Category Archives: Level of Precision

Isolating Elements

Working efficiently in ARCHICAD boils down to isolating out only the portions of the model you need to view. Viewing the entire model at all times is inefficient and ineffective, since plans can look to cluttered, 3d can be too slow, and section and elevation views may show more content than is relevant to the work that needs to be done.

Isolating elements out is done by the following methods (and different methods may be more useful in certain views than others):

  1. By Selection
  2. By Marquee
  3. By Layers
  4. By Renovation Status (not shown in video below)
  5. By Filter and Cut in 3d Palette
  6. By Cutting Planes

The following video quickly covers most of these methods of isolating elements in plan and 3d.

Advertisements

Tracker & Working Units

Recently we have seen inconsistent levels of precision between different work stations. One computer, using the Measure Tool, will show a wall at 10′, another will show it at 10′-0 1/64″ (for example). After a little testing and digging around, we found that Working Units, unlike Dimension Styles and Calculation Units & Rules, are not project specific. However, just like Dimension Styles, Working Units should be set to the highest level of precision possible; that is to the nearest 1/64″.

To check and modify your working units, go to the ARCHICAD menu > Project Preferences > Working Units.

02 Working Units.png

Model Units Need to be Set to 1/64

If Model Units are set to anything other than 1/64″, there is a high likelihood of dimensions not reflecting intended design dimensions.

04 Tracker Off.png

Dimensioned Length Shows 120 1/64″,  Measured Length Shows 120″

Beyond the input precision; be sure you are using actual tracker input, rather than just clicking when the tracker shows the desired length. You can tab through the tracker options with the “tab” key, or direct input short cuts are:

  • ‘r’ = Distance (radial distance)
  • ‘a’ = angle
  • ‘x’ = x distance
  • ‘y’ = y distance
  • ‘z’ = z distance

Use the Shift key before the input to lock direction/angle. It should be second nature at this point to type Shift + R before putting in a distance. You can adjust your work environment to give higher levels of angle. I recommend setting it to every 15º, then use the angle input in the tracker for any angle at smaller increments.

05 Tracker Angle W_E.png

Work Environment Input Constraints, Set to 15º

 

Find and Select – Selected & Editable

Find and Select is one of the coolest tools in ARCHICAD, if used correctly. You can read more about it here.

Screen Shot 2018-07-19 at 11.40.03 AM

One really cool feature of the find and select palette has been proving to be incredibly useful recently though. I have been doing some line work clean up for DWG export from work sheets. Using a series of stored step by step find and select criteria, I have been able to consolidate line work, fills, convert to pLines, and more; with incredible efficiency. I can also preview the clean up process efficiency right in the F&S palette; so when I run a line consolidation, I can see how many lines I have before unifying into polylines, or how many fills I have before and after consolidation.

The Selected/Editable indicator also gives an idea of elements locked or not reserved, which makes the clean up more effective; as it helps avoid running a line work consolidation with elements that can not be modified.

It’s a small thing, but a huge indicator in terms of cleanness of the final output.

Connecting Sea Level & Morphs

Today I have been working on translating a .dwg survey into existing conditions for neighboring buildings for a remodel. The survey locates windows for neighboring properties, giving sill height, head height, and window width only. All dimensions are relative to sea level.

Screen Shot 2018-01-17 at 7.31.23 AM.png

To locate these windows correctly, I first set the Altitude (Sea Level) properly.From here I could place temporary morph lines in plan to locate center line of windows and other building features.

Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 1.00.39 PM.png

 

Then, in the morph element settings, I set the height relative to Sea Level, and matched the sill and head height described in the survey.

Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 1.00.58 PM.png

From this point, it was just a matter of matching and stretching the windows to the morph lines in 3d or elevation.

Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 1.04.08 PM.png

 

File Performance – Self Audits

Projects are routinely audited, or at least reviewed on the BIM Server to maintain a reasonable quality of model performance and accuracy. There are specific areas of the audit that are responsible for file performance. Some of these audit sections are worth paying attention to because they can affect file navigation, others can impact general teamwork performance. In any case, these areas of the audit are worth periodically reviewing, even between formal audits.

The areas that need to be self audited are:

  1. The Library Manager
  2. The Library Loading Report
  3. The “Error” Report
  4. The Drawing Manager
  5. Solid Element Operations
  6. Total Model Polygons
  7. Attributes

Library Manager

The Library Manager needs to be periodically reviewed for organization. A disorganized Embedded Library is difficult to maintain, manage, and review. More than the organization, the contents of the Embedded Library are a critical element to file performance. Because the E/L is part of the file, rather than linked to the file like a BIM Server Library, it directly impacts the overall file size; even if content is not placed in the model. Ideally, .gsm content embedded in the file should be less than 10 MB and images used for surfaces should be less than 1 MB. These should be the targeted max for embedded library content. The more frequently an object or image is going to be used in the model, the smaller the file size should be.

Library Loading Report

The library loading report will appear when first opening/joining a file if there are any library issues. These issues may include missing, duplicate, or substituted library content. It may seem like this is just something to close out of and ignore, but this palette is warning that your model may be suffering from poor performance and accuracy. For more on the Library Loading Report, see this WWABIM post here.

