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GDL Designer/Programmer Services (And How to Find Work)

Benji_W
Booster

For years now, I've toyed with the idea of making this post. It's finally time. 

 

I've worked as an architectural draftsman (solely in Archicad, up to version 25) since 2016. I didn't receive formal training in architecture or Archicad, but secured a freelance gig with an architect who offered to give me work if I took the initiative to learn the software. I did, and here we are some six years later.

 

Working in architecture has taught me that I have no ambition of becoming an architect. And to be frank, my days as a draftsman are numbered as well. For whatever reason, I find it to be grueling work, trying to keep on top of the wide scope of work that must be done in order to get a project out for permitting. I thank God that I've never been asked to do a code review. My mind simply isn't cut out for the type of work that makes up the bulk of what an architect/draftsman does.

 

I am a systems man. I love creating niche systems that solve niche problems, particularly those that involve increasing productivity. Programming seems to mesh neatly with that love. I enjoy creating Archicad templates and schedules, and I find the concept of programming automated materials lists riveting. And so it follows that I absolutely loathe/adore GDL programming. It is the most infuriating/rewarding activity that I've done in my time as a draftsman. The constrained creativity, and the rush of finally cracking that one deeply esoteric facet of the GDL code that's been eluding me for so long – I've often daydreamed about what it would be like if I could solely program, and pass on everything else that I wasn't quite built for.

 

Mind you, I cannot claim to be an expert in GDL design. There is still much more for me to learn. But I seem to always be able to learn any new skill that's required. And to date, only one of my ideas has gone unconquered – my magnum opus (I will finish it one day).

 

All that to say: I may be a wee bit autistic about GDL programming, and I'd love to dabble in it more – does anybody have a recommendation regarding how to go about finding work as a GDL programmer/designer?

 

I know that the firm that I currently freelance with could never justify paying to train a draftsman to learn GDL (I largely learned on my own time), nor could they hire on a dedicated GDL designer (if those even exist) – though with that said, I know for certain that I've saved them dozens of hours of repetition by creating tools that are employed every day – sometimes, the simplest of specialized objects can save the most time. I also know that they've formulated a list of GDL objects that they dream of one day having created (unfortunately, it's hard to justify paying a draftsman to work on GDL objects when you're overwhelmed with billable work). So it seems likely to me that there might be thousands of small firms out there who would love to be able to send their custom object ideas out to some weird little masochist like myself to help bring them to life.

 

 

Any guidance or insight at all would be hugely appreciated!

 

 

Sincerely,

 

-Benjamin

Archicad 25 – macOS Big Sur 11.6.1 – 27" iMac 2017
9 REPLIES 9
mthd
Ace

Hi there, GS Archicad has left the GDL library object creation open for many years. And that is cool that many users have tried it and are successful at it. Creating custom objects via GDL appears to be too time consuming and cumbersome for many of us users. That’s not why I chose to use AC.

 

PARAMO and Library Part Maker are other avenues for creating library parts have also been provided by GS. I would be more inclined to try these first before even considering GDL. If you have the gift of a code writing brain then go ahead and use GDL.

 

Creating objects, furniture and other appliances is not only done via GDL. There are many types of software out there for this specific purpose. I personally have no interest in wasting my valuable time toying with the GDL method when there are quicker and easier ways of modelling things.

 

Hey not all of us have the GDL gift, If I did I would certainly be writing software not designing furniture, objects or appliances. Software or code to help AC work more efficiently and with less clutter. Those dialogue boxes in AC are getting more and more cluttered up with unnecessary doubling up of controls and parameters. 

Seriously it would be better if they could simplify AC for all of us.

 

(Edited)

AC8.1 - AC27 ARM AUS + CI Tools
Apple Mac Studio M1 Max Chip 10C CPU
24C GPU 7.8TF 32GB RAM OS Ventura

Thanks mthd,

 

I remember briefly playing with both Param-o and Library Part Maker – I believe that my view at the time was that they had their uses, but were basically just Archicad's attempt at making GDL more approachable. Essentially, someone who knows how to go at the code directly would be able to do much more than someone using either tool. So I figure that this at least means that GDL is here to stay, and that the language is still worth studying.

