I've just posted another video, a 6 minute lesson on how to simplify one task in ArchiCAD that you probably do all the time.
Choosing the right layer for elements - walls, objects, text, lines, etc. - can be tedious and a bit confusing because the layer popup menu is lengthy and filled with layers not relevant to the task at hand.
Fortunately, there is a preference setting in ArchiCAD that allows you to turn off the layers from this menu that aren't useful for what you're doing.
This link takes you to the Best Practices Course website, where you'll also find my free 45 minute presentation on the 7 Keys to Best Practices for ArchiCAD. This series of three free videos will only be available for a limited time, so be sure to watch or download them while you can. You'll also find my 5 minute Quick Change tip to speed up setting window and door ID's, which could save you hours of work.
NOTE: If you haven't been to the Best Practices website recently, you'll be asked to opt-in to my email list in order to access the videos. Don't hesitate, go ahead and submit the form - I only send out information on ArchiCAD topics, and you can unsubscribe at any time if you get tired of hearing from me.
When you use my quick tip for simplifying your layer menu, it will make your life a bit simpler and less stressful, and reduce the likelihood of errors in assigning layers for elements you're placing.
This Best Practices Method is a built-in option in ArchiCAD, but very few people know it's there or exactly how to use it. Watch this video and learn the secret!
After you see the video, try it out yourself, then write a comment here, or on the actual video page to let me know what you think.
I love helping people with my ArchiCAD tips, articles and videos. There will be more coming soon...
As I wrote in my original post, if you haven't been to the site recently (since around February 1), you'll be asked to opt-in to my email list in order to see the videos. If you registered with my site earlier (with a free preview membership, for example) then your email address is already in our email system, however the new website-based "gateway" system (which checks a "cookie" in your browser cache) doesn't know it.
Simply fill in the opt-in form, and you'll be granted access instantly. Our email system will notice that the information is the same, so you won't get duplicate emails.
I apologize for the confusion and minor inconvenience. I changed the access system on February 1 to this gateway process, which makes it possible for most visitors to opt-in once and then not have to repeat the process when they return to view additional content. The earlier technology I was using would require a login each time, and didn't integrate with our email system.
Anyway, thanks for your interest in my ArchiCAD video tips. I promise you that this video as well as the other materials I have posted on this site are well worth watching - so please go back to that page, fill in the simple opt-in form, and enjoy!
Hey Rob -
After opt-in, you're taken to the page with my video training series on The 7 Keys to Best Practices for ArchiCAD. Near the top of the page, you'll see there is a navigation menu with page links: 7 KEYS | QUICK CHANGE | SIMPLIFY | etc. The tip on Layer simplification is found on the "SIMPLIFY" page.
Finally saw the tip you gave us.
Great job on the video course......
Only comment I have about 'locking' the layers that are hidden is as follows:
1. sometimes I need to "turn on" a layer to see what's on it if I'm trying to coordinate an object on that needed layer.
2. locking the layer obviously wont prevent me from seeing but if I don't "see" the layer in the layer list.....I may end up forgetting there is a specific layer I can use to place an object on......
I know that layer combo's should be setup initially at the start of the projects but layer combo's need tweaking sometimes as the project progresses.
I know that when I "un-hide" a layer that is not part of any layer combination a new "custom" layer combo appears in the quick options allowing the user the option to create a new layer combo if need be.
Your video's are great sir.
Still working over my boss to see if he can fork out the training for our office......don't think I've forgotten about that Eric.
Thanks for your feedback about the videos and the Best Practices Course. You raised some interesting questions about locking layers.
The video tip I created is not the end of the story. It's a quick change that will help many users work more efficiently by simplifying and streamlining the layer popup menu in the Info box.
With regards to your specific points:
1) You can turn on a layer manually in the Layer Settings at any time. This tip doesn't change that at all. You can also use the Window menu > Palettes > Quick Layers to toggle layers (hide the layers currently visible, see what's on the currently hidden layers) and then check layer usage. You can use that same palette to unlock layers on the fly to reassign elements from one layer to another; then use the option in that palette to revert to the previous layer condition without undoing the editing actions. I love the Quick Layers palette!
