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Wishes forum

Beginners user interface wishes

Not applicable
Hello everybody at Graphisoft.

I have some user interface issues that I would like to air out.

I am an architecture student and I am using the educational version of Archicad, Version 10 and 11 until now, and just installed version 12. I would consider myself a beginner in using Archicad. I have made some school projects with it and tried some GDL scripting and of course done all the Tutorials that were easily accessible.

I consider myself a relatively computer oriented person. I use several 3D applications, doing everything from Product Design to architecture to animation. I believe 3D programs are tools and as such, the more tools you know how to use, the more you can do.

During my studies, Ive tried learning Archicad several times. First time I did so, I gave up after a week. This I believe was version 8 I found on a university computer. I could not get anything to work and there were no materials to find anywhere to learn anything.

After this, some time went past and I got tried Version 10, which turned out to be just as hard to use, and I remember thinking that I needed surgically add more fingers just to be able to hold down all the buttons needed to draw the wall I wanted.

This spring I finally enrolled to a course which specifically said that we had to use ArchiCAD to model with. So I bit down on the lemon and did all the video tutorials and bit by bit made my building. I thought that, hey now I can use Archicad, but it was just too slow to use for any school work.

And so now I installed the new version 12 and Lo And Behold! the same UI that is still just as slow.

Now I noticed that some others have expressed their frustration over this UI before (they do indeed have an entire section of the forum dedicated to this). They write, "why oh why, doesnt Archicad do this like every other program does it?" to which some experienced user replies "Ha! it is your own foolishnes you have to thank, for it is merely setting up this and this and this and this" Heres my problem.

First a note to all the experienced users: Everything can be learned. Someone who has done double sumersaults all his life has no problem doing them easily and with grace. It is however very painful for someone not accustomed to them to try one.

This is pretty much the same vibe i get from the UI in Archicad. I have no doubt that if you use it day in and day out and tweak every single setting so that it works exactly how you want it to, you can work fast. The problem is that the UI is so poor that I gave up 3 times before I even did a single building.

So please Graphisoft: Could you please re-do the UI? It is a complex software, I understand that, but that shouldnt be an excuse. The more complex the program, the better the UI needs to be.

The most horrible bit is the selecting, use this tool, not this, dont click here but here, but click here if you want something else, but with that tool-system. I am very sure there is a pattern behind it, but for the love of god, I cant figure it out. I have spent so many hours trying to select doors that I think I could have built the buildings in the garden faster.

The other thing that seems to be ridiculous is some of the naming. Everybody else calls it plugins, so why not call it Add-ons just for the sake of it? Solid element operations? Why not booleans?

The icons are undescriptive and so ugly I dont think ive seen uglier since DOS. What does the bloody axe beside the scissors do? Why are there icons in the menus? It is clearly written what this menu option does, why on earth does it need a icon?

And then theres the menus: File special. That one sounds interesting.

And what is this thing that the 3d view opens in a separate window on a mac which then needs to be picked to the front with expose or resized? Can I fix it? yes. Should i have to? No. Can we get viewports like every other 3D program? Docked ones?

All in all, i think the UI is so outdated that it is very hard for a beginner to start using archicad. There are clear established solutions in 3D programs, names, ways of doing things, and these are ways we expect a program to behave. For instance you wouldn't suddenly want a program to use the scroll wheel to select objects and the left mouse button to exit the program?

So here is my grand idea: Call Maxon, get them to help you out on your UI, Cinema 4D is atleast as complex as Archicad but has an exemplarily well thought out UI. This way (If you get the plugins for Version 12 updated in the next few months (why werent thet released at the same time with V12?) Architects could start using both programs and they could compliment each other very nicely, at least if you get Archicad to handle more polygons, since you cant really do a freeform bit in Cinema 4D yet since Archicad cant handle the polygons on anything more free than a rough mesh.

Regards, A

Not applicable

The days are gone where you could pick up a professional technical program and teach yourself how to use it properly in a reasonable timeframe. Find someone who knows their way around the program to sit with you for an hour or two, and you will learn more than could could possibly find out on your own in 2 months!

I'm not sure what you mean by having to 'hold down all the buttons' in order to draw a wall. Maybe you could explain further. People on this forum are more than willing to help with things like this. I'm suprised you haven't registered and asked questions before, if you were strugging!

