Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Archicad vs. Revit

A shootout or bake-off between Graphisoft's Archicad and Autodesk's Revit has been proposed in user forums more times than I can keep track of. A recent thread in the AUGI forums titled "Put up or shut up" outlines some of the inherent flaws in such a demonstration. You would need different types of similar projects, expert and novice users for each platform and a realistic set of criteria to judge the performance of each program. A few years ago, we launched an investigation into the three major BIM platform providers - Autodesk, Bentley and Graphisoft - with a series of questions related to functionality we think we would need based on an extensive inward discovery process. To no one's surprise, the questionnaires returned stating that each vendor could achieve most if not all our requirements. The proof would be in HOW each platform performed these tasks.


When I want to buy a new washing machine, digital camera or television, or perhaps see a newly released movie, I will do some research and dig into user reviews on the most populated websites. I will not go see "Hot Rod" just because the critic in the Post gave it 3 stars (purely fiction, no offense to the Post). In my opinion, surveying public opinion makes for better decicions.


What's this have to do with the post title? After receiving a trial copy of Archicad 11 from Graphisoft, I was recently made aware that they now offer a free 30-day trial to anyone with an internet connection (see link below). Way back around Version 7, I attempted to learn a little about this program to gain a more objective view of competing programs, but Graphisoft insisted on participation in a training program before any testing or trials. I'm glad things have changed and as a result, I'll be embarking on a journey to review the interactive training content and teach myself Archicad. I spend about 2 hours each workday on the train during which I'll be taking copious notes and sharing them here in regular installments.



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27 comments:

  1. hi James,
    i would much rather see you sending that 2 hours a day furthering our knowledge of Revit than wasting it on Archicad :). but i completely understand your quest. i remember back before we went with Autocad one of the programs we looked at was Archicad. i think it was 2.5 or something. they have always billed it as BIM type program though that phrase was not coined at the time. so obviously they dropped the ball some where along the line. i think Revit has progressed more in its 5 or 6 years? that Archicad has in its total existence.
    i think they both are great programs. i just don't know if this town is big enough for both of them.
    Good Luck, i look forward to reading your posting.

    Best Regards,
    Coreed,AIA

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  2. James - I'm glad to see that you're trying out ArchiCAD. A year and a half ago, the AGC had a shootout between Graphisoft & Autodesk (Bentley was invited, but wasn't able to participate) where professionals with very little (or none) spent a day learning each of the software programs.
    One of the most valuable parts of ArchiCAD is its integration with Constructor (now owned by ViCo). It makes collaboration with a builder that much easier. To truly test the power of each software, more than modeling capabilities needs to be assessed. (I also really love that about the Bentley suite.)
    As much as we loved the integration we could have had with Graphisoft products, we ended up going with Revit for a number of reasons.
    I will look forward to hearing your take on ArchiCAD.

    Laura
    bimx.blogspot.com

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  3. Hi,
    Did you ever hear of BIM-software called Allplan from Nemetschek? In Europe it's widely used, but I never read someone in the US blogging about it. It supposed to have more and better features than Revit. I would be very happy to see a good comparison between all these BIM-software like Revit, Archicad, Allplan, Microstation, etc. Anyone any idea?
    JJ

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  4. JJ,

    It's quite time-consuming for one person to learn several new software platforms enough to provide objective commentary. You might want to check out Lachmi Khemlani's website - www.aecbytes.com - where she regularly writes in-depth reviews of AEC software.

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  5. Learning one BIM solution well is enough of a challenge--let alone trying to learn several. But if you ever decide you want something else to do on the train--you can download a copy of Bentley's BIM solutions at
    http://www.bentley.com/en-US/Markets/Building/Building+Evaluations/Intro.htm

    And if you like modeling complex geometry, you can get a copy of Generative Components (a MicroStation add-on) as well...though I think you have to request that separately.

    http://www.bentley.com/en-US/Promo/Flash/GenerativeComponents.htm


    Dave

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  6. Please remember ArchiCAD is the "program of choice" in Europe and has been for the past 25 years. You will find that it is a very mature solution. It is not going anywhere. In places like New Zealand, ArchiCAD has something like 85 percent of the marketshare. I don't think ArchiCAD is going away. You may ask yourself, however, if the other countries know something the Americans don't.

