The Global ARCHICAD Community

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Discussions about managing ARCHICAD in architectural practices (Project Setup, Templates, Attributes, Migration, Compatibility with Previous Versions, Preferences/Work Environment, User/Project/Application Administration/Management etc.)

Moderators: Karl Ottenstein, LaszloNagy, ejrolon, Barry Kelly, gkmethy

User avatar
By Link
Link wrote:If you're not using a dedicated template you're doing it wrong! :wink:
So first of all, in my defense, I'd like to make sure everyone knows that when I use the :wink: emoji it means I'm implying humor, just as it was intended.

Secondly, still in my defense, our BIM6x Starter Kit is absolutely FREE. See my signature. We give it away to anyone who wants it or needs it because we passionately want to help any and every ARCHICAD user no matter what their experience level, geographical location or finincial situation. We've given away over 1000 of them to people in over 100 countries. And it comes with a 205 page manual! How's that for service?! 8)

If anyone wants to save themselves the thousands of hours of work and endless challenges that we overcame while creating highly customized templates for large firms, small firms and even solo practitioners, then yes we also offer a much more comprehensive solution for sale.

But I'm hardly a 'template salesman'. In addition to my 19 years of helping ARCHICAD users maximize their productivity, I'm also GRAPHISOFT certified in BIM Management. Your workflow is nothing new. We're aware of it. It's actually very common to find users working this way. You're effectively creating a new template every time you start a project. If you're happy spending your time doing that then more power to you.

It's certainly not the recommended way in the eyes of GS as far as I know or many of the longstanding power users that have contributed so far to this thread. Instead an efficient workflow is to have a template that meets your needs for all the projects you do regularly. I use a 90% rule. Depending on the complexity of your projects (i.e. Hospitals vs tract homes) the template should contain most if not all your attributes, project preferences, views and their related settings, masters, etc, and optionally pre-linked layouts. It's much faster to delete these than it is to create them. Trust me, I've raced people. :wink:

Of course favorites make up the majority of commonly used elements along with modules that can be part of a separate automated project where they are published at the click of a button. But for that you need strict standardization (dare I say a template) so that all your attributes match and your documentation and data management can be largely automated.

I've seen businesses turn around with a decent template and often they were doing exactly what you are. So there's my sales pitch. You can take it or leave it. I'm busy helping make people successful to stay involved in this 'debate'.

Good luck.

User avatar
By Karl Ottenstein
Link wrote: You're effectively creating a new template every time you start a project. If you're happy spending your time doing that then more power to you.
Man, I've stayed out of this topic as it has been filled with way too much testosteronic "conversation" (e.g., not fully listening to the other person and some really poor word choices in the responses that only inflame rather than seek to understand IMO) ... and it totally hijacked the original topic, which deserved more response.

Link, your quote above is not being fair to Steve at all. I agree that every practice needs a template to both encapsulate their standards and to bump their productivity to the max. And of course, every user HAS a template whether they know it or not, since ArchiCAD opens either with the attributes of the last used file, or a specific TPL or PLN.

But, Steve isn't creating a new template each time he starts a project as you state. That implies that he is defining all of his attributes - layers, layer combos, fills, pens, line types, story structure, views, layouts, etc etc from scratch for each project. Clearly he is not doing that. What a waste of time that would be! He is starting a fresh residential project from his last residential project (which seems to be his area of practice).

As others pointed out, he may have a lot of stuff to delete in the process of starting his next home - the actual model (big deal - display all in 3D and delete), his 2D annotations, his one-off objects (delete from embedded library, or re-point project library to new folder), and who knows (we don't) what other one-off things like unique layers, etc. Project Info needs to be updated, etc. - the same as with a generic template. But, he then has a fully linked layout book and all attributes matching his practice ready to go on his next residential project.

