Introduction to VCAD a custom visual for Microsoft Power BI

Recently I had a change to explore VCAD a custom visual by Blogic. I have seen their videos on LinkedIn and got inspired because of unlimited possibilities of clubbing BIM data available with the IFC file used for the selected model.

After doing my homework I did a sample and shared the same on LinkedIn which receives lot of appreciation. Based on my experience I am writing this short blog to get you started with Building Information Modelling and Industry Foundation Classes files to use along with relevant data to work on different use cases.

Before getting started with “VCAD – Custom Visual” it is better to get hold of some conceptual knowledge to be comfortable with the terminologies used.

What is BIM?

  • Building information modeling (BIM) is a process supported by various tools, technologies and contracts involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places.
  • Building information models (BIMs) are files which can be extracted, exchanged or networked to support decision-making regarding a built asset.
  • Use of BIM goes beyond the planning and design phase of the project, extending throughout the building life cycle.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_information_modeling

What is IFC?

  • The Industry Foundation Classes(IFC) data model is intended to describe architectural, building and construction industry data.
  • It is a platform neutral, open file format specification that is not controlled by a single vendor or group of vendors.
  • It is a commonly used collaboration format in Building information modeling (BIM) based projects.
  • The IFC model specification is open and available.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industry_Foundation_Classes

What is DWG?

  • DWG(from drawing) is a proprietary binary file format used for storing two- and three-dimensional design data and metadata.

What is VCAD?

  • Vcad is a software for the spatial management over dwg drawings, bim and asset management.
    Through specific modules Vcad allows to have total control over the structure as long as over any type of features related to it.

What is VCAD Custom Visual?

  • The Vcad Custom Visual allows you to visualize your IFC files in Power BI.

Source for Sample IFC Files

For my proof of concept shared with this blog, I have used sample IFC file from the following source. You may also select other files available but this is strongly recommended to start with the simple drawing.

Source: http://www.ifcwiki.org/index.php?title=KIT_IFC_Examples

Filename used in my example: FZK Haus

Prerequisites

Following are prerequisites for this example.

  • Power BI Desktop
  • Register at https://www.bimservices.it/
  • Select a Plan/Slot(s) Free (30-days Trial) or Paid
  • IFC Format File to use with VCAD Custom Visual

Steps to Incorporate VCAD Custom Visual

Assuming that you have already registered yourself at “BIMservices.it” website (https://www.bimservices.it/) you should be following steps to initiate your work.

  • Login to your BIM Services account by clicking following link
    https://www.bimservices.it/login/ (Ignore this step if already logged in)
  • Click on “VCAD” link on the page to open File Manager to upload your IFC format file. You can also use following link if you are already logged in. https://www.bimservices.it/vcad-file-manager/
  • Click on the “UPLOAD” button on the top right corner of the File Manager.
  • Click on the “CHOOSE FILE” button to open File Explorer screen of your Windows where you can select required IFC Format File already available with you.
  • After uploading of file, BIM Service File Manager will process your file for few seconds based on the size of your file. Once ready, you will find an icon on the left side of filename to preview the loaded file.
  • After verifying uploaded file through preview, you may download Power BI template file through download icon which is first from left among the list of icons available in the rightmost column.
  • Clicking on download icon will open a popup screen giving three options of templates to download. This is recommended to select the third one which is “Space Asset Theme” template. You may click on the download icon to start download.
  • Optionally you can also download PDF help file from the popup screen if needed. This can be downloaded through “PDF” icon on the left side of the template name.
  • Once template is downloaded you can move the same to your desired folder where you can open the template file in Microsoft Power BI Desktop installed on your PC.
  • After Opening the file you will able to see both Spaces and Assets related pages with pre-built visuals including VCAD.
  • You can save this file as PBIX in your desired folder or you can publish the same to your Power BI online account.

 

Using External Data

With the PBIX files saved you can view the data files imported having complete data of drawing used with VCAD. This includes following main tables along with other tables.

  • Assets
  • Spaces
  • Floors

You need to understand data model to incorporate external data as without proper data modelling experience one cannot built and integrated solution.

For this example I have used following table which can be made directly in Power BI or you can used Microsoft Excel to incorporate the same. For this example I have also added a custom column “FloorNameEnglish” with translated/customized names of the floors. This column was also created in Floors table which was later used to build relationship between Contractors’ table and Floors table.

FloorNameEnglish Contractor Work Assigned
First Floor Bravo Electric Electric Work
First Floor Ideal Woodwork Wood Work
First Floor Jimmy Technologies Communication
First Floor Pro Insulators Heat Insulation
First Floor Silk Builders Construction
First Floor Tulip Interiors Finishing Work
Ground Floor ABC Construction Construction
Ground Floor Blossom Interiors Finishing Work
Ground Floor Bravo Electric Electric Work
Ground Floor Ideal Woodwork Wood Work

Caution:

The report was tested on Google Chrome browser. I have tried it on Internet Explorer but it was not running properly. Regarding other browsers I cannot confirm if it works on browsers other than Chrome.

Note:

This is to be noted that since VCAD Custom visual is configured with your account, it is not possible to share source file due to account related settings involved. You may easily try using example available through the template file downloaded.

Report Snapshot

Following snapshot is shared to view the final report. Furthermore, live link to the report is also shared below.

Live Link to Sample Report

snapshot simple vcad