The COINS Container is the central means of communication for object related content and associated documents between the various users/contributors of BIM data. Physically the container is a common Zip file with a predefined folder structure. At this stage three folders are recognized:

  • bim
    In the bim folder the CBIM (sub)model can be found.
  • doc
    The doc folder will contain all associated documents referenced from the CBIM in the bim folder. Here we may find 3D representation files, text documents, spreadsheets, etc.
  • woa
    The woa folder is reserved for the window of authorization description file called woa.xml.

Export procedure

A COINS Container is composed during an export procedure by a COINS compatible application or a COINS Building Information System. During the export procedure a COINS model is serialized using RDF/XML formatting into a physical file. This model file is put into the bim folder of the COINS Container file.

As part of this transfer an inventory is drawn up of all the documents that are referenced by objects in this particular model. In principle, these documents are added to the doc folder of the COINS Container file. However, if a document is only referred to by a web address then this document reference is preserved as a web link. If copies of the document are both available on the web and on the local file system of the exporting party, a choice has to be made to either reference the document with a link to a copy in the doc folder or to reference it with a web link.

If the document file is physically into the doc folder the document object which contains the original file path to the document needs to be updated because the absolute file path is not relevant anymore. By convention the file path is reduced to just the file name. In case of documents with the same name an extra digit or letter should be added to prevent unintentional overwriting.

Exporting from a COINS Building Information System is little bit more complicated. Before the model can be serialized several filter operations are necessary:

  • The export model will only contain last object versions that are non-expired.
    Previous object versions will only confuse the COINS compatible applications that are probably less sophisticated in this respect. The information of previous object versions is also not relevant in order to do their assignment correctly.
  • The export model will not contain VISI messages (or other document references that contain information about how a particular object has turned up in the central model).
    Again, this is not relevant for COINS compatible applications.
  • As a guideline it is cleaner to strip all version extensions from the export model.
    Version number are only meaningful within a COINS Building Information System. So for example an object with ID "" is exported as "" without the version delimiting dot and the version number itself.
  • In case of a WoA (Window of Authorization) specification the objects that are marked non-accessible should be stripped from the export model. The WoA specification itself is stored in the woa folder of the COINS Container file.

Import procedure

Importing a COINS Container is relatively simple for a COINS compatible application:

  • Firstly the COINS Container is unpacked in a working directory or folder.
    This is rather straight forward since the COINS Container is an ordinary ZIP file. The result will be a set of sub-folders: at least a bim folder and possibly also a doc and/or woa folder.
  • Then the model file in the bim folder is loaded. After loading the document objects are updated to point with a correct absolute file path to the documents in the doc folder.

Importing a COINS Container in a COINS Building Information System is in principle the same procedure. However, normally the BIM manager will merge the contents of a COINS Container with the content of the shared project model. This means that the standard import procedure will be followed by the much more complex merge procedure. Merging is described in more detail in the Merging section of Version Management.


The COINS-IO software module has built-in functions for both importing and exporting a COINS Container.

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