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Modeling and drafting in Archicad. (Example: How can I model a Roof soffit/fascia?)

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

I've just posted another video, a 6 minute lesson on how to simplify one task in ArchiCAD that you probably do all the time.

Choosing the right layer for elements - walls, objects, text, lines, etc. - can be tedious and a bit confusing because the layer popup menu is lengthy and filled with layers not relevant to the task at hand.

Fortunately, there is a preference setting in ArchiCAD that allows you to turn off the layers from this menu that aren't useful for what you're doing.

Simplify Your Life - Streamline your Layer Menu

This link takes you to the Best Practices Course website, where you'll also find my free 45 minute presentation on the 7 Keys to Best Practices for ArchiCAD. This series of three free videos will only be available for a limited time, so be sure to watch or download them while you can. You'll also find my 5 minute Quick Change tip to speed up setting window and door ID's, which could save you hours of work.

NOTE: If you haven't been to the Best Practices website recently, you'll be asked to opt-in to my email list in order to access the videos. Don't hesitate, go ahead and submit the form - I only send out information on ArchiCAD topics, and you can unsubscribe at any time if you get tired of hearing from me.

When you use my quick tip for simplifying your layer menu, it will make your life a bit simpler and less stressful, and reduce the likelihood of errors in assigning layers for elements you're placing.

This Best Practices Method is a built-in option in ArchiCAD, but very few people know it's there or exactly how to use it. Watch this video and learn the secret!

After you see the video, try it out yourself, then write a comment here, or on the actual video page to let me know what you think.

I love helping people with my ArchiCAD tips, articles and videos. There will be more coming soon...

Best regards,
Link you posted doesn't actually bump you right into that tip you are brings us to a "log in" page....of which I've done 3 times now.

I'd like to see the tip you are offering with regards to layer management but....I can't seem to access it??? dunno.

I'm also registered with your I have not a clue what is going on.
Rob -

As I wrote in my original post, if you haven't been to the site recently (since around February 1), you'll be asked to opt-in to my email list in order to see the videos. If you registered with my site earlier (with a free preview membership, for example) then your email address is already in our email system, however the new website-based "gateway" system (which checks a "cookie" in your browser cache) doesn't know it.

Simply fill in the opt-in form, and you'll be granted access instantly. Our email system will notice that the information is the same, so you won't get duplicate emails.

I apologize for the confusion and minor inconvenience. I changed the access system on February 1 to this gateway process, which makes it possible for most visitors to opt-in once and then not have to repeat the process when they return to view additional content. The earlier technology I was using would require a login each time, and didn't integrate with our email system.

Anyway, thanks for your interest in my ArchiCAD video tips. I promise you that this video as well as the other materials I have posted on this site are well worth watching - so please go back to that page, fill in the simple opt-in form, and enjoy!

Ok...sir...I've added my "first name", then I added my "last name" then my email address and was able to enter your site.....BUT.....

I don't see anywhere the video on "layer management" you mentioned?
I have no idea even where to go to see that video?

Could you lend a hand here?
Hey Rob -
After opt-in, you're taken to the page with my video training series on The 7 Keys to Best Practices for ArchiCAD. Near the top of the page, you'll see there is a navigation menu with page links: 7 KEYS | QUICK CHANGE | SIMPLIFY | etc. The tip on Layer simplification is found on the "SIMPLIFY" page.
Finally saw the tip you gave us.
Great job on the video course......

Only comment I have about 'locking' the layers that are hidden is as follows:
1. sometimes I need to "turn on" a layer to see what's on it if I'm trying to coordinate an object on that needed layer.
2. locking the layer obviously wont prevent me from seeing but if I don't "see" the layer in the layer list.....I may end up forgetting there is a specific layer I can use to place an object on......

I know that layer combo's should be setup initially at the start of the projects but layer combo's need tweaking sometimes as the project progresses.

I know that when I "un-hide" a layer that is not part of any layer combination a new "custom" layer combo appears in the quick options allowing the user the option to create a new layer combo if need be.

Your video's are great sir.
Still working over my boss to see if he can fork out the training for our office......don't think I've forgotten about that Eric.
Rob -

Thanks for your feedback about the videos and the Best Practices Course. You raised some interesting questions about locking layers.

The video tip I created is not the end of the story. It's a quick change that will help many users work more efficiently by simplifying and streamlining the layer popup menu in the Info box.

With regards to your specific points:

1) You can turn on a layer manually in the Layer Settings at any time. This tip doesn't change that at all. You can also use the Window menu > Palettes > Quick Layers to toggle layers (hide the layers currently visible, see what's on the currently hidden layers) and then check layer usage. You can use that same palette to unlock layers on the fly to reassign elements from one layer to another; then use the option in that palette to revert to the previous layer condition without undoing the editing actions. I love the Quick Layers palette!

