Liu M Z, Lovett P J, Godwin A N, Fletcher E J
Improving the intelligibility of STEP models for the construction industry
Abstract: "The overall objective of STEP (ISO-10303) is to become a world-wide standard for the representation and exchange of product data. This is to be achieved by the provision of a mechanism capable of describing product data throughout its life-cycle, completely independently of any individual implementation methods. STEP - the Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data - is the outcome of a large international effort to develop product and process model data standards, which will enable data exchange between diverse computer systems and industrial applications for architecture, engineering and construction.
In 1993 the Application Protocol Planning Project for Building and Construction (APPP-BC) identified nested families of models required to represent information relating to the construction industry. Consequently the integrated resource Part 106 Building Construction Core Model, application protocols AP225 Structural Building Elements Using Explicit Shape Representation, AP228 Building Service HVAC, and AP230 Building Structural Frame: Steelwork were developed and included in the Standard.
STEP encompasses all aspects of a product and its life-cycle. However the complexity of STEP models is a significant barrier to their wider use. Therefore user-friendly tools which can help users to understand STEP models and their data structure are highly desirable. These will enable STEP-related applications to be developed and the potential for integrated systems using STEP to be achieved in a wide range of industries, including construction.
The research presented in this paper involved a thorough investigation of STEP data structures and software tools which can be used to improve the intelligibility of STEP data. The initial investigations provided a basis for describing a range of potential software utilities and produced a broad characterisation of users of STEP. The more detailed work then focused upon application developers and Application Protocol (AP) model developers. The need for visualisation tools to improve the usability of the Standard was recognised, and prototypes produced, contributing to the fulfilment of the needs identified.
The concept of using formal mapping techniques to improve the usability of the STEP is also outlined in the paper and is illustrated by its application to AP extracts. The research has identified a structure for a toolkit that can be used by a range of STEP users. The work carried out showed, through the building of prototypes, the feasibility of different elements in the toolkit, and provides a structure for further development"
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Permission to reproduce these documents have been graciously provided by Icelandic Building Research Institute. The assistance of the editor, Mr. Gudni Gudnason, is gratefully appreciated