    ArchiCAD is much more polished and robust than Revit even though Revit has a perception of a lot of users because of the recent blogs, posts and articles. Graphisoft US is simply a small subsiderary of a very large Worldwide Software Company.

    Just some small feature comparisons you may want to look at as you test the software. If you want to make a new fill pattern in revit, you must create a new family and you can not simply make modifications to an existing pattern. You also can not have a line with an arrowhead attached to it which the powerful label tool can easily do in ArchiCAD.

    It is really sad that most of the larger companies have decided to go with Revit as we always hear the same comment... We decided to go with Revit even though we like ArchiCAD better. Is everyone drinking the Koolaid or what? Don't people understand if there is not a viable marketshare in the US of another solution, there is no reason for AutoDesk to invest in Revit?

    As for your questions about All Plan. The same parent company, Nemetschek, now owns Graphisoft ArchiCAD. They purchased the program in late 2006 as they were losing marketshare to them in Europe. It will be intersting to see where that new ownership will take ArchiCAD since they already have MEP and Landscape solutions. Interoperability may become very interesting.

    Thank you for starting this blog and giving ArchiCAD a look. As someone who has successfully implemented ArchiCAD into over 1000 firms in the past 12 years, we would be happy to help you with any questions you may have.

    Respectfully,

    Angi Izzi
    Design Integrations, Inc.

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  7. David-

    I agere that learning multiple BIM platforms is definetely a daunting task, but im glad James is udnetaking it. Ive found in my own travels that it is purely the best way to gain an objective and INFORMED opinion of all platforms in comparison to one another, without resorting to rumor, rhetoric, and regurgitated reviews.

    Angi-

    While i can respect ArchiCAD's capabilities (i used it for about a year in 2005), the comparison is not quite as simple as you make it out to be.

    Having had experience with both Revit, ArchiCAD, and a few other supposed BIM solutions, i can see that none of them are a completely baked solution.

    While i fully concede that Revit (my current platform of choice for profiting on projects... Notice how i phrased that:) ) is lacking and completely difficient in some areas, such as text manipulation, site modification tools, and rendering, you must also realize that for many people ArchiCAD is not the program of choice either.

    While ive discovered i am quite adept at learning new programs, what ive NEVER been adept at is writing code. The quasi-programming nature that is the Component Generator in ArchiCAD is not only beyond a lot of AEC individuals scope, it is beyond their desire. Constraints and Parameters in revit feel bery natural, and i dont feel i had to learn another language (save from Math, which i think i had to mearn long ago, LOL) to make them.

    In any event, James, i cant wait to hear what you have to say about ArchiCAD. I am very curious to see if your experiences will be similar to mine. As a disclaimer, that is NOT to say they were bad experiences. I worked very well in it, and it IS very capable sofware. :)

    If i could afford a copy, id have a copy of everything ive worked in, to stay up to date. Ooph, imagine the subscription fees! :)

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  8. I also have to comment that the reason I drank the Revit kool-aid is because Jim Jones told me too. Alright, it's because I've tried AC Kool-Aid and the recipe was too much work. And there's the rub: the easiest program to learn, wins. If AC was easy enough to learn, they would have pwned Autodesk in the BIM war already. Revit may not have the fancy PDF tools that ArchiCAD, has but it has the tools needed to document a project. Revit is challenging to learn; ArchiCAD much more so. I used ArchiCAD back at v6.5 and have kept track of it since, and have a copy of AC10 around for reference. Were it not for Maxonform and a slight edge on scalability, I see Revit as being thoroughly superior to AC for most users just because it's easier to learn. I don't think AC is inferior with regards to what it can do; it's just that it's harder to do it.

