This is the 2015 installment of my series on all the little changes to ARCHICAD since 2011. Here’s a recap:

I get the sense that someone at GRAPHISOFT has been reading these posts, because each year they get easier to write. Once upon a time the features I wrote about were truly undocumented. Now they are just lesser known. Why do I say that? Because on the helpcenter there is literally a page for undocumented features. Which is kind of funny because that means they are documented. Anyways here are the undocumented features from the past few versions:

I definitely recommend reading through those pages; they aren’t that long. Hopefully by reading through the undocumented features, you’ll become more conscious of other changes you stumble across. As you’ll see, there are alterations everywhere. In the link for ARCHICAD 19 there is one in particular I want to point out, as it’s staring you in the face, but you might never find it otherwise: if you click on the icon to the left of the text in the Quick Options Palette, you’ll access the relevant dialog box.

Pens_Colors

Being able to go directly from the Quick Options to the related dialog box is a great enhancement. BIM is about interconnected data, so it makes complete sense to improve the accessibility of the various dialog boxes via Quick Options. This is a nice extension of similar previous features—like the ability to right click on an element to edit the associated Composite or Complex Profile. This is a general concept you’ll see throughout the minor tweaks to ARCHICAD 19: increased accessibility to the functionality already in place. Which, to hit you over the head with the theme of ARCHICAD 19, is about speed.

ARCHICAD 19 minor updates

Simply talking about the listed undocumented features (from the link above) felt a bit like cheating, so I went hunting for my own list of favorite new features. Almost every time I started researching and writing about a new feature for this post, I discovered that what I thought was a new feature was just an old feature that had become more legible and valuable. I think this is a testament to how good ARCHICAD always was, and also the value of the user interface improvements that ARCHICAD 19 provides. These changes might be extremely subtle, but they all result in improved efficiency. And anything that saves time saves or makes money—depending on your perspective, and fee structure. So this year I want to focus my little changes post not so much on hidden features but on the updates to the existing status quo that you might not notice or think to look for.

Menu Improvements

Here’s a simple, but handy addition. In ARCHICAD 19 from the Options Menu you can directly access and apply any of your Work Environment Profiles. This saves time and clicks. And also opens up new ways of working. Menu Improvements

I haven’t switched between Work Environment Profiles in years, and then it was only to switch between a Profile set up for my 15″ MacBook Pro and one set up for when I was connected to an external monitor. The WE were the same, except for screen size. Now that everything docks and the frame resizes, there’s potentially no need for different WE for different screen sizes. But because of all these changes, and the ease of applying Profiles—thanks to the above minor change—, it now might be worth creating and USING different Profiles depending on what you are doing. I know we’ve always had lots of default Profiles, but seriously are any of us using them? Previously the time lost switching Work Environment Profiles killed flow or just wasted as much time as they saved. Why waste ten or fifteen seconds to change the screen for five minutes before spending that same amount of time changing it back. Now with the ease of switching between profiles, it finally makes sense to start using a customized rendering profile, one for exporting and publishing, etc.

In conjunction with finally using multiple Work Environments, two other features you’ll want to remember are Enter Full Screen and Hide Palettes and Toolbars. Both of these features are great for meetings and working undisturbed. If you are going to have some intense ARCHICAD time, why not make your entire screen ARCHICAD and gain those precious extra pixels. And when you are sharing a model with a client, go ahead and hide all your Palettes and Toolbars without having to create a custom Work Environment for that situation. As proof of the synergy between all these new features, the mini-navigator (what the arrow is pointing to in the image below) remains when you hide all the Palettes and Toolbars. This means that with the entire screen devoted to the tabs, you still have easy access to all your saved Views, Layouts, and Project Map, making navigation during a meeting simple—and from the clients perspective, verging on magical.

Tabs, Toolbars, and Palettes

Tabs, docked Palettes and Toolbars are such a great addition to ARCHICAD 19 (yes I know PC users have had docking for a long time). But there are also a lot of little features that come along with this that we all might not know about, or features that have been around for a while but only now have extra value. For example, you might not yet have tried double-clicking on a Tab showing the yellow triangle warning sign, or right clicking on any Tab. Or you might have yet to discover the keyboard shortcuts for next and previous tab (TAB+CTRL and TAB+CTRL+SHIFT, respectively). Being able to jump between Tabs with shortcuts is a great time saver.

With docking, the difference between Toolbars and Palettes matters more now, as the two can’t be docked together. Here’s GRAPHISOFT Product Designer James Badcock with some thoughts on Toolbars and Palettes:

“There are technical and functional differences between Palettes and Toolbars. Like on Windows, Toolbars can only be placed around the extremity of the work environment – Toolbars also don’t stretch/expand like Palettes. The main Toolbox is a Palette, but there is also a Toolbar Toolbox set as well (with smaller icons).”

