Creating an interactive 3D real estate dashboard, in Power BI.
In this tutorial you will learn how to bring your SketchUp model’s geometry and topology information as well as external real estate information into Microsoft® Power BI® so that you can create interactive 3D dashboards. The tools we use are:
- Trimble® SketchUp® Pro as the 3D modelling application.
- 3DBI for SketchUp as the custom extension that is able to convert a SketchUp model to a format readable by our 3DBI visual as well as generate an open-source data format containing quantities and other meta data about your 3D model.
- Microsoft® Power BI®
- 3DBI, the custom visual we developed for Power BI, shipped with the SketchUp extension.
- Microsoft® Excel® to manage real estate information.
1 – The SketchUp model
We prefer SketchUp as our 3D modelling tool to create a quick 3D model of our real estate project. In a matter of minutes we were able to draw a few components to represent our different Retail spaces, Offices, Apartments, Circulation as well as some roads and nearby buildings to serve as context. We gave each space that needs to be interactive in our dashboard a unique Instance Name. It is that instance name that will later be used to link the 3D object to the external real estate information located in an Excel spreadsheet.
Also, we used Tags (previously named Layers) to assign a level to each component in SketchUp.
2 – Export geometry and data with 3DBI for SketchUp
To open the export dialog go to Extensions > KG-dev – 3DBI. The export settings used for this use case are:
- Only export visible geometry
- Use “Instance Name” as the ID provider. This will assign the given instance name as the element id.
- Leave “Must have DC property value” blank. There are use cases where only elements that have a specific DC property need to be handled as unique geometry. For this use case this is not the case.
- Set concatenate to “yes”. This will concatenate all unique IDs of eventual parent elements into the ID of each individual element. This is especially useful when you have multiple copies of components that have child components. This will ensure that each child element will receive a unique identifier.
- You are free to use which character to use as a separator. In this example we use a dash (-).
- Setting “Single Table Json Data Generator” to true will ensure to also export a .json file containing quantities and other meta data of exported elements. Otherwise, only a .3dbi file containing geometry will be exported, no data.
3 – Import quantities and meta-data into Power BI
By using the standard JSON data connector that comes shipped with Power BI you should be able to load in the .json file that got exported during the previous step. Once loaded in you can fine-tune the import to only import columns that are actually needed in your dashboard. For this tutorial we will go with:
- 3dbiModelId – this column contains the same IDs that should also be present in the generated .3dbi file
- Tag – the name of the assigned SketchUp Tag. We have used tags to indicate levels in this tutorial.
- Volume.ModelUnits – the volume of each component instance in model units, m3 in this case.
4 – Connect with Excel spreadsheet
The data shown in the dashboard is not limited to what we imported during step #3. With Power BI you can load in lots of other information and link it all together.
We have created an Excel spreadsheet with 2 sheets. One sheet contains information about each unit in our project, such as its Type (Retail vs Offices vs Apartments, …), its area, if the unit is for sale or not, if the unit is available for rent or not, etc…
Another sheet contains information about both rental and sale prices for each unit type.
5 – Create dashboard and load in 3DBI model
All those quantities and other fields imported during the previous step can already be visualized using the default visuals Power BI comes with out of the box. In a few clicks you can add a table, a chart and a few filters to your dashboard. However, the actual power of 3DBI lies in the fact that you can also bring a 3D model to your dashboard so that you always see the link between your data and the 3D elements that are responsible for the data that you see. For that, we created the custom 3DBI visual for Power BI, which comes shipped with 3DBI for SketchUp. Once that visual is placed on your dashboard, loading in the exported .3dbi file during step 2 should be straightforward.