On Land

Environment Information
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.
Workflow Archive

(This is for AC9. 10 is here.)

What happens when the existing drawings are done.

The basic idea is to keep the existing conditions, both the PLN and the layout book, tucked away safely. It is theoretically possible to get existing drawings out of the addition project, but it's more trouble than it's worth.


I will use a new home in this description. Existing drawings are very similar. Warning: This is a whopper.


(So Jon says, where's the existing template, and I tell him, and he says I looked online and I didn't see that, and I said, well I'll fix it, so here ya go. The library names were wrong too!)

1. Duplicate the zTemplate 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. Use the client name. 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. Open the project file template for new home or addition. The template names end in .tpl. The new template is at the top of the project folder. The existing template is in the '4 Site & Existing Conditions' folder.

3. In the library manager, make sure you have 'Archicad Library 9.pla', '1 Rill & Decker LIB9', and '2 Project LIB9' loaded. Click 'Library Cache Settings' and make sure 'Use a Local Copy' is UNchecked. Click 'OK' and 'Done'.

4. Once the libraries load, Save As. Format: Archicad Project File. For the name use the client name, similar to the folder name. For an existing house use 'Existing Somebody.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. Get busy!

Every drawing or set we give to someone else should be archived as a PDF in the project folder at 2 Output : PDF Archive. This is for convenience and our own protection.

Archives should be named with the date, and a description if the set is for a specific purpose, such as a permit set. Example: Somebody 2005-03-11 Permit.PDF.

In OS X, PDFs can be created from any print dialog by clicking the Save As PDF button.

PDFs saved in this way will be single files with all the printed sheets in them.

You can use PDFs to send drawings to consultants, if they just want to view the drawings and don't need CAD data. If they need actual drawing stuff, you need to send DWGs.

You can view drawing set PDFs using Adobe Reader or Preview, the OS X PDF viewer. Preview is generally better.

For large format output we use that enormous, hot, 16-amp-pulling thing in the middle of the office.

Here is how to install the plotter on your machine.

In PlotMaker, Page Setup. Go to File -> Page Setup. (Not Plot Setup!) At "Format For", select "WINPRINT". Select the Paper Size from the next pulldown. 18x24 is ARC C. 24x36 is ARC D. 30x42 is 30X42, not ARC E. (11x17 should be printed on the "small" printer.) To summarize, the only sizes we use are ARC C, ARC D, and 30x42.

In PlotMaker, Display Options. Make sure the fills are set to display "All Vectorial."

If you plan to print "Selected in Navigator", see below, highlight the layouts you want to print.

To print, issue the Print command by File -> Print, Cmd+P, or a toolbar button. Make sure the WINPRINT printer is selected. Set the number of copies. Click Copies & Pages and choose PlotMaker. Select what to print. Don't check "All Colors to Black."

All of the above can be automated by using Publisher, which is a really good idea.

When you print, the print job actually goes to the PC [insert snark] next to the plotter. Depending on the size of the job, it can take a while for the job to process. If you bring the PlotBase application forward, you should see your job at the bottom of the list. It will read Preparing Data, Pending, then Plotting. To reprint a job, right-click on and choose Status -> Pending. I know, real intuitive. The last 50 jobs are saved.

Plotbase troubleshooting: Make sure the "Play" button is pressed (gray). Make sure the "reader" is on (Configuration Menu).

Once the sheets start coming out, it's quick, seven D sheets a minute. Right now we don't have any facility for catching the sheets as they come out. You can grab them one at a time, or pick up the pile at the end. We'll keep working on it. Also not well-solved: binding.

It will be a few minutes until I can update the relevant Workflow posts re the new plotter.

(Update, 2006-10-07) This process is mostly obsolete, but I haven't categorized it that way quite yet.

It applies to sending out PLTs (no longer used) using Reprodesk (don't need it anymore) on Virtual PC (good riddance).

The current method of service bureau printing is to email PDFs. But we still have PLT files as archives. While those could probably be emailed too, Reprodesk would probably be the better way if we could remember how.


One or two check plots may be sent directly to the plotter. Any more than that takes forever, during which time you can't do anything else in PM. Usually, create PLT files. Always create PLTs when giving drawings to anyone else.