• 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.

  • Autodesk iPhone apps

    following up on our previous post regarding AutoCAD’s return to the mac, here some more news from the autodesk imperium.

    they have now also released the following 2 universal (i.e. for iphones & ipads) iOS apps…

    AutoCAD WS essentially being a DWG viewer for mobile devices, which relies on uploading your files to an online collaboration platform named autocad ws and being online in order to view any files.

    Inventor Publisher Mobile Viewer, enabling on the road access to assembly instructions created in AutoDesk Inventor.

  • compress PDFs

    problem: how do you significantly compress large PDFs without adobe acrobat?

    solution: use one of the following free scripts…

    compress PDF workflow for 10.5
    compress PDF workflow 6.0 for 10.6
    the above provide the same functionality on 10.5 & 10.6 respectively as was present on 10.4 with ‘compress pdf’ in the ‘save as pdf’ section of the print dialogue. it is an automator workflow which gets installed in the following location:
    ‘/Library/PDF Services/Compress PDF.workflow’
    the compression factor can be easily tweaked by opening the workflow in automator.

    shrinkit by panic (check out their fantastic website)
    this will be most effective on vectorised information, e.g. illustrator files.

  • ArchiCAD 14

    news from graphisoft

    ArchiCAD 14 will be available for purchase as of 1st June. Physical shipment of your product will start early July

    as far as we can tell this version is very much focused on ensuring ‘information exchange’ with autodesk products (namely revit) via IFC 2×3 files. it seems that graphisoft is also providing the required ‘add-ins’ for this ‘workflow’ to work.

    the possibility of displaying & tracking changed consultant information in 3d directly in archicad 14 is indeed a very interesting feature, as is the ‘detect collisions’ feature – although this is mentioned only very briefly.

    also check out the discussion on this latest release of archicad over at the archicad-talk forums.

  • ArchiCAD Rental

    graphisoft announces new time based licensing option for ArchiCAD 13, available for 1, 3, 6 or 12 month periods.

    since ArchiCAD 14 is coming up later this year, the following seems remarkable:

    During the rental period, customers can upgrade their licenses to the latest ArchiCAD version and get technical support.

    unfortunately no pricing details are available yet.

  • AC13 & QTVR

    graphisoft on QTVR…

    Since the future of QTVR technology is unclear, Graphisoft decided to discontinue QTVR Support in ArchiCAD 13. This has given us the opportunity to optimize the memory usage of the 32-bit version of ArchiCAD, enabling users to work with larger models.

    … and not surprisingly…

    For creating navigable 3D Models for presentations, we recommend the far superior Virtual Building Explorer, available for Windows and Mac.

    apparently, the legacy QTVR add-on (32bit only) is still working and is available for download here – note: currently AC13 for mac’s is only available as 32bit version.

    alternatively, if you own cinema4d, you may use it in combination with ‘quicktime PRO’ to produce QTVRs. also for the time being previously created QTVR’s, can be viewed via ‘quicktime 7’, which is a custom install on snow leopard (10.6).

    we understand that apple has not officially dropped support for QTVR with the introduction of ‘quicktime X’, at least not yet. as quicktime has been around since 1991 it is currently undergoing a massive upgrade (detailed information here), it is yet to be seen what the future has in store for QTVRs.