The Open Design Alliance (ODA) is one of the oldest organizations in the AEC technology industry committed to openness and interoperability. It was launched in 1998 with the objective of providing an API (application programming interface) for working with the DWG format, including opening, creating, and editing DWG files. This work is what has made DWG an open exchange standard for the CAD industry and enabled vendors around the world to develop low-cost versions of AutoCAD-like drawing applications such as IntelliCAD, BricsCAD, progeCAD, 4MCAD, etc. Over time, the work of the ODA has expanded to support additional CAD formats like DGN and DXF, 3D formats such as OBJ and STL (for 3D printing), and BIM formats such as IFC and BCF. It has also developed dedicated toolkits for working with popular Autodesk applications such as Revit, Navisworks, and Recap.
The ODA has a conference every year to provide the industry with an update on its latest developments. I had the opportunity to attend the 2021 event that was held last week and came away with a good understanding of what the ODA does and why it is important. In addition to the technical presentations by the ODA development team, there were also presentations by some ODA member companies showing how they were implementing ODA technologies in their products, as well as a couple of panel discussions on the topics of interoperability and Scan to BIM. The highlights of the 2021 Summit are captured in this article.