IFC & attributes import & export

Quick question:

Where is Trimble at on expanding the capabilities of Sketchup vis à vis IFC & attribute import/export ?

the moment, if I’ve understood correctly, one can label components
& groups following the IFC classes… & when exported &
opened in Bimsight or Eve or whatever we can see the class info.
unlike the biggies (Revit or Archicad or whatever) we can’t yet add
extra attributes like name (of an Ifc:Space object for example) or a
cost or other enrichment & have it show up in an IFC viewer) ???
Apparently if we import an IFC file from one of the biggies we do get their extra attribute information… ?

has anyone any news, or info about a clever plugin that can add our own
extra info to a correctly classified IFC object and have that info get
exported with the “export3d>IFC” functionality ?

Thanks, & sorry if someone else has already done a thread on EXACTLY this, but I didn’t find it ! (some similar, but not exactly & especially no answers from Trimble)

Trimble Navigation is a publicly traded company, and employees are restricted (by law) with respect to making ANY forward looking statements concerning the future of their products or services.

When such statements are released, it usually coincides with the actual product release, and is not made by us mere software programmers. :smile: (But the marketing types.) And certainly not so informally, as in a random forum post. :wink:

The API exposure of the internal classification features, are not yet complete, so there has not yet been much plugin experimentation.

For example, setting choice attributes is not yet implemented in the API, and raises an code error (even if we attempt to set one correctly.)

Not sure. Do you have an example SKP with imported IFC objects ?

Dan, thanks for your reply… its what we call in french une réponse de normand.
I can understand that you can’t divulge specific future functions, especially to a lowly “random” user/customer of many years faithful following…
However, somebody must be able to say whether at a strategic level Trimble wants sketchup to remain a viable option for smaller scale architecture outfits who will need to have a bit more control than just basic IFC info attached to our building objects if we don’t want to have to go over to Rvt or other "biggies2.
I don’t know what an API is, i’m not a programmer, and the number of acronyms that we need to understand grows exponentially every year, but if I read correctly between the lines, things are still along way from being possible in terms of attribute enrichment for all those amazing people out there who either just use sketchup to build building (my case) or write plugins (sadly not my case).
Heho, let’s just hope somebody up the chain of corporate command will hear our need and get it implemented by those who know how… and tell the marketing folks to bang the drum so we know about it…

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I’m doing some tests, now with SU2016 it is possible to export IFC with the name and the IFC type, but i agree with you that it is necessary to get possibility to add more info in IFC exported objects.

I design special structures in large scale projects and I’m having a lot of troubles in BIM projects, clients requests to reach LOD 400 and some times 500, Revit is not able to reach this high level of detail easily, but SU can. I hope that SU programmers can understand this big chance in a way to move SU to be in the next future a BIM platform for the “developed design” stage also for large scale projects.
In the meanwhile i try to use both plaforms revit and SU using best tools they can provide: Dynamo and revit for the definition of the schematic design and repetitive elements - SU for the detailing…maybe someone else if doing the same…

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Hmm, good to know I’m not alone ! Just got back from 3 days of BIM training where I tried to defend Sketchup as a BIM tool & was laughed at by the Rvit boys… c’mon Trimble, get your act together & stop being so secretive; we need some reassurance here that SU will in the near future allow for more enriched information to be added and exported to our ifc files.
I for one would be gutted if I had to go back to a
desk & sign up for R*vit… As I said in the training workshop, why take a bazooka to kill a fly ? I do not build billion dollar hospitals or prisons, I build housing and small-scale public buildings !
So, let’s keep our fingers crossed…


there are a lot of architects and designer that run concept design all with SU and then at the the end of the design process they re draw everything in Revit to reach the LOD requested from BIM execution plans of the project. I try to convince them that it is not necessary to lost all this time and that it is possible to generate drawings and schedule also from SU.
However to database of Revit is a great tool to manage data and drawings, big files, it gives you possibility to work with ateam of persons in the same file and even if the modeling in Revit for special structures that not follow traditional “floors design” is so bad respect SU, a lot of person will continue to use Revit.
I think that the first approach is to find a way to insert SU in BIM workflow of Revit, using IFC efficiently, in a way that we can use the power of the revit database management or to get the possibility to insert SU design in BIM sharing platforms as Naviswork. In this way we will get the chance to answer quickly to client actual requests.
In the meanwhile it is necessary to increase database management inside SU environment, maybe think to unify Layout to SU, and create a new Big BIM platform where models will be lighter then Revit, user friendly, and stable (I don t know if you try to do some projects in revit, it crashed frequently!), for sure trimble has to work a bit on the management of big files also.
I think that Tekla is a fantastic platform, but it is used more from contractors and not from designer. SU will have the chance to cover concept design stage, and developed design stage for realize of high detailed IFC drawings and schedules for general contractors.
To finish the last point that it is necessary to consider is the visual programming, Dynamo is growing up quickly and it helps a lot in modeling, drawings managements, repetitive actions, sharing data with databased. In SU only this year a company is trying to develop a similar platform for SU,called VIZ, but it is still in beta version. This will be the new way to work in the future…I think that trimble has to provide same possibility…
Say this, I happy to know to be not alone…let’s keep ours fingers crossed ;-)…waiting some good news from Trimble…