2) If your layer combinations are set up properly, when you're working on a specific drawing or phase of the modeling process, all the layers you need will be available. That's a key part of using ArchiCAD at optimum efficiency - having just the right layers turned on for whatever you're doing. Of course, I sometimes turn layers off or on manually as I work (using the Quick Layers palette or the Layer Settings dialog), but I try to set up layer combinations to cover most of my working processes. This is made easier by implementing an extensive, well-organized set of layers and layer combinations in your office template. We've made a concerted effort to optimize this in MasterTemplate, the customizable template system we sell.
I hope these comments are helpful in shedding more light on this very important area in the ArchiCAD workflow.
Respectfully, I think you're missing the point Eric.
Just because a layer is hidden, doesn't mean we don't want to see it. In fact it's important to see it so that we are reminded what layers elements can be put on.
If you don't mind me asking, what (large) companies have you implemented this in and whose lives have you simplified? I'd like to hear from them, seriously. Of all the customized templates I've built for firms large and small around the world, never have I included this old feature.
Why? Because it's too restrictive and it's misleading. As you've pointed out, hidden layers in a layer combination need to be locked to benefit from it. That's easy, but let's face it, whilst layer combos are an integral setting in the process of filtering information from the model to views and most often out to layouts for publication, and they're exact in previewing that, the reality is that most 'work' is done by flicking through all layers constantly. Perhaps working on a single dwelling with layer combos is practical, but any power user working in a team on a large multi-res or high rise project (et al), would crucify me for locking and hiding their layers. Not to mention any newcomers who would wonder where the hell all the layers were!
I'm sorry but the calibre of the tip, and the rigmarole to get it, is just lacking IMO. Tips like that are shared here for free everyday. I would have thought that a tutorial on how to make a toolbar and/or keyboard shortcuts of the Quick Layers Palette and incorporate them into your daily workflow would have been of more benefit. Or even customizing layers to meet a company's individual needs and naming the layers ~without~ the A-, C-, S- prefixes so that users could, for example, hit the W key in any layer list to get to the Wall layers, would be more enticing to consider coughing up some dough for.
With the amount of information available, currency is king and new features need to be revealed, not ones from ArchiCAD 7. Making the movies is simple enough. In fact here's a quick screencast I hastily made before enjoying a Friday knock off drink with my colleagues (who were partying in the next room). It has the obviously attention grabbing name of:
It shows how the Drawing Tool in ArchiCAD 14 can help better manage your layers, when it comes to dealing with DXF/DWGs. I can testify, from the trenches, that this new feature seriously does simplify our lives and more users need to know about it.
I hope this feedback helps not hinders and I thought it better to answer here than LinkedIn, Twitter, your website, etc, etc, etc.
I underst6and your point but don't necessarily agree about hiding the locked layers (or locking the hidden layers). I have clients who prefer to use this setting to streamline the work when dealing with long layer lists and tasks that need constant switching between between a small number of layers.
That said I also make sure everyone knows how to turn the feature on and off. I agree that it can be dangerous as a default if there are users who are unfamiliar with it.
Did you view either tutorial? The whole premise of Eric's tip is based on layer combos. I was merely agreeing with him. Yes it applies to any locked layer, but layer combos are the most obvious use. And sure we can teach users to turn off the 'feature' in the WE but then what's the point in making such a sweeping change in the project or template? I'm proud to say that after months of planning and implementation users in our office rarely have to deal with more than our standard layer list anymore, which is comfortably under the 200 count. With a semi-decent resolution monitor there's not that much scrolling and certainly not if you want to key in the first letter of the layer name to jump down the list.
I suspect we could be on different wavelengths depending on the size and progression of the company, their template and their projects. From my experience, there's a big difference between selling software, training it, and even implementing it on a recurring or short term basis, and actually managing the system for a large office(s) full-time (and I've done about all of it). Where every decision is scrutinized from directors down to the techs, and you have not only face the music if anything falls over or wastes time, but actually use the template on real projects as well.
