ArchiCAD 9 Offers Powerful User Profiles

15 Dec, 2004 By: John Mamuscia Cadalyst

Create an on-screen work environment exactly suited to your needs

ArchiCAD 9 offers architects a fresh look and feel with a simpler, uncluttered interface, making it easier than ever before for both long-time users and beginners to release the full power of the virtual building into their projects. As a result, architects who use ArchiCAD 9 can spend more time concentrating on what they enjoy most: designing great buildings.

There are many settings that should remain consistent from machine to machine, allowing everyone to work from a common starting point. This can be invaluable especially if two or more people share a machine. Many of these settings are established within the project file and will be in place when a new project is started from a project template file.

However, some settings are inherently stored within the application preferences. These settings include everything from custom menu shortcut keys and Info Box content, to floating palette shapes and locations and menu contents. It is important for the CAD manager to determine the level of application flexibility based on that particular office's methods of operation.

In ArchiCAD 9, you also can group and save many of these settings by creating user profiles to transfer these settings to other workstations. The Work Environment on the Options menu allows the CAD manager or user to make different profiles available to different users.

Like other aspects of customization, if you use a guideline to create the office standard, learning curves are reduced and productivity and effectiveness are increased.

Profiles are Powerful
In ArchiCAD 9, each registered user of the operating system is considered a different user having his or her own user profiles. The program handles users logged in under different user names exactly the same way as the operating system does when selecting a profile at startup. These profiles can also be seleted while in a project. You can set up separate profiles, or Work Environments (figure 1), to reflect different tasks a user might attempt.

Figure 1. ArchiCAD's Work Environment, or profile, selections.

For example, early in the design process, the user may only need tools related to modeling. Late in design, when the model is complete, the user may prefer to use a profile set up to facilitate model annotation -- that is, one that "hides" the modeling tools and brings the annotation tools to the forefont. In another example, a standard profile (figure 2) displays more palettes; an expert version (figure 3) offers more screen space and fewer palettes.

Figure 2. Example of a standard profile, which has more palettes open.

Figure 3. An example of an expert profile, which has more screen space and fewer palettes.

Work Environments also can be a powerful tool for lead designers or principals who review and revise much of the work being produced. For instance, a profile can be set up using the network folder so the lead designer has access to his or her profile from every machine, making it comfortable and efficient to make changes within a familiar interface. The profile can be set while the file is in use, then changed back following the revisions to restore the original user's settings.

ArchiCAD 9 is shipped with several default profiles. When you select one of them, the bottom portion of the Work Environment dialog box (figure 4) shows you which schemes are stored in the currently selected profile. The default profiles and schemes are locked, as indicated by the Lock icons next to their names. The small check mark near the Lock icon of the Standard Profile shows that profile is the default.

Figure 4. The Work Environment dialog box.

Customizing Profiles
The individual settings in the dialog box are divided among five different schemes in the Work Environment. These are User Preference Schemes, Shortcut Schemes, Tool Schemes, Palette Schemes, and Command Layout Schemes. You can store any or of all of these schemes by name. You can also combine these schemes into a profile and store the profile under its own name. You can export and import schemes and profiles -- this enables you to transport your favorite settings to other computers, or to keep them when you install a new ArchiCAD version. CAD managers may create office-standard Work Environment Profiles that are stored and read from a network server to reduce the risk of errors.

Profiles and schemes can be imported directly from a network location, or downloaded to a machine and then imported, from within the Work Environment dialog box, to be used as imported or further customized by the user as any other available profile or scheme could be.

For instance, you may wish to customize Palette Schemes because users in the office have varying display sizes. Users who have large displays can afford to have all their palettes open and in extended mode and grouped in one area to speed access to commands and functions. For users with smaller displays, it may be necessary to have some palettes hidden or have them in compact mode and positioned to maximize the visible workspace. Having palettes visible and extended does provide more information feedback and makes information more accessible, but varying display sizes in an office may force the standard setup scheme to show palettes in their compact form so that the user is ensured a functional setup.

The level to which standardized customization takes place is a matter of firm type, size, organizational structure, user skill levels, and infrastructure. Each component should be evaluated in terms of net effectiveness versus personal work methods. However, Graphisoft feels that these new Work Environments will help all team members to use ArchiCAD more efficiently in day-to-day operations. CAD managers once again have control of the office.

About the Author: John Mamuscia

More News and Resources from Cadalyst Partners

For Mold Designers! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the mold design professional. Sponsored by Siemens NX.  Visit the Equipped Mold Designer here!

For Architects! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the building design professional. Sponsored by HP.  Visit the Equipped Architect here!