Workflows for Architects and Landscape Architects: Using IFC Files

The IFC file extension is an Industry Foundation Classes file. The IFC-SPF file format is:

  • developed by the buildingSMART organization, a worldwide not-for-profit organization driving change in the Building Construction industry.
  • used by Building Information Modeling (BIM) programs to exchange models and designs of facilities, buildings and other infrastructure.

IFC exports are available from most leading CAD / Modelling software such as SketchUp, Revit, AutoCAD, AECOsim Building Designer, and Tekla.

To use the IFC model in SiteVision you will need to georeference the model in some way to connect the model co-ordinate system to the real world.


  • IFC2X3 files do not support the necessary records to georeference a model.
  • IFC V4 has provisions for including georeference information. While some companies are in the process of adding support for georeference information into their IFC4 exports, SiteVision version 1.10 does not support this information.

When preparing your IFC file, consider the layering system you use. When an IFC model is exported from a model authoring package it will contain layers. SiteVision will recognize these layers, allowing you to adjust the visible entities within SiteVision. However it is important to define the correct layer mapping settings within your authoring package before performing the IFC export or these layers may not contain useful information.

The workflow and process for using IFC files is similar to using .SKP files; see Workflows for Architects and Landscape Architects: Using SketchUp .

  1. Start by dragging and dropping the IFC file into the Trimble Connect project folder.
  2. You can register it on site with a measured placement, or automatically place it using a Trimble Site Calibration file (JXL, DC or CAL).

    For automatic placement, the .IFC model’s origin must be in the same coordinates as the real world coordinates system you are using. How this is achieved depends on the CAD/Modelling software you are using. For example, if your design is to be located at N: 19419586.429, E:5763889.413, Elev:211.465 the .IFC model coordinates need to match N: 19419586.429, E:5763889.413, Elev:211.465.

    As IFC files are most commonly used on larger commercial building projects, the recommendation is to engage a Surveyor to generate a JXL file for use with the IFC model.

  3. Rename the JXL file to exactly match the .IFC file name (except for the extension). For example if the .IFC file is called CommercialBuilding.ifc, then the JXL file should be called CommercialBuilding.jxl, then upload the JXL file to the same folder as the IFC.