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I'm alive and so is BIM

So I haven't had the chance to post a lot, lately. That is not because I had nothing to say, but because I was busy. As anybody else, I guess. In fact, most of the people I meet are more than busy and getting eaten up by work, responsibilities...

Well, this isn't a post about complaining, beware. I thought I'd share a little thing, which might appeal to some of you. I'm working quite a lot with IFC files lately and while I clearly recommend to at least use a good viewer to check what you are exporting from your BIM software of choice or when checking an IFC you get from somebody else.

But from time to time, you need to dig inside the raw IFC data. The well-structured but otherwise not-meant-to-be-read IFC text code.

So you load up Notepad (on Windows) or TextEdit (on Mac) and open an IFC file... Well, better stop at this point. For one, notepad is nowhere up to any serious text editing task and secondly, well, it'll frustrate you. You need at least a decent code-editor that supports syntax hightlighting and line numbering, at the very least.

I have been using Crimson editor (discontinued since 2008) and more recently Notepad++ on Windows with good success and on OSX TextWrangler, which has been free for quite a while yet still with sufficient functionality for most text editing efforts (writing php, editing source code file, checking cmakelists.txt, reading "readme's", adjusting system settings files).

When loading an IFC file, non of the default Textwrangler language modules properly formats the IFC STEP-formatted file, so I created a language module for IFC.

So instead of looking at this unformatted spelling-checked raw text inside Textedit (or Notepad):

you can at least look at this inside TextWrangler:

While I assume that some dedicated IFC-editors (that is, looking at the rough text) probably exist, I'm quite pleased with a decent, constantly updated and well supported editor such as TextWrangler. It's inside the Appstore for free, it supports the new Retina display, it has powerful find and replace functionality, syntax highlighting, some macro's for text editing. The only thing bothering me is that I cannot indent text using the Tab key, like I used to do in other code-editors and that I haven't figured out how to 'run' a script from here, e.g. cmake a cmakelists.txt file or python a py file.

The actual Language Module for IFC that I created, which might be incomplete, but is far better than none, can be downloaded from my dropbox. It's very small (26 kB) and you need to copy it into the (hidden) Library subfolder on your Mac:

Go to your hidden Library folder underneath your used profile (in Finder: Command-Shift-G and enter the path ~/Library) and then to Application Support > TextWrangler > Language Modules and copy the file ifc.plist (an XML-formatted property list).

If any of you makes an improvement, please be so kind to share it.


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