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Showing posts from August, 2011

Open IFC Tools : Open Source IFC Libraries and software

Open IFC Tools ( ) This is a set of Open Source (for non-commercial use) libraries written in Java. It should work on Windows, Linux and OSX. They follow a modular approach, where different packages are being released in order: Open IFC Java Toolbox Boolean Modeller IFC-loader for Java3D 4D Scheduling Assistant Currently, only the Toolbox is available, together with a Java Webstart demonstration to launch the software directly from a browser. This automatically installs the necessary extensions for Java3D, OpenGL, GlueGen. I tried the web-demo but first had to update Java3D on my Mac (as mentioned on ). This viewer loaded the ArchiCAD file without problems and displayed it adequately. You get a view on the actual IFC code, a 3D visualization, the hierarchic object tree of the Spatial structure and the particular attributes of selected entities, which is exactly what you need from a

IFC-SDK : Open Source IFC 2x3 Library

IFC-SDK Formerly: Moved in Dec 2011 to This is an Open Source C++ library for reading and writing IFC files. It does not depend on any external libraries and can be compiled on most modern compilers. It was tested on Windows (g++ and VC++ 2003+2005) and on Linux (g++ 3 and 4). I had no problem compiling it on OSX Snow Leopard, using XCode 3.2.5. It contains a STEP library and an IFC library, alongside a quite large list of example programs, including tests, to explain the features of the library. Using CMake it could compile the full library without problems and the example programs seem to work fine. They are all command-line, so no GUI problems, but nothing fancy to see either. However, there are some caveats... I see very little actual information (project homepage, author and licensing details). however, inside the source code, it is " copyrighted 2009 CSTB " and releas

ifcGears : Open Source IFC Library/Framework & Viewer

ifcGears ( ) This is a C++ Open Source library, providing a framework to generate IFC reader/writer classes from the Express files. In addition, there is an IFC Viewer program, using OpenSceneGraph or OSG ( ) and Nokia Qt SDK ( ). Compilation Issues I was able (after some serious struggle) to compile the ifcGears library and the ifcGearsViewer on OSX. It uses the CMake build system ( ) which has support for OSG. But the GUI-version of CMake on OSX does not properly generate all settings, as it seems to miss the environment variables somehow. When generating the XCode project or the Makefiles using cmake from the command line, things run smoother. Anyway, if you use the graphical CMake, you have to ensure that all libraries are found. I have only used the release-versions. With the OPT_VIEWER you can optionally enable the generation of the IFC Viewer too, but you need OpenSceneGraph ins

ifcOpenShell : Open Source IFC Library/Framework & Geometry Conversion

ifcOpenShell ( ) This is an Open Source projects, written in C++ and which uses the Open Source OpenCASCADE  or OCC libraries for all geometric work (info on ). It is currently available as Source code and some basic programs are written: a 3ds Max IFC Importer (as a max plugin), compiled into a DLL (but renamed for max); a Blender IFC Import script (in Python); a standalone convertor to translate IFC geometry into a Wavefront OBJ file. They use a common parser library and the OCC libraries. I was mostly interested to the approach of both the setup of IFC classes and the integration with the geometry kernel. Currently, the focus seems to be on extracting the geometric objects from IFC files, to use in other software, e.g. for 3D Visualization. For me, the more interesting aspect would be the other way around: having complex, freeform geometry and convert this into valid IFC models for analysis purposes. Compilation

Open Source IFC Frameworks : some experiences

I have been looking at programming Frameworks for IFC ( Industry Foundation Classes ), the open standard to exchange Building Information Models. I assume you are at least aware of what they are and what they contain... While most commercial BIM software currently exports and opens IFC documents, I was interested to learn about actually doing something directly with these files, e.g. analyzing and visualizing or even generating them. There are a few free IFC viewers available. Tekla BIMsight and Solibri Viewer are both recommended (the latter even cross-platform). But they are closed and can not be adapted for other purposes. However, I also read about a few interesting Open Source projects for creating and opening IFC files. BIMserver : ifcOpenShell : ifcGears : IFC-SDK : Open IFC Tools : In the next posts, I will discuss some of the

CryENGINE 3 : free SDK for non-commercial work

The CryENGINE is a professional Game Development system, in which you can fully author interactive content, games, simulations. The Software Developers Kit (SDK) was already free for schools, but now individual students can also freely use the 3D engine. It is a powerful platform, but it requires fairly up to date hardware and Windows. I have not had the chance to use it, nor play any of the CryENGINE powered games, but it is one of the more famous ones (apart from the Unreal Engine and the Unity3D engine which both are also freely available under certain limitations). Info on (Edit: Feb 2015 > updated the above link)

Free IES-Gaia for education

IES (or Integrated Environmental Solutions) has a range of tools for sustainable design analysis. They now offer free 12-month academic licenses to VE-Gaia for educational institutes (contact enquiries at They already offer £50 licenses for students (per year) so I'm not sure what is provided with this academic offer. The software seems to be Windows-only. Announcement: The VE-Gaia software Info on This is a standalone application focusing on building performance simulation with included visual and text-based reporting. It looks at following criteria: building characteristics: area/volume ratio, solar loads, thermal mass, material usage climate exploration energy/carbon (including temperatures, humidity and comfort at room level) lighting (daylighting and solar shading) use of natural resources

OS X Lion : to upgrade or not?

A few weeks ago, the new release of OS X (without the "Mac" now) called Lion , was made available in the Apple App Store (no DVD or boxes to buy!) for the small sum of $29.99. If you are using a Mac and have the hardware to run it (intel, recent processor), you can easily upgrade. However, having "some" experience with upgrading Operating Systems (from Windows 3.1 till 7, from MacOS 7 till 9, from OSX 10.3 till 10.6, from several Ubuntu and other Linux distros), I know that thing can and will go wrong. Not with the core software from the manufacturer (e.g. Microsoft Office when upgrading Windows or iLife when upgrading OSX). So I started to look around a bit. Snow Leopard (OSX 10.6) still took a while before some of my hardware was supported (some still isn't). I compiled a list of some of the expected problems for some of the applications I use. I advice you to do the same. Beware, running on the new OS does not imply that applications will support the new

New release : Cinema4D r13

While I haven't had the chance to try it out, now is a good time to check out the improvements announced for Cinema4D release 13, which is said to be available in September. Right... So when we start the new semester, suddenly we will have to upgrade our software: Cinema4D r13, ArchiCAD 15, maybe Rhino3D 5? This is quite inconvenient as we need some time to learn the new features, see if it makes sense to incorporate them into our learning material and maybe update a few of the screenshots or text in our learning material. I just finished the text for release 12... (see  ). Anyway, there are some interesting new features. The full detail can be read on different places, e.g.  which has screenshots and movies linked. The downloadable tutorials are free for a short while without registration ! Hurry up! The "executive summary", with the new or improved feat