How-To – Visualize a 3D Revit MEP model in Power BI

Sep 9, 2021 | how-to-3dbi-revit | 0 comments

Visualizing a Revit MEP model in Power BI.

In this tutorial you will learn how to visualize a 3D MEP model in Power BI. The tools needed to achieve this are:

  • Autodesk® Revit® as the BIM application.
  • 3DBI for Revit as the custom addin that is able to export Revit geometry and data to a format readable by our 3DBI visual.
  • Microsoft® Power BI®
  • 3DBI, the custom visual we developed for Power BI, shipped with the Revit addin.

1 – Open Revit model and select 3D view.

The first step to get started exporting a Revit model to Power BI, using 3DBI, is pretty simple: open your model and select a 3D view. 3DBI will only export those elements that are visible in the selected 3D view, so make sure to make the elements that you want to include in your Power BI dashboard visible and hide all the others. Secondly, the quality of the selected view has also an impact on the performance of the 3DBI viewer in Power BI. A higher quality will result in geometry that has finer detail but will also impact the performance of the 3DBI viewer in Power BI. Lowering the quality to medium usually results in good performance and in fine enough geometrical detail for dashboarding purposes.

2 – Export with 3DBI.

Doing the actual export is a matter of selecting the right options and hitting the export button. For this tutorial we will not be exporting any context so we uncheck the “Export Context” option, nor do we want to export rooms and spaces so we also uncheck the “Include Rooms & Spaces” option. We do want to export data on the other hand so we will select the “json single elements array” option. Doing this will also export a .json file containing many data fields about the exported geometries right next to the exported .3dbi file.

Once the export has been completed 3DBI will  show a list of all exported ids.

3 – Use the demo dashboard as a template.

After exporting, the quickest way to get your model and data into Power BI is by opening the “empty_dashboard_with_viewer_and_data_source_preloaded” .pbix file that comes shipped with the extension. To quickly find that file, hit the “Open 3DBI visual directory with examples” button in the tool’s help page.

Once opened you can load in the exported data by altering the location the ROOT data query is pointing to.

 Afterwards you can also specify additional data fields to load in from the exported .json file by altering the elements query.

With the data part being setup the final step to take is the actual import of the 3D model into the 3DBI viewer. To do so, first assign the ids column to the Object Identifiers field of the viewer, accept the 3DBI license agreement and finally hit the “Insert Model” button and specify the exported .3dbi model.

The rest of the steps to take depend on the actual usecase you want to bring this MEP model to. Power BI comes with many options on how to visualize data, but also lets you connect to various other data sources which you can then link to this model. One of these usecases is IoT, which would allow you to plot temperatures, air speeds, … etc on the MEP model.

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