Unveiling IFC2x4: The next generation of openBIM
Abstract: The Industry Foundation Classes IFC are the only comprehensive, open and truly international standard to describe all major facets of building information. Development started back in 1996 with the release IFC1.0 and since 2005 the current and widely used release IFC2x3 has been published. IFC2x3 represents a quality assured and improved makeover of the previous IFC2x2 release completed in 2003. Meanwhile the longest and most intensive release work to define the basis of IFC for the years to come has been undertaken by buildingSMART Model Support Group MSG, an international team of experts that takes responsibility to combine all external contributions and performs the core work of IFC schema enhancements and improvements. The upcoming IFC2x4 release, scheduled for final publication by end of 2010, is the first major enhancement release since 6 years and extends the capabilities of the IFC schemas into new areas of high demand, like GIS connection, 4D and 5D models, thermal simulations, environmental impact, completing element catalogs for design, commissioning and facility management, base quantities, and many others.Recent publications, including those within previous proceedings of CIB W78 have shown that many research works are based on openBIM definitions following the IFC standard. The author is convinced that IFC2x4 will provide a much better base for such work, particularly in areas that involve the non-geometric aspects of building information modeling. The paper highlights these major areas of new and better coverage and provides examples from early prototypes. Special emphasis is given also to the quality and readability of the IFC schema and the paper will demonstrate new catalogs and search options to find the relevant information.The main focus of the paper is to highlight what had been achieved so far with IFC based interoperability, where the current IFC schema had limitations and how upcoming IFC2x4 addresses those. IFC2x4 will be presented as an enabler for openBIM development work both for the research community and for the construction industry within the next years.
Keywords: BIM, openBIM, IFC, standardization
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