Did you catch that? If you want to conserve space, there is another way to access the Toolbox tools:

ToolboxAnd not only is there a Toolbar for Toolbox Tools (yeah that’s confusing), you can add icons for Tools to any customized Toolbar you want. So if you want to make a mini Toolbar for just 3D Tools and other for 2D Tools, and a third for various annotation Tools, you can do that. Now if you are really into your ARCHICAD esoterica, you’d know this was all doable in ARCHICAD 18 (and probably a number of previous versions). But the value of having a Toolbar for Tools rather than a Palette for Tools was minimal. Now if you want your Tools to sit in a Toolbar above your Tabs, nestled in with your other Toolbars, you can do that. But of course customized Toolbars are for more than just Tools. Quick Layers is another great reason to create a customized Toolbar. Again this isn’t new, but in ARCHICAD 19 it now makes a ton of sense to create a customized Quick Layers Toolbar which docks nicely with other Toolbars, and is remembered as part of the Work Environment. I’ll admit that I think the Quick Layers Palette is prettier, but I’ll live with the uglier more functional buttons of my customized Quick Layers Toolbar.

Quick Layers

Dialog Boxes you might want to look at more closely

It’s funny how often features from previous version(s) don’t make sense, aren’t used, or are just unnoticed, until some other feature pops into existence. Did you know you can rename Publisher Items? Sadly I didn’t. It’s been around since at least ARCHICAD 18. But I’ll treat it like a new feature in ARCHICAD 19. Right click on any Publisher Item to update the name (or select as many as you want, then right click). If you continue to use Autotext, it’ll all stay linked and automatic, as good BIM processes should.

Rename Publisher Items

Unlike renaming Publisher Items which many of us just missed in previous versions, the DXF-DWG Translation Setup is an existing feature that has cosmetic, organizational, and new features in ARCHICAD 19.

DXF-DWG Translation Setup AC18

ARCHICAD 18

DXF-DWG Translation Setup AC19

ARCHICAD 19

Now all the pertinent features are right next to the Translator name, rather than scattered about the dialog box. Like the Quick Options palette in ARCHICAD 19, the various translators now have a more direct link to their features. There’s two particularly cool options to point out: one improved and one new. The improved one is the blue arrows: those are the icons for the default import and export translators. The new feature is the green arrows. Those arrows allow you to control whether or not the translators are available for import or export. Now in addition to tagging your translators for specific projects and partners, you can make them available for import, export, or both. By the way, to add the Project and Partner info, click the Rename… button with the translator highlighted (this functions the same way as it did in ARCHICAD 18, if you knew how to do it in ARCHICAD 18).

Well that’s enough little changes for now. What do you think? What have I missed? What are your favorite new or revised features in ARCHICAD 19 that aren’t super flashy or readily noticed? Or what features from previous versions are you just discovering (or rediscovering) in ARCHICAD 19 now that you are hunting for new features to learn?

Are you following Graphisoft North America on Twitter? Click Here to keep track of all the latest ArchiCAD news in North America (and beyond). It’ll help you catch the next post in this series, perhaps sometime next Summer.

5 Comments

    • Jared Banks

      Link, awesome and super informative post.

      How about this as a new plan: each year I write the continuation of the post above and you write a sequel to your new commands article? Deal?

      Reply
      • Link

        Sounds like a good plan to me. Deal!

        Reply
  1. Jared Banks

    Tom,

    I’ve been thinking about your comment non-stop. It’s a great question and one we need to constantly ask ourselves. Discussions of spending time on BIM always gets me thinking about this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuhari We need to transcend our tools before we can truly control them. Your comment also aligns very well with this post: http://blog.graphisoftus.com/archicad-15/does-that-still-not-work-is-this-still-the-best-solution

    That post is about internal ARCHICAD issues rather than questioning the existence/value of BIM, which I think is a worthy question to ask.

    I have tried tackling aspects of it before over on Shoegnome, but often I just end up with more questions about what we as architects need to do to make the world better. At random, here’s one post: http://www.shoegnome.com/2013/07/25/bows-and-arrows-and-machine-guns/

    The key is simpler times. We don’t live in simpler times anymore. So we can’t rely on simpler tools because our competition isn’t going to. And if our competition is harnessing complexity while we aren’t, then we will lose. (Whether that complexity is BIM, better business practices, other efficiency creating solutions, etc.)

    Reply

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