The program in the spotlight this time is Renga from Renga Software in Russia.
The software has several features according to their website:
- Architectural Design
- Structural Design
- MEP Design
These are my experiences in using the program over de last two days. Keep in mind this is from the perspective of someone who has never used this program before. And focusing mostly on the architectural aspect of the software.
When you first start Renga you are greeted with a very clean interface as you can see in the image below. This theme is continued throughout the software with consistent menu placement and interaction which is nice to have.
When starting a new project, you are again greeted with a clean minimalist interface as shown in the image below, gone are the big sidebars that you know if your coming from Revit. Now all you have is a small rectangular menu containing all your tools at the top right that expands downward as needed (a thing to note is that on a 1080p display at 100% scaling I have never had to scroll in this menu as of yet) and a bar at the top center which has your generic save, open, undo and export buttons, etc. This is also where you access the project-wide settings and your object libraries.
Now you might be wondering where is the project browser? Well at the very top of the window there is a tab with the current view and a + sign next to it. This is the project browser, you open it by pressing the + sign that lets you open any view from the project and have it as a new tab next to your current view. So, a very different approach compared to the competition but not necessarily a bad one.
Modeling is straightforward for the most part and like other programs, select your wall, constraints, and go at it. Where things change is that modeling and manipulation of objects mostly work with nodes. This manipulation went as you would expect, all the basic functions that you would want are available and work great, Copy, mirror, array (radial & linear), etc.
Now making windows and doors is done in a very cool way. You place the window opening that you can define the height and width of and the way it is shaped so round, angled, etc.
Inside this opening, you can use a configurator to generate a layout which is used as a template to generate the window. This allows great flexibility in the quick creation of window and door objects. The only downside is that you can’t define the size of window partitions in dimensions but only with percentages. This same process is used for the creation of doors.
This means you might need to make a few variations depending on your project. In addition to this, there is also a cool function that windows wrap around walls. See the example below where one window spans three wall segments. This is also the reason why there is no curtainwall tool since the window and door tool both contain any functionality that would be inside a curtain wall tool.
Stairs and ramps are also fairly free of limitations in modeling which means you always get a stair that fits and just edit the run amount to get your desired riser height and tread depth which can be seen on the properties menu.
A nice convenience that I haven’t seen anywhere else is that walls auto attach to a roof if they are cut by the geometry of the roof.
When it comes to materials, they easy to set up and apply to elements based on a layered material construction that has been made. One thing to consider is that this works on a layering system with one material being the core with a variable thickness, this thickness is calculated based on the thickness of the element and subtracting the other layers. To add to this there are no element types in the way other programs use these, every element is an instance which might be a problem in larger projects when project-wide changes need to be done.
But apart from all this good stuff some parts are less well developed.
- The railing tool only has one geometry type and only the height and distance between posts are editable,
- Stair railings and normal railings don’t join together.
- The Railing always extends by about 20cm which cant be edited and needs to be taken into account during modeling.
- There are no temporary dimensions, This means drawing a lot of temporary lines or grids to position objects correctly,
- Apart from the windows & doors, no object seems to wall aware which also results in a lot of manual positioning.
- There is very limited or no functionality for detailed elements like gutters etc.
- There a no site tools or ways to add topo surface as far as I have discovered.
One of the strange things about Renga is that there is no Freeform modeling environment. All assets are generic scalable models, Some of the MEP families do have specific geometry editing but most contend is a scalable OBJ file, this means that to add new content you can just grab any OBJ file from the internet and use it in your project and define its properties. This gives you access to a high variety of high-quality content but these are not fully parametric on the properties side in addition to having little control over visual properties.
Out of the Box Template
The base template is almost empty which can be a good thing, but this means as a new user you need to first add a lot of stuff to make it useful for your purposes. But adding content is easy and straightforward so this should not be a big problem.
Presentation is straightforward, clean, and decently automated due to the use of view templates and filters which can be easily applied and edited to suit needs, This in combination with being able to re-add the dimensions and grids placed in the work views on the presentations views with the click of a button makes this a fairly fast process. It has a few quirks to get used to but it is perfectly fine for what it needs to do.
The IFC capabilities of Renga seem capable, as a test I have exported the basic sample project from Revit to IFC 2×3 and imported it into Renga. The material, properties, and geometry information is imported perfectly, there are however some parts that are slightly bugged.
- The glass materials are not properly recognized as glass and thus show up opaque
- The RPC Site trees are distorted and show up strangely.
But apart from these two bugs, the import process seems to work well, see the result in the image below.
When exporting to IFC there are not many options, while you can create property sets for each model category in the interface there is no option to select which ones are exported. This only leaves exporting all the property sets. Another limitation is that the only export option is IFC 4. This means interoperability with programs that don’t support this is limited or must happen via an indirect process by downgrading the IFC model.
As a test, I have exported a test project from Renga to IFC and then opened this in an IFC viewer and imported it into Revit.
The export from Renga just like the import seems to work well. The only thing missing from the export when opened in the IFC viewer is that the stair railings seem to not be exportable. This same bug is seen when you import the IFC into Revit but in addition to the railing problem, there are a few new problems.
- Windows turn opaque possibly due to the way they are defined in Renga.
- All the content geometry that is defined via an OBJ file in Renga as explained before is reverted to their original dimensions before scaling. This should be because Revit has some problems with importing IFC 4. This bug does make collaboration between a user using Renga and Revit difficult.
There does not seem to be any internal rendering engine but the 3D viewer does look great and can be used to present designs to clients. There does seem to be a partnership with the Artisan rendering program from PICTOREX Ltd but this has to be bought separately. As an alternative, there is also the option to export the model as an OBJ, DAE, or STL for rendering in an external program like Blender, Lumion, etc.
Renga is available in 2 versions, Renga & Renga x3 but as of this writing, I have not been able to find out what the difference is due to the support center only being answered in Russian. But both versions are available in a variety of payment options. Take note that to upgrade the permanent license to a newer version there is a 450 USD upgrade fee.
|Renga Version||Renga||Renga x3|
|Permanent license||1800 USD||4000 USD|
|Annual license||800 USD||2000 USD|
|Monthly license||80 USD||240 USD|
|Update package||450 USD||450 USD|
These prices are considerably cheaper than some of the competition namely ArchiCAD or REVIT but it is also more expensive than Edificius that we took a look at last time while offering a better experience but most defiantly a lot less functionality for the price.
While there a few quirks here and there, the core is a solid piece of software with a clean interface that has all the functionality needed to get a project done and that is quite intuitive. This is delivered for a much lower price than the competition which makes it a compelling option for those with limited financial means that do want a solid experience.
Check it out and download the 60day trial and a few sample projects at https://rengabim.com/en/