The other week I was fortunate enough to be invited to present at Graphisoft Australia’s ArchiCAD 18 Launch Conference in Brisbane. I had the opportunity to share my presentation from Graphisoft’s KCC 2014 Conference in Budapest, with local users and share my thoughts on the New Features in ArchiCAD 18 that I believed would benefit Fulton Trotter Architects the most. Below is my Top 5 Feature list from ArchiCAD 18. I have included a description on how these features will benefit our current workflows and generate new workflows. You will note that I haven’t included the Rendering Tool in my Top 5. There is a reason for this as it is very capable and will enable use to create some really impressive renders straight from ArchiCAD but as a feature it will not add significantly to productivity as Renders can be outsourced.

Number 5 -  PDF Explode

This new feature is a great addition to the capabilities already in ArchiCAD to drag and drop a PDF / DWG into your file. Following on the footsteps of being able to explode a DWG file in AC18 you can now explode a Vector Based PDF document. This opens a significant number of opportunities to drag and drop and explode a variety of PDF documents from Consultants / Product Details straight into your file. The process is quick and easy with a right click, select and left click approach to explode. The dialogue box provides flexibility in the ability to prevent Attribute pollution with layer selection, line type and fill overrides available. The biggest risk to watch when undertaking this process is the scale of output from the Vector File. Check the scale of the elements, you will find it may be out just slightly. It is easily fixable with minor scaling adjustments.  Overall this feature has the potential to be a big time saver with staff taking PDF files in the past and tracing over them with a level of inaccuracy to get details.

Number 4 -  IS Minor fixes

As many people are aware Fulton Trotter are using the Interactive Schedule to produce Automated Drawing Legends that are criteria based for each different type of drawing. Graphisoft have made some minor fixes to the IS Criteria and lifted a restriction to assist us and reduce workarounds with multiple legends required to achieve outputs. Building Material Name and Surface Name now have the capability of being "Criteria" restricted by "Starts with," "Ends With," "Contains." Which is an expansion on the "Is," and "Is Not" from AC17. This enables you where you have Codes built into your BMAT name to restrict the scheduling to find only or exclude a series of BMAT / Surface Names without having to list all of them, which could be considerable considering we have nearly 1000 BMAT that live outside of our project file. Morph and Mesh have now been included in the Component Schedule meaning any element in ArchiCAD that uses BMAT can be scheduled together in one listing. These are very small features but make a considerable difference when you rely so heavily on the scheduling of BMAT and Surfaces in your projects.

Number 3 - Revision Tool

This feature has been on the request list for a number of years and I believe that this will be one of the biggest time saving features of AC18. The tool in itself is very complex but simple. This complexity took me a number of days to understand when I first got the chance to play with it but once you understand your deliverables and work your way back through the tool and process you will find it should meet your needs. My suggestion for the average user that I would expect to put it in the too hard basket is to take the time to understand the tool and embrace it, you will gain significantly from it. The system is well complimented by another small feature which also will save significant time every issue with a Document Renaming Capability linked into the publisher that allows the user to rename the variety of published documents in a nearly infinite ways to include autotext and manual text information from ArchiCAD including dates and Revisions. There is a downside to this wonderful feature and that is a lack of Transmittal embedded within ArchiCAD. There is the ability to obtain Revision History and Issue Details using the Interactive Scheduler but it doesn’t reflect the appearance of a traditional transmittal document and some Excel Formula skills will be needed to read an IS XLS export from ArchiCAD

Number 2 - BCF Connection

Now there has been add ons available in previous releases of ArchiCAD but this feature opens the door for OPENBIM collaboration with the project team directly from ArchiCAD. You can undertake a mark up of a reference model and issue a BCF file from ArchiCAD and issue it to a consultant. Creating an OPENBIM digital markup straight into and out of ArchiCAD. For practices that rely on the model for geometry and data, quality is really important, this is where the use of Solibri Model Checker should be used beside ArchiCAD to perform quality checks. These checks get turned into reports and exported as BCF files back into ArchiCAD as a digital mark up for the project team to act on and rectify. Using SMC to undertake these Audits removes a significant amount of manual checking essentially paying for itself in no time what so ever. I look forward to using this process in the coming months relieving myself from time consuming manual auditing.

Number 1 - IFC Scheme Mapping

IFC Scheme Mapping gives users the ability to take data from different locations within ArchiCAD and map them to IFC PSET’s. It was a feature I was very excited about when I heard about it as I plan to use it to Map data from BMAT, Surfaces and GDL Parameters to Custom PSET to enable Quantity Surveyors to take our IFC files and have consistent locations for data. Then a conversation with Rob Jackson from Bond Bryan will lead me to changing all of the legends on my drawings to read a Custom PSET for Surface data.  IS can be created from IFC PSET Data also so it is a huge enabler for all practices using ArchiCAD not just those that are collaborating in IFC. Add to this the new Generic Label that can list IFC Data and you have not only Scheduling capabilities but Label capabilities also.

ArchiCAD 18 has been a big release and is full of more exciting features that I haven’t covered here. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the features now that ArchiCAD has been released and everyone has had time to play with it.