2) If your layer combinations are set up properly, when you're working on a specific drawing or phase of the modeling process, all the layers you need will be available. That's a key part of using ArchiCAD at optimum efficiency - having just the right layers turned on for whatever you're doing. Of course, I sometimes turn layers off or on manually as I work (using the Quick Layers palette or the Layer Settings dialog), but I try to set up layer combinations to cover most of my working processes. This is made easier by implementing an extensive, well-organized set of layers and layer combinations in your office template. We've made a concerted effort to optimize this in MasterTemplate, the customizable template system we sell.

I hope these comments are helpful in shedding more light on this very important area in the ArchiCAD workflow.

Respectfully, I think you're missing the point Eric.

Just because a layer is hidden, doesn't mean we don't want to see it. In fact it's important to see it so that we are reminded what layers elements can be put on.

If you don't mind me asking, what (large) companies have you implemented this in and whose lives have you simplified? I'd like to hear from them, seriously. Of all the customized templates I've built for firms large and small around the world, never have I included this old feature.

Why? Because it's too restrictive and it's misleading. As you've pointed out, hidden layers in a layer combination need to be locked to benefit from it. That's easy, but let's face it, whilst layer combos are an integral setting in the process of filtering information from the model to views and most often out to layouts for publication, and they're exact in previewing that, the reality is that most 'work' is done by flicking through all layers constantly. Perhaps working on a single dwelling with layer combos is practical, but any power user working in a team on a large multi-res or high rise project (et al), would crucify me for locking and hiding their layers. Not to mention any newcomers who would wonder where the hell all the layers were!

I'm sorry but the calibre of the tip, and the rigmarole to get it, is just lacking IMO. Tips like that are shared here for free everyday. I would have thought that a tutorial on how to make a toolbar and/or keyboard shortcuts of the Quick Layers Palette and incorporate them into your daily workflow would have been of more benefit. Or even customizing layers to meet a company's individual needs and naming the layers ~without~ the A-, C-, S- prefixes so that users could, for example, hit the W key in any layer list to get to the Wall layers, would be more enticing to consider coughing up some dough for.

With the amount of information available, currency is king and new features need to be revealed, not ones from ArchiCAD 7. Making the movies is simple enough. In fact here's a quick screencast I hastily made before enjoying a Friday knock off drink with my colleagues (who were partying in the next room). It has the obviously attention grabbing name of:

XREFs Are Dead

It shows how the Drawing Tool in ArchiCAD 14 can help better manage your layers, when it comes to dealing with DXF/DWGs. I can testify, from the trenches, that this new feature seriously does simplify our lives and more users need to know about it.

I hope this feedback helps not hinders and I thought it better to answer here than LinkedIn, Twitter, your website, etc, etc, etc.


I underst6and your point but don't necessarily agree about hiding the locked layers (or locking the hidden layers). I have clients who prefer to use this setting to streamline the work when dealing with long layer lists and tasks that need constant switching between between a small number of layers.

That said I also make sure everyone knows how to turn the feature on and off. I agree that it can be dangerous as a default if there are users who are unfamiliar with it.


Did you view either tutorial? The whole premise of Eric's tip is based on layer combos. I was merely agreeing with him. Yes it applies to any locked layer, but layer combos are the most obvious use. And sure we can teach users to turn off the 'feature' in the WE but then what's the point in making such a sweeping change in the project or template? I'm proud to say that after months of planning and implementation users in our office rarely have to deal with more than our standard layer list anymore, which is comfortably under the 200 count. With a semi-decent resolution monitor there's not that much scrolling and certainly not if you want to key in the first letter of the layer name to jump down the list.

I suspect we could be on different wavelengths depending on the size and progression of the company, their template and their projects. From my experience, there's a big difference between selling software, training it, and even implementing it on a recurring or short term basis, and actually managing the system for a large office(s) full-time (and I've done about all of it). Where every decision is scrutinized from directors down to the techs, and you have not only face the music if anything falls over or wastes time, but actually use the template on real projects as well.

Hey if Eric is happy using that tip as a giveaway to entice people to pay for training content, then more power to him. My point is just that there are more contemporary tips & processes to better manage layer use, and generally use ArchiCAD to it's fullest potential. Managing it and using every day is the best way to discover them. There's still so much to learn as new and often unpublicized features and peripheral advantages. I know im still learning them It takes a lot of time and effort to stay current and it is obvious when we're not.