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A new approach to change and alternative designs


This post was prompted by other recent wishes for changes to the renovation filter which got me thinking about how I wish a CAD/BIM application would handle change. I reckon that implementation of an approach outlined below would be technically taxing and likely too much a leap for now - so perhaps it's more of a dream then a wish.


I think that the current approach is limited in such way that it won't get fixed by adding more Renovation Statuses and the ability to set Show On Renovation Filter to multiple filters. Besides being hard to overlook and manage the fact that the current solution is nothing more than a way to control element visibility and element display leaves it with two crucial limitations:


  • the inability for one element to have multiple configurations,
  • the inability to sequence operations.


These limitations forces the creation of additional elements in order to handle change or alternative designs which is inefficient, increases the risk of errors/discrepancies, and at odds with the idea of BIM.


Outline to a new approach

The outlined approach hinges on the introduction of some new abilities:


  • Ability to set up different 'configuration states' for the model which are fundamentally distinct and across which the configuration of individual element can vary.
  • Ability to create monadic unidirectional and dynamic linkage between 'configuration states' so that a state can get it's initial configuration from one other state.
  • Ability to control which 'configuration state' is active for modeling input.

A setup like below could be used to model a project involving an existing building and alternative designs.




  • In the initial state A the elements of the existing building is modelled.
  • By creating a new state B and linking it to A its possible to represent changes to the existing building.
  • By creating additional states C1 and D and linking them both to B it is possible to represent alternative designs.  
  • By creating additional states C2, C3  and link them linearly to C1 is possible to sequence the project into phases. 

Each element in the model gets a status based on what is done to it and in which configuration state. So for each element in the model there is a record for its status in each configuration state with entries like: Created in A; Existing in B; Modified in C1; Demolished in D. 


Views are created based on these statuses in a way similar to Renovation Filters with the difference that it is set for configuration states. This nullifies the need to set visibility at element level in order to view different phases or alternatives. 



Sounds very nice but extremely sofisticated for the vast majority of cases. My solution to multiple options is a simple "save as" in a folder named option 1,2,3..n and the subvariants that may have. I have this habit from a sad history of corrupted files due to the use of inferior 2d software on outdated hardware. 


These kind of things, that is, being at a design crossroad, usually happen to me when major desicions are involved, like changing levels, materials or other things.  The rest of the time i just copy the objecta i wanted to change to a set diStance and put it a hidden layer. Most often than not (over 95% of the time) i end up erasing it.  


Having said that i would defintely like the ability to set aditional renovation filters (like phase 1, 2, 3, etc) which could then be used for what you propose.

I don't agree with the description of it as extremely sophisticated but rather see it as being on par with the development of BIM methodology. If AC is supposed to be a relevant application from concept design through construction to building management it needs to be able to handle change and alternative designs in a way that doesn't entail multiple elements.


The renovation status is the only reason I chose to work with AC, it avoids having many layers to deal with the issue. I think the above could be solved by expanding the renovation status though, rather than just Existing, Demo, Proposed - allow the user to add as many statuses as they want and apply the visibility/overrides of each. This could then encompass options, phases etc without overcomplicating the software. 

ArchiCAD 26 Solo - Mac

Yes, in AC we have many layers to deal with other issues!


Adding the ability for users to define statuses is a fast relief and would be compatible with the outlined approach. But I do see the duplication issue as the real obstacle to a good BIM workflow. 

Minh Nguyen
Graphisoft Alumni
Graphisoft Alumni

Dear All,


Thank you for sharing your ideas and opinions regarding this request!

I'm glad to say that we took notice and we have added this wish into our Wish database.
(For future reference, you can refer to it as IDEA-11754)


I hope we see this get implemented in the future.
Have a great day!


Best regards,

Minh Nguyen
Technical Support Engineer

Thanks @thesleepofreason for this amazing wish that really makes Archicad BIM methodology stronger and reliable, the only fear is that this way you control the element also the whole model in 100% so I can say it’s prisoned and that eliminates any chance for workarounds which all Archicad users are accustomed to or may need it ( like excluding an element to follow the rules cause a special case ) & many other exclusions also changes the whole mindset of all users but actually I agree with this fantastic idea, thx again.

