The possibility of controlling panels in a Revit curtain wall through an Excel spreadsheet opens up a wide range of opportunities for interoperability between Revit and other tools in our workflow. Any program capable of exporting a range of values could potentially send values directly to Revit, saving users the hours of manual data entry currently required to translate a design or analysis model into a documentation (BIM) model. To enable Revit to read in values from Excel , we looked at two Revit plugins; Revit Excel Link ,developed by Cad Technology Center and Whitefeet, written by Mario Guttman. Using a combination of Revit and both plugins, we were able to develop the workflow demonstrated in the video below.
Project Vasari, a standalone application that expands on the Revit conceptual mass family interface (available here from Autodesk Labs) brings Ecotect analysis capabilities into the Revit environment. We test drove this tool to see if we could create a surface that responds directly to the results of solar analysis. Vasari allows us to easily export analysis data in .CSV format, bring that information into Excel and read all the values generated from Solar Analysis. Having that numerical data available, we initially thought we could bring these values back into Revit to drive a specified parameter in the Pattern-based Curtain Panel family. Unfortunately, we discovered, that data exported from Vasari’s Solar Analysis does not always correspond with the position of curtain panels within the curtain wall. That is, data point 1, 2, 3… does not correspond to panel 1, 2, 3…etc. In our experiments , the logic of how the .CSV data is organized has nothing to do with the row / column organization in a divided surface grid. Without the help of a custom plugin that could perform automatic labeling of curtain panels based on position, using CSV data would require a user to manually enter a numerical value or label panel by panel.
As a workaround, we used a tool that translates pixel color from an image into values that affect instance parameters within a Revit family. By feeding in graphical results from Vasari’s Solar Analysis, we were able to achieve the desired effect. This tool, known as the Bitmap to Panel plugin, can be downloaded from Zach Kron’s blog, Buildz: http://buildz.blogspot.com/2010/08/making-revit-forms-from-image-files-in.html . It works by translating grayscale image values int0 numerical data, which is then inserted into a specified parameter within the Revit curtain panel family.