• AC17 replacement logo(s)

    The 2013 Graphisoft colour of the season – to spice things up a little we thought we change the font…

    AC17 LOGO matrix


    To install replace the original AC logo in:

    /Applications/Graphisoft/ArchiCAD 17/

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

  • BIM reality check

    Lately we have noticed there is lot more activity and discussion occuring in the field of BIM – for example various Australian organizations such as NATSPEC, BIM-MEP Aus and most recently the AIA have now published BIM guidelines which to varying degrees adapt those which have already been developed overseas. There are also an increasing number of talks, seminars and conferences being held on the subject as the industry grapples with BIM .. what is it, and what does it mean for individual businesses and the industry as a whole.

    The AEC sector is a notoriously complex, chaotic and inefficient one with a myriad of participants so it is understandable there is both a lot of optimism and angst out there. Since we have been involved in this field for some time – through daily implementation with clients, regular involvement in various discussions exposing a multitude of views and generally keeping abreast of developments at local and international levels – we thought it time to contribute a little more openly by providing our independent critical take on BIM and related topics.

    As there is clearly far too much to discuss in a single post we think the following talking points can act as a framework for clarity of further discussion:

    BIM .. is a process

    Process Implications .. exist if the industry is going to really benefit

    Technology .. is becoming increasingly critical to the delivery process

    Legal Issues .. are uncertain and an obstacle to process change

    so until next time ..

  • Drawing Numbering System

    One major problem most architectural practices sooner or later have to deal with is how to come up with a logical and scaleable Drawing Numbering System (DNS).

    Ideally a DNS needs to accommodate projects from small scale residential to very large and complex institutional projects which may be staged and spread over a variety of sites – while at the same time being relatively easy to understand for all parties involved.

    Over the last years we have been involved in local and international projects and worked closely with their respective stakeholders and consultants. On most of these projects some party would ‘enforce’ numbering systems, most of which were of surprisingly varying quality, i.e. some were simply not able to handle the sheer quantity of drawings that eventually got produced.

    To our knowledge there is unfortunately no directly applicable ‘Australian Standard’ outlining a DNS, and the ‘US National CAD Standards’ (USNCS) to which all AutoDesk products & templates are tailored to can be rather daunting.

    So after much research and testing we have developed the following DNS which is based on the ‘USNCS’, however it has been adjusted to suit specific australian requirements (e.g. Lower Ground vs. Level 1) and simplified to reduce overall Drawing Number length (9 or 13 digits) – retaining the ability to scale to projects of all sizes.

    Please feel free to contact us to if you require any additional information – please also note the above DNS has been implemented in the latest version of our ArchiCAD Template (mACT).

  • AC16 replacement logo(s)

    Another year another colour…


    To install replace the original AC logo in:

    /Applications/Graphisoft/ArchiCAD 16/

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

  • MagicPlan Review

    We have been testing a new iPhone and iPad app called MagicPlan which aims to dramatically simplify the measuring up process and to some extent even the creation of basic plans.

    Basically, to use the app all you do is stand in the middle of a room and point your iPhone or iPad at each corner – an instructional video is included in the app to get you started. The capturing process works amazingly well and the interface (a coordinate cross photo overlay) is well thought through to allow capturing of hidden corners by simply realigning your device to the corresponding ceiling corner and moving it down from there.

    Once a room is completely entered you need to confirm the shape and if wrong the app offers to automatically correct it, we found this always worked however we tested it in a modernist building which has only right angles. In our testing the capturing process was much easier, once we ensured that all doors to room are closed and corners were not obstructed by any small furniture. Subsequently you are presented with a preview of your plan where you can easily adjust any opening dimensions and insert additional openings, furniture, etc.

    After the first room we got prompted to calibrate all dimensions which the app obviously only estimates – we found this to be a bit tedious, as it seems to require you to manually measure one entire room including all nooks and crannies, as opposed to say just one overall dimension in either direction.

    We also noted that any subsequent adjustments to dimensions are not easily done, as instead of editing the dimensions (which you can do for openings) you need to move entire walls around.

    Once you have captured at least two plans you can then assemble them together very easily, as wall corners snap to each other and even door duplicates get resolved properly… very nice!

