Find & Select, your best friend. Or one of them.

Towards the end of my post on getting rid of missing and duplicate Objects from an ArchiCAD file, I started to write about ArchiCAD’s Find & Select function. I quickly realized three things: if I kept writing about Find & Select, the original article would get too long; Find & Select deserved a post unto itself; I’d long ago started, but never finished a post on Find & Select. Let’s first finish my thoughts on how to use Find & Select to complete our hunt for missing placed Objects and then look at the larger context of Find & Select.

Bonus Round: Deleting Missing Placed Objects

In the previous post, we talked about deleting or replacing missing or duplicate Objects in the various linked or embedded Libraries. If you remove duplicates or replace what’s missing, there’s nothing more to do. Your file will be error free (well free of these kind of errors). The same goes if you just delete the missing Objects instead of replacing them, IF those Objects don’t have any placed instances. However if you have missing Objects placed in your file, and you don’t want to relink those Objects by finding the missing files, you’ll need to find and delete the placed Objects. Fortunately there are two things within ArchiCAD that will help you. All the missing Objects will appear as big dots in whatever 2D view they are placed in (the color of the dot depends on the assigned pen of the missing Object). This makes visually hunting for the missing Objects easy. But just because you can find all the sots, deleting them all isn’t necessarily a simple task.

ArchiCAD Archive

If you don’t load your libraries or are missing objects, you’ll see a dot wherever there is a missing part. Even one dot is too many.

The image above (which is originally from this post on ArchiCAD Archive files) is obviously an extreme, contrived example. But regardless, when you have more than a few elements to select, the manual method of clicking each one is a pain. Plus if you are selecting them all together by holding down shift, you better not accidentally let go of the shift key between selecting element 12 and 13. That sucks. And we’ve all done it.

Finding Missing Objects as Fast as Possible

The answer of course is to not select the missing elements manually but to use the wonderful Find & Select function in ArchiCAD. Using Find and Select you can select all the missing Objects with a 3D component via the 3D window. This will be faster than going floor by floor, which is what you have to do with missing Objects that are only 2D. And actually for missing Objects that are only 2D, you might find yourself hunting through every Detail, Section, Elevation, Interior Elevation, 3D Document, Work Sheet, Layout, etc. for the missing Objects. Slow, manual, and oh so time consuming. Here are some tips to speed up the process:

  1. If you are ever hunting globally for certain data (in this case missing Objects), turn on all Layers before doing your search. That way you won’t miss hidden elements.
  2. Once you have turned on all Layers, change views using the Project Map. This way you won’t accidentally change the visible layers. AND you can systematically go through ever possible location, regardless of if there is a saved view or not (the missing Object might be on an orphaned Elevation or Detail that is found nowhere but the Project Map). By the way, this is one of the only times I’ll ever tell a user to choose the Project Map over the View Map for navigation. If you aren’t comfortable with the difference, educate yourself via this post and video.
  3. When using Find and Select to locate Missing Objects, using the Criteria Library Part / is / Missing. That’ll make your job much easier. You can set up a Criteria Set that looks for all Missing Library Parts across all element types that can having missing Library Parts (there are 13 as of ArchiCAD 18).

Missing Objects

Find & Select, Your Best Friend. Or one of them.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of using Find & Select to complete our task of chasing down all the missing Objects, it’s time to focus on the power of Find and Select in general. A list seems like the best way to cover everything.

  1. Find & Select can be used to add to or subtract from a selection. After you set up your criteria, you can choose to deselect elements that fit that criteria (minus button), or select them (plus button). So you could do a Select All (Cmd+A on a mac), then deselect all the Missing Objects. This might be nice for copying information out of a bad file. Remember, sometimes it’s easier to deselect what you don’t want than to select what you do want.
  2. There is a huge list of Criteria options, which changes subtly depending on what Element Type is chosen (all Criteria Sets need to include an Element Type, even if it is set to All). Spend a few moments exploring the list.
  3. In the bottom left of the Find & Select window, it’ll tell you how many elements are selected, and of those how many are editable. Those two numbers aren’t always the same—elements might be locked or not part of your Workspace in a Teamwork 2 file.
  4. If you eyedropper an element with Find & Select open, the Criteria visible will be set to match that element. So if you eyedropper an element, you can use Find & Select to find other similar elements.
  5. Find & Select works in 2D and 3D, in every view type.
  6. ArchiCAD has a few built-in Criteria Sets: all Elements, all 3D, all 2D, all unlocked and visible.
  7. You can save, import, and export additional Criteria Sets. So for example, you could create a Criteria Set for finding all missing Objects and save that. And then share it with all your friends. Or you could just import a Criteria Set like that that someone else has already made. You know, like this one: Missing Objects.xml (for ArchiCAD 18). Download that file, go to the right triangle next to Criteria Sets at the top of the Find and Select window, click on import, find the file, hit okay, and you’re done. Well first unzip the file you just downloaded…
  8. Learn the keyboard Short Cut for Find & Select (the default is CMD+F on a mac). You will use it often.
  9. For additional detail, read the Find & Select article on the Graphisoft Help Center. It covers some more basics and is a great compliment to this article.

