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The CAx Implementor Forum (CAx-IF) is a group of software developers and testors working on Computer Aided Design (CAD translators and/or Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) translators based on the ISO 10303 -- STandard for the Exchange of Product model data, STEP (visit this ISO site for more information on the STEP standard).

The CAx Implementor Forum is significantly improving STEP translator quality and decreasing translator time-to-market.

The CAx-IF is by far the most successful of the STEP Implementor Forum to date.  The CAx-IF traces its roots back to PDES, Inc.’s  Plugfest event which occurred in February of 1995.  It was quickly evident the value of the interoperability testing, and it was decided to continue the testing in a distributed manner and call it STEPnet.  Around the same time The prostep ivip association started its RoundTable activities with a number of CAD vendors, focused on the development and implementation of STEP AP214. Here, too, the initial testing evolved into an ongoing distributed forum to support both the STEP processor developers as well as the standardization groups.
In 1999, PDES, Inc. and the prostep ivip association combined their interoperability testing forums and called it the CAx - Implementor Forum. To date, the CAx-IF has completed more than 40 rounds of interoperability testing, and has been in operation for over almost 20 years.

In 2017, the CAE IF was created under the umbrella of the CAx-IF, using the same infrastructure. It focuses on engineering analysis and simulation interoperability to foster collaboration in developing STEP AP209 interfaces. The CAE-IF is jointly run by AFNeT, PDES, Inc. and prostep ivip.

A round of CAx-IF/CAE-IF testing lasts six months.  During a round of testing, the following events take place:

  • Test Case Specifications are developed – These specifications provide guidance on specific functionality to be testing.  They tell how a model is to  be created, and what the testing criteria are.  Multiple Test Case Specifications are combined into a test suite.
  • The CAx-IF Evaluation, Statistics And Results (CAESAR) system is updated to support the test cases for the specific round of testing.
  • New Recommended Practices are developed and existing ones are updated.
  • Software development is performed to support new functionality and solve any previous issues encountered.
  • Native files/models are created based upon the Test Case Specification and STEP files are created from the native models and statistics are generated and loaded to CAESAR based upon the testing criteria.
  • STEP files are checked for compliance to the standard and are distributed.
  • The STEP files are imported to the target system, and statistics are generated and loaded into CAESAR. 
  • CAESAR compares the native and target statistics to pinpoint issues in the pairwise exchanges.
  • The CAx-IF/CAE-IF team meets face-to-face to discuss technical issues encountered in the round of testing, and to define the scope for the next round of testing.
  • Overall testing results are provided to the stakeholder community.

CAx-IF website:

CAE-IF on a page: