by Elizabeth Bollinger
An important milestone in software development for the building industry over the past decade has been the establishment of Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) — freely available, nonproprietary data model specifications. Now the IFCs are being applied toward automating code checking and other kinds of complex analysis.
The IFCs were conceived to overcome some of the limitations of the CAD drawing paradigm and to replace with a single standard the many existing proprietary data formats. IFC-compliant applications can exchange building information model (BIM) data with each other. Because the specification is nonproprietary, the content, integrity, and reliability of the data can be independently verified. Moreover, at least in theory, end users have the ability, to exercise independent control over their data.
The IFC standard has been developed and promoted widely by the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI), founded in 1995. Since then, the IAI has grown into a consortium of independent chapters around the world.
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The IFCs provide a system of data structures on which to implement a "virtual building toolkit."* In November 2002, the IFC data specifications became an international standard: ISO/PAS 16793. Around the same time, ten software vendors applied for 16 IFC 2x applications to be certified as being IFC compliant. >>>
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* "Virtual building toolkit" is a trademark of Artifice, Inc. since 1996.
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