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Add ability to access Classification Description in parameters (and get a free Keynoting solution)

Tomek Piatek
Contributor
It is possible to access Classification ID and Name fields within parameters. This is especially powerful when combined with expression based parameters. However, there doesn't seem to be a way to access the Description field of classification items, even though each item has a description.

If we were able to access the description field then we'd have a very powerful, built-in and general purpose hierarchical data editor for ArchiCAD. You could use this feature as a keynote editor for example. Here is how:

- Open Classification Manager.
- Create a new classification and call it Keynotes.
- Create branches and items that describe your keynotes. Each node would have a key (= classification ID), a name (= classification name) and a description (= classification description).
- Add the Keynotes classification to elements and use the dropdown menu to assign the desired classification (i.e. keynote)
- Use the Classification/Property label to display the desired combination of key (i.e. classification ID), note (i.e. classification name) and specific description.

In my opinion this would be a very elegant way to allow users to attach all sorts of hierarchical data to model elements. It wouldn't rely on any 3rd party add-ons. It would be a pure ArchiCAD solution. But first we need to access the description field. Please consider this.

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ArchiCAD 23
Windows 10 Pro
39 REPLIES 39

Tomek Piatek
Contributor
If anyone is interesting in exploring this idea I have uploaded a couple of classification files based on the Masterspec CBI classification system. Check out my other post for more info.

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ArchiCAD 23
Windows 10 Pro

Eduardo Rolon
Moderator
I think that this can already be done (or should be done) by using Properties.
Your new Property ID and Property Description get linked to the Classification.
eduardo rolón AIA NCARB
Another of the forum moderators.
Macbook Pro 2.4 i9 32GB ram
OS X 10.XX latest
AC25 US/INT -> AC08

Tomek Piatek
Contributor
That’s what I thought. However, there is no way to access the description attribute of a classification item. Not that I can find it.

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ArchiCAD 23
Windows 10 Pro

Eduardo Rolon
Moderator
BTW you can access description in Schedules but not for Labels.
But I would try to do this with properties instead since they are more flexible.
eduardo rolón AIA NCARB
Another of the forum moderators.
Macbook Pro 2.4 i9 32GB ram
OS X 10.XX latest
AC25 US/INT -> AC08

Tomek Piatek
Contributor
Interesting. So the classification description can be accessed in some places but not others. Seems like it's so close to being really useful. Please see the consecutive screenshots to better understand the workflow that I am trying ot achieve and why I'm trying to use the classification interface to do it.

First I created a new classification suitable for my keynoting system. This is a high-level classification that is used a lot in New Zealand. I want to have a quick and convenient access to all the levels of the classification. This is why I want to use the Classification feature. It give me a nice UI to access and edit the whole classification tree.


Using the Classification Manager I can easily add custom items to the tree:


It is important to me that I am able to add both a generic note and a specific note. This way I can have the same generic note appear on all elements that are of the same general type but each can have its own specific construction notes.


I don't seem to be able to add more images here, I shall continue in the following reply...

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ArchiCAD 23
Windows 10 Pro

Tomek Piatek
Contributor
Continuing form the previous post...

Now, using the same convenient UI for selecting a classification, I can easily assign a note to my element:



Finally, using a suitably configured label, I can annotate my element:


And of course I can schedule everything to provide a legend of notes.

However, what is missing from my annotation is the ability to show the specific construction note on the drawing and not in the legend. There are many times when I want to do that for clarity or just to be explicit.

Unfortunately the Classification Description attribute is not available outside of legends. That's the missing pice for me. If that one thing was available then we'd have a built-in general purpose keynoting tool with a great editor. Everything would just work regardless of whether it's a Solo or Teamwork project.

I think that would be a pretty big win.

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ArchiCAD 23
Windows 10 Pro

Tomek Piatek
Contributor
ejrolon wrote:
BTW you can access description in Schedules but not for Labels.
Can you think of a way to filter the schedule to only show items that appears on certain views?

In Revit I can tell the keynote legend to only display rows for items that appear on the sheet. This way you can either have a big keynote schedule on a single sheet for all the notes in the whole project, or you can have localised mini-schedules/legends that only apply to the given sheet.

