit for reading, writing and visualizing IFC, the international standard format for BIM data exchange.
A New Guiding Force for IFC
Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) is officially a platform-neutral, open file format specification formed and controlled by buildingSMART (formerly the International Alliance for Interoperability, IAI). The IFC model specification is open and available and is a registered ISO standard, ISO 16739-1:2018.
“IFC is an open standard—anyone can download the spec and write a basic parser without much effort,” commented Neil Peterson, ODA President. “Our solution goes far beyond that by including a professional-grade visualizer, complete with a facet modeler and basic 3D solid modeler to handle the implicit geometry found in the format. All of this is included in a standard ODA membership at no additional cost. No other IFC solution on the market offers the same level of functionality at a comparable price.”
Sergey Vishnevetsky, ODA Development Director, said, “IFC SDK contains full support for version 2×3 and version 4 IFC files, with the ability to read, write, edit and create. It’s fully thread-safe, making ideal for web servers, and it’s designed for high-performance even with large data sets, based on our more than 20 years of experience developing CAD and BIM solutions.”
IFC SDK is available on all common desktop and mobile platforms. Web visualization is also supported. The SDK (software development kit) and full release notes are available for download at www.opendesign.com.
Architosh Analysis and Commentary
We spoke to Peterson at the ODA late last year and asked why the ODA was getting involved with the IFC file format. Here are some of his words: “…there is any entity that has a vested interesting in building a top-quality IFC library.”
In other words, while buildingSMART has done a great job creating a standard and specification, there isn’t a single good source for a great implementation, as anybody can take the spec and write their own implementation of IFC. The assumption the ODA is making is that by creating a superb IFC implementation wrapped around a full-set of IFC code libraries that give developers instant capabilities and tools like the visualizer and the 3D modeler all integrated into one package, the larger software community in AEC will embrace the IFC SDK just like they have embraced the ODA’s DWG SDKs.
Peterson says the problem out there now is that the open libraries for IFC are lacking in quality, consistency and too many implementations cause problems during data exchange.
“So we see an opportunity and the ODA is a non-profit,” says Peterson. “And as a non-profit, we are really focused on meeting the needs of our members and its never about making more money for us its about making a better set of tools that satisfy a real need in the industry.” The new IFC SDK should be a big boost to more robust and implemented IFC within the industry. We shall see how it is taken up and implemented but this is a big start.