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.
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October 2006 Archive

# Depends What You Like...

Got around to pre-ordering Against The Day. After doing so Amazon recommended The Road and Count With Maisy. I'm sure they both make good points...

-James 2006-10-29-1747

Archicad 10 offers the ability to place a live drawing list, which will automatically list the sheets in the set. It works, for the most part, with a little tweaking.

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# Planted...

Leyland
...this tree. For the record, it's 80" tall to the tippiest tip. Its predecessor didn't make it through one summer. This guy has the benefit of being planted in ancient leaf compost. And in using the compost I cleared out the bin in time for the imminent seasonal leafstorm. This may actually be how it's supposed to work.

-James 2006-10-26-0635

Navigator Theory

Creating Views

Developing Layouts

Applied Navigator Theory: Other Kinds of Plans

Plotting 2: PDF Archives

Append Date

Template Publisher Sets

PDF Placement

Background: Navigator Theory

Issue: You need plumbing (or mechanical, etc) plans, which aren't set up in the templates.

This is a piece of cake.

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There are three main ways to create views in AC10, plus one more you should never use. The templates have most of the commonly needed views already set up, but it's not unusual to need more.

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# I Shall Harm...

Word of the day: nocebo. Opposite of 'placebo'; inert stuff that harms, rather than helps, despite being inert. (Source)

-James 2006-10-20-0936

# Central Asian Orthography News...

Stuff like this (Language Log) happens occasionally. Nothing to worry about.

-James 2006-10-19-1157

In creative GDL, windows are about the most complex things there are. Yet to slabify a window is no harder than a regular object.

This example is for an silly piece of glazing, but you could use the same technique for a custom trim panel 'window'.

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Too Many Things
Kinda looks like a jellyfish
This image shows a few isolated elements from a lighthouse-looking tower structure. The 54 columns are balusters for the stair railing. The 110 objects are wood beams for the roof framing.

By themselves, it's not a lot of elements, or even a lot of polygons.

Yet these guys were found to be the cause of a severe and mysterious performance problem. An elevation containing the tower, which should generate in about 30 seconds, took four minutes to generate with these elements in the model.

The problem: AC has to figure out what's in front of what behind what in front of what, for all those overlapping elements. The calculations quickly become very complex and it takes time.

Here's the tricky part: The columns and objects weren't even visible in the elevation; they weren't going to be drawn at all. But apparently there's no way for AC to know that in advance, so you have to wait an extra 2-4 minutes for every section/elevation to generate.

It was hard to figure out, which took some time, but I'm afraid to wonder how much time was wasted over the weeks since those elements were put in.

BTW, it's not my project.

How I figured it out. I tried tearing out all the old objects, resolving the intermittent report errors, doing a forward merge, and opening the project as a dummy user, none of which worked.

There was a clue in the progress dialog as the elevations generated, but it took me a while to recognize it as such. The progress bar would hang up on 'Processing Objects' and 'Processing Columns'. The objects clue isn't much of a clue; of course there's a lot of objects. Hanging on columns is weirder, so weird that I figured it was a glitch; that was a mistake.

I still suspected mystical corruption, and it's my superstitious belief that corruption develops over time, so I tried deleting the whole first phase of the model, which is not in the current scope of work. (I used a heavy marquee for this.) That worked. I undid the delete.

Then I noticed the tower. I thought such a contraption probably has some funky geometry. I deleted the tower only, and that worked. Then I switched to the thin marquee and tried deleting one story at a time. This was disappointingly ineffective. Now I know that the reason is that the complexity was spread over several stories.

But when I trashed the top story, with all the beam objects, the 'Processing Objects' delay went away, leaving only the 'Columns' delay. I finally realize that the progress dialog wasn't totally off base. If losing objects helps, then we should look for some columns to lose. I did a select-all-columns within the marquee on each story, which finally coughed up the balusters.

Delete. End of slowness.

Tips:

• If you've ruled out file corruption, you need to look for 'heavy' conditions in the model itself.

• If you just did some weird complex modeling and suddenly it slows down, that's a big hint.

• You can tear the model in half and throw it away. Undo is your friend. Saving as is your friend. Start trashing stuff and see if the problem goes away. You can do a similar test by turning off half the layers, then the other half, etc.

• Watch the progress dialog. If it spends a long time on 'Objects' or 'Columns' or whatever, or the time estimate shoots up at a certain stage, that's a clue.

I thought we were supposed to model everything.

This is a good time to review this. We don't 'model everything'. We model what it is efficient to model, which, for a skilled ACer, is a lot of stuff. You model the major pieces of the project. You model stuff that shows up in a lot of views. You model enough to really understand the building. You model enough that annotations can be added easily.

You have to work within your own abilities and within the power of AC on your machine.

I hope it's obvious that you don't model things that cause AC to bog down and start wasting your time. We don't model joists, individual rafters, or other generic framing. Too much work for us, and, it turns out, for AC.

In the tower, some of the framing was intended to be exposed, but most of it was 'architecturally' insignificant and should have been skipped. The balusters are definitely nice to model, but there are situations where you need to compromise to keep the model running smoothly.

Maybe the tower section should be a drawing, or maybe a drawing elevation of the balusters should be pasted into the model SE window. Maybe the balusters should be on a layer that only shows in 3D views and not in section/elevation. That kind of lateral thinking.

There are the layer combinations for work and the layer combinations for output. In the past, the output LCs have had all their layers locked. The only reason for this was make clear to the user that they're not in a working combination. Not a critical point but there it is.

Now there's a stronger reason to have the layers unlocked in output LCs. In AC10, you can right-click on a drawing and choose 'Open source View' to, right, open the source view. (In AC/PM9, this command existed but it never worked as far as I could tell.)

Open Source View
If you are viewing a drawing and see something that needs fixing, you can open the view and get right to it. So the layer locking should get out of the way.

In the architectural LCs, all the visible layers are unlocked. In the specialized plans (electrical, e.g.), only the special layers are unlocked.

Something to think about, or maybe not. Not all objects have to be right in every way.

Plan symbol
Plan symbol on remote stories
3D hidden line
3D shaded
3D render
Elevation
Elevation in distant area
Section
Polygon efficiency
Scale sensitivity; which compounds the plan symbol, section, and polygon issues
Listing
Labeling
User interface
Parameter list
Parameter transfer management (Unique parameters)
2D graphical editing
3D graphical editing
Selectability
Code maintainability
Intra-library consistency

A frequently used, complicated, widely viewable object, such as a window, needs to be right in virtually every way.

The development environment gives very poor support for many of these requirements. As ArchiCAD adds features, items are added to this list. Irritatingly, the environment has not kept up, and is way overdue for a tear-down. There is no section window, no remote stories, no graphical editing. The full features of the current GDL architecture are not supported, so we can't even imagine modern development features such as syntax coloring and auto-completion.

One of those things that bothers some people more than others.