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Hi, very interesting to hear how others are trying to work with SU in the context of BIM & what the implications are…
Basically, for the moment, although geometrically there is no limit to the detail we can attain in SU, we are left standing at the start line concerning alpha-numeric data.
From what I understood from Dan Rathbun (look higher in this thread) even if some whizz wanted to write a clever set of tools for enriching the data linked to our objects, it would get lost at the gate when exporting to IFC.
So, it’s that problem that I for one hope is solved for SU 2017 and that very fast following that, someone smart will write the code for a/several tools for enrichment that we all need in order to avoid having to go R*vit !

Keep the messages coming, as I’m sure somebody at Trimble will read them & may decide to give us some feedback…
Meantime, happy BIMming (DIY attitude) - oh, & for those who read French, here’s an article I wrote about DIY BIM Webmail: access your OVH emails on ovhcloud.com | OVHcloud

Interesting topic - we are dedicated SU office but need our designs rolled over into REVIT used by other firms for documentation. I will only issue SU files but I want to prempt complaints from lazy REVIT users who insist on us doing it in REVIT.

Accordingly I have been experimenting with IFC’s as hinted at by a recent Plusspec article.

I have also found it to be the best method for rolling over as it keeps SU data structure in REVIT for them to control as they see fit and does not have the problems of scaling via SU import into RT.

What would be a big help in this would be having the IFC structure linked/mapped to the Layer structure so I if I put a group or component in a layer [say COLS, the IFC classification is also added eg IFCcolumns] without me having to individually assign the IFC on every entity.

Of course , it seems even if we could add additional data to the IFC it seems that REVIT ignores it anyway…

Hi, it’s the last phrase that intrigues & worries me… “Of course , it seems even if we could add additional data to the IFC it seems that REVIT ignores it anyway…”
So heh Trimble people, hope you are reading this thread; please make this untrue & give us more scope or adding extra alpha-numerical data to ifc classified objects… and the sooner the better please !

[quote=“paddyclown, post:9, topic:22191”]
“Of course , it seems even if we could add additional data to the IFC it seems that REVIT ignores it anyway…”
So heh Trimble people, hope you are reading this thread; please make this untrue[/quote]

Sorry… no matter how hard we try, we won’t be able to change what Revit ignores :wink:

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Well, that I can understand; autodesk is a law unto it’s huge corporate self :wink:
However, that doesn’t preclude adding the possibility for us to add extra alpha-numeric data to objects in SU, does it ?
Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

This might be a problem in SketchUp, as SketchUp’s layers are only visibility / behavioral property sheets shared by objects. In SketchUp “layers” are not geometric object collections like in other CAD programs. So you do not actually put objects “on” layers in SketchUp.

But I can see how associating IFC objects via layers can help export (for other applications that actually do have geometric layering.)

It might also be helpful to request this feature of 3rd party IFC import / export extensions.

third party ? SU does import/export ifc… no ? - so why worry about third parties ?
The main issue, as I keep saying, is to be able to add more alpha-numeric data to objects (other than just their ifc-class) and have that export/import correctly (associated with the objects that have been correctly ifc classified…)
My initial question stands: what if any progress can we expect from Trimble on that, & in what ball-park time frame ?
Thanks :slight_smile: - hoping to never have to go look for something else, especially not nasty clunky big stuff like R*vit or Archic(r)ade…

I’ll answer this by answering your restated initial question:

I’ve been involved with SketchUp since just before v 7.0 initial release (early 2008.) Many of the first FRs I filed in that cycle, or have joined other requestors in promoting, have either only recently or have not yet been implemented. (Not counting those just dismissed as “will not implement”.)

I am speaking of what most users would think as “no brainer” type features that make the application easier to maintain and use.

So it took 7 years to get MS tray panels implemented.

Six or more, for only the most basic IFC classification attributes.

Let us cut that in half to 3, just for argument sake, and ask you, are you willing to wait 3 years for your IFC dreams to come true ? (Note, if Google still owned SketchUp I would not be halving the six version cycles.)

If you are not willing to wait, then 3rd party import / export extensions are the alternative. (Extensions, by the way, are usually not limited to a specific app version like native import and export features are. Such a extension, could be backward compatible to SU2014 at least.)


Thanks for that; actually 3 years is not such a big deal in our context…
Given the small scale of what we do, & the different small/medium contractors that we work with…
(For the moment most of them still can’t open a 2d plan in dwg format, so the road is long.)

