Escape the Documentation Treadmill

31 Mar, 2004 By: Ákos Pfemeter

ArchiCAD helps you organize design iterations and publish them how, when, and where they’re needed

Many architectural practices invest significant time creating -- and recreating -- versions of the same documentation set throughout the design and consultation process. They must exchange technical information with structural engineers, electrical engineers, and other consultants. Clients expect continuous project updates, often requiring immediate access to the latest design iteration. And regularly archiving work is an ongoing task. By automating these processes, your firm can save major time for more important work, gaining significant competitive advantages.

Graphisoft ArchiCAD's Virtual Building tools automate the information iteration of your projects, leaving more time to concentrate on the design itself. The View Sets function keeps design iterations organized logically. Project Publisher can configure any number and type of predefined publishing sets that you can customize to your workflow and to the actual project. Using these tools, you can locate and deliver project plans easily in any ArchiCAD output format with just a single mouse click (figure 1).

Figure 1. Publishing your project with ArchiCAD.

View Sets: Create a Logical Structure
ArchiCAD takes different project views -- floor plans, sections, and elevations, for example -- and organizes them logically in groups called View Sets. You can customize views and View Sets to meet the specific needs of consultants, authorities, clients, and builders by creating, for example, tendering and construction documentation sets. Throughout architectural design development, you can create and manage stories, plans, sections, and elevations, including details and even element lists and schedules.

When creating a custom view, you can specify and store custom layer combinations by adjusting the necessary layer settings and visibility modes. And you can scale, display option configurations, zoom, and even photo-render projection details, in the case of 3D views.

Switch to View Editor Palette mode to create and manage custom View Sets quickly and easily. Here you precisely tailor information about your design project for coworkers, clients, and the extended design team, including structural and HVAC engineers and landscape designers.

After creating a new View Set using the necessary subfolders, simply drag and drop all the previously defined and saved project views and folders from the appropriate View Set or project map.

View Editor (figure 2) is the place to organize views and View Sets. The left column is the project map, which lists all the Virtual Building standard views. The right column contains folders and subfolders where you save custom views using a tailored setup and later publish them with just a mouse click.

Figure 2. ArchiCAD's View Editor organizes views and View Sets.

You can begin working with standard views from the moment you begin an ArchiCAD project. However, I recommend that you create your own structure of custom views that corresponds to the structure of your project. When you publish your project, take into consideration that the system represents different stages of the design work using different types of drawings, including preliminary plans, general arrangement plans, and construction documentation. Graphisoft also recommends that you segment a project by folder structure according to these design stages. Within these larger folders you can create subfolders to hold specific views of the project and customize them to the needs of individual project team members.

Tip: ArchiCAD helps you organize your work using its default folder structure. To place a view in a specific folder, thus creating a View Set, you can drag and drop a standard ArchiCAD view or save explicitly defined views with their individual display settings. ArchiCAD also lets you clone existing folders. It automatically updates a clone folder whenever you update the original folder, meaning you won't have to edit its contents manually.

Publishing Process
Project Publisher facilitates data output. Create a publishing set by configuring the output format and destination of View Sets. The output format can be a printed document or an electronic file such as an ArchiCAD, DWG, or visualization/rendering file. The output destination can be a printing device, data storage server, or remote FTP site. With one click, you can send the entire construction documentation set to its output destination. You also can use Project Publisher for batch saving, such as archiving a single design phase of the documentation.

Tip: When you start the publishing process, a window displays the current process status (figure 3). A green check mark indicates that the system successfully published the actual view. Under this process window, you can see the actual view of the model you're working on, which enables you to interact with the views selected for publication.

Figure 3. The Project Publisher status window.

Publishing to a Remote Location via the Internet
Project Publisher offers the useful ability to upload data to the Internet. Using FTP protocol, you can send your project virtually anywhere. However, just uploading to an FTP site is generally not sufficient, so ArchiCAD helps you inform design team members when new versions of your project are available.

Tip: Use Project Publisher's Contacts setup (figure 4) to store addresses for e-mail notifications. You also can use Project Publisher to store the details of various FTP connections, such as FTP addresses, user names, and passwords.

Figure 4. Project Publisher's Contacts setup.

Reduce Iteration
ArchiCAD's View Sets and Project Publisher functions help you separate the design process from documentation chores. Using them, you can create, manage, and share your documentation with minimal effort, leaving more time to focus on design.

About the Author: Ákos Pfemeter

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