buildingSMART International Software Certification Program

The buildingSMART Software Certification Program aims to promote consistent and reliable implementations of buildingSMART standards across multiple software vendors and applications throughout the global marketplace. Such consistency helps drive more rapid evaluation, deployment, and acceptance of such standard for the exchange and sharing of building information models.

Currently, the focus is on the implementation of the IFC schema for data exchange. There are two levels of IFC software certification:

  • A base, generic level, called Global IFC Software Certification.
  • A specific level, called Use-case based IFC Software Certification.

Each of these is further divided into export and import parts.

Global IFC Software Certification (export)

The Global IFC Software Certification measures the validity of IFC files produced by software tools. The metrics are generated from the anonymous data collected by the buildingSMART.

Every user can upload their IFC file to get a report about the validity of the file. The aggregation of the results is used to generate 'score cards' about the performance of software tools supporting IFC.

The scorecards are generated per version of a software tool. IFC uploads from software vendors are ignored when producing the scorecards. This means the score cards can only be generated for software tools that are used in practice by actual users. They are only generated when the data in the Validation Service are statistically significant.

Besides the validity (green) and invalidity (red), the score cards also give an overview of what functional parts of IFC are supported and which ones are not. For example, tools that don't export alignment will get a 'grey' card for the corresponding functional part. Tools that do support alignments correctly get a green card, tools that exported alignment with an error get a red card. There are multiple checks per functional part of IFC.

Example of a 'score card' for Global IFC Export certification

Example of a 'score card' for Global IFC Export certification


The score cards can also be used by users to evaluate the capabilities of software tools. For example, when the alignment card is grey, it might be assumed that that software does not have IFC alignment export capabilities.

The principle of the Global IFC Software Certification is that actual IFC files that are used in practice are evaluated and used to provide a score card for certification.  The name 'Global' refers to the fact that IFC is evaluated globally, before and independently from a specific use-case.

This service is freely available to everyone. Software vendors can request a press release to be sent out by buildingSMART when their score cards have reached 'statistically significant' levels. Before sending out the press release an additional check is done by experts, and random tests are performed on the legitimacy of users that uploaded files. This procedure is executed by buildingSMART for a small fee.

Global IFC Software Certification (import)

The import of the Global IFC Software Certification follows the same principle of evaluating software tools that are used in practice by actual users.

buildingSMART publishes openly available IFC files that any user can use to import in their software tool. Every user can evaluate the performance of the IFC import against the expected result.

Users also can fill out a questionnaire about the result of the import. The metrics of all questionnaires are used to generate a result for import performance.

So the procedure is as follows:

  • buildingSMART International provides IFC files and a set of questions,
  • users import the IFC files in their software tools,
  • users answer questions about the quality of the import and submits the answers to buildingSMART International,
  • buildingSMART international aggregates results and publishes results.

Anyone can use this service for free. Software vendors can ask buildingSMART to run the tests by experts. If they pass, this will lead to a press release and official publication in the buildingSMART international certification ledger. This process is carried out by buildingSMART for small fee.

Use-case based IFC Software Certification(export)

The Global IFC Software Certification only evaluates how software tools process IFC. The score cards provide a rudimentary insight on the capabilities of software, but not in detail. This is why there is an extra level of certification called 'Use-case based IFC Software Certification’.

To verify that a software tool can perform a specific use-case, the software tool has to meet more requirements than just compliance against the IFC specification.

For example, if a tool needs to be able to deal with 'Japanese high speed rail alignment curves', or needs to facilitate 'roundtripping', the evaluation of software capabilities goes in more detail than just evaluating the validity of the IFC files.

Currently buildingSMART International has several use-cases defined that are available for certification:

  • IFC2x3 Coordination View V2.0 [CV2.0] for Architects
  • IFC2x3 Coordination View V2.0 [CV2.0] for Construction engineering
  • IFC2x3 Coordination View V2.0 [CV2.0] for MEP
  • IFC4 Reference View [RV1.2] for Architects
  • IFC4 Reference View [RV1.2] for Construction engineering
  • IFC4 Reference View [RV1.2] for MEP
  • IFC 4.3 Reference View for generic use
  • IFC 4.3 Alignment-based View for generic use (expected end of 2024)

Software tools need to have only green and grey cards in the Global IFC Software Certification before being able to start certification on a use-case. In other words: there cannot be errors in the IFC export of software tools when applying for use-case based certification.

The export certification based on use-cases is a partly automated and partly human/manual assessment of IFC files and the software that produces them. buildingSMART International provides this service for a fee. In the future accredited partners may be able to execute the certification for certain use-cases as well.

Use-case based IFC Software Certification(import)

The use-case based certification for import is currently offered for:

  • IFC2x3 Coordination View V2.0 [CV2.0]
  • IFC4 Reference View [RV1.2]
  • IFC 4.3 Alignment-based View
  • All IFC versions: Model as a legal document (expected end of 2024)

The Use-case based Software Certification for import can be an automated process (for example: model as a legal document) or a human/manual evaluation (or a combination of both). It is offered for a fee by buildingSMART International. In the future accredited partners may be able to execute the certification for certain use-cases as well.

Future of Use-case based Software Certification

Many use-cases are regional or national, or maybe even for specific governments. buildingSMART International is therefore working on a distributed network of accredited certification organizations. This way a national/local use-case can be certified by a regional certification provider, following the base principles of buildingSMART. In any situation the software tool needs to pass the Global IFC Software Certification first [1].

Other standards

In the future, we anticipate Software Certification programs also for:

  • IFC5
  • BIM Collaboration Format [BCF]
  • Information Delivery Specification [IDS]


[1] = exception may apply when certification is desired before an official release.