COBie and BIMserver find each other (even more)

We are very enthousiastic and proud to announce that the first external plug-in for BIMserver 1.1 is a COBie import/export plug-in . From the 1.0 release to the 1.1 release of BIMserver, some major changes have been made in the code structure. From the ‘one big chunk of code’ that 1.0 was, we grew into an agile open framework with a stable plug-in infrastructure. The idea behind this is to enhance and stimulate the development of plug-ins, add-ons and extensions to the BIMserver platform. In the coming months more extensions and plug-ins created by other organizations will be made available for BIMserver, but in this blog post we would like to create some attention for the first plug-in that was made by the US army corps of engineers. The plug-in we are talking about is actually two plug-ins: a COBie serialiser and a COBie deserialiser (import and export).
Advanced and fanatic BIMserver users will probably note that the COBie export was already in the 1.0 release (thanks to Nick Nisbet) and that would be correct. In the new 1.1 release, a plug-in for COBie will be available in the new plug-in infrastructure. The big advantage of this new plug-in is that it is build to directly interface the BIMserver core. This makes the performance much higher. Another advantage for the development teams is the complete split between the BIMserver core/framework and the COBie plug-ins. In practice this means that the COBie plug-ina and BIMserver can (will) have separate update sequences.

The COBie plug-in is still under development and has some disclaimers, but we believe in its great potential. For more information about this plug-in you can contact Bill East.

More plug-ins from teams outside the core BIMserver-team will be available on short notice. We will keep you up to date about them on this blog and on extend.BIMserver.org.

The release of BIMserver 1.1 (final) is planned for the first quarter of 2012. A developers beta is already available.

BIMserver 1.1 beta: developers release

Today we released a beta version of 1.1. To get things clear right away: it has bugs. The main reason to release this new version is to inform developers of the changes and new concept. Since the 1.0 release not a lot of new features were added, but everything changed….  The most important, and radical, change was the introduction of the plugin-infrastructure. The previous release of BIMserver was one big chunk of code; in this new release all functional parts of the code are made modular. The whole import and export interface is put into plugins. The ignore files are now called ‘objectIDMs’ and also modular.

This release of BIMserver.org makes it easier to integrate and communicate with BIMserver. Have a look at the communication schema and possibilities on http://code.google.com/p/bimserver/wiki/Communication

Some other big changes in 1.1beta are:

  • Visualisation is gone: we removed visualization from BIMserver. We think a server should be a server and not a visualization tool. We are teaming up with BIMsurfer.org for visualization.
  • Slit between server and GUI: the graphical user interface of BIMserver sucks. We know… To encourage developers to create a new one, we split the JSP pages from the actual server. Therefor you can now download a server build (only the server) and a combined build (server + jsp GUI).
  • Bimserver now uses internal streaming rather than the creation of temporary files for parsing by the geometry kernel.  There is work in progress to integrate IfcOpenShell as a geometry kernel as well, but that might have to wait till 1.2.
  • Client Library:  Gives you access to plugins and the EMF core client side. As a result this developers  the same advanced possibilities on the client as they have server side.
  • New protocol buffer interface: In addition to SOAP and REST interface, we now support Protocol Buffers. This is a major step towards real-time (streaming) communication with clients.
  • Internal performance updates: we’ve improved a great deal of memory usage in this release.
  • Caching of downloads: Both revision and queries  are now cached on server after the first download. This means any additional download will have very fast retrieval . This speeds things up quite a bit in a multiuser environment where several people need to download a merged model or revision to their own machine.
  • Progress bar: lots have asked for it, now it’s there… a progress bar during upload and download.
  • Plugins: All serializers and deserializers (upload, download) are now plugins that can be activated or deactivated. This infrastructure makes it easy for developers to build on top of BIMserver. There are already several plugins being developed like a very promising COBie plugin.

