The Benefits of Software Certification
The benefits of software certification are spread across the spectrum of stakeholders in the industry, from software users to developers and beyond, including the clients of services and owners of facilities.
Software developers have in-house processes for unit and beta-testing during their own internal software development, but users must depend on certification by independent, third-party, standards authorities to insure that the quality of interoperability among software in the marketplace meets broader user goals and needs. After certification, users can validate the results of development and certification with their own specific requirements and exchanges.
Certified software enables clients to specify the delivery of services and data without worrying about format, compatibility, or versioning of platforms used by the service providers or the client internally. The only requirement, which can even be specified in contracts, is that IFC certified software and data exchange and/or delivery is used.
The certification process and results can also help the users identify problems and diagnose where they may lie as well as whose responsibility it is to resolve. For example, if two users, an architect and a structural engineer, of two different applications, exchange a model using IFC and have an issue, the possibilities of troubleshooting include, but are not limited to:
- The model is unable to be read by the receiving application because both or either application may not be certified and are unable to encode or decode the IFC information correctly, even if "properly" modeled by the author;
- Parts of the model don't appear because the software is not certified for the correct IFC version or exchange requirements or the author may have overridden the application in the encoding of a model component and caused an error;
- Information attached to components or parts of the model are missing because while both are using properly certified software and able to fully exchange the models, the author of the model may have omitted the needed information from the components.
The buildingSMART IFC Certification processes provide the participating software developers with a quality assurance methodology, a series of testing tools, a series of test cases for export and import (at different scales and complexity), and access to a team of IFC experts.
The test environment is tailored to the specific exchange requirements that are satisfied by an official IFC Model View Definition (such as the Coordination View 2.0, and the Reference View 1.2) that forms the basis for this certification process.
The results are internationally recognized certificates deemed to distinguish software applications for their support of interoperability and open standards across many, including strategic, user organizations.
In detail, each participating developer get access to the online certification center that supports the workflow of certification, from creation and uploading of test cases to final verification and reporting of test results. This includes:
- The automatic test routines exclusively defined for the certification process that can be run by participants at any time (including regression tests);
- The checklist for manual verification used by the certification team for final checks, the individual check items are tight to the requirements (or concepts) of the IFC Model View Definition for the particular certification;
- the automatic tracking of issues (and a discussion tool to ask for clarification and help);
- the online 3D IFC viewer that displays the errors directly within the 3D model;
- the elaborated test cases - those are test instructions for generating export test files, and calibration files for import;
- the ability for self-checking prior to final certification;
- the certification support center itself carried out by a certification team;
In addition, the developer realizes international marketing benefits by being associated the IFC Certification Program and is included in buildingSMART International press releases on progress and results of certification, as well as the right to display the official buildingSMART certification logo in products.