Hey if Eric is happy using that tip as a giveaway to entice people to pay for training content, then more power to him. My point is just that there are more contemporary tips & processes to better manage layer use, and generally use ArchiCAD to it's fullest potential. Managing it and using every day is the best way to discover them. There's still so much to learn as new and often unpublicized features and peripheral advantages. I know im still learning them It takes a lot of time and effort to stay current and it is obvious when we're not.
I hadn't viewed the layer tutorial but now that I have it is pretty much as I expected from reading the comments. I do prefer to keep the Hide Locked Layers setting on by default as do most of my clients. It is very easy to set up working combinations which make all layers available in the pop-up while having others that are streamlined to specific purposes. This does save me considerable amounts of time on my own projects. I haven't asked my clients about this specifically and expect they would not have an opinion on the matter since they probably haven't tried it both ways.
Perhaps I don't work with such large firms as you. My largest architectural clients have been in the range of about 40 people (in one office anyway). I have worked with larger firms but not in a central/decision making capacity. My construction industry clients are much larger but the practices and requirements are radically different. But then I don't find the size of practice matters much in this particular regard.
In my own work I find that the larger the project the more of a difference it makes since the layer list tends to get much longer and the tedious and repetitive tasks more frequent as well as concentrated into hours or days of doing the same thing over and over.
Anyway, I didn't mean to make a big deal of this. The good bit is that the feature can be turned on and off according to one's preferences.
As for Eric's choice of material etc I see no harm and plenty to commend in his giving away stuff to help sell his template and services. Whether a technique is old or not says little about its utility. There are plenty of folks who have yet to learn a lot of the stuff that you and I have known for years.
Thanks for an illuminating discussion! I had no idea I would open up such a can of worms.
There are legitimate differences of opinion on this topic of layer management, and the truth is that there are many ways of using ArchiCAD effectively. I don't pretend to pronounce the "truth" or the only way to work. However, I have been around for 21 years doing this and I've learned some things that work pretty well for a lot of people.
That being said, I don't really want to discuss layer strategies right now. Link, I feel like you owe me an apology. Your initial comments were sarcastic to the point of derogatory. I respect you and your long service working with firms to help them implement ArchiCAD, and I feel I deserve your respect too.
You implied that I was a "salesman" who created cheap little videos on unimportant parts of the software. You mentioned that you tossed off a quick video on the new embedded layer feature of DWGs placed as Drawings, and that this was much more important, partly because it is new and little known.
I'm glad you're contributing your own videos now, because there can never be enough sharing of knowledge. If the new currency is information, the good news is that we can create it at will.
Explaining and demonstrating old features is no less important than doing this for new ones, particularly when these are useful and especially when they are little known. Your comment questioning whether I had worked with large firms belies a bias and prejudice that says bigger is better and more important.
The vast majority of ArchiCAD licenses are held by firms of 5 seats or less. Often these are the individuals and small companies that struggle the most with the software, because they can't afford to hire experienced veterans like you to come in and set things up. And they certainly don't need 200 layers, nor would they be comfortable with that long a layer list. You've forgotten how a beginner or less experienced person feels when confronted with too many choices - narrowing things down to the most appropriate layers for a particular drawing or task is often very helpful.
All this being said, I'd like to clarify my motivations as well as my relevant experience. I'm giving away free training materials, both videos and articles, for two reasons.
I'm contributing to the ArchiCAD community my knowledge and experience, and helping designers and architects to understand the software better. This takes time and effort, and I don't toss these things off casually, although perhaps I could - I think it through carefully and try to boil things down to the essence, and explain them in a way that people really understand. One of my Best Practices Course members called me "the master of easy explanations."
The other reason I do these things is to give people a taste of what they might get if they sign up for the Best Practices Course or purchase MasterTemplate. If you like what I teach you for free, and like me for giving this away, then you may be more interested in purchasing my products or services. If you think that what I'm sharing is not useful, or hard to understand, then I've failed at what I'm trying to do.
