We have just released a new video introducing bimsync our BIM collaboration tool. If you have 1 min and 32 seconds to spend this might be the tool you are looking for. For more information goto bimsync.com or signup directly for a 30 days trial.
Catenda has been selected as the only Norwegian startup to participate at the grand technology festival The Next Web (TNW) in Amsterdam 26-27 May.
The Next Web attracts more than 10 000 participants and over 3000 companies from around the world. This year´s festival is the 11th in a row. It gathers the world´s technology leaders, venture capitalists and entrepenours, providing a meeting place to initiate new collaborations and together bring the global technology development further into the future.
– We get to meet investors and technology leaders, and demonstrate how building processes can become much more efficient, by eliminating errors virtually, not on-site. Being selected as the only Norwegian startup energizes the entire team. Our strength is that our product, bimsync®, has been tested in the field for some time. We hope that makes us stand out from other startups we will be meeting in Amsterdam, says Håvard Bell, CEO of Catenda.
When you take part as a startup at TNW, you get to pitch your product to around 200 investors. Then they select who they want to get to know better. The pitching process continues, and towards the end of the festival, the startups with the best reviews get to present themselves on the main stage in front of all the participants.
If plan on going to the conference you will get a 10% discount by signing up here.
For additional comments, background or to get additional press photos, please contact Håvard Bell by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +47 988 82 929.
bimsync® is a collaboration tool for virtual design and construction, a cloud based platform that also includes an open API developed by Catenda. bimsync® reduces costs and risks because errors are discovered and fixed virtually before ground is broken.
Blogpost moved to blog.bimsync.com
Catenda has been actively participating in the development of BCF 2.0 as well as the BCF API and supports both BCF 1.0 and BCF 2.0 in our bimsync platform. We are convinced that BCF will play an essential role in BIM projects to seamlessly handle issues across discipline and software. Still there are challenges to overcome in file base BCF exchange between software as well as agreements to be made about how to implement the BCF API. Catenda therefore welcomes the initiative for a BCF hackathon in Helsinki and will send our BCF expert programmer to the meeting.
In 2010 I wrote the first version of this post in an attempt to explain what bSDD (at that time it was called IFD) was and why we need it. Now 4 years later many things have changed but the reason for bSDD remains and most of the points made then are still valid. Still there is a need to freshen up the “interview” a bit to use the right naming and to include the latest updates:
I’ve heard about this 4 letter acronym under the buildingSMART umbrella called bSDD. What is it and what is it good for?
bSDD stands for “buildingSMART Data Dictionary” as well “back stabbing designated driver(*)”. The choice of acronym was perhaps not the wisest but having buildingSMART in the name at least indicates that bSDD is part of international buildingSMART effort. But despite being named “Dictionary” , bSDD is not really a dictionary. Its a structure that enables mapping of ontologies, dictionaries and other content.
Eh, the last bit made me slightly confused. Could you please elaborate?
Sure. bSDD is not a dictionary. It is a framework where multiple dictionaries, ontologies or other structures can coexist. bSDD is a bit like a “international library” Its a place where you will send a copy of your book, ontology or dictionary so that it can be indexed, categoized and mapped to other books and dictionaries in multiple languages. But bSDD is also a core component of the buildingSMART technology stack.
But how? I’m familiar with the other standards of BuildingSMART like IFC, BCF and IDM/mvdXML. Where does this bSDD thing fit in?
Let me use an analogy. Image the IFC standard as being the GSM standard of the building industry. IFC allows different applications communicate by defining a way of storing and exchanging BIM data. It has good commercial backing so there already exist lots of “phones” out there that communicate using IFC. But enabling people to communicate doesn’t really solve the communication problem, does it? For example; what if these people talk using different languages or if they have different understanding of the meaning of a particular word? The words get trough from one phone to the other but but the receiver will not get the meaning, unless both speaks the same language…
Well, I accidentally ended on a non English speaking switchboard in Finland when calling a colleague last week so I can understand the problem. On the other hand this doesn’t seem to be a problem for IFC. I’ve heard that communication is working seamlessly over the “IFC line” in some projects today.
Well, that is true, but that only working because the people communicating in these projects has agreed about the terms to use in the project up front. Sometimes they have even got the software vendors to include the terms in the libraries they are using. A type “implementers agreement”. In other words, the participants in the given projects have agreed about terms and classifications used in the given project. You also got to agree about the language for each project where you use IFC in order to have a fully working scenario like you’ve seen on “seeing is believing.” Without such agreements it would simply not work.
