The survey shows that the spectrum of BIMserver.org users spans 15 countries. Most respondents have learned about the project by word of mouth. A third of the respondents are commercial end-users from architectural, engineering or consultant SMEs, followed by software developers (23%) and academic researchers (16%). Service providers and academic lecturers using the platform for teaching purposes complete the spectrum of users.
The platform is actively used by 5 people on average per server instance, with reported peaks of 60 parallel users during a collaborative pilot test. Additional informal feedback showed the capability of the platform to handle large, diverse models, even though powerful hardware was mandatory and collaboration was often slowed down by mismatching sub model coordinates and other (non technical) management issues. The BIMserver.org platform is mostly used in the design development stage of a project (32%) with pre-design (20%) and construction (15%) as the runners up and occasional applications during schematic design, procurement and operation. Revit™ (26%), ArchiCad™ (25%) and Solibri™ (12%) are the dominant applications used as source or target applications by the users, and a majority (57%) of the respondents made earlier use of collaboration platforms, tools and model servers, among which are dedicated IFC model servers (14%) and proprietary model servers (24%).
The model merging capabilities of the BIMserver.org platform are both the most used (26%) and the most important (46 % ranked them as “very important”) features indicated by the respondents. Revision management (22%), simple queries and filters (16%) as well as advanced queries and rules (12%) are also frequently used.
Not to our surprise, the biggest obstacles for an effective use of the platform were neither the memory use (18%), nor the operation speed (12%) but the usability of the provided client user interface (24%) and the visualization (18%). Only a small number of respondents were unhappy with the stability of the system. By far, the most important external factor limiting the usefulness of the system is the lacking quality and compliance of IFC models exported from the source applications (42%), followed by the import capabilities of target applications (21%) and the absence of interoperability with specialized domain specific tools (18%). A tighter integration of the overall workflow e.g. by means of IDM or the coupling with document management systems and the capabilities of the IFC model schema itself are considered only minor shortcomings in comparison to the import and export.
We want to thank everybody that gave feedback (either through the survey or other means). The only way for an open source project to become successful is on active participation of the community. Feel free to keep sending us bugs, feedback, ideas and suggestions. Thank you very much.