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I am trying to wrap my head around the uses of the classification manager, because its potential has not been described very well.

I suspect that this may be like the Property Manager. Initially, I had no idea what it could be used for, until I understood that now ANYTHING could be scheduled, and pretty handily at that. That certainly got my attention.

So what are we supposed to be doing with all of these potential classifications of elements? What ability does this give us that we didn't have before? Is there anything useful here for a small firm?
There are many Classification Systems in the world: Uniclass, Omniclass, Masterformat, Uniformat, RICS, etc.

The Classification Manager allows you to load all these Classification Systems at the same time and apply all of them to construction elements.
So there is now not only one "Element Classification" field in Settings Dialogs. Instead, there can be as many Classification fields as needed.
Also, the Classification Manager works on a Project level so what you define in the Classification Manager applies to all construction elements in the Project.

A few clips:

Thanks, Laszlo, but this doesn't really address what I was asking. I am perfectly familiar with a number of these systems, but what is the benefit of putting a construction element into one of these systems? Let's say I tag an element as a "Distribution Element" (whatever that is). Okay, now what?

I'm not trying to be confrontational, but I'm just not understanding the intended benefits of the Classification Manager and how it gets used in actual practice. Is the Classification system there just so that we can assign properties in a more targeted/focused way? (It's clear that there is supposed to be an interrelationship between Properties and Classifications.) Is it intended to be used somehow with the generation of specifications? It seems like understanding how the Classification Manager is supposed to be used would make a huge difference in whether you choose to use it either with a Masterformat, Uniclass, or Omniclass system, for example, each of which has a different purpose and focus.
I am not that familiar with it either, but I think this could have a greater significance with data exchange with a lot of different stakeholders, and also possibly in the construction phase of the building process.

Hopefully, others can also chime in...
Richard Morrison wrote: I'm just not understanding the intended benefits of the Classification Manager and how it gets used in actual practice. Is the Classification system there just so that we can assign properties in a more targeted/focused way?

The purpose of classification in general is to describe some aspect of the element in more detail. At a simple level it could identify what the role the element plays in the project – a bit like the element classification provided in earlier versions of ARCHICAD. It can break down the components of a building according to work sections, which in turn relates to the specification, schedule and (post-construction) facilities management. For example, the classification might bind an element to a clause in the specification. The classification might also be linked to costing and scheduling, where cost components bind themselves to elements according to classification (and other attributes).

And as you noted, it then also allows properties to be automatically linked on the basis of classification. Exactly what the properties are depends on the role of the classification system. For example, if you are using Uniclass 2015 coupled with the NBS Toolkit in the UK, you would want required properties (ultimately for COBie output targeting FM) to bind to ARCHICAD elements.

It's a developing area, but an essential step for making better use of BIM. Doing anything intelligent with model content requires classification and properties. It's government-mandated for public-funded projects in the UK, and expect to see something similar play out elsewhere in the world.
One HUGE difference that makes it very promising is that you can limit the available custom properties by Classification value.

E.g. when you have a set of properties which ONLY apply to a particular type of wall (e.g. lightweight gyproc/knauf/...) you can use a classification to tie these properties to only the elements with this classification value. Otherwise, you custom properties spread over ALL walls (as is the case in ARCHICAD 20).

This is something that is bothering users: whenever you load manufacturer content, their properties (and possibly default values) appear on other objects from the same category as well. Now you can control this.

This is NOT possible in Revit... and it is driving users mad.