However, I was just trying to anticipate 5/10 years down the line & hoping that we won’t have to learn yet another environment that far down the line… I’ve already changed everything a few times since I started 3d modelling in 1988, & 2d draughting in the early 90’s, but getting older I am much less inclined to start over, so if in 3 years we have some comprehensive extended data possibilities, that’s fine by me.
Having said that, you’re right, if some 3rd party comes up with a plugin or suite thereof, no complaints :slight_smile:

All the best,

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It seems like export to IFC currently implemented in SketchUp ignores all custom properties attached to objects and saves only basic IFC attributes. It is easy to reproduce using any sample IFC file generated by other software products (a lot of sample IFC files available on-line). Steps to reproduce:

  1. import sample IFC file
  2. take a look at attributes of imported objects and notice any custom property sets attached by a software product, which generated sample IFC file
  3. export active model to a new IFC file
  4. import result IFC file and take a look at attributes again: all extra data except basic IFC attributes will be lost unfortunately.
    So maybe the problem is not that Revit ignores extra data, but SketchUp ignores it during export to IFC (it is just an assumption though, because I’m not able to test how Revit works with IFC).
    Anyway I hope ability to preserve extra data during export to IFC will be implemented in future versions of SketchUp.

It looks like on both sides, Autodesk and Trimble, there is a lack of will to implement model sharing. Like many of you, I’ve been around for a few years, and this discussion was exactly the same with .dwg, .dwf, .dxf and so on. Autodesk uses file formats to bind users to its platforms. It’s a little like a country using its language and import/export laws to restrict imports, even if those borders are officially open (reference UK and the EU, for example).

So while Trimble and Autodesk are both officially implementing IFC for file sharing, this doesn’t currently work, nor will it (most likely) ever work.

Trimble SketchUp has LayOut, and since LayOut is one of the few reasons to upgrade to Pro (i.e. the paid version), Trimble are not about to go and encourage a workflow using Revit instead of LayOut. That’s sensible business practice, however much we might dislike it.

A few years back I spoke with the SketchUp team, and they stated that their aim was to play nicely with other software such as Revit. However, that was when they were owned by Google (i.e. Version 8 and before). Since being owned by Trimble the coordination with Revit was dropped (i.e. since version 2013). This is from Autodesk’s website:

“Note: Revit supports the import of files from Trimble® SketchUp® 8 and earlier releases. Files from later releases of Trimble® SketchUp® are not supported.”

The reason I’m highlighting this, is that waiting for model sharing or import/export between Revit and SketchUp Pro is not really a sensible course of action, and I second Dan Rathbun’s words on this.

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I agree and disagree. SketchUp models in Revit is generally a waste of time because they use different types of 3D modelling. Revit’s basic 3D geometry is based on solids, whereas SketchUp uses face geometry. Revit therefore handles faces rather poorly, for instance, no smoothing is possible. It works much better in the other direction - Revit can export 3D models to DWG both as solid and face geometry, and these import into SU quite adequately.

On the other hand, IFC is generally not a good model exchange format. It is a good information exchange format. The only IFC files that produce a decent editable BIM model to be used in program X are usually originally exported from program X. Otherwise, the usefulness of IFC is in applications like Solibri or Trimble’s BimSight that provide tools for combining models from many disciplines and extracting all kinds of data from them.

Just my 2c.


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I thought I’d weigh in here after a troublesome experience sharing my SU model through IFC with my engineer.

My problem with IFC export is that it is buggy. I have a model with multiple axes nested at different levels in nested groups/components, and IFC export scatters everything all over the place. In addition, IFC is quite strict about what kind of ElementType gets applied - some tag types can only be applied to a child element of another tag (eg IfcBuilding must be within a IfcSite element). If you ‘break the rules’ in your model, the result is an IFC export that is very messy, with entities from one context located next to other entities that should never be.

What I think we need is a guide, from Trimble about how to build an IFC friendly model, and an explanation of its pitfalls.

In response to some who think getting IFC right wouldn’t be beneficial in business terms, I would disagree. Much of the conversation about transferring data from Sketchup/Revit above has been about transferring formats within an architectural practice; typically, from developed design (Sketchup) to Technical Design (Revit). If Sketchup is to be pushed further into the Technical Design sphere, we need to share our model with other professionals - Engineers, M&E consultants, Quantity Surveyors, etc. This is where good IFC support would be most valued.

Trimble and others have been talking up SketchUp as a BIM platform ever since Classifier arrived on the scene. To me, the term BIM means good, structured and easy information sharing between professionals. I would not consider SketchUp to be BIM unless IFC is properly supported.

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The best classifying system would be one that the user doesn’t have to worry about. This is perhaps not possible within a general purpose 3D modelling application like SketchUp but the dedicated BIM apps already handle this decently.