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.
Archicad Archive

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The Drawing Manager appeared in Archicad 10, taking the place of Drawing Usage in PlotMaker 9. You can open it by clicking the button at the upper left of the Navigator.

It lists every drawing placed in the project, displays various settings of the drawings, and offers tools for performing drawing-related tasks such as updating, changing the linked view, breaking links, and changing drawing element settings.

You can perform most of these tasks elsewhere on a drawing-by-drawing basis by right-clicking on a drawing element, or on a drawing item in the layout book tree. But Drawing Manager offers you a power-editing mode where you can modify many drawings at once. Examples:

• Update all the manual-update drawings.

• Change all the instances of a drawing title to a different object.

• Make all of one kind of plan use a new, specialized pen set.

The key to these mass-modifications is to organize the list by the various properties, by clicking on the column headings. There is similar functionality in the Finder and many other programs.

For example, to update all the Manual Update items, click on the Update Type column, highlight the Manual ones, then click the update button.

For another example, sort by Drawing Title to change all the Drawing Title JM10 to Drawing Title JAM10a.


In Archicad 11 they didn't change the Drawing Manager much, but they did change the way you choose what columns to display. In honor of the occasion I thought I should point out which columns are most valuable and which you should leave off.

Drawing Manager Columns
If you right-click on any column header, you'll get this popup, where you can check the columns you want to see, and uncheck the ones you don't.

Columns can be resized by clicking and dragging on the joint between two headings.

If you look closely at the headings you'll see that one has a triangle and another has two triangles. The one is the last column you clicked, and the two is the previous click. This gives a two-level organization where the list is sorted by the last criteria, and within that, by the previous one.

These columns should be on:

Type. Plan, section, external file, etc.
ID. Of the drawing in its layout. Not critical, but it's little.
Name. Of the drawing, which will usually be the name of the view that created it.
Placed To. Name of the layout where the drawing is. (Usually a layout. Drawings can be placed in model windows, as you might a DWG. In this case that window would be listed here.)
Source View. Name of the view from the view map, actually the whole path, including the stupid '/Residence' or '/Addition' notation. This is the kind of half-baked design decision you make when you develop primarily on Windows.
Path. If it's an external drawing. Otherwise it says 'Internal'.
Pen Set Name. Pen set assigned to drawing element. All drawings need a pen set.
Update Type. Automatic or manual.
Drawing Title. Object name of the automatic marker, if it's in use. Plans, among others, don't use automatic titles, so this field would be blank.

What? I know how to open a file! Jeez!

OK. Just in case:

Always open AC files via right click -> Open With or by dragging the file to requisite AC icon on the dock. I do the dock thing; I'm just not a context menu person usually.

Most important, don't double-click PLNs. Double-clicking will only give consistent, predictable results if you have exactly one copy of AC on your machine.

When you install a new version of AC, as you soon will in the form of 11, that version becomes the default application for opening PLNs. So you double-click your AC10 project, it opens in 11, you don't notice the difference because there isn't much, you save it, and next time you try to open it in 10 it doesn't work. (Yes, backsave. Real convenient.)

Always keep current versions of AC on the dock. Even if you use the right-click method, the dock gives you visual confirmation that the right application is being used.

Graphisoft gives poor support in this area, by making the icons identical and naming each version, precisely, "Archicad".

Double-clicking files is one of those 'automatic' things that's great if you can trust it, but when it's not predictable it makes trouble. It's not just AC either, recently my .docs started opening in Pages for some reason.

What about that 'Change All' under Open With in the Get Info window? That fixed my .doc issue, but it doesn't reliably assign the right 'Archicad' version.

So, right-click or dock. If you have a bad habit here, change it now before 11 starts getting on your nerves.

Update re app icons: Mr. Briggs to the rescue.

11 Icon

Summary: With the model and the layouts in one file, pen sets manage the difference between the model pens and the output pens. In addition, they can do view-option-type tricks.

