In Part 1 of this post from earlier in the week, I talked about the propagation of changes in an ArchiCAD model (for good and ill). I shared some thoughts on both preventions and cures. I now want to expand on some of those thoughts.

Did you know you can lock both whole layers in ArchiCAD and separately lock individual elements?

When I first decided to write this follow up post, my plan was to talk about two things: locking layers and locking individual elements. But as I thought about it more, I kept coming up with more and more ways to prevent a user from changing critical information in a file. I still want to focus on locking layers and elements, so I’ll discuss some other options next week with a third post. Unless of course that third post also gets too long and I need to add a fourth!

Locking Layers

ArchiCAD Quick LayersThere are two main ways to lock layers in ArchiCAD. The first is with the Quick Layers Palette. I find I often refer to it as the Eyeballs and Locks Palette. Years ago I wrote a brief post about the Show/Hide layers features of this palette. For a much more comprehensive discussion of the show/hide layer functions of the Quick Layers Palette, check out Eric Bobrow’s article for CADalyst. It’s from 2008, but still useful as the day it was written. Just like you can easily hide and show layers, the Quick Layers Palette also lets you quickly lock and unlock layers on the fly. And furthermore, it lets you undo that locking/unlocking independent of the main Undo of ArchiCAD via the Quick Layers Undo/Redo. The Quick Layers Palette thus is about temporary locking, as in: “you’re about to make a big change, but there’s a layer you want to hold static (say some structural elements or vertical circulation).” Or for those instances when you do need to change something that’s on a fixed layer. Select the element, click unlock element’s layer, make the changes, then either relock the layer, use the Quick Layer’s undo function (undoing the locking change, not the work you just did), or change the layer combination back to what it was.

ArchiCAD Layer SettingsThe other way to lock layers is by the Layer Settings. Not only can layers be locked or unlocked via the layer settings, the locked/unlocked status can be saved as part of a layer combination. This allows you to lock elements, whether visible or not, for different views. My personal opinion is to be careful about how much you lock by layer in this way. It’s easy to go overboard. Think about locking as a way to protect changes to specific pieces of data, not as a straight jacket to keep you working only in a tightly proscribed area. In the image I’ve chosen, the layers for the section, elevation, and interior elevation markers are locked. This prevents one of these markers (and thus the corresponding view) from accidentally being moved.

Locking Elements

ArchiCAD Locking ElementsOne of the things I really enjoy about helping new users is that they don’t know what ArchiCAD can or can’t do. Granted, this is also my second biggest frustration with some new users (the biggest being the refusal to ask for help). The beauty of this unawareness is that it sometimes challenges us ‘experts’ to learn a thing or two. I learned about locking individual elements a few years ago after a new user posed the question to me. She was used to locking elements in another program and wanted to do it in ArchiCAD. It wasn’t a habit I ever had, so I never thought to look. And sure enough ArchiCAD could handle this. To lock individual elements, go to the Edit Menu, then the Locking Submenu. If you are big into locking/unlocking elements, you could set up keyboard shortcuts for Lock, Unlock, and Unlock All. Be wary of the Unlock All option. It will do exactly what it says. You might think about locking grid elements, critical drafting aids/lines, or perhaps a few elements that form a relationship that dictates the rest of the design.

Bonus Public Service Announcement about locked MEP elements (pulled from the MEP FAQ on the ArchiCADwiki):

If a project created in an MEP environment is reopened using ArchiCAD only (without MEP Modeler), the MEP objects are available, although locked for editing. If you wish to edit or move these elements, you must first unlock them individually (Edit > Locking > Unlock). Their MEP connection information is lost once you have edited them in a non-MEP Modeler environment and they behave as plain GDL objects in ArchiCAD.

From personal experience, I’ve learned not to set up the company template using the only key in the office with the MEP Add-on. Doing that will result in all your coworkers having to deal with locked objects. That tends to make them less happy. Though having read this post, they will at least know how to deal with the locked objects…


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