    To proceed beyond three rooms the app requires you to sign up for an account, which you can do from within the app and confirm via email before it gets activated. An account is free and allows you to have the service send a JPG of your overall assembly and a PDF which also includes each individual room – note both are extensively (yes extensively) watermarked. To get access to a usable i.e. not watermarked JPG, PDF or DWG you need to ‘activate’ them, for which a link is provided.

    Which brings is to the not so nice aspect of MagicPlan, which is the arguably obscure pricing – yes even though the app is free, and there is no indication that the service costs anything it in deed does… it would be very nice if this was made clear on the iTunes page, Sensopias website and directly in the app itself.

    Basically you can pay ‘on demand’ per plan (AUD 2.49), in batches of 10 (AUD 20), 20 (AUD 35) & 40 (AUD 60) or as monthly subscriptions, e.g. AUD 20 for unlimited plans – payment is via paypal and delivery via email link.

    Unfortunately, the provided PDFs are not to scale – however, they include the overall assembly which shows all rooms’ areas and additionally all individual spaces which include all dimensions. The provided DWG, is organised into five layers (door_layer, furniture_layer, wall_layer, window_layer and text_layer) and elements are coloured via layers. Unfortunately, the walls are reduced to their centrelines, i.e. they are either individual lines or polylines, i.e. they have no thickness and all placed ‘furniture’ is offset (we assume the app uses a wall thickness of 150 mm for its PDFs).

    It would be much more helpful if the individual rooms had at least a continuous outline, which would facilitate any subsequent manipulation, e.g. addition of walls.

    Overall, this succeeds in simplifying the measuring process and creation of basic plans and is probably aimed at the real estate market. Please note the app can currently not handle more complex layouts, e.g. it can not do curved walls, but given this is only the first version we hope to see a few improvements in the next version.

    We are currently also in the process of reviewing Orthograph’s Architect for iPad which seems to be more sophisticated – watch this space.

  • AC15 replacement logo(s)

    here we go again.

    same options as before plus white with black outline and this time in 512 x 512 px glory…


    please note we have also included the original logo just in case.

    to install replace the original AC logo in:

    /Applications/Graphisoft/ArchiCAD 15/

    the above was also posted on AC-talk.

  • lion in architecture

    last wednesday apple released its next major OS revision in form of OSX 10.7, aka LION.

    despite some very exciting new features (amongst others we really like the new gestures, resume, auto save and gestures for the full list go here) we are at the moment still in the process of thoroughly putting LION through its paces, as usual already a couple of problems have started to emerge with the following applications typically used in design environments:

    ArchiCAD – Graphisoft does currently not recommend upgrading to LION, more here. btw. graphisoft AUS has finally shipped ArchiCAD15, rest assured we will be testing this as well over the coming weeks.

    Vectorworks – official statement is available here… as far as we are aware there are so far not many complaints on the forums, however versions prior to 12.5 will not run in LION.

    SketchUP – some problems, details here.

    MS Office 2011 – unless you are using communicator and Outlook there seem no major problems, the official MS statement is available here. btw. office 2004 will not run in LION.

    Adobe – quite a few problems

    to see what software will be affected by LION, you can do a quick check of all your typically used applications by going to the ‘apple menu > about this mac > more info > software > applications’ – all applications that show up with ‘Classic’ or with ‘PowerPC’ in the kind column will not run in LION.

    even though it might be very tempting we can at the moment not recommend you upgrade any mission critical mac to LION just yet.

    for all early adopters who simply can no longer wait however, please install LION on a separate partition (at least 15GB in size) as described in detail here, but please make a complete backup first!

