~ Industry Foundation Classes Web Ontology Language
When a BIM software user exports a model to IFC, it is usually done in a so-called ‘step’ file. Opening a model in a text editor such as ‘notepad’ or ‘WordPad’, will show a text file with line numbers and references. The object types such as ‘WallStandardCase’ are visible as well. Line number references allow the computer to build an entire IFC dataset.
An ifcOWL file contains exactly the same IFC data. The built model in the computer will therefore lead to the same result. The only difference is the way the data is stored. When opening an ifcOWL file in ‘notepad’ or ‘WordPad’, you will not see any line numbers, but a computer language with brackets such as ‘<‘ and ‘>’. Whereas in an IFC step file the object types were written in capital letters at the beginning of the line, these data are in an ifcOWL file between such brackets.
The manner in which the IFC data is described (the syntax) is different, but the content of the IFC data is the same.
The OWL technology holds opportunities to connect the IFC Schema in a relatively simple way with other BIM standards and standards from other domains (like GIS, CityGML, etc). This also offers an alternative approach to concept libraries.