The next steps for IFC revealed

The Gateway Bridge being installed by the Volker Fitzpatrick-Kier JV last year on the Luton DART project (photo: Shaun Armstrong) - for IFC story
The Volker Fitzpatrick-Kier JV installed the Gateway Bridge last year on the Luton DART project (Photo: Shaun Armstrong)

BuildingSmart International chief executive Clive Billiald has delivered an update on the next steps for the IFC schema, notably the 4.3, 4.4 and 5 standards.

The IFC 4.3 programme extends the schema to horizontal assets, ie infrastructure that stretches across the landscape, such as roads and railways and all their associated features. The full scope includes road, railway, ports and waterways, bridges, and the common elements between all these.

Last month IFC 4.3 entered the Draft International Standard voting phase. The standard was approved by 22 votes to one. BuildingSmart International received “a number” of comments and proposals for improvements to the standard.

In his update, Billiald revealed: “To manage the resolution of the comments, ISO has requested us to now progress through a Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) phase before formal publication of the standard. This remains an ISO-controlled process. However, we would hope to see the FDIS vote completed this year, allowing publication by early 2024.

“Of the comments, only 11 affect the schema. The BuildingSmart task force has already completed its first review of all comments and agreed eight of the 11 adjustments to the schema. It has proposed options for the remaining three for a decision by our implementers forum in collaboration with ISO representatives. This gives us a good foundation for our support to the important ISO Editorial Group over the coming weeks, as well as ensuring vendors have early sight of all the schema changes.”

IFC 4.4.x

Billiald also gave an update on the extension to IFC 4.3 known as IFC 4.4, which relates to tunnel entities.

He said: “Only when IFC 4.3 is final can attention shift to development of the draft IFC 4.4 schema. It will need to go through the complete BuildingSmart International process as well as a comprehensive validation process with vendors, and then be published as a BuildingSmart International production standard. Once that is complete, we will move into the ISO approval process.

“Our aim is that, by the end of this year, BuildingSmart International will define and approve the scope of IFC 4.4. This will include contributions from the Tunnel domain and potentially other domains. It should be noted that IFC 4.4 will not invalidate any aspect of IFC 4.3 – it will only add to the contents and capabilities of the schema, which lowers the threshold for software vendors to support IFC 4.4.”

Next generation

Billiald also detailed progress on IFC 5, the container term for the follow-on generation of the IFC standards. “It will be a significant leap forward for IFC, based on different foundational technologies, while staying as close to the IFC 4.x branch as possible to help with software implementation,” he said.

“The IFC 5 developments recently entered a new phase. Under the leadership of Greg Schleusner (principle – director of design technology at HOK), a group of BuildingSMART members are working on defining the standard’s scope and prioritising use cases. New use cases, such as sharing incremental updates and decoupling the standard from the file format, have so far emerged as top priorities for IFC 5.”

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