Author: Glynnis Patterson Revit, Ideate Software, Ideate BIMLink, Microsoft Excel

A customer recently asked us for information about using Ideate BIMLink in conjunction with MS Access. Before I share information about how this can be done, I’ll outline some important information about how Revit can connect, out-of-the-box, with an Access database. Revit is a database of building information and this information, or at least a portion of it, can be exported to ODBC which can in turn be opened within Access. You can learn more about this process in the Wiki.



This process is one-way, meaning that the data can leave Revit via Export, but there is no corresponding import. This is most useful as a way to manage data that can logically remain separate from the building objects, such as construction cost data or for managing HR data relative to spatial data.

For people who are interested in a more fluid, two-way data exchange, Autodesk also provides a free tool for subscription owners, called Revit DB Link. This tool permits both an import and an export and can be used for a wider variety of tasks. A common usage might include editing volumes of Room- or Space-based parameters within Access and then importing the changes back to Revit. I should clarify that this tool does not permit a “live link” between Revit and Access, meaning that both the import and the export processes within Revit are manual. It should also be noted that for 64-bit users, the setup for the MS Access will require a 64-bit ODBC driver which wasn’t provided by Microsoft until the release of Office 2010. You can learn more about the setup on this in the 2010 Typepad Post (recent Autodesk posts imply that this information is still valid).

Ideate BIMLink also provides and import/export capability but is aimed at the average user who does not want to setup an Access database or who has found that the Revit DB Link tool cannot manage the volume or type of data needed for a specific task. Excel provides a simple and elegant way to manage the large volumes of data within the Revit project.

Now, back to the question at hand… can you use Ideate BIMLink with MS Access? You can, to learn how, check out this video on Ideate BIMLink and Access. I think the primary reason you might consider this workflow is that Ideate BIMLink lets you deal with smaller chunks of data and, again, does not require Access knowledge. The Revit user or consultant can manage a small chunk of the database within Excel. For example, they could fill out important COBie-related fields for specialty equipment items then handover that chunk of Excel-based data for incorporation into the larger, Access database. Ideate BIMLink uses the Type and Instance IDs as the database “key” to help coordinate the information between the Building Model and the database model. It’s the right tool for keeping it simple and fast.

For more information on the software solutions, training, and consulting Ideate provides, please visit the Ideate, Inc. homepage.

    Glynnis Patterson
Glynnis Patterson, NCARB
Director of Software Development

Glynnis is a Registered Architect and has worked within the BIM industry since 1998. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, she has worked as an architect, educator, and construction site manager. Glynnis is currently the Director of Software Development at Ideate Software, and she continues to work with AEC clients worldwide, developing and consulting on solutions to Building Information Modeling challenges. In her spare time Glynnis does volunteer work for ECLC of New Jersey and Grow it Green Morristown. Follow Glynnis on Twitter.