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bsI Software Certification and IFC4

A while ago Graphisoft released an update for their Archicad 24 version, which included a lot of repairs. One of the things that confused me in their list, is the amount of repairs for IFC Export.

That is why I ask the question of how the Certification Program of buildingSMART actually works? Is it possible that a software vendor can release to the public a product (that is apparently certified) and has many problems with export?

According to the bsI certification website, Archicad has been certified on the 05.06.2019, meaning back then Graphisoft was planing to release Archicad 23. According to the b-cert documentation, paragraph 4.1:

“The certification will be provided for a particular software product and version, and not for
all the products of a software developer, or all versions of that product “

Does this mean that Archicad 24 is not anymore certified? Version 24 has been released in June/July 2020, which is newer than the 2019 IFC certification. The bsi website does not mention the version of the certified software, just the name.

Further on, according to paragraph 7.3 of the certification documentation:

“Under the certification process, the Certification Certificate will only be supplied when the
software has passed successfully through all the tests provided by b-Cert”

and also paragraph 7.4:

“If a problem should occur during approval, it will be documented. Any certification results
given will specify the limitations attributable to the problem. As soon as the software
developer is able to demonstrate that the problem is solved, full certification will be given”

So how is it possible that we, the users of BIM Software tools, we see improvement lists by the software vendor that show repairs in the IFC export, to a software that has been apparently certified? How is it possible that software with IFC Problems enters the market as a certified tool? In addition, there is no documentation on the bsI website about the problems with IFC4 exports (as you can see it for IFC2x3) of that particular version.

Hos does the system work?
Whom do we trust if our BIM Authoring tool is capable of doing the job?

1 Like

100% agree with this.

Note that the story may be a little different for IFC2X3 certification vs IFC4 certification. From what I’ve learned, the IFC2X3 certification was, to put it politely, “a little lax”. Products entered the market that were “certified” but actually had lots of known problems and did not actually “pass” all the certification requirements, even known by buildingSMART. The IFC2X3 certificate reports which you can download actually list these problems.

IFC4 however, seems to be a different story and from what I’ve learned, either you pass all and you get the certificate, or you don’t get the certificate. That is why you don’t see the documentation on the problems with IFC4 - because in theory, there should be zero problems. In this regard it is a huge improvement. This means that if a product still makes it to market that is certified but has problems, that means that the buildingSMART certification process is not stringent or robust enough to catch it. Given the scope of IFC, I’m not surprised if this is the case, but hopefully bSI is improving it over time.

Another issue is that certification may not reflect real-life usage. So users will have a different experience to the certifiers. The OSArch approach to this issue is for superusers to re-check real life usecases that we call MicroMVDs which go into a lot of detail into what data might actually be needed on a real project. This is much more meaningful for specifying BIM requirements in contracts than the easy but often insufficient response of “if it is certified, you can use it”. Here are some examples (scroll down in the page for the software results):

The documented approach by users, for users, is the only thing I can trust. It is a fully transparent, open process with automated test cases that can be run by anybody in a reproducible manner on any platform on any IFC dataset. The examples are continuously checked on real projects and updated by a growing community. The list of MicroMVDs is also growing.

The certification process is a black box that is extremely expensive to participate in. We don’t know how robust it is, the scope of the checks, or how it applies to users. There is no real technical reason for it to be this way, though. So maybe buildingSMART can open this up in the future.


Hi @Moult,

back in 2018 at the bsI Summit in Düsseldorf I was present in the BuildingRoom when Prof. Rasso Steinman presented the new method of testing Software for IFC4 certification. He mentioned that there is not going to be a documentation like you could see for IFC2x3, but I don‘t recall him saying that the software either passes or not the certification, so either 100% or not certified. I check the documentation of IFC2x3 from time to time, especially in cases where we were experiencing problems with IFC Export within specific softwares.

Your links form the OSarch look very helpful, but they are something that can be applied to an EIR, respectively to manually test if a specific software is capable of defining those requirement.

Therefore, currently it is not very clear of what this certification actually means. I asked the question if Archciad 24 is certified or not? Based on the specification of certification, it is not: because it is a newer version then the certification! The certification sounds promising but this whole story is a Grey area.

It would be nice to know why we cannot see the documentation for IFC4 certification!