On Land

Environment Information
At Rill Architects we run ArchiCAD on macOS. 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.
September 2004 Archive

The category Library Development is where I try to document how my objects and libraries are put together. As such, it is of virtually no value to you, and precious little interest. Feel free to ignore it.

An integer parameter for controlling which lines are drawn on a moulding profile, by type.


AC9 grants one of my longest-standing wishes: You can set section windows to rebuild only when you say so. Unfortunately, the implementation of the feature isn't perfect. Fortunately, the performance improvements of AC9 make the feature less critical than it was. Now that we have it, we can live without it, and the workflow issues mean we probably should.

In AC8.1 and earlier, the sections would rebuild if there was any change in the model, even if the change didn't effect the section in question.

They also rolled the drawing (unlinked) section functionality in with the other rebuilding options, so that process is slightly different.

The rebuilding options are contained in the settings of each section independently. In the section settings you see this:

Autorebuild Model is the old way, and the default. You open the window, it rebuilds.

Manual-rebuild Model means the window won't rebuild until you say so. Note: The command to rebuild a manual-rebuild section is different from an ordinary 'Rebuild'. The command is Display -> Section/Elevations -> Rebuild from Model. It has a different shortcut, Cmd+Opt+R. Even more confusing, for an autorebuild section, the standard rebuild works as always.

Drawing is the same as the old 'unlink'. To turn a section into a drawing, select this option. The Unlink command is gone. The advice about dragging a copy in a section drawing window still applies. You can turn a drawing section back into a model, but Archicad will delete all the 2D elements that it initially drew. You can update the drawing, keeping it a drawing, with the Rebuild from Model command, Cmd+Opt+R, as with the manual-rebuild model.

So the manual-rebuild model should save a lot of time, let's do it. Not so fast. We hit the wall when we go to PlotMaker. As of now there is no facility to tell PM to update a manual-rebuild section window. That means you have to, well, manually rebuild the section before updating the view in PM. That means you have to remember. That means sometimes you'll forget. That means you'll have drawings you think are updated but aren't. The word for this is 'bad'.

Another option is to turn the section back into autorebuild before going to PM, but you'd have to remember that too.

As it stands, manual-rebuilding will save you time in Archicad at the risk of de-automating part of the layout book. As such, I can't recommend the manual-rebuild section functionality until the PM problem is solved.

Quick Selection is the ability to select elements in the plan and the 3D window without finding a detectable edge or node. (The 3D window has had this feature for while, it just didn't have a name.)

With Quick Selection active (it is technically optional), you can click anywhere on on element to select it, either with the arrow tool or by holding down shift. It works for all elements, including objects. (Assuming the object contains polygons.) Example: Rather than finding the corner of the bathtub and then scrolling the pile of elements occupying the corner, just click in the middle of the tub.

Successive clicks will scroll through the elements in a given area. Successive shift-clicks will accumulate the selection.

The QS status is shown by the button at the top of the info box:

The Quick Select button. The magnet thing.

While QS is active, if the cursor is over a selectable element, the pointer will have a magnet attached to it, like the magnet on the status button.

You can temporarily suspend QS by holding down the spacebar. You'll need to do this to select with a box where the cursor is a magnet.

I have never deactivated QS, and I don't recommend doing so. Following this advice means some habit-changing.

In practice, especially in section or model layer combinations, the magnet cursor will almost always be on, because you will almost always be over something selectable. If not a fill, a slab, if not a slab, then the site mesh. This means: You will find it nearly impossible to deselect by clicking in "empty space", because there isn't any. In fact, it's worse than that. As you casually click on you floor slab, not realizing it, you also begin to drag it. Eek.

Quickly develop the habit of using esc to deselect. As you develop the habit, pay attention and watch for unintended drags. Don't give up! QS saves lots of aggravation once you get the hang of it. Resist the evil voice in your head telling you to turn QS off and go back to the old way. If I was training a new user today, I wouldn't even tell them about deselecting by clicking nowhere.

AC8 brought esc-to-cancel, a standard functionality in most software. In AC9, esc is way more useful.

Esc will activate the arrow tool. Unless...

There's a marquee present. If so, esc removes the marquee. Unless...

Elements are selected. If so, esc deselects. Unless...

There's a command in process. If so, the command is canceled.

In other words, with a command in process, a marquee present, and a non-arrow tool active:

The first escape cancels the command. The second deselects. The third removes the marquee. The fourth activates the arrow tool.

Former autocad users will want to redevelop their "esc-esc to cancel-deselect" habit.

Further strikings of esc in future releases of Archicad will close the project, quit Archicad, shut down the machine, and drive you home. Maybe.

You wish you could turn (e.g.) a solid door into a french door while maintaining the other settings (trim etc.). Well wish for something else!

Select an object and open the settings. Navigate to the object you want. Hold down Command and Option and click on the new object. Any parameters the two objects have in common will hold their values. Parameters in the new object that aren't in the old one will keep their default values.

In our door example, all of the settings related to trim, materials, open angles, etc. will be saved. The divisions of the french door will be the default divisions.

Very exciting.

Archicad 9 was officially announced at ACUE in Nottingham last week. It is expected to ship around September 27. We will be deploying the upgrade soon, but not immediately. More on this later.

As you may know, I had the privilege of participating in the beta test program for the new release. Graphisoft also had the privilege of having me participate. ;-) This is good for us since I have had a long head start in preparing for the update, so we will be able to hit the ground running.

We all remember, try as we might to forget, the transition to AC8. It was extremely difficult on a number of levels, and honestly you don't know the half of it. The difficulties had two main causes. First, the program had been radically redesigned and rewritten under the hood. Second, it sucked. The latter in particular was a big problem.

I can tell you with complete honesty that AC9 doesn't have either of these problems. There are no radical changes to the program, though there are several valuable new features. (Many argue, and I might be one of them, that the version should be called 8.5. Whatever.) More important, the quality, speed, and stability (non-crashing) of this release are far greater than the early releases of AC8. In Nottingham, Graphisoft showed us benchmarks which indicate that AC9 is the first version since AC7 to be faster overall than AC7. The performance improvement is noticeable.

Further, while this may not interest you, it certainly affects you, Graphisoft's internal procedures have made a 180 degree turn for the better, making another AC8 disaster very unlikely. Mainly because everyone involved with AC8 has been fired. Really. In the beta testing I observed first-hand a much improved quality-control policy, and a real interest in hearing from users and addressing their concerns.

Since AC9 isn't much different in the nuts and bolts, we will be able to transition quickly without undue disruption to workflow. Unlike with the AC8 transition, we will not meditate on whether to move a project over. It will be moved over. Assuming Salamander Farm goes the way of all flesh, we will soon be running only one version of Archicad.

I am working on polishing the new templates, library parts, and the upgrade procedure itself. Once this stuff is to-a-point, we will set a date to do the move. I will be posting here on some of the new features for reference, and I envision about two tech meetings on the essentials. Graphisoft has done well in releasing an easily-deployable update, and I don't want to be the one to mess it up!