The BIM Experience Kit
As I mentioned in the original post, Graphisoft offers a free "BIM Experience Kit" as an addendum to Archicad 11. This kit consists of training files documentation and integrated videos. A factor contributing to the success and simplicity of this solution is the mature file management Archicad offers. The kit's training files are archived projects which contain all the library parts, linked references and texture maps referenced in the original file. The training videos are also stored with the project and will play automatically within the integrated Archicad Movie Player if named similar to the project file. Note: if you plan to run through the Experience Kit, be sure to save the project files with the same name as the project archives - otherwise the movies won't play.
Interface and Basic Navigation
The Archicad interface has undergone significant modernization in recent years. I recall attempting a demo of version 7 only to be disappointed by the multitude of buttons and flyouts. There are still quite a few buttons and tools exposed when first running Archicad 11, but we'll see how I fare during the course of the 'Experience.' In the immortal words of an Archicad discussion forum member, "It's intuitive once you learn how to use it."
A Navigator houses a tree structure similar to Revit's Project Browser. It is broken down into 4 different "maps" (from Archicad Help):
The "Project Map" provides a tree structure of the components (viewpoints) of your Virtual Building Model.
- The "View Map" includes all the predefined and custom-created Views of the Project File.
- The "Layout Book" contains the layouts defined for the entire architectural project.
- The "Publisher Sets" map is a tree structure in which you define sets of views for various output purposes (printing, plotting, saving to a local disk or uploading to the Internet or an intranet).
While Revit's Browser is customizable using parameters and filters, I think this approach would bode well for any project team seeking to separate and organize working data, predefined views and published drawing sets.
Zooming, panning and orbiting in Archicad is somewhat limited if you don't have a mouse (as I'm usually running through the "Experience" on my Tablet PC during my commute). According to the help documentation, zooming can be implemented using the "+" or "-" keys, but I couldn't get that to work all the time. There are shortcut buttons for navigation in the lower left of the view, however, I was somewhat confused by each tool's button persistence. For example, using Zoom In/Out requires a second click to stop zooming instead of releasing when I release the mouse button.
Overall, navigation seems equivalent to Revit although I would like to experiment with some larger projects to compare performance. Archicad also offers a walking mode which employs the use of the arrow keys for a gaming-engine experience of the project. Below is a brief video comparison of 3D navigation between Revit and Archicad using similar size models. I also enjoy the refined method of object highlighting. Archicad allows you to move your cursor around without pre-highlighting every object over which you hover. If you hover over an object for about one second, the object gently highlights and a message box fades into view with a brief description of the element.