Thursday, September 10, 2009

Archicad 13 Webinar

Today I had the opportunity to watch one of the first webinars from Graphisoft introducing some of the new features in Archicad 13.  As mentioned in a recent post, this latest version “will introduce the Graphisoft BIM Server” which will “run an all-new, highly optimized and highly granular relational-database.”  The one-hour webinar was not nearly enough time to review all the new features, but I was able to get a glimpse into some of the new Teamwork 2.0 functionality(A more in-depth article covering the so-called “Delta Server” can be found on Architosh.)

Archicad13-tw1 A new development for Archicad is the ability to grab elements and ‘reserve’ them for editing on the fly.  This is a function which Revit has had for the past few releases in the form of transparent element borrowing in their “Worksharing” technology.  The main difference in Archicad seems to be that one must reserve elements before editing them, whereas Revit allows a team user to edit any project element so long as no other team member has not already borrowed the element during an editing process. 

Another nice feature is Archicad’s ability to color code model elements according to the team members who have the elements reserved – supposedly to help guide you in which elements you can reserve: Archicad13-tw2

Archicad13-IM1They have also incorporated an integrated messaging system which sports a quaint spiral notebook/Post-It look to messages sent for borrowing requests.  This is almost identical to Revit’s Editing Request tool – if you are using the Worksharing Monitor with automated notifications, it is identical.  An added bonus for Archicad is the ability to simply send instant messages to your teammates; however, I found it interesting that the presenter stated that with these new tools, a team could benefit from spending less time talking to each other…hmmm.  We find that the increased interaction when working on a BIM project together enhances the overall quality and efficiency of the decisions being made throughout each phase of a project.  That said, if you watch this video snippet, you will see yet another feature in which model elements can be selected and a message transmitted to specific team members related to such elements.

One intriguing development which was not discussed in great technical detail appears to be the new BIM Model Server.  During the webinar, the presenter and his colleague claimed they were working over a wireless network connection with the main model existing on a remote server.  One presenter proceeded to create a copy of the entire model while the other updated his ‘local’ copy which took all of about 6 seconds and he claimed the file size hadn’t changed, although no evidence was presented to support the claim. I’d like to see this demonstrated in person – and with a larger project – before I can get fully excited about it.

By the way, it was nice to see the return of Revit’s ‘Design Bars’ in the Archicad Mac interface ;-)…


Some other productivity enhancements were briefly demonstrated related to:

  • Automated dimensioning (in Revit, one can dimension automatically along one object like a wall, but Archicad can place complete interior or exterior dimension strings)
  • Oriented views (nice! In Revit, one can rotate the crop region of a view, but not temporarily…)
  • Notated schedules
  • Stairs (seems like some nicer stair tools, but where do I begin with those 15,000 buttons and settings?)
  • Intelligent Soft Insulation (much nicer way of handling aligned material patterns within layers of walls. Check out the demo video snippet, although they illustrated this in a curved wall in the webinar)

I would need some more experience with Archicad to judge how such tools have evolved.  Hopefully I can get my hands on a copy of this latest version in an effort to continue my earlier evaluation efforts with Archicad 11.

If you’d like to catch this webinar yourself, there are two more upcoming sessions featuring Archicad 13 on September 30 and October 7.


  1. Trust me, Archicad's stair tools are WAY behind Revit's even with enhancements in the last couple versions.

  2. The BIM server works exactly as advertised. I was prepared to be disappointed, but came away from the real life demo incredibly impressed. Logged into a local BIM server and a remote server flawlessly.

  3. Not sure what you mean by "the return of Revit's 'Design Bars'". This is the interface that has existed on both the Mac and Windows platforms since pretty much the beginning of ArchiCAD. (Certainly from before Revit.)

  4. Whoa! (Always an anonymous post when defending a non-Autodesk platform...hmmm.) What I meant was that Revit's Design Bars disappeared in Revit between the 2009 and 2010 versions. Those who might have missed them can find a similar interface in Archicad.

  5. The first 'anonymous' post is not exactly defending a non-Autodesk platform? Its still a valid comment though - Stairmaker has long been a sore point among ArchiCAD users. Anything but the simplest stairs cannot really be done parametrically in ArchiCAD.

    As for TW2 - it might be hard to believe but it seems the reality does live up to the hype. Just for fun, and as a very practical example of just what implications TW2 has for collaboration by people who cannot afford the dedicated lines and accelerators of large firms, a group of ArchiCAD users started a simple Teamworked file hosted by a user in the US over a domestic DSL line shared with the world. ArchiCAD users from Europe, Australia and South America have all been working in the file simultaneously quite fluidly. This would have been unthinkable pre-TW2.

    Now i know this is not a 'real' project but it does show the potential. As only the changed information is sent - not the entire model - the amount of data being transfered is tiny at any one time. KB not MB. No more hangs trying to send a file in the 100's of MB just because you moved a couple of walls.

    see it here:

    Now as i understand the ability to dynamically share or borrow elements may have been already available in Revit - the big deal is not this however, it is performance. You can collaborate with remote offices without the need for high-speed business grade lines and expensive hardware. It is here that Revit falls down from what i understand?

  6. Your words:
    "By the way, it was nice to see the return of Revit’s ‘Design Bars’ in the Archicad Mac interface ;-)…"

    It exists on Mac AND Windows, because ArchiCAD runs on both platforms.
    The files are totally interchangeable, which means, you can opens a Mac file on a Windows machine, and vice verse.

  7. Thank you all for your comments. Believe me, sometimes writing does not convey the emotive content of the spoken word...

    To address the worksharing comparison to Revit, if I open a local copy of a large model (ours are usually around 300MB in file size), and make only a few changes, the sync with central time is only a few seconds. If I work all day long, then try to sync, it might take around 10 minutes to register and reconcile all my changes with those of the rest of my team. Working out of the office is still a little time-consuming on large projects, which is where we usually use Remote Desktop Connection.

    I am still very interested in seeing a live demo of a large project in Archicad and maybe even getting a trial setup in our office.

  8. Archicad is a great BIM software. I am learning it right now and have written some posts about my experiments with it at my blog
    Archicad and Home Design
    . I hope that others will also share their experiences with this software. It is totally different from Autocad but it is much faster for designing houses.