Revit vs Advance Steel: Portal Frames

Revit and Advance Steel have similar capabilities and can both be used to model and detail Structural Steel structures. They do, however, approach certain steps of the modelling process quite differently. This is incredibly apparent when it comes to modelling Portal Frames.

Portal Frames are universal and form the backbone “concept” for many industrial warehouses. In general, any Portal Frame consists of columns, rafters, haunches (if necessary) and relevant connections. The elements that connect these frames to each other, purlins, eaves, girts, etc. will be covered in another blog. Revit requires a lengthier workflow than Advance Steel when it comes to modelling Portal Frames.

First and foremost, you need to add/load the relevant Families. You will need a Family for the columns, rafters, and connections. Country Content Packs help A LOT when it comes to this. Your Red Book (SAISC) profiles are all part of the South African Content Pack available for download and installation ( Once you have started a new Revit Project, you will spend most of your time within the Structure tab ribbon. Here, you will click on the Beam function and load a family, as well as the Column function. For connections, please refer to my previous blog –

Once these Families have been loaded, you need to create your Grid and Levels.

Once done, you can now start modelling your Portal Frame. You will need to add columns in the GROUND FLOOR view and the rafters in the EAVE HEIGHT view, from where you will need to set the End/Start Level Offset of each rafter to the correct height. At first it will look very off, but all you need to do is to create a Miter connection.

And now you can start with you connections and simply copy the Portal Frames (there are other workflows as well).

As for Advance Steel, you still need a Grid, but no Levels.

Once your Grid has been created, you will make use of a single function, Portal/Gable Frame.

Once selected you simply need to follow the commands, which will consist of three clicks: First column, second column and Apex position – Grid points 1-1, 2 and 3-1. A dialogue will open up where you can set the parameters.

All in all, Advance Steel is a better choice because it is a dedicated platform, however, Revit is not limited in its’ functionality and will simply require (from time to time) a longer workflow.

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