Obviously, if his last project was a 1 story ranch home and he's now doing a 3 story residence, the last file isn't going to have those extra stories, views, layout sheets, etc. But again, we don't know what his practice is. If all of his homes have 2 stories, then using the last file to start from isn't a big deal nor is it that different from having a special template. Presumably his last project incorporates his latest knowledge and any improvements - vs updating a template in parallel to incorporating new things.

We all know that there is no one-size fits all way to use ArchiCAD - but a 'template' (starting point) is needed, whether a general purpose one for a firm with a broad practice area, or a large firm incorporating standards and teamwork, or a limited one for a specific subindustry (e.g., log homes). If what Steve does works for him (and it obviously does - as well as for the many other people who have a very specific area of practice), I don't see anything wrong with it. ;-)
User avatar
By Link
Karl Ottenstein wrote:That implies that he is defining all of his attributes - layers, layer combos, fills, pens, line types, story structure, views, layouts, etc etc from scratch for each project.
Not to me Karl. It also means this:
he may have a lot of stuff to delete in the process of starting his next home - the actual model (big deal - display all in 3D and delete), his 2D annotations, his one-off objects (delete from embedded library, or re-point project library to new folder), and who knows (we don't) what other one-off things like unique layers, etc. Project Info needs to be updated, etc.
Plus removing all other unwanted attributes, such as surfaces, building materials, the whole lot. Not to mention any specific properties, classification, details, viewpoints, views, view settings, the list goes on. And without a template system the attribute pollution between differing files causes even more clean up issues.

Don't start me on starting from a Clean Template! There are more efficient ways to do it. It's been proven. That's my experience and still my strong opinion. I really don't care if he follows it or not to be honest. If it works for him do it that way. The denigration and general watering down of discussion here is what keeps me away from this forum nowadays!

Back to work for me...

User avatar
By Steve Jepson
I am glad to learn that the way I am using completed project files to assemble new ones is nothing new or uncommon.

If what I am doing is essentially creating a new Template for every project then I am in total agreement about how essential they are.

I am simply leveraging the automatic result of every completed project because it is already closer to what is going to be needed than any generic Template can be.

The debate then is over the time (10 minutes or so - if any time at all) that it takes to have a tailor made Template/completed project file ready to use in the process of assembling a similar project.

If what I am using as the initial project file (a similar completed project file) is as you say essentially a Template, isn't that kind of Template going to be a more useful Template than any other Template possible?

And as have said before, by similar I do not mean necessarily in form or function.

And to go along with that kind of tailor made Template, wouldn't you want to assemble the similar project with pre-modeled assemblies that are also from similar completed projects?

What this does is change the way standardization is maintained. It does not diminish it. They are maintained/preserved in the final project files.
Which is the source for all new project files.

As for the workflow of using pre-modeled assemblies. Yes, this is a very old idea but still a huge time saver and I predict that this will become part of the orthodox ArchiCAD workflow again very soon.

The need for working this way will come from trying to meet the standards for BIM LOD 400 or 500 etc... We have no Tools in ArchiCAD at this time which can generate this kind of detail. So the only way to achieve it is to radically increase the time spent modeling - or - start modeling smarter.
And in a way that impacts the kind of Template you will use to facilitate that.

The only way I see for that to be feasible (until we have some super smart Tools) is by learning to assembling BIM projects with pre modeled assemblies that are adjusted for the new conditions.

The Stair Tool is a good example - it might be on its way to becoming a super smart tool, but for now if you need the stair detailed to BIM LOD standard 400 or better and be able to generate a quality set of shop drawings for it with material schedules, you can still drop a pre modeled Stair from another project and tweak to fit new conditions faster than you can configure the Stair Tool - which is never not exactly what you need. At least not yet.
User avatar
By Richard Morrison
I am enjoying this discussion (despite a few people picking up their toys and going home), because it is forcing me to rethink the value of what I'm doing.

I think a few things need to be in even a clean template:
1) A good layer set
2) A consistent pen set.
3) MVO combo's.
4) A good set of GO's.
5) Reno filters set up the way you want them.
6) A kickass Favorites file.
7) A standard titleblock(s).

