We All Have Blind Spots

So have you watched any of these videos yet? I’m sure a few of you watched the first one and thought “thanks for wasting my time, Jared. That was all way too basic for me.” Well guess what.

We All Have Blind Spots

You do, I do, all your favorite ArchiCAD mentors, champions, and heroes. We all have them. One of the keys to mastery of ArchiCAD, well of anything really, is not being afraid to expose your ignorance. And being humble enough to accept that you have blindspots. That’s why I love watching beginner videos and not being afraid to ask questions. There are also always little (and not so little) changes to ArchiCAD that we all miss. That’s why for the past two years I’ve helped spread the word about all the undocumented changes in each new version of ArchiCAD. I’ll guarantee that you’ll see a similar post when ArchiCAD 17 comes out. I actually just wrote the framework of the post (the boilerplate stuff that isn’t specific to ArchiCAD 17) so that I’ll remember to post it later.

A Quick Example

ArchiCAD Element ID ManagerThe first example foreshadows an upcoming post. In a discussion on the ArchiCAD LinkedIn group, the conversation got around to Element IDs. If you’re working with COBie, then elements need to have unique IDs. I don’t know anything about COBie, but I do know about labeling elements in ArchiCAD. So I mentioned the Element ID Manager (we’ll go into more detail about that later). But the funny thing about this conversation was that the guy who knew the most about COBie, IFC, BIG BIM, and the data side of ArchiCAD had a huge blindspot. And it was called the Element ID Manager. A function of ArchiCAD that fit perfectly in his wheelhouse, but he’d completely missed it. This BIM Guru’s comment after exploring the Element ID Manager for himself sums it all up: “I now look back on all the time I have wasted in the past and think why!!!??”

Trust me. You’ve got blind spots.

Another Quick Example

I love the story above for a lot of reasons. But I’m the hero in it. And in a blog post about everyone having blind spots, I need to step up and share my own ignorance. I was having a conversation with some other ArchiCAD pros about the future of ArchiCAD. Everyone in the conversation is well recognized and respected in the ArchiCAD world. Everyone was discussing wants and needs, hopes and laments. The topic of dimensions came up. I said “you know I wish we could make the background of text in dimension strings opaque.” Someone responded with a question mark and a quick screen capture of exactly what I was asking for.

ArchiCAD Dimension Text with Background FillI’ve been waiting for the ability to put a fill behind dimension text in ArchiCAD since back in 2006 when I first started using the program. If only I had learned that we got that feature on September 14th, 2009 with the release of ArchiCAD 13 instead of waiting until January 1st, 2013 to be told about it (by another ArchiCAD expert in a private discussion thread for other ArchiCAD experts). I believe the immortal word “D’oh!” is appropriate here.

If you go to the Dimension Selection Settings, right there under Type and Font are the two options for Opaque and Frame. Sitting there in plane sight for so many versions! And not only can you change the entire string, if you select an individual piece of dimension text, you can change just that one piece as well. For even more on the dimension tool, here’s a video I did last year that goes over some basic, intermediate, and advanced techniques with the dimension tool. Clearly I missed a thing or two! 🙂 And make sure to read through the comments below the video because there are some bonus tips there as well.

One Last Thing

Another great way to expose and eradicate blind spots? User Groups. Here’s some examples from one of my first BIM Engine posts.


  1. Jason Smith

    Hi jared

    Element ID manager, excellent tool. Everything in your model should have an ID (AC will do this automatically of course) But when using schedules and lists it becomes very important. I learnt how to use the Manager from one on Eric Bobrow’s videos. Eric’s video shows him selected windows in the order he wants them to be numbered, in the INT version of AC I use (I’m in NZ) we can’t do it that way. The numbering goes left to right as you go down the plan. A pain if you want it numbered another way.

    The AC automatic ID’s are not perfect. If you copy a wall it will get the same ID. You can use the Element ID manager to change all walls by selected them all then open the manager and added the required text or numbers into the spaces available. You can also make list with ID column showing and change the IDs there.

    IDs can also be linked to labels. Example a 2d fill with the auto label box ticked in the tool box can have the label set to read the ID number or name. I use 2D fills on a layer called areas draw a fill with auto label set the label to ID label, change the ID in the 2d fill to BUILDING or SITE. Then create a list the 2D fill and have a column for the ID text and the m2 (or sqft). Easy way to calculate areas just add the list to you layout.

    Schedules and lists can be used in a number of ways. Schedule information for quantities for pricing. Check the BIM model has be modelled to the office standard, correct layers, IDs, materials the list goes on.

  2. Jared Banks

    Jason, you are right! Order of selection makes a difference in the USA but not INT version (to write this post [http://blog.graphisoftus.com/archicad-education/tips-and-tricks/template-creation-template-migration-and-more] I downloaded the INT version). I wonder if that’s a bug. I’ll report it.

  3. Jared Banks

    Jason, I did some more research. And the ordering does work on the INT versions. I did a lot of testing. Make sure you’re clicking on each window and not using the marquee function of the arrow tool to select the windows. It makes a difference. Let me know what you find. And maybe we can skype or google hangout for a few minutes if it’s still not working.

  4. Patrick May

    I love the ID manager, almost as much as find and select. The two together are a perfect combination.
    I have been frustrated with one aspect of the ID manager unique to the last three versions. One great use of the tool was reassigning id’s to doors and windows in the order you select them. Since ac 16 it does not seem to number them accordingly, in fact I am not sure how it determines which object is assigned each unique number or letter… Maybe MY blind spot, but it sure seems like a glitch

  5. Cody Fox

    Great advice on on not exposing your ignorance on this app. I’ve always thought there’s a never-ending learning process and there’s nothing wrong with that.


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