First release candidate version 1.2

bimserver logoWe have launched the first release candidate of the 1.2 version of the BIMserver platform. It is available on our development website at Google code.

Some of the new features include the ability to add non-IFC data to the database. Users can now add ‘extended data’ to revisions and projects. Not all data can be added. This is controlled by the server administrator. Every BIMserver administrator has to authorize data schemas first so users, or external services can add extended data according to an authorised schema.

As beta-testers already saw, there is a new plugin type called ‘query plugin’. Wiet Mazairac created a plugin for the open BIM Query Language (BimQL.org) which is included in the BIMserver build. We also added an ‘internal service’ plugin that lowers the threshold for developers to build custom BIMservers for a specific feature. The clash-detection feature is now an internal plugin that will trigger on every ‘new revision’.

A big change we are very enthusiastic about, is the ability to subscribe (link) to external services. External services are webservices that run on a separate server (could be closed source) that handle a specific feature. At this moment there are services that do clash-detection (and return a BCF file); make a 2D HTML floorplan; do logging (for KPI project analyses); and there is even an external service that sends out an e-mail to all project members when there is a BCF returned from a clash-detection service. An external service can be triggered at a ‘new revision‘ and ‘new extended data’. In the future these triggerpoints will include all BIMserver log actions (like new user, new project, user added to project, etc) and we are working on data specific changes triggers (trigger only when doors are changed, or when a specific object with GUID is changes). In practice BIMserver sends out a notification to the external service and includes a token for authorization and authentication. Users can edit the subscription to external services and give out very specific tokens and authorizations. A list of external services will be hosted on our new plugin directory extend.bimserver.org. The list is dynamically loaded from any running BIMserver so it will be up-to-date all the time.
At this moment only a few external services are on the list, but many are in the making. The BIMserver team will not make any external services, but encourages developers to do so. The interface between BIMserver and the services is build according to the open standard BIMSie. This means that external services can also interact with each other and are not specifically build for bimserver.org. This way the BIMserver team tries to innovate the industry and stimulates actual working in a federated web service environment (in contrast to spending marketing budget to use the word ‘cloud’ as many times as possible).

The biggest change that end-users will notice is that there is no GUI included anymore. Any BIMserver that starts will get a configuration screen (to create an administrator, add smtp server, the usual stuff that was already in 1.1), but after that it will show the BIMserver logo with the status indicator ‘running’. This is a big change for all of us, but specially for end-users, that simply cannot use BIMserver out of the box. Yet we feel this is a necessary step we have to take. As our loyal followers know, BIMserver is an open platform to use and build on top. The GUI was always a reference implementation of ‘how a GUI could look like’. We always stimulated developers to build specific GUIs. Guys like BIM Surfer and bimsync did, but we hope more will follow. To accelerate the development of several different GUIs we decided to remove the one we made. With the 1.2RC1 release we invite developers to build as many new GUIs as you like. We think we made it a bit easier by adding a JSON protocol to the rich Service Interface. This might lower the threshold for Javascript developers to make a really cool looking GUI for BIMserver.

Wrapping up the 1.2 release of BIMserver is even more focused on positioning BIMserver as an open and stable platform for others to build on. BIMserver is becoming a platform more and more, and less a product ready for end-users. This is also why the 1.2 RC1 has two developer libraries in the download section.

We feel BIMserver has made some huge steps again. This time taking some risky decisions on the GUI part, but on the other hand innovating the industry again with the introduction of a staggering concept to easily link federated BIM services. This blogpost is an open invitation to all developers to reap the fruits and create your own product build on top of our platform.

Building Information Model Service Interface Exchange

 The bimserver.org team and our core partners TNO and Eindhoven University of Technology are closely involved in the new BIMSie standardization initiative from BuildingSMART. Together with software vendors and research partners from all over the world we are working on a “Building Information Model Service Interface Exchange”-standard. A first version is in review by the core team at this moment. Bimserver.org is now creating a prototype showing some new opportunities that will be possible thanks to this standardization initiative. The demo will be shown at the US Building Innovation Conference in January 2013. We hope to see you there.

 

New version of BIM Surfer and integration in BIMserver platform

The BIM Surfer project is, just like BIMserver.org, part of the open source BIM collective. It is developing an open source WebGL viewer for BIM models based on open standards (for now only IFC). The project was an initiative from our team, but created by Rehno Lindeque. Due to several reasons there was not a lot of progress at BIM Surfer, until some guys from Vienna picked it up. During the Google Summer of Code students worked on improving BIM Surfer with cool new features. The most visual ones are the two sliders. You can see all about it in de youtube movie below. There are also numerous other improvements. Read all about it on github.
The BIMserver.org team, in close collaboration with MOST and TUWien, is working hard on the integration of this new viewer with BIMserver. We are using the new JSON interface to interact with BIM Surfer and load the objecttypes one by one to speed up the loading time. More info will be available in our new beta release which is coming up in a couple of weeks.

UPDATE November 13: Integration with BIMserver platform.

The BIMserver.org team has intensified the communication between the open source BIM Surfer viewer and the BIMserver.org platform. The ‘get model from server’ now works, and there is much more user feedback with progress bars and partial loading of models. Have a look at the video above.

Developers release 1.2.0 (beta release)

Today we released a beta version of 1.2.0. To get things clear right away: it has bugs. Please do not download this if you are an end-user. The main reason to release this new version is to inform developers of changes and, again, a new concept.

The new concept we would like to introduce is still a bit fuzzy. We are developing at it every day and it is changing every day. This is also the reason why we will keep updating the beta releases of 1.2.0 the coming weeks. The most important change you will notice is the ability to add ‘extended data schemas’ to projects and a new plugin type for queries (including the new BimQL plugin). More detailed info and documentation will follow soon.

When you are a developer, things will probably make sense when you dive into the code. When you are a user, a demo that we are preparing will say more than a thousand words. So please be patient for another little while.

After looking at the new release, please send your feedback through http://support.BIMserver.org

New query language BimQL

Recently Wiet Mazairac from Eindhoven University of Technology has presented his new developed ‘open Building Information Model Query Language’ BimQL. Wiet used the open source BIMserver core to test and develop his query language and expressed the wish to integrate the BimQL work into BIMserver.org. In a close collaboration the core team at TNO created a new plugin type for Query Languages. Wiet used that to create the first Query plugin for BIMserver.org. It will be in the next (beta) release available for testing. We like to urge that this is a first result of a new initiative. Interested participants are welcome to join this effort. More information can be found in the white paper, on the website www.bimql.org (including examples), or the source code for the plugin on github.

Results of a Dutch BIM Server pilot

(C) Berlo, TNO 2012

A while ago, several companies and institutions launched a “BIM Server pilot” in the Netherlands. Although after all there was not ‘one’ pilot, the results of this initiative are quiet interesting. Main reserach subjects were focussed on the use of IFC in contrast to everybody using the same software.

The paper describes the workflow concept of so called ‘reference models’ (or ‘aspect models’). The conclusion is that the combination of this concept with IFC fits the needs from the AEC industry.

Researchers from TNO (initiators of the pilot) and main players in the pilot projects wrote a scientific paper about the results. The paper is published and presented at the ECPPM Conference in Reykjavik 2012. The paper can be found in the scientific section of our website. The presentation called ‘there is no central BIM’ is available on slideshare.

Find a bug, get a mug!

As you might have noticed, work at BIMserver has not stopped. At the moment we have a strong focus on stability and support. To grow a community around BIMserver we like to launch a “Find a bug, get a mug!”-campaign. The deal is simple: when you find a bug, post a question on the support forum. When it really is a bug, we will fix it and send you a genuine BIMserver mug. We are starting this campaign to fix bugs and increase stability of BIMserver.  This campaign is not new, but we have new mugs that are more beautiful than the previous ones (and so far we only send out 5 mugs for minor bugs that were found).

By the way… you don’t have to find a bug to get a mug. Any help in fulfilling our goal is worth a mug. Join our philosophy and help make the world a better place!

Release 1.1.0 final is public

Today the BIMserver.org team is proud to announce that the final release of BIMserver 1.1.0 is public.

Open infrastructure:
After the previous release we expressed our intention to transform the BIMserver software from one big chunk of code, to a flexible cohesion of core modules and plugins. By doing this, we are lowering the threshold for people to create extensions, plugins and custom builds. In other words:  creating a stable, flexible, open infrastructure that everybody can use as a strong base to build something on top. We believe this is important for BIMserver to be able to grow into a movement that will be much bigger than just a couple of programmers.

Credits:
Because of the involvement of great developers and advanced users during the last couple of months, we are proud to have a BIMserver build with several external plugins. Many thanks and credits go to Chris Bogen (USACE) for their COBie plugin and Thomas Krijnen for the IfcOpenShell render engine plugin. Also many thanks to Catenda for intensely testing the framework. We hope your bimsync application will be a success! We are very thankful for the effort and are convinced it has made today’s release much more stable and reliable. Thanks to Rehno Lindeque for creating a connection between his Open Source WebGL Viewer (bimsurfer.org) and BIMserver. Many more developers are creating plugins that will be released for public (hopefully) very soon. We can’t say too much about it today, but we’ll keep you informed via this website. Finally a warm ‘thank you’ to all people that took the time to test or evaluate the BIMserver software and inform us about issues on http://support.BIMserver.org

We had a great year with lots of great talks with prominent people in the world of (open)BIM. We feel a growing interest for the BIMserver.org project and hope the 1.1.0 release will accelerate the use and appreciation of BIMserver.org.