  • iPad in Architecture

    ever since we got our first ipad 2 we have been testing various setups and apps – as usual with the architectural community in mind.

    before we dive into our recommended setup, let us share our 2 cents worth on the ups and downs of the current combination of iOS and ipad 2 hardware.

    it does in deed feel much snappier as the original ipad – does this warrant an upgrade though? we are not sure, unless you use skype or facetime very often, then our next point might help…

    the ipad 2 comes with two cameras (front: VGA 640×480, back: 960x720p) which both work reasonably well for videoconferencing apps, but not much more. a lot of people are rather disappointed by this choice apple has made, however simply due to the form factor we normally prefer to take photos on an iphone over the ipad anyway.

    apple now allows the ipad to mirror its display to HDTVs and projectors (optional adaptors), the only downside here is that the ipad’s aspect ratio (1024×768) typically results in some black bars either side especially on widescreen HDTVs.

    smart cover
    a lot has already been said about this, but it really is a magnificent piece of industrial design.

    personal hotspot
    one of the main new features that apple introduced with the new iOS4.3 is called personal hotspot, which if enabled allows for very easy setup and usage of your iphone’s data connection for up to 5 connected devices (previously known as tethering). this feature works so reliably that we can easily recommend getting the ipad 2 as wifi only, i.e. without 3g and the added cost of a monthly data plan.

    no user accounts
    in the tradition of apple’s other iOS devices the ipad is essentially an single user device, i.e. there is no possibility to setup individual access protected user accounts.

    data transfer
    a major complaint we share with a lot of people is how to get data onto the ipad. currently apple’s officially endorsed method is to add your data to itunes, connect the ipad via USB cable then sync – a process though somewhat cumbersome at the same time also creates a backup. however, some apps allow access to cloud services such as google docs or dropbox, which ultimately bring us to our next point…

    given all of the above and some intensive weeks of testing in various real architectural environments, we recommend the following setup:

    to sync data to the ipad use dropbox – its free (2GB) easy to setup and syncs as soon as you have an internet connection.

    a stylus will facilitate sketching and note taking tremendously. we can recommend the targus stylus as they have a very durable tip which is made of capacitative rubber and not foam which easily looses its shape. btw. sourcing of a stylus proved a very frustrating experience as the official apple shops do not sell any, luckily officeworks has a variety incl. the targus stylus for approx. AUD20 in silver or black;


    dropbox, free, very easy to use for syncing and also for quickly viewing and presenting PDFs, JPGs and even movies;

    pdf highlighter, AUD8.99, although a bit pricy this is currently the only PDF annotation app that integrates seamlessly with dropbox;

    adobe ideas, free, allows for easy markup of photos, which can be shared as PDF via email;

    penultimate, AUD2.49, a very nicely crafted note taking app designed around moleskine notepads – 2 things to note are: you can not zoom in and sketches or notes can only be shared in PNG format;

    iAwriter, AUD1.19, besides the obviously gorgeous typography, stephen fry can’t be wrong;

    2do task manager, AUD8.99, if you use ical todo’s this is the task manager you need, can sync either via mobile me or wifi;

    irhino 3d, AUD3.99, obviously only useful if you use rhino but a 3d viewer from which other bim manufacturers can learn a lot – let’s hope google reads our blog and eventually releases a sketchup viewer;

    AutoCAD WS, free, dwg viewer by autodesk, however you need to register and upload files via a browser;

    we are sure there are many more apps suited to architects and rest assured we are constantly testing other apps as they become available – as usual please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

  • iMac grunt for ArchiCAD

    ever since we got our shiny 27″ imacs i7 earlier this year, we have been wondering how they perform against other much more expensive setups – here some data compiled from some recent macworld benchmarks…

    a more comprehensive comparison of all current mac’s is available directly on macworld – note that even with the new speedmark version the imac still outperforms the entry level quad core mac pros.

    basically it comes down to this:
    if get yourself a 27″ iMac i7, with an SSD (BTO for AUD 3729) from apple and upgrade it to 16GB RAM from another more affordable source (AUD 620) you save around AUD 449 over the entry level mac pro and get a high performance workstation including a beautiful large screen, which should easily handle most tasks the typical ArchiCAD workflow holds.

  • Magic Mouse panning

    although the magic mouse has solved the problem with the far too easily clogged up trackball on its predecessor, by simply doing away with this ‘3rd button’ it has created another major problem: how can you pan in applications such as ArchiCAD, Photoshop, etc.?

    there is actually a really simple solution, install ‘MagicPrefs‘ (free) and not only do you get your center button back for panning around, but you can even set the mouse to recognise gestures!

    however, if you do not want to tinker around just use the ‘graphics, 3d, CAD, modeling’ preset and you are ready to go.