I see your point, but honestly, the only way to fully resolve this is to have a “Babel fish” stuck in the “ear” or network cable of every computer…
So you’ve read “the Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy”? Good, that makes everything easier. Well you see, bSDD is the Babel fish of buildinSMART..
Yes, sure… Come on, I’ll love the idea of having something translate concepts automatically, but we are no where near inventing the Babel fish for the building industry… or are we?
Well, perhaps not as sophisticated as a multilingual fish feeding on brainwaves, but the idea of having something there that can automatically translate the idea of a concept in one context or language to another is exactly what bSDD is meant to solve… What bSDD has done is to replace the words as carriers of information, with globally unique identifiers, (GUID) and connected, the word to the GUID instead. As a bonus we’re also linking the concepts (GUIDs) to each other by all kind of relationships to other concepts in the library. Those relationships eventually allows for a loot of cool side effects of using bSDD, but the main idea is still to have one GUID for each type concept in the building world.
But I don’t get this. Why don’t simply use unique words as they are, why do we need a stupid 32 character random string instead….
Well you partly gave the answer yourself. Firstly words are NOT unique. One word can mean several things and a thing can have several names (words) even in the same language. The bSDD GUID will help buildingSMART in the same way as a personal ID number help tax authorities. A modern society would simply not work if people would be identified by their name. You can change name, sex, whatever, but your ID number will never change. Secondly computer programs love these unique numbers, and bSDD on the technical level is a tool for computer programs not humans.
I think I’m getting the message, but could you give me another example, and please don’t include the tax people this time…
OK. Take this silly example; you have been given the task to find your old high school classmates for a 20 year reunion party. The only restriction is that you can only search for them using the Internet phone book and you’re not allowed to ask anyone for help. Well guess what? Lots of the girls from school are married and many have changed their names. You will waste a lot of time and money calling the wrong person and your party will lack many people. Wouldn’t it be much better if you knew their personal number and you could use that to search them up in the phone book?
he idea sounds nice, but I can see a flaw. What if some of the girls moved abroad? I’m sure that the phone book in the other country wouldn’t understand the personal ID from here? The other country would probably have given her another personal number too…
Yes, exactly. And that’s why we use Globally unique Id’s. They’re supposed to be completely unique, at least on this planet.. By the way, the example you gave is just the same for product catalogs. Every catalog invents a “unique” number for the products within. But these number are rarely comparable with numbers used in other catalogs. Even if the product is identical. So you can’t search in one catalog using the number from another.
But hold on.. does this mean that if a producer uses bSDD GUIDs to identify her product you could use a search engine to search it up rather than having to look it up in various product catalogs all over the world?
Well, yes in theory. We have already tested it and it works, some search engines did pick up the GUID and indexed it. But finding an “aluminum window” by its GUID is usually not enough. The ideal would be if the search engines would understand the semantic and allow us to search not only for the object but for a particular property for that object too. You see, properties have GUIDs just like the object itself. Even a unit like “mm” has a GUID in bSDD.
Well now you sad the magic word; semantic. Isn’t there a huge overlap in what you do and what’s being done e.g. in the work around semantic web and OWL?
I believe no. While there are places with obvious overlaps in content bSDD is a tool that makes it really simple to map content regardless of origin and format and assure that that the mapping remains available for many years to come. While OWL URIs are unique they still have a sad tendency to disappear. A quick search for OWL libraries on google will quickly bring you to a closed down server of a PHD student that has left here space at the university and perhaps taken her OWL library elsewhere or simply let it die. If that student had provided a copy of her ontology to bSDD those data would still be alive today and by the status of bSDD as a core buldingSMART component, hopefully for many years to come. And bSDD did at some time have OWL versions of its content, as well as Topic Maps that by some was considered a better format. My point is that the format doesn’t matter. Copies of bSDD already exist on multiple formats due to it’s open REST API. Just download what you need and store it in a graph, sql, spreadsheet or whatever format you like. I’m sure we will see OWL exports of bSDD data as well as SPARQL endpoints to bSDD in near future. But again it’s not about technology. It’s the provision of GUIDs and how bSDD enables an easy two way mapping of all kind of content that is the key here.
But having one international library sounds like an utopia. Is’t the whole idea of RDF and OWL that there is no need for such a thing? All you need is to have open data freely available on the web and then people can reference and link as they like and build up their own OWL libraries?