You, Link, are not the person I'm trying to reach. It is the vast majority of ArchiCAD users who fight with the program because they don't understand its principles or its philosophy well enough to use the structure, commands and options to their fullest potential. They can read in the Reference guide what a particular checkbox does, but they need advice about which ones are good to use, and why, and what else you need to do in order to gain benefit from them. This is what I tried to offer in my latest video tip.
Like all businesses and professions, I will live or die based on whether I serve my clients well. At this point I have 155 people registered for the Best Practices Course, and for the most part, people have been very positive about what I've been teaching them. I'm working now with over 20 ArchiCAD resellers, distributors and related firms and individuals around the world to promote the course, which will reopen registration in early March for a one week period. We expect to double the number of course members at that time.
With regards to my experience, I haven't worked inside a firm using ArchiCAD, either large or small. However, I believe my experience is very relevant and qualifies me to teach the Best Practices for using ArchiCAD (at least one version of them, of course). Here is a brief summary of what I've done over the years with regards to ArchiCAD:
-- Graphisoft Reseller from 1989 - 2010, including North American reseller of the year in 2000, member of the top 5 U.S. resellers every year from 1997 to 2006, Graphisoft Platinum VAR
-- Over 1,000 clients (individuals and firms up to 50 people in size) throughout California and in the Toronto area - assisted implementation of ArchiCAD, trained many of them, handled tech support and training support calls and emails, expert trouble-shooter for technical issues
-- Founder and chair of the Los Angeles ArchiCAD Users Group - I led close to 150 meetings over a 15 year period, demonstrating products and answering innumerable training and technical questions
-- Creator of MasterTemplate - a robust customizable office standard for ArchiCAD that embeds Best Practices into the project structure; over 400 individuals and firms use MasterTemplate world-wide as the basis for their office standard template
-- Author of over 20 ArchiCAD Tips and Tricks articles and Video Tips that have appeared in AECbytes, Cadalyst, the ArchiCAD Wiki, and other websites and publications
-- Speaker at numerous AIA and other industry events on BIM Implementation and related topics
-- My Youtube Channel was set up recently and in just 3 months has gathered close to 400 friends and subscribers, and well over 10,000 views
-- and finally...I am in the process of creating The Best Practices Course, a 26 week online training series that is intended to help ArchiCAD users get the most out of their software.
I think I've gone a bit overboard here, but I felt truly hurt by your negativity. If you disagree with my ideas, please share your own; but do not attack me with sarcastic statements such as "what (large) companies have you implemented this in and whose lives have you simplified? I'd like to hear from them."
P.S. Thanks Matt for your constructive comments that helped steer the discussion to focus on strategies for working with layers in ArchiCAD, as I originally intended.
I usually don't post here, because even though I have used AC since version 4.5, I'm truthfully not very good at it. I'm self taught
(no one else used it at the time) and over the years I've cobbled together layers that suited the task at hand.
Probably like many architects, CAD is not really my thing and I usually do just enough to get through the day. Yes I know I'm missing the whole point of AC, but then again that's why I finally bought Eric's template system. My only regret is that I didn't have something like this many years ago.
I'm still getting used to Eric's system, but in my non-expert opinion it's pretty amazing. If you are a CAD expert, well maybe you have your own way, but for a mere mortal it's worth every cent and then some.
I've been practicing since 1974, for large firms, small firms and now for myself. I've seen a lot and have learned a few things along the way. I don't agree with a lot of things in architecture, but what I do know is that I appreciate quality
people who try to quality things,
Personally, I do not believe Link owes you an apology and find nothing wrong with his post. Link is probably the most well-received trainer I know - and I have heard feedback from numerous of his clients around the world over the years. Not only has he worked with complete beginners (even people new to computers), he has worked with all sized firms and has also been a CAD manager at various sized firms in several countries.
Your response was worded in a way that appears to attempt to slight Link. So, I wonder if you don't owe him an apology if apologies are needed?
Whatever. It seems to me that you're the one who made this personal, not Link. Link legitimately questioned some working methods (which I question as well).