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  9. Wes M? From the Graphisoft Forums? Metanoia? I'm going to assume it is. Nice to see you preaching water over there and drinking wine here. Anyway, regarding your comment that "...the easiest program to learn wins" and that "...If AC was easy enough to learn, they would have pwned Autodesk in the BIM war already.". Let's see if that linear one-dimensional logic applies to other aspects of life as well. Macs are indisputably easier and more pleasant to use that PC's, and yet have never "pwned" Microsoft or Windows as far as I can tell; I wonder why that is? It should be easy and straightforward, no?. Just because Autodesk seems to have the lion's share of the Marketshare (thanks, really, to their other programs, namely AutoCAD) doesn't necessarily justify the position that it is because Revit is easier to learn; they just happened to be bought out by the company with the deepest pockets in the Industry. I thought even you would have known that. And coming from someone who admittedly last used ArchiCAD back at 6.5 and thus ignoring all the improvements it has undergone since then, further considerably undervalues and diminishes any vestiges of objectivity to be had in your comments. It would be like me dismissing Revit on the basis of a past encounter with version 6 or version 5. Nonetheless its always interesting to see ignorant Reviteers commenting about ArchiCAD shortcomings, and more so hilarious coming from those who should know better.

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  10. This should be interesting. I'm also an ex-ArchiCAD user who now uses Revit. I was very frustrated with ArchiCAD when I did use it, but I became pretty adept at it quickly, about as adept as you can become with that program. (It has a lot of limits.) I won the very active discussion group's tip of the month award 3 times within one year. I even got fairly proficient at creating GDL objects. They do require some programming skill, but in the end they end up significantly more powerful than Revit's families.

    The one thing that was good about ArchiCAD was the extremely fast learning curve. They had me sit down with the tutorials for 2 days. On the third day they put me to work, and I would say that I was 80% productive, moreso than most of the workers at my current firm who use Revit. Revit is a lot more complex. It takes longer to learn. Is it more powerful? In many areas, yes. But in some, no. I know that ArchiCAD has become even more mature since I stopped using it. It was almost mature (although EXTREMELY buggy) when I left that firm. I'm glad that Graphisoft was purchased. I didn't like the socialist (controlling) nature of Graphisoft, but they did work with their users on a personal basis. If your file got corrupt (which happened a lot) you could send it to Graphisoft and they would try to fix it. Although since they were in Hungary your day was pretty much shot since 10:00 AM here it is like 5:00 PM there and they usually couldn't get to it until the next day. I wonder if they still have that level of care. And I don't really get that level of care from AutoDesk. Maybe from the company that sold us Revit, but not from AutoDesk itself. Revit is not mature IMHO. In 5 years it's going to rock, but it's not there yet. Still some fundamental things missing. Keep in mind that ArchiCAD is actually OLDER than AUTOCAD, so it makes sense that it's more mature than the teenage Revit. Frankly, I'm surprised that it took Graphisoft so long, but now I'm sure it's very powerful. When I left they were working on integrating sheets with the model and notes. You could place a "view" on one portion of the sheet and it would number it automatically and if you moved it references in your sheets and even in your notes would change automatically. I don't see anything even close to that on the horizon for Revit. Your test will not be complete if you don't examine taking the project through CDs. Modelling the building in both programs, they can both compete. Both have good points. But ArchiCAD vs. Revit in terms of bringing the model to CDs. No competition. ArchiCAD is the olympic swim team competing against the mommy and me swim class at the Y.

    I wonder how integration between the consultants who use their version of the software works. That's something I have no experience with on either platform.

    Yours will be a very interesting test. I can't wait to see the results.

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  11. Did you ever come to any conclusion regarding the comparison between the two programs ?