Well. Firstly, not all data is freely available and will probably never be. bSDD had to implement a “hidden layer” of information before the technology became attractive for commercial actors. The hidden layer allows content owners to decide for themselves how much of the content that should be open for everyone and how much that should be available for a closed group of members. That said. Every concept in bSDD is always be visible for everyone and can never be deleted. It’s how that concept relates to other concepts that can be hidden. This fine balance between openness and commercial relevance is harder create with technologies like OWL because of their very nature. Nothing prevents you from providing an OWL version of some part of the bSDD content sitting on a server elsewhere. That is just what the Dutch CB-NL project decided to do.
But what about other industries. Isn’t there a similar initiative in the oil industry. EPISTLE or ISO 15926 or something?
Funny you mentioned EPISTLE or ISO 15926. The bSDD initiative has always been inspired by the work being done in EPISTLE and Posc/Caesar in particular. Still there are differences. ISO 15926 is a standard not only for types of objects but also for the actual instances like the platforms being built. It has a bit of a “one standard fits all” approach. bSDD and the organizations behind had a focus on the terms used to define types of concepts. After all the IFC standard was already taking care of the virtual representation of the actual building project (BIM). In the attempts of implementing parts of ISO 15926 it also became clear that the standard had a communication problem itself. At one point the ISO 15926 standard contained crazy ideas like “class_of_cause_of_beginning_of_class_of_individual”, where the individual itself is a “possible_individual” being ” ‘things that exists in space and time’. That, some political issues, and the overlap with IFC eventually led to the creation of ISO 12006-3 as a separate standard with a more limited scope. ISO 15926 is also lacking the idea of a GUID and are using local Ids and unique names instead, and the language support is mostly limited to English.
Talking about IFC. Does’t bSDD overlap a lot with IFC as well?
No. I would say that bSDD could be seen as a dynamic extension of IFC allowing users of IFC compliant software to standardize all of the information in a BIM, allowing us to overcome limitations in IFC on type definitions, properties and naming of elements and objects. IFC already supports ways of fully integrating and exchanging bSDD information. Its actually very easy. The official IFC documentation is also linked to bSDD and all PSETs are maintained within bSDD. bSDD is handy everywhere when the information exchange from a BIM relies on the naming of objects. This is the case for everything from internal object libraries to naming of rooms, wall-types and layers. Most of those objects and properties are now mapped to it’s corresponding concepts in bSDD.
This sound all fantastic. Where can I get some more information abut bSDD?
Oslo, 17 December 2014 – Catenda has signed an exclusivity agreement with the Dutch company Ibis for supplying bimsync to the Dutch market. bimsync is a web application as well as an open API, for visualizing, analysing, sharing and managing IFC-based Building Information Models (BIM). As part of the collaboration, Ibis will also integrate Ibis’ own calculation software with bimsync. This integration functionality will be presented at the Dutch construction gathering “Bouwbeurs 2015.”
Catenda has started cooperating with Ibis in order to respond to future demand of customers to be able to calculate based on 3D building models. Bimsync allows you to integrate several models, to visualize and review them, as well as to discover any possible clashes. Furthermore, these models can be enriched with additional information. “A major advantage of bimsync is the fact that this software can be used with a web browser everywhere and at any time”, says Jeroen van den Burg, Product Development manager at Ibis. “It’s based on the open IFC standard, which is also increasingly applied in the Dutch market. By integrating bimsync with IBIS-TRAD, we can provide customers with better solutions.”
Since mid 2013, Ibis is the new name for Brink Automatisering and KPD Automatisering – two companies that for the past 40 years have been supplying software and services for the construction sector and civil engineering. Its product range consists of all the required software and supportive services for estimating, budgeting, specifying, calculating, inspecting, planning, long-term maintenance, project management and real estate management. Part of this can also be used on mobile devices and via the cloud. More information can be found on www.ibis.nl.
Catenda is the leading supplier of cloud based open BIM platforms. As a member of buildingSMART, and and the only company involved in all buildingSMART standard developments, we possess unique knowledge in our field. Our vision is knowledge in optimal collaboration. We originated from SINTEF, the biggest research organization in norway. Catenda is focusing on easy distribution and managing of digital models, connecting all relevant information to the BIMs as well as visualisation, collaboration, and issue management. We also provide market leading integration of open BIM technology to any other software solutions.
With IBIS, Catenda is able to bring our open BIM platform, bimsync, to the Dutch market, with a very competent partner. Together with the complete suite of solutions from IBIS, users can greatly benefit from the advantages of open BIM and user friendly tools.