Error Report

The report tab will come up when there is processing error in any non-plan model Viewpoint. Like the library loading report, it may be tempting to ignore this tab, but this report is a warning that your model is suffering from invalid geometries, missing attributes, or other errors that can not be resolved. If there are too many errors in the model, the result can be beach balling, slow send/receive, and slow navigation between Views. To review how to clean up Error Report content, see this WWABIM post here.

Drawing Manager

The Drawing Manager often suffers from missing content. Although missing content here may not slow a file down noticeably, the drawing manager is a good place to review externally linked content such as .dwg & .pdf files that have been dropped onto layouts. The drawing manager is a good place to review the update status of content on layouts, which can speed up layout book navigation. This is also a good management tool for tracking external content’s paths to review linked content file size. Linked drawings with large file size can slow the model significantly, and even more so if large files are embedded in the drawing manager. Always review pdf/dwg file size before embedding in the drawing manager. For more information on the Drawing Manager see WWABIM posts here and here.

Solid Element Operations

Solid element operations have been reviewed in past WWABIM posts here, here, and especially here, as well as in a previous internal DD L&L. In running self audits, any element with more than 100 connections should be reviewed, with any unnecessary targets, operators, or other connections removed.

Total Model Polygons

The most important aspect of a model’s performance is often the number of visible polygons. But even if layer and view settings are carefully managed and reviewed, you may run into situations where the entire model needs to be viewed, or may be accidentally viewed. If there are too many polygons in the model, this may result in an slow file performance, beach balling, file or computer freeze up, or even a file crash. With our current hardware, we should be aiming for no more than 5,000,000 polygons for a standard file.

It may not always be a clear line, since the source of polygons as important a role in file performance as the total polygons. For example, in some basic tests and overall experience, 60,000 polygons from a single mesh can perform worse than 1,000,000 polygons from objects. Also, 3,000,000 polygons from a single library part (object tool) placed several times will perform significantly worse than 3,000,000 polygons from 50 different library parts. In general objects contribute to the most polygons, but GDL also handles polygons significantly better than other tools. Overly complex mesh elements and excessive use of morphs can be a bigger performance issue to a file than objects.

Attributes

Attributes can have a huge impact on file performance, as well as document and output file sizes. A large, complex, custom cut or drafting fill can result in an incredibly large pdf or dwg file; in some cases so much so that the files can not be emailed or, in many cases, even printed/plotted. Additionally, custom profiles can result in poor model performance if not properly applied to the model. Profiles applied to walls should be used sparingly, as the intersection between walls results in excessive polygons and slow model performance. Custom profiles are better applied to beams, instead of walls.

The last part of attributes that should be self audited is the naming and file size of the attributes. If surfaces are using large images, it can slow the file down (see Library Manager above). Beyond the image size, the image naming of surfaces is critical to BIMx output. See the WWABIM article here and here for more information on BIMx surface errors.

The Often Neglected Basic Shapes

I think the Basic Shapes often get ignored. These library parts are great as place holders or substitutes for tedious to model objects, basic element massing, or even final model elements. The grid object is great for register and vent grills and grates, drain screens, ceiling grids, trellis elements and more. Some of the other shapes can be used as object massing, or even a starting place for generating custom objects. Creating curved elements directly with the morph tool is possible, but they typically turn out blocky and faceted looking. Starting with a Cylinder, Cone or Sphere allows you to set the resolution of the curves, then convert to a morph to edit or incorporate with other morph elements.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-10-31-24-am

Some of the objects in this folder may be useless and tacky (the House Model & Conceptual Tree Model for example), but most of these elements can be a dynamic part of modeling complex model elements or even schedule-able place holders for elements that we may not see in the model; such as hidden appliances and plumbing accessories. I recently used a few of these elements to model an exposed sink trap for a bathroom, and it was much faster than trying to build it with beams and columns or morph elements.

The last thing to consider is that these objects often have settings beyond the obvious. Some have settings for adjusting number of faces, curve resolution, overall and individual dimensions. This allows a polygon prism object to accomplish a wide range of geometries, for massing elements as well as trimming elements as a dedicated operator.

Just keep this little library folder in mind next time you are considering building a new custom object, fixture or accessory.

Advanced Object Placement

OK, that title may be a stretch. Placing an object is as simple as selecting it from the Object Tool Settings (the library folders), and clicking in the view it needs to be placed to. But there are some settings that can make placement a little more precise the first time, limiting or eliminating the need to rotate, move, or resize after placement.

First, you can define the insert point of the element. This is the point the element will be placed to when first dropped into the model.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 12.53.28 PM

Insert Point Set to Rear Center of Object

Once the element settings are correct; for all attributes, size, elevation, information, layer, you can click ok to place the object. But there is one more step you can take to place the element multiple times ad different sizes and/or angles.

The Info Box Palette has a row of buttons that gives further control on how objects are placed.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 12.54.12 PM

Object Geometry Method

Option 1 in the Info Box is a standard placement option that will place in the given rotation in the element settings.

Option 2 allows you to define a unique angle for each instance of the object being placed, when it is being placed.

Option 3 allows you to define a new X,Y dimension for the object graphically on the plan, based on the insertion point. This can work well for cabinet objects, tub, and shower objects or even furniture that needs to fit into a specific space.

Option 4 combines both options 1 and 2 into a three click placement to define rotation and size.

Go ahead and play around with these info box setting, and make sure you are aware of the insert point of the objects element settings before placing!