On Land

Environment Information
At Rill Architects we run ArchiCAD on Mac OS X. If you work at Rill, this is your stuff. If you don't, but you work in ArchiCAD, you may find something interesting. Anybody else, I don't know.
December 2003 Archive

(Defunct. This is better.)

Favorites are preset configurations of the tools. They enable you to quickly configure a tool for a given purpose, like option-clicking without the need for a placed element.

I have never developed a strong affection for them, for several reasons. They were terribly implemented when they started, in AC6.5 if memory serves. Until AC8, there was no button for favorites in the settings box (?!!). Finally, in a far-along project, option-clicking is still the fastest method. Modules are also nice.

In AC8 the feature is mature enough that I can recommend you try it.


For calling out wall types and other assemblies. This object is accessed under the detail tool.

Typically you will have the detail drawn before placing this object. In this case, check the 'Link to Detail Drawing' box. (If it's checked by default, uncheck it and check it again. This is the only way to change the reference.) Select the appropriate detail from the list.

The symbol has the tag on the right by default. To flip it, go to settings and check the 'flip' box. Detail markers cannot be mirrored. (?!)

The wall thickness can be set in the settings or graphically edited. The wall should be contained between the two triangles. The tail end and the tag end of the marker are also stretchable with the arrow tool.

The subject

The unique ID of the detail will display in the top half of the tag. (Use the same info for the 'number' in the drawing title object within the detail.) In Archicad, the bottom half is blank. If 'Auto Sheet Number in PM' is checked in the settings, the sheet number of the drawing will be displayed in PlotMaker automatically.

With the Stevens project, we have started incorporating wall types, and other assemblies, into the construction documents.

Wall types are very circumscribed details showing what a wall is made of. Once you have the types defined, you are able to use very brief notations in other details to specify the walls. They are more accurate and easier to maintain, because they are only drawn once.

Use detail windows for assembly types. Details must have unique IDs, which is OK in this case because the types should have unique IDs too. Here some examples of names and IDs I used for Stevens:

W1 : 2x4 partition (Wood #1)
W2 : 2x6 partition (Wood #2)
WB1 : 2x6 Wall with brick veneer (Wood & Brick # 1)
CS1 : 10" Concrete with 8" Stone (Concrete & Stone #1)
F1 : Strip footing (Footing #1)
F2 : Pad footing (Footing #2)

For scale, I have found that 3"=1' (4) is good for walls and 1 1/2"=1' (8) is good for footings.

As I have developed these drawings for Stevens, then for Prill, I have been creating modules of them at 3 Resources : Modules : Assembly Types. For your projects, merge each drawing you need into a detail window. You can, of course, modify these for your needs. As you create new assemblies, save modules! By definition, these drawings will be simple and broadly useful.

To call out wall types in wall sections, use the detail tool with "Assembly Marker JAM81".

Like This

Detail Tool JAM81 is accessed under the detail tool and can be used in place of 'Detail Marker JAM8'. More on detail windows here. More on the detail tool here.


As a companion to the detail window post, an overview of the detail tool.


Update: I have expanded on this topic here". I have strikethrough'd the really wrong bits here.

(I am planning a tech meeting for this topic the week of the fifth.)

Q What is a detail window.
A new kind of window in AC8. A hybrid of a section window and a patch.
Like a patch, they can be generated from existing geometry. Like a section, they can be renewed. Unlike a section, they cannot be model views, only drawings.

Q What are they for.


In AC9, the keyboard shortcuts are part of the Work Environment. They are stored at 3 Resources : Work Environment : RND Profile.

Keyboard shortcuts are customized at Options | Customize | Keyboard Shortcuts, Tools tab. The settings are saved in a preferences file called Archicad 8.1 Lasting.Prefs. The local version of this file is located at home : Library : Preferences : Graphisoft : Archicad 8.1.0 vn, where n is the current version.

Ours are fairly highly customized, and it's a burden for everyone to change them by hand. To save you the hassle, we keep a copy of the preferences on the server. (Quit Archicad before doing this, or no worky.) Simply copy the file from 3 Resources : Archicad Program Files : Good Archicad Prefs X : Graphisoft : Archicad 8.1.0 v1 : Archicad 8.1 Lasting.Prefs, and write over your local prefs.

Oops, it's not that simple. It used to be. For some reason, in AC8.1, a permissions issue has developed with Archicad 8.1 Lasting.Prefs, making it hard to copy. (The other prefs are OK.) Here is the workaround:

Duplicate the file in place. (Drag and drop it in the same window while holding down option.) You get "Archicad 8.1 Lasting.Prefs copy". Drag this file to your local prefs folder. Delete the old one. Rename "Archicad 8.1 Lasting.Prefs copy" to "Archicad 8.1 Lasting.Prefs."

Launch Archicad, and all should be well.

You have clicked some points for your dimension string. You have not checked the geometry method for the correct orientation, horizontal or vertical. Well over half the time, due to Murphy's Law, the wrong one is selected. You click to place the string, and get nothing. You have to start over. You are sad.

If you are dimensioning walls, you should be clicking on the line of the wall, rather than the corner, in order to dimension the core. (This isn't the tip; it is current standard practice. I hope someone is praying for you if you aren't dimensioning this way.) Choose the third, arbitrary angle, geometry method. With this setting, the string is forced to orient perpendicular to the wall, regardless of the wall's direction.

For two strings with the same orientation, select one, then Cmd+click on the other. The second string will disappear, and its points will be added to the selected string.

Over there under LINKS is a link to Archicad-Talk. This is the main user discussion board for all things related to our chosen lifestyle. If you have a question I can't answer, poke around in there. If something isn't known to someone on this board, it isn't known. You must register in order to post, but you can browse and search anonymously.

At 3 Resources/AC Program Files you will find AC8.1 v1 1410 USA Updater, an update patch for 8.1. Go ahead and run it. It requires a restart. I have no idea why.

Update: In AC10, they made some changes to wall cleanup that simplify this process quite a bit.

Yes. Perfect. If you're into that sort of thing. It takes some doing.