• Vectorworks Performance Issues

    Here are some useful tips to ensure that Vectorworks in your computer is running at its most optimum

    Go to Vectorworks Preferences… > Display and select “Best Compatibility” for Navigation Graphics

    Note: Applicable to Vectorworks 2017 onwards only

    Ensure the right settings in the edit references via Tools > Organisation… > References > Edit

    If performance does not improve significantly, try and limit the information on each design layer, e.g. create separate design layers for each room such as Kitchen, Pantry, Laundry, etc.

    You could also separate the file into multiple smaller files , e.g. west areas, dry areas, etc.

  • PROSPECT by IRIS VR setup (on macOS)

    Following up on our review of the OCULUS QUEST in Architecture, please find below an overview over our existing setup to get models into our QUEST via PROSPECT by IRIS VR.


    1 x OCULUS Quest @ AUD 630 each incl. GST
    1 x IRIS VR Prospect @ approx. AUD 440 pa (yearly subscription) per user
    subtotal > approx. AUD 1070 (incl. first year subscription)

    OPTION A – our current setup on an old MacPro

    1 x VM WARE FUSION v11.5 @ 118.75 incl. GST1 x WINDOWS 10 PRO @ $330 incl. GST
    1 x MACPRO 5,1 @ $800 to 1595 incl. GST [EBAY]
    1 x NVIDIA GTX 1080 TI 11 GB @ 1385
    subtotal > AUD 1833.75 to 3428.75

    Obviously the above is based on LEGACY (i.e. vintage hardware), however you could also go with the following Apple hardware plus external GPU:


    1 x WINDOWS 10 PRO @ $330 incl. GST
    1 x MACMINI 6 core i7 32GB RAM @ $2979 incl. GST
    1 x AppleCare for MAC MINI @ $119 incl. GST
    1 x RAZER CORE X eGPU @ 469 incl. GST
    1 x EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER XC ULTRA GAMING 8GB Video Card @ 1289 incl. GST
    subtotal > AUD 5186 incl. GST

    If you do not have an old MacPro at your disposal, we recommend the below non Apple hardware:


    1 x RAZER BLADE 15.6″ LAPTOP with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Max Q @ AUD 4799 incl. GST

    Please note all quoted prices are approximate only and subject to change.

  • 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…

  • Apple MacBook Pro 2019 thoughts

    Earlier this week Apple has released updated MacBook Pro models – there are already plenty of good reviews available (e.g. ars technica’s) as well as an in depth ifixit teardown

    Here are our thoughts regarding the 2019 MacBook Pro model:

    • the keyboard butterfly mechanism is the same before, however Apple seems to have upgraded two materials used for the keys (refer to the ifixit teardown for details)… only time will tell if that fixes the problem;

    • the 2019 MacBook Pro models are as before non upgradeable, i.e. you stick with what you order.

    • the price sweet spot seems to be the entry level 15 inch model for a regular workstation, add the 32GB RAM option for something a little more powerful;

    Suspiciously, Apple still offers a completely out-of-date non Touch Bar model, which could be the next one to be upgraded?

    Unless someone really desperately needs a new MacBook Pro, we will be holding out for some more reviews and also user feedback if the butterfly design keyboard problems have finally been resolved.

  • mACT Auto Transmittal


    For offices using the ARCHICAD Revision management system, the mACT team has developed the mACT_Document Transmittal object which is included in the mACT Library package and also available as separate purchase from the macinteract online store.
    The following tutorial describes the way how to use this object.

    Main principles

    The mACT_Document Transmittal is an object that reads data from text files exported from ARCHICAD files. It organises the data into a graphic document transmittal that is placed as object on a Layout.


    To allow the object to organise the data the following conditions must be met:

    • The ARCHICAD Revision management system is used within the ARCHICAD project file;
    • Every layout in the project file contains a unique ID identifier that contains at least one letter (for example A-DA-100-001)
    • Manual Date format in the exported Issue History list should not include any calculation characters (e.g. 18/02/2018 does NOT work) otherwise the date will not be displayed correctly. If your Date format must include “/“ then an additional text character is necessary.
      (Note > ARCHICAD reads “/“ as divided and performs a calculation, if a text character is included ARCHICAD considers the data string to be text and the calculation is not executed).
      Additionally, the Month format must include 2 digits (01,02,…)

    ! The above conditions must be met prior to publishing the first Issue from the ARCHICAD project file !


    The mACT_Document Transmittal Object is located within the mACT Library in the 01 Reference and Annotation subfolder or in mACT Document Transmittal 20 folder if purchased separately.