You can find the release on this location: http://tools.bimtoolset.org/BIMserver/1.1beta (which is our archive site). We call this a 1.1beta, but it will be placed in subfolders, ordered by date. Therefore we can update the release every couple of days, responding to your feedback.

Before (and during) your evaluation, please have a look at the know issues  and the documentation. The documentation on the wiki will grow, responding to your feedback.

Please place your feedback on http://support.BIMserver.org

BIMserver testimonials movie

We’ve already announced it a couple of weeks ago, but now it is there: the final version of the BIMserver Breakfast 2011 movie. It has become a nice movie with lots of users giving their opinion about the BIMserver initiative. It is online on youtube.

For developers: JavaDoc of ServiceInterface

 The release team of BIMserver.org is working towards a new release. We are not sure yet what number it will have. We think 1.1 doesn’t resemble the changes that BIMserver has received in the last couple of months. The developers that have followed our code repository know that the core and structure of BIMserver have been fundamentally changed. Nowadays the code structure resembles the vision that BIMserver could/should be a kernel for other developers better than ever before. Lots of developers decided not to wait for a release and started developing plugins and add-ons to BIMserver even before a new final release. Thanks to them we got feedback about the technical documentation and we responded on our wiki with some very nice technical insight. In preparation of the 1.1 beta release (developers release) we also generated/created a JavaDoc site explaining the ServiceInterface. You can find this new information here and here.

Call for projects that use BIMserver

(c) ZEEP architects

For those of you who wonder when the next release will be available: this post is not about that. This blogpost is a call for projects that use BIMserver. Lots of projects use BIMserver in some way. Sometimes as a transformation tool, sometimes as backup/revision tools, but more and more in its full potential as a tool for dynamic collaboration. In an industry where open source is scary most of these projects don’t go public on their use. And of course our organization is not a software vendor with account managers. That is why we post this call for projects. We intent to create a ‘project’ page on our website with appealing projects. If you have a project that uses BIMserver software in any way (even if it is just to give your clients the Google Earth link), and you want the world to know it, please contact us on projects@bimserver.org. After all, with 5000 visitor per month it is also free advertising for your company.

Quick note on the ‘common BIM files’

Just a short and quick note about the ‘common BIM files‘. Some websites are mentioning that they are on BIMserver.org, but this is not the case. Read the original, full story about the common BIM files on http://www.buildingsmartalliance.org/index.php/projects/commonbimfiles

As you will notice, the BuildingSMART alliance has used the BIMserver.org software to create a special (unsupported) version of BIMserver.org to support COBie data exchange. This feature will probably be in the next official BIMserver release as well. More on this in our next blogpost (in a few days).

For those of you who visit this site for the first time and want to know more about the BIMserver.org initiative, feel free to see what our users think of the project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4-BIYP4jDs

Changing the license: moving in opposite directions

It was an open secret in the BIMserver developing community, but now we are going public with this announcement: there are some license changes in the source code. The core and some serializers of BIMserver.org are now Affero GPL licensed. Most projects stay in the GPLv3 license. There will be some binary builds that are dual licensed LGPL and Affero.

These changes are inherent to the changes in the structure of BIMserver. As most of you know our vision to BIMserver.org is to create a stable, reliable but also open kernel to use in the AEC industry. By publishing the core under Affero license, the improvements are more likely to flow back into the project. On the other hand, the LGPL binaries lower the threshold to use the BIMserver.org kernel in commercial software (beware, this only goes for the binaries).
For those of you who want details: the exact licenses are available in the source of the projects. And of course, all source code released prior to the change will always be available under the ‘old’ GPLv3 license. In case of doubt, feel free to ask your question on our support forum or e-mail to license@bimserver.org.

