bimvie.ws collaboration

The BIMserver.org team is working in close collaboration with the bimvie.ws project. This is resulting in a massive improved user experience for BIMserver and a big step in performance for bimvie.ws. As soon as BIMserver 1.4 will be released, the bimvie.ws plugin will also be ready for users.

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Update april 2: additional screenshots

BIMserver 1.4: new core and database supporting both IFC2x3 and IFC4

Just a quick note that we are working hard on the release of BIMserver 1.4. This will be the version with ability to checkin IFC2x3 and IFC4 data in the same database, and even in the same (main)project. This enables project partners that don’t have the ability to tune their IFC versions to still be able to collaborate.

This means the core and database structure of BIMserver will change radically.

At this moment we do not have funding to create an automatic update script. Also the interface will chance. On some calls we had to add a field to define the schema. When you are building tools on top or inside BIMserver 1.3, you will have some work to update to 1.4. So please make yourself acquaintant with the new core and interface of BIMserver 1.4 to make sure updates will go as fluent as possible.

We are trying to create a script to transfer data from 1.3 servers to a 1.4 installation but this will not be incorporated in the release and there will be some manual work evolved. More on this later.

At this moment the biggest setback in releasing the 1.4 version is that we don’t have enough IFC4 models to test the stability of our implementation. We could really use the help of the community to provide IFC4 data to test reliability and stability of the BIMserver framework. Feel free to send your models to hello@bimserver.org. As we take much pride in the stability of the platform we don’t feel confident about releasing a product that is not tested thoroughly.

Keep track of the github page https://github.com/opensourceBIM/BIMserver for more info.

Visualize your BIM data with charts

It’s my pleasure to announce that BIMserver, in addition to all its managerial and model checking features, is extending the opportunity to you to further visualize your data models with charts.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a complex endeavor. In a technology-rich environment, there is the opportunity to further complicate the process by demanding the data in many different forms. This opportunity hopefully provides specific value to the process as a whole. Today, it is reasonable to expect the ability to display, toggle, and explore such models in detail without ever assembling anything physical. Seeing the model in this detail is both visually appealing and provides practical benefits.

Enter BIMserver’s new charting module.

Charts provide counter-points to the in-depth detail of three-dimensional representations. This is important because it empowers the process to communicate answers to intriguing questions. What is the model made up of? Why are these pieces related? How do the pieces stack up against each other? All of this is delivered in a way that simultaneously avoids sending the whole model while retaining its overall shape.

The charting module packages programming for charts of 16 different types. Provisional demonstration plugins released as part of this module expose a small portion of these new features. These plugins focus on organizing and laying out the tree structure of a standard IFC project:

Treeview

The charts are delivered as a web-technology known as Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). This means that these deliverables can be extended to be interactive or animated with existing tools that edit SVG files.

More pictures available on the README page on github or my twitter account. Contact me via github.

Releases coming up

It is the end of the year and we are trying to finish all the deadline projects. This really pushes us in the development cycle. We expect to have new beta releases and release candidates in the beginning of next year.

Main new feature is the combined IFC4 and IFC 2×3 capabilities. We could really use some more IFC4 models for extensive testing of our platform. Contact leon.vanberlo@bimserver.org when you want to share some.  After the large model tests we also improved lots of performance on large models. We are working in close collaboration with bimvie.ws to create combined releases.

We hope to ‘release early, release often‘ this time, so expect many releases with minor changes. Until that time we all wish you a great Christmas and all the best for the new year to come!

Some metrics about ‘large’ models

We are getting a lot of questions about the ability of BIMserver to handle large models. Most of the time our answer is that you have to allocate more heap memory. We’ve never seen a model that cannot be handled by BIMserver because of its size.

Recently some users asked us to perform a quick research on how BIMserver handles large models. We’ve received several different IFC models varying in size between 500Mb and 3Gb. Some of them so complex that they don’t open in any known IFC viewer.
This gave us the opportunity to measure the performance of BIMserver and get some metrics. We are happy to share these with you in this blog.

We’ve used a 122Gb RAM cloudserver from Amazon with 16 cores for this test.
We decided to do the test in a sequence, meaning it is not a ‘checkin one model and stop’, but a ‘ checkin all models one after another and pray’.

