Ode to ArchiCAD Attributes

Ode to ArchiCAD Attributes

Have I convinced you yet that Attributes are the most important aspect of ArchiCAD? Have you read this post yet? Do you agree that Attributes are more critical than 3D views and cost savings for contractors and clients? Do you see how Attributes will be the key to models that go on beyond 3D, to taking a model from BIM to BEM? Designing via Attributes gives you a different perspective. Designing with the power of Attributes helps you focus on systems rather than individual elements. Attributes are the heart of templates. Templates are the key to BIM. The switch to BIM is about understanding the shift to Process from Happening. And the adoption and mastery of BIM is a core tenant of architects maintaining our relevance in the 21st century. And, no, that is not hyperbole. There is a clear line from ArchiCAD mastery to BIM mastery to architect relevance. But that’s for another post. I often get caught up in the grand visions and big picture ideas. So let’s get REALLY pedantic today.

archicad attributes toolbar

If you don’t know about the Attributes Toolbar, this image shows you how to turn it on.

When did I make the switch from Attributes being a background aspect of ArchiCAD to the primary focus? When did I start paying attention to them daily instead of weekly or monthly? And by pay attention, I don’t mean necessarily making changes everyday. I mean looking at, reviewing, searching, connecting, using more of, etc. When did this shift happen? It occurred when I turned on a Toolbar about five or six years ago. Yes. It was that simple.

I know there are different ways of using our beloved program, but here’s one of those blunt times where there is a right and wrong answer. If you don’t have the Attributes Toolbar on, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. I can see the argument that perhaps only BIM managers should have the Attributes Toolbar on because in a big firm you can’t have everyone changing Attributes all the time. But if that’s the case, then you should have the Toolbar up, always use Teamwork 2, and just not allow editing of Attributes by the typical worker. But they should be regularly reminded of their existence, and be able to view them. Attributes are one of those fundamental shifts from CAD to BIM. Thinking about Attributes is thinking about BIM. Not thinking about Attributes restricts the shift from the old way to the new way, from CAD to BIM (to whatever is beyond).

archicad standard tool scheme

What ArchiCAD shows you by default.

I have a theory when it comes to using ArchiCAD: if you don’t see it, you won’t use it. As a result I turn on everything that I can. Here’s an example: did you know that the Info Box by default doesn’t show you everything that it can? In my mind it should. Or if you don’t want to see everything, you should very deliberately turn on and off what you see. Very deliberately and carefully. And with the knowledge that if you turn it off, you are essentially removing that function from ArchiCAD. Not because it’s actually gone, but because you won’t see it. And if you don’t see it you won’t use it. And if you don’t use it, you will forget it exists. This happens to all of us. All the more reason that you need to turn on the Attributes Toolbar, and find some excuse to view Attributes daily. They are too important to ignore, avoid, or forget.

That’s all for today. I don’t want to overload this post because seriously turning on the Attributes Toolbar and remembering to keep Attributes close at hand will revolutionize how you think about and use ArchiCAD. However…if you are still hungry for more ArchiCAD knowledge today, here are some related posts for you:

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  1. Great post Jared. Attributes are most definitely the ‘molecules’ of the BIM universe.
    It would be great to see a follow-up article to this on dealing with ‘Attribute Pollution’
    New features in ArchiCAD 17 have at last given the CAD manager an effective way to deal with this perennial bugbear, but the facility still has a way to go before it’s a truly effective one.


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