Even more Find and Select: Building Materials and IFC Properties
Find & Select is just wonderful. But you knew that already because you’ve read this post from two months ago. That post was just an introduction though. Let’s keep talking about how awesome Find & Select is.
New Find and Select Criteria highlight how freaking awesome ArchiCAD is becoming with Each New Release
How’s that for a section heading? It’s true though. As ArchiCAD becomes more mature, we start to see a deeper connection between the various aspects of the program. A new release is not just about some new features, but about how new (or old) features connect with other parts of ArchiCAD. In ArchiCAD 17, we were introduced to Building Materials. In ArchiCAD 18, a couple of tweaks added even more value to BMats. Now in ArchiCAD 18, Building Materials can be assigned an ID, a Manufacturer, and a Description. This means that we can use plain English for the name of our Building Materials. No more codes, no more hyphens, no more excessive complexity. Just simple text—something that a client would say: brick, concrete, steel. Something that can be shown clearly in an automatic Label or Interactive Schedule. If you look at the new ArchiCAD 18 USA template, this is exactly what you’ll see. The ArchiCAD 17 Building Material 41-30 10 | Glass is now simply Glass in ArchiCAD 18. If you need the CSI number 41-30 10, that can go in the ID. Likewise if the Building Material has a Manufacturer (or a supplier), you can add that information in the Manufacturer field. Finally if there is value in having a more complex description (perhaps some 64 character sentence), that can be added in the Description field. This Description might be something internally or externally focused. It could be something to aid the construction of the project or just a piece of text that is aimed at helping whoever is in the file pick the right Building Material. For instance the Description could be “client to hand pick lumber for trim” or “use this BMat for interior applications only”.
That tangent on Building Materials in ArchiCAD 18 matters because now in ArchiCAD 18 we can use Find & Select to search by either Building Material or Building Material ID. You can thus search by the plain text name (Brick or Building Materials that start with Br) or by whatever ID scheme you use (so perhaps CSI number, and therefore all BMats with an ID starting with 04).
Keep Find & Select in mind when customizing your Building Materials. How can you use the combination of Building Material and Building Material ID to pars your data? Think about the lessons from my earlier post on Find & Select and use that knowledge when refining your Building Materials.
Did you catch my Omission?
In ArchiCAD 18 we can use Find & Select to search by Building Material name or ID, but not by Building Material Manufacturer or Description. This is unfortunate. This is also extremely esoteric. Perhaps in a future version of ArchiCAD we’ll gain that functionality. Hopefully from my discussion above you can see the potential in that. I think though lamenting that omission is a misplacement of energy. While you can’t search by a Building Material’s Manufacturer, you can search all elements for their Manufacturer (PSET_ManufacturerTypeInformation) IFC property, which is way more powerful.
In ArchiCAD 18 we can use Find & Select to create Criteria Sets based on any IFC property. This is a massive expansion of Find and Select. It is also another giant step towards Open BIM and the deeper integration of IFC within ArchiCAD. And hopefully it’ll be one more reason for the average ArchiCAD user to start using IFC properties whenever possible—which is essentially always possible when we’re talking about text based data. If you are setting up text based data via IFC Properties, elements with that data are easily searchable (and selectable) on a global level within ArchiCAD. So, for instance, you can easily select all elements with a warranty that ends in 2019. Or with a warranty (because some elements have that IFC Property), but without any data inputted yet (because that IFC Property has no value).
Let me phrase that all in another way. If you want to attach text based data to your elements, using IFC Properties is the way to go because:
- Any IFC Property you use or create can be used as a criteria in Find & Select.
- Any IFC Property can also be scheduled in an Interactive Schedule.
- Any IFC Property can be attached to any 3D Element.
I think I’ll have to write a post or maybe record a video about why those three points together are paradigm shifting.
Using Find & Select to search for all those IFC Properties within ArchiCAD is wonderful, but what is of greater value is that the information, as part of an IFC model, can be exported easily and used within other programs, such as free clash detection and IFC viewing software like Tekla BIMsight and Solibri Model Viewer—both of which are available for download at www.myarchicad.com.
If IFC intimidates you, let’s fix that over the next few months.
Does all this talk about IFC leave you confused, lost, or tired? Read some of what ArchiCAD master and IFC wizard Rob Jackson has to say on the subject. He covers some great IFC topics on the Bond Bryan BIM blog. Also I’ll aim to write much more about IFC. And hopefully as we get deeper into this topic, you’ll start to see how so many of the articles I’ve written (and will write) in 2014 are deeply interconnected; how much of what I’ve been discussing has been preparing you to use ArchiCAD in a more complex, but easier to manage way.
I used to be intimidated by IFC, but then ArchiCAD 18 came out and I started to experiment. I’m sure I’m doing some things wrong, but I’m not worried. I’m learning and finding utility in more and more aspects of ArchiCAD. If you want a glimpse of the deeper possibilities of IFC in ArchiCAD 18, read this Help Center article. Or just skim it. It will overwhelm you. Don’t worry. We’re going to tackle it. And I’m sure even a quick skim will teach you something. The image about IFC Mapping taught me about how it’s even more powerful than I thought (and how I could push my rudimentary use of it even farther). But IFC Mapping is for another day.
Okay, one last link. If you need more convincing, ask any ArchiCAD Guru what they think the Top 5 features of ArchiCAD 18 are. If they know anything about ArchiCAD 18, IFC Mapping will be very high on their list. Q.E.D.
Are you following Graphisoft North America on Twitter? Click Here to keep track of all the latest ArchiCAD News in North America (and beyond).