We are using several different IFC files for this:

  1. Model 1 is 1.5Gb of IFC step file;
  2. Model 2 is 474MB of IFC step file;
  3. Model 3 is 1.9GB IFC step file;
  4. Model 4 is the 3.85Gb IFC step file;
  5. Model 5 is a 991Mb IFC step file;
  6. Model 6 is a 685Mb IFC step file.

We started the test at November 7th at 01:28:02. The test ended at 05:42:09. The time of the test was of course influenced by the upload speed of the internet connection. What is interesting is the database and memory usage of the server.

The log:

07-11-2014 01:28:02
Database size: 350.91 KB (359330)
Used: 2.12 GB, Free: 1.29 GB, Max: 200.00 GB, Total: 3.42 GB
Done checking in Model 1
Creating project model 2
07-11-2014 02:10:50
Database size: 15.02 GB (16131952680)
Used: 53.13 GB, Free: 23.70 GB, Max: 200.00 GB, Total: 76.83 GB
Done checking in model 2
Creating project model 3
07-11-2014 02:23:54
Database size: 7.82 GB (8391386817)
Used: 38.05 GB, Free: 39.22 GB, Max: 200.00 GB, Total: 77.27 GB
Done checking in model 3
Creating project model 4
07-11-2014 03:20:47
Database size: 22.25 GB (23893972378)
Used: 68.99 GB, Free: 52.90 GB, Max: 200.00 GB, Total: 121.90 GB
Done checking in model 4
Creating project model 5
07-11-2014 05:16:25
Database size: 42.89 GB (46053250623)
Used: 121.55 GB, Free: 29.69 GB, Max: 200.00 GB, Total: 151.23 GB
Done checking in model 5
Creating project model 6
07-11-2014 05:42:09
Database size: 32.35 GB (34733942862)
Used: 67.11 GB, Free: 45.70 GB, Max: 200.00 GB, Total: 112.81 GB
Done checking in model 6

About 2 hours later, the database is 30GB big, CPU back to normal and 70GB of heap memory used. 56GB of that is probably cached database data. We’ve explained many times why the storage of BIMserver is higher than the original IFC file. We believe this is needed to profit from the benefits of using separate objects in a database instead of files. Of course all models were intact after download from the server.

What this test shows is that BIMserver is perfectly capable of handling large models, and even tolerates the checkin of a model while another checkin is still not fully processed by the database. This proves that stability of BIMserver as a strong base for every kind of IFC model.

What surprised us was the caching and memory usage of the database. We decided to spend some time on that and expect to have better performance metric in the next release.

Bug Bounty inspiration

As our previous post suggested, we are getting more confident about the stability of BIMserver. But even more important is that we are getting more passionate about stability. For quite a while the opening phrase on our website is referring to the usage of BIMserver as ‘a stable foundation’ of ‘a strong base to build on’. The team working on and with BIMserver is growing and this certainly improves the stability of the platform.

To get to the next step we need you! That is why we tried to start a Bug Bounty program. The famous ‘find a bug, get a mug’ program is a success for years and it is now time to take it up a notch.

We experimented a bit with bountysource and providing eternal gratitude, but nothing just gives us that warming feeling of an active community.

So…. We need you. We need you ín the bug bountry program, but we also need you to help us setup the program by giving us a push in the right direction. Any help is welcome. Any help is another bit of improving a great open BIM platform.

 

 

Automated validation for IFC building models

Chi Zang recieving the 'Best Phd paper' award at ECPPM 2014

Chi Zang recieving the ‘Best Phd paper’ award at ECPPM 2014

Chi Zang is a Phd student at the Eindhoven University of Technology. His researchtopic is about “Automated validation for IFC building models“. He published a paper about this topic at the ECPPM conference in Vienna (Austria) this month. He won the ‘Best phd Paper’-award during that conference.

In the development of this research he was using the BIMserver.org platform. More information about his work can be found on youtube and slideshare, or find the pdf of the paper here.

