bsDD - google translate of BIM

bsDD – The Google Translate of BIM

BIM supports interbranch cooperation and communication in the construction industry. The 3D model helps to visualize the designed building. It also helps in solving complex issues at the design stage. However, BIM is not only geometry. The most important thing in BIM is “I“ – Information. Therefore, it’s crucial to determine exactly how we name the objects and their properties and how we identify them. It’s almost the norm that each industry uses different terms to describe the same objects. The ability to search, filter and analyse design information quickly and reliably is one of the greatest advantages of using BIM.  

The problem occurs when many objects are omitted because these objects are not named correctly. When introducing BIM, some naming schemes are used, but they work more often within one organization and may differ significantly between different entities. And what if such differences appear when these companies cooperate on one project. buidingSMART has a solution – bsDD buildingSMART Data Dictionary. What is bsDD? Let’s describe it as BIM’s Google Translate. 

1. What is bSDD - buildingSMART Data Dictionary

For a long time various organizations developing IT standards for the construction industry have been talking about the importance of unifying global terminology. The structure must be useful for computers to enable reliable data exchange regardless of language. The result of the project is the IFD International Framework for Dictionaries (ISO standard since 2007), on the basis of which buildingSMART Data Dictionary works. Let’s note that bsDD isn’t a standard, but a product of buildingSMART. However, it’s built on IFD. ‘bSDD is a universal “translator” which provides data from many different sources expressed in one language. bsDD may be used to, for instance, translate documentation and properties. It ensures that all names related to construction products from around the world keep their original meaning, according to local regulations, approved applications and requirements.’ ‘In short, bsDD is a library of  data-contrast=”none”>“everything” related to construction. It allows users to identify objects and their specific properties. The dictionary is constantly being developed and supplemented with terms related to BIM. Such terms are mapped through synonyms and translations.  The bsDD meaning library includes: 
  • Objects (for example, a door, a wall, a window)  
  • Attributes (heat transfer coefficient, fire resistance) 
  • Participants (architect, BIM manager, electrician) 
  • Phases (design phase) 
  • BIM application (cost estimation, coordination) 
  • Classification (Omniclass, Uniclass) 
  • 2. Application and use of bsDD

    Take for example “door” – regardless if we name this element as “door” or “door set”, the tool will recognize that both are related to the same basic concept – “hinged, sliding or revolving barrier at the entrance to a building, room, vehicle or closet”. 
    Subject "Doorset" in bsDD (source:

    The key element of bsDD is the global unique identifier (GUID). It serves as a unique, language-dependent serial number assigned to each term or definition in bSDD. 

    The GUID serves as a unique constant, allowing finding terms, tracking relationships and maintaining data accurately without the risk of mixing the terms up. The GUID can be used to store and exchange data in model files. It also ensures that the exchanged concept is exactly what the sender or recipient expects. 

    bsDD subject properties
    Attributes of Subject “Doorset” in bsDD (source:
    The development of a common library of technical languages can significantly improve the cooperation in the construction industry and, above all, communication.  bsDD is a helpful tool for supporting BIM workflow, providing the possibility of unifying technical terms regardless of the language used.  In the case of doors in England, France, Germany or Sweden it’s possible to describe them in different words, but they will all refer to the same common understanding described above. 
    Schematic principle of bsDD
    What the architect can name “insulation coefficient”, the construction engineer can call “U-value”. Although the product manufacturer may refer to “thermal conductivity”. Generally, we know that these terms refer to the same thing, but at BIM we need more detailed information. 

    3. How to use bsDD?

    The buildingSMART data dictionary is open for everyone and has an international reach. It’s based on a detailed, language-independent structure. Such structure can be used by external software providers to create their own libraries, enabling customers, designers, consultants and contractors on the one hand, and product manufacturers and suppliers on the other, all over the world, to share and exchange product information easily.

    The application programming interface (API) is available online for anyone who wants to integrate the service with their own. Additionally, the dictionary can be browsed and searched online:

    4. bsDD and openBIM

    When we look at the number of people involved in the project, we realize that there has been a major change over the past years. Companies from different countries and even continents can work on one project. In the course of my professional career, I encountered a situation when it was necessary to create templates especially for an office in India, which translated the names of objects from English into Polish.   It would be much easier to work with a solution such as BsDD.  Linguistic and cultural differences have long been the cause of failures in many projects.  BsDD makes such risk disappear. bsDD is a part of the general concept of openBIM, whereas buildingSMART provides all tools to exchange necessary information during the project.  The buildingSMART standards include: 
    Three basic standards provide the format – IFC, the processes – IDM, and the meaning – bsDD to the information exchanged during the construction project. 


    bsDD is a cloud solution with object lists, properties and concepts related to BIM application. Each entry in bSDD is mapped to all possible derivatives of this concept in different contexts and languages.   BuildingSMART Data Dictionary (bSDD) removes communication issues on a digital construction site. 

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