In today’s construction efforts, the collaboration between different companies (e.g., architecture and engineering firms, material suppliers, etc) is critical.
The architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry is employing Building Information Modeling (BIM) to facilitate this collaboration. However, when AEC stakeholders rely on different software, you’ll have trouble maintaining accurate and complete model versions.
There is a barrier to achieving BIM interoperability, which “is the ability to communicate between people -- and between varying types of software” (Engineering.com). For AEC stakeholders to properly collaborate (while using different software), BIM interoperability is essential.
When it comes to BIM interoperability, the ability to read and write in open standards -- such as IFC -- is a necessary component. However, building IFC compatibility is only a part of the battle, you must also pay heed to the costs involved in supporting your software while also providing all of the necessary features and capabilities your AEC end-users expect.
Current Challenges to BIM Interoperability
However, not every AEC software provider supports IFC.
For example, Bentley MicroStation prefers that users commit to its standards, and the company isn’t confident in IFC’s ability to carry the advancements of BIM in the long-term.
Moreover, there are hundreds of file formats in use for BIM. Although IFC is an open standard, the industry leaders clearly prefer that end-users embrace their proprietary standards. In effect, this creates a major interoperability challenge because it is likely that a single project could find different teams using different software.
Thus, while you should aim to translate IFC files -- and to a high degree of completeness, e.g., accurately translate 1,000+ attributes -- you must also ensure that your software can import or read Bentley MicroStation (DGN), Autodesk (Revit) and other formats.
Read More on How ISVs Can Support BIM Interoperability:
- What are BIM Dimensions and How It Can Support Your Production Cycle
- Understanding Why Your BIM Software is Being Dropped After the Design Stage
It is unlikely if the industry ever will converge on a single standard, such as IFC. Rather, the BIM space will remain diverse with different file formats and, in turn, interoperability will be essential.
Why Interoperability is Key
Be it a building, a bridge or some other structure, a single construction project involves different companies, each of a specific size, industry and specialization.
For example, you have material suppliers that are tasked with providing cement, steel or glass. And, there are engineering firms and architects managing the project’s design and implementation.
You also have the property owner, who -- besides worrying about the cost of constructing the project and timelines -- is also thinking about long-term maintenance.
There are many stakeholders at play, but because each one relies on its own workflow, process and technology to efficiently achieve their focus-area (e.g., supplying materials), it is likely that each one is using different software for BIM.
While this impedes collaboration, it’s simply a reality. However, independent software vendors (ISV) such as yours can step-in and make collaboration happen through interoperability.
With interoperability, your end-users can work with a wide range of partners and acquire/deliver the services they want -- there’s no need for your end-users to restrict themselves to only those AEC companies using the same software.
Interestingly, different teams within the same company could also be using different software for BIM. Thus, achieving interoperability can be as much of an internal issue as it is external.
Use Spatial’s BIM SDKs to Accelerate Your Time to Market and Still Meet the Expectations of Your AEC End-Users
How Spatial SDKs Help
Spatial’s BIM software development kits (SDK) enable your software to support interoperability by supporting your ability to read leading industry formats, such as Revit and MicroStation, as well as support open standards such as IFC.
However, there’s more with Spatial than just supporting the underlying code. You will gain real competitive advantages in the capabilities you offer to end-user. For example, it’s quite easy to translate IFC files with a few attributes, you don’t need Spatial to do this.
But construction projects can involve hundreds -- potentially over 1,000 attributes -- and, in turn, there are few solutions on the market that can translate such IFC files. However, if you’re unable to show those attributes, your file translation will not be complete. Likewise, if your software can’t retain the custom BIM attributes of files made in CATIA and Autodesk.
Spatial’s SDKs will help you achieve that completeness. Spatial will free you from the costly and complicated development and software support work, leaving ISVs such as yours to devote your resources on user-experience, differentiation and time-to-market.
We bring over 30 years of experience providing ISVs with SDKs to develop fully-featured and fully supported software in the AEC space. Contact us today to see how you can get started.