On Land

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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.
May 2006 Archive
align symbol
Check out how the arrows don't step on the text.
Location: 1 General/01 Graphic Symbols

The alignment symbol. Slightly improved from the JAM8 version: You can have more than two arrows, up to a total of eight. That should be enough. For the extras, you can turn on Equal Spacing, or locate each one individually.


'Cutline JAM9' uses a SPLINE2 statement for the pretty part. This is OK, but it prevents us from having an easy masking function in the cutline.

Instead of a spline, use an trimmed ellipse. We can build the ellipse from a 900/4000 POLY2_A, which can have a fill, and stretch it with a MUL2.

The S looks good when 1/11 of the ellipse is trimmed off. After the MUL2, this is the same as 1/11 of the circle.

Need to figure out how much arc is left after that trim.

One side of the S will be filled. The other side will be filled except for the ellipse.

UPDATE: Done. That should hold for a while.

Location: 06 Wood & Plastic / Railings & Stairs (I'm thinking about moving it, since it's not really a fine detail-type thing any more. More like a missing tool thing. Not to mention, it could be concrete. I really wish the object browser could handle aliases. As for now, there it lies.)

UPDATE: Stair Body JM9a is exactly like Stair Body JM9, but I added the story-sensitivity behavior from Railing JAM9. See below.

In honor of the story cuts, I also added an integrated cutline. It is simplified, and it still doesn't mask, but I'm working on that.

I also (now how much would you pay) added a Cover Fill Pen parameter, which simply allows the object to be opaque.

All this is identical to the JM9 post otherwise.

(Teaser futuristic update-to-be: I am already mostly done with Stair Body JM10, believe it or not. The big deal there is intelligent interaction with the new Floor Plan Cut Plane. Pretty cool.)

A very basic (in a good way) flight of stairs. An incremental improvement on Stair Stringer JAM8. You can still use it as a stringer; just make it thin. I changed the name because I use it more often for actual stairs.

Sidebar: There's a stair tool (Technically, the StairMaker add-on), which you should never use. Then there's ArchiStair by the very capable and friendly Cigraph, which is like a good StairMaker, only better.

I recently used an ArchiStair spiral stair for which I was very grateful, but generally I am skeptical of full-service add-ons for highly detailed building parts. No matter how many options, configurations, and details are offered, you will soon run into a custom situation where the add-on doesn't quite make it.

I would rather have more, simpler, separate elements. (Well, no, I would rather have one element do everything by magic, but it's not realistic.) If you run into a freaky custom railing, you can focus on that without wrecking the whole stair. And: In design development, you can show just a simple stair, leaving the details for later, where they (the details) belong.

This is consistent with a general principle of Archicad's design, our workflow, and how projects are actually built. Big, chunky stuff comes first: Walls, slabs, roofs, the basic geometry of stairs. Fine detail comes later, and is applied to the big stuff: Trim, finish floors, newels and railings.

So: The Stair Body object is like a slab tool for stairs.

Another major basic-yet-detailed building part is the chimney. See what I mean? End sidebar.

Now we can talk about the object.


As long as I can remember, we've used a polygon wall for a fireplace, with a 3D-only wall or slab above to take the chimney to the ceiling. This method has been developed pretty far.

This new method isn't going to give you the 1" chimney section for CDs, but for schematics, it feels a little simpler.


The Element Information palette is accessed at Window -> Palettes -> Element Information. It's a palette; it will hang around until you dismiss it, like Find & Select or the solid elements thing, whatever ridiculous name it has.

Element Information
It gives ID and dimensional data about selected elements. The data is read-only, i.e., not editable. But it's wickedly thorough, maybe even complete. It comes in handy.

There are six sections of data, each activated by one of the buttons. Any or all of the buttons can be active at once. They are:

Properties: ID, layer, and story. This is the only place you can directly read the home story of an element. I don't know why this has to be such a secret.

Size: 2D dimensions. Lengths, widths, and/or 'circumference', which we would expect to be called 'perimeter'. Use fills and this info to do that new/existing comparison the permit people want sometimes.

Area on Plan: 2D Area. Self-explanatory, but note that it's different from the 3D surface area, which is coming up.

Height: Pretty obvious for most things. For roofs, it also gives the perimeter I mean circumference of the top surface. For walls, conventional roof trimming is not considered.

Surfaces: Areas of all the 3D surfaces. Note: Solid Element Ops are taken into account.

Volume: What it says. SEOs work here too. I have actually used this for a back-of-envelope cut/fill grading calculation.

This isn't really calculation, it's just inspection. To actually do anything with the data, besides write it down or copy and paste it, requires list schemes.

This is obsolete. The final version is here.

I'm thinking of renovating the Layer Combinations. Don't panic: LCs aren't as hairy as the layers themselves, and I would deploy the new scheme in the template for AC10, which will be so disruptive that a new LC arrangement wouldn't even get your attention.

In my back-of-envelope analysis, there a three main types of LCs, and then a couple oddballs. The three:

Output. Used by publication views.

Working. Where you spend most of your time.

Special Tasks. Unusual LCs for doing a certain task once in a while. E.g., Site cutting, building stretching, elevations with just notes.

I would like these categories to be clearer in the LC list. The first draft is below the fold. The working LCs begin with numbers. The output LCs begin with the letter of their sheets. The specials begin with x. The oddballs: The binder LCs begin with z. Since they're not used until the very end, they have to be last.


# 'Imperfect Sound Forever'...

Interesting, longish essay on Stylus about why loud music is good and loud recording is bad.

-James 2006-05-03-0810