• Oculus Quest in Architecture (on macOS)

    OCULUS QUEST headset and controllers


    Finally we have found some VR hardware that we think is suited to architectural offices – the Oculus Quest.

    You might rightfully wonder why we have been waiting for so long to jump onto the VR train?

    It is simple really, we have seen a many expensive VR systems come and go and were not impressed beyond the initial WOW factor.

    We think the below requirements are essential to make VR headsets work in most architectural offices:

    1. convenience > do you need to be tethered via cables to some other box in a dedicated area (for tracking sensor setup) and do you require skilled operators every time you want to use the VR setup?
    2. compatibility > do you need to invest in additional hard or software?
    3. practicality > how do you get a model on your VR headset from macOS BIM / CAD software packages, i.e. ARCHICAD, Vectorworks, SketchUP or Rhino?
    4. interaction > can you see what the VR headset user sees, or even better can I join them and show them around?

    So let’s see how the Quest fares against the above criteria.

    convenience > 5/5

    The Quest is completely self contained, and setup could not be easier via the iOS setup. For VR novices it includes a Tutorial that is a perfect introduction to the navigation via the two handheld controllers.

    compatibility > 0/5 on macOS (3/5 on windows)

    Unfortunately, the model conversion & upload process to the Oculus Quest is still not mac compatible – we have tested a few apps and currently PROSPECT by IRIS VR is our clear favourite (although this might change as more Software will support the QUEST).

    practicality > 1/5

    Unfortunately there is currently no easy way to export an ARCHICAD model directly into the QUEST directly from macOS – let’s hope this will change soon, we will update this post once someone comes up with a good solution.

    However, what you can already do, is to export your ARCHICAD model to SKETCHUP and upload this to the QUEST via  PROSPECT running on Windows.

    interaction > 4/5

    With PROSPECT you can cast the QUEST screen either to an iOS device or via an iOS device directly to a Google Chromecast (currently 3rd gen and Ultra are supported). Note you can also share your iOS screen to an Apple TV, but this is not built into PROSPECT itself.

    PROSPECT also allows for online collaboration, i.e. multiple users can join and view the same project at the same time. So far we have not had the opportunity to test this feature, but will report back once this we have.


    final thoughts

    Overall the Oculus QUEST itself works really well and both the headset and controllers have good built quality. Some users have reported problems with the controller battery cover coming off, but we have not had any problems.

    Given the self contained nature of the QUEST, rendering capabilities are obviously limited. In other words PROSPECT’s model display is not anywhere near photo realistic and although you can control the sun position based on time and date for ambient lighting, it does currently not display any cast shadows.

    Despite the graphical limitations, everyone we have tested the QUEST with agreed, that it improves the understanding of scale and provides the ability to verify spatial quality.

    Initially we had some issues with some high polygon count SKUP models, however once we controlled our entourage & landscape elements then we had no further problems importing models (up to 200MB) via PROSPECT.

    Please note we are also impressed by IRIS VRs frequent updates to PROSPECT, which  have continuously improved the software.

    In addition Facebook has recently announced that they will allow tethering of the QUEST to external hardware to tap into additional graphics performance. We will have to see if this will make any difference to how PROSPECT renders shadows.


    For a detailed look at our current setup and a comparison of the officially recommended hardware by IRIS VR, please refer to our other blog entry here.

    Please note Oculus is owned by Facebook, so we recommend to dial up any facebook related privacy settings – if they really do anything…

  • AC21 replacement icon(s)

    As every year new here are our alternative / replacement Logos / Icons for ARCHICAD 21 – this year we did not follow the official GRAPHISOFT colour (darkish blue) but instead opted for a version aligned with the black and white staircase from its physical packaging.

    All icons are available in full Retina Display glory…

    Click here for PC Download.
    Click here for MAC Download. 


    To install replace the original AC logo in:

    /Applications/Graphisoft/ArchiCAD 21/

    Please note the above was also posted on AC-talk.

