The Master Complex Profile


ArchiCADI use Complex Profiles a lot. Here’s a typical project. It has 112 Complex Profiles, although 29 weren’t being used by the time I issued Construction Documents.

ArchiCADA lot of Complex Profiles (CPs) are created during a typical project (if you don’t agree, we need to talk). Some are standard sections that can be reused project to project. Others are unusual sections that are needed every so often, but not on every project. And the rest are one-offs. Even if we ignore the rares and the unusuals, the list of standard complex profile sections can get fairly long. The use of Morphs and saved objects can further reduce this list, but only so far. While it’d be nice to keep all of the Complex Profiles in your standard template, doing so gets very unwieldy.


What to Do?

A year or so ago I saw a file that ArchiCAD expert Til Breton did. Of course after looking at whatever the file was shared for, I started snooping. I LOVE seeing other people’s templates. There are so many good ideas to learn from. Well Til did something I’d never seen before. He had a Master Complex Profile that contained a bunch of fills that he regularly used in Complex Profiles. It was a simple list of fills with names next to each, describing what each fill was for. This was great. It made creating new Complex Profiles that much easier. No guess work, no reinvention. Just copy the fills you need and start building your new Complex Profile.

archicadLet’s go one step further…

I like the idea of a master Complex Profile with all the fills that should be used. I hadn’t thought of that before. It’s a great way to direct coworkers to follow the template and speed up the production of new Complex Profiles. So what’s the next logical step? Create a Master Complex Profile that contains lots of Complex Profile sections and just copy them out into new Complex Profiles as needed. With this Master Complex Profile, your template can contain a few very common CPs and then one giant Master Complex Profile with everything else you might need. This will prevent a new file from having 100s of Complex Profiles, but allow you to maintain all the good ones. And since no one in their right mind would PLACE this Master Complex Profile in the model, it can contain as many individual sections as you want. And remember that in the Complex Profile window you can use text, dimensions, lines and other documentation tools to add notes and information that won’t appear in your model. With this solution, your starting list of Complex Profiles might be as short as a dozen, including this Master Complex Profile. A list short enough that it doesn’t require scrolling. Now that’s a good sign of a clean template file.

Finally, it seems like there’s a GRAND solution that combines both Til’s list of fills and my Master Complex Profile. Maybe into one Grand Unified Master Complex Profile. Or just two Masters.

A Word on Naming Conventions

Once you’ve created your Master Complex Profile you need to name it. Til and I use a similar naming concept, but with a slightly different bent. His Master Complex Profile is called: ! — MASTER matieres and I title mine: z_MASTER COMPLEX PROFILE. The weird naming logic puts Til’s Master CP always first in his list of CPs while mine appears last in the list. You want to side with one of us so that your Master Complex Profile is easy to find. No need to argue over who’s order makes more sense (I think he’s more correct). Til also has a few generic Complex Profiles in his template. All of those CPs also start with ! to signify that they are generic/standard and not customized for the specific project.

Bonus Explainer: Why not keep your complex profiles and prototypical fill types in an independent worksheet or empty plan? Fills in the Profile Manager contain extra information that is lost if you copy the fills out. Each fill side can have a unique pen, line type, and material. Each fill has information about core/finish/other and priority numbers. All that is lost if you copy the Complex Profile out of the Profile Manager into a normal window. It is worth noting that there are a few things that are lost when you merge all your complex profiles: Horizontal and Vertical Stretch, and Opening Reference. But that’s not the end of the world. Drafting lines can be used to illustrate where those should be, if it’s not standard or obvious.

Further Reading: Want to know more about the project with all the Complex Profiles that I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Follow this link and you can see some more images and download a BIMx file showing off the new Limited Navigation feature that was just added with ArchiCAD 16 Hotfix #2.


  1. Jared Banks

    For some further thoughts on this, check out what Karl Ottenstein has to add on the ArchiCAD-Talk forum.

    I never thought about the huge advantage this technique has because it’s shareable via an .att file. If you’re an ArchiCADgeek, then you know that’s HUGE.

  2. Scott Newland

    I really like the idea of the last recommendation; a master CP with a lot of profiles grouped within it. Offhand, however, I’m not sure what I’d do with it. Is it a copy-and-paste process from here to a new profile? I can ‘t see how one would eyedropper the attributes out of one. Any tips on the most clean way of putting such a master to work?

