It’s now nearly three year since I fist contacted @Last Software about the possibilities to see IFC support in SketchUP. At that point the reply was that they didn’t have any plans about implementing it but the question was brought to the developers. After that I’ve seen the same questions being raised several times in various SketchUP forums before and after SketchUP became a Google product. As SketchUP have a pretty active community developing additional features and import / export filters based on the Ruby interface I knew that it was only a matter of time before someone would start experimenting with the IFC format as well. This time is now!
SECOM Intelligent System Laboratory, a Japanese security-, insurance- and medical services company, have developed a SketchUP plug-in for importing IFC files. The plug-in “IFC2SKP” consist of a SketchUP ruby script and a ruby interface to the IFCsvr ActiveX component. The ruby interface and script is developed by Toshihiko Sakurai while the IFCsvr ActiveX component is developed by Yoshinobu Adati, both working at SECOM.
Clicking on an object will bring up a dialogue box showing the object properties (large version)
I got hold of one of the first beta versions (0.8.1) and have been testing it fore some days. As it’s an early beta it has it’s limitations. For the moment it supports “IfcWall, IfcSlab, IfcColumn, IfcBeam, IfcWindow, IfcDoor, IfcRailing, IfcStair and IfcSpace”. I’ve tried it for large IFC models as well as for small. It tends to use a long time opening the model when there are many BREPs in the IFC file. This is partly a SketchUP ruby performance problem and partly something that can be improved in the script itself. According to the developers this issue has already been forwarded to the Google Sketchup development team. The current version will only import Ifc. The IFCsvr component is also capable of saving files so I expect it’s only a matter of time before such functionality will be available in the ruby script as well. Despite being a early beta the code for the plug-in is already fairly well documented and easy to read. There is even a help-file available! I have great expectations for future versions of this plug-in.
Being a huge fan of bot SketchUP and Ifc, I find this initiative really interesting. Especially knowing that “IFC2SKP”, “IFCsrv” and SketchUP itself all are available for free. I can imagine multiple uses for this plug-in especially for early phase design of buildings. The next natural step is of course to implement IFD support in the tool as well. Being a hobby SketchUP programmer and Ifd developer, I’ve already started…