Since Link Ellis started a thread on the ArchiCAD-talk forum back in 2011 talking about all the minor changes in ArchiCAD 15, I have made it a tradition to revisit this idea every year. It’s a bit mind numbing that this will be the fourth year (we’ll try to figure out something extra special to do for year 5, and we’ll aim to do it closer to the release of the next version). Can you believe how OLD ArchiCAD 15 is now? Wow. Anyways, here are some handy links for the previous explorations of the little features:

I love this topic as it gives us all a chance to look at the little productivity changes that happen in each version. Regardless of whatever the big new features are, there is always a segment of users who think “why do I need that major feature? I don’t do X or Y or need Z or work with…” I think this sentiment occurs because each year the big features pose the most challenges to our existing workflow. Most of us longtime users have defined processes that use a combination of core features, add-ons, and other software. When we are presented with some completely new workflow we feel a combination of excitement and dread—we are excited that we finally have a new, cool functionality, but also we are heavy with dread about learning yet one more thing. So often we just want to keep doing what we are doing, but maybe a little faster and a little better. We like the new big features, but we can’t always just flip a switch and start using them immediately. We have to learn about them at the right pace. Sometimes that means reading, researching, and unbillable testing. Other times it means trial by fire. For each person and each firm there needs to be a balance struck. The moment a new version of software comes out, we need to learn and use the new but also not destroy our productivity (and profitability).

Another way to look at the struggle of adapting to a new version is via two major reasons to use BIM: expansion and efficiency. Both are of equal importance because they each helps those of us in the AEC industry maintain relevancy. The big splashy features of ArchiCAD are often about expansion (of services). Did you outsource renderings in the past? No more. Now ArchiCAD is a powerful rendering platform in itself. Keep renderings in house and profit. The same with EcoDesigner Star and many other big-time features. But those features don’t always make you more efficient. Yes you can render amazing scenes within ArchiCAD, but the first time you use it, you might not be that fast. So you have a new service to offer clients, but you also have a new time suck, even if it’s just an extra hour or two. Efficiency features are the exact opposite. They don’t let you do anything new, they just let you do what you once did faster. If some feature saves you a couple minutes per project, that adds up to quite a bit of money over a year.

So while it might take us a few years to fully add new features into our processes (Renovations took forever for me to use and it was only with ArchiCAD 17 that I spent the majority of my time in Teamwork 2), there are always plenty of little features that can and should be used immediately. In years past some of these features weren’t even documented. Now they almost all are. And many even get their own video clips on YouTube. But they still don’t make a huge splash. They aren’t causing paradigm shifts, nor are they focused on the primary direction of ArchiCAD’s development—which if you agree with my analysis of the situation over the past half dozen versions of ArchiCAD, isn’t about you or your needs, but about the larger team. Instead, these changes are the little things that save you a minute here, a handful of seconds there. The updates that remove a click or two. The cleaning up of dialogs and menus that make searching for information easier (once you adjust to the changes). You know, the little tweaks that in aggregate make an insanely huge difference.

As I’ve written before (and will write about again), if you can’t find enough productivity gains to cover the cost of a yearly subscription then you aren’t trying hard enough (and by trying hard enough I mean merely reading some blog posts or forum discussions or watching a few YouTube clips; no self-exploration required). We need all the new big features to help us grow and offer more to our clients, but we also need all the little changes to help us get ever faster at the basics. These are the features that you need to learn about and incorporate as soon as you jump to the newest release. These are the features you can immediately take advantage of when you migrate an old project and using the latest version of ArchiCAD—even if you completely ignore all the big changes—because the basics are enhanced and better than the previous version.

An Avalanche of Baby Steps

Below is the video list of Workflow Enhancements in ArchiCAD 18. If you’d prefer, here’s a link to the list on ArchiCAD’s YouTube Channel. Check out as many of the videos as you can. And remember some (simultaneously editing multiple polygon-based elements) will be immediately useful, while knowledge of others (Morph enhancements for instance) will save you tons of wasted frustration when you finally need the solutions they provide.

On the Road to Efficiency, Some Goodbyes are Needed

That was a tweet by @ArchiCADGirl about this blog post on Missing and Duplicate Objects in ArchiCAD. The tweet was super apt for the post, but also for the shift to BIM and ArchiCAD in general. There are a lot of reasons why you should use ArchiCAD and why you as someone working in the AEC world needs to be doing BIM. I write about them all the time on Shoegnome (for instance all these posts). And our blog here also has plenty of stories about the benefits of BIM and ArchiCAD. But if you are reading this blog, then you are already on board with all that. S today I want you to think about that tweet in relation to all the little things. You might see some items on that YouTube list above and think “whatever, I don’t need that. I already do it this other way.” Just remember, sometimes you need to say goodbye to the old ways. Sometimes your old habits are crutches. And sometimes new tweaks make something fast even faster.

Bonus Gem!

Perhaps my favorite new unadvertised feature is when you start ArchiCAD and forget to plug in your key, you have more options than just quit or start in demo mode. I see this screen more than I should admit.

This will save me some time

So what about you? What is your favorite little feature of ArchiCAD 18? Have you noticed some little change that surprised you? Have you found a new feature that is speeding you up? Or maybe one that is slowing you down? Share below. There are a whole bunch of other little tweaks I want to discuss, but they deserve their own posts.

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4 Comments

  1. 3D Habitat

    Hi Jared,
    The objects inside ArchiCAD always get tweaked slightly with each release and in AC18 I think it is mainly in the GUI.
    A nice little surprise for me was the in the Object Library -> 2.2 Site Improvements -> Garden.
    All the objects in here have been reworked but the standout is the Tree Model Detailed 18 with its preset shapes. I find that this means it is so much easier and quicker to landscape a project. It is not a huge thing but a nice little nugget to discover.

    Reply
  2. Jared Banks

    Great point. I should probably do a follow up post that just talks about tweaks to Objects. You are absolutely right, the new Tree Object is really nice. Have you also looked at the new lights? SO much better as well.

    Reply
  3. Cecilia

    The new way of deleting a dimension within a dimension line is a big bonus for me. In previous version you had so select the dimension point and then click on delete. Now it works in the same manner as adding dimensions to a line.

    Reply

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