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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.)

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Hello, I'm trying to set up some company standards and favorites for a template file, but I've noticed some strange behaviour when it comes to layers and layer combinations and transferring between projects. I was wondering if someone had a best practice idea for dealing with these issues.

1. If I transfer layer combinations to an old project sometimes it doesn't work correctly, some layers with the same name are not shown/hidden as dictated by the layer combination. I think this is because the layer combination uses the layer index instead of name? If so, is it hopeless to try to use new layer combinations with older files?

2. Favorites that have a set layer to them also seem to resort to using the layer index somehow, so if I import favorites to an old project, they all end up in wrong layers. Is this also hopeless to use new favorites with old files?

3. Copying objects between files seem to go on layer name, not index, so they end up in the right layer.

Is there a good and consisten way to transfer updated layer lists, favorites and layer combinations to old files, which might not have the same layers? This is a mess to me and I can't seem to wrap my head around what the best order to do things in is. And I'm having a hard time finding anything dealing with layer index and attribute transfer.
It sounds like you are 'just' now diving into having a company standard template and your company has been working (for some time) on a project by project basis, with attributes being different on most of them.

Unfortunately there is no 'quick fix' for this, in my experience.

Speaking from personal experience, our company did not have a proper template before we got to about ArchiCAD11 I would say, giving us a back log of projects from version 7 to 10 that were just a mess of attributes. We decided to make a clean cut and not re-use old content from the new template onwards and rather recreate things so they can be used cleanly in the new project to come. We also based our template off the standard template for our local version to keep updates simple.

Now sometimes our reseller will rename attributes in their template for version updates or change things, and I curse at them silently, but for the most part updates have been relatively pain free.

By coincidence I've recently had to revisit two very old projects and it took me about a day or day and a half of work to get them working in the latest archicad with our current template settings (this includes going through library parts and replacing them with the new library, which doesn't happen automatically with libraries that far back).

My process has been:
1. delete all unneeded views, hidden layers etc
2. purge all unused attributes
3. copy by index and then append the highest index number attribute from our latest template (thus creating a suitable high number that does not exist)
4. copy the remaining attributes to the right (untitled.aat window) with append
6. rename those copies with a !! in front
7. append these back to the left, leaving them with very high index numbers
8. go in to the respective attributes main settings window (layer manager, fill, linetype etc) and one by one delete and replace them with the copies

Make sure you fix fills and surfaces before going on to building materials.

When all is done, go to attribute manager and import your template to project by index. Now you go through your old copy attributes again and delete them to be replaced with the template attributes that fits them most.

This sounds like a lot of work, but unless your old project had absolutely no current template to begin with (in other words someone created every single attribute from scratch), you will find that there are a lot of layers and fills and line types and surfaces that already have a similar attribute in your new template, only with slightly different name or settings so you can just replace them in the final step of replacing attributes by index from the template.

Some slightly related 'best practice tip' that is pretty much a rule in our office: if you find yourself with a fill or a surface or something that is almost what you need, but needs one minor change: still create a copy of that attribute and give it a new name. This means you can mostly copy things between projects without problem.
Thanks for the thourough reply. There has been a template but not very advanced so I'm working on expanding it, and so far I've been doing sort of what you've been doing, but appending high index numbers to create a new set with high index numbers not interfering with the others was smart (but whyyyyy do we have to do stuff like this in the first place? :x).

I was hoping there was a smoother, simpler way I had just missed, but I guess some manual labor is still necessary. And I'll make sure to shift the index of the old layers, then get the new ones, before importing any favorites or layer combinations.

Still hoping someone else has a genius way though ;)
Fixing layers shouldn't be that much work though, I suppose depending on your national + company standard. NL/SfB standard is pretty concise and we just have some extra layers for annotation, SEO, zones etc leaving us at about 100 layers in total.

When you've fixed the layers, you can copy over any layer combinations from the new template.

Again, as long as the old projects had a decent enough template to begin with, just expand on that and / or base it off the local standard template shipped with your ArchiCAD.
Remember with many attributes you can "Delete & Replace", to swap the old for the new without losing any information.
This can be done with layers (in 22 at least) but unfortunately not with layer combinations.