I am less enamored of having all of the views, predefined sections/elevations/details, and a massive amount of attributes included. I am just not seeing that this saves much time. I understand the holy grail of "automatic documentation," but I haven't really seen this, either. Also, I have seen one post by a larger firm that has most of what they will need in their template, and this weighs in at 105MB. 105MB before the project is even started! 50 MB when I am done with CD's is getting kind of large for me.

I don't find that dragging existing elevation markers to the right spot, and then adjusting the extents and location of the view in layout saves much (if any) time. It is just as fast, I think, to draw the elevation or section from scratch and send to layout, putting it where you want it. (I could maybe be convinced either way, though.)

Then consider that when you copy an assembly in, as Steve suggests, all of the needed building materials, fills, composite assemblies, etc. come with it. If you have a parallel project open, where you are copying things into your project file, you can start with virtually no attributes, and then you just have to deal with a very few choices.

I find this so-called "attribute pollution" actually occurs most frequently when I start with lots of existing attributes in a template, and then bring in something new that doesn't match. Part of what makes an extensive template difficult is "decision fatigue" where you may be scrolling through a page or two of surfaces, trying to find just the right one. Now, multiply this for views, lines, composites, building materials, fills, etc. It's not the same as looking through 5 materials and 6 fills.

If you have a separate "warehouse" plan, you can always bring in more. One commercial template that I have starts with well over 150 preset views, which represents a LOT of work and thought, I know. But every time I look at it, trying to figure out which view to use and how I'm going to have to adjust extents and layout location, I just get discouraged.
User avatar
By Steve Jepson
Just to clarify some important things:

It's useful for this conversation to distinguish a new Project File, from a Template. The new Project File being the file you might tweak a Template, Completed Project File, or any other kind of file for, to use as the file you start a new project with.

Also for the sake of definition: What makes the completed project similar and a perfect file to be used as a new Project File is not necessarily it's form or function..

Both the Completed Project File or a Template or any other file you use as a new Project File could probably benefit from being tweaked a bit with the Attributes Manager before you start.
Also, it is quite likely that you will use the Attributes Manager at various times throughout the project. It is not essential or even helpful (if you ask me ) that the new Project File be completely organized before you start.
There are advantages and efficiencies in letting at least some of the Template type things EVOLVE - on the fly - as you work. Every ArchiCAD project I make is unique. I am not just making Custom Homes, in the end I am making Custom ArchiCAD projects too - for every project.

So are all of you!

And these are highly optimised for reproducing similar projects - and again I think I need to stress - similar does not necessarily mean in form or function.

And these completed projects are demonstrably a much better source for starting a "similar" project with (again - similar does not necessarily mean the same in form or function) than any possible one-size-fits-all over bloated Template which is designed for some kind of imaginary orthodox Workflow - that is not the least bit useful for the way you like to work.

I could start any project with one of the very good and useful "Templates" the program comes with. Sometimes I do! For example when I don't already have a "similar" completed project to use as a resource. It is going to be very easy to make the Completed Project File starting with one of those Templates. All files you start any project with are only a convenient place to start - unless you know in advance exactly what you want to end up with. Occasionally you might, more often, you don't.

"Obviously, if his last project was a 1 story ranch home and he's now doing a 3 story residence, the last file isn't going to have those extra stories, views, layout sheets, etc." That is not necessarily obvious.

A single story project might very well be an excellent source for the new project file, and an excellent source for the pre modeled assemblies I would be using to assemble the new project with - even if the new project does not have the same number of Stories.

What makes the completed project similar a perfect source to be used as a new Project File is not necessarily it's form or function..

What is there that is unique about a one story house vs a two story - in terms of the parts it has been assembled with? Perhaps nothing.

