Great article describing COBie, the different formats and how it can be used.
Some thoughtful questions including the use of databases to manage the data and the relevancy of some of the sheets.
A couple of notes from our experience of working COBie:
- GUIDs – it’s good practice to use GUIDs for the External Identifiers (ExtIdentifier entries) this will ensure that every item will have a unique identifier. GUIDs can also be obtained for those manual entries.
- Documents – we usually provide external hyperlinks to documents which assist with cross platform compatibility.
- Connections and Assemblies sheets – as of yet we have not found a reason to use these sheets, although there may be future uses.
- Classification system – this is one area where we would like to see more consistency with multiple classification systems available such as NRM or the various Uniclass. A universal classification system would facilitate advances such as cross industry applications for comparing facilities.
- COBie formats – the excel version is the more user friendly of the formats although it can be prone to errors when users input directly into the sheets. We would prefer to see the development of a database system where users are presented with a front end interface. This would reduce the likelihood of errors, provide an accessible entry into COBie and facilitate add-on applications.
Finally, we do find that the majority of people when faced with COBie for the first time (even in the spreadsheet form) are confused by it. This is usually overcome with further training and explanations. However, to gain widespread adoption and understanding we will need a better and easier interface. For example, if a flooring contractor is required to enter floor finishes data, there is no reason why they will need to understand the arrangement of COBie before the data can be entered.