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Last modified: April 25, 2002
aecXML Working Group - Architecture, Engineering and Construction

[August 18, 1999] aecXML for Architecture, Engineering and Construction. A new 'aecXML' working group has been formed to develop schemas for the exchange of AEC-specific business-to-business information. The aecXML schema work is being designed to assist software companies, construction firms, academic institutions, building product manufacturers, and information publishers. According to the announcement, "Bentley Systems, Incorporated has developed an initial specification for aecXML, a framework of XML-based schemas to facilitate communications related to designing, specifying, estimating, sourcing, installing and maintaining construction products and materials over the Internet. [The working group] is looking for interested parties to review and exchange ideas on the initial aecXML specification. . ."

The press release ("Bentley Announces aecXML for Architecture, Engineering and Construction. Company Submits XML Schema for A/E/C Project Communication For Industry Review") describes aecXML as a "framework of XML-based schemas to facilitate communications between and among the various constituents involved in the A/E/C process, including: architects, engineers, contractors, owner/operators, estimators, consultants, materials suppliers, building product manufacturers, and others. aecXML uses the XML-standard revolution to remove the current barriers to exchanging A/E/C-specific information in electronic business-to-business conversations. The aecXML schema conforms to Microsoft's BizTalk Framework ( and is designed to incorporate and extend cXML, the Commerce XML standard developed by Ariba and others. aecXML adds to these e-commerce foundations the keywords and attributes necessary to describe the components and properties of the various aspects of a building's design, construction, and operation. For example, an aecXML formatted message could request a search for a particular type of sound-control insulation, and a different aecXML formatted message could be used to find a local contractor capable of installing it."

[Another statement:] "The aecXML schema is meant to facilitate communication of information between the various constituents involved in the A/E/C process, including: architects, engineers, contractors, owner/operators, estimators, consultants, materials suppliers, building product manufacturers, and others. This information may be resources, such as projects, documents, materials, parts, organizations, professionals, or activities such as proposals, design, estimating, scheduling and construction."

In a WG meeting of September 15, 1999, "Five committees were established to continue the work of creating aecXML: (1) Design/Estimating/Scheduling/Cost Management, (2) Product Catalogs, (3) Procurement, (4) Operations/Maintenance/Facility Management, and (5) Project/Construction Management. Leaders from every facet of the AEC industry gathered in Dallas and Reading, UK, on September 15 for the first meeting of the aecXML Working Group. More than half of the 60 participants- representing software vendors, owner/operators, consulting and service organizations and building products manufacturers-volunteered to participate in committees to continue the process of creating aecXML."


  • aecXML Working Group Home Page

  • aecXML Working Group Meeting Participants [September 15, 1999]

  • aecXML Schema version 0.87; [cache copy]

  • aecXML Preliminary Specification Working Draft Documentation. Working draft 0.87. 13-September-1999. 27 pages. Appendix A supplies an 'aecXML schema' [Conforms to 'XML Data' subset for IE 5]. Scope: "aecXML is an XML grammar to represent information in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry. This information may be resources such as projects, documents, materials, parts, organizations, professionals, or activities such as proposals, design, estimating, scheduling and construction. It is intended to be used as an XML namespace and to facilitate information exchange of AEC data on the Internet. The following types of AEC information are within the scope of aecXML. This is meant to be a representative rather than an exhaustive list: Documents (RFP, RFQ, RFI, drawings, specifications, ASI, addenda, bulletins, change orders, contracts, building codes, purchase orders); Building Components (Items from a catalog, custom manufactured items, assemblies, materials), Projects (Design, construction, decommissioning, operations & maintenance, facility management); Professional Services and Resources (Engineers, architects, contractors, suppliers, specialties); Organizations (Standards bodies, government agencies); Software (CAD, estimating, project management, scheduling, document management)." [local archive copy]

  • aecXML Preliminary Specification Working draft 0.81. August, 1999. Original aecXML Specification. 29 pages. [source, cache]

  • White Paper

  • aecXML Working Group

  • Newsgroup

  • Submission Process

  • See also: "Building Construction Extensible Markup Language (bcXML)."

