The CIS/2 standard (CIMSteel Integration Standard) is widely used in structural engineering workflows to support interoperability between applications. CIS/2 supports data exchange between structural design, modeling and analysis programs. Many of the products in the Bentley Structural Engineering family support the CIS/2 standard, including Bentley Structural, RAM Structural System and STAAD.
Sometimes it is very useful to be able to graphically view the 3D model in a CIS/2 data file. For example, if you are collaborating with other users via CIS/2 files, you many want to view a CIS/2 file to verify the overall model and some of its properties. If you are designing a structure, you can quickly check an exported CIS/2 file before sending the CIS/2 file downstream to your partners for detailing.
A powerful (and free) viewer is available from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The CIS/2 Viewer (CIS/2 to VRML and IFC Translator) will convert a CIS/2 file to a VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) format that can then be viewed in a web browser. Your web browser will need a VRML plug-in, also free from several sources, to display the VRML file. The NIST translator has an impressive range of capabilities including the ability to generate HTML reports that show structural member properties. The translator supports the conversion of Design, Detailed and Analysis CIS/2 models to VRML. It also supports the IFC standard. It is a mature tool, developed by experts in the industry, so it is widely used for many purposes.
The VMRL file created by the NIST translator is a 3D model that can be viewed in a VRML-enabled web browser. Standard 3d viewing tools are available to zoom and rotate the model. Also, some browsers support text "tooltips" that will display the properties of members when your cursor hovers over them.Browser and VRML development evolves rapidly so you may need to experiment with different combinations. Recently, the Mozilla Firefox browser and the Cortona VRML plug-in have performed well.
National Institute of Standards and Technology CIS/2 Translator
Parallel Graphics Cortona3D VRML Viewer