 

 

1000 dollars for your IFC file?

dollarsAs you know, at BIMserver.org we intent to build a stable and reliable foundation for other developers to build their tools on. We are very proud and quite confident about the work we released so far. Of course we never rest and keep testing on a constant base. We need the help of the users for that because we need IFC data to test our tools. That is why we created the bug bounty program. We are still not sure on how to shape that program, but decided to at least give a reward of 1000 dollars to anyone who provides us (in the next couple of months) with an IFC model that crashes the BIMserver platform.

Of course the IFC model you provide should be a valid IFC model. We have some known issues that we think are not affecting this challenge, but nonetheless those are excluded (just to be on the safe side). The challenge is to be conducted on the latest stable release of BIMserver (so not the IFC4 beta release). Needless to add that this is about BIMserver. Most users add IfcOpenShell, bimvie.ws and other plugins to BIMserver. These plugins could cause issues, but obviously we are talking about just BIMserver here.

Please send the files to ifc@bimserver.org. We understand that sending large files can be a problem, but tools like wetransfer and dropbox can help you with that.  We strongly encourage to share your models public under a creative commons license. In that case, please send a pull request to the IFC repository on github. That repository is used to test all tools of the open source BIM collective so every contribution is highly appreciated. We even appreciate it so much that we randomly draw a winner from the contributors to collect the 1000 dollars when nobody collects the money from the bug bounty. All contributors will get a BIMserver.org coffee mug, a towel and our eternal gratitude.  People that add IFC4 models to the github repository will receive an extra surprise.

 

 

 

 

Doing one thing very good

opensourcebim.org projects

As the loyal readers of this blog know, we joined the ‘open source BIM collective’ a while ago. There are many practical reasons why this decision was easy: we share a support forum, hosting and bandwidth and we face the same legal issues regarding licensing questions from users. But the main reason why we actually joined is because of the mission and vision of the collective.

At BIMserver.org we have a strong focus on being a stable platform for others to build upon. We aren’t building feature after feature and market it as a product that can do ‘everything’. Our mission is to provide a solid foundation so developers can build fast and reliable niche applications. So we want to focus on our core features, but still be interesting for developers and users. We had many discussions about removing the GUI and if we should incorporate a render engine or not. Luckily we  found other people that find pleasure in building a GUI and are much, much smarter than us when it comes to an IFC render engine. These people faced the same problem of feeling the force to widen the scope of their tools, but really wanting to focus on the core problem.

Thanks to our collaboration with the projects in the open source BIM collective, we are now integrating and interacting with these other projects. Thanks to IfcOpenShell, BIMserver now has the highest IFC rendering quality in the industry. Thanks to BIMserver, IfcOpenShell broadens the user perspective. Similar synergies are being created with bimvie.ws, BCF server and Forum and (very early and experimental) OpenIFD. The COBie plugins and other less famous BIMserver plugins are also part of the collective to give the industry a single point of contact and support.

We are very proud to be part of a team of dedicated and highly intelligent people that have the same passion as we do: Helping the AEC industry forward. Feel free to explore the website opensourcebim.org, or the github organisation page with most of the repositories.

IFC4

ifc4 We’ve been experimenting with IFC4.  Because the core of BIMserver is generated  from an IFC schema it is not very difficult to create a BIMserver with IFC4 database instead of the current IFC2x3 (the database schema is also generated from core). The challenge is to have IFC4 ánd IFC2x3 files in the same core and database. After some initial research we decided to implement a first concept where a project can be IFC2x3 ór IFC4. Because subprojects are also ‘just’ projects, this creates the possibility to have a main project with subprojects that hold different versions of IFC data. For example a project with subprojects ‘architect’, ‘construction’ and ‘MEP’  where 1 of these subprojects has a different IFC version dataschema than the others, but can still be merged, queried, etc.. (and all the other BIMserver functions).

The code has been checked into github.

At this moment we do not have enough IFC4 files to test this and turn it into a release. Please help us out with IFC4 files. You can post them in this github repository or send them to us via e-mail. Github submissions will be public (creative commons license) and submissions via e-mail will not be made public but only used for internal testing purposes. IFC aspect models with different IFC versions (FOR EXAMPLE the architecture model in 2×3 and construction/mep in IFC4) are highly appreciated.  As always we send you a BIMserver coffee mug as a token of our appreciation. Thank you very much!