  • [July 24, 2001] "Bentley Provides AISC Steel Information in XML." - "Bentley has formatted the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) data on rolled steel shapes in XML. Providing data on wide flanges, angles, channels, tees and more in the Internet-friendly XML format, rather than in books and spreadsheets, will add valuable structural design data to engineering models, and provide a standard, extensible method of sharing data throughout the project life cycle. Besides better interoperability between desktop applications, the XML data format will allow the rolled steel shapes to be displayed in customizable views over the Web or downloaded to a PDA or cell phone at a job site. For example, steel mills, which fabricate these sections, could link to the model XML data via the Internet and provide updated quantities or schedule details in real time. Designers can use this collaborative input when making design decisions. 'XML is all about collaborating with higher-level data, which serves the project team's need to compress project schedules,' comments Duane Barrett, vice chair, aecXML Domain - Steering Committee for the International Alliance for Interoperability. 'The AISC steel tables in XML format are key to supporting this objective.' Bentley intends to submit the XML data to the IAI for inclusion in the aecXML standard. As AISC extends the information about the rolled steel shapes in future versions, it will not require modification of applications that use this new format, such as Bentley's MicroStation TriForma, Architecture for MicroStation TriForma and Structural for MicroStation TriForma. Having the rolled steel shapes in a standardized format may inspire other software vendors to develop applications that leverage the XML format." Details in: "Bentley Provides AISC Steel Information in XML format."

  • [July 31, 2000] "MPS Joins aecXML Initiative to Create Open Standards for Online Project Management. Initiative Designed to Eliminate Ambiguities in Tracking Online Project Management for the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industry." - "Meridian Project Systems (MPS) has joined the International Alliance for Interoperability, an organization dedicated to open standards for the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. This long anticipated announcement insures MPS will continue playing a defining role in aecXML, one of the working domains of the International Alliance for Interoperability. aecXML is an open standard for the AEC industry based on the eXtensible Markup Language (XML), the hottest new internet standard for data interchange. The initiative strives to develop an XML schema to describe information specific to the exchanges between participants involved in designing, constructing and operating buildings, plants, infrastructure and facilities. Meridian Project Systems (MPS) is a leading Internet solutions company for the architectural, engineering, and construction industry (AEC). MPS eBusiness solutions allow owners, architects, engineers, construction managers, and subcontractors to collaborate throughout the building process using the World Wide Web. In addition to Internet solutions, MPS also designs and develops software solutions that allows construction managers and building owners to manage the complex process of major construction projects including cost control, purchasing, engineering, document management and field supervision. MPS products are in use today in many Fortune 500 companies including General Electric, The Walt Disney Co., Marriott International Inc., Turner Construction Co., and Peter Kiewit and Sons Inc. Additionally, MPS products are used by 50 of the top 100 contractors in the United States. MPS, a Microsoft Certified Solutions Provider, was founded in 1993 and is a privately held company headquartered in Sacramento, with a Research and Development Center in Vancouver, B.C. Bentley Systems, Inc. began the aecXML initiative in August 1999. The initiative is now under the administrative umbrella of the International Alliance for Interoperability as the aecXML domain. Currently, there are seven working groups and over 600 interested participants involved in the development of this standard."