  3. Tim

    I’ve read your blog for quite a while. This is easily one of my favorites. Thanks for doing what you do!

  4. Jared Banks

    Scott and Tim, thanks. Means a lot to read comments like this! So glad to be a help.

    To answer your question Scott, eyedroppering will work, but it’ll be a slow pain. Instead… open a complex profile, select all, copy, close that window and open the master CP, then paste. The pasted fills (from one CP window to another) will retain all it’s ‘special’ information (like materials, priorities, custom edges, etc.).

  5. Stefan Boeykens

    Nice thinking out-of-the-box. I guess a seperate worksheet with all temporary fills would also work out nicely. I’m doing a historical renovation project, where I need several complex profiles for all curving and bending profiles in the facade. I quickly start to lose the overview, though. I’ll try to apply these tips into it.

  6. Eric Dahl

    Good info, thanks. I use a lot of complex profiles and only have one real problem with my wall profiles. How do you keep from having intersecting walls bleed on 3D and elevations? Sometimes it does it and other times it doesn’t. I can hide it on elevations but not in 3d.
    Thank you,

  7. Tim Ball

    Hi Jared. I also like the master profile idea, but if you have a lot of profiles you could start to find it getting too big to see them all. You could then divide them into groups like walls, roofs, external works, etc..

    My biggest problem with profiles is controlling their plan views. You can just use a cut with no projection to limit that but wouldn’t it be good to have more control.

    My principle is why draw in 2D when you can do the same in a complex profile and have it in 3D?

  8. Eric Bobrow

    Jared –
    This is totally brilliant. I love it!
    Thanks for an inspiring post with great illustrations to make things perfectly clear.
    Eric Bobrow

  9. Jared Banks

    Eric, thanks. I always know I’m on to something if I can show you a new trick or two! 🙂

  10. Jared Banks

    Tim, I agree, it’d be nice to have more display options for CPs. A lot of my CPs end up intentionally not showing on plan, for one reason or another.

    I like the idea too of breaking up the Master Complex Profile into groups. This could be especially useful if you do multiple project types (residential and light commercial, for instance).

    Also for those reading the comments, Eric Dahl and I are talking about his issue elsewhere where we can share images…

  11. Morden

    This is a great tip. I also like the idea of grouping profiles into several master profiles. Seperate ones for walls, beams and columns, then maybe sub-groups of those if necessar.

    Speaking of long scroll lists – I way to organize object faves would be good too….

  12. Jared Banks

    Morden, I’ll write a post about Favorites for either next week or the following week. I’ve been meaning to write one on that anyways! But… as a quick response, if you go to the arrow in the top right corner of the Favorites Palette you can open up the Favorites Preferences. There are a lot of cool functions in there, but the one you’ll be interested in is “Show Favorites of active Tool only”. Check that. It’ll make scrolling through favorites MUCH MUCH easier. Of course that’s just the type of the iceberg. More soon!

  13. Jack

    More on CP display: Lately I’ve been thinking that AC needs to add a “cutting plane” feature for profiles, e.g. a plan cut line that you could move up & down in the profile editor to determine how your profile will display in plan. Kind of like the ‘Floor Plan Cut Plane’ except it would be adjustable for each profile.

    Seems like I’d be able to make better use of CPs if I knew they would display properly in the plan.

  14. Jared Banks

    Jack, interesting concept. I could definitely see the value of it, but I’ll have to think more on whether that would change how I’m doing things now… thanks.

  15. lec

    Hi Jared
    You wrote:
    “Also for those reading the comments, Eric Dahl and I are talking about his issue elsewhere where we can share images…”
    Is there a place where I can take a look?

  16. Jared Banks

    Lec, It looks like the issue with the CPs was that the CPs were on a layer with a layer intersection group of 0. This means two walls on the same layer won’t connect no matter what. And they’ll bleed through other walls on different layers. And generally look like garbage.

  17. Scott Bulmer


    Thanks so much for sharing this great concept. Sorry to be so late to the party.

    To take it a step further and for organizational purposes one could have a few different CP masters like foundations, walls, moldings/trims, columns, special cutting elements, etc.




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