ArchiCAD Stories are irrelevant to me because I don't need to use Stories as only the Floor Level of the building.
Not using Stories for more than just a Floor Level of the building like this is like never using a Roof for anything except a Roof.

Spare me the examples of how incompatible that is with interoperability with other programs, ArchiCAD Teamwork files, IFC collaborations, or your need to control the work you "outsource". That is another topic.

Back to the original question -- the user has been stuck for one reason or another into using a Template that is now 3 years old. He want to know when the best time up update that Template is.

This is a bit like the ArchiCAD user who has been using a different program until recently and is asking about how to do something they used to do with it - in ArchiCAD. The useful answer is quite often includes an explanation about why we don't need to do that in ArchiCAD.

This is the intention of my answer to that question. There is a way to use ArchiCAD that will not trap you into using a 3 year old Template ever again. And that solution allows you to use files you already have, and facilitates the use of modeling techniques that are exponentially faster and more efficient than the traditional Template paradigm where you try and anticipate every possible think you might want to do - ever - with ArchiCAD and load into the file you start - every - project with. Nonsense. I hope the Template you are using in nothing like that.

That is going to be a very interesting answer to a very common problem.

As has already been pointed out, what I am doing is nothing new or even very clever. It is actually very intuitive. Eventually, all ArchiCAD users are going to realize that there is something in a completed project that they don't want to spend the time remaking from scratch again. Lots of ArchiCAD users are aware of how to do this.

Most ArchiCAD users I think eventually migrate into some niche in their market. They specialize a bit. Some are very specialized. The last ten ArchiCAD projects you made will probably be very "similar" (not necessarily in form or function) to the next ten. This is why you want to have good access to those completed projects while you are making the new ones. This is Fundamental isn't it?

This being the case, being able to leverage the pre modeled assemblies and other very important and content in those completed projects is arguably - essential.

If the Template and its corresponding Workflow are not facilitating your ability to do that - you can start using a different kind of Template and a different kind of corresponding Workflow.

If this is something new and radical to you, think it through. Test your cursory objections to see if they are valid or not. All of the objections I have seen so far are either trivial, or are based on misconceptions.

Remember, what I am talking about are things that go hand in hand. The new file you start your new projects with, and the corresponding workflow.

The corresponding workflow I am talking about uses multiple instances of ArchiCAD and optionally - 3 monitors. I have 3 set up but only use one 17.3" screen (my laptop)most of the time. The reason for multiple instances is for quick access to pre modeled assemblies that exponentially speed up the process of assembling another ArchiCAD project. Favorites have very little purpose since there is very little reason to model or draw anything that would be a Favorite. Almost everything comes into the program via the use of large groups of pre modeled assemblies.

Ancient and barbaric references to this kind of Workflow on the ArchiCAD Talk Forum were called Cannibalizing other projects, and the use of Bone Piles. It was rejected long ago by most, and perfected by others. Still a thorn in the flesh of the Template aficionados who summarily reject it.

Do you want the Template you are using to dictate the Workflow, or do you want your Workflow to dictate the kind of Template you use ?
Both are legitimate choices.

You can imagine what exploding the traditional Template and Orthodox Workflow paradigm does to the credibility of those who are selling Training, Consulting, and Teaching it is Colleges and Universities, Lecturing about it at conventions, Producing Training Videos, etc... I know the gravity of the situation when someone dares to challenge that.

It reminds me of a similar situation. I was riding the car with my Dad on a snowy day. We came to a hill where there was a long line of cars waiting for a tow with a tractor.
My Dad didn't have any money. I could end the story right there and most of you would see the point of it. However, for the sake of the less imaginative, I will finish it.
Naturally, my Dad drove around the line of cars and up the hill without any problem, except for the barrage of snowballs, and cursing. When I looked out the back window I saw that all of the cars inline were doing the same. The people providing the tow service were very angry. The said "don't do that, it won't work, you will be sorry if you try that. It might work for some of you but not for everyone. Stop, stay in line. We know how to help you do this safely."