Håvard Bell, CEO of Catenda
If you want to have your terms standardized when using openBIM then using bSDD is the recommended way to do it. But how do you actually go ahead and implement support for bSDD in your software? I then assume you already know the API and how to get information from bSDD itself. This documents covers how information from bSDD is incorporated into a IFC BIM. How to store and exchange the information. In Norway there is a technical specification explaining how this is done but It’s only covering IFC 2×3 and is also a bit outdated with regards to naming. I have therefore created a simple figure and some explanation for how this should be done for both IFC 4 and IFC 2×3. The listings is using names from IFC 4 but with additional information about changes from IFC 2×3 below in the explanation. If you have implemented or intend to implement support for bSDD in your software then please let us know.
Is used to represent the bSDD library in an Ifc file. There should be one and only one instance with Name “bSDD”.
|Source||IfcLabel||URL or name (1)|
|Edition||IfcLabel||Language id. (2)|
|EditionDate||IfcDate||Optional date for last update (3)|
|Description||IfcText||buildingSMART Data Dictionary|
|ReferenceTokens||IfcIdentifier(list)||Not used (6)|
The classification reference is where you store the actual classification. There should be one and only one classification reference for each classification used.
|Location||IfcURIReference||Url to concept (1)|
|Identification||IfcIdentifier||The bSDD GUID (2)|
|Name||IfcLabel||The concept name (3)|
|ReferencedSource||IfcClassification||Pointer back to the source (bSDD)|
|Description||IfcText||The concept description (4)|
|Sort||IfcIdentifier||Not used for bSDD (5)|
The inverse «HasReferences» attribute is used to rebuild the structure of a classification system inside a IFC model. It’s shown on the image but is not relevant for bSDD.
Used to create the actual relationship between the classification item and the objects being classified. In this case between a bSDD GUID (with language representation) and the objects in the BIM
|GlobalId||IfcGloballyUniqueId||The guid generated from the BIM tool|
|OwnerHistory||IfcOwnerHistory||Standard ifc owner history (1)|
|RelatedObjects||IfcRoot (Set)||Objects tagged (3)|
|RelatingClassification||IfcClassificationReference||The bSDD tag (4)|
Optima Kompetanse and Catenda will arrange a Green BIM course in collaboration with the EU project named GreenConServe. Experts from the >University of Life Sciences and from SINTEF Building and Infrastructure will give concrete advice on green BIM. More in Norwegian.
The upcoming version of bimserver will bring many improvements over the existing 1.0 release. While many of the improvements are bug-fixes and optimization there are also a range of new features introduced. Catenda has been following the project for quite some while as we develop most of our tools on top of the latest development of bimserver. We are very exited about the changes and have great expertiaion for the project. There have been many changes and improvements since version 1.0. Some of the major changes are:
Removal of major bottlenecks
Bimserver now uses internal streaming rather than the creation of temporary files for parsing by the geometry kernel. This was one of the biggest performance bottlenecks in version 1.0.
Gives you access to plugins and the EMF core from a client. As a result this gives you the same advanced possibilities on the client as you had on the server in version 1.0.
New protocol buffer interface.
In addition to SOAP and REST bimserver now supports Protocol buffers. This will bring a great deal of speed increase in the communication between bimserver and clients as it replaces encoded XML and SOAP messages with a more light-weigh binary format. There is a figure of the communication interfaces of bimserver at the bimserver wiki.
A new lazy loading feature delays the in-memory instantiation of data from the database until it is needed. This keeps the initial and overall memory footprint on the server side small since only data that has to be operated upon has to be loaded.
Automatic unit conversion
Allows for correct mering of models even when different units is used in the sub-models. The merged model follows the unit conversion for the project while each unit setting is preserved in the original file. This did already exist in version 1.0 but is improved in the new version.
Caching of models and queries
Revision og models are now cashed on server for faster retrival. This speeds things up quite a bit in a mulitiuser environment where several people need to download a merged model or revision to their own machine.
Much improved plugin structure
Bimsever has made it much easier to create plugins to the platform by seperation the core functionality from the server itself. There are already several plugins being developed like a COBIe plugin, several webGL viwers (as the threeJS viewer partly developed by Catenda), an upcoming IFD tagger (also by Catenda) that saves semantic information from IFD onto IFC models etc.
All in all bimserver 1.1 will is a completely revamped version of bimserver and could easily deserve a larger version number to better reflect all the improvements made. Catenda has been using the new server for our product development and are very pleased with the improvements. We are therefore confident to offer a complete setup and maintenance for anyone interested in using the new version for their projects.
For anyone interested in a more deep insight into the latest development I recommend reading the paper “ADVANCES IN THE DEVELOPMENT AND APPLICATION OF AN OPEN SOURCE MODEL SERVER FOR BUILDING INFORMATION” by Jakob Beetz, Léon van Berlo, Ruben de Laat and Peter Bonsma.