Model View Definition (MVD)

Model View Definition (MVD) and BIM data exchange

Model View Definition (MVD): key aspects of the IFC views and their use in BIM data exchange

In this post I’ll explain what a Model View Definition (MVD) is and how it enables effective IFC information exchange.

Also, I show you how to export your IFC file with the main MVD defined by buildingsmart International (Coordination View 2.0, Reference View, etc.), view it and read the properties using a free BIM viewer.

MVD (Model View Definition)

MVDs are defined by buildingSMART International as IFC schema subsets to describe data exchange for a specific use or workflow.

These filtered IFC views basically allow you to simplify the data exchange process therefore to avoid sharing useless or redundant information while following standardized procedures.

The following image shows ​​the completeness of the IFC schema and how a specific MVD is able to streamline it according to the information useful for a specific scope.

MVD representation

Schematic representation of the MVD – [Source: Mark Baldwin, The BIM Manager, 2019]

Clearly, the MVD is a filtered view that allows users to export specific packages of the model information to meet a particular use.

Specifically, let’s imagine that we have a BIM model that represents the building faithfully, that is a digital twin complete with everything. We can make a simulation of this model taking into consideration a federation of 3D BIM models, that is the union of more models that represent the different aspects and components of a building (plants, structure, etc.). Let’s imagine, then, the different MVD applied to the federated model composed of:

  • a structural model
  • an architectural model
  • a MEP model

The function of the MVD revolves around data and information hence the need to exchange as well as transfer them without any limitations or variations depending on the BIM software you use. The purpose of the MVD, in fact, is precisely to avoid the loss of information in the exchange between users who use different software.

Here is a list of the different MVDs that refer to different construction areas and to different IFC versions that you can check on the buildingSMART website:

IFC 2X3Coordination Viewfinal
IFC 2X3Space Boundary Addon Viewfinal
IFC 2X3Structural Analysis Viewfinal
IFC 4Reference Viewfinal
IFC 4Design Transfer Viewfinal
IFC 4Quantity Takeoff ViewIN draft
IFC 4Energy Analysis ViewIN draft
IFC 4Product Library ViewIN draft
IFC 4Construction Operations Building Information ExchangeIN draft

You can check the status of all MVDs directly on the buildingsmart International website.

To learn more, read also:

Model view definition and software certification

Another function of the MVD is its use for the certification of software that can control certain processes.

In fact, buildingSMART grants a certification when a software can correctly manage the set of classes present in the IFC schema hence those included in a specific MVD.

Here is the page with all the software certified by BSI.

certified software by buildingsmart

Certified software for the various MVDs

For each certified software on the BSI website, it is evident that the following aspects are showed:

  • schema version (ex: IFC 2×3)
  • MVD- exchange/requirement (ex. CV 2.0 arch)
  • Import/Export
  • data
  • report link, with all the specifications of the tests performed for the certification. Furthermore these datasheets can also be downloaded.

Model view definition: the IFC example ready for download

Let’s now take a closer look at a practical example to better understand MVD and what are its functions in an IFC file.


Comparison between Coordination View 2.0 and Surface Geometry View (IFC 2X3)

Comparison between Coordination View 2.0 and Surface Geometry View (IFC 2X3)

Now let me explain in detail how to do:

  • open the 3D model file using Edificius;
  • click on HOME > Export > IFC File;
  • choose the MVD view with which to export the file, Edificius allows you to choose between:
    • IFC 2 3 Coordination View 2.0;
    • IFC 2 3 Surface Geometry View;
    • IFC 4 Reference View;
  • upload IFC files exported with different MVDs to the usBIM cloud;
  • open the file and view the models and focus on the differences between the various exports (for example, click on any entity of the model to view the properties and therefore see how they vary according to the MVD chosen).