Missing Surface Solutions

A while ago I wrote a post discussing steps to take if your BIMx surfaces do not match your ARCHICAD surfaces. This still has some valuable application, but there may be a simpler solution.

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The purple and black checkered surface may seem familiar to some. Other times, the surface just shows up wrong, as in the previous article on mis-matched surfaces. Here are some red flags to look for, listed in order of probability to be the culprit causing the surface errors.

  1. Surface name exceeds 32 characters
  2. Surface attribute number does not match between Module File and Host File
  3. Surface image is not applied correctly in the host file in all viewing engines
  4. Surface image name has special characters
  5. Surface image file size is too large (keep them under 1MB if possible)

Remember, this surface name is primarily used to identify it from a list of surfaces. We need a specific name to differentiate between similar surfaces, but we don’t need the surfaces life story. A simple material_orientation_location is sufficient.

When working with Hot Link Modules, it is really important to be aware of attribute numbering, where surfaces have been generated, and how that works with the 3 different files; Source File, Module File, Host File. The easiest solution to ensure attributes always match is to ALWAYS generate new surfaces in the Source File, even if they will only be used in the Host File. Then use the attribute manager to append to the Host File by Attribute Number.

Make sure you do not have any missing image files in either the Host or Source file’s library. If surfaces are generated in the Source file, the images and surfaces will be appended as part of the Hot Link Module library in the Host File.

With our upcoming new BIM server (its a PC server), it will become more important than ever to get out of the habit of using special characters. Windows doesn’t like anything other than letters, numbers, dash, and underscore. No /\<>,#@$%&*^{[]} will be allowed moving forward. And again, file naming and attribute naming conventions should be simple. Punctuation is completely unnecessary.

Lastly, the resolution of an image used in a surface can be surprisingly low. 161dpi is sufficient in most cases. And the surface image can be a matter of inches when originally created. When applied to the surface, it can then be resized to fit the project needs. Obviously there are limits; you can not stretch a 2″ 72dpi image over a 30′ wall. But you could save an 18″ 161dpi image and it would look fine at almost any size relative to the building scale.


1 thought on “Missing Surface Solutions

  1. Pingback: File Performance – Self Audits | WWA BIM

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