Category Archives: Libraries

Custom Door Leaf Origin

We often need to use custom door leafs and window sashes. But as with any custom object or element, model primitives need to be saved with attention to project 0,0,0 (xyz relationship to project origin).  With custom objects, they should be saved at 0,0,0; centered or justified to an edge. Custom door and window leafs need to be saved relative to the Z axis, or at least relative to the model primitive’s home story.

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The important thing to note on locating elements to be saved as doors or window sashes is they need to sit above project 0 or home story. Typically, door and window components are built form slabs to be saved as a leaf or sash. The easiest way to ensure the door aligns correctly with the plan symbol is to set the reference plane to the bottom of the slab, and set the slab’s elevation to 0′ to home story (or project 0).

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Avoid Library Pollution

We have gone through waves of library pollution, and it seems like one is washing over our projects again. So it’s time for a refresher on what this pollution is, the cause, how to avoid this pollution, and how to clean it up. It is important for all ARCHICAD users at WWA to read this post carefully to avoid this issue running through all our projects again.

What is the pollution and what causes it?

The pollution is a infiltration of unwanted attributes into a project. These attributes include Surfaces, Fills, and Line Types. The pollution is disruptive to our workflow because it pushes attributes out of sequence, creates massive gaps in attribute numbering, and gives us an annoyingly long list of attributes to dig through when working in ARCHICAD. As an example of the damage this issue can cause, here is a quick glance at some of the surfaces that came in from one instance of polluted library parts:

A-WWA Polluted.png

As you can imagine, sifting through that list of surfaces can be really annoying, even if it drops most of these surfaces at the end of the list. But as I mentioned, this also has an impact on fill types and line types.

So what is the trigger? It is caused by an infiltration of objects called Master_GDL.gdl into one or more of the libraries. Typically it is seen in the embedded library. This infiltration happens any time an infected file is copied from, and pasted into a clean file. So opening an old file and copying anything and pasting into your project will bring in these polluted attributes.

How can this pollution be avoided?

It is fairly simple to avoid the issue. If you need to bring anything in from another project, check the libraries and attributes first. If the file has any of the polluted surfaces (typically these are italicized and have names like Topas, Innivik, HAG, etc), do NOT copy from that file. You can either clean the file before copying from it (see below), or sandbox the content and clean it up before pasting, or redraw/model the content completely from scratch. It is important to note that no content is “safe” to copy/paste if the file is polluted. A single line/fill/text/label/wall/slab/etc copied out will drag the Master_GDL.gdl part with it.

How can the pollution be cleaned up?

If the pollution occurs anyway, it needs be cleaned up before it starts to impact productivity, and certainly before new attributes are generated. For the most part, the clean up is simple. Open the Library Manager (File > Library Manager), track down any folder/subfolder containing a file with the name (or name similar to) Master_GDL.gdl. This can almost always be tracked to a folder called “From 201101”.C-WWA Library.png

Once these files and folders are purged, open the attribute manager and delete any polluted attributes. It is usually easiest to sort the surfaces by name, as the polluted attributes almost always show after the default surfaces due to naming convention. But any attribute that stands out as out of place should be deleted. The offending attributes are usually italicized and have very odd seeming names. These can just be deleted, rather than delete + replace, since they shouldn’t be used anyway.

B-WWA Polluted.png

If a file uses hotlink modules, this can be a little more complicated. Because hotlinks have their own Embedded Library folder that can not be edited in a host library, there is a different process. The host file needs to be cleared of all modules. I recommend marking module locations with polylines, fills, and/or hotspots before deleting. After the modules are removed, verify that the module libraries are gone, and there are no additional offending Master_GDL parts in any other libraries. Then clean up the attributes.

Next, open all module source files, and run the clean up there; purging libraries and attributes. I also recommend running an attribute match again after all files are clean. Once all files are clean, new modules need to be saved. Do not save over the top of old modules. It is best to create a completely new and clean module.

Lastly, open the host (site) file again, and replace and relocate all modules. Obviously, this issue is compounded even more with projects using nested modules.

Other considerations

Because the Master_GDL objects are so infectious, it is important to stay on top of keeping these things clean. They really are like a disease. We had all current projects clean, but they are rearing their heads again. It is important to be aware of consequences when copying/pasting from one file to another. No two projects have identical attributes, so any copy/paste is likely to bring attributes. If the file is polluted, it will bring in attributes not even used by the copied content.

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.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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).

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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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