Background: In Archicad 9, there was one set of pens. In PlotMaker 9, there was also only one, and it could be different from the set in AC. Or, each drawing could have its own pens, but it was impractical.

Our standard has always been to use a colorful set of pens for modeling, which translates into a black/white/gray set of pens in layouts. We are far from unique in this arrangement.

In 10, they threw PM into the abyss, so they needed a method to maintain at least those two groups of pens within the new unified project file. So, Pen Sets.


It's time.

I has 3DS


GS Arrival
LCF Folder
Archicad 10 offers a new all-in-one library file format, the Library Container File or LCF. In Archicad 9, you could use a PLA archive file as a library. LCFs are pure library stuff, with no model space or attributes.

It is allegedly faster to load the libraries as a single large file than from folders full of folders full of individual objects. But I must say in my informal testing I haven't observed a dramatic difference among loading library folders, PLAs, and LCFs.

In addition, there's at least one characteristic of LCFs (and archives) that is disadvantageous. You can't save objects into them. So no new objects and no editing. (You could view this as an advantage from a standards point of view; nobody can mess anything up.)

In other words I considered using an LCF for the Rill & Decker Standard LIB but decided against it. There's no change in everyday library management.

But! There's a huge advantage to the LCF in one specific case: Copying libraries to a flash drive to take them home. The R&D library is about 15MB. Copying its 1300 or so items to a USB 2.0 drive takes over two minutes. Copying the same library as a 15MB LCF takes, drum roll, three seconds.

It also takes the guesswork or other syncing strategies out of keeping your home copy of the library up to date. Just bring the LCF home and overwrite the old file.

So I'm providing the library as an LCF for this purpose. The file lives at 2 Libraries / Library Container Files. I will do my best to update it when anything important changes. This is pretty often, so make sure you check it regularly.

You still need to manage project libraries manually.

In Archicad 10, sections can automatically show story level markers and lines. They are feature-limited but I think they're worth using.


Detail Markers List
It lumps together all the markers of a given type in the loaded libraries. It provides no hierarchy, no way to say, 'use this marker, not the AC library ones, not the obsolete versions of the right one.'

The browser interface of the object tool etc allows the library person (me) to gracefully deprecate old objects, and steer users toward the good ones.

When we update an object, we move the old one to the xOld R&D folder. This folder loads, so placed instances of old objects will continue to work. The updated one is the only one visible in the proper folder, so there's no question about which one is right. There's a Center Line symbol, it's in Graphic Symbols, and that's it.

Can't do it with markers. The marker chooser makes things more confusing than they need to be. For example, on the detail marker list, three out of thirteen items are meant to be used.

In which I tilt at the windmill of Floor Plan Cut Plane, Relative Floor Plan Range, Automatic show-on-story, projection... It's not pretty. I mean, it's so pretty! You should read it!

This is some of the stuff I was keeping from you when we discussed roofs in plan.


Fill display is confusing and inconsistent. Until it gets tidied up, this is all I can tell you.


By default, favorites remember all the settings of the tool. You can choose to have favorites ignore certain settings; when a favorite is applied, those settings will be unchanged. This is called parameter exclusion. It is one of the favorites preferences, which you get to via the flyout at the upper right of the favorites palette.

Only a handful of parameters can be excluded. The exclusions are global: If wall height is excluded, it's ignored by all the wall favorites.

The exclusions, like the favorites, are stored in the file; but exclusions are not imported when you load favorites. (Or maybe they're not saved. Makes no difference in the end.)

This is a summary of the exclusions in our template:

• All elements: ID
• Wall & column: Height
• Section/Elevation: Name

To put it another way, these are the things that are allowed to vary as the favorite sets everything else.

Remember, favorites are nice, but option-clicking is often best. To make an element exactly like another, always option-click.

(Favorites have improved in the three years since I first addressed them, so the post should improve too.)

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.


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