This Goofy Image

Select Only TwoThe above image is a collection of random elements in ArchiCAD. How do you select just one or two or three or four using Find and Select? What similarities do the Window, the 02 Change, and the Noguchi coffee table have that would allow them to be selected as a group? Could it be by pen number, layer, ID, Renovation Status, Story, etc.? Or perhaps a combination of things? Perhaps all three have an ID that starts with 0, aren’t on the Roof Layer, and have Pen Number 1. I don’t know. But I’m sure there is some Criteria that links just those three elements. Or more realistically some random set of 3 legitimate elements in a legitimate project. If you can understand how elements relate (or differ), then you can use Find & Select to manage them.

ArchiCAD is an incredible tool for parsing data. Used as an agent of order, Find & Select becomes a very powerful way to slice your model in all sorts of ways. We tend to think of similar Objects sharing a common Layer, but they could just as easily be grouped by any number of other parameters, attributes, etc. that ArchiCAD recognizes. This concept of looking at data differently was laid out really well a few years ago by fellow ArchiCAD user Ken Huggins. On his (sadly now dormant) blog, ArchiCHAZZ (which you should totally check out), he has a handful of awesome posts about how you can manage a project with as few as ONE Layer. It’s a bit extreme, but the idea is spot on. There are so many other ways to organize and filter data that get ignored when we overuse Layers. Exploring and understanding the value of Find & Select will help you realize how right Ken is. There are so many ways to look at your project. Layers are but one. We’ll talk about all this in more detail later this summer—and revisit Ken’s blog because there are so many great issues that he raises in his few jam-packed posts. But once again this post is long enough as it is. So let’s wrap things up with a trip back to our youth.

It’s like one of those child games

As a fun mental exercise, think about setting up Find & Select Criteria Sets like it’s a game. Like a treasure hunt mind bender from some kid’s puzzle book. You see a red ball, a blue chicken, a red dog, a purple tree, an orange tractor, a rainbow, a yellow shirt, a red and green apple, a brown banana, a clear drop of water… how do you group just the tractor and the shirt? Or how about everything but the rainbow? Just the chicken, dog, and tree? You could do it by selecting only man-made objects, monochromatic objects, or things that are alive. Likewise you could segregate that data set by primary colored and non-primary colored things, physical objects, organic and inorganic, things that make noise, etc. Find & Select is exactly the same as that, just for the world of ArchiCAD. The tricky part is just figuring out how to set the criteria so that you only get what you want. Sometimes that’s easy and straightforward (all walls with a certain Composite); sometimes a bit more complex (all walls with a certain Composite, with an ID starting with W, and a height not linked to a story).

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  1. Chris

    When hunting for missing objects I suggest you don’t just turn on all layers to make sure you’re seeing everything. You should also
    – set your renovation filter to show everything.
    – check your “Filter and Cut Elements in 3D” settings aren’t hiding anything

    • Jared Banks

      Chris, good points. I’ve written about this topic before, but your comment makes me want to write a post on invisibility in ARCHICAD. I envision the discussion being in a few parts: why things might vanish and also how to make things disappear. One view is negative, one is positive. And both are important.

      And I am guessing the new features and changes to ARCHICAD 20 will be a perfect time to discuss this issue.

  2. Chris

    ….except I’ve just belatedly realised that even when I’m using the Project Map to change views, the RENOVATION FILTER CHANGES each time! (**sighs and starts over**)



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