Category Archives: Libraries

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.

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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.

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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.

Custom Door Leaf Naming

A few projects have suffered from what seems like a glitch in Cadimage Doors; where the custom settings disappear when you select a custom door leaf, or even select the door leaf tab.

If your door settings look like this, I have a solution for you:

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 9.01.56 AM

Door Settings are Missing!

The problem is the naming of the custom door leaf. This door leaf does not need to be applied to the door to cause the glitch. Any component accessible from the elements settings can cause this “glitch”. That is any custom door leaf, window sash, or hardware component. It is caused by the use of special characters in the object/component naming. Special characters should be avoided in all aspects of ARCHICAD, that includes external images, external drawings, attributes, views, etc. A special character is anything except Alphanumeric Characters and the dash or underscore. “,.+#%%@’;:/\?<>!* are all prohibited in library manager content.

By looking at the library manager, I can quickly find the offending component and delete it or rename it:

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 9.02.21 AM

25% door 12″ Wide is not an appropriate name for several reasons

Now when I refresh the libraries and go back to my door settings, I can access all door settings:

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 9.02.48 AM

Problem Solved!!!!!!

New HVAC Library Symbol

A note to Model Managers & Job Captains; our library has a new object that will replace several non-dynamic drafting symbols. The new object is dynamically resizable, and retains a constant arrow size. It has separate pens for the symbol and for the arrowhead, and includes all supply & return symbols. The old symbols will be excluded from the WWA Library 20, so if you have not started adding register symbols to your RCP and Floor Finish plans, use this new symbol instead. If your plans already include the previous 6 symbols, we will create an archive library or load them into your embedded library when the time comes to move into the next version of AC (just look forward 6 or 7 months).

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 5.50.27 PM

This single object may develop into a 3d/2d combined object, with controls to turn the 3d component off. For now it is a more versatile version of the collection of 6 mechanical symbols already used in most of our projects.

WWA Library 19 ALERT!

I have made a major change to our custom library for AC19 that will most likely result in missing objects for most project teams.

Our “People Objects” have ranged from mediocre (and high polygon) to embarrassingly bad. To eliminate the intrusion of these distracting objects in our projects I have removed them from the WWA Library 19.

Please use the 3D People Silhouettes from now on; as this will be our modeling/drawing standard.

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Other Library Parts- Use the Lamps

The libraries primarily contribute to the object tool. But libraries contain a lot more than just objects. There are images that are applied to attributes and other classifications of GDL parts not accessible by the object tools settings.

Some of these “Other GDL” parts are components, or objects that can be applied to another object. Most of us are familiar with creating custom door leafs and window sashes, these are components of the door and window tool. But there are other classifications too, elements saved to the library that can be applied to many other tools.

One example that many are not aware of or do not think about, is the lamp tool. Lamps are just GDL objects that have been saved with a subtype that restricts access to the Lamp tool settings, rather than the Object tool. Some of these lamps are basic light sources, great for renderings. Others are actual fixtures, usually very generic in shape and appearance. These can be a great resource into creating a convincing image or rendering without spending the time to model or find a generic shaped lamp. As an added bonus, these objects almost always have a light source, intensity and color associated with them. This can greatly improve the results of your rendering when the lamp settings are turned on in the rendering settings palette.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 9.26.56 AMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 9.27.59 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 9.28.20 AM

Some of the lamps that work very well for generic visualization purposes are the ceiling fixture, pendant fixture and sconce lamps. Other lamps in the default libraries do not have many shape options other than size and surface.

Error Reports

This is something that we all deal with, and I think most of us ignore. THE ERROR REPORT!!!!! It can seem daunting to try to understand why this comes up or what it means. I did write an article on this before, but I’d like to boil this down to the root cause & solution in a little more detail here. The error report can come up for a variety of reasons. Here are a few:

  • Missing attribute (typically fills) of an object
  • Missing macro part of an object (less common with our latest library version)
  • Invalid or inverted geometry, typically a slab or roof but often caused by the Cadimage Coverings

So why do we need to pay attention? Because these corrupt or un-processable elements can cause major file slow down or crashes! More than that, its annoying to have these messages come up every time the 3d window is refreshed.

And now the solution, how do we fix a file with an error report? It is usually very simple. If the error report comes up in the 3D window, open the 3D window, review the Report window, and scroll to the bottom. The report is a list of everything that has been (or is not able to) be processed in a given view. It will typically show problematic elements last, so they will be at the end of the list.Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 11.43.38 AM

In the image above, I loaded a handful of objects with known problems and placed them in the model to force the report. The first outlined section shows the object names that can not be fully processed. The next section shows the library part with Element ID CAB-15 CAB-13. If the element causing problems is not a library part, the report will not give the first outlines section, but will report the element ID of problematic elements.

To fix this file  you only need to do a find and select for the element or objects name or element ID. If the error states that the object “Can’t find Macro:” the solution is to replace it with a good object. If it states that a polygon is degenerated the slab or roof just needs to be inspected for bad or odd geometries (look for groups of nodes that shouldn’t be there). If the report states that a fill is missing, do a find & select for the element ID or Name and replace the missing attribute. After this you should be able to refresh the view without the error report resulting.