Last year I happened upon a similar situation but this time there was no fee. Naturally, I went around. There was also a barrage of snowballs and lots of cursing. And the tow service was saying the same things I heard before.
User avatar
By Geoff Briggs
I'd be amazed if Mr. Dumont ever returns to these forums after what has transpired since his original post. But in case he does, I'll just say Steven you are lucky to be part a community so passionate about their BIM workflows. :roll:

Regarding the original question...
Steven Dumont wrote:My question is; is there a point where I should start from scratch and create a new one? I've always migrated the template from the last version of ArchiCAD. Creating a new one from scratch is quite time consuming (though I know it pays off).
...I fall squarely in the migrate camp. I study the new features, upsave my latest template to the new version, and add or change things as required. I always play with the OOTB template (INT even though I'm in the US) to see how GS has arranged things, and see what I might want to copy, or import. If I have time I will also study other free templates to see how other folks do things. And of course I keep notes on what I want to add or modify in the future. I also have a running dev project where I can refine and experiment with things without messing up real projects.

It sounds similar to what you do now, so my advice is keep on.

I agree creating a new template from scratch is time consuming, and I doubt it pays off.

Hope that helps and good luck.
User avatar
By Steve Jepson
Richard Morrison wrote:...

I think a few things need to be in even a clean template:
1) A good layer set
2) A consistent pen set.
3) MVO combo's.
4) A good set of GO's.
5) Reno filters set up the way you want them.
6) A kickass Favorites file.
7) A standard titleblock(s)...
These are things that you would want to have in any project, however, they are not essential or particularly useful to have in the file you start a project with.
Hear me out on this -- I know that sound wrong.

The reasons is that all of those things can automatically come into your project exactly as you want them when you paste, drag-n-drop or otherwise import them with the pre modeled assemblies from your completed projects. OR the rest of them are just a matter of one or two clicks to import into that file you start with - if you didn't decide to leave them in it when you saved it for use as a new file to start with.

The same would apply to Libraries. You would presumably load or imbed a library extracted from a similar completed project.

One of the reasons you might prefer to load/import some of these things using the Attributes manager before you start, is so you can be selective about what you are importing.

I don't actually organize my project folders per their building type because I can remember them well enough. I have projects for ICFs, Brick Veneer, Stucco, Wood Frame, Metal Buildings, Pole Buildings, Interior Design...projects that were made for specific Builders or Architects, Airplane hangers, Log Homes, even a Dirtbag House. This is what I mean by similar- similar in type - per what is in the ArchiCAD file, I just remember them, but I could organize them like that in folders if I needed to.

So when I know about what to expect I can load the Building Materials, and other Attributes accordingly. First though, I would open one of those similar completed projects and save it such a way that it will be very useful as a starting point for assembling the new project. This need not take more than a few minuets - and what I have is already much much closer to what I need than any one-size-fits-all over bloated Template that was designed for a Workflow I don't even want to use. Now add to this file from the completed similar project some tailor made Attributes (which you also get from completed similar projects) and add to that, the ability to bring in large pre modeled assemblies from similar projects/instances which include labels, wall tags, dimensions...and now you are ready to assemble a new similar project faster than can say -- why haven't I been doing this all the time?

What I am describing does not necessarily preclude working like this with a conventional Template. But it may have some problems. This is why I don't use a "Template" I am simply saving the similar completed project file, tweaking it a little if needed, adding some different or additional Attributes...and the result is a highly optimised file to start with.

I wouldn't call that a Template because it is not used like that. It is just a very easy to make file to start with, that is optimal for making a similar project.

It is also different from the traditional Template because it is something you made to facilitate a workflow, as opposed to using a Template designed to control a its corresponding Workflow.
User avatar
By Steve Jepson
All of our completed projects have everything you used from the Template don't they?

Where is the time savings in using the Template instead of the completed project file?

