Linking Excel Data Into Navisworks – Part 1 Selecting Elements

Let’s work with collecting some information from an appended Revit model in Navisworks. For my example, I need to add hardware and keying information to all of my doors. This data could be easily collected in Revit itself, but there are a lot of owners out there who don’t have or use Revit; there is no need to edit the model on that level, so we are leveraging Navisworks to add data to our models from a format that is easy to use, namely Excel.

A Navisworks model is a bit of a chameleon. Depending on what type of other file you append, Navisworks will restructure the data from that file into its format in the Selection Tree. For example, if you bring in a DWG the “Layer” tier in the tree refers to an actual DWG layer, but if you append a Revit model, the Layer in the Navisworks Selection Tree ties itself to a Revit level, and tries to collect everything associated with that level. Understanding that, you need to do a little research before you know at what tree layer you can find the data you are looking for.

In our Revit model door example, the tree structure makes sense, but I see that if I expand the items and select each one, the tree tier with the “Insert Group” icon has the Revit data I want to look for, not the item below that with the “Group” icon.

Not a lot of Revit info here...
Not a lot of Revit info here…
Here's my Revit info!
Here’s my Revit info!

Finding the items at the right tree tier can be tricky as well. The Find Items function in Navisworks is extremely powerful, but you have to know what tier you are looking for and what data lives in that tier.

However Navisworks breaks the data down, essentially the tabs in the Properties are the first level of selection criteria in Find Items. Then you look for a property on that tab and evaluate the data. That’s how you find your results.

Since I know what selection tree tier I want, and I am looking for all my Revit doors, I notice that the “Element” tab in Properties has the Revit family and category. Bingo.

I build my selection criteria to look at the “Element” Category, looking for the “Category” Property and seeing if that is equal to “Doors”. It is definitely confusing that I am using the same word for two different things, but if you remember that the first one is the Navisworks category and the second is the Revit category, that will hopefully help. Hopefully.

Bingo! Albeit, a little confusing
Voila! Albeit, a little confusing…

So once I click “Find All”, Navisworks selects all the items at the “Instanced Group” level, which is the level I want because that level has all the Revit data.

Correct items selected in Selection Tree
Correct items selected in Selection Tree

Now that I have the right items, I need to create a Set. Navisworks gives me the option to make a Selection Set or a Search Set. The Selection Set is a snapshot of all the items I have currently selected, and a Search Set saves the criteria I used to find those items. I usually do Search Set, because it allows me to refresh my items if any of my appended models change.

Full disclosure – you do NOT need to create a Set for the export and import process. It’s good practice to save one however, in case you need to repeat the export/import process, or if you have fat fingers like I do and you accidentally click and unselect everything you had selected.

Saving either type of Set is really easy, you just open the Sets tab and either click the button for Save Selection or Save Search. Autodesk has a good write-up of what you can do with your sets.

So now you have the elements that you want to export to Excel selected, our next write-up is going to walk us through picking what properties get exported and the export itself.