 

I wish that I knew the necessary languages to improve AC workflow. I think that my main goal here is to actually start utilizing the niche skills/interests that I've already begun to acquired (which certainly are niche – like you, I doubt that many AC users have the time or desire to really dig into GDL, and few professional programmers out there would have had any reason to learn it independently).

 

I actually find the 3D side of GDL to generally be the least impactful use for it at this point – like you pointed out, there are better ways of modelling sofas and decorative corbels. Really, the usefulness for me lies in it's ability to automate the myriad of small calculations/actions/drawings that I need to do each and every time that I create an elevation or section drawing – from simple roof pitch markers that can be adjusted graphically to an object that automatically compiles the section drawings for the Marvin Window product line (saving me from having to locate, download, open, copy and edit their .dwg files for every individual project). And as you can see, this kind of stuff needs to be tailored specifically to the drafting style and practices of the individual firm.

 

I do agree though – AC could use some tidying up in some ways.

 

 

-Ben

Archicad 25 – macOS Big Sur 11.6.1 – 27" iMac 2017

As you can see I pay for my CI tools. If I was motivated and dedicated enough and had your special gift along with all the other talented GDL code writers here, I would have invested time into it. I’m sure you would all derive great satisfaction in creating workable objects for AC. 

I am interested in it to the point of being able to tweak existing objects but I am dumbfounded by the codes descriptive language. It makes no sense to me, it’s like I am blind to how to describe geometry without lines or shapes. 

We all like to benefit from the special group here with these talents to make our work much easier. I don’t think I would be even using AC without the CI tools.

AC8.1 - AC27 ARM AUS + CI Tools
Apple Mac Studio M1 Max Chip 10C CPU
24C GPU 7.8TF 32GB RAM OS Ventura
DNU
Contributor

Hi Benjamin

I recognize your situation and your feelings. I, myself, started as a freelance draughtsman at a company 11 years ago. Over time, they have come to know and trust me well enough to allow me some time to write GDL scripts! In the beginning, it was an investment on my part to make them understand the usefulness and, more importantly, the time-saving aspect of it. But it was definitely worth it.

 

If you want to promote yourself as a GDL programmer/designer, I suspect you should approach architectural firms and provide them with some examples that can save them time. With the right practical examples, I believe you can convince several architectural firms.

 

I am still sometimes amazed at the repetitive tasks that some modelers continue to do manually. When I address this with them, come up with a solution, and show them how much faster it can be done, they also approach me more quickly with the question of whether I can program something for them.

gr
Dries

AC 14 - 27
WIN 10
GDL

Hi Dries,

 

I appreciate the response. I had to go a similar process in convincing the firm I work with to pay me to dabble a bit more. But like you, they eventually saw the possibilities and got excited by what they saw. The biggest concern that I've had over the past few years was that I might be wasting my energy trying to learn such a niche skill – I'm glad to hear others say that it was worth it. I did worry when I saw Graphisoft begin to develop simplifying tools for GDL programming, but I sense that they're still a long way off from getting to the point where GDL is approachable for all AC users.

 

Cold calls are never fun, but I'm no stranger to them, and have actually played with such an idea. A huge question that I've had is, how do I generate a list firms that use Archicad? I'm in the U.S. (not that this kind of work would be location-specific), where AC isn't the industry standard. The best that I've come up with is to go to sites like Archinect.com and do a job listings search with "Archicad" set as a keyword. Do you have any ideas or resources for finding firms?

 

 

Thanks Much,

 

-Benjamin

 

P.S. I didn't mean to set your response as the solution - they just placed the button in the same location as the reply button, and I double clicked. I wonder if I shouldn't brush up on my web design skills as well...

 

 

Archicad 25 – macOS Big Sur 11.6.1 – 27" iMac 2017
MF BIM
Booster

Hello @Benji_W ,

 

The GDL programmer career is a niche but possible one indeed. I am myself partly in it (I'm also a Revit and Sketchup guy myself) and there are many in the forums who are as well so there is plenty of hope for you.

