Thursday 9 September 2010

buildingSMART Summit Week - Day Four

Day one | Day two | Day three
My final day at Denmark was spent at the International Framework for Dictionaries (IFD) Group Workshop. IFD compliments IFC by allowing the creation of detailed international property sets for construction products. The definition of these property sets gives two very clear benefits:

  • The ability for manufacturers to add their product data against these generic definitions. This allows the designer to describe a desired construction product and then to be presented with a list of manufacturer products that comply with this description.
  • The ability to translate product descriptions between languages. When a construction team may not all speak the same language then the ability to translate building documentation is vital. For example, the specification could be translated from Norwegian to Danish or from Spanish to Dutch.

NBS are keen observers of the IFD project and it was fascinating to see these developments and how they are currently being implemented. Jacob Mehus from Standards Norway was the main speaker and the Norwegians are clearly one of the global leaders in this field.

There are three basic rules to those adding content to the IFD library:

  • Content may only be added for your own country – the experts in their own nation
  • All content must have “definition” – for example, this product being described is an ifcwindow
  • All data entered must be in International English as well as the author’s native language – this allows the translation aspect of IFD

Some nice examples of IFD being implemented and used in Norwegian software applications at the moment were presented in the afternoon. SmartKalk is calculation software that allows costs to be added to an IFC model that utilises IFD. The Catenda IFD based knowledge based search is a smart phone application that allows electricians to quickly search regulations in an intelligent way. The search returns give the words context and a list of parts. So if you search for bathroom – you get “wetroom” as a context and “bath”, “mirror”, “shower tray” as suggested parts.

The IFDSignOn project is particularly interesting and is similar in a way to RIBA Enterprises NBS Plus service. This is 30% government funded and it will be used from day one when launched by the Norwegian Defence Agency that clearly has huge purchasing power. It is expected that manufacturers will be very keen to get their data into the service. The manufacturer data is matched to the IFD requirements and then the product is specified. This is to be released in 2011.

At the end of the session there was a sharing of developments around the table. Really nice to hear what is happening in countries such as Denmark, New Zealand and The Netherlands.


  1. thanks for all the reports this week, stephen. really interesting stuff & lots to ponder. almost like being there :)

  2. Thanks Emma - nice to know that a few people liked reading about it. The camera I had was my 5 year old's £25 digital cheap n nasty one. Hope the pictures were OK?