AC 27 INT 4001 - AC 26 INT 5002 ( For MEP Purposes )
AMD Ryzen 7 5800H with Radeon Graphics 3.20 GHz 16.0 GB


I support this wish, thanks @thesleepofreason

I can see how "element  specific configuration states" on a single element, can be useful to achieve alternative design options vs having multiple elements to represent the desired designs. Something definitely not possible with Renovation Filters or Graphic Overrides.


It looks like your approach has the same objective than my suggested Wishes for - New Feature Request for MVO setting for 3D opening angle of Doors, Windows & Skylights


In the meantime we use what Archicad has available for us. This workflow by John Halgarth  brings us the closest currently possible and I find it quite easy to execute and maintain, see CONTRABIM Blog - Using the Renovation Tool to Create Multiple Design Options 


In addition to that, on the topic of PHASES, I have a "Property" called "Phase" with "Option Set" (dropdown with "1/2/3/4...") that I linked to all my Classifications. This way the model elements are identified for the phase they belong to. With this in place, I can use this Property to filter Criteria in Schedules, Renovation Filters and Graphic Overrides. 


We have not even started to discuss the workflows of the "Issue Manager" (previously called "Redline") or the "Change Manager" (and Favorites too) that will also have to integrate with these wishes, which essentially is for controlling the state / configuration of a model element that could be linked to a View by a "State / Configuration Profile". 


I expect that it would be quite an exercise for the Graphisoft team to make all this work seamlessly & be stable. But I've been blown away before with the way that they exceed our expectation when they eventually bring a new solution of this depth. An example of this for me was the introduction of the "Change Manager" in 2006 (Archicad 10 if I'm correct)... If you've been using Archicad long enough you will remember how much difference this single intelligent system and it's following improvements inside Archicad has made for us since. I see another mind blowing solution on the horizon for us if Graphisoft can pull this off, and they sure can. 




Francois Swanepoel

Everything happens in Archicad since v6.5 (2000) ‌
Hiking, Motorbiking, Good food, Gr8! Beer & excellent conversation 😉
#MadeByDyslexia is my unfair advantage – expect curious ideas, creative big thinking & small typos.
<> <> <> <> (new) Anatomy of Archicad Course

At the core of this approach is the proposition that a modern CAD/BIM application should be able to handle changes to an element's fundamental configuration without the need of duplication of the element.


So it's a bit different from your wish which I read as being about being able to have different representations of an element across different views. I support that wish in it's own right and it should be a bit easier to implement then this approach so hopefully we will see that sooner.


Despite the approach's conceptual simplicity it isn't a easy thing to get right and without proper user engagement the risk of a poorly developed feature is high. Yes, it basically is about the ability for elements to have multiple configurations but the intuitiveness and efficiency of the workflow is as important. So let's hope that GS is not working on this area in the dark.


I'm going to put my chin out and say that if GS are not able to achieve a "phasing & alternative design" functionality that make it possible for one element to have different configurations and operations to be sequenced across phases/alternatives - then they would be better of instead investing the development resources in improved element visibility/intersectionality/editability control


Moving from layers to criteria would basically enhance current workflows as the one you describe to a point where the renovation feature becomes obsolete. So no need to wish for more statuses or the ability to set show on multiple filters.

We are on the same page @thesleepofreason with regards to the "configuration states" of model elements.


In my wish, I suggest that this could be achieved simply by expanding the Model View Options capability (nothing more) which is all about gaining deeper control over Element Settings for all kinds. This will then not require extra Renovation Filter / Layer workflows but work in sync with current Renovation Filters, Graphic Overrides and other view settings.


I really believe that upgrading Model View Options capabilities would open a whole new world of control and possibilities into multiple outputs & interpretabilities, all in one clean sweep.


I trust this is more clear now.

Francois Swanepoel

Everything happens in Archicad since v6.5 (2000) ‌
Hiking, Motorbiking, Good food, Gr8! Beer & excellent conversation 😉
#MadeByDyslexia is my unfair advantage – expect curious ideas, creative big thinking & small typos.
<> <> <> <> (new) Anatomy of Archicad Course

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