 

There are roughly 3 paths there (at least, known to me) :

1. create objects for architectural/engineering firms

2. create objects for individual users

3. create objects for manufacturers

 

So how do you go about finding work. Well, for the first option, that's the hard part as you would need advertise yourself to architects and engineers who use Archicad in your area. Issue is that depending on the country the size of Archicad users may be low so the number of potential clients could already be quite narrow. You could also set your own portfolio up with your creations and try to make yourself known to a bigger area. If you are working in a small country, you could reach many if you do your SEO right (the internet SEO, not the Archicad one 😅). There is a demand for objects that do more (or is more specific) than the default library so there is definitely something here.

 

For the second option, you can set up a website were you would have your objects available for download to visitors. From the simplest or more more common objects that could be free as a way to attract them to the more complex ones that could be paid ones. If they like your work, some users may also comission you for custom objects that would fit their own need and speed up their work. This is rarer but this exists and it's a bit similar than firms as sometimes, a user might need something that is more complex or simply better tailored than the default library. The default library is great and extensive but its aim is to be broad in order to serve all users so there's only so much it can do when it comes to specifics.

 

For the last option, you would need to go to manufacturers who do not yet have BIM objects (or only Revit ones) and propose your services. Takes quite some time to set up and plenty of convincing (as BIM equals Revit for many...) but it can end up in recurring work when successful. Conversion rate for prospects is quite low though so be prepared to fail often.

 

All in all, if you are already freelancing, you should first make yourself known when it comes to those GDL skills and you should grow this part of your business slowly and not expect it to explode right away. This will not be done overnight unless you're in an area that is demanding for it

https://mfbim.fr | https://youtube.com/@mfbim
AC21 FRA 3005 - AC24 FRA 7600 - AC26 FRA 4027 | MacBook M1 Pro
danielk
Booster

Hello Benjamin,

 

I have similar feelings towards GDL/programming, while working as an Architect. I cannot say I have made a move to the field of GDL work, but if you manage, please let me know, so that I can follow your lead. 😄

 

Either way, what I would recommend is reaching out to some companies that you know are making Archicad objects, and ask them if they are looking for any help, or if not, whether they can give you any advice on how to get started. Ones I can think of right now are CADswift, BIMobject, Central Innovation and Graphisoft themselves (if you are willing to move to Hungary), but there must be more.

 

But if you are really into this kind of stuff, and thinking about changing your profession from Draftsperson to (GDL) software developer, I think you should consider going all the way, and try learning other programming languages. Python is an easy one to learn, and it is widely used for automation in a lot of Architectural software, and it could also open up a whole new job market for you.

 

I hope you will find your way to do what you love. Let us know how it went. 🙂

I tried for some time on this same question, ultimately I concluded I needed to make something that's needed. Now I have prospects on potential work because of it.

But I realized this field is difficult as most cant afford or don't want to pay a rate that is feasible for the time to create specific objects.  

I even tried to get some crowd source going and just didn't get a whole lot of hits. Everyone wants objects but it seems every one wants a specific object.

I basically gave up on work and just started writing the things I wanted.

Now I have wall wall accessories and roof and slab accessories that can almost run side by side the ci equivalent. My wall accessories is much more robust at this point. I have people interested in investing in for me to make them more public and purchasable. 

 

It's taken me 6 years or so to get my objects to a point they have interest and it's still minimal lol.

 

 I would say a good portfolio with some video would definitely help you get some attention. If you haven't done so already 

lopezfigueroa
Enthusiast

If you like GDL, the best way to get a job is to create it.
You can do the business yourself by programming objects that serve the common user. This will help you capture attention and get clients. Examples of users who have achieved success in this way, I think, are all the GDL veterans who have dared to take that step of undertaking the development of objects for sale on their own. One tip is to try to solve the code so that it allows you to sell your work by subscription. Try to give an affordable price, in the world of AC the majority of users need objects beyond mere furniture.
Take CADSWIFT, BimBakery, for example.
Here among us the best programmers are Russians, on Telegram there is a group of experienced users in the GDL.
If you have products for sale you can create a Patreon, Gumroad or if you do not have economic purposes, Github. If you don't show the world what you are capable of, no one will know.
The day you want or have something to offer, let me know and I can promote you on my social networks.

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