Category Archives: BIMx

Multiple Files & Attribute Matching

Attribute management between files for a single project is critical. If attribute numbers do not match from a building file to a site file, or between multiple building files of a single project, the Hotlink Modules will not appear correct. Surfaces of a module may show incorrectly, or be missing, custom profile beams/columns/walls can become reassigned to a new shape, and composites can switch to a different width if not properly matched.

It is important to note, the attribute number is how attributes are assigned to elements. For example, if your building file has attribute #10 as a stone, but the site file has attribute #10 as a wood, the buildings file will show correctly as stone, but when the building is saved to a .mod and placed to the site, all stone will switch to wood. If attribute #10 doesn’t exist in the site file, the stone will show as a purple & black checkered pattern, indicating the surface is missing.

Attribute Matching

To prevent these errors we have introduced an Attributes file into our workflow for each multi-file project. All attributes (Fills, Line Types, Composites, Custom Profiles, and especially Surfaces) will be generated in this central Attributes teamwork file, then using the Attribute Manager will be matched to all other files for that project on the BIM Server. This does mean a little more management up front, and involves a couple extra steps in managing the project. But the results are a lot less headache on the back end when publishing BIMx, or linking Views from a Site File to the Layout Book of the Buildings File. This is especially critical where projects get so large they require multiple building files, or even multiple site files; which is becoming increasingly commonplace.

Please note, the use of a dedicated Attributes file is not an option or choice to be used (or not) by each team. This is the standard we are using to manage attributes between files at WWA, and a dedicated attribute file has been created in your BIM Server folder if your project program requires one. A little extra time to do this right will ensure we do not need to stop and do things over when our BIMx, PDF and DWG files don’t show correctly due to poor attribute management.

Please watch for an update to our BIM Manual for instructions on how to properly use the dedicated Attribute file.


BIMx File Size/Polygon Tollerances

The allowable file size and number of polygons that will be operable in a BIMx file is heavily dependent on the device the file will be read from. I have saved out several files of varying size/polygon count and tested them on different devices.

The file I used to start from was one of our projects running efficiently at 420,000 total polygons with all layers on. I then tested the limits by copying elements to incrementally increased polygon counts. All files were saved from a solo (PLN) project, so AC file sizes were significantly less than our average Teamwork file size.

The tests files ran as follows:

Test 1 : 418,000 Polygons : AC File Size 290Mb : BIMx File Size 34Mb

Test 2 : 1 Million Polygons : AC File Size 290Mb : BIMx File Size 65Mb

Test 3 : 3 Million Polygons : AC File Size 294Mb : BIMx File Size 173Mb

Test 4 : 6 Million Polygons : AC File Size 311Mb : BIMx File Size 335Mb

Test5 : 10 Million Polygons : AC File Size 331Mb : BIMx File Size 558Mb

Test6 : 15 Million Polygons : AC File Size 383Mb : BIMx File Size NA

Test 6 failed to save a BIMx after repeated (and lengthy) attempts. I opened each of the BIMx files on various devices. On any of the current iMacs in the office, the 550Mb BIMx file should run sufficiently. All BIMx files were tested with standard settings; shadows on, SSAO on, shadow filtering on, rendered using Headlight mode. I did not run Global Illumination on any test. Results for other devices are as follows:

iPad : Ran up to test 5 efficiently

Mac Book (Old) : Ran up to test 4 efficiently on laptop only, test 3 on screen share to conference room monitor

Mac Book (New) : Ran up to test 5 efficiently on laptop only, test 5 ran satisfactorily (minor navigation choppiness) when connected to the conference room monitor. Test 4 ran efficiently both on the lap top only and the conference room monitor.

As the BIM manual outlines, tests should be made for specific BIMx files well in advance using the device, display and file that will be presented. Check for model content, surface translation and file operation at least 6 hours to 1 day before a formal presentation. See the BIM Manual > External Content > BIMx Optimization for more information on BIMx standards and settings.




Multiple BIMx Files

Today we presented two design options for a project via BIMx. In the past I would have waited for option two to load (an awkward 60 second pause), or created some clever layer option in a single BIMx file.

In my pre-meeting setup, I ran a quick test to open a second BIMx in a separate instance of the application. To do this, drag the BIMx application to your dock for each instance of ARCHICAD installed on your machine (17, 18, 19). Do not use BIMx for AC16! It is slow and glitchy or non-operational on our operating system.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 3.08.10 PM.png

To find each BIMx application go to you mac > Applications > Graphisoft > ArchiCAD V# > Add-Ons > BIMx, and drag each individual BIMx to your dock.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 3.08.20 PM.png

Next open each BIMx from the short cut, go to File > Open… You will then be able to open up to 3 separate instances or versions of BIMx files. In my tests, I can open a BIMx file created from AC19 in any of these versions. I have not tested this in reverse, opening a 17 or 18 file in 19; but I assume if a 19 file opens on an older version of the software it should work in reverse.

One final note, tabbing between instances of BIMx is as simple as using Com + Tab; so navigation and presentation goes seamlessly from one design option to the next. If you need more than 3 instances or versions, you will need to resort to the awkward loading/pause.

BIMx Surfaces Not Matching

A few projects have been experiencing severe BIMx surface discrepancies; where upon saving a model to BIMx, the surfaces change surface image, appearance or alignment. One project was so bad that every wood surface appeared to be replaced with a surface image that was not even used in the project. Removing or replacing the image, duplicating the surface, exporting & re-importing attributes did not resolve the issue. I even tried opening this file (AC17) in AC16 & AC18 with little or no success in repairing the corrupted attributes.

  00 Correct Model OpenGL        00 Incorrect Model BIMx

Open GL Surfaces                                            Surfaces in BIMx

Finally today I found a solution to this problem (the cause of which is still a mystery). Use the following steps to repair a surface that does not render or save to BIMx properly:

  1. Verify the elements surface, building material and other attributes are not missing
  2. Verify the attributes (surfaces & fills) in the building material settings are not missing
  3. Verify the surface image for the corrupt surface is loaded into the library
  4. Reserve all in the teamwork palette (any unreserved elements may have missing attributes as a result of this process)
  5. Pick a surface which does save properly in BIMx, and duplicate it
  6. Name the new surface appropriately
  7. Reassign the correct surface image, size, and rotation in the surface settings
  8. Select the corrupt surface
  9. Delete the corrupt surface and replace with the newly created surface
  10. Save as BIMx and check that the surface is showing correctly now!

01 Surface Repair      01 Final BIMx

Delete & Replace Surfaces                                   Surfaces Fixed in BIMx!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!