In your response, you decided to promote yourself and your course, and specifically said you did not want to discuss layers. These forums are for discussion of technical issues, so I would hope that you would indeed discuss these layer strategies and other issues in your tips/training rather than push them aside. Otherwise, your posts appear to be primarily promotions for signing up for your course, rather than an honest attempt to participate in the community, and perhaps belong in the Ads forum. Sure, there are lots of different ways of working in ArchiCAD, but only by seeing the pluses and minuses of each method in practice can someone decide what is right for them. There is no one-size fits all solution, as I'm sure you'll agree.
Please keep this (and other) discussions professional.
Thanks and cheers,
One of the forum moderators • AC 25 USA and earlier • MacOS 11.6.7, iMac Pro
OK, I respect you a great deal, and if you say that Link's original post was not sarcastic and directed as a negative statement about me personally, then I'll accept responsibility and say that I may have overreacted. Link, if I have offended you, I apologize. I respect you and your work, and look forward to seeing more of your videos and tips.
I started this topic by offering a link (pun intended ;->) to a free video tip that I believe gives a useful approach to working with layers. I have already responded to Link's specific questions and statements on a technical level. This isn't really a debate about who's right, for no idea or approach is necessarily right for all people, for all skill levels, and for all projects and firms. There are pros and cons to every idea or technique, and mine will be better for some people, and Link's approach will be better for others.
To return this discussion to a professional, technical one, I'd like to reiterate the basic premise of my video tip. I feel that simplifying the layer popup menu using the "hide locked layers in popup menus" checkbox can reduce the time it takes to choose a layer for an element, and make it easier to assign tools to an appropriate layer when working on specific drawings and tasks. To fully take advantage of this checkbox / idea, it requires that specific layer combinations be set up (1) for all drawing types as well as most common modeling tasks and processes and (2) that in those layer combinations, the hidden layers are locked, with certain exceptions for layers used to hide or trash elements.
Most users (in my experience) don't know this option is available, and don't understand what that checkbox does, or how to take advantage of it. Many users are frustrated with choosing layers for elements from a long list, and often assign different, inconsistent or incorrect layers because there are so many to choose from. It takes time and attention to scroll through a long list, and to some extent this is stressful - the type of small stress that adds up, given how frequently this task needs to be done.
From the 20 comments on my website in the past few days in response to my video tip, it seems that for many people, once they see this idea demonstrated, they like it a lot and feel that it will help them resolve one of the frustrating parts of using ArchiCAD. As Matthew and Don stated here earlier, they like this approach - it works for them - maybe not all the time, but frequently it is the preferred method they use.
At the risk of being self-promotional (again) I'll quote a few of the comments on my video page so that there is a greater community of opinion here on ArchiCAD-Talk. (Even though this forum is a wonderful place to have discussions, it is not the only place to that ArchiCAD users hang out, and there are many users who do not visit ArchiCAD-Talk on a regular basis.)
QUOTES from the "Simplify Your Life by Streamlining Your Layer Menu" page:
Your tips are making my life a lot easier! Especially when it comes to managing and automating large teamwork projects. Please don't stop posting! -- Trevor Lowell
Where have you been all my AC life? Your little videos are just great. They are short enough to be easily absorbed but long enough to be thorough. I've struggled and spent lots of time on things that you have made so easy. Thanks. -- Maura Lester
Thanks Eric, this will definitely simplify layering. Keep up the good work! -- Rita Hook Sonberg
These little tips are proving very valuable. Thank you Eric. -- Tim Ryan
This is a good one. Already on top of it though—it's integrated into Eric's ACAD Master Template. -- Tom Nychay
Being a sole proprietor I greatly appreciate Eric's tips because I have neither peers nor younger cad-proficient practitioners nearby. -- Kenneth Brooks
Thanks Eric. This tip is very helpful. Similar to Kenneth as a solo, I am relying a lot on your tips to help me keep up with AC. -- Anonymous
These tips are really useful. I pass the link onto my staff for them to follow through too. -- Stephen Booker
ArchiCAD could have a feature when the pop-up is activated: if you click SHIFT or some other key it toggles the state of this checkbox. This way by pressing SHIFT you could see on the pop-up either all layers or only layers not locked. That would enhance things and everyone would be happy.
