Increasing clarity for information requirements

London, U.K. – October 7, 2022 - buildingSMART International is increasing consistency in the terminology around information requirement definitions.

In the last two and a half years, bSI has been educating the industry about Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs), Model View Definitions (MVDs), Information Delivery Specifications (IDS), and other well known industry abbreviations. Unfortunately, there has been a limited understanding of what an MVD is for a long time. With the new IDS standard, the new buildingSMART Data Dictionary and the MVD policy, buildingSMART would like to clarify the situation for the industry.

What does this mean?

A computer interpretable definition of exchange requirements for specific project or use-cases is an important piece of interoperability in projects. buildingSMART will now propose future projects to be added to the buildingSMART Data Dictionary (bSDD) and/or, to create an Information Delivery Specification (IDS).

The new IDS standard

buildingSMART is aware that the definition of exchange requirements needed more flexibility, consistency, and reliability when exchanging. This is why over the past two years the IDS XML method has been developed and implemented together with broad industry representation. IDS gives users more features to define requirements (for example, regular expressions) and allows users to link to the bSDD. At the same time it blocks the ability to deviate from the mainstream IFC software implementations (like an MVD could do), creating higher reliability in practise.

IDS is thoroughly tested and stable. It is already being used in practice today. It is in line with the ISO 19650 framework. It is expected to become a formal buildingSMART standard soon.

The buildingSMART ecosystem for end-users consists of IFC, IDS, and bSDD. The creation of base MVDs to define software implementations is done data modellers and software implementers. The buildingSMART Implementer Forum is leading this work.

Léon van Berlo, Technical Director of buildingSMART International, said: “Bringing predictability to information exchange is a complex matter. The integration of IFC, bSDD and IDS was a long journey. With the focus on adding value for users we are now able to accelerate the transformation of our industry even more”.

Below is an FAQ to answer any questions you might have.


  • I thought an MVD was the way to define exchange requirements?
    • defining exchange requirements is only a part of an MVD. Some people call this a Micro-MVD, some call it 'exchanges', some call it something else. In an MVD you can also define concept templates, and we don’t want users to be making changes to that part because there is a risk of breaking interoperability with implementations.
  • Why can’t users define an MVD anymore?
    • MVDs are standards that need to be implemented by software vendors. When not harmonized with other MVDs we risk ending up with IFC data that cannot be read or is not interoperable with each other. Users can of course still define their exchange requirements (see previous and nex question).
  • How can users define their requirements?
    • there are many ways to do that. The buildingSMART recommended method for this is the IDS XML. This standard is very rich and allows users to also link to the bSDD. The big advantage of IDS is that it can be used for any IFC version and works on almost all existing software implementations of IFC (coordination view, reference view, design transfer view).
  • What are the big advantages of IDS?
    • There are many ways to define information requirements. buildingSMART recommends IDS. You can define an IDS for multiple IFC versions (if you want/allow that). IDS is using rich expressiveness and defines constraints to the values of objects and properties and has the ability to link to the bSDD. You can learn more in this article.
  • Are there tools available to define an IDS?
    • yes! We will publish a list soon.
  • Are there tools available to check an IFC against an IDS?
    • yes! We will publish a list soon.
  • Are MVDs obsolete now?
    • No. They are still used as ‘implementation levels’ of IFC in software. They are created by the Implementer Forum, and controlled by the buildingSMART process.
  • Can I learn more?
    • yes! Contact us. We are happy to help.

About buildingSMART International

buildingSMART International is a vendor-neutral and not for profit body that leads the development of open digital information flows across the built asset industry. Its mission is to proactively support industry participants who want to develop open standards for planning, design, procurement, assembly and operation of buildings and infrastructure worldwide. It provides the international network plus the necessary technical and process support. Its members, who range from across the built environment spectrum, collaborate under the buildingSMART organization. buildingSMART is engaged with other international standards bodies such as ISO, the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). Its core Industry Foundation Class (IFC) standards achieved ISO approval in 2012.