BIM data in geoprocessing

Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) and Revit (RVT) files are read directly as ArcGIS feature datasets and are valid input to geoprocessing tools, Python scripts, and ModelBuilder iterators as read-only datasets and feature classes without a need to convert the data. The BIM file workspace is a valid read-only workspace that can be used by all of the geoprocessing tools. The BIM disciplines are valid read-only feature datasets that similarly can be used as read-only datasets in geoprocessing workflows. Similarly, the BIM files can be used in file-based geoprocessing tools as well as tools that work with the workspaces, datasets, and feature layers. Since the BIM data is directly read as ArcGIS feature layers, the task of conversion is really one of copying the data. Geoprocessing tools such as Copy, Export Features, Merge, Append, and Copy Features can all accomplish the task of permanently converting CAD in-memory feature classes to ArcGIS datasets such as geodatabases or shapefiles. As valid feature layer and feature class input to geoprocessing tools, the automation of the analysis and conversion of BIM data can be accomplished using Python and ModelBuilder workflows.

BIM data positioning

BIM data is a common source of GIS content but before it can be used in ArcGIS Pro, the data must have a defined coordinate location. BIM files are required to have a valid coordinate system (.prj) file, and may require an optional coordinate transformation information (.wld) file to identify how the coordinates in the BIM data should be positioned on the earth's surface. You will be alerted by ArcGIS Pro when attempting to access BIM data that does not have a proper spatial reference. Notifications will guide you to choose the proper spatial reference, and you will be presented with tools for any necessary BIM data repositioning. To validate the positioning information for any CAD or BIM file, you can inspect the file properties in the Catalog pane and perform a coordinate positioning validation.

BIM feature classes as map layers

Adding a BIM workspace to a map generates a BIM layer of feature layers that are organized by construction discipline. Alternately, BIM feature classes can be used as ArcGIS Pro feature layers using the Make Layer geoprocessing tool and used in scripts and models where the required input to a tool is a feature layer rather than a feature class.

BIM feature classes from the same BIM workspace are valid input to generate a new building layer, which is useful in workflows that automate the use of the Create Building Scene Layer Content geoprocessing tool.

BIM feature classes in analysis and data creation

BIM feature layers and feature classes are valid read-only inputs to many analysis and data creation geoprocessing tools. You can use geoprocessing tools to further extract useful information from geometry and BIM element parameters as GIS data and create geometries and derived GIS features.

BIM file workspace

Geoprocessing tools that accept read-only workspaces accept the BIM file workspace as valid input. Geoprocessing tools that work with read-only files will also accept the BIM file as input.

Common BIM geoprocessing workflows

The sharing of BIM data as building scene layers is one of the primary workflows of BIM data in ArcGIS Pro. This workflow includes conversion of BIM data to combine, aggregate, and enhance BIM-sourced data for use in GIS applications as building scene layers. Before sharing your building data, you will likely convert, merge, and append BIM file data into geodatabase feature classes for the purpose of editing the data before it is reassembled and shared. You will use the BIM File To Geodatabase tool to convert, merge, and append BIM files. Then you will use the data management geoprocessing tools to add and remove fields and populate fields with additional information not originally included in the BIM file data. You will then use the Make Building Layer and Create Building Scene Layer Content tools to create a shareable building scene layer. You can also use these tools in combination in Python scripts or ModelBuilder models.

Some useful tools when working with BIM data for the purpose of sharing include the following:

  • BIM File To Geodatabase—Imports the contents of one or more BIM file workspaces into a geodatabase feature dataset.
  • Merge—Combines multiple input datasets into a single new output dataset. This tool can combine point, line, or polygon feature classes or tables.
  • Append—Appends multiple input datasets to an existing target dataset. Input datasets can be feature classes, tables, shapefiles, rasters, or annotation or dimensions feature classes.
  • Add Field—Adds a field to a table or the table of a feature class or feature layer, as well as to rasters with attribute tables.
  • Delete Field—Deletes one or more fields from a table, feature class, feature layer, or raster dataset.
  • Calculate Field—Creates a layer with calculated field values.
  • Make Building Layer—Creates a composite building layer from a dataset, usually from a BIM file workspace (Revit file, IFC file, or other geodatabase multipatch data sources).
  • Create Building Scene Layer Content—Creates a scene layer package (.slpk file) from a building layer input.
  • Share Package—Shares a package by uploading to ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise.

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