bSDD localization

Hi Team,
what are your ideas on localizing and using localized bSDD?


  • English is not mandatory
  • It will help to spread the BIM word
  • Language preservation in the construction industry.


  • Resources required for translating and maintenance
  • It will close the market
  • Most of the software will not support the localized attribute definitions
  • It is possible to rename attributes on-demand, using authoring software or recipes form IfcOpenShell.

I work in a small country and the market here is relatively open. Most of our contractors are local companies, but sometimes we do work with the architectural offices from abroad.

I have prepared the explanations for BIM Forum’s attribute definitions for our designers and contractors (c.a. 450 attribute names), just I’m not sure I should insist on localizing the names.

The language we use is quite unique and there will be no chance to re-use the translation.

@ejs Check the bSI Translation Framework and also the tutorial resources Chapters – buildingSMART International User Program. There are some ongoing Translation projects in several chapters. We at the bS Spain Chapter have an active Translation project, too. The goal is to provide the translation layer into the bSDD through the current Github bridge.

Contact with @artur_tomczak for further information.

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Hi @ejs, the bSDD allows every data dictionary to have translations and every software to be able to read that information through our API - free of charge. The desired scenario is to display definitions in the user language of choice while preserving consistent machine codes. In other words, the IFC file stores the same codes, but users can see their official translations.

When it comes to the data dictionary of IFC curated by buildingSMART - as @daviddelven mentioned, we have a process of translation involving national chapters in proofreading. Yes, it is labour-intensive, but hopefully, it increases the international adoption of IFC. To get involved, please see the resources posted by @daviddelven. To be displayed in bSDD, the translation has to be approved by a responsible chapter.

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Thank you for the clarification.
So in general, I should require the attribute names in a IFC data to be presented in the “machine English”, and the translation (eg. en_GB, en_US, lt_LT) should be the display layer over the IFC data? I’m preparing the information delivery requirements in the scope of LOIN for the next stage of BIM adoption, and would like to avoid requiring an incompatible data to be set in the models.

As for the language adoption, there are around 4M speakers worldwide and this is an isolated linguistic group. Hopefully, I will have my translation of the bSDD, which can be merged to the global efforts.

I was involved in some translation projects, like Mozilla Thunderbird, LibreOffice suite and i think I can understand the purpose of “translation” to en_GB and en_US :slight_smile:

The IFC file content remains unchanged so it should not influence your information delivery. We want to offer users the possibility to see the meaning of the data displayed in their desired language. For this to happen, software needs to be able to read the translation from the bSDD.

4M is not such a small audience :slight_smile: What language are you interested in? Is there a local buildingSMART chapter which could review and approve the translation? It might be good to start with only the most used IFC entities/properties - it doesn’t have to be a complete translation.

So here comes the key question: the language used for the attribute names. My starting point was attribute names from the BIMforum. They can be renamed or adjusted to fit the bSDD definitions, but there are still some attribute names, defined in the specific context or trade, and they are missing from the bSDD. Like ones to describe a tree:

Attribute name; Data type; Units; Name, English; Examples, English; Name Lithuanian; Examples, Lithuanian
LAND - Crown dimensions; Number; m; Size of the crown in N, E, S, W directions; Lajos dydis Š, R, P, V kryptimis; 4.5, 5, 5.5, 5
LAND - Plant quality index; Text; ;Overall estimated quality of a plant; 10 - Excellent, 7 - Good, need to be improved; 0 - dead, needs to be removed; Augalo būklės indeksas; 10 - Puiki, 7 - gera, reikia priežiūros, 0 - žuvęs, reikia šalinti.
LAND - Roots diameter; Number; m; Diameter of roots under caution; ;Saugomas šaknų diametras;
LAND - Species Latin name;Text; ;Species name in Latin; ;Augalo rūšies lotyniškas pavadinimas; Quercus robur

The bSDD in the phase of development, and I hope there will be some way to add the required information. But the data is to arrive now.

Not sure if I understand correctly. You can add new terms to bSDD in the form of the new data dictionary. Right now we have over 100 of those. You could add a dictionary for tree identification where you define those properties and also provide them with Lithuanian translation.

Each property in bSDD can be described with attributes defined by the ISO 23386 such as Unit, Data type, Translation, Example etc. All of those are a part of bSDD data schema which you can read about here: bSDD/Documentation/bSDD JSON import at master · buildingSMART/bSDD · GitHub

What we were talking about with @daviddelven is the translation of IFC which is the schema and data dictionary curated by buildingSMART. It’s only one of many data dictionaries in bSDD.

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