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Thursday, April 5, 2012


MArch 2012 

Today the BIMserver.org team is proud to announce that the first Release Candidate of BIMserver 1.1 is public. It has been over a year since the previous release of BIMserver and we have to admit we underestimated the effort. For the enthusiastic users who have high hopes of this release we just want to say: slow down. You won't see a lot of change… The UserInterface is still… well… ready for improvements. And the new features are not the kind you would passionately talk about during your family diner.

Fundamental changes:
Nonetheless everything changed. When we released the 1.0 version of BIMserver, we released software that had all features we thought a BIMserver should be having (revisioning, merging, user management, change finder, querying, RSS feeds, etc..) and even more (clash detection, rulesets, WebGL viewer, etc….). After the release we expressed our intention to transform the BIMserver software from one big chunk of code, to a flexible cohesion of core modules and plugins. By doing this, we are lowering the threshold for people to create extensions, plugins and custom builds. In other words:  creating a stable, flexible, open infrastructure that everybody can use as a strong base to build something on top. We believe this is important for BIMserver to be able to grow into a movement that will be much bigger than just our small team.

This is the part where we miscalculated. Although the BIMserver software had a layered architecture that already was very flexible, it took some time to unravel serializers, deserializers, render engines, objectIDMs (the new name for ignore files), Graphical Interfaces, and their features. At the end of last year, a beta release was created for developers to 'get used' to the new infrastructure. This encouraged lots of developers to create plugins for BIMserver.  Some developers even claimed this 1.1 release should be called a 2.0, because of the structural changes. Others claim this release should have been the 1.0 (and the original 1.0 was just too early).

Because of the involvement of great developers and advanced users during the last couple of months, we are proud to have a BIMserver build with several external plugins. Many thanks and credits go to Chris Bogen (USACE) for their COBie plugin and Thomas Krijnen for the IfcOpenShellrender engine plugin. Also many thanks to Catenda for intensely testing the framework. We hope your bimsync application will be a success. We are very thankful for the effort and are convinced it has made today's release much more stable and reliable. Thanks again to Rehno Lindeque for creating a connection between his Open Source WebGL Viewer (bimsurfer.org) and BIMserver. Many more developers are creating plugins that will be released for public (hopefully) very soon. We can't say too much about it today, but we'll keep you informed via this website. Finally a warm 'thank you' to all people that took the time to test or evaluate the BIMserver software and inform us about issues on http://support.bimserver.org

We had a great year with lots of great talks with prominent people in the world of (open)BIM. We feel a growing interest for the BIMserver.org project and hope the 1.1 release will accelerate the use and appreciation of BIMserver.org.

New features:
Although the new, visible features for end-users are not jumping towards you from the screen…. there are some nice ones we would like to note:

  • The storing of incoming files: even when IFC files are corrupt (or for some other reason not stored in the database) the server manager can always obtain the original uploaded file.
  • Visualisation is gone: we removed visualization from BIMserver. We think a server should be a server and not a visualization tool. We are teaming up with bimsurfer.org for visualization.
  • Internal performance updates: we've improved a great deal of memory usage in this release.
  • Caching of downloads: Both revision and queries  are now cached on server after the first download. This means any additional download (by any user) will have very fast retrieval . This speeds things up quite a bit in a multiuser environment where several people need to download a merged model or revision to their own computer.
  • Progress bar: lots have asked for it, now it's there… a progress bar during checkin and download.

Some more technical new features for the people who love nerd-talk:

  • Ignore files renamed to 'objectIDM'  and are now part of the plug-in structure (to be able to link them dynamically to serializers).
  • Ability to choose renderEngine and objectIDM for a (de)serializer. Default BIMserver is shipped with the TNO IFC Engine Series Library (closed source as a plugin) and open sourceIfcOpenShell. It's up to you which one you use.
  • More server settings.
  • Low level calls: We've added 'add', 'edit', 'delete' calls in IFC objects through the BIMserver API interface. This allows every application to edit the IFC data without upload/download of IFC.
  • Setup page after first startup: No default admin and password anymore. Just choose your own after first startup.
  • Database migrations: In the future, new versions of bimserver will update the database to the new structure. No need to throw away your data every new release anymore!
  • Enable and disable (external) plugins.
  • More info of your running server and improved logging
  • New protocol buffer interface: In addition to SOAP and REST interface, we now support Protocol Buffers. This is a major step towards real-time (streaming) communication with clients.
  • Client Libraries: Allows developers to 'talk' to the API of BIMserver very easy and gives access to the cool BIMserver stuff for their own application (both server-, as client-side).
  • Improved API, including technical documentation: on http://wiki.bimserver.org and JavaDoc of the interface API.

A full list of new features, enhancements and bugfixes (the release notes) can be found on our development site: http://dev.bimserver.org/

Todays release candidate, is a candidate for the final release. Please test this with care and submit your issues on http://support.bimserver.org. We will try to fix bugs and help you with questions there.

There are several builds. If you are looking for the 'old fashioned one-click-and-it-runs-JAR-file' you should download bimserver-combined-1.1.0-RCx.jar. This is renamed to 'combined' because it is now a combination of the BIMserver and the GUI Interface (the HTML you get on the screen). Download the builds on our Google Code Development site: http://dev.bimserver.org/

Installation and setup instruction can be found in a screencast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6CjPuDknlc. Please note that the license of most of BIMserver has changed from GNU GPL v3 to GNU Affero GPL v3. More info on http://www.bimserver.org/license/

Known Issues:
- Please don't use InternetExplorer (IE), but a proper browser like FireFox, Safari or Chrome;
- Clashdetection is unstable (could crash server);
- Some serializers (collada, KML, Google Earth, CityGML) could return corrupt models in some cases.
We are trying to fix these issues for the final release. If you find any other, please report them athttp://support.bimserver.org/

On every new release people ask us why we do this… We even get question what your hidden business model is and how we rip off people without them noticing. None of this is true. Read our 'Philosophy' and guiding principles on http://bimserver.org/about/philosophy/ to understand us a bit more.

We have great plans for the future. We really believe we are at the edge of implementing a mayor change of how the industry uses BIM. If you understand and acknowledge our guiding principles, and want to team up with us, send us your plans and (broadest possible) motivation tocontact@bimserver.org.


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