Since the 1.0 release, most of our efforts have been on loosening the different modules. The core, GUI, IFCEngine and (de)serializers are now individual projects in the code repository. This makes way for extending BIMserver.org by creating your own GUI or plugin.
Lots of programmers all over the world are developing serializers and new user interfaces for BIMserver at this moment. This also has an effect on the projects in the code repository. For example, bot the Cobie2Serializer and the O3D project have been removed from our project list. We focus on the BIMserver core and want to create the best BIMserver software with open interfaces to integrate and connect. Other projects and their programmers are working on much cooler COBie serializers and WebGL viewers than we could ever create. More on this later, but a sneak preview can be found on bimsurfer.org

The integration between BIMserver.org software and other (open source) software initiatives is coordinated by the open source BIM network. This osBIM.org network now has 6 projects under its umbrella and has a strong focus on integrating (and accelerating) the open source BIM software efforts. Members of the BIMserver.org team are also involved in the osBIM.org network.

Support forum is very active

http://support.BIMserver.org/Our support forum is very active that last couple of weeks. People from the BIMserver community are helping our each other on the public getsatisfaction forum.

When you have a question, found a bug, of just want to reach out to us, feel free to do so at http://support.BIMserver.org
We love the feedback!

Update: The forum has moved to http://support.opensourcebim.org

Teaser: BIMserver testimonials 2011

During the last BIMserver Breakfast some people were interviewed about their experience with the open source BIMserver.org initiative.
The final 7 minute movie with testimonials will be available in October this year. Some statements were very flattering and we are so proud we want to share them without waiting the final release. This is why we created a 1 minutes ‘teaser‘ with statements about BIMserver.org from several different users. Of course the text is completely out of context, to make it sound even better than in the final movie. It is viewable on youtube. Within a few weeks the final version will be online as well.

Buy the “BIMserver Chalesm book”

After the BIMserver 1.0 release the software has been downloaded over 2000 times. BIMserver.org has gained many enthouasiastic (new and existing) users; there are hundreds of BIMservers running on the net; thousands of users that benefit from the BIMserver features (on average there are 3-5 users per server install); the wiki is growing and also the support forum gets more and more detailed questions of (first time and advanced) users and developers. Really big (huge!) commercial companies have shown serious interest in BIMserver.org; the svn codebase committers have doubled and work on the 1.1 release is on a peak at the moment. This project is growing towards a real open source community project. The founders are of course very happy to see this movement, but also have to face the typical contrast that this kind of progress has to face. Before BIMserver is outgrowing its own success we intent to ride the wave as long as possible. Of course, as every open source project, there has to be some funding for this. Just like every open source project, we have (had) a donation button, but nobody really uses a donation button. Our most fanatic users are employees of organisations that aren’t going to donate. Not to BIMserver, or any other project. Donations are strange things for companies. That’s why we thought of a little trick…. We are selling books. We sell official “BIMserver Chalesm books” for 40,- EUR each. The profit of this book selling goes directly, for 100% to normal business operating expenses like hosting, bandwidth, servers and hardware, legal costs, etc. Like any dignified open source project, the income from this book is explicitly not used to pay developers. Now you probably want to know what’s in the book. We can be short and simple about that: nothing. It’s a sketchbook with all blank pages. You can use it as a notebook, coaster, firelighter or whatever you want. The BIMserver.org logo is on front and it even has an official ISBN number: 978-94-90466-02-2. If you want, you (or your employer) will receive an official invoice with VAT number and everything. So in other words: Buy the book and let your employer pay for it. Your employer probably feels a lot safer on buying an official book (even if it is blank) with invoice and VAT number. It’s up to you if you want to tell him what the book is really about….. You can order your copy here by clicking the ‘buy now’ button. We are very thankful when you do. Payment is processed by iDeal (click the logo) or Paypal (click the ‘Buy Now’).

Edit: migrating to the opensourceBIM shop. Buying the book will be available soon again.

You can also order a copy via e-mail. Just don’t forget to mention your adress, VAT number, etc… For those of you who wonder where to find written documentation about BIMserver.org: there is a constantly evolving wiki and pdf. For direct questions you can use our support forum. Please be aware that all this support is gratis.