On Land

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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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Problems Archive

Smarter cleanup please.

9 Patches

Other dialogs here.

The source files of some Hotlinked Modules are missing

Sources of the following Drawings are unavailable!

If this item is part of a clone, its clone will also be deleted

Polygon boundary intersects itself!

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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.

Which is short for DisableCrossPlatformMountingFeatures.

Where to start. Let's just say, do this fix. It's a preferences modification which turns off a feature which, though of questionable value, causes a lot of problems. In other words, I don't know what it's supposed to fix, but it sure breaks a lot of stuff. The feature breaks stuff, that is. Not the fix, the fix is good. The fix that turns the feature off. Where to start.

These are the big issues that the fix fixes:

• In AC9, the infamous 'Connection Failed bla bla bla' warning, which pops up frequently while updating drawings in PM.

• In AC10, a long hang (rainbow ball) at startup, and various mysterious hangs here and there. (In an early beta of 10, this issue manifested itself as a two-minute hang every time I switched away from AC and then back. Awful.)

The issue has been implicated in many other intermittent problems. And the 'feature' which the fix turns off is of dubious value. In an office with no PCs, it's completely worthless. It should be off by default, but it's not, so we're going to turn it off.

How to:

• Close Archicad. Open Terminal. It's in Applications / Utilities.

• In Terminal, copy and paste the following:

defaults write com.graphisoft.AC\ 10.0.0\ USA\ v1 InputOutput -dict "DisableCrossPlatformMountingFeatures" "<true/>"

...and hit Return. It will appear that nothing has happened. This is a good thing. (If you get any message that something didn't work or doesn't exist, try it again, or try typing it manually. The thing to note about the typing is that there is a space after each backslash (\).)

• Close Terminal and relaunch AC.

That's the Terminal command for AC10. You can fix AC9 the same way, changing 10.0.0 to 9.0.0:

defaults write com.graphisoft.AC\ 9.0.0\ USA\ v1 InputOutput -dict "DisableCrossPlatformMountingFeatures" "<true/>"

And PM9 too:

defaults write com.graphisoft.PM\ 9.0.0\ USA\ v1 InputOutput -dict "DisableCrossPlatformMountingFeatures" "<true/>"

And you'll probably need it in 1112:

defaults write com.graphisoft.AC\ 12.0.0\ USA\ v1 InputOutput -dict "DisableCrossPlatformMountingFeatures" "<true/>"

Rest assured that this fix has no effect on project files; they are still cross-platform. The feature has to do with AC automatically mounting Windows servers in a cross-platform network.

I am the lucky recipient of a large renovation project which is moving into CDs.

I was surprised to see the file size, a finished-large-house-like 91MB. There's only one way for a project in DD to be so large: It must be carrying 2D axonometric and perspective drawings, pasted into details, from the 3D window. Sure enough, there are two axons and two perspectives, totaling 517,000 lines.

Is that a lot? Oh my yes. When I got rid of the four drawings, the file size dropped to a completely uninteresting 20MB. So, over 75% of the file consisted of four detail windows that you would never open in the course of daily work.

Who cares? You do, because it means that 75% of the time spent waiting for the file to open and save is wasted. Including opening it in the background from PM. Anybody think that process is fast enough? Me neither.

So don't drag half a million lines around with you. What to do instead?

Axons and perspectives should be published as PMKs. Once the PMK is saved, you can delete the linework in the window. If you want to save it for some reason, save it as a module. You can always merge it back. But listen: You never will. If the project image changes, you do the PMK over and the module is obsolete. If it doesn't change, the PMK sits there in the layout and no one ever thinks about it.

Note: This process will change substantially in AC10. How much? Well, AC10 doesn't do PMKs for one thing. And PM10 doesn't do anything at all because it's gone to a better place. More on this later.

In the meantime, no 90MB DD files.

Archicad is designed to automatically save project data periodically. In the event of an AC or system crash, project data can usually be recovered. AutoSave is described on page 150 of the AC9 Reference Guide.

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UPDATE: Better info here.

Suddenly, Richard's AC could not open a file on the network, and would hang (rainbow ball of death) when attempting to browse a network resource, such as the Hotel. We noticed it when attempting to open another project in Attribute Manager; since the previous state of that Open dialog was viewing the Onion, hang.

All conventional treatments exhausted, I had to call tech support. They directed me to this knowledge base article, which has to with switching off a cross-platform browsing preference that we don't need anyway.

If you ever see this behavior in AC, here's the fix.

Make sure AC is not running. Open Terminal (Applications : Utilities : Terminal). Paste this text into the window and strike enter:

defaults write com.graphisoft.AC\ 9.0.0\ USA\ v1 InputOutput -dict "DisableCrossPlatformMountingFeatures" "<true/>"

That's it. Quit Terminal and relaunch AC.

One day, I lost the ability to move door tags by their editing hotspot. Once I went to WE and switched "Pet palette movement" to "Jump to preferred position" under User Preference schemes -> Dialog boxes and palettes, the tags worked again.

This is the same setting that caused Kay's roof handle problem. It's interesting that they're both "moving a related thingy" problems.

Repair Permissions.

This is recommended for lots of issues, and it's at least partially voodoo. But it worked for me.

This is one of the stock OS X troubleshooting tips. It does actually solve some problems, and it doesn't do any harm.

Open the Disk Utility application in Applications : Utilities.

Select your hard disk name in the left panel. Select the First Aid tab in the right panel. Click the Repair Permissions button at the bottom.

It will take about 5 minutes, depending on the size of the disk. When the repair finishes, quit Disk Utility and restart the machine.

Some elements were deleted because of bad parameters (n)

This project is in use by [Somebody]

Unable to read temporary section file [ID]

Cannot find some Library Parts or Macros.

Other dialogs here.

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Problem: When dragging roof handles, they would sometimes end up at an arbitrary point, rather than where they were dragged.

Other problem, which only emerged after reinstalling AC: Attempting to pan with the scroll wheel would zoom instead.

We tried everything*, including wiping the disk. The fresh system fixed the panning problem. We were bringing in the work environment when we discovered that the trouble was caused by the User Preference Schemes segment of the RND Profile. We re-exported the scheme to the Onion.

Fortunately, that scheme is easily rebuilt. If the shortcuts or the Info Box had been the problem, I would have been very sad.

Moral: If you see weird behavior in Archicad, try switching to a standard Work Environment profile. If that fixes it, recreate the needed profile and trash the old one, and don't reinstall your system!

* Unrotating the grid. Looking for pattern related to shift constraining. Trying different files, and new roofs. Trying to reproduce the problem on another machine. Checking permissions. Saving locally. Saving and reopening an archive. Trashing the prefs. Trashing the caches. Creating a new user and seeing if "he" has the problem. Reinstalling Archicad.

It's odd that neither trashing the prefs or creating a new user solved the issue, since the Work Environment is in the prefs. But we tested the cause carefully as we brought the WE back, and it's definitely the culprit, probably in combination with an underlying system problem.

UPDATE: The precise setting that caused the problem is the "Pet palette movement" under User Preference schemes -> Dialog boxes and palettes. "Follow Cursor" was the culprit. Switching to "Jump to preferred position" fixed it.