In an earlier blog I reported that IFC 4.3 – the latest openBIM standard from buildingSMART International – had formally entered the next stage of the ISO process on the path to global accreditation. This stage was the Draft International Standard voting phase, which completed in May. I am delighted to share that the standard was approved by 22 votes to 1. This is excellent news and a huge vote of confidence in the work of our community.
The balloting process also provides the opportunity for reviewers to comment on the standard and propose improvements, both technical and editorial, and we received a number of such comments. These are welcome, as this detailed expert feedback helps us further strengthen the standard and benefits the industry.
To manage the resolution of the comments, ISO have 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 8 of the 11 adjustments to the schema, and has proposed options for the remaining 3 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.
As I noted in my previous blog, the timeline for ISO approval of the follow-on IFC 4.4 extensions are determined by the IFC 4.3 schedule. For now, our focus remains on publishing IFC 4.3. Only when IFC 4.3 is final can attention shift to development of the draft IFC 4.4 schema, which will need to go through the complete bSI Process as well as a comprehensive validation process with vendors, and then be published as a bSI Production Standard. Once that is completed will we 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.
IFC 5 has become 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.
The IFC 5 developments recently entered a new phase. Under the leadership of Greg Schleusner, a group of buildingSMART members are working on defining the standard’s scope and prioritizing 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.
We will keep you updated on all of these timelines as they develop. Importantly, while the release of new standards provides users with the option of more advanced capabilities, the previous standards will continue to remain valid and supported.
Date: 15th June 2023
Author: Clive Billiald, CEO, bSI