Several people have commented about the time it takes to stripdown the completed file and make it ready to go again. Is that the time you are talking about saving?
User avatar
By ejrolon
Steve I don't disagree with what you have written in your latests post . What is giving me pause is that it sounds like you are still against the development of a template(s) for other types of work, offices or advanced users since they are a waste of time because you can start from your previous project. For your practice that is enough, for mine it is not and that is were templates come in.

I am 'mostly" a solo practitioner but my practice has not put me in a particular niche as you presumed in a previous post in fact I have done quite the opposite. I do different projects (either solo or with/for other offices) and for those I need particular starting points and thus I need templates.

For example: doing a master plan for a sky resort in China needs a particular start point that does not (and will not match) the one for doing a master plan in Miami. I cannot copy the stairs for the buildings in Beijing to a building in Wynwood nor a house remodel in Puerto Rico or to an Emergency Room remodel. The IBC Codes are different in each locale and version 2009 (PR) is more stringent than 2015 (Miami) so if I copy from one to the other I might violate code. Parking requirements in Miami are more stringent than in Puerto Rico so copying and pasting from the latest PR project to the one in Miami can be a mistake and should be done with caution.

Three jewelry stores coordinated from Spain to be built in PR requires a particular template to keep everything organized and in check between Imperial and metric units amongst other things. These stores were last remodeled 3 years ago so I cannot copy paste from the previous one because the lead designer changed, the store design guide changed and we changed Building Codes and there are new ADA rules. But I can copy and paste between them now because they are all 2017.

If I am doing joint ventures with other offices I have a basic setup that I try to future proof as much as possible just in case that new work comes from those clients and for that I still use my basic template as the start point.

Each starting point and each workflows is based on what the needs of the project are. Experience helps me determine which should be the best scenario, basic office template, fully linked template, recent previous file.

So for my workflow what you describe in yours is only a subset of what I need done. Having my base template lets me tailor the setup of the project to what I need. If a new project in Beijing comes up (here's hoping) then I would use my cleaned up AC21 template but I would not copy paste anything from the previous project, firstly because it might not be relevant, second because Favorites are easier to manage now and thirdly because I think I have improved my knowledge and experience as an architect since I did that project.

On another note this template with Favorites is the base I use for training new employees to help me work projects. For these persons I cannot say open Beijing file X and remove everything you are not going to use and start organizing Beijing file Y. For them what I do is open template X, make sure to load Favorites -Metric- and start filling in the blanks. then while supervising I can show them a particular solution from an AC12 project if needed.

So what is in my template; Indexes, Schedules, Properties, BMats, Overrides, Layer Sets, PenSets, Title Sheets, Basic Layouts, Master Layouts, Publisher Sets, Basic set of Elevations, Sections, Details, GRIDS!!!!, Story Structure, Stuff that I don't want to forget and I don't want to spend the mental overhead of memorizing.

Used to have three different sets of stairs in the project but those moved to favorites some time ago. Though with the new stair tool I might need to put them back in since they have too many Favorites to track easily.

You could argue that I can bring this stuff using Attribute Manager and sometimes I do but I prefer not having to spend the time there. Most other stuff I could handle with favorites.

I have three basic templates, One metric, One Imperial for US work, One Imperial for Puerto Rico work.

…All of our completed projects have everything you used from the Template don't they?…
Yes and no. They have what the template had at that point in time but in my case they might not help with later projects.
…Where is the time savings in using the Template instead of the completed project file?…
Hope examples above gave an indication. If you do the same type of project then that works if you do not then it does not.
Several people have commented about the time it takes to stripdown the completed file and make it ready to go again. Is that the time you are talking about saving?
That is part of it. I prefer to add stuff to a clean project since then I can verify and evaluate but I do that only if I don't have a favorite setup for that.


How will all this help with the design of a new prayer space which I am bidding on?
I have no idea but I will start by duplicating my Project Template Folder, adding the project codes, launching AC and opening my basic template.