Learn ArchiCAD, meet other users, find jobs? It’s time you went to User Group Meetings

Learn ArchiCAD, meet other users, find jobs? It’s time you went to User Group Meetings

Do you attend your local User Group meetings?

ArchiCAD User GroupYou should. I hear lots of excuses about why people don’t. The commute. The time. The distance. The kids. That they are too good at ArchiCAD and won’t learn anything. Blah blah blah. Sorry, but I don’t buy it. User Groups are free and amazing resources to not only connect with other users but also a great way to improve your knowledge of ArchiCAD. Seriously. I have run 16 meetings in Minnesota since 2009 and even though I tend to do most of the talking and sharing, there’s always, ALWAYS at least one or two great tips I learn from the other attendees. Beyond that, the camaraderie of other architects, designers, and drafters is reason enough to attend. In Minnesota, we get together for dinner beforehand, sometimes drinks afterwards.  At least a few working collaborations have developed. And quite a few attendees have found new employees or employers (in this economy can you afford to NOT network?). If you’re unemployed, attending is a fantastic way to network, promote your abilities to your peers and keep your skills up to date. I haven’t kept track of how many employment opportunities have come out of people chatting at the meetings, but it’s an impressive number.

Sell us on some examples, Jared!

Here’s one of the tricks I learned at the last meeting I ran:

ArchiCAD merge to one PDFWhen making PDFs from the publisher, you can have all the sheets print as separate PDFs or merged into one. I used to think to get a multi-page PDF I had to go to file>print>save as pdf. I was wrong. In fact this Merge to one PDF file is even more robust. You can choose to print many multiple page PDFs from one set, rather than just one giant PDF. Which means you can easily batch print one PDF that is four 11 x 17 sheets, another that is eighteen 24 x 26 sheets, and then some single 8.5 x 11 sheets. Or perhaps just group your PDFs by drawing type–plans as one PDF, elevations as another, sections as a third, etc…. There’s a great explanation of this on the ArchiCAD-Talk forum from a few years ago. It’s still 100% relevant.

And here’s another tip from the recent Boston ArchiCAD user group I attended:

On a PC, if you go to the window menu you can select Full Screen & Hide All Palettes. Turns out had I read Cadimage’s blog from about 2 1/2 years ago, I could have learned that too.

How could I have never noticed this?

I’ll tell you. Blind spots and too busy being ‘efficient’ with my typical processes. We all learn differently and discover different aspects of the program. Too many of us learn in isolation and are self taught. User groups are one of those rare moments when we get to be in a room together and see how other people work. We all model walls. And we all put views on layouts. But there’s more than one way to do everything–that’s one of the big reasons why I love working in ArchiCAD.

ArchiCAD User GroupHopefully some of you reading this post learned one or two new tricks. I also hope plenty of you are thinking “really Jared, you didn’t know that trick! That’s so basic!” Yup, it is basic and I didn’t know either option existed. If you’ve been following me the past few years, you know I’m not some noob trying to look smart. I know ArchiCAD and I have holes in my knowledge. Some are big, glaring ones (I’ll generously call myself a novice at GDL) and some are tiny, little gaps that usually go unnoticed. Attending user groups is a great way to fill in those holes, both large and miniscule.

Do you NOT HAVE local User Group meetings?

You can find a list of upcoming North American User Groups here. Not in North America? Here’s a list of events for you. If you don’t have a local user group, talk to your reseller and work with them to start one. The best user groups are collaborations between GRAPHISOFT and the users. Do you not have a local reseller? Talk directly to GRAPHISOFT and see if they can connect you with some other users. Too timid to do that? Send me an e-mail and I’ll help. Clearly, I’m a huge fan of user groups. Perhaps I’ll share in a future post how being in a room with 3 other ArchiCAD users I’d never met started a chain reaction that led to me writing for GRAPHISOFT North America’s official Blog. It’s a good story! And still unfolding, thanks to user groups.

What can you expect at a User group? Lots of things. Here’s some recaps and thoughts from some of meetings I’ve been a part of.