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How to Transfer External Links with Your Project

Daniel Kovacs
Graphisoft
Graphisoft

If you are planning to work on your project from home or a different office, or you need to move it to a different server or BIMcloud, you will also need to consider all the external files you have been using with your project that are not included in the PLN/Teamwork project by default. Let's see what are the external elements you might be using, and how to make sure that they won't go missing when you continue working at your new location.

Overview

See the list below for the items that you might need to relink or transfer with your project, depending on your setup.

Linked item Where to manage these settings?
External Drawings (PDF, JPG, PMK, PLN) File > External Content > Drawing Manager
Hotlinks (PLN, MOD, TW, 3DM, IFC) File > External Content > Hotlink Module Manager...
Linked Libraries File > Libraries and Objects > Library Manager...
XREF File > External Content > XREF Manager...
DXF-DWG Translator File > Interoperability > DXF-DWG > DXF-DWG Translation Setup...
Work Environment Profiles Options > Work Environment > Work Environment...
IFC Translator File > Interoperability > IFC > IFC Translators...

If you need details about how to take care of each of these, see the detailed explanations below.

General Advice

If you only use the ARCHICAD default options of the things listed above (default Libraries, default Template, etc.), then you have nothing to do. Wherever you use ARCHICAD, these defaults should be available (given that you are using the same language version fo course).

If you work in Teamwork, it is suggested to keep your linked items on a server location in your office (or in a cloud service), and keep that location mounted as a drive, with the same name/ID on each computer, so that the file path is the same on all computers (e.g. no matter which computer you are working from, the Hotlinks are at F:/Shared Server/Name-of-this-project/Hotlinks/).

It is important to consider, that when you are moving a project from on Operating System to another, or work on the same Teamwork Project from different Operating systems (macOS and Windows), then because of the difference between the file systems, links and file paths will only work on one operating system at a time. So in this case even though you have the same server mounted on both computers, the path to it will be different on the two operating systems, so you will only be able to set it up for one of them.

In case you ever need to work out of the office, it is a good idea to set up a VPN connection, and mount the same server on your distant computer, or use a Remote Desktop Application to work on your office computer from a distance. You can find out more about these options in our Working from Home with ARCHICAD Article.

External Drawings

What is this?

When you place any kind of external 2D graphic in a viewpoint (e.g. PDF, JPG, etc.), or you place a drawing from a different Project in your documentation (through the Organizer), you are linking these files to your project as external drawings. These files can be stored on your computer or on a shared server drive in your office.

What issues can this cause?

These drawings will always load their content directly from the linked file, so if they can't find the file, they might show up empty.

What to do?

  • Store in Project:
    In case of a small, offline project, you can simply use the "store drawing in project" option for all drawings. You can turn this option on at once for all the drawings through the Drawing Manager. This way drawings will be stored in the project and appear just fine even if the linked file is not available anymore.
  • Keep them on a shared server location:
    In case of bigger Teamwork Projects, it is best to keep these files on a shared server location, so the path would be the same on every computer and ARCHICAD would always find them at the same location. If the source of the Drawing is another Project, Share them on the same BIMcloud as a Teamwork project, and relink them, so they would always be available.
  • Use a cloud service:
    If setting up a server is not possible, you can use a Cloud Sync application to store the files, and sync them to the same location on every computer. In this case the latest version of all files should be up-to-date on every computer, but you might need to update the drawings more than once (because of the different times of syncs one each computer), and you need to have enough storage on each and ever computer to host all of the drawings.
  • Outside of your office:
    If you need to edit your project outside of your office, it is suggested to keep the server locations on your home computer as well, through VPN access, or to remotely connect to a computer in the office to do work.
    If you had a Cloud Sync solution, you can set it up to your home computer as well, and keep everything available there as well.
    In case of a smaller project though, just make sure to store every drawing in the project before you leave the office, so they wouldn't be missing when you start working on the project from home.

You can find out more about How to Manage Drawings from our User Guide.

Hotlinks

What is this?

If there are certain repeating parts in a building (e.g. bathroom layouts, typical offices, hotel rooms, flats, etc.), you can save these layouts as Hotlink files, and use them as repeating units. This can save you a lot of time, because if there is a need to make any changes to the units, you can do them in the Hotlink Module file once, and then update all of these instances at once.

What issues can this cause?

If ARCHICAD cannot find the linked projects at the same location anymore, it won't be able to update the instances when you need to make changes to them. Updating Hotlinks is always manual though, so the already linked geometry doesn't go missing from your host project, you just can't update it.

What to do?

  • Files as Hotlink Modules (.MOD, .PLN, .IFC, .3DM, etc.):
    In case of Teamwork projects, you should set up a server where everyone can reach the latest version of the files, or use a cloud service to sync the latest versions of each hotlink to everyone's computer to the same location, so whenever someone needs to update them, they are available.
    If that is not feasible though, it is enough if you appoint people to be the owners of their own files, on their own computer. This way the module file won't be visible for everyone except for the one person who is actually editing the Module file on their own computer, and they can update the Hotlink from their own computer when they changed the modules.
  • Teamwork Projects as Hotlink Modules:
    In case you used Teamwork Projects as Hotlink Modules, you just need to make sure that wherever you are moving the Host Project, you are also moving the Module Projects along to the same server, and you can relink them directly.
  • Break Hotlink:
    If the layout and arrangement of these units are finalized, you can just go ahead and break the hotlinks (meaning they will not be linked anymore, they will be just local elements). This is also beneficial, because it improves loading times.

 

wp-content_uploads_2016_06_Info_18x18.png NOTE: In case of IFC files as Hotlink Modules, you will also need to make sure that the Proper IFC translator is also available.

