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Report about the buildingSMART International Standards Summit in Tokyo (Japan)

International Summit in Japan, Tokio

The international buildingSMART community, consisting of experts from the construction and real estate industry, gathered in Tokyo from 16 to 19 October 2018 for the International Standards Summit. Among them was Klaus Aengenvoort (eTASK CEO) who advocates openBIM standards through his association work. He brought along a short report about the buildingSMART International Standards Summit:

Every year the international openBIM community meets twice at the buildingSMART International Summits. In spring in Europe and in autumn outside Europe. After having visited several summits in Europe (Rotterdam, Barcelona, London, Paris, yes you get around quite a bit) I flew to Tokyo for the first time.

I had thought that it should be enough to always be there in spring, but then I travelled to Asia for the first time. Arriving in Tokyo, I was surprised who was there (all of them) and I was happy to have flown there.

We were able to discuss many topics and it was therefore important to be there to participate in the decisions that will shape the next six months until the Summit in Düsseldorf.

As always, I was in the Product Room a lot. This is the meeting place for product data, but the name “Product Room“ is misleading for those who are not concerned with the depths of IFC. Therefore, I will begin by briefly explaining how the name comes to be.

In the Product Room, it is not „only“ a question of modelling information on concrete building products that can be used in buildings, but also and in particular the question of how the IFC basic schema can be efficiently and dynamically extended. So it is about how you can extend IFC with classes or characteristics, for example, without undermining or violating the IFC standard. Ultimately, we’re working on how to extend IFC in a controlled way.

Besides the extension of IFC it is also about the simple things, e.g. translating the standard into other languages (i.e. localizing). I want to start with my report, because this year I had a German translation in my luggage, which I had worked out together with Mirbek Bekboliev and many other colleagues from buildingSMART Germany over the last 12 months.

I have shown our translation and made a proposal on how to proceed with it. Our aim is to ensure that the translated and quality-checked texts are quickly transferred to IFC. For this purpose, the texts must be published in the same way on two web pages ( and It was important to us that the publication should function as automatically and securely as possible and that we should be able to contribute further content in the future without too much effort.

The Product Room accepted our proposal in its closing session (PR 2018-10:03) and now we are working to make it a reality. It was good that the chapters in Russia and Spain are currently also working on the translation of IFC. We have decided that we will carry out the agreed workflow for introducing language packages together. First, we will practice with the language „de-DE“ and then we can follow with „ru-RU“ and „es-ES“. A short note about the language abbreviations: The first abbreviation always stands for the language and the second for the culture. The abbreviation „de-DE“ means: Language=German and Culture=Germany. The colleagues from Switzerland also speak the German language, but with the Swiss culture, so they have „de-CH“ and so on.

There was also a very interesting development on the question of how to dynamically extend IFC in the future (we are talking about „How do we define sematics?“). Technically, this could actually be quite simple, but we want to and must avoid every player on the market building its own expansion. Then with BIM we get the problem that we had CAD with the layers, but in a much larger dimension. The data exchange without any agreement can only work if you agree on „semantic packages“, as we do with CAFM-Connect. It is difficult to define a semantic for building construction and infrastructure worldwide, which then works everywhere in detail. It is better to be able to define more specific „semantic packages“, except that these packages must not be too small so that you don’t have to redefine them for each construction project.

In Tokyo it was decided that the IFC core schema should not include all new classes, but that in the future many many (not all) new classes and features will be formulated and published as extensions. The drafting of this Decision is in progress.

At the end of March 2019 we all meet again in Düsseldorf. I am looking forward to meeting colleagues from all over the world in the Rhineland and maybe to show some of you our beautiful city of Cologne, if there is time.

Anyway, we’ll have a nice time in Düsseldorf and then I’ll report again.

Until then I wish you all the best,
Klaus Aengenvoort

You can find out more about IFC translation and participation for this project on the website of buildingSMART.

You can read the report in German here.

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