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AEC3 gives support to the new IFC 2x3 certification

buildingSMART International has been offering an IFC certification to all software companies that implemented the IFC interface in their software for over ten years now. Aim was to verify that a software was able to support the IFC standard in general.
IFC's acceptance is decisively dependent on the quality of the generated building models and of their transfer into other applications. To ensure and increase this quality a new certification procedure was developed. Not only the application's modeling qualities are to be examined but also the scope and the operability of the IFC interface.
Developing the new certification procedure based on an online platform AEC3 worked closely together with the Institute of Applied Building Informatics (iabi) in Munich and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

The new certification concept relies on the close cooperation between the participating application's software specialists and the certification team. Only this way an optimal quality can be achieved. The concept provides for the processing and certificating of different model view definitions (MVD). As a first step the certification will concentrate on the official buildingSMART model view for coordinating several disciplines, the IFC2x3 Coordination View V. 2.0.
The complete IFC schema is by far more complex than the coordination view’s model requirements. These model requirements are based on (data) exchange requirements. To gain a valid schema for the aforementioned coordination view the set of the needed exchange requirements has to be extracted. With this subset a valid IFC schema can then be formed. For the IFC2x3 Coordination View the following data exchange scenarios have been defined:

  • Export of the architecture model
  • Export of the structural model
  • Export of the MEP model
  • Import of the aforementioned models
Each one of the participating software applications will be certified for one or more of these data exchange scenarios and will receive especially tailored test instructions for each one of them.

Test instructions for architecture, MEP and structural engineering

These test instructions will be uploaded onto the certification server and assigned automatically to the participating applications software developers. This certification server (Global Testing Documentation Server - GTDS) is a web application based on an Oracle 11g data base. While being split up into public and non-public parts GTDS is the main testing and documentation tool for the IFC 2x3 certifications.
The developers will set up the required models according to the test instructions and generate an IFC file afterwards.

The IFC file will be uploaded onto the certification server and will immediately be checked automatically by the IFC Checking Tool. In case of an error there will be an alert listing the faulty code and a commentary with a correction proposal. The IFC Checking tool not only shows real programming errors but also generates alerts and commentaries in order to improve the IFC implementation. A 3D viewer is integrated into this checking tool as well. Thus, the model can be viewed including all geometrical and alpha-numerical information.
The file will be tested automatically until it contains no faulty code anymore. The next step will be the file's manual test. Only when all test files are processed successfully the software application will be certified. You can find a list with all successfully certified software applications following this link.

20 software companies with 25 applications in total are enrolled currently in the certification process. It has been tried and tested many times. The general verdict of the participating software companies was very positive. As a result a quality improvement of the shipped systems can be felt on the market already as well. With more and more software being tested and certified and the resulting feed-back, some improvements have been made already. More steps were automatized, the work-flow was refined and the certification server adjusted accordingly.

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