Installation#

There are different methods of installation, depending on your situation.

  1. Unstable installation is recommended for power users helping with testing.

  2. Bundling for Blender is recommended for distributing the add-on.

  3. Live development environment is recommended for developers who are actively coding.

  4. Packaged installation is recommended for those who use a package manager.

Unstable installation#

Unstable installation is almost the same as Stable installation, except that they are typically updated every day. Simply download a daily build from the Github releases page, then follow the same instructions as the Stable installation.

You will need to choose which build to download.

  • If you are on Blender >=3.1, choose py310

  • If you are on Blender >=2.93 and <3.1, choose py39

  • If you are on Blender <2.93, choose py37

  • Choose linux, macos, macosm1 (for Apple M1 devices), or win depending on your operating system

Sometimes, a build may be delayed, or contain broken code. We try to avoid this, but it happens.

Bundling for Blender#

Instead of waiting for an official release on the BlenderBIM Add-on website, it is possible to make your own Blender add-on from the bleeding edge source code of BlenderBIM. BlenderBIM is coded in Python and doesn’t require any compilation, so this is a relatively easy process.

Note that the BlenderBIM Add-on does depend on IfcOpenShell, and IfcOpenShell does require compilation. The following instructions will use a pre-built IfcOpenShell (using an IfcOpenBot build) for convenience. Instructions on how to compile IfcOpenShell is out of scope of this document.

You can create your own package by using the Makefile as shown below. You can choose between a PLATFORM of linux, macos, and win. You can choose between a PYVERSION of py39, py37, or py310.

$ cd src/blenderbim
$ make dist PLATFORM=linux PYVERSION=py310
$ ls dist/

This will give you a fully packaged Blender add-on zip that you can distribute and install.

Live development environment#

One option for developers who want to actively develop from source is to follow the instructions from Bundling for Blender. However, creating a build, uninstalling the old add-on, and installing a new build is a slow process. Although it works, it is very slow, so we do not recommend it.

A more rapid approach is to follow the Unstable installation method, as this provides all dependencies for you out of the box.

Once you’ve done this, you can replace certain Python files that tend to be updated frequently with those from the Git repository. We’re going to use symlinks (Windows users can use mklink), so we can code in our Git repository, and see the changes in our Blender installation (you will need to restart Blender to see changes).

For Linux or Mac:

$ git clone https://github.com/IfcOpenShell/IfcOpenShell.git
$ cd IfcOpenShell

# Remove the Blender add-on Python code
$ rm -r /path/to/blender/X.XX/scripts/addons/blenderbim/core/
$ rm -r /path/to/blender/X.XX/scripts/addons/blenderbim/tool/
$ rm -r /path/to/blender/X.XX/scripts/addons/blenderbim/bim/

# Replace them with links to the Git repository
$ ln -s src/blenderbim/blenderbim/core /path/to/blender/X.XX/scripts/addons/blenderbim/core
$ ln -s src/blenderbim/blenderbim/tool /path/to/blender/X.XX/scripts/addons/blenderbim/tool
$ ln -s src/blenderbim/blenderbim/bim /path/to/blender/X.XX/scripts/addons/blenderbim/bim

# Remove the IfcOpenShell dependency Python code
$ rm -r /path/to/blender/X.XX/scripts/addons/blenderbim/libs/site/packages/ifcopenshell/api
$ rm -r /path/to/blender/X.XX/scripts/addons/blenderbim/libs/site/packages/ifcopenshell/util

# Replace them with links to the Git repository
$ ln -s src/ifcopenshell-python/ifcopenshell/api /path/to/blender/X.XX/scripts/addons/blenderbim/libs/site/packages/ifcopenshell/api
$ ln -s src/ifcopenshell-python/ifcopenshell/util /path/to/blender/X.XX/scripts/addons/blenderbim/libs/site/packages/ifcopenshell/util

# Manually download some third party dependencies
$ cd /path/to/blender/X.XX/scripts/addons/blenderbim/bim/data/gantt
$ wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/jsGanttImproved/jsgantt-improved/master/dist/jsgantt.js
$ wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/jsGanttImproved/jsgantt-improved/master/dist/jsgantt.css
$ cd /path/to/blender/X.XX/scripts/addons/blenderbim/bim/schema
$ wget https://github.com/BrickSchema/Brick/releases/download/nightly/Brick.ttl

Or, if you’re on Windows, you can use the batch script below. Before running it follow the instructions descibed after rem tags.

