March 1, 2016

Why Doesn’t My Revit Material Browser Dialogue Box Open?

Being part of our tech support team has its perks. You quickly learn common issues amongst software platforms and you also learn about the quirky, one-off issues as well. Most times, cases take a short amount of time to resolve, but sometimes they can be ongoing, especially with intermittent behavior that appears to be quite random.

Recently, I was presented with a couple of cases that dealt with Revit Materials. One of the cases had to do with missing rendering images and the other case had to do with Revit freezing (or the appearance of freezing) while attempting to open the Material Browser dialogue box.

The missing project materials was because of a change of servers and moving some of the custom image files to another location. Since some of the materials had custom rendering images that were referenced from an old server location, when the project was moved to the new server, the pathing for all of the custom images were no longer valid. If a project is complex and has a lot of broken image paths, it can take the materials dialogue box a long time to open because Revit is searching for those materials. The solution to this problem is to either fix the image pathing (preferred method) or tell Revit to look to additional folder locations for rendering images.

But, what if your image pathing is okay but the Material Browser dialogue box is not opening (or is taking a very long time to open)? Well, if this happens to be the case, you may have many unused materials, which means that it is time to purge the unused materials out of your project. In one tech support case that we recently had, we found out that a Transfer Project Standards imported over five-thousand unused IFC materials, making the Material Browser Dialogue box fail to open (perhaps it would have opened if we waited many hours). In this case, we instructed the customer to purge out the unused materials, which then resolved the issue.

In conclusion, if you Material Browser dialogue box fails to open, or for that matter, takes a really long time to open, look at repairing broken links to rendering images, and materials that you can purge from your Revit model.

Material Browser Dialogue
In the above image, you can see that the material called Cherry is missing its image. If projects contain many custom rendering images and are moved to a different server, or if the images are moved to another location, then the Material Browser can take a very long time to open.

Additional Render Appearance Paths
One of the solutions for dealing with the missing materials is to add additional locations to the Additional Render Appearance Paths dialogue box (see image above) under the Revit options. Revit will look to these locations, in addition to the standard material paths. If many projects are missing materials, this list could get quite extensive.

Purge Unused Materials
In the example shown above, we are looking at a fraction of the purge-able materials from the Purge Unused dialogue box. We discovered that a Transfer Project Standards lead to the importation of well over five-thousand ifc materials, making it impossible for Revit to open the Material Browser dialogue box. After purging out the unused materials, Revit was able to re-open the Material Browser.

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Sash Kazeminejad
AEC Senior Application Specialist 
Sash brings proficiency in Autodesk solutions including AutoCAD and Revit Architecture to Ideate customers. His industry experience includes project management, BIM Management, and design for Architectural firms in California, Montana and Oregon. He is LEED accredited professional and is on track to achieve California licensure with Oregon to follow. In his academic life, Sash was awarded a variety of college scholarships, earned a BA in Environmental Design, a MA in Architecture from Montana State University (MSU) and taught Building Information Modeling courses at MSU Gallatin College. As a Revit Architecture Autodesk Certified Instructor, Sash provides Revit Architecture training and support for AEC firms. Find him on twitter: @sashpdx.