Want an alternative to those boring 2D images strewn across your worksheet?
Consider 3D models, which are graphics that can be rotated 360° or tilted up and down.
Excel has an extensive range of static and animated 3D stock models.
Go to Insert > 3D Models, choose a category, and then select a model.
You can also upload your own; the following file formats are supported:
- *.3mf – 3D Manufacturing Format
- *.fbx – Filmbox Format
- *.glb – Binary GL Transmission Format
- *.obj – Object Format
- *.ply – Polygon Format
- *.ply – Polygon Format
- *.stl – StereoLithography Format
Many sites offer free and paid model files, such as Turbosquid (https://lnkd.in/etW_JftD) and Sketchfab (https://sketchfab.com/).
When a 3D model is selected, it triggers the 3D Model contextual tab, where you’ll find various options. You can adjust things like the size, arrangement, and model view.
Animated ones also have a Scenes dropdown that provides you with a choice of pre-set motion routines. Alternatively, they can be motionless.
3D models evoke childhood memories of video games like The Sims, Sim City, Theme Hospital, and Theme Park. They were a bundle of fun back in the day.
Are 3D models just a presentational gimmick, though, or do they have a functional purpose?
If you look at the categories, you’ll see ones like ‘Plan a Landscaping Project’, ‘Develop a City Plan’, and ‘Plan a Space’. It would be rather farfetched to suggest carrying out any of these activities in Excel ahead of industry-standard software like AutoCAD, but it has got me thinking.
Imagine you were floor planning and wanted to visualise a new room layout. It’d be cool if, for example, you could go on Ikea’s website and download 3D models of furniture that had metadata attached, such as the measurements.
Much like rich data types, you could then extract this data to the worksheet as you devise your plan. Certain models could also dynamically change based on cell values. For instance, if I wanted a wall that was 2.7m high and 8.2m wide, I could tap those values in and the model would synchronise.
Obviously, we are a long way off that. Excel does not handle 3D models very efficiently at this stage. Files can easily become bloated — the one used for the video is a whopping 344.1 MB! And they cause Excel to crash easily, too.
But I see potential, and it will be interesting to see if the Excel team does develop things further.
What are your thoughts?