All the Changes in ARCHICAD 20 that we love, but won’t be Advertised
This is the 2016 installment of my series on all the little changes to ARCHICAD. Here’s a recap:
- All the little Changes — ARCHICAD 15
- All the little Changes — ARCHICAD 16
- All the little Changes — ARCHICAD 17
- All the little Changes — ARICHCAD 18
- All the little Changes — ARICHCAD 19
And to accompany those blog posts, here are the official lists of undocumented features on the Help Center. I love that there’s documentation of undocumented features. There’s clearly some beautiful Hungarian logic there. As always, I recommend reading through the undocumented features list in its entirety. There are gems in there that you might find extremely valuable.
- Undocumented Features — ARCHICAD 17
- Undocumented Features — ARCHICAD 18
- Undocumented Features — ARCHICAD 19
- Undocumented Features — ARCHICAD 20
Below are my thoughts on the features listed that will most impact your daily work, along with some other lesser known additions to ARCHICAD 20 that while documented, are still under-promoted.
Find & Select
Anytime ARCHICAD offers new ways to find or organize data, I am thrilled. You probably noticed that the UI of Find & Select has been updated—both cosmetically and functionally. Now to add Criteria, you click the Add button then either double click on what you want or select as many Criteria as you’d like and hit Add. Previously you had to click the Add Button, then change the Criteria that appeared to what you wanted. Additionally, in the revamped UI, the list of Criteria is nicely organized and searchable. The better organization is clear in the images below. I had to crop the ARCHICAD 19 list because I didn’t want a super long image.
In ARCHICAD 20 there seems to be a lot more options for Find & Select because IFC properties are readily available and ARCHICAD Properties are included. Since Both IFC and ARCHICAD Properties are dynamic, growable lists, the number of Criteria is essentially infinite. Beyond those additions, there are two more Find & Select Criteria that are less noticeable: Building Material Name and Surface Name. Those two Criteria allow you to Find & Select all elements whose Building Material name or Surface name is/is not/contains/does not contain/starts with/ends with whatever string of text you want. This Criteria is similar to what you’ll find when making Graphic Override Rules. Now in ARCHICAD 20, we can Find & Select all elements whose Building Material name contains “Insulation” or whose Surface name contains “Paint”. Prior to ARCHICAD 20, we could only search for a specific Building Material or Surface. Now we can search for groups of related Attributes.
Right-Click for More
Sometimes reading about new minor features reveals other minor features that you never knew about. In ARCHICAD 20 you can right-click on the navigator to hide the Navigator. That seems nice (though I’ll rarely use it because of the way my Work Environment is set up). But I didn’t know/remember that you could right-click on the Navigator to get any options other than the help menu. Turns out you can. And now in ARCHICAD 20 that same menu appears when you right-click the Navigator or the Pop-up Navigator. This is valuable to me because by right-clicking in either place I can get to the Organizer. I keep the Organizer closed, so having it a right-click away is a few seconds faster than going through the menu at the top left of the Navigator—and faster than moving my hands to use a keyboard shortcut. A few seconds might not seem like much when thinking about the length of a project, but it matters a whole lot when you are thinking about micro-movements and workflow disruption. A half second to access a menu is fluid. Two seconds to reach a menu is a roadblock and breaks thought processes. One is invisible; the other is slow enough to be unused.
In ARCHICAD 19, the icons in the Quick Options Palette became buttons to the relevant function (this by the way was an undocumented feature for ARCHICAD 19). In ARCHICAD 20, the Quick Options Bar was introduced, the Quick Options Palette was expanded, and the scroll bar was removed (well hidden, but it might as well be completely removed). As part of these changes, both Zoom and Orientation were added to Quick Options (both Palette and Bar). You probably noticed that. But did you notice what else changed with these two options?
The button next to Zoom is Zoom Extents and clicking on the percentage allows you to select from pre-defined zoom percentages or saved zooms. Did you know in ARCHICAD you can save custom zoom percentages? This is another feature I’m sure we’ve had for years, but I’ve never noticed.
The button next to Orientation allows you to set the Orientation graphically. If you click on the orientation percentage you’ll get a pop up menu that allows you to set the orientation graphically; select from the 0°, 90°, 180°, and 270°; or select from the previous four custom orientations. As far as I know we lost the ability to click on the orientation and have it revert back to 0.00°. So that is now slower.
By the way, with the removal of the classic scroll bar, if you don’t use the Quick Options Bar you’ll need to turn on the Zoom Toolbar if you want access to previous/next zoom.
Other Minor Features I Need to Mention
Read about the details of the following features here.
- New Backgrounds for BIMx models. Now we can select from black, white, gray, gradient or skybox when creating the BIMx model.
- We can now hide or show the thicknesses of skins in the Skin List Label. In ARCHICAD 19, the thicknesses were always showing.
- In ARCHICAD 20 we have the option to hide the Dimension lines and only show the text. This is kind of a weird feature, and I’m not sure what we’ll need it for. But it holds a lot of promise. By being able to hide the dimension lines we are able to create text that moves with an element and stays aligned. I imagine this might be extremely useful for site plans. Instead of noting a setback with the Text Tool, we could use the Dimension Tool with the lines turned off. Now the setback text will stay attached to the dashed line it’s referencing and always stay parallel. But of course that’s just a first thought. Think about where else it might be useful for “floating” text to stay linked to a combination of 2D and 3D elements. Because unlike a Label, a dimension can connect to multiple elements, and to both 2D and 3D elements. Now add that to the fact that we can include Autotext into Dimensions (and of course Labels) and things start to get really interesting.
The truly unexplained
While working on this article, I asked my fellow ARCHICAD gurus if they had any favorite undocumented features that I should mention. Not that it was a competition, but James Murray won. Sometimes that happens.
NURBSLUMP: that’s James’ claim for favorite unexplained future. He doesn’t know what it does. I don’t know what it does. You don’t either. Here’s the only two references I could find on it: NURBS Primitive Elements and NURBS Topology Commands. Go ahead and click on that second link; it has the description. It won’t help you understand this feature. I’m sure it does something cool and makes a few GDL wizards super happy. If I had to guess, I bet it’s related to some feature we need to properly import data from Rhino so that we can save crazy shapes as GDL Objects. And if that’s the case (I’m sure it is), then I’m thrilled about the addition of NURBSLUMP to ARCHICAD.
What have I missed? What are your favorite little features in ARCHICAD 20? What’s the most obscure change that you’ve seen? And did ARCHICAD 20’s UI changes reveal interesting existing features to you?
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. Also, I’d like to again thank Link Ellis of BIM6x for sharing his thoughts on hidden features of ARCHICAD 15 back in 2011. It’s because of Link’s comments back then that I started doing this yearly tradition.