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.
Standards Archive

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1. Duplicate the zTemplate 10 folder and rename it with the project name. To duplicate a folder, drag and drop it within the same window while holding down the Option key. Name the folder after the client. If this is a second, or later, project, add a number. (Please don't use roman numerals, they are hard to read.) If it's a sub-project or related project, add a descriptive term. Examples: Stevens. Kernan3. Salamander Garage.

2. Within the fresh project folder, open the project file template for new home or addition. The template names end in .tpl. The new template, 'NewHome10.tpl', is at the top of the project folder. The existing conditions template, 'Addition10.tpl', is in the '4 Site & Existing Conditions' folder.

3. In the library manager, make sure you have the following libraries loaded:

• From your local Applications / Graphisoft / Archicad 10 folder, 'Archicad Library 10'. (Note: Load this whole folder. This is different from AC9, where we would load only the 'Archicad 9 Library.pla'.)

• From the carrot (2 Resources), '1 Rill & Decker LIB10'. Don't load the entire '2 Project LIB10' folder. Click 'OK' and 'Done'. (Much more on libraries here and here.)

4. Once the libraries load, Save As. Format: Archicad Project File. For the name use the client name, similar to the folder name. If the folder is named 'Box Elder', the project should be 'Box Elder.PLN'. For an existing house use 'Existing Box Elder.PLN'.

5. Go to the Finder and delete the project templates from your project folder. They are no longer needed. If by some weird chance you need a template again, you can always get it from the zTemplate folder.

6. Back in the project, fill in the Project Info (File -> Info -> Project Info). The relevant fields are Client, Project Name (Residence, Addition, Renovation), Street, City, State/Country (State), Postal Code (Zip).

7. Set up the stories. Story elevations are floor-to-floor. Important: In AC10, we no longer set the roof story to the height of the top occupied story (Attic, 2nd floor, etc.). In order to interact properly with the Floor Plan Cut Plane, the roof story should be set well above, perhaps even higher than you think. (12'?)

The templates contain an attic story by default. If your project doesn't have an attic, delete this story. You should also delete the attic-related layouts.

8. Build the model until it's done or someone tells you to stop.

Once the model is to-a-point, it's time to prepare the layouts for the model and vice versa.

In the templates for 10, I've modified the layer combinations as suggested here. There's a couple of tweaks since then.

Changing the LCs is a minor change compared to changing the layers themselves, which can be very perilous. (There are a couple of layer changes in the new templates. Just a little peril!)

In this theory of layer combinations, there are three main types, and then a couple oddballs. The three:

Output. Used by publication views.

Working. Where you spend most of your time.

Special Tasks. Unusual LCs for doing a certain task once in a while. E.g., Site cutting, building stretching, elevations with just notes.

The new LC arrangement makes these categories clearer. The working LCs begin with numbers. The output LCs begin with the letter of their sheets. The specials begin with x. The oddballs: The binder LCs begin with z. Since they're not used until the very end, they have to be last. 'zzz All' is sort of administrative, and you never use it in real life.

I've tried to make the purpose of each LC self-evident in the name.

Here's the list. (Existing/addition-only LCs are indicated by '*'.)

  • ! Ex1 Existing Plan*
  • ! Ex2 Existing Elev*
  • ! Working Existing Model*
  • ! Working Existing Plan*
  • 0 Working Model
  • 1 Working Floor+Roof Plan
  • 2 Working Elev+Sect+Detail
  • 3 Working Wall Section
  • 4 Working RCP
  • 5 Working Interiors
  • 6 Working Site 120
  • 6 Working Site 240
  • A1 Floor+Roof Plan
  • A2/3 Elev+Sect+Detail
  • A3 Wall Section
  • A4 RCP
  • A5 Interior Elevs
  • A5 Enlarged Plan
  • C1 Site Plan 120
  • C1 Site Plan 240
  • D1 Demo Plan*
  • E1 Elec Plan
  • F1 Furniture Plan
  • M1 Mechanical Plan
  • P1 Plumbing Plan
  • S0 Foundation Plan
  • S1 Structure Plan
  • S2 Structure Model
  • S3 Structure Wall Mask
  • View 3D
  • View LW Render
  • x Background Plan
  • x Elevation Notes
  • x Gross Area
  • x Object Lab
  • x Shoot RCP
  • x Shoot Roof Plan
  • x Site Cutting
  • x Stretch House
  • x View Chimney
  • x View Flues
  • x Working Dims Plan
  • x Working Trim
  • x Zones
  • z Binder Elevation
  • z Binder Plan
  • z Existing Binder Elevation*
  • z Existing Binder Plan*
  • zzz All

Standard pens updated for AC10.


Pen #1 is not a good choice for a cut pen. Use 15,25,35,...

• There's a new typical row: The 160s. They're blue-gray. I recommend them for use with doors and windows. Use the 20s for stair elements.

• Pens 191-196 are the 'white-out' pens. They can be used to mask unwanted lines in section windows. More below.

• Colors are still used to categorize section markers, but the pens now come from the typical rows. Yawn. This shouldn't even be noticeable.


Alphabetical by name of thing. Please suggest improvements and additions. Note: I change the date whenever I update this, so it will pop up every now and then. Rest assured it's not all new. Big changes will have a post of their own.