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  12. Since AU07 several people have wondered what happened with this exploration. Some even quipped that Archicad chewed me up and left me for dead! Nonetheless, I have been working on a new project, helping a team implement Revit on a fast-track job and had to let my Archicad testing and blogging take a little break. I'll be back with some comments on this evaluation soon.

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  13. I add this comment to contribute to the interest level in your comparison. I recall opening the shrinkwrap on Archicad's 20TH anniversary CD while the clunky Revit 3 (or was it 4?) demo sat abandoned on my shelf.

    I was not impressed then, but after three years stuck back in flatland (AutoCAD), I sure enjoyed my Revit training last week! It has matured, but I do still wonder how Archicad has evolved since I had to leave my prior office a few years ago. There we used Archicad exclusivley, even for complex renovation projects up to 30k sf. It worked; we made models, studies, CD drawing sets, the works. Some features were amazing, others weak. I'm sure I will find that same for Revit. I'll still work late nights and curse, the question is will it be more than I did with Archicad? And does it really matter? My office has committed to Revit, period. As Windows is to Mac, so Revit is to Archicad, and that's the way the world is. And by "world" I mean "US Market."

    All that said, I'll look back here for your impressions and thanks for taking this on.

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  14. Another very good AEC (BIM?) program is Vectorworks from the people that bought Archicad... Fantastic 3D Modelling (Try making "bubble architecture with Revit or Archicad!) and very good landscaping too. It is the old "Minicad" that worked only in Macs! It has come a long way. Here in Europe the low price tag (3 Vectorworks licences for the price of one Revit/Archicad) has moved lots of people over from autocad and archicad (revit only now is starting to be usable...).

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  15. Hello, i find this very intresting subject as i am now training on using Revit software, mainly because is autodesk's (and shamely because, too!)

    Pros of Revit: file linking directly into 3d max, for powerful rendering
    better compatibility to autocad files, i assume

    Cons: the program's interface...sucks!
    seems to me as i were programming algorithms or something of the king

    On the absolute opposite: ArchiCAD user interface is that that i would love to use. Visual designing , for designers. I wonder what keeps Auotdesk out of understading this very simple concept.

    Have to say that i have only trained 1 hour in archicad12's incorporated video tutorial, but found it much more attractive to use.

    Just need to know revit for meeting industry standards compatibilities...

    cant ignore the monopolies.
    though, both must be excellent programmes,

    i wish i could easaly use both! probably going to take me some time...

    cheers, thanks for sharing opinions

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  16. Many good comments here, Ive never been one to reject anything without trying it first. Ive been using autocad for years, before that I was using powercad which i really enjoyed, I never enjoyed autocad, but I had to use it, and became very productive with it. about a year ago I started teaching myself Archicad, I really liked the interface and found it enjoyable to use. However Ive become to busy to continue using it, and Ive been required to learn Revit.

    In all honesty Autodesk has a real problem with thier interface methodology. This includes Autocad, 3DSMax and Revit. They suck, yes they can do powerful things but do I like using it? Hell No. Would I rather use something else...definately. Revit is over scripted, menus buried deep withing dialogue boxes and intuition of interface? Something Autodesk developement teams have no concept about.

    To make a long story short, If and When Google releases a BIM version of Sketchup Pro that can complete a real set of CDs, combined with a Podium plugin ill be all over that in a heartbeat. Good ridance Autodesk Ill never look back at an Autodesk or Archicad release ever again.

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  17. Thank you very much for your kind words (and an excellent blog post)!
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  18. I read with interest comments about the popular drawing packages. I am reminded of what drew me to Archicad 10 and what is leading me away?
    It was fairly easy to operate with a quick learning cycle. I actually enjoyed using it.
    What has lead me away?
    I was sold a package of software and support. Less than a year after the purchase Graphisoft Australia withdrew the support. Of course I could enter into their new arrangement which amounts to a lease deal.
    So, good software with questionable ethics at the business end. On principal I will now look elsewhere.