It sounds like many of your problems could be solved by a little one-on-one training, especially fundamentals like selecting stuff.

Personally I have no problem with the icons in AC. They are pretty self explanatory. If you hover the mouse over any you are not sure of, a pop up appears telling you its function. (Surely though, it must have occurred to you that an axe possibly chops something into two pieces! ) I have to agree they are still a bit 'Windows 95' when you compare it to the (awful) new-style interfaces in Autocad and MS Office etc, but I prefer something to have more function over style.

I'm not so sure about the interface in Cinema4d, I agree it is a more attractive interface, but 'better', I'm not so sure. To a complete novice (I have never looked at it before until this screenshot) it appears even more confusing than ArchiCAD. What on earth am I meant to click to in order to model something? What do the buttons actually do?

I'm guessing until you have played with it for a while you don't know these things. At least in AC you know the 'wall' button probably draws a wall, and a 'column' button more than likely draws a column.

I know ArchiCAD is still a long way from being perfect, I have a wishlist even longer than yours I expect, but it is still pretty good at doing what it does (once you know what your doing)!

Good luck!


whilst i totally agree that archicad's UI needs a bloody good shake out and overhaul, i don't think that following other applications just because they conform to "standard" methods is the correct way to go.

i have been in exactly the same situation as you with cinema4D - i have tried and tried to pick it up for years. i duly download the demo and open it up only to be totally baffled by the UI. if i actually had some tutelage in it then maybe the situation would be different: as peter says, the days are gone when technical applications are simple enough to pick up and teach yourself.

the point is that it's not because somethings work contrary to your expectations but that not everything works consistently across its own feature set!
The more complex the program, the better the UI needs to be.
this statement you make i wholeheartedly agree with. graphisoft have always seemed to see the UI as something that gets bunged on at the end when the functionality is working. they DO NOT take as much care as they should when designing their UI, nor do i believe that they appreciate just how much the UI is a part of a feature. the new curtain wall tools is a prime example of this: it's absolutely appalling. not just because it's different - that i can handle - but because it stands as a half-cocked attempt at a new way of working that breaks working methods employed in other parts of the application.

b e n f r o s t
b f [a t ] p l a n b a r c h i t e c t u r e [d o t] n z
archicad | sketchup! | coffeecup

You are correct in so many ways. It is so easy to come to a thing new and see its flaws. We old timers all suffer the old interface, but we know it, and have had a chance to accommodate its growing overlaid eccentricities one at a time. Archicad has been "too hard" to learn intuitively since about 1994, where they finally succeeded in driving the melody that was Archicad 4.5 into the ground. Archicad newbies really need to be "shown the ropes" by an old hand to delve into the layers of guild knowledge necessary to operate effectively.

I can imagine the difficult facing anyone who attempts an Archicad UI redo, whether emulating Cinema 4D or, even better, the totally slick interface of Lightwave where you hardly move your mouse because commands are so tight. You want to make it new and efficient and still keep the old guard from getting lost. The longer they let it be klunky, the harder changing it is.

Ben: Cinema 4D has a wonderful tutorial where you make a spinning TV logo explode. Takes only about two days. Then you know something. Like about 2% of it.
Dwight Atkinson

Not applicable
Let me share my opinion too as a long-time AC user and and an AC teacher.

First - You cannot learn AC by yourself! This is impossible! You cannot learn 3DSMax, SolidWorks, Allplan or even Photoshop either! You have to attend a proper course to learn the basics! It is possible to learn some Autocad alone, but it is an application that hasn't changed since year 2000! And still most of its users know only 50% of it! It takes my students a whose semester at the university to get acquainted with AC and another semester to learn its full modelling capacity!

You cannot expect all the applications to look the same! If they look the same they are probably the same! I want different applications! I remember the horrible UI of Allplan several years ago, when I had to learn it - imagine all the applications looked this way?

I think one of the best features of AC are his icons and buttons! They are simple and (mostly) monochromatic! I am sick of these colour-3D-icq-like icons most applications tend to have these days! And what really horrifies me is the MSOffice Assistant!

With all this said, I have to agree to your strongest criticism - AC is becoming an overcomplicated, difficult-to-work-with and not-willing-to-change application!