Updated for 10. You will see these changes in the templates when you start a project in 10. I figured now is the time to make changes. Nothing too major:

+Z SK Title is gone. SK titles should be placed in the layout only.

• Most +L layers become +C instead. C=Civil and is more standard.

+L House Outline becomes +C Footprint.

Z Light is new, for sun and sky objects for LightWorks rendering.

• We're going to use real section markers:

+Z SE & Detail Object becomes +Z SE Print. Use this layer for sections that print.

+Z S/E Tool becomes +Z SE Hide. Use this layer for junk sections and others you don't want to see in plan. (At the beginning of the project, all the markers are on the hidden layer. Move them to the Print layer as needed.)

+A Roof Plan Line is gone. Use A Roof2.


After some experimentation, this is the best method I can find for using external, standard details. It definitely has room for improvement. The biggest improvement would be for AC to allow detail markers to reference external drawings. It's a huge hole in the program that has to be fixed. In the meantime this isn't too bad.

The executive summary: Copy details from projects and clean up their layers and other attributes. Place the details in a central PLN file, one per story. Or, draw them from scratch in the central PLN. Publish modules of the details. Hotlink or merge the modules into detail windows of running projects, and use detail markers to refer to them normally.

In this example I'm talking about the wall and other assembly types. It could used for any standard details you would like to share. Also, we will use this as a standard method beginning with AC10. In the meantime, everything here which concerns placing detail modules can be applied to current assembly modules at 3 Resources / Modules / Assembly Types.


The current standard for library loading is to load only the folder specific to the project. That is, don't load the entire 2 Project LIB 9 folder. I updated the templates so that the only libraries loaded by default are 1 Rill & Decker LIB 9 and AC9 Library Special Edition.

When the time comes that you need project specific objects, create a folder in 2 Project LIB 9 with a name like Projectname LIB.

When the project is completed and moved to Past Projects, the project library should be moved to 2 Libraries / Other LIBs / Past Project LIBs.

If you know of an object in a project library that you could use, ask the person who made it to move it into the standard library. Or, remember that you can load objects individually.

The idea is to not load objects that you will never use, such as other people's patches.

I started out describing the structure of the libraries, and I was going to stick it in the Libraries post, but it got too big.

So this is the what/where for the libraries. The fine details of library management are in the other post.


This is the definitive statement on loading libraries. I'm putting it in the Standards panel of the sidebar. Like the other standards things, it will probably be updated occasionally.

Update: From the Project Libraries, only load the folder for the current project.


It would nice to have standard details in one place, where any project could use them with no need to redraw anything. These would be standard assembly types, foundations, flashing, etc.

You can place views from any number of external project in a layout book in 9 or 10. The trouble comes in when you want to refer to the external drawing with a detail marker. Even in 10, this is still not possible.

So we have to consider a couple imperfect alternatives.

• Maintain modules, one for each detail. Merge or hotlink the modules into detail windows within the project. Refer to the internal detail drawings normally.

If you hotlink the modules, they can be truly standardized, with any changes distributed to all projects by updating hotlinks. The drawback is the module reference warning if you take the project off network. No harm, just hassle. (You could choose to break the hotlink, which would leave the detail intact, but it wouldn't be connected to the original.)

As an alternate to separate modules, you could place all the details in one project file, with one detail on each story. In this case, merging is not an option. You would hotlink the stories and optionally break the hotlinks.

Then you could use Publisher to create modules if you wanted them.

The one-project method also makes attribute management easier. It's important to rigorously control attributes so you don't 'contaminate' the current project.

Using hotlinks to the detail project stories presents a problem: You can't insert a story without breaking the links in projects. Ouch.

• Use external views directly, even though the referencing doesn't work. You would need a fixed ID, specific to the detail, which would appear in a drawing title object in the detail, and in the detail ID in the project. These IDs would bear no relationship to the sheet. Weird.


• Create the details in a project file, one on each story. This is simpler generally and helps with the attributes.

• From this project, publish modules of the details. Then the modules themselves are hotlinked or merged. The detail project becomes an administrative resource; users don't interact with it directly. The stories can be managed for the convenience of the 'detail administrator'. Whenever a detail is added or changed, republish the modules.

• Hotlink or merge the modules into project detail windows and reference them normally.

Details need to be processed before merging them into running projects, or into a details PLN. It is important to avoid merging unwanted attributes, especially layers. This process simplifies the layers and gets rid of all the unneeded attributes.

This method should be considered alongside A Method For Standard Details.

Standard details will be administered by one or two people at the most.


Background RGB
I always forget it, so I'm writing it down.

Hmm, lots of space left. We use beige because everything shows against it: White, black, gray, yellow. Then one day I noticed that our background is almost the same color as buff trace, and it's probably for the same reason. It's interesting how you can go through a completely different process and get the same conclusion as someone 100 years ago or whatever.

What else. In AC8 and before, each window had its own background color. Now there's only one, but the grid color is unique to each window. I'd like to have one detail window with a white background for making object previews.

I'm happy to announce, and I hope I don't regret it, that we can email PDFs to MBC. And they will print them, and the drawings will probably be alright. I'm sure there will be some tuning up to do, but I think we have it working.

This is the address. Put the job details (copies etc) in the message. The file size limit is 50MB.

Let me know if you have any problems.

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