Tag 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.

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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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.

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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.

Keeping it Clean Part III: The Sandbox

You may recall the posts on keeping your library clean; here and here. But maintaining a clean, legible, and highly functional BIM file is more than just library management. It is also awareness of the attributes, and keeping those properly organized, sorted, named and vetted.

When creating an attribute it should be named and numbered appropriately for clear function, intent and organization. But attributes can become polluted, just like the libraries. This happens when bringing in downloaded objects which contain their own attributes or new attribute references, or when copying/pasting content from one ARCHICAD file into your working project.

Attributes are almost certainly going to come in in either case. So you can either bring the content in, then fix the libraries and attributes, or you can create a quick sandbox to preview and pre-clean the content.

To do this, simply select file > new, and set the resulting window use the latest project settings and launch in a new instance. This ensures the attributes and settings will match your current project for assessing the damage of copy/paste before traumatizing your project.Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.27.13 PM

Once the content has been pasted or added to the sandbox file, review the embedded library for stray or polluted content, and the attribute manager for content that came in with the content.

In the attribute manager, look for any attributes (typically under lines, fills and surfaces) that have come in with the paste. These will typically show at the bottom of the list when sorting by attribute ID. Look for attributes with big gaps in ID sequence, or attributes underlined or italicized in the case of teamwork projects.

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Once these attributes have been removed in the attribute manager, simply search for any content with missing attributes (find & select works wonders for this), and reassign attributes that will copy/paste into your working project file.

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This is a little work up front, but will save tons of time on the back side trying to make sense of the project attributes and figuring out which attributes your project needs and which ones came in through sloppy copy/paste practices.

Working with Sketchup + ARCHICAD

At last nights user group meeting there was a small discussion/aside regarding working with Sketchup & ARCHICAD. Since we have quite a few projects coordinating with Sketchup consultants I figure this is a good place to share that conversation and a few additional resources and thoughts.

First, the comment was made that a lot of the GRAPHISOFT Help Center content regarding Sketchup coordination is outdated. This is true, but ARCHICAD’s youtube channel has two very recent (AC17) videos that are still worth a quick watch:

In addition to these videos here are a few of my thoughts for best practices when working with Sketchup based consultants.


Saving to Sketchup from ARCHICAD:

  1. You must export from the 3D window of ARCHICAD
  2. Run a polycount (Window > Palettes > Polycount) before saving to sketchup
  3. Reduce the model area to the minimum necessary with a bold marquee + Show Selection/Marquee in 3D
  4. If the polygon count is too high, reduce the 3d content by turning off layers or isolating only critical content in the 3D window before saving
  5. After saving, you will have the option to turn layers or elements off, but it is best to check this before saving to ensure you are not turning critical model elements off
  6. Surfaces will be saved as part of the sketchup model, so when opened in sketchup it will look surprisingly similar to the original ARCHICAD view (this is not necessarily the case for bringing in SKP models).

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 2.45.36 PMOn a “quick” test of exporting I took a 3d view from my GDL sandbox file and had the following results:

  • 144 polygons     19+ minutes to save      29.8 MB SKP file
  • 86 polygons        8 minutes to save         17.5 MB SKP file
  • 55 polygons        6 minutes to save         12.9 MB SKP file
  • 16 polygons        10- seconds to save      2.7 MB SKP file

From this test it seems apparent that it is better to break the model into separate parts if necessary than to try to save as a single large model. For example you could have a site.skp, treesandplants.skp, building.skp, furniture.skp. If all exported models have a common 3d element or point it will be easy to reassemble the model on the consultants end. This will also make the SKP files more email-able.


Importing Sketchup Files Into ARCHICAD:

  1. It is absolutely critical to Merge the Sketchup file into a separate instance of ARCHICAD
  2. This separate test or sandbox file should use the template attributes to ensure any final elements pasted into your project will not pollute your file
  3. Sketchup objects imported into your project will come in as an object and will include their own attributes. These will be added as “from imported surface_…” named surfaces once the object is converted to morphs.
  4. Convert to morphs in the sandbox file and set to a generic surface from the template before copy/pasting into your project
  5. Sketchup objects turned to morphs should be used as a starting place or template for rebuilding using ARCHICAD tools such as walls, slabs roofs, or morphs. The original Sketchup morphs should then be deleted.
  6. Verify there are no SKP objects hanging around your embedded library after all Sketchup elements have been remodeled/reworked. These will add to file size and cause unnecessary library clutter. The consultants SKP file should live on the file server, so it can always be re-referenced into your model if necessary.

Keeping it Clean- Part II

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of cleaning up and managing/eliminating duplicate objects. Today I want to cover missing objects. Although less problematic in terms of file operation, speed and consistency of element settings, it does cause a library loading report every time you open a file or refresh the libraries. Additionally, it means you have placed elements or active attributes that are missing or have missing components. This could mean incomplete drawings or incorrect attributes, but most likely it just means something was removed from the library manager and not tracked through the project.

To remove missing objects you need to either track down the missing elements from the model and replace them, or add the missing objects back into the library manager. Option 2 is always simpler, as you can search the file server and most likely find the element in question and add it back to the embedded library.

In the following example that was not an option. We had to back save a file to 17, migrating to 18 was causing problems that were resolved by working in 17 at the time. Because of this back and forth the windows had been changed from 17 to 18 and back to 17. Some of the windows and doors were still using the Cadimage 18 parts, but that library was not loaded and wouldn’t work for AC17 anyway. These objects needed to be replaced with functional 17 windows.

To find these objects in the model I set the plan view layers to all on and the renovation filter to show all. Next I set up a find and select to find all windows whose library part was Missing.Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.52.13 AMBecause the plan was so cluttered with all layers on it is not obvious when I found and selected the offending window(s). But by turning on the Element Information palette I could quickly see how many windows were selected on a floor by floor search.

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Once the Element Information has a hit, isolate the problematic object in 3D to delete or replace as needed.Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.53.13 AMThe result is a clean library loading report with no missing objects!

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.53.20 AM    Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.53.25 AMLibrary Loading Before Clean Up                             Library Loading After Clean Up