Connecting to Non-Local Data: Hyperlinks and ArchiCAD (Part 4)
We’ve already covered internal links
Let’s now look at two ways to connect the documents to the wider digital world. The PDFs created from ArchiCAD are smart. We’ve already established this. But did you know that they are smart enough to recognize URLs? If you include a web address in a note, as part of a detail, within your titleblock, or wherever, it will be clickable. It will launch the linked website. So once again if we demand (encourage) the use of digital documents instead of printed ones, these URLs within the set can provide a lot of deep connections. Instead of providing a cut sheet, you can link to the cut sheet on the manufacturer’s website. Instead of including a note that says “Brick” it can say “Brick, www.specificbrickmaker.com/thisbrickseries/itbetterlooklikethis.jpg” Less stress. Less confusion. And if the link goes dead, it’s a sign that perhaps that product isn’t available. Or if the link updates, then… well there are some decisions to make. But that’s part of another discussion.
Speaking of links and products. Any image or PDF placed on a Layout in ArchiCAD using the Drawing Tool (as opposed to the Figure Tool) can be linked to, just like any saved view from the View Map. Imagine creating a materials sheet. Maybe it comes after the schedules. This theoretical sheet includes images, some text, and URLs of all the important materials and finishes. There could be links throughout the set to that page, and then from that page to the wider world. Just a thought.
Jared, I get it. Digital is great. But come on. You live in a fantasy world. I’m going to keep printing because of X, Y, and Z for at least a few more years. Deal with it.
You’re right. Let’s be honest: printed sets aren’t going away as fast as they should, or as fast as I wish they would. So what’s an intermediate solution? QR codes. Which is odd because they are in a sense more futuristic than mere web addresses. QR codes on a printed set can provide the same links to non-local data that a clickable URL in a PDF can. So reread the beginning of this post and replace URL with QR code. All that functionality is more or less still available in a printed set. What I really like about QR codes is that they allow you to open, digitally, additional information on a separate device. So if you have a printed set—or a PDF set on a large screen—you can use a QR code reader on your phone or tablet to access the additional information on a second screen. Be it a webpage, product data, a video, an image, the contact info of the team; whatever can be linked to a QR code can be accessible.
QR codes can and should be in your documents today. Adding them is as simple as making a free QR code at a website like QRStuff.com, saving the image file, and then placing it in ArchiCAD. And placing images in ArchiCAD is just ‘drag and drop’ (unless you need the added functionality of placing them using the Drawing Tool, then it’s two or three extra clicks).
How many smart phones are on a given construction site in North America? Enough. More than enough. If there’s a set of documents littered with QR Codes, unless the property is remote and lacking cellphone service, those QR Codes can be read and the information they point to can be accessed. And imagine an urban site. What are the odds that there’s accessible wi-fi, free or otherwise? Pretty decent; and only getting better with every passing day.
Part 5: Your Turn
We’ve now talked about a variety of internal and external links. Hopefully you’ve learned a few tricks about ArchiCAD and will try some new techniques in your documents. Whether you’re moving to all digital output or staying with print for now, thanks to the capabilities of ArchiCAD you can get more intelligently organized and better accessed information on those documents. That’s BIM.
How are you making your documents smarter? Are you using hyperlinks and QR codes? What else can we do to BIM-ify our documents? How else can we make our documents keep pace with all the other advances happening in our field?