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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.

Update on 1.1.0: Second release candidate

 After the first release candidate from last week, we’ve got some feedback from you. Thank you very much for that! Thanks to your testing efforts we can now release a second candidate for the 1.1.0 version.

Some bugs were fixed, and the Collada/KML export has improved. There are still issues with the clashdetection but we are working to fix those as soon as possible. Please read the full 1.1.0 release notes in our previous blogpost.

Download the 1.1.0-RC2 on download.bimserver.org or on our development site dev.bimserver.org.

First Release Candidate for version 1.1.

UPDATE April 20: final release is public.

Today the BIMserver.org team is proud to announce that the first Release Candidate of BIMserver 1.1 is public. It has been over a year since the previous release of BIMserver and we have to admit we underestimated the effort. For the enthusiastic users who have high hopes of this release we just want to say: slow down. You won’t see a lot of change… The UserInterface is still… well… ready for improvements. And the new features are not the kind you would passionately talk about during your family diner.

Fundamental changes:
Nonetheless everything changed. When we released the 1.0 version of BIMserver, we released software that had all features we thought a BIMserver should be having (revisioning, merging, user management, change finder, querying, RSS feeds, etc..) and even more (clash detection, rulesets, WebGL viewer, etc….). After the 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 our small team.

This is the part where we miscalculated. Although the BIMserver software had a layered architecture that already was very flexible, it took some time to unravel serializers, deserializers, render engines, objectIDMs (the new name for ignore files), Graphical Interfaces, and their features. At the end of last year, a beta release was created for developers to ‘get used’ to the new infrastructure. This encouraged lots of developers to create plugins for BIMserver.  Some developers even claimed this 1.1 release should be called a 2.0, because of the structural changes. Others claim this release should have been the 1.0 (and the original 1.0 was just too early).

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 again 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 API interface. This allows every application to edit the IFC data without upload/download of IFC.
  • 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. No need to throw away your data every new release anymore!
  • 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.

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

Download:
Todays release candidate, is a candidate for the final release. Please test this with care and submit your issues on http://support.BIMserver.org. We will try to fix bugs and help you with questions there.

There are several builds. If you are looking for the ‘old fashioned one-click-and-it-runs-JAR-file’ you should download bimserver-combined-1.1.0-RCx.jar. This is renamed to ‘combined’ 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 not 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 InternetExplorer so please do not use IE with BIMserver.
Download the builds on our Google Code Development site: http://dev.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.

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

2011 BIMserver Breakfast

The 2011 BIMserver Breakfast has past some weeks ago now… Not much attention was given to it on our website. As always the public was huge. This year 120 people registered and attended. There was a variation of users from completely new ones that had to learn about the software and concept from scratch, to advanced users that were curious about the new 1.1 features.

You can ‘re-live’ the BIMserver Breakfast on http://breakfast2011.BIMserver.org/
The general atmosphere was that this 4th BIMserver Breakfast might be the last one for a while. BIMserver.org is now widely known in the AEC industry and the learning curve is very pleasant. Getting to know BIMserver.org and using it is pretty easy. With the documentation coming up within a few months, the need to ‘get together’ to introduce this new world isn’t needed anymore.
Of course, as BIMserver.org will evolve, new reasons will come up to organize BIMserver Breakfasts again in the future. We also encourage users all over the world to organize their own BIMserver Breakfast. If you plan to do so, please let us help you. Contact us at breakfast@bimserver.org
At the bottom of this post you’ll find some photos and videos made by participants.

Slow but stable

Many of you probably know the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. After the 1.0 final release of BIMserver.org software this story might appropriate. The 1.0 release was months behind our originally planned releasedate (summer 2010), but it has proven to be a winner in stability. Since the releasedate the download counter is now over 300 downloads. First feedback from users is unanimous: performing slow but stable.
After a release the development team always steps back and has a good look at the core again. Building features is easy, but building them on top of a reliable foundation is the key to stability. After the 1.0 final release we have done the same and created a list of ‘critical’ things for the new core. Until now the performance speed of the software never became an issue, but we cannot ignore this anymore. We even found a sponsor to finance this (name will be public soon…).  That is why ‘lazy loading’ of database objects is on of the first new implementations for the next release. There’s already a lot of work done on that in the source code trunk. Thanks to intensive usage statistics of fanatic users, we also found that alphabetic sorting of projectnames really (yes, really) slowed things down. This kind of userfeedback is very valuable.
The biggest dilemma right now is the choice between releasing a ‘performance update’ that would be 1.0.1 or keep on developing until the 1.1 release is stable. Let us know what you think….

Update: Lots of improvements have been made to speed since this post from 2011!

Research for the future: geometry analyses

Comparing geometry and finding exactly equal doors in a merged IFC model.

Although most of the BIMserver contributors are working to get the 1.0 stable release out to you, some users think its time to build for the future. For example Pim from the Netherlands organisation for applied scientific research TNO did some testing on comparing IFC geometry. As you might know, the merging feature in the BIMserver software is comparing IFC GUIDs to find equal objects in different sub-models. However, when objects are exactly the same but have different GUIDs (for example because of import/export problems with client side BIM editing software) the objects live a double life in the BIM model. Using brilliant geometrical analyses on the rendered IFC model Pim’s software was able to find geometrically exactly overlapping objects. In the example (picture) Pim found exactly overlapping doors (with different GUIDs). This could be a new feature in the merging function of the open source BIMserver. Tell us if you like this feature, or if you think that these kind of analyses don’t belong in a BIMserver, but should be done by client side analyses software tools.