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Archicad Basic Concepts - Libraries

Emoke Csikos

This article is a part of a series titled Archicad Quick Tour.


What are Libraries?

They are collections of preconfigured, editable, localized parametric objects, that are also known as Library parts, GDL objects or simply objects. Libraries are actually folders in which the Library parts reside.

What are Objects?

They are small files that save you the work of recreating many repetitive items in a building during design, such as windows, doors, pieces of furniture, etc. All Archicad Objects are highly parametric; you can change their sizes, color and many other parameters to tailor them to best fit in your project. They were created using GDL (Geometric Description Language) and their file format and file name extension is .gsm.




In Archicad several Tools use GDL objects, see the list below. Some of them use just one object for each placed instance, such as a window, others use multiple objects for each placed instance, since the placed element is hierarchical, such as a stair.

List of Tools using Library Parts
  • Door Tool
  • Window Tool
  • Stair Tool
  • Railing Tool
  • Skylight Tool
  • Curtain Wall Tool
  • Object Tool
  • Zone Tool
  • Label Tool
  • markers of the Dimension Tool, the Level Dimension Tool, the Radial Dimension Tool and the Angle Dimension Tool
  • markers of the Section Tool, the Elevation Tool, the Interior Elevation Tool, the Worksheet Tool, the Detail Tool, the Change Tool and the Grid Element Tool
  • Wall End Tool
  • Corner-Window Tool
  • Lamp Tool
  • all MEP Modeler Tools (tools of Ductwork, Pipework and Cabling - available only if MEP Modeler Add-On is installed)

Library Types

We can differentiate Libraries based on where they are stored and how we work with them:

Linked Libraries 

These are folders of Library Parts on your computer or company server. When you add them to the project, you actually link them, that's why they are called Linked Libraries.

Embedded Library

It is for storing project specific items that will most probably not be used in other projects. The content of the Embedded Library can be structured in folders. Library Parts in the Embedded Library are stored in the project, so even if other Libraries are not loaded, the embedded elements will be visible in the project. It is recommended to keep the Embedded Library small.

BIMcloud Libraries

When we work in Teamwork, Libraries are managed centrally. The Libraries that will be used in the Teamwork project are uploaded to the BIMcloud Server and can be accessed by all team members. These are called BIMcloud Libraries. Teamwork projects also have Embedded Libraries but do not use Linked Libraries.

Custom Library Parts

You can model, create and save your own custom Library Parts. They can be organized into separate folder(s) and can be used as a Linked Library, can be put into the Embedded Library or can be uploaded to the BIMcloud Server. You can read more about custom object creation in this article:

Create Custom Library Parts and Components

Basic Terms in Library Management

Library parts are separate files that are not in your project by default. They are stored in Library folders on your computer, company server or BIMcloud Server.

Each version of Archicad is shipped with a standard library (named simply Archicad Library) containing hundreds of objects. The Archicad Library is version specific (Archicad Library 21, Archicad Library 22, etc). When you install Archicad, the Archicad Library is automatically placed in the folder where the application is installed.

You have to establish the connection between the project and its library folders. When you start a new project, the Archicad Library is automatically loaded to the project, so the connection is automatically established. Each time you open a project, Archicad loads all Libraries that were already used in the project.

You can manage Libraries using the Library Manager (File » Libraries and Objects » Library Manager...). Let's see what are the most basic Library related operations:

Add a Library

When you add or load a Library, you tell Archicad where the Library folder is by defining the path to that folder. When you place an object, a door, a window, etc. in the project, you actually create a reference to an external file. When the Library of the object is loaded, the path to this file is known, so Archicad can read the file and can display the placed object properly.


Re-load a Library

If you re-organize data on your computer, or server and move a Library folder to a new location, next time you open your project, you will have to re-load the Library, which means you re-define its location for Archicad.




Delete a Library

This does not mean you erase the content of the Library. You only cut the connection between the project and the Library folder, so Archicad won't be able to read the content of the Library, so it won't be able to display placed instances of objects that were already used in the project. The reference to the external file in the Library folder remains in the project. You can re-establish the connection by re-loading the Library.




Most Common Issues in Library Management

Missing Library Parts

A Library Part is missing if Archicad does not find the location of the referenced external file. This usually happens when the Library folder in which the file resides is not added to the project. The references of the missing items are displayed by black dots.




Learn more about missing Library parts in these two articles:

Duplicated Library Parts

A Library Part is duplicated when the referenced external file can be found at more than one location. This happens when more than one Libraries were added to the project that contain the same Library Part (the files have the same name).

What Other Items Are Stored in Libraries?

Besides GDL objects (.gsm files), Libraries store many other project related items such as:

  • image files used by Surfaces and Image Fills
  • .ies files used by Lamps
  • .txt files used by e.g. Steel Sections

Useful Articles to Learn More About Libraries


This article is a part of a series titled Archicad Quick Tour.

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