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About Archicad's documenting tools, views, model filtering, layouts, publishing, etc.

Layers, Views (Detail Viewpoints) and Annotation


Coming over from Revit, I am struggling a bit with the concept of layers in Archicad.  I have been reading layer theories by Jared Banks (Shoegnome) and Ken Huggins. I currently use Jared's template. Don't get me wrong, I like layers and understand they do more than control visibility i.e. intersections; however, one area I am struggling with is annotation and documentation. For example, I have a site plan and have one layer for text annotation (fewer is better theory) that identifies specific "hard" improvements. Then I have an enlarged portion of the same site plan and want to annotate different soft information (landscaping elements). Do I need to put that annotation on a different layer since both are site plan views? Or, is it a better practice in Archicad to not create a view at a different scale, but to create a Detail Viewpoint? That way the annotation on the Detail is completely separate from the Plan.


Perhaps also coming over from Revit, I am somewhat unsure when to go from an active view to a static view especially for something like a plan. For example, if one has a floor plan and wants an enlarged floor plan of the restrooms to show more detailed dimensions, should I create a detail viewpoint of the bathrooms or should I create a view at a different scale and create a linked a marker to the view. If one goes the route of a view at a different scale I imagine one would need a different dimensions layer so the more detailed level dimensions do not show up on the overall plan.  


I hope the workflow struggle above is clear. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. The beauty of both programs is there are multiple ways to accomplish something. I am trying to develop "best practices" from more seasoned users.




Archicad 26




2023 MBP, macOS Ventura 13.3.1
Archicad 27
Marc H

Hi Matthew,

As you noted, with AC as a platform, there are many approaches and options, which I’m sure you will receive feedback about.  Below is some from my experience over time.


AC Best Practices

I am generally self-taught in AC (though my background included several prior programs over the years). However, several years ago, I did invest in a limited (3 day session) AC Best Practices course with Eric Bobrow which I found very worthwhile. I believe he still offers it, now with coaching add-ons.  The sessions provided effective, pragmatic workflow approaches (with variable options).  Some of the lessons relate specifically to your workflow questions.  In any case, with that ‘hybrid education’ in my background, I do try to keep adjusting my workflow to leverage newer AC capabilities.  


Work Type & Role

Beyond basic AC skill-building, the type of work you engage in and your team exchange standards may have some to great effect on your workflow decisions. For my work, I’ve had a free hand in my workflow practices, with exchanges typically in the form of 3d site and building model files, often with scaled PDF companion sets for reference.  (I’ve experienced very few DWG deliverables in recent years, so I’ve continued to work on ‘layer reduction’ as 2d exchanges fade.)


Views, Views, Views

For me, views are really the centerpiece of AC workflow.  They do the heavy lifting for both modeling and for documentation.  I keep dozens of 2d and 3d views in folders groups. Some groups are for modeling and some for documentation.  Importantly, every view has a related layer combination and a graphic override combination to improve modeling or enhance documentation.
To your question on enlarged plans, yes, they are great for these as well as overall plans and small CD key plans.  In each view, you control not only type, layers, and scale, but also graphic control and effects.



For my part, I’ve moved away from ‘traditional’ layers (e.g., AIA, NCS, etc.) to a set that support modeling and documentation workflows (along the lines of Ken Huggin’s approach that you noted, but still a few dozen layers). Since most elements and objects can be manipulated by element type, classifications, properties, and expressions, I no longer need to ‘assign’ them onto specific layers for that purpose. As noted above, I have several dozen layer combinations for both modeling and resulting documentation sets. 

To your question on annotation, yes, I do carry several documentation and annotation layers, with most based on their application in visualization and technical documentation deliverables. One thing to note, with the newer associative labels, you can control their visibility with their element, helping to limit layering.



My preference is to continue to reserve detail viewports for the traditional role of conveying intent of specific configurations, not layout. However, large and/or complex configurations may benefit from a localized 3d model view in addition to detailing.


Hope some of this helps.

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” - Abraham Lincoln

AC27 USA on 16” 2019 MBP (2.4GHz i9 8-Core, 32GB DDR4, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M 8G GDDR5, 500GB SSD, T3s, Trackpad use) running Sonoma OS + extended w/ (2) 32" ASUS ProArt PAU32C (4K) Monitors

Thanks for the response Marc H!  I appreciate you taking the time to lay this out and help me (hopefully others) on this new journey.





2023 MBP, macOS Ventura 13.3.1
Archicad 27
Barry Kelly

Yes, for annotation at different scales, use different layers.

As the information you show may me more or less detailed at different scales and certainly will be required in different positions for each scale.


Whether you need a dedicated layer for each annotation set you want is up to you.

Take your site/landscaping for example.

You have your model and you have a 'site' layer combination to show what you want for your site plan.

You would have a 'site annotation' layer that will be turned on in the 'site' layer combination and you would turn off the 'main model' annotation layer/s.

You may want to separate the 'site annotation' layer into 'site text' and 'site dimensions', so you can control them separately.

You may even want a 'site general text' layer for notes you want to see across all of your various site planes (like floor finished levels).


Now you want a 'hardscape' layer combination.

You create a 'hardscape annotation' layer, turn it on and the other site annotation layers off, maybe leaving 'site general annotation' on.


Create a 'softscape' layer combination with its own 'softscape annotation' layer.

I think that will give you the idea.


It might take a bit of experimenting to set it up, but once you have the layer combinations, you are laughing.

Unless you are bound by company or national standards when it comes to layer, do exactly what you want to do to get the drawings you need.



As for enlarged plans, it is a similar approach with the layers but also use a multiple layout drawings placed on top of each other in a layout to achieve the total view that you want.

Here is an old post that shows the method I use.



I steer clear of 'Details' and 'Worksheets', which do work, but as you have discovered are not 'live' views of your model.




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Thanks for the response Barry. Using layered views in Layout is an interesting approach. It might be a work around, but saves the work around of using white fills as making regions.  


The constant I see in both responses is there are different ways that information can be controlled and viewed (element ID for example) in order to reduce the number of layers needed; however, I should not be too rigid when annotation or documentation layers may be needed for the reasons noted.


I am definitely not looking to follow some national layer standard, but want to develop good practice. Many tutorials online do a good job showing "how" to do something.  Not many explain "why" to do something.  I guess because the answers vary. That is why I appreciate Shoegnome, Huggins and the replies here.


Thanks again,



2023 MBP, macOS Ventura 13.3.1
Archicad 27

Re Worksheets, I do use these fairly often in modeling. You can bring in existing or concept 2d information (e.g., jpg/pdf/dwg/snips of site map info, typed data, sketches, etc.) you do not want in model form, and if need be, scale it on the worksheet. Then, if you have a few views for those worksheets, you can easily select one while in your modeling view as Show as Trace (hover and right-click). 

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” - Abraham Lincoln

AC27 USA on 16” 2019 MBP (2.4GHz i9 8-Core, 32GB DDR4, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M 8G GDDR5, 500GB SSD, T3s, Trackpad use) running Sonoma OS + extended w/ (2) 32" ASUS ProArt PAU32C (4K) Monitors

Note that if you're using layered drawings in a layout, it may not export correctly to DWG, if this is important for you. The drawings will be exported alongside each other into the model space instead of on top of each other. This happens when the layout is set to be saved in Paper Space with either Cropped or Full View's content in the DWG translation settings.