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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.
Standards Archive

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All the common layouts (that we can think of) are blocked up in the project templates. These guidelines apply no matter when a layout is first needed.


Alphabetical by name of thing. Please suggest improvements and additions. Many things have changed, many have stayed the same. Layer theory hasn't changed much. Current as of Archicad 20, which prompted some layer changes.

Big table below the fold.


Beginning with Archicad 20, the fills division of Model View Options is obsolete and fills are handled by Graphic Overrides. This enables us to eliminate several combinations that were needed in Archicad 19.

Model View Options can be organized into combinations, kind of like layers, and MVO combinations can be saved with views. Naturally, this is all set up in the templates. MVOs are completely separate from On-screen View Options, which are screen-only and do not affect output.


Updated for Archicad 19.

Pen sets let you change the appearance of output at the very last moment - when the drawing, based on the view, is headed out the door. The colors you see while working on the model can be completely different from the published output, and they should be.


Standard pens updated for Archicad 19.

The only substantive change since 2007 is that we've dropped pen 170 for structural posts on the story below. This was an ugly hack that's no longer needed since we can use Library Globals to control display of those elements.

That's a very small change, but I wanted it to be clear that these standards are still current. I updated the graphic. I have strong opinions about pen -1.


Sloppy modeling leads to sloppy documentation. That wall that's supposed to be 7'-0" long, but you built it 7'-0 5/64", so it dimensions at 7'-0 1/8", and the published output looks ridiculous.

Sloppy modeling doesn't clean up right in plan, section, elevation. (It looks fine in OpenGL with contours off. Great.) That means extraneous lines that either mislead the viewer or have to manually managed by you. Not everything cleans up, but everything that can, should. And sloppy modeling does not.

Once you have sloppy elements placed, you will likely refer to them to place other elements, and the slop spreads like a virus.

Sloppy modeling is not easier. This is how you model precisely:

• Use direct entry of distances. This means: Start placement, type 'R' (Hello world: Archicad default is 'D'), enter the distance and strike return.

• To place elements a set distance from a known point, move the origin (Opt+Shift) and use direct entry of X and Y by typing 'X' and 'Y'.

• If you are placing something 'roughly', it's still better to pick a number. Start the wall, e.g., and when it's 'about right', look at the R field (Distance in Tracker) and mentally round off the ugly number there. Then type 'R', enter your rounded distance, and strike return.

• Place the model with a sensible relationship to the global origin. A centerline, a corner, etc. You can reset the user origin to the global origin and 'feel around' with the cursor to see which end of Mr. 7'-0 5/64" is the bad end.

• If you're trying to center something, just center it. Draw any linear element from side to side, find the midpoint, and put something there. I would use a Center Line object because it is distinctive. Lesser but acceptable solutions include hotspots and non-printing lines. (Graphisoft wants you to use the new permanent guide lines, but I'm not a fan.) Whatever the thing, consider locking it. You can also use snap guides in AC19+ to find midpoints, or the old snap points constraint on the Control Box.

• Use a Center Point object to mark the center of curves, to make sure concentric elements are truly concentric. Show on all stories as needed. Lock it.

• Our plan-scale dimension standard is set to 1/8" precision. We only want to see output dimensions of 1/4" precision. (Unless there is an angle involved.) When you expect to see 7'-0" and see 7'-0 1/8" instead, that is your warning that something is off. Track down the 5/64" and fix it.

If any of these things is harder than clicking kinda wherever, I'm not seeing it.

Precise modeling is essential to Archicad success.

In the old days, things were different. How different depends on how old the days are. It's hard to anticipate every issue you might encounter in an old project. The first question is, what do you need from the project? Do you need drawings, a detail, or are we actually resuming work on the project?


Leads and pending projects should be placed in 1 Projects / zPending.

These are projects which have no modeling or design data with them. They might be just a proposal.

When a pending project actually begins, create the project folder as normal. Drag any documents in the pending folder to the new project folder. The proposal belongs in '3 Contract & Correspondence / Proposal'. Trash the project's 'pending' folder.

If a project does not go forward, we will move it to 5 Past Projects as part of our quarterly project cleanup.

When dimensioning, strive for stunning, perfect, complete, beautiful clarity. I'm serious.


This is everything I can think of about libraries management. There have been a lot of changes over the years.


Current naming standards. Still very boring.

These rules aren't set in stone, but if we all stay near the rules we all stay near each other. Like all standards, they work most of the time. When a situation is addressed by the standards, you can save your creativity for the projects.


All the server libraries are in a volume called "2 Libraries", whose icon is a carrot which predates OS X and looks it, and we call the libraries volume the carrot. This is what's there:

BIM Server Libraries. Copies of our standard libraries for use in Teamwork projects.

Library Container Files. An LCF is a compressed archive of a library. It loads very fast and can't be messed up, so it's good for taking projects on the road assuming you don't need to modify standard parts. I try to update the LCF of our current versions' library (13 and 16 at the moment) on a weekly basis. But I might forget, and I certainly modify objects throughout the week, so if you need the LCF you should make sure it's up to date.

Master LIB [n]. Where n is between 7 and 20. The Master folder contains the current "1 Rill LIB[n]" folder, which is standard library that must be loaded for all current projects. It also contains a "Development" folder, which should generally not be loaded; things in there are either broken, unfinished, or otherwise unworthy.

When we start using a new version of Archicad, I copy the entire Master LIB folder and give it the new number. When you switch a project to a new version, you should also change to the newer Master LIB. It will be virtually identical to begin with, but over time the old versions will fall behind. I generally only treat the newest Master LIB as "live" for the purposes of new development and bug-fixing. Back-saving objects, unlike PLN files, is nearly prohibitive in its awkwardness.

Other LIBs. Just what it says. Old project libraries from the pre-embedded days. Old Archicad libraries. (I've lost the 5.1, but we still have the 6.0.) Extracted versions of recent/current Archicad libraries. (Archicad libraries are LCF files. If you want to search them using the Finder, they need to be extracted.)

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