 

You can find out more about How to Manage Hotlink Modules from our User Guide.

Linked Libraries

What is this?

Libraries contain all the GDL Elements used throughout the project (e.g. Objects, Curtain Walls, Doors, Windows, etc.), and all additional files related to them and certain attributes inside ARCHICAD (like picture files used as textures).

What issues can this cause?

Library parts are always loaded from the Library whenever they are needed, they are not stored in the Project (except for the Embedded Library), so if a Library is not found at the location it is supposed to be at, Things will go Missing, and replaced with a thick dot.

Also, if you just download a PLN version of your project, it will still be linked to the BIMcloud Library on your original BIMcloud, even if you share it to a different BIMcloud, meaning the project will be on the new BIMcloud, but it will still browse the Libraries from the old BIMcloud, and they will be missing, if the old BIMcloud is not accessible.

What to do?

  • Offline Projects:
    If You only use the Default ARCHICAD Library and some Additional parts, you can simply take your project and work on it anywhere, given that the same language version of ARCHICAD is installed, and that your additional elements are stored in the Embedded Library.
    If you are working alone, and you have your own library, make sure to bring it with you to wherever you are going to work on your project. If you won't modify its contents, consider converting it to an LCF file, so it would be easier to transfer as a single file.
  • Teamwork Projects:
    If you are working in Teamwork projects, you will need to use BIMcloud Libraries uploaded to the same BIMcloud as your Project. If you have your own Library on another server, make sure to download it first through the BIMcloud Library Manager, and then upload it to the new BIMcloud location. After that, go to the Library Manager in the PLN (or the already re-shared project), and re-link the Libraries to the new BIMcloud Libraries.
  • Export an ARCHICAD Archive Project (.PLA) file:
    If you just need to quickly share your project with someone who doesn't have your libraries, you can also export an Archive Project (.PLA file), which will include all the Library Parts that you used in the Project, so Library Parts won't go Missing. Beware though, that in this case, not all the Library Parts from Your Libraries will be available.

You can find out more about Libraries in our related Article.

XREF

What is this?

You can attach DWG-DXFs as regular External Drawings, but in that case they will be just a drawing, with quite limited options and functionality. But if you need to keep them as part of your 2D plans, you can also link them to your project as External References (much like a hotlink).

What issues can this cause?

Reloading XREF files to update them with the new changes is a manual process, so if the DWG-DXF file goes missing, the content stays intact in ARCHICAD. You will need to reload it though in case there are any updates made to the DWG-DXF file.

What to do?

  • Browse and Reload:
    As Long as the current state is fine for you there is nothing you need to do. But as soon as you need to update the contents because you received a new DWG-DXF file, you will need to find the XREF Manager, browse the file at its new location, and reload it.
    If one of the users do this on a Teamwork Project, they can send this change in, so everyone would receive it. If you regularly receive new versions, it might be worth setting up a shared location (Server, VPN or Cloud Sync), so anyone could do the update.

 

wp-content_uploads_2016_06_Info_18x18.png NOTE: Make sure to also transfer the DWG-DXF Translators that you use with your files.

 

You can find out more about How to Work with XREFs from our User Guide.

DXF-DWG Translators

What is this?

DWG and DXF drawing elements are substantially different from ARCHICAD 2D elements, so if you want to import/export or XREF DWG files, you need a way to translate the AutoCAD hatchings and lines to ARCHICAD Fills and lines. To make sure everything is converted the way you want them to be, ARCHICAD uses Translators to decide what to convert into what.

These translators are stored on your hard drive in XML format.

What issues can this cause?

If you have a custom Translator set up in a way you usually translate DWG files, and you don't have them with you, things might look wrong (at least not as expected) when you import/export DWG files.

What to do?

  • Transfer the Translator files manually:
    You will need to make sure, that all of you have access to your custom Translators, either by having a copy of them on everyone's computers, or by having them shared on a central Server that is accessible for all of you. Either way, make sure that you go to 'File > Interoperability > DXF-DWG > DXF-DWG Translation Setup...', and browse them at their new location.

You can find out more about Working with DWG/DXF Files from our User Guide.

Work Environment Profiles

What is this?

ARCHICAD comes with a set of defaults when it comes to how the windows, palettes and toolbars are arranged when you open the software, and also for many additional things, like what color the selection highlight or the guidelines are, what tools are available in your toolbox and in what order, what items are in your top menu bar and what options are present in the settings dialog of each tool, jsut to name a few.

These settings can be stored in ARCHICAD as so called "Work Environment Profiles".

What issues can this cause?

These settings are not related to any project, but to the User, so they are stored on your computer. If you start working from a different computer, and your Work Environment is not available, you might be less productive, because things are not set according to your taste.

What to do?

  • Export and Import:
    In the Work Environment Profiles Dialog, you have the option to save your current settings as a Work Environment Profile, and Export it to XML files. You can take these XML files with you (e.g. on a USB drive), and use the Import... button on this same dialog to load them on your new workstation.

You can find out more about Work Environment Settings from our User Guide.

IFC Translators

Before ARCHICAD 21, IFC Translators worked similarly to DWG Translators - they were stored externally in XML files. But since ARCHICAD 21, the Translators are actually stored inside the project, so you have nothing to do about them, they will always be available, wherever you take the project.

If you are working in an earlier version of ARCHICAD though, you will need to make sure, that all of you have access to your custom Translators, either by having a copy of them on everyone's computers, or by having them shared on a central Server that is accessible for all of you. Either way, make sure that you go to 'File > Interoperability > IFC > IFC Translators...', and browse them at their new location.

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