New features:
Although the new, visible features for end-users are not jumping towards you from the screen…. there are some nice ones we would like to note:

  • The storing of incoming files: even when IFC files are corrupt (or for some other reason not stored in the database) the server manager can always obtain the original uploaded file.
  • Visualization 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. Other visualization tools might also join our team in the future.
  • 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 (by any user) 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 computer.
  • Progress bar: lots have asked for it, now it’s there… a progress bar during checkin and download.

Some more technical new features for the people who love nerd-talk:

  • Ignore files renamed to ‘objectIDM’  and are now part of the plug-in structure (to be able to link them dynamically to serializers).
  • Ability to choose renderEngine and objectIDM for a (de)serializer. Default BIMserver is shipped with the TNO IFC Engine Series Library (closed source as a plugin) and open source IfcOpenShell. It’s up to you which one you use.
  • More server settings.
  • Low level calls: We’ve added ‘add’, ‘edit’, ‘delete’ calls in IFC objects through the BIMserver service interface. This allows every application to edit the IFC data without upload/download of a file.
  • Setup page after first startup: No default admin and password anymore. Just choose your own after first startup.
  • Database migrations: In the future, new versions of bimserver will update the database to the new structure (beta).
  • Enable and disable external plugins.
  • More info of your running server and improved logging
  • 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.
  • Client Libraries: Allows developers to ‘talk’ to the API of BIMserver very easy and gives access to the cool BIMserver stuff for their own application (both server-, as client-side).
  • Improved API, including technical documentation: on http://wiki.bimserver.org and JavaDoc of the interface API.
  • Notifications: subscribe your client to notifications on your server. BIMserver events will be published to a special protocol. We even created a ‘Satellite server’ example framework to demonstrate the power of this concept.

A full list of new features, enhancements and bugfixes (the release notes) can be found on our development site: http://dev.bimserver.org/

Download:
There are several builds. If you are looking for the ‘old fashioned one-click-and-it-runs-JAR-file’ you should download “bimserver-including_GUI-1.1.0-final.jar”. This is renamed because it is now a combination of the BIMserver and the GUI Interface (the HTML you get on the screen). When you use the BIMserver with GUI, please note that we do not support all webbrowsers. We test on Chrome (for multiple reasons) and know that Firefox and Safari also work pretty good. We do NOT support users with MS InternetExplorer so please do not use IE with BIMserver.

We also supply a WebArchive build, and both a Jar and WAR of BIMserver without the GUI. Examples of the Satellite server, libraries and other downloads are all available on http://download.bimserver.org  

Installation and setup instruction can be found in a screencast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6CjPuDknlc. Please note that the license of most of BIMserver has changed from GNU GPL v3 to GNU Affero GPL v3. More info on http://www.bimserver.org/license/

Philosophy:
On every new release people ask us why we do this… We even get question what your hidden business model is and how we rip off people without them noticing. None of this is true. Read our ‘Philosophy’ and guiding principles on http://bimserver.org/about/philosophy/ to understand us a bit more.

Future:
We have great plans for the future. We really believe we are at the edge of implementing a mayor change of how the industry uses BIM. If you understand and acknowledge our guiding principles, and want to team up with us, send us your plans and (broadest possible) motivation to contact@bimserver.org.

 

Third release candidate for 1.1.0

bimserver logo Today we are proud to release the 3rd 1.1.0 release candidate for BIMserver.org. Some new bugs, found by the community, are fixed. This release also has the ‘clash detection’ feature working again (although it will be obsolete after 1.1.0 final). This version has a major update for the ObjectIDM configurations and is tested intensely in a multiuser environment. Please read the full 1.1.0 release notes in our previous blogpost.

Download the 1.1.0-RC3 on download.bimserver.org or on our development site dev.bimserver.org.

3 mugs are send so far

 Many of you have tested the Release Candidates for the 1.1 version of BIMserver. Some of you (3 to be exact) found a bug. All three bug finders (so far) recieved the official BIMserver Coffee mug. We are very thankfull that you are testing BIMserver with so much passion. For all others testers: keep testing! There are still a lot of Coffee mugs in stock. Although we hope there are as little as possible bugs to be found, we are happy to send these ‘thank you’-gifts to bug finders.

When you think you have found a bug, please post it on http://support.BIMserver.org/

For people who get scared from this blog post: don’t worry. All bugs that were found are fixed.