I'm still trying to find my way around the many properties and attributes available in ArchiCAD.

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ArchiCAD 23
Windows 10 Pro

Eduardo Rolon
Moderator
To beat a dead horse again, still think that you should use Properties for this. It is the same procedure and possibly more flexible.
To limit notes in schedules you will need to limit by zone. There is no option in AC to do this automatically by view.
eduardo rolón AIA NCARB
Another of the forum moderators.
Macbook Pro 2.4 i9 32GB ram
OS X 10.XX latest
AC25 US/INT -> AC08

Tomek Piatek
Contributor
Ok. I see that you have a good idea of how to accomplish this using properties. I don’t know how to do that using properties alone.

Is there a way to make properties display a tree structure from which I can pick an item?

Is there a way to populate allowable property values from an external source, be it a csv or XML or some other format?

If the above can be done with properties alone then I’m sold.

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ArchiCAD 23
Windows 10 Pro

Eduardo Rolon
Moderator
You will need to read the manual but but basically Properties are the user configurable parts of Classifications which are usually standard based and which are used to map to IFC or Cobie during export.
To answer the question the answer is yes.
eduardo rolón AIA NCARB
Another of the forum moderators.
Macbook Pro 2.4 i9 32GB ram
OS X 10.XX latest
AC25 US/INT -> AC08

Tomek Piatek
Contributor
I've tried to make the keynote schedule look the way that I want it to look and now I think that we need even more control over access to classification information. In particular I think that it would be useful to access classification attributes at a user selectable level. So I could say in a schedule: display these attributes for "parent", to use a relative reference. This would allow me to have a aggregate row for all "42 Timber Cladding" sub-items, and then list individual items below (i.e. 41.1, 41.2, etc.)

This could potentially be generalised to able to access any node in the tree. I'm just thinking out loud here as I evaluate this feature set. I think there is a lot of untapped potential here for being able to access and manipulate data stored in the model. I mean the data is already there. We just need a way to access it.

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ArchiCAD 23
Windows 10 Pro

Eduardo Rolon
Moderator
You already have them they are Properties and Expressions
eduardo rolón AIA NCARB
Another of the forum moderators.
Macbook Pro 2.4 i9 32GB ram
OS X 10.XX latest
AC25 US/INT -> AC08

Tomek Piatek
Contributor
@eduardo Yeah, but... 😉

Properties are simple, non-structured mappings between a property name and its value. Yes, the value can be calculated dynamically using an expression, but you still get a single value. The Option Set type is not useful for more than say 7 values and it only allows for the creation of a flat list.

Classifications are structured hierarchies that can be traversed and explicitly show the relationship between parent, child and sibling nodes.

These two entities complement each other.

As far as I can tell you cannot use properties to create a structured hierarchy of values to choose from. That's what classifications are for. What I'm advocating for is to have more access to classification attributes from within property definition, either through expressions or explicitly by selecting from a list of some sort (as you have shown this is already possible in schedules).

Anyway, I am always open to new knowledge and being shown new ways of getting something done. I welcome your suggestions and thank you for the conversation so far.

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ArchiCAD 23
Windows 10 Pro

Eduardo Rolon
Moderator
Tomek wrote:
@eduardo Yeah, but... 😉

…Yes, the value can be calculated dynamically using an expression, but you still get a single value. The Option Set type is not useful for more than say 7 values and it only allows for the creation of a flat list.…
You are still missing the point. Please read more about Properties, Schedules and Expressions

If I define an object using Classification Door with a specific property for type (Door 01, 02, etc) then I can create a property that will assign the correct description listed in the Sequence. for door type 01 then "description= that". AC will continue down the list until it finds the correct one (which are more than 7) and then stop which creates the "Tree".

I can create as many of these Properties as needed and I can organize them hierarchically in the Property window as I want. Doing it here gives the flexibility that I can apply these Properties to any Classification that I want or need.

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You can try to do this with Classifications but it is not as flexible as you keep noting since that is not the purpose for them. If a keynote is a description of a property of a "classified object" then it belongs in the Property Manager. All Door Types are Classified as "Doors" all Door Type information is a Property.

