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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.
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Here's a couple of minor improvements to the polygon and polyline editing palettes.

At a polygon edge, there is one new button that always appears, and another that appears in a particular situation.

Polygon Edge Palette

The third button turns an edge into a curve, using a tangent instead a point on the curve.

The fifth button turns a chamfered corner into a pointed corner. It will only appear when you click on an edge between two other edges that would converge at a point outside the polygon. Example: turning an octagon into a square.

If you select a polyline and click on the end node, you get a palette with the third button shown here.

Add to polyline

If you click on this button, you can add nodes to the polyline. Good feature, half-implemented: You can only add straight segments. Sigh.

In AC9, the pet palettes for the arrow tool transformation functions and the element-specific editing functions have been combined. This is awesome.

Here's the Mesh palette:

In past versions, there was one palette which came up under the arrow tool, which had the dragging, mirroring, etc. buttons. Then for each tool there was a different palette which had the buttons for moving a node, curving an edge, filleting, etc. Now, regardless of whether you have the the arrow tool on, an expanded palette appears which has all the buttons of both groups.

This smoothes out the whole editing process because there's a lot less switching to the arrow tool and back.

They also improved the transformation (rotate, etc.) functions of the palette. Now you might actually use them. If you select rotate or mirror, you can select the base point for the transformation, like with the regular command. In 8.1, these palette functions would take as the base point the point where the palette came up, making them IMHO useless.

Shift-click accumulates selection. (I know shift-click accumulates selection! I know that!)

Prior to Archicad 8.0, the shift-click functionality could be modified by activating Caps Lock. With Caps Lock active, shift-clicking on unselected elements would select the clicked-on element and deselect all others. This was invaluable in getting a particular element out of a pile. But it made newbies cry so they got rid of it. (I was typing, notes, with all caps, an-and, then I went to uh, uh, uh, select, something, an-and, caps lock was still on, an-and, uh, uh, uh, the selection didn't accumulate, an-and, I had to move my left hand a quarter inch, to, to, to, turn caps lock off!!! MMMWAAAAAHHHHH!!!!)

In AC9, they have restored the functionality, while throwing the newbies a bone by not using the caps lock key to do it.

If you hold down Command along with shift, the selection will rotate through the elements at that point. With a particular tool active, it will rotate through the elements of that type. Don't forget Quick Select!

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!

Attribute Manager is a utility for managing (creating, deleting, getting from somewhere) attributes (pens, layers, layer combinations, materials, linetypes, fills, composites, locations, zone categories). Its functions overlap with the individual attributes dialogs accessed from the Options menu. But it does at least two unique and indispensable things:

• Tells you if an attribute is in use before you delete it.

• Enables you to quickly, directly get attributes from other projects.

We will look at how to get a composite from another project into your own.


v2 is here. It seems to work. The good news is that layout books open like they were never closed. Fast! View updates are much faster too. The bad news, well, ya never know! Sigh. Seriously, I used it all week and it's OK. Still, it's good to be cautious.

Two gotchas so far (maybe you'll be lucky): 1) In PM, after stretching a frame with the arrow tool, frame nodes will not be detectable until you rebuild. Scroll-zooming forces a rebuild so that takes care of it. 2) After rebuilding drawings via drawing usage, the layout window becomes unresponsive. Minimize the window to the dock using the yellow title bar button. Bring it back, and it's OK. I think GS's beta testing consists entirely of demonstrating the software to their dogs. I digress.

The howto follows.


The project templates' plan window now has a drawing area object and corner alignment hotspots for each sheet size. Delete the ones you don't need. Move the object around to center the plan, then move the hotspots to the corners on each story.

But you don't use the drawing area and the hotspots to align the plans in PM so the plans stack in a professional and aesthetically pleasing manner? Well you better start.

Intersection group number is an AC8 feature that controls which layers clean up to each other. If the numbers match, they do, if not, they don't.


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