In the previous post we talked about hotlinked markers in your multi-page PDFs. Today let’s talk about some other implications and possibilities of a multi-page PDF created from the Publisher in ArchiCAD. Imagine you’re laying out your sheets to work well digitally first, and print second. Instead of putting as many drawings on a sheet as possible, you have reasons based on increased functionality and usability to perhaps do one section or elevation per sheet. Doing so will make the hyperlinked marker from the floor plan (or whatever view a linked marker is placed on) open up a sheet with only one view. It becomes obvious what that marker is pointing to. And with back references on that subsequent view, getting back to the plan is just as easy. The old way wasn’t bad, but this has the potential to be even better.

The Publisher in ArchiCAD is going to convince you to try something new.

View of Publisher Set in PLNGiving each major drawing or view its own sheet will make the hyperlinks more useful, but regular navigation gets a bit more complex (more sheets means more to manually sift through when you’re not using the hyperlinks within the drawings to navigate the set). Fortunately the way ArchiCAD creates PDFs via the Publisher solves this problem, if you know what you’re doing. The Publisher in ArchiCAD turns both subsets and individual layouts into bookmarks in the outputted PDFs. This is awesome. It makes jumping between sheets amazingly easy. And all your organizational logic that was in the ArchiCAD file is preserved. Which, as a BIM Manager, I geek out about because it means that a well organized project (ie, a good template) will yield a well organized set of documents; finally what we BIM Managers do behind the scenes to make daily working life easier trickles down to the contractor and client.

View of Bookmarks in PDFDone properly both layout books and publisher sets are easy to create and maintain. And this should remove a lot of the work that is traditionally associated with sheeting and arranging drawings. Automate as much as possible. Place layouts in Subsets (the Layout book’s term for folders). Auto-number subsets by their order in the Hierarchy of Subsets. Propagate their numbering system down into their sheets.

This will mean every sheet made is automatically numbered and ordered correctly. Your sheets should be labeled as (discipline) (series) (sheet number). For instance architectural plans should be the A100 series, structural plans should be the S100 series, etc. I don’t really care if elevations are A200 or A300 or A400. But they should be A#00. Why? Because it makes ordering sheets so amazingly easy. Need a new sheet? It slips right in without any fuss. It is true that with everything Subset Settingsauto-numbered, adding one sheet or fifty sheets isn’t an issue. And everything updates automatically. But just because sheet A30 can easily become A31, doesn’t mean there’s not a better way to handle sheet numbering. Back to the point: if you put your layouts in subsets, when you make the PDFs any new drawing is already in the correct Bookmark for easy finding. See the two images earlier in the post. Note that in those images of the Publisher Set and PDF Bookmarks, all of the numbers you can see are automatic. Nothing is overridden or done manually once the initial logic is set up. If you find there’s a sheet that doesn’t fit in your automatic logic, change your logic or change your sheet to make it work. Every time you override a sheet number, drawing number, or drawing title (drawing titles should be linked to the placed view, more on that another time), the overall value of your data is diminished. I’ve recorded a video over on Shoegnome that talks more about all this layout book organization, if you’re craving more details or some related information.

In the next post I’ll present the argument for a detail on a sheet being labeled with both a number and a sheet number (or a unique searchable number).


  1. MarkV

    This stuff just ROCKS!! After you write your next article and you have the time, please post a video with it. It makes it easier to understand context.

    • Jared Banks

      Mark, thanks! I’ll work on some more videos.

  2. Kenny McNally

    Unfortunately there are a few problem with the use of multi page PDFs:
    Firstly a contractor wants individual files he can pass off to his subcontractors as they don’t all need the whole set.
    Secondly, when a drawing is revised you can’t really reissue the whole document that contains every single drawing.
    Finally, with the increasing use of web sites to provide the ’Common Data Environment’, drawings are expected to be individual files with their own revision history etc.

    I like the idea of this as an in-house way to navigate around your own files, but unfortunately I can’t see a way to make it work in the wider field unless the links can work across individual files (and that would be very difficult).

    • Jared Banks

      Kenny, I think those are all good points, but no insurmountable. Is one of the reasons we want to give subs individual files to save on printing costs? To keep them from seeing the rest of the project? Or is it that they just need one sheet? Individual sheets can just as easily be stripped out or saved directly from ArchiCAD. So we could have both options.

      I’ve been thinking about and discussing with a few people the revision issue. That is perhaps the biggest sticking point with this idea. I don’t have a good solution for that… yet. Though again, just resending the whole set since it’s digital is an easier proposition than reprinting a whole set. Perhaps the multi-page PDF always lives online somewhere. Maybe no one is allowed to print it. So every day when you open the PDF it can be revised/updated/etc. to reflect the current changes. Revisions could be easily labeled and perhaps the cover sheet or some early sheet has hyperlinks to all the changes. That’d be easy to do.

