Tag Archives: Lines

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.

Interior Elevation Cut Pen

There is a lot of content regarding best interior elevation marker settings, wether to mask or not mask the cut etc. (Shoegnome, GS Help Center). For WWA staff, the latest AC18 Master Favorites includes an interior elevation marker with all the correct settings (just updated today in the template & available for all AC18 projects), and our BIM manual includes an extensive article on how to document interior elevations.

Late last week a model manager discovered another little piece of important information on how to place interior elevation markers. More specifically, why the marker extents should be to the face of stud minimum, and never to the face of finish.

First, the following images show a plan view of the marker extents to face of finish and the resulting interior elevation (ignore the lack of ceiling for now). Notice the cut line at the walls is not correctly matched to the cut line at the floor.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 11.48.43 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 11.49.09 AMThe correct marker location/extents should be to the face of stud to avoid cropping the line weight by the marker extents, like the following images.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 11.49.33 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 11.49.47 AMAlso worth noting, the marker range should extend from top of subfloor or the thickness of the finish floor for the vertical range base to the bottom of framing at the rooms highest point (ridge, top of plate, etc.) to avoid cropping line weights at the ceiling or floor.

Lines, Polylines and Fills

2D elements are essential in many places through out a BIM project; everything can’t be modeled or derived from a model element. We have several tools to compensate for non-modeled elements, but the three that are most prevalent are the line, polyline and fill tools.

It is critical to know the advantages and disadvantages of each. So here are a few highlights of what each tool can do and where they should and should not be used.


Lines are individual segments. These segments are selected individually, unless grouped. If the line segments are grouped they can not be edited unless grouping is suspended (after selecting the group). Because of this limitation, lines should seldom be used for plan, section or elevation graphics or detail elements. They should never be used where a continuous drafted element with a single line weight is being represented (elevation over drafting for example).

Lines should be used for plan symbols of GDL elements (in the GDL editor), drawing 2d pieces of a GDL element or component, or where any drafted element is a single segment or a multiple line segment which changes line weights along its length or perimeter.

All Edit>Reshape functions work with lines, which makes them preferred over polylines for single segments.

Lines can be consolidated by using the Edit > Reshape > Consolidate Linework function. This will eliminate overlapping lines and convert separate lines along a single vector into a single line segment. Lines can also be converted to polylines by using the Edit > Reshape > Unify function. This will convert any connected line or arc segments into a single polyline element.


Polylines have an advantage over lines, in that they are a continuous vector. This means you can select the entire polyline assembly with a single click. Polylines should be used for any drafted detail element, elevation or section over-drafting or non-modeled plan element or annotation.

Polylines do not work well for plan symbol portions of a GDL object or component. Lines and arcs should be used for this purpose.

Polylines have a few disadvantages. The most prominent two are that the intersect function does not work with polylines (all other reshape function work just as they do with lines), and the line weight needs to be continuous for the entire element.

Polylines can not be consolidated using the Edit > Reshape > Consolidate Linework function. Attempting a polyline consolidation will result in the polylines being converted to individual line & arc segments, which can then be consolidated, then reunified into a single polyline by using the Edit > Reshape > Unify command. Alternatively polylines can be consolidated by selecting and unifying. This will turn overlapping or abutting polylines into a single polyline. If the polyline has arrows they will be turned off once it has ben unified.


Fills with a border pen can be used in details in place of polylines in most cases. The only place polylines should be used in place of fills for details is where the line is not a continuously looped segment. Fills can be used to define the drafted perimeter of an interior elevation, with an integrated mask for cut elements. Fills should not be used to draw the drafted outline of an exterior elevation, however, since these are usually partial segments only.

Fills can be used as GDL plan symbol elements, and should be part of the plan symbol to create a mask ready object, as well as a single click selectable object.

Fills have very limited reshape functions; stretch, resize, split and offset are the only functions that can be applied to fills.

Also worth mentioning for fills is the ability to consolidate fills with the Edit > Reshape > Fill Consolidation function. This feature gives options for unifying overlapping or abutting fill elements.


It has recently been discovered that there is an apparent “change” to ArchiCAD’s vector tools. Where we used to be able to inject parameters between lines, polylines, arcs and splines; in AC v18 it doesn’t seem to act the same way.

There is a solution! In the selection settings for each tool check the box that says “Uniform Settings for Line Tools“.

Quick and easy you are able to inject parameters from a polyline to a line or spline or arc. If you are not aware that this was an option, be sure this box is checked in all your vector tools selection settings and start using the inject parameters features for even more element types.

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