One of the advantages of BIM is the ability to generate large amounts of data from a model with relative ease. In Revit, the data is there but the tools to create reports are lacking. A way around this has been to export Revit models to ODBC and use a database package to generate reports that are attractive and include fields that Revit prevents us from scheduling.
Autodesk has released a new plugin that takes exporting to ODBC to a new level — RevitDBLink. There are two features of this plugin that will revolutionize the way those of us involved in information modeling will work: the bidirectional flow of data, and the ability to store other data and fields within the same database as the model.
I will demonstrate how Revit allows the bidirectional flow of data by exporting a model to a database, changing wall heights in the database, and then sending these changes back to Revit.
I start with a simple Revit model.
Next, I export the model to a MS Access database using the RevitDB Link and selecting a new connection.
My Access database is now populated with a set of tables from Revit. The image below shows the table of walls.
Comparing this table with the data in the Revit model shows that the unconnected heights are all set to 20′.
Within the database I can change these values to new heights.
These changes are loaded back in to the Revit model by selecting ‘edit and import’ from the DBlink plugin dialog box. The changes are then automatically applied to the Revit model.
While Revit allows for the editing of properties within the program itself, it is no match for the power of MS Access in generating reports and performing advanced queries on the models.
When using the built in ‘export to ODBC’ function in Revit, the model would overwrite the existing database. With RevitDB Link, tables associated with the project, but not stored within Revit can be added to the database and will be preserved every time the model is exported. Furthermore, the data will not be loaded in to Revit. This allows us to include information that is relevant to our project but may not need to be in the model, or may not associate with a specific object.
With RevitDB Link we can now add fields to an object and make it invisible to Revit. For example, when we export a model with rooms, the database will show only those fields created in the model. In MS Access, additional fields can be added to the rooms table. When this table is uploaded back to Revit, the new fields are invisible.
Not allowing fields created in Access to be uploaded back in to the model may seem to be a flaw in the bidirectional functionality, but I see it as a brilliant move on the part of the developers.
Revit files can become very large. While we tend to think that file size is directly proportional to the number of objects in a model, the amount of information included in the model also adds to the size. A simple model with additional fields added to objects can be larger than a model with many objects and no information. Do we really need all those fields in Revit?
RevitDB Link allows for almost unlimited access to our models and the information contained within them. If anyone has any ideas that they would like to see implemented, post a comment.
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