      Revision history seems like it could easily be tackled as well. Either with saving multiple copies or some sort of deeper internal links. OR perhaps the answer isn’t PDF, but some better digital file type that can handle that. Think of Google Docs. They all have revision history, and I believe they can be linked back and forth in some ways. Maybe the file type I want doesn’t exist yet.

      The answer is maybe not a PDF set at all, but a set of documents that IS a website. Like a Wikipedia page. Then all the linking, individual printing, revision history, etc. is easily doable.

      Again it all comes down to where is convention a good solution and where is it just the way we all accept to do it. I obviously don’t have the answers and some of my suggestions have holes. But hopefully it helps forward the conversation about fixing and improving how we share documents. Because paper sets just can’t be the best solution.

  3. MarkV


    Those are good points. The first one as an architect and have never accepted that statement from a contractor. The contractor should be forwarding the entire set to his subs (and PDFs make that super easy), both as a matter of liability and proper project coordination. Also, sending individual sheets out to contractors makes it very difficult for us as architects to control the flow of information regarding changes. Multi-sheet sets are an incredible asset in this regard.

    To the third, maybe that is a new protocol, but none of my structural engineers adhere to it. All of the ones I use send me their files in a multi-page format specifically so contractors cannot separate the sets thus making it harder for them to screw up the job. The engineers also see it as a liability issue to which they ask for something in writing from the party requesting the set separated.

    But your second point, I feel, is the most compelling detriment to multi-page sets. When I revise sheets, almost never does the entire set get revised. We need to identify the current sheets within the set. The only way to currently tag revised drawings is to manually change the name after they are published. The only other “work around” I can think of would be to change the drawing name or number, but I dont think any of us like that. Yet this is the only way to indicate within a multi-page set that a sheet has been altered. AC needs to create a “revision tag” to published sheets so when they are exported, the revised sheets get the “-R1” extension…. or whatever else we choose. That would be a nice addition to keep the multi-page PDF feature intact.

    Good discussion. I’d still like to see more.

  4. Floyd Y. Perry

    Brian L. • The main complaints we used to get concerned fonts, lineweights, and fills. Fonts are a forever problem, exacerbated by the occasional disparity between MS OS’s, AutoCAD font handling and our Macintoshes. It is frustrating, but rarely debilitating. But lineweights and fills can be handled deftly without creating 2D copies with elements unlinked to their modeled counterparts by creating DWG export views and translators – essentially, using the methods Laura described already. Then, successive updates (when your model changes and you need to provide new backgrounds to your consultants) will only require that select the right publishing set (selecting the appropriate views) publish, check, and send the resulting files. Along with backgrounds, I send pdf’s of the sheets on which our corresponding drawings occur (with our own view options and layers showing), so the recipient can see the notes, tags, dimensions, legends etc, etc. that apply to those views. I have a publishing set saved for this too. These sheets bear a “For Reference Only” disclaimer (on their own layout book layer). Consultants sign a CAD exchange agreement on each project in which appropriate use of background CAD background files and other transmitted data is stipulated. Results: Happy consultants. Need for redo’s very rare.

  5. Jill F. Shields

    Nancy S. • I totally agree with Tomas and Glenn. One of the challenges that I have seen in my career is carrying items in inventory that no longer have value due to a failure to evaluate the number of days certain items have been carried. I also require reconciliations of every balance sheet account, with documentation on what makes up the balance not just a recap of current month or year-to-date activity. My personal preference is for a thorough quarterly review and clean-up, if necessary, so there were no year end surprises. I once had a boss tell me that the P&L is just a big “plug” for the balance sheet and his philosophy has stayed with me as it is so important not to have over or under-statements in the balance sheet.

  6. Rob A

    Thats all very fantastic guys, but I have a much simpler problem for you to solve. When I publish the pdf set everything works perfectly in all sheets, EXCEPT, the Sections! They appear with no text at all. I’m pretty sure its a simple fix by some guru out there but I’m a bit short on gurus around here! I have tried everything in my limited knowledge and can’t get it happening. Any suggestions?

  7. Jared Banks

    Rob, I’ve seen that behavior before. But it’s been a long time. I can’t remember the solution though. It was either recreating the layouts, or the views for the sections. Or maybe I just didn’t use the publisher for those projects? It was always something very localized and specific (just one project, not all projects). What version is it happening on?

    Have you tried calling the tech support guys?

  8. Nick

    Jared, so cool i didnt know this happened in our PDFs.. and its 2018 – shame on me. Is there anyway of a sheet index being hyperlinked to jump to the selected sheet?

    • Jared Banks

      Nothing out of the box. But any PDF created in ARCHICAD retains its folder structure. If you view the PDF in Preview on a Mac, you can set the side bar to show a table of contents and you’ll get a nice foldered list of sheets. In Acrobat, they are all bookmarks and work the same way.


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