fun break!

today google analytics reported to me that I’ve 41 “active visitors” to my humble website ( ..
I was so curious to know why those 41 are in mid of no where (some where in mid of Pacific ocean) then for my surprise google says: International Space Station – control room!! (ISS)
I don’t know who’s joke / technical glitch.. is this.. but I doubt that ISS is interested in BIM … kkkkk
I wondered what to call this post? some ideas: ISS goes BIM!! or: revitonic goes astronomical!!..

by the time of writing these lines.. my “41 active NASA visitors” are above UK..sorry now approaching Oman toward India… hehehe


ISS image from NASA

ISS image from NASA

I’ve been waiting this one for long time… a plugin for my favorite Renderer (Maxwell) from my favorite BIM (Revit),
maxwell is unbiased (physically correct) renderer that gives very realistic renders with minimum setup :)

by Stack Studio

by Stack Studio



  • Compatibility: Revit 2012 and 2013 (any edition) Revit LT not supported
  • Support for Revit lights, including IES
  • Support for many built-in Revit materials
  • Ability to override scene materials with MXM files
  • Maxwell Grass
  • Multilight read back: changes made to lights in Multilight can be imported back into the Revit scene
  • Easy access to the Maxwell material library and gallery from inside the Revit UI


Support page:


Maxwell Render-Revit Ribbon

Maxwell Render-Revit Ribbon

Purpose: 6 faces curtain wall that looks good instead of thousand faces default curtain walls!

Level: intermediate

Experts one line: use material tricks such as fill patterns / transparency maps instead of full modelling.


each box geometry has 6 rectangular faces (12 triangles), in a small fully-detailed curtain wall you may have thousands of faces (from panels and mullions); I’ll show you how to cheat a normal wall to look and work like a curtain wall..

Note: most 3D visualizers I know, prefer to have a non-faceted glazing surfaces (no curtain grids, one single big panels, no mullions at all), they’ve plenty of ready realistic curtain glazing materials, and prefer to apply them on minimum number of objects.

same trick can be used for HVAC grils, sun screens …etc


How to do it:

1- create a wall type, call it: A_Ext_glazing_150

2- edit type > structure > change the material > duplicate the default glass and give it a unique name.

3- inside the new material settings, select: graphics, make sure it has some transparency, then click on surface pattern: create a new MODEL pattern:

name 1.2×2.2 m, 0 degrees angle, 2200 mm for line spacing 1 (that’ll be the distance between horizontal grids), 1200 mm for spacing 2 (verticals). -don’t worry if you can’t see the grid in the preview window-

for cut pattern, personally I prefer to give it a solid hatch with nice blue color.

Material graphics settings

Material graphics settings

in hidden / shaded views it looks good, actually that’s enough for me in concept / preliminary stages, especially on huge projects (popular in this part of the world).

4-  go to material’s appearance settings, lot can be done here; but at least you need to assign an image for Transparency: a black/white image: black will be solid, white transparent…

Transparency map

Transparency map

also you may add some maps to generic, reflectivity and bump…

Realistic appearance

Realistic appearance

it’s very important to change the size of this image (default 304mm doesn’t work!):

Map size (scale)

Map size (scale)

5- back to graphics, adjust the alignment of the texture vs. pattern: use arrows to move the green lines

Texture Alignment

Texture Alignment

in elevation, you can select the grid lines (fill pattern /hatch lines) and move them… texture will move with it   :)

Enjoy! this will save you thousands of faces, & make your 3D Max happier!

anytime you wish you can change this wall type into a “real” curtain wall with grids and mullions.

for trainers: teach your students this one before you teach them the traditional curtain wall techniques!

purpose: no surprises in printing

level: beginners

experts one liner: filter views on sheets from project browser organization so they don’t get changed by mistake

we need two copies -at least- of each view, one for printing, other for working, for many reasons including these:

  • during work we may change the view a lot, switching on/off objects, sketching some detail lines, put WIP notes for other team members, make the view temporarily wireframe or shaded …etc.
  • usually -at least us architects- we print the very last minute, no time to check and re-check tons of settings every time..
  • in Revit 2013, if you’re using a view template, you can’t change the view settings (V/G … or any of those settings included in the view template)

someone might suggest to use a project parameter to sort them to printing and working.. (already discussed here)


Level 1 is what I want for printing, see it in sheet A101
WIP_level 1 is the working version of this level (modelling view)

but also a handy solution is to filter only those views which are not placed on a sheet to appear in project browser; in order to work on the printing version then you can open the sheet that contains it, or browse to it from sheets.

we filter views which are not placed on any sheet (sheet name = none)

we filter views which are not placed on any sheet (sheet name = none)

this also helps to see less views in the browser


keep it secret! hardware requirements for Revit are not necessarily expensive, you just need to know what does matter:

Note: this system configuration is meant for those who primarily use Revit, what might be good for Revit is not necessarily the best for 3D Max, Inventor …

Graphic Card:

1- save your money, Revit values the card power not caliber; no need for workstation graphic cards! why? simply because they are:

  • tailored for OpenGL, and Revit uses DirectX only
  • more expensive than their gaming brothers of the same number of transistors; extra cost goes to certification, and to give a premium support (well, not sure if you’ll ever need this support)

check related articles on TomsHardware (I provided some links at the end), and you’ll see many occasions where the popular gaming GPUs were the first to be manufactured in a newer technology (e.g. thinner nano chip), or some hackers managed to upgrade a gaming card to work better in OpenGL.

2- CUDA or OpenCL (in plain English: programming staff -SDK- to harvest the processing power of selected GPUs -floating point processing-) are not yet adopted in Revit, however many Renderers (i.e. Vray) started to use CUDA already, and I hope/expect Revit it to use it in future.