To put it another way, You are trying to use one tool to do what another is designed to do and wishing the first one behaves like the second one. It is as if I want GS to modify the Beam Tool for me to use as a Window (since it creates holes in walls) and I am having to add the frame and pane as Morphs because it does not create it automatically.

The only reason I keep answering your posts is that you keep trying to go down this path and I am trying to avoid others from following since it will come to a dead end. I also need to add that Properties do have their issues/problems too but those are not enough to advocate the use of another tool.

From the Help file:

Classifications
In ARCHICAD, you can optionally assign one or more classifications to any project element. A classification makes parameters and functions available to these elements for use by other applications: to organize project data, to make models transparent, to locate elements, for listing purposes, to share exact data, etc.
https://helpcenter.graphisoft.com/user-guide/77294/

Properties
Expression-based properties have been introduced as one of the main new features in ARCHICAD 22 to help designers in creating data-rich building models. Expressions process existing model data with functions and operators to create new information.
https://helpcenter.graphisoft.com/knowledgebase/83803/
eduardo rolón AIA NCARB
Another of the forum moderators.
Macbook Pro 2.4 i9 32GB ram
OS X 10.XX latest
AC25 US/INT -> AC08

Tomek Piatek
Contributor
Thank you for your continuing effort to educate me. I'm glad that you are just as persistent as I am. I really appreciate all the help I'm getting at this forum.

Yes, I am thinking unconventionally, and some of my thinking is tainted by years of using Revit. I definitely know that at times I need to stop looking at ArchiCAD through Revit glasses. However in this case I disagree that I'm missing the point. I'm just thinking outside of the box. I think we should leave it at that. 🙂

Thanks again!

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ArchiCAD 23
Windows 10 Pro

Eduardo Rolon
Moderator
I don't mind being unconventional or trying to do things differently.
So we can agree to disagree and I'll leave it at that.

FYI
Attached screenshot of OOTB Label "accessing" the Classification Description.
eduardo rolón AIA NCARB
Another of the forum moderators.
Macbook Pro 2.4 i9 32GB ram
OS X 10.XX latest
AC25 US/INT -> AC08

Tomek Piatek
Contributor
That's brilliant! How did you do that? I've racked my brain over this and I can't figure out a way to get the classification description to appear in the label. Please tell me how you did that.

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ArchiCAD 23
Windows 10 Pro

Eduardo Rolon
Moderator
The answer again is using Properties.
This workflow is not recommended though it has the benefit of tying the Keynote to the Description in a way that it is more difficult to edit.
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Steps
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01: Write your Classification
02: In Property Manager create a new Property and make it available for the Classification already created
03: Here's were the process starts to break down (and why you should use Properties). You will need to create as many objects as you have items in your Classification and assign one classification to each. OTOH you can do this at the end of the project and have the list only show what is available.
04: Create a Schedule that has the Criteria "All 3D Objects" and Classification = "Yours" with "Has Value". There might be other options that work here.
05: In Schedule Fields add the one for Classification Description and the one created for the Property. You can add Id or others if you want but they are not necessary.
06: Open the Schedule and go File->Interoperability->Classifications and Properties->Export (Excel Worksheet)
07: Open Excel File and selected the items inn the column that matches the Property and make them equal to the ones on the column for Description. Save the file
08: In AC go File->Interoperability->Classifications and Properties->Import and select the Worksheet
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Now the created Property matches the Classification Description and the Label can read it.
If anything changes just redo steps 06 to 08 and it will update without issues.
If you think this is too difficult or cumbersome or GS should make it easier let me remind you that if you use regular Properties you don't have to do this but you will need to do other stuff.
eduardo rolón AIA NCARB
Another of the forum moderators.
Macbook Pro 2.4 i9 32GB ram
OS X 10.XX latest
AC25 US/INT -> AC08

Tomek Piatek
Contributor
Thanks for that explanation. I though that there was some magical thing that I had missed alas...
I agree that this particular process is not flexible and extensible. In particular I do not wish to create the large classification tree by hand, as I already have a suitable XML file generated from Masterspec's CBI classification system. And I really don't want to create all those properties. It's untenable.

Hey, thanks again for all your help!

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ArchiCAD 23
Windows 10 Pro

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