@echo off

rem SETUP BLENDER-BIM LIVE DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENT
rem Setup blenderbim addon location below (probably just need to change "x.x" for your Blender version).
rem Put the script to the folder where IfcOpenShell git repository is located
rem (script will try to clone IfcOpenShell.git if it's not present).
SET blenderbim=%appdata%\Blender Foundation\Blender\x.x\scripts\addons\blenderbim

git clone https://github.com/IfcOpenShell/IfcOpenShell.git
cd IfcOpenShell

echo Removing the Blender add-on Python code...
rd /S /Q "%blenderbim%\core\"
rd /S /Q "%blenderbim%\tool\"
rd /S /Q "%blenderbim%\bim\"


echo Replacing them with links to the Git repository...
mklink /D "%blenderbim%\core" "%cd%\src\blenderbim\blenderbim\core"
mklink /D "%blenderbim%\tool" "%cd%\src\blenderbim\blenderbim\tool"
mklink /D "%blenderbim%\bim" "%cd%\src\blenderbim\blenderbim\bim"


echo Remove the IfcOpenShell dependency Python code...
rd /S /Q "%blenderbim%\libs\site\packages\ifcopenshell\api"
rd /S /Q "%blenderbim%\libs\site\packages\ifcopenshell\util"


echo Replacing them with links to the Git repository...
mklink /D "%blenderbim%\libs\site\packages\ifcopenshell\api" "%cd%\src\ifcopenshell-python\ifcopenshell\api"
mklink /D "%blenderbim%\libs\site\packages\ifcopenshell\util" "%cd%\src\ifcopenshell-python\ifcopenshell\util"


echo Manually downloading some third party dependencies...
curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/jsGanttImproved/jsgantt-improved/master/dist/jsgantt.js -o "%blenderbim%\bim\data\gantt\jsgantt.js"
curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/jsGanttImproved/jsgantt-improved/master/dist/jsgantt.css -o "%blenderbim%\bim\data\gantt\jsgantt.css"
curl -L https://github.com/BrickSchema/Brick/releases/download/nightly/Brick.ttl -o "%blenderbim%\bim\schema\Brick.ttl"

pause

After you modify your code in the Git repository, you will need to restart Blender for the changes to take effect.

The downside with this approach is that if a new dependency is added, or a compiled dependency version requirement has changed, or the build system changes, you’ll need to fix your setup manually. But this is relatively rare.

See also

There is a useful Blender Addon (see forum thread) that adds a Reboot button in File menu. In this way, it’s possible to directly restart Blender and test the modified source code. There is also a VS Code add-on called Blender Development that has a similar functionality.

Packaged installation#

Tips for package managers#

If you are interested in packaging the BlenderBIM Add-on for a packaging manager, read on.

The BlenderBIM Add-on is fully contained in the blenderbim/ subfolder of the Blender add-ons directory. This is typically distributed as a zipfile as per Blender add-on conventions. Within this folder, you’ll find the following file structure:

core/ (Blender agnostic core code)
tool/ (Blender specific logic)
bim/ (Blender specific UI)
libs/ (dependencies)
__init__.py

This corresponds to the structure found in the source code here.

The BlenderBIM Add-on is complex, and requires many dependencies, including Python modules, binaries, and static assets. When packaged for users, these dependencies are bundled with the add-on for convenience.

If you choose to install the BlenderBIM Add-on and use your own system dependencies, the source of truth for how dependencies are bundled are found in the Makefile.

Required Python modules to be stored in libs/site/packages/ are:

ifcopenshell
bcf
ifcclash
bimtester
ifccobie
ifcdiff
ifccsv
ifcpatch
ifcp6
pystache
svgwrite
dateutil
isodate
networkx
deepdiff
jsonpickle
ordered_set
pyparsing
xmlschema
elementpath
six
lark-parser
hppfcl
behave
parse
parse_type
xlsxwriter
odfpy
defusedxml
boto3
botocore
jmespath
s3transfer
ifcjson

Notes:

  1. ifcopenshell almost always requires the latest version due to the fast paced nature of the add-on development.

  2. behave requires patches.

  3. ifcjson can be found here.

Required static assets are:

bim/data/gantt/jsgantt.js (from jsgantt-improved)
bim/data/gantt/jsgantt.css (from jsgantt-improved)