Thursday, February 3, 2011

Open BIM standards?

The need to have universal standards for working in BIM has been identified long time ago.
Not having one has a detrimental effect on BIM’s ability to mature.

The buildingSMART alliance claims to have developed the ‘basis for true information interoperability with AEC’.
I am unconvinced.
It smells of arrogance to claim the right to force an entire industry to align with the rules that themselves are yet to be proven.

If a new way of transport emerged suddenly, and we needed to change from an established system of driving, it would became warranted that new ‘standards’ are devised. But, how would that happen?
1/ The major players (commercial entities, monopolies or cartels) would set the new standards
2/ A not-for-profit entity that represents all users would set the new standards
3/ Neither – the new standards would evolve on trial/error basis – hopefully with few casualties on the way.

Curiously, I am not set on an answer myself.
I do believe that, the way-of-work in BIM has to be in synch with the way-of-life of people involved, i.e. the tools of communication should be similar  (language, grammar, habits and routines);

In the past, all architects could produce drawings but most had to have their letters typed up–
In many offices, architects write their letters themselves but no longer are able to produce ‘official’ drawings!

Illustrations drawn by my daughter Barbara’s friend Rose;
Included as a preamble to my future SIMS  related postings; (2 pictures out of 3 in a series)


  1. Can I speak up for buildingSMART ? It falls under your second option. It has been active for 15 years, and drew on work from the two decades before. It has rivals (gbXML, agcXML, OSCRE, landXML, GML/KML, CIS2, and a few more..) but none have the openness, maturity, worldwide recongnition, scope of coverage and application support. So what's not to like ?

  2. Dear NN ,
    Thanks for writing –
    My problem with buildSMART is not what they had done over the years but what they failed to do, while still claiming the leadership role;
    I have been following their work for over a decade - and have listened to numerous presentations, case studies and lectures.
    Still stand by the comment, that they (similarly to software developers) had played it too safe for too long (being non-profit and all) and by giving credibility to the ‘fluff-fluff’, prevented some radical development taking place.

  3. BIM is a failed revolution. Ultimately Architects and Engineers need to make a profit. BIM increases costs and offers nothing in the way of greater efficiency or a competitive edge. BIM assumes A/E offices have lots of time to train people, and that their employees are long hires. This is not true either. Most firms hire and fire by the job. BIM is a tool for making high tech airplanes but has no place in small scale construction.

  4. I believe that 'Anonymous' above has failed to implement BIM and stopped at the first (well documented and acknowledged) hurdle.

    Fail to prepare. Prepare to fail.

  5. When buildingSMART (formerly IAI) set off its mission to create a new open international BIM standard it was partly due to frustrations on the slow progress being made under the ISO/STEP umbrella. Then surprise surprise they discovered that international work is by definition slow. At least if you care to listen to other people's opinions. But unlike the STEP alternative they managed to get a rather impressive commercial support. In a few (in a standardisation perspective) years most large CAD vendors had the IFC stamp on their product. In the beginning the stamp was not worth it's price in ink due to shitty implementations, but now slowly users are beginning to demand quality and better support. The BuildingSMART standards are by far perfect but frankly I don't see any real alternatives. And perhaps a bit of arrogance is what you need in order to get some alternative into a marked long ruled by "de-facto" standards dictated by a few of the larger software vendors. From my experience the buildingSMART standards are not dictated by the buildingSMART alliance themself, but by project owners and governmental organisations. I guess they got fed up with getting ever more fancy BIMs where they where completely unable to use the "I" for anything useful.