A Question of Labeling: Hyperlinks and ArchiCAD (Part 3)

A Question of Labeling: Hyperlinks and ArchiCAD (Part 3)

This is Part 3 in my series on hyperlinks in ArchiCAD. Although I think it’s better to say Part 3 in my series on creating Powerful Digital Documents from ArchiCAD. Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.

I’m sure there are many examples of how powerful a PDF set created correctly from a well-done ArchiCAD file can be. Organized, searchable, internally hot-linked… it’s not just a digital facsimile of a paper set. It’s much more robust, just like an ArchiCAD model (or any BIM) is much more than the digitization or 3D-ization of traditional work. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating: PDFs created from ArchiCAD are searchable. So if you want to find a specific note, just search for it. Want to find a specific detail on a plan? Search for it. For instance if you want to find detail 1/A403, just search for “1 A403”. Even with the text on two lines, the search function will find it.

A Question of Labeling

Example 2 is more valuableIf you search in a PDF for 1 A403, you can find every instance of 1/A403 in the documents – BUT if the actual detail 1/A403 is just labeled detail 1 on the sheet A403, then the search function won’t find it. Even just searching for 1 on sheet A403 is probably going to be useless, turning up results for ever text string with that number in it. This suggests that it is better to label your details as Number/Sheet Number rather than just Number as you will have a more concrete term for which to search.

Example 3 has even more valueAs an alternative, you could label your details D01 through D99, continuing the numbering scheme across all sheets of details. This style of numbering would give each detail a uniquely searchable ID.

We are fortunate ArchiCAD makes this very easy to do. Setting up the details to automatically be numbered something like D01 instead of 01 is simple. On your first detail sheet, go to the Layout Settings and under the IDs of Drawings on this Layout tab, set up the ID Prefix and ID Style you want.

ID Prefix and ID StyleGetting the detail numbering to be continuous across multiple sheets is just as easy. Go to the Layout Settings of a given sheet and check “Continue Drawing ID sequence from previous Layout” under the IDs of Drawings on this Layout tab. The result will be something like this: D01 through D06 are on sheet A501, and sheet A502 starts with D07.

The reason to consider this numbering system is two-fold: D01 is easily searchable where as 1 is a useless term to search for. Think about how many times the number 1 might show up in a set of construction documents. Therefore from our new understanding of searchable documents, D01 adds value whereas 1 does nothing for us.

Continue Drawing ID sequence from previous LayoutThe other reason to consider a unique ID, rather than a generic one, is a consequence of the default available drawing titles. Unfortunately the built in drawing titles that Graphisoft provides can give you either a drawing number and sheet number or drawing number and back reference list. Well it can do all three, but the drawing title gets really ugly. For someone who knows GDL this should be a SUPER easy fix, since it’s just reconfiguring the data on NCS Drawing Title 2 16. But as it stands, if you want to use back references extensively like I discussed in the last post, then you’re looking at a drawing title with no sheet number (NCS Drawing Title 16, for instance). That is disappointing, but maybe a non-issue. If you think about labeling all drawings per type instead of per sheet, then adding the sheet number in the title is unnecessary. Imagine if all your elevations were E01 through E10, all your sections where S01 through S22, all your details were D01, D02, etc… the clarity of markers on various sheets and the number of ways to jump to the view expands greatly (hyperlinks, uniquely searchable text strings). Couple that with the reasons for doing sheets in grouped series, and a drawing’s ID and sheet number reveal a lot of information about what the drawing will contain.

That sounds very BIM, doesn’t it? Taking a dumb concept and making it smarter; embedding more data into it. The reason we didn’t do this in the past wasn’t because it’s a bad idea, but because it was too cumbersome to do manually. But we’re doing BIM; we’re using ArchiCAD. This can all be automated. Labeling drawings 1 through 24 or A through Z per sheet is just a convention. We do it because that’s how we’ve always done it. Not because it’s the best solution. On your next project, try a different way of labeling and see what happens.