.................................................................................................... Get Archicad Tips at https://twitter.com/laszlonagy AMD Ryzen 1700X CPU, 48 GB RAM, Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB, 500 GB NVMe SSD 2x28" (2560x1440), WIN10 PRO ENG, AC20-AC25 Loving Archicad since 1995
There was nothing sarcastic or implied about my post. I am genuinely interested, (and admittedly surprised) in hearing that people take so
Much value in that particular option.
I'm not about to list my credentials here (readers can see my post count or view my LinkedIn page if they want to confirm my commitment to the ArchiCAD community), but I certainly still actively train new and experienced users, and even though it is currently only in-house, I have found it more challenging than any other training I have conducted. And it's an ongoing education. Nevertheless this particular tip just doesn't appear on my radar.
Technically, I don't have a problem with checking that option in the work environment, but IME setting all layer combos to lock hidden layers is counter-productive. My opinion is that with better naming conventions, customized layer management and even good screen resolutions, such a feature becomes negligible. Especially compared to the myriad of time-saving tips out there. I'm just keeping it real.
And since the issue of self-promotion has been raised (and let's face it - you don't mind giving yourself a plug! ), I think it’s safe to admit that all of your material blankets every social media channel that involves ArchiCAD. Some may say that's good advertising, good social networking, and I’m not going to tell you how to run your business, but need it appear here in ArchiCAD-Talk's ‘Working in ArchiCAD’ forum, under the thinly veiled disguise of help when it's clearly an ad?
I'll leave that for the moderators to decide.
Best to let this one go. Good luck with your endeavour.
Here is my take about this situation that has developed:
1. I was thinking whether to move this whole thread into the Ads section where it would get automatically deleted after 30 days or leave it here. I decided to leave it here as the discussion has value.
2. I have renamed the topic to "Hide Locked Layers in Pop-Up Palettes option" as it is a much more descriptive title to what the topic originally started out to be about.
3. In the future topic titles should be something that communicates what the topic is about. They should not consist of some marketing phrase the intention of which is to grab attention.
4. If the topic contains an exterior link to a video or article, then the link should take one to that video or article. One should not have to register somewhere just to be able to view the content. Otherwise the info is not directly and immediately helping the reader looking for solutions. If it needs registration then it needs to be posted in the Ads section.
5. Topics should be devoted to discussion of the issue at hand. Posts that are more about self promotion or promotion of products need to go to the Ads section. If someone feels he needs to introduce himself or herself more he can refer readers to his profile, his/her website or his LinkedIn page etc. with a link. Actually these links are available so if the appropriate fields are filled out in one's profile then readers can click these to get more info about the professional background of the poster.
.................................................................................................... Get Archicad Tips at https://twitter.com/laszlonagy AMD Ryzen 1700X CPU, 48 GB RAM, Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB, 500 GB NVMe SSD 2x28" (2560x1440), WIN10 PRO ENG, AC20-AC25 Loving Archicad since 1995
What I intended to be a simple contribution to ArchiCAD-Talk became an emotional discussion.
I want to apologize to everyone. I over-reacted to Link's question "what (large) companies have you implemented this in and whose lives have you simplified? I'd like to hear from them". I felt challenged, called-out, and responded vigorously. I went too far.
I truly appreciate the community spirit of mutual assistance that exists here on this forum. I feel that some of my comments in this thread were not consistent with that spirit, and for that I'm truly sorry.
The angry response by one member here to my posting about my latest video tutorial - demanding that a moderator move the thread to the ADS forum - is a clear indication to me that I overstepped.
I will continue to create both free and paid tutorial and training materials for ArchiCAD users. I love ArchiCAD, and love being part of this community. I hope you will find it in your heart to accept my apology.
Link wrote: ...but IME setting all layer combos to lock hidden layers is counter-productive.
On this I am in full agreement with you Link. I would not recommend locking hidden layers in ALL combinations as a standard practice. I only lock hidden layers in those particular combos where it helps speed up tedious processes and/or serves to clarify the purpose of the setup. These are generally the annotation and output combos with the general modeling ones left largely or entirely unlocked.