Where Did I Put That Detail?

15 Nov, 2004 By: Kurt Ameringer Cadalyst

Set up your document using ArchiCAD's PlotMaker and you'll never go digging for drawing details again.

Have you ever received a phone call from the field asking which reference bubble in the document set is correct?

Graphisoft's ArchiCAD v9 expands the functionality of PlotMaker, its document layout, and management tool to offer additional automated options when creating documents. A few minutes spent with setting up at the beginning of a project can save hours of red-lining and changing reference call-outs throughout the lifecycle of a project.

By taking advantage of new features in PlotMaker, you can import a set of views from ArchiCAD's building information model (BIM), or Virtual Building, into a layout that will automatically number and arrange the views on a sheet. The titles of each sheet are based on settings specified in the Master Layout Settings dialog box.

The Drawing Numbering Grid is an extension of the Master Layout which was introduced in ArchiCAD v8. The Master Layout is a template that establishes the size of a sheet and references intelligent information on all the layouts assigned to it. Editing a Master Layout allows you to make one change in one location and have it update on every sheet in the drawing set.

PlotMaker includes several Master Layout templates that you can modify or reference to create new ones. When you open the Master Layout Settings dialog box, you should verify that the Grid for Drawing Numbering option is enabled; otherwise, the settings will not be available for editing. Check the "This Master Layout Should Use?" option near the top of the panel (figure 1). This enables all the controls on the panel.

Figure 1. Click the top checkbox in the Master Layout Settings dialog box to enable all the controls on the panel.

Select a radio button to specify a numbering method for the grid. The Matrix option (figure 2) will assign each cell a coordinate corresponding to its column and row numbers.

Figure 2. Select the Matrix numbering method if you want to number your grid based on the column, row location of each cell.

In the Numbering Direction and Style area, you may select numbers or letters from the pull-down menus for the horizontal and vertical series. You can also set directions for the horizontal (left-to-right or right-to-left) and the vertical (bottom-to-top or top-to-bottom) series. Once you establish the setup of columns and rows, you'll have a series of cells. The individual cells can be formatted using Drawing Number Format.

Using the Flat numbering method (figure 3), you can number each cell consecutively from a corner of the grid. All your sheets can be coordinated by selecting one of the four corners of the layout to "Start Numbering From". You can also specify numbering or lettering in the Style field.

Figure 3. Select the Flat numbering method to number each cell consecutively from a corner of the grid.

The remaining controls in the panel are general settings that apply to the Grid regardless of the numbering method. The Number of Cells can be defined using both the text fields and arrow controls.You can specify a line type and a pen color for the grid lines using the Grid Line Type settings (figure 4). In the Grid Line Display pull-down list, you can choose how the grid lines are shown on the layout. These Grid Line Display settings also affect printed output.

Figure 4. Use the options at the bottom of the Master Layout Settings dialog box to specify how you want your grid lines to appear on screen and in printed output.

Some drawings will occupy space in more than one cell. You can define which cell number should be assigned as the drawing number by choosing one of the drawing's four corners in the "Drawings Occupying Multiple Cells ?" pull-down list (figure 5).

Figure 5. Use the pull-down list at the bottom of the Master Layout Settings dialog box to specify how to number drawings that occupy multiple cells.

Drawings, views, and image files placed onto this layout will be centered into the cells of the grid, and each drawing will number itself according to the grid settings. If you choose to manually relocate the drawing to another cell, it will renumber itself automatically. If the drawing is too large to fit in one cell, it will insert itself into as many cells as needed and then automatically number itself based on the rules you have set.

Once the rules are established, you can use them for any combination of projects. Views imported directly from ArchiCAD or drawings from any other supported file format are automatically organized onto your sheet and can be edited to suit your office standards. Any changes to the attached views or master sheet populate the entire document set, updating your documents as often as you like. The drawing set of individual sheets can then be automatically published -- plotted, printed, saved, and uploaded -- to any selected format or supported device.

Publishing to a PDF allows you to create a single document that contains and automatically coordinates all the selected sheets (figure 6). Every section, elevation, and detail bubble in the PDF is hyperlinked to the correct detail so you will never go searching for that detail again.

Figure 6. Create a PDF file to combine all your selected sheets and every section, elevation, and detail bubble it contains will be hyperlinked.

About the Author: Kurt Ameringer