  • [July 05, 2000] "IAI Reaches Important Milestone as Industry Leaders Submit aecXML Schema. International Alliance for Interoperability Pledges Timely Delivery of Standards for the AEC Industry." - "AEC+FM professionals from throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe witnessed presentations and demonstrations of nine (9) proposed schema to help the commercial building market significantly improve its communications during the aecXML Mid-Year Working Meeting conducted by the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) in Atlanta. Leading public and private sector firms presented their initial work on developing aecXML schema to sharply improve the exchange of information in areas such as pricing, soliciting and receiving quotes, specifications, classification, and e-commerce. Representatives from Bentley Systems, R.S. Means, Timberline Software Corporation, Architectural Computer Services (ARCOM), GeoPraxis, Dimensional Solutions, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), Bidcom and the General Services Administration (GSA) participated in the workshop which attracted more than 130 attendees. Primavera Systems, Inc., scheduled to appear, submitted its presentation to the site. The IAI program was conducted in the Georgia World Congress Center, in downtown Atlanta, in conjunction with the Construction Specifications Institute annual trade show and exposition. CSI is a member of the IAI Board of Directors. [...] Schemas submitted last week will be evaluated by a team of independent reviewers and returned with comments in five days. Once submitters make required changes, the schema will be posted on the aecXML website for 21 days of peer review. After that time, comments will be considered and final schema will be approved by the aecXML domain and included in the existing standard. aecXML version .87 is currently posted and the IAI anticipates that Version 1 will be completed by the end of 2000. Young and Geissler repeatedly emphasized the Alliance's pledge to ensure that technically sound and commercially neutral schema will be forthcoming as soon as possible. The critical issue will be the Alliance's ability to blend overlapping and second-edition schema together to ensure the AEC+FM industry has a few robust schema as opposed to scores of overlapping schema. They also said the alliance has eight active affiliates throughout Europe and the Pacific Rim which are aggressively examining the potential of the aecXML schema. The GSA, one of the largest building owners in the world, in cooperation with Bidcom, Inc., a leading building and real estate e-business services provider, successfully demonstrated a proof of concept that allows data exchange between remote systems using aecXML over the Internet. GSA can query and retrieve updates of projects hosted by Bidcom and make the them available through its internal reporting system. IAI assumed responsibility for the aecXML initiative, inaugurated by Bentley Systems, Inc., last September, in order to ensure the development of schema would be a global, industry-wide activity. Keith Bentley, CEO and one of the founders of Bentley, is the aecXML Domain chairman and has been active in attracting industry support to the IAI program. The Alliance was incorporated in the U.S. in 1995; early the next year an IAI United Kingdom was established in London, quickly followed by an IAI German speaking organization headquartered in Munich. Since then there have been a total of nine independent IAI organizations registered throughout Europe and the Pacific Rim representing more than 600 public and private sector entities in 24 countries The Alliance exists to develop technical standards to facilitate interoperability -- the free exchange of information among software applications serving the AEC+FM community. It accomplishes this goal through the creation, promulgation and promotion of IFCs and aecXML schema."

  • International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) - "a non-profit alliance of the building industry. . . Its mission is to integrate the AEC/FM industry by specifying Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) as a universal language to improve the communication, productivity, delivery time, cost, and quality throughout the design, construction, operation and maintenance life cycle of buildings."

  • aecXML Mid-Year Working Meeting - June 2000. Several XML schema proposals. [cache]

  • [March 30, 2000] "Deltek Systems, Inc. Embraces aecXML Project. Joins International Alliance for Interoperability." - "Deltek Systems, Inc.. Deltek and the International Alliance for Interoperability (the Alliance) announced that the McLean-based enterprise solutions provider joined the aecXML Project. Deltek and the Alliance are joining forces to define the Extensible Markup Language (XML) standards for project and business-to-business communications in the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. Alliance officials estimate that achieving true interoperability in the AEC marketplace would save the industry approximately $7.5 to $15 billion annually. This figure is based on estimates from McGraw-Hill and the CMD Group, which place the annual value of the total U.S., Canadian and Mexican commercial construction markets at $750 billion. Deltek's Executive Vice President for Software Development Eric Brehm observed that 'Despite advances in technology and information management systems, many AEC firms are still fragmenting their data by manually transferring project information among customers, partners and other industry sectors. The impact of data fragmentation on a company can be substantial, causing losses of data integrity, costly inefficiencies in coordinating among personnel, projects and resources, as well as lost revenues and opportunities.' Mr. Brehm points out that 'Deltek is already helping AEC firms by offering Internet-based business-to-business and enterprise relationship management solutions that consolidate fragmented information about customers and projects into one centralized and integrated system. Using XML standards will allow our customers to leverage the power of the Internet by freely exchanging information and collaborating with other organizations using the same or other compliant interoperable platforms.' Extensible Markup Language, or XML, is a meta-markup language that provides a universal data format for describing structured information. The 'extensibility' of the XML language makes it a very powerful business tool for communicating and collaborating on the Internet. By developing and implementing an 'XML schema' or relational vocabulary specific to AEC projects, organizations using the same schema could use their existing software applications to send, receive, access and retrieve virtually any type of project document or transactional data. It also gives AEC firms a much more efficient and effective way for taking advantage of e-collaboration and e-commerce opportunities, such as coordinating and synchronizing related project information with clients as well as doing business with suppliers and purchasers of equipment, materials, supplies, parts and services."