  • Guide to Better ARCHICAD

    Use the following regularly to keep ARCHICAD File performance and size at its best.
    In addition make sure you check the following Graphisoft Troubleshooting Tech notes >

    1. SWITCH OFF WIFI on your Workstation
      An ethernet connection is a lot faster and more stable. Keep a single fast connection to the server avoids a lot of problems.
      1. generate Record files > PLA’s to be saved at key stages. (See note on Libraries below; do not use a PLA as a Library on a bim server!)
        Besides obviously naming any marker or saved view appropriately:

        1. Sections > remove temp items
        2. Elevations > remove temp items
        3. Worksheets > remove old consultant drawings and temp items
        4. 3d Documents > remove sun studies, diagrams from previous stages
        5. Name markers and saved views appropriately. Including temporary markers so you know they are TEMP and YOURS!
      2. SPLIT FILES
        1. Layouts > separate into LAYOUT FILE (reduces files size by at least 50%)
        2. split large files > if it does not fit on A0 at a reasonable scale (very large projects)
    4. 3D ERRORS
      If you get an error report when opening the 3D window, FIX the issues it reports.
      Typically they relate to either:

      1. sloppy editing
        Use a schedule to list elements by type and measured area. Find and select anything that is 0m2 or close to it. Press the show in plan view button and delete if necessary. If the element looks right, but has 0m2, try cut & pasting it in place. Redraw if that didn’t fix it.
      2. Library parts parameters.
        Check and adjust parameters. Mostly this is due to incorrect pen assignment of pen 0 or pen -1 to parameters where this is not allowed or adjusting a dimension to 0 where this is not allowed. Sometimes the issue can be a window or door that’s been placed outside of the extent of the wall.
      ARCHICAD continuously checks the status of linked files.

      1. Drawing Manager.

        1. remove or re-link missing references,
        2. NEVER link anything from your own computer / desktop,
        3. Set all drawings to manual update (YOU should be in control of what updates & when),
        4. NEVER place an xref, place a DWG as an external drawing instead. Its layers can be control via the drawings Settings dialogue.
      2. IFC
        1. Don’t merge an IFC into your project files.
          Merging an IFC can have a serious performance & file stability impact on your project. Use a separate PLN to merge the IFC and hotlink your project into. Use it for coordination only. If you need a reference in your project file either model it or use external drawings if a 2D reference is sufficient.
        2. Oblige suppliers of IFC to use the Graphisoft Revit plugin.
          This helps Revit prepare an IFC for smoother transition into ARCHICAD, i.e. more geometry will be properly translated to ARCHICAD elements instead of into library objects. They can get it here:
        3. When merging an IFC you can choose to export the Library it creates to your server instead of embedding it into your project file.
          You can find this setting also in File > Interoperability > IFC > IFC Options:
          “Save Library Parts generated during import to: Linked Library” & point it to a default project folder on your server.
      3. HOTLINKS
        1. You can adjust the Work Environment > Company Standards & Schemes > Data Safety & Integrity > Hotlink Update to “Ignore Hotlinks” and un-tick “Automatically Check Status of All Hotlinks in Hotlink Manager”.
      1. check and remove anything unnecessary from the embedded Library.
        In particular any objects of excessive size (>1MB) or have special characters (” ‘ , : !@#$%^&*()+) in the name!!
      2. NEVER load a PLA as a library, instead extract PLA Libraries into folder and convert to LCF.
        PLA’s contain all used objects, which may cause duplicate objects errors when default libraries are loaded and ARCHICAD may display the wrong object.
      3. Minimise Texture file sizes.
        Loading Textures bigger than a few MB’s in file size is going to eat up your computer’s RAM quite quickly. If you’re not rendering extreme close-ups (and arguably ARCHICAD isn’t the right tool for that anyway) then these should be reduced in size straightaway and saved into a Texture folder part of your project or Office Library.
      1. reshare teamwork files, once per month to cleanout old users caches.
        Every time a user joins the size of the teamwork project increases.
      2. Adjust Project Settings IMMEDIATELY after sharing.
        In the Share dialogue, tick “Open Project Settings after Share” in the bottom left corner.
        The default makes way to many backups at the wrong time of day, both impacting BIM server performance negatively.
        Adjust the Backup (or Snapshot) settings to:

        1. not make PLN backups & daily,
        2. after hours (stagger times between project files!), keep 3 copies for BIM Project backups.
    8. RESTART
      Restart your workstation and bim server, at least once a month and especially when either is acting up a bit.

    …please remember to allow time for the above regularly, before it starts to slow down your file(s).

  • ARCHICAD Speed Issues

    How well your ARCHICAD functions depends on a number of factors, not in the least which combination of operating system and ARCHICAD you are using.
    We generally recommend to avoid upgrading to the latest OS X version, and for now keep with 10.10 a.k.a. Yosemite.
    However, in any case it is a good idea to always have the latest hotfix installed to cure most issues.

