Tips & Tricks

How to tame even huge models

The fluidity of projects and their various phases set requirements for modeling. How to avoid wasting a file or splitting a project into smaller pieces? Does teamwork go awry? How to hit the origin and prune polygons? This article is worth reading!

At the beginning of the design process, it is often useful to keep everything in the same project. Grouping the model and the layouts hastens modeling. Most often, the projects proceed as one file until they are finished.

In larger scaled projects, the number of layouts and the size of the project file may grow in the construction documentation phase and make things tangled. If the project contains over a hundred layouts, it's good to know that the size of the project can halve by relocating the layouts to a separate project. Most essential about this is that the layouts are still updated directly from the model. During the project, you can divide the model and the layouts through the Organizer or the Drawing Manager.

If the project is lengthy, growing and needs continuous maintenance, it's smart to divide layouts and models into smaller parts that are rational for the project. The lightest way to make the layout of drawings is to save views as PMK files. PMK is a native ARCHICAD drawing format, which takes up relatively less hard drive space than many other formats. The view is saved with its settings and brought to the layout as an external drawing. It also incorporates the changes to the layout done with the Change Manager tool.

Layouts in an own project

In the picture below, you can see the empty project named TEST2. The layouts of the TEST1 project that should be dragged to the TEST2 project have been brought next to it in the Organizer tool. If there are numerous layouts, the transfer takes a moment.

The layouts get onwards updated from the old TEST1 project. When the layouts are updated, or you add more layouts to the project through the Organizer tool, you'll need to open the concerned projects.

Anguished or effective teamwork?

Teamwork makes the management of a project more manageable. Additionally, the Teamwork Server is a safe place to save the project. On top of all, the project works more smoothly as a team database. It is good to know that the team works best when all team members apply changes regularly. The safest way is to export changes often and in small batches.

Teamwork can get slower if there are passive users in the project. For them, the team file stores extra data about changes while waiting for possible re-loggings and piled data to be transferred. If the teamwork seems to jam, you should have a look at the activity of the team members in the team management. Dismiss those who are not actively working on the project, or ask them to apply the latest changes.

Organized libraries

Library management is reflected and functional in teams. Libraries belong to BIMcloud, preferably to the same server. The work amount decreases when everything gets updated from the same place. Additionally, they always link to the same server. Problems may appear if a user joins several projects situated to different BIMcloud servers that contain the same libraries. The same library may have duplicates in local team folders on the user's computer. Due to this, objects do not appear on the ground floor view if the libraries are not updated continuously.

The objects of internal libraries of a project grow file size, contrary to objects of external or BIMcloud libraries. If there thus are multiple objects in an internal library, the project may stiffen.

A problem quickly arises when importing IFC files to a project: the file often brings along a lot of objects that, by default, are saved to the internal library of the project. If the IFC file is imported as a reference, the objects move into the internal library of the compaction project. The situation can clear by relocating the objects from an internal to an external library – or by opening the libraries of the IFC file, saving them to an external library and moving it to a BIMcloud library.

Hazards of external drawings

In older ARCHICAD versions up to 22, external drawings with modified frames can slow the project down; notably big DWG files. The embedding of drawings through the Drawing Manager can relieve the slowdown.

Saved external drawings and drawings make the project bigger. Every copy of a drawing has an impact, too.

If the linkage of external drawings from the file server to the project breaks down due to connectivity problems, you can import them from the team project.

Layout's drawings can be updated manually. By this, it's easier to browse the layouts because their automatic update always takes a moment. Instead, drawings can be updated in the Drawing Manager, where you can also change the update method.

Pick the drawings, choose Drawing settings from the appearing menu with the 2nd mouse button and adjust the settings.

In ARCHICAD 23, this problem may not appear anymore because the new handling method lightens external drawings. The cropping of the drawing also reduces the size of the external drawing in ARCHICAD.

Point clouds

In ARCHICAD, imported point clouds turn into LCF library packages. They tend to be large, but luckily they can appear only in external drawings. However, if they are many, it's great to be able to eliminate unnecessary materials from the library management.

The point cloud object itself is worth to be placed on the ground floor because its content appears when an LCF package is brought into the project. Import the point clouds back to the project one by one, because the update of the libraries needs a lot of references momentarily.

Point clouds are large and heavy. You can rarefy and divide them into smaller pieces according to your needs, for example, with the open-source software CloudCompare. The point clouds become objects that can be hidden with the help of layer combinations.

The strength of references

References, as well as team, PLN and MOD project files, order the model into smaller entities that are easier to manage. In the reference settings, you can define the first part of the ID of an element, the master ID and the layer where the reference is situated. By using references, you can get the entirety of the model organized. Thanks to the layers, their visibility is easy to regulate.

The reference brings objects of the internal library to the build file. You can adjust those only in the reference project itself. During the import of the reference, you can import the references contained in the reference project as well.

Lighter Trace

It's smarter to place the Trace from the Project content than from views, for example. Trace adapts more smoothly directly to the ground floor or the elevation under work.

Origin instructions

If the project, or a part of it, lies far from the project origin, it can mean problems. Before long, the model can start to malfunction, the precision in the 3D window can get lower, and drawings may disappear.

It usually starts at the beginning of the project; the DWF file of the property is brought to the ground floor, where the object is far away from the origin. The project is then modeled to this distant location. Problems can be avoided by opening or attaching a DWG file to a new project and copying the property near the actual project origin. Another possibility is to import the DWG file as an external drawing.

Lightening of geometry

Slowdowns can also be related to objects that have been brought to the project. Geometry can be brought into ARCHICAD in several formats, like 3DS, DWG, IFC, SKP and DAE. They often contain exact geometries as dense rounding and tube shapes, for example. Then triangle surfaces are built upon a large scale.

There is a free Polygon Counting Tool available for ARCHICAD. It counts the number of polygons by elements and reveals the most massive objects.

Organizing layouts according to their size
Import of PMK files as external drawings
Library management
Recommendations for using libraries
Download CloudCompare
More about references
Details about external drawings
More about how work speeds up
Information on the origin
Download the Polygon Counting Tool

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About Veli-Pekka Tolonen

Veli-Pekka is an ARCHICAD specialist working in the technical support at M.A.D.
  • Finland