It reminds of the time of Autocad12, when it was the absolute ruler and maintained its god-like status!
When I wanted to work in 3D, they said: Install AME module!
When I wanted to write like in Word, the said: It is not possible, you have to use only Autocad fonts with Styles!
When I wanted simple shading of the 3D model, they said: Go to 3dsStudio!
When I wanted the cursor to change with the snap, they said: You have to know in advance where you will snap and work more carefully !
When I wanted walls and doors they said:This is impossible!
Then came Archicad and it was possible! Simple and elegant!

Now AC is becoming more and more like Autocad of these years! If it continues this way, sooner or later a brand new application will blow it away and send it in history!
MSOffice Assitant.jpg

Not applicable
It is good to see that some agree with me at least.

When it comes to learning programs, I cannot simply see the argument that you would need professional tutoring to learn a program as valid. I can use Cinema 4D, 3DS Max, Rhino, ADT, Revit, RealFlow, Maxwell, Vray, Poser, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Sketchup and several other programs. Saying I can use, means that have enough knowledge to use it for the purpose it is meant for effectively and get the output I need, wether a flyby animation in C4D with a nice animated sunset in the background, a residential development in Revit or cutting patterns for CNC from Rhino. None of these programs have I attended any sort of course or tutoring for, but figured out by myself with some help of available tutorials and Googling.

This is perhaps one of the other great disadvantages in Archicad: if anyone has seen a tutorial video from Total Training and compared it to the ones available from Graphisoft, you know exactly what I mean. While professional videos go through a program step by step in a comprehensible order and build on previous videos, the Archicad tutorials available are more like paint by numbers: Open this file we provided, click the points indicated, dont worry about this bit, its too hard for you, so we already made ready for you, just draw in the last line, etc.

Maybe I would learn Archicad faster if I could get hold of some proper video tutorials showing the program, but I have never found any that do even a half decent job out of it. This combined with the aforementioned UI issues just make learning Archicad a serious time consumer for a beginner.

Just in comparison, we could take sketchup. I grant you that it is a very much simpler program, but even so, it is competition for Archicad. Why? because every single architecture student knows how to use it, and effectively. It takes under a weekend to learn enough to get you modelling efficiently. And it costs next to nothing, or is indeed free if you dont need the pro features. What is it that sketchup does so well? UI and videos that get you using the program fast.

Question is which will get the job done faster? The fact that you can draw a curtain wall in Archicad but have to cope with the less than ideal UI for the rest of the project, or use sketchup which is both fast and easy to use and rather just copy up components to make up that curtain wall? What takes more time when doing a section, to set up a incomprehensible system of lines in archicad or just cleaning up a sketchup export in illustrator?

This is of course dependent on the type of project, but I still see sketchup being used by students for their projects instead of Archicad on even more complex projects. To all of those who think sketchup cant do enough, its worth noting that sketchup support ruby and that means you can do pretty much anything.

I just hope Graphisoft would hire a good UI designer and give the program a proper overhaul (also duly noted that most software makes more changes in a .1 upgrade than Archicad made from V11 to V12) and get it up to a proper level. Sketchup is one thing, but when you start looking at programs like Adobe Lightroom and several Apple applications where the UI is really honed to provide the most streamlined user experience possible, you notice how much better a UI can be done.

PS. for anyone wanting to learn cinema 4D, c4dcafe has about a hundred video tutorials for free, everything from basic stuff to how to make bulletholes with thinking particles, cloth dynamics and a bit of xpresso.

PPS. Just noted that Graphisoft encourages the use of smileys in their forum....very professional 😄

Regards, Aalto

Not applicable
Well, Aalto, what else could I say? You are right! If you can learn Cinema all by yourself it is right to expect the same with AC! I am not against learning the program by yourself, I just indicate the fact that this is impossible at the moment! It would have been nice if it was possibe, though!

And i don't care what it is or how good the tutorials are, but a few hours spent with an expert help the thought process in the way non-interactive methods can't.

They reach the places other beers can't.
Dwight Atkinson

Having a positive outlook is good.

However, the more you know, the more you realize what you don't know. Personally, I would never say that I have learned 15 quite complex softwares by myself.

Because some people out there really know how to use at least one of them.

Realizing what you don't know is a very humbling and cleansing experience.

ArchiCAD since 4.55 ... 1995
HP Omen

Speaking of videos ...

I have just discovered (for good or bad) the Graphisoft YouTube channel:

And there is quite a lot on ArchiCAD:

ArchiCAD since 4.55 ... 1995
HP Omen

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