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  19. Brother James –
    After retiring I am trying to fulfill a childhood dream of being an architect with concentration on interior design. A few years ago I picked up Architect 11. I started learning the product. Though learning curve was (is) steep I found that the Graphisoft tutorials on how to build a home and an museum helped me learn the product faster. Revit does not have such tutorials. If I want to learn how to build something I have to go to YouTub for guidance. So for that reason I am giving ArchiCad two thumbs up. Next, I like the end ‘rendered results of ArchiCad better. After doing a couple rooms of a bed and breakfast I was designing I actually thought I knew what I was doing. The end rendered result justified the amount of work it took to learn the tool, (again with the help of the company that produced it). Lastly there are far more interior furniture objects in ArchiCad. That said I am trying to learn Revit because ArchCad is a very good and serious company and because I use Autodesk 3ds max and its wonderful and easy to learn (with the help of Lynda.com) I just hit on the solution, let Lynda.com work out the ‘how to use/build using Revit and that will take care of the training issue.

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    ReplyDelete
  21. Seems this string has strayed off topic a bit, I am also more than interested in a matrix style comparison of BIM platforms and other platforms that contribute to the BIM workflow or even a full report. (I have searched the web extensively there isn't one I have found). I like many in this post have worked with both ArchiCad and Revit. I continue to be open minded about what BIM is and is not. The industries are starting to more fully except the tools, and that's really all that they are, but what fundamentally continues to be an obstacle in firms and on projects across North America is the workflow processes and mindsets. THE MAGIC BULLET IS AND WILL BE IN THE FUTURE A PARADIGM SHIFT IN HOW FIRMS APPROCH PROJECTS AND THE BIM PROCESS. How many BIM projects I have already seen where every ones just shooting from the hip and hoping to realize a great outcome.
    As the old saying goes a failure to plan is a plan to fail!!
    Everyone's in the same boat, figuring out how to accomplish BIM projects. Most firms lose their way and end up focusing on the tools and not on the process. Or worse yet blaming the tools. Because of this BIM projects to some extent are putting a bad taste in people's mouths all across this great nation of ours simply because the PM's and decision makers apply the same old tired project work flows used on CAD based projects.
    Large firms that were early adopters have already learned this, but sadly there are just as many large firms that usually because of inner office politics may never get it, (and that may be a good thing when it makes them obsolete). Back to the topic a comparison of BIM authoring tools broken out by purpose and compatibility would indeed be a much sought after document, and I don't think any of the BIM software companies will be giving us one any time soon.
    I am currently compiling as much information as I possibly can to this end, but trial downloads expire quickly when one is busy.
    A comparison would certainly be able to help influencers' help our industries understand the power and fundamental industry changing promise that these tools and workflows have in store for us.
    My closing thought is that it is a process and we are in it YEEEEAAAAHHHH!!! Times are changing and so is our industry, not fast enough for my taste but hey people will be people and I understand most don't like changes and the AEC types even less so, until its proven. So let's dig in for the long haul and help change our industries before all the upcoming Grads come in and ask what the hell we were doing. Like it or not it is the direction technology is taking us and we can either fight it or get on the train.
    Me I choose the train no matter the resistance or level of difficulty. So if someone has a comparison please share, after all I would like to see BIM workflows become the norm before I retire in 12 years.

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  22. Recently completed MSc Intelligent Buildings am fully qualified architect now keen to learn BIM in order to return to work now that two year sabbatical has come to an end. Currently based in UK any ideas where to get sponsorship to cover tuition fees???????????????

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  23. I'm currently using and still learning both Archicad and Revit, not to mention Google's SketchUP which so far is the most interactive and easiest (as it takes only 15 minutes to learn!)Learning softwares is like learning foreign languages - at times you really cannot compare and say one is better than the other...in most cases it depends on where you are and the surrounding working environment. But most definitely (and it is no harm) to learn the different software as it give you the edge and flexibily over others - for example, using ArchiCAD I could make a reasonable rendering of a building in about 10 minutes on my laptop. Howevever, using Revit it took me about 2 hours to make a 'photo-realistic' rendering of a simple interior space !. So depends on what you want to achieve, I would prefer to have the flexibility and make the softwares work for me - ie fast rendering for simple proposals and more realistic rendering for more lucrative projects.