    Additionally, if you are still using ARCHICAD 18 and you have a computer with Retina display, ensure you open ARCHICAD in low resolution mode:

    • close ARCHICAD
    • locate in Applications > GRAPHISOFT > ArchiCAD xx folder
    • select the application
    • from the context menu choose Get Info
    • check Open in Low Resolution
    • While you’re here, also tick Prevent App Nap (This is recommended for any version of ARCHICAD!)

    You can further speed up ARCHICAD by:

    • Navigate toARCHICAD > Work Environment > Advanced Redraw Options
    • Set 2D Drawing Hardware Acceleration to Full


  • AC20 replacement icon(s)

    For Graphisoft’s 2016 edition of ARCHICAD version 20 new replacement Logos / Icons with updated looks (once again in full Retina Display glory…).

    AC20 ICON matrix



    To install replace the original AC logo in:

    /Applications/Graphisoft/ArchiCAD 19/

    Please note the above was also posted on AC-talk.

  • ARCHICAD BIM Server backup settings

    The ARCHICAD BIM Server has a very useful built-in backup function, if configured correctly. Find below some considerations regarding a proper backup strategy.

    1. On Mac OS X we find that people tend to choose Apple’s TimeMachine as their preferred backup option. Although this is a perfect solution for your regular desktop, this is problematic on a server level as it is not easy to control, e.g. the time it runs or what to include or exclude – we use the excellent Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) instead;

    2. We typically adjust CCC to backup after hours, with a preflight script to stop and post flight script to start the ARCHICAD BIM Server;

    3. We also adjust the BIM Server backup settings to typically only do PLN backups, to ensure that in case of catastrophic failure, you at least have PLNs that you can use temporarily without a BIM Server (unless you have a few spare BIM Servers flying around)… note PLN backups are typically bigger in size than BIMSERVER backups;

    4. We also choose to run backups after hours (not all at once at 1600h – not sure how Graphisoft determined that that might be good time to have all TW projects backup at the same time…);

    5. Depending on your BIM Servers capacity and the number / size of your typical project files, carefully monitor that you do not run out of space (and risk corruption of the bimservers mongo database) – unfortunately there is no way to globally adjust the default backup settings easily, i.e. it is a manual process that requires regular checking to ensure that nobody has shared a few 4GB files with the default backup settings;

    6. Offsite backups are essential but depend on your willingness to rotate backup drives / tapes offsite (we do it daily) or your internet connection bandwidth for cloud based backups. Do think twice about cloud backups though, although convenient restoration / download times for several GB of BIM Server data might be prohibitive (we only do tapes and hard drives to avoid massive downtime);

    One last thing to keep in mind regarding the frequency of BIM Server backups:

    If your practice works in large teams and you need to restore or roll back a project file (e.g. if a single user gets detached), we find that hourly backups are not really that useful, as you typically loose as many man hours as there are team members if you reset the project for the whole team (rather than just forfeiting a single users work for the last couple of hours).

  • AC19 replacement logo(s)

    And for Graphisoft’s 2015 edition of ARCHICAD 19 now in full Retina Display glory…

    AC19 LOGO matrixDownload

    To install replace the original AC logo in:

    /Applications/Graphisoft/ArchiCAD 19/

    Please note the above was also posted on AC-talk.

  • AC18 replacement logo(s)

    The 2014 Graphisoft colour of the season…

    AC18 LOGO matrix


    To install replace the original AC logo in:

    /Applications/Graphisoft/ArchiCAD 18/

    Please note the above was also posted on AC-talk.

  • VW2011 not working on Mavericks

    Since Apple has released Mavericks, Vectorworks 2011 no longer runs on Macs with 10.9 / Mavericks – although this has been widely criticised, Nemetschek is most likely to stick with its policy to only provide support for the last 2 versions of Vectorworks.

    An overview on which version runs on what is available here.

    Currently you only have the following options to deal with this situation:

    1. upgrade to the latest version of Vectorworks;

    2. downgrade your Mac(s) to 10.8 / Mountain Lion (if you still have an installer), we have done this successfully on a variety of models – however the latest MacBookPro11,2 series can no longer easily be downgraded and it is only a matter of time before the new iMacs can no longer be downgraded either;

    3. if the above is too radical, setup a bootcamp partition as explained here.

    4. use Fusion or Parallels to setup a virtual instance of 10.8 and run VW2011 inside that – we must admit this is not ideal as VW2011 seems to have some speed issues when virtualised…

  • AS2890 swept paths

    ever wondered why there is no library part available that takes the pain out of checking if that loading dock or car park you just designed complies with AS 2890?



    AS2890 objects and more AS compliant objects now available from here.

    well we thought we help you out…

    please note we are offering this object for free – please contact us if you are interested.