The GPU I want for Revit is the one with faster processing clock and higher memory size and speed.


higher speed clock is more important than number of cores, i.e. don’t spend thousands to get a dual processor, except for Rendering and few other tasks, a relatively cheaper but faster CPU will help you more.

Systems Dual processor (2 physical CPUs) are not only more expensive because their processors are far more expensive, but also their motherboards are overpriced compared to single processor MB’s. I’ll tell you a story about this later.


these days it’s probably the best investment! the performance to $ in this regard is lovely, don’t accept less than 16GB;

speed of memory is important as well, I think 1600 GHz has became the mainstream these days? (I got them 3 years ago for a reasonable price).


I hate MB’s with built-in graphic cards! (some IT guys still buy them!! and say it’s OK we deactivated the GC on board! there must be a reason why they are the cheapest MB’s!)

DIY guys, I’d make a quick search to see which motherboard chipset is better for graphics, Internet is full of benchmarks in this regard.

I’ve been always a big fan of AMD processors, in general: best value for price, savings in CPU and motherboard = spend more money on other parts; for laptops I prefer Intel.

Other Items:

  • Monitor: 2 monitors of course but remember that till the time I’m writing these lines, you can’t put different views on different screens = I know this sounds funny but a good choice would be: big screen for Revit, and smaller one for other tasks.
  • SSD hardisks are getting more affordable and give great performance in loading programs/ files, but only for files saved on local drive.
  • DIY notes: get a nice and quiet cooling system, not only helpful for better life quality!, but it gives potential to overclock! burn these parts, by all means you’ll throw them a couple of years later.
  • As a general rule the best value is usually somewhere near 80-90% of the best performance/ biggest size, because the latest technology is always over priced (as you know flag CPUs are so expensive till something faster comes).
  • better to renew your system more often rather than getting the flag products once, the best specs you can get today will be mainstream 2 years later.

the story I promised to tell: following all these concepts, 3 years ago I assembled a machine (DIY, the cowboy style!) faster than  a workstation 3 folds more expensive (it set me back 7000 RMB but outperformed 25’000 RMB company machine dual CPU, simply because mine was 4 cores * 3.4 GHz while the company machine is 2 processors * 2.6 GHz * 4 cores that many computing tasks can’t use more than one at a time, mine with best gaming GPU for money that supported the latest DirectX at that time, the other with a super expensive workstation card which is good for 3D Max, Catia, Inventor .. anything but Revit, my memory running @1600 GHz the other one has a basic DDR3 -forgot the exact clock speed of it-).

note: source of above is what I’ve personally tested, no benchmarks! just trust me! :D

and of course plenty of related articles these are some:,2258-2.html,2258-10.html,3153-2.html

industrial / mechanical engineer may backoff i know this is very silly for you guys; I’m talking here to my AEC colleagues, mainly Architects..
I always admired the highly detailed families by the suppliers, looking at the tiny manufacturing details down to fractions of millimeters.. holes, threads! ..etc
how patient and smart you need to be to create such a beauty (though in BIM many call them elephant families, refer to the previous post! because they kill the performance)
few years ago, the main goal of the AU campaign in Vegas was digital prototyping, that time my main target was Revit API!

after years of postponing this.. 4 days ago I downloaded a trial version of Autodesk Inventor Professional, and I started with online tutorials and skill builders,


here’s an image of a box I made from sheet metal, I put later on stress simulation, and tried to find best thickness to stand a given force! I’m doing this for fun

Wow!! I’d have done that loooong time ago..

  • how easy it’s to model certain things!
  • I can run a stress simulation in no time,
  • moreover, the toy of dynamic movement simulation,
  • find best design to withstand a given (or calculated) load,

every toy a computer geek may dream of! or any fan of simulation, or in my opinion lot of men!

man who likes DIY, likes to do stuff by his own, e.g. hanging a shelf or trying to tie two things together and you want to know what’s need to keep them attached (bolt connection design)…  in other word:
will it break?

I do believe that an engineer (where I came from they call Architects: Architectural Engineers), should have the computational ability to solve such a problem, especially nowadays with the increasing intelligence of computer software / hardware.
for the sake of old days when such an image used to take hours if not days of modeling and rendering, I finished this one in less than 20 minutes:
it’s a snapshot (yes! not a render, I’m just using the plain Realistic Visual style on a laptop!)
this was a tutorial, you can find it in skill builder > splines;

paying your attention that it’s made with high accuracy, and my next step is to put it on plastic tooling exercises! e.g.find best plastic mold options to manufacture it.. so it’s not a dump model.


my only issue with this beautiful “muscular” / engineering toy is: its professional version is ~6700 $ (as one website stated, not sure)
well, not a cheap toy :) :(

well, I heard long time ago of Catia, Solidworks and even inventor itself … but never thought that learning it is that easy!

-at least for a CAD geek like me-


In a project I’m working on recently, the team is complaining that it takes them long hours to export the Revit MEP model to Navisworks..

well, first I was wondering why not using the new Navisworks 2013 feature of directly opening the Revit Model!

Then for my surprise, and as you may know, this can’t be relied on! simply because many elements are not exported (e.g. pipe fittings)
I realized that there must be a problem in the 55 Mb Revit model!
It took seconds to realize that there’re ~7000 sprinklers in this part of the model, zoom-in and see the huge amount of unnecessary details, I spent 5 minutes to optimize this family by simplifying its model, loaded it back to project..

Optimizing the Sprinkler

and Bingo! 9 minutes the model was exported to Navisworks

 learnt lesson: if you’ve a revit family that you’re using thousands of times, then pay extra attention on it, don’t trust internet families!
Faces count is not measured by the size of the family: neither by its small real life size, nor by the small Revit file size.