    Over the years, the 3D softwares have matured impressively although not as fast as I would like them to. Sometimes it hits me that these programmers have no real clue on how architects work ! - the need for intuitive thinking and design process in which case helps the stationary shop to still sell the good old butter papers and pencils.

    Frankly, with a little help to jump-start, anyone can manage to get a simple building design - however it gets trickier if you want to customize and built new components - so the question is is it worth the effort (for a particular) project to built what you need from scratch when you can maybe work on simple 2D software and export to photoshop for some finishing touch. Working on 3D modelling is generally 'front-loaded', therefore you better gain as much back in time and money from it!
    Having said all that, I think a forum between ArchiCAD and Revit would solve a lot of architect's nighmare - though it might never happen until MAC and Microsoft sit down for a common platform ! In the meantime, their gain in this 'cold-war'translates into our lost in terms of training time, flexibilty and working compatibility -so hope for the best !

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  24. I'm currently using and still learning both Archicad and Revit, not to mention Google's SketchUP which so far is the most interactive and easiest (as it takes only 15 minutes to learn!)Learning softwares is like learning foreign languages - at times you really cannot compare and say one is better than the other...in most cases it depends on where you are and the surrounding working environment. But most definitely (and it is no harm) to learn the different software as it give you the edge and flexibily over others - for example, using ArchiCAD I could make a reasonable rendering of a building in about 10 minutes on my laptop. Howevever, using Revit it took me about 2 hours to make a 'photo-realistic' rendering of a simple interior space !. So depends on what you want to achieve, I would prefer to have the flexibility and make the softwares work for me - ie fast rendering for simple proposals and more realistic rendering for more lucrative projects.

    Over the years, the 3D softwares have matured impressively although not as fast as I would like them to. Sometimes it hits me that these programmers have no real clue on how architects work ! - the need for intuitive thinking and design process in which case helps the stationary shop to still sell the good old butter papers and pencils.

    Frankly, with a little help to jump-start, anyone can manage to get a simple building design - however it gets trickier if you want to customize and built new components - so the question is is it worth the effort (for a particular) project to built what you need from scratch when you can maybe work on simple 2D software and export to photoshop for some finishing touch. Working on 3D modelling is generally 'front-loaded', therefore you better gain as much back in time and money from it!
    Having said all that, I think a forum between ArchiCAD and Revit would solve a lot of architect's nighmare - though it might never happen until MAC and Microsoft sit down for a common platform ! In the meantime, their gain in this 'cold-war'translates into our lost in terms of training time, flexibilty and working compatibility -so hope for the best !

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  25. When you get into the advanced modeling capabilities of both programs you find Revit's features a God send. Archicad is built on old code, the latest release only a slight improvement on its predecessor. Frankly, Autodesk would save millions on marketing if only they were prepared to a direct shootout with Archicad as they would win hands down. Every person that has experience with both platforms I've come across never even considers going back to Archicad...and I haven't even mentioned training resources and company support yet!

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  26. Autodesk was not capable to do a goood program than graphisoft Archicad and they have bought an Archicad-like independent software named Revit .
    The big problem for autodesk is their engineerig feeling instead architectural .
    Architects still apreciate archicad specific feeling - is only for architects and they know the spirit .
    As a small company GRAPHISOFT WILL SMASH REVIT with version 15 because it focus to modelling .

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  27. The part of the world that I have worked, ArchiCAD was never heard of let alone find a user of it. AutoCAD was they only way to go. After Autodesk's Revit came everybody is trying to update their offices to Revit and diligently finding staff and training current staff for it. With this new tool and knowledge, still ArchiCAD does not feature in existence.

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