  • [September 30, 1999] "aecXML Project Unites Broad Coalition. Committees on Two Continents Moving Forward at Rapid Pace, Continuing on the Work Initiated by Bentley. Microsoft Validates Importance of XML Schemas." - "Founding members of the aecXML Project today provided details concerning the rapid progress being made in establishing the new Internet language for project communications in architecture/engineering/construction (AEC). The aecXML Project was initiated in August 1999 by Bentley Systems, Incorporated with the desire that it be a unifying force for progress in the development of a project communications framework for architecture/engineering/construction (A/E/C). Today the aecXML Project represents a wide variety of software vendors, owner/operators, consulting and service organizations and building products manufacturers, organized into working groups on two continents to rapidly define and publish the aecXML schema. The first meeting of the aecXML Project occurred September 15, 1999, simultaneously in Dallas, Texas and Reading, UK, via Microsoft's satellite teleconference facilities. Participants hailed the meeting as an unqualified success, and were quick to sign up to serve on five working groups to continue the work of creating aecXML as a new Internet framework for project communication. Microsoft is indirectly involved in the establishment of aecXML through its BizTalk initiative, a repository of a number of XML 'dialects' created by specific commercial interest groups. Also now available are the initial specification of aecXML, in-depth coverage of the improvements made to the specification since its initial introduction, the BizTalk Framework & Trade Schema Description and several critical presentations focusing on the need for an A/E/C-specific XML language."

  • "Building and construction industry adopts XML." June 05, 2000. "Asia-Pacific domains to localise a flavour of XML (EXtensible Mark-up Language) for the architecture, engineering and construction industries, will soon be established in Singapore, Japan and Australia. When in operation, regional domains will submit their localised schema requirements for data management on aecXML. XML tags establish a framework for hassle-free functions such as document transfer over the Internet -- regardless of file formats, and sharing of databases, with the same intention as a business-to-business exchange on the Internet. Duane Barrett, vice-chair of aecXML Domain, has already started talking to local authorities in Singapore and expects to start a domain within a few weeks. The aecXML domain partners span across the building and construction industry, from designers to suppliers. The need for localised schema arises because XML technologies value will not be apparent unless XML tags are intelligently defined. 'Specifically configured schemas allow players in the construction industry to take advantage of the Internet to present and transport data to their partners and customers, without interoperability hassles,' said Barrett. 'For example, if a customer needed more information on a door, he would specify a search over the from a supplier who has an aecXML-enabled system, without coming up with redundant information'. . ."

  • [September 28, 1999] "Bentley's ModelServer Integrator Supports XML and aecXML. Server-level Information Broker for Engineering Projects Gains New Power to Integrate Information from Diverse Sources." - "Bentley Systems, Incorporated (Exton, PA), today announced that its Web-based ModelServer. Integrator product includes support for eXtensible Markup Language (XML) and aecXML. ModelServer Integrator is an information broker for engineering projects that enables engineering enterprises to assemble information from multiple databases and software applications and present relevant, timely, and accurate information to users throughout the organization. ModelServer Integrator's support of XML allows users to take full advantage of the wealth of rapidly emerging support tools, technology, and standards built around XML in such areas as e-commerce and data exchange. Important among these is the industry-wide aecXML effort which Bentley initiated earlier this year. In this initiative, the aecXML Working Group is a forum for industry, government, research communities and end users to contribute to an XML schema particularly suited for architecture, engineering and construction (A/E/C)."

  • Info from Bentley

  • Bentley Home Page

  • "aecXML & IFC. Standards for building and construction industry data." By Geoff Harrod. From CadInfo.Net. "It seems there are new systems or formats being promoted all the time that claim to be a new "Industry Standard". Some are obvious attempts by particular software producers to try to push their own standard, skewed to their own product, as a standard for the Internet or some market segment, with the obvious intent of trying to give their own product an advantage. Some have the same purpose times but are paraded with a more subtle approach. Only a few are genuine moves to introduce a new standard that will be truly cross-system and vendor-neutral. One such new standard is the IFC ("Industry Foundation Classes") developed by the IAI ("International Alliance for Interoperability") -- an organization notable for being almost as difficult to pronounce in both its full and its acronym title! The IAI is a division of the ISO ("International Standards Organization") -- the body that controls the IGES and STEP data standards. The IFC system is a data representation standard and file format for defining architectural and constructional CAD graphic data as 3D real-world objects, mainly so that architectural CAD users can transfer design data to and fro between rival products with no compromises. It uses the 3D object-based CAD concept, which is quickly emerging as the new standard CAD rationale for the industry. Since the IFC specifications describe building object representations, it is not so clearly applicable to design using the older line-based or 2D CAD methods, although there are some software products using line-based CAD that have effectively implemented IFC data exchange. . . "

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