    Data Export

    The mACT_Document Transmittal Object reads data from 2 text files that are exported from ARCHICAD:

    A. Document Transmittal Index text file

    B. Issue History text file


    A. Document Transmittal Index text file

    Is a list of layouts that are included in a specific project phase. As you might know, an ARCHICAD project file can cater for more than 1 phase (i.e. Feasibility, Development Application, Construction, etc.). If you create the first issue in the ARCHICAD Revision management system, all present layouts within an ARCHICAD file will be included, no matter what phase subset they are in. 

    The Document Transmittal Index list however is selective and you can choose which Layout Book subset to include.

    The Document Transmittal Index list is organised to display Layout details such as Subset ID and Name, Layout ID, Layout Name, Drawing Scales – the order of Layouts is dictated by the Layout ID (which typically are consecutive numbers).

    Once displayed, the list of Layouts will be organised with all important information. There are 2 ways to display this list:

    1. Show headline option enabled -> Layout subsets are listed in a separate row which is the same way how they will be listed in the Document Transmittal


    2. Show headline option disabled -> Layout subsets are listed per each Layout and they will be listed in the Document Transmittal via the first Layout in its respective Subset location.

    B. Issue History text file

    This text file is an Issue history list for the project. This list includes all layouts published within the ARCHICAD Revision management system with related information (Issue ID, Issued Date, Subset Name, Layout ID, layout Name, revision ID, Published by) sorted in order as issued.

    Please note that you can modify the 2nd item on this list: Issued Date can be replaced with Manual Date and Published by can be replaced with Issued by or Checked by depending on your office standards and Layout Book Issue Scheme Settings.

    Both text files need to be exported from ARCHICAD and saved inside the project Library.

    To save the files, open them from the Project Indexes sub tab….

    and save as Tabbed Text file to the desired server location…

    Alternatively, you can use the Publisher and publish the related Index list whenever you need to update the Transmittal – we recommend to keep these files in their own separate folder, so they can be managed more easily.

    Do not forget to set the export path before publishing. The schedule itself needs to be set as a List file type.

    Once published the folder containing both files (nothing else) needs to be uploaded into the Project libraries (for Solo Project Files) or into the Embedded Libraries (for TeamWork Project Files). As the files are not native ARCHICAD object files (GSM file), you have to load the enclosing folder containing the stored text files. 

    Please note, if you update the text files, you need to reload the libraries otherwise ARCHICAD does not notice that the files have been changed.
    If you load the text files into the Embedded Libraries, the refresh Libraries command doesn’t work and you need to manually remove and reload the text files.

    Once the text files are loaded into the Libraries, open the mACT_Document Transmittal object and specify file names including the .txt file type extension.

    The mACT_Document Transmittal object will then read the files and display all data as an organised list:

    The mACT_Document Transmittal object settings includes multiple ways to fine tune its graphic appearance to achieve your desired office standard as well as how the actual data is displayed.

    1. Columns -> you may choose to display 2 to 4 columns of base data
    2. Start from Issue -> select an Issue to start the Document Transmittal from. (You might want to exclude some Issues or split the Document Transmittal to few pages if Revision History is too long).
    3. Display Issued/Published by -> if enabled, Issued by or Published by will be displayed under the date of the issue table
    4. Display Current Revision First -> if enabled, the most current revision will be displayed as first revision column (this can be handy when the revision history is long)
    5. Auto Row Height -> disable to set the row height manually
    6. Auto Revision Column Width -> disable to set the revision column width manually
    7. Content -> here you can choose which content to display under each column and choose the text style settings
    8. Select Subsets to display -> if enabled, this option will open 10 additional fields where you can choose which subsets are displayed. This is useful for large projects that need more than one Document Transmittal to cover an extensive list of Layouts
    9. 2D Representation and Text -> adjust to change the graphic look of the Transmittal


    The mACT Document Transmittal can be placed in Plan, Worksheets or directly on a Layout and may be amended with additional 2D graphics elements for customisation.

    Bundled with mACT22 or available separately for

    only $199.00


  • mACT Smart Tree

    The mACT Smart Tree object solves a long standing problem we have experienced in ARCHICAD, as it displays correctly across all viewports.

    Included are thirty five (35!) 2D graphics and twenty four (24) 3D tree shapes, all displaying in the 3D viewport and the Elevation/Section viewports.

    2D Representation Settings allow for standard graphic control of the plan symbol.

    Additional 2D Feature Settings include special items like Show Trunk, Show Shadow and Show on other Stories.

    However, the real power of the mACT Tree object is in its 3D representation and the way it can be projected in 3D to create a representative tree canopy.

    Trees can be set to solid or transparent for both 3D and Elevation/Section viewports

    Two display options for 3D are available: Follow Camera (Tree rotates to face camera location anytime the 3D view is rebuilt) or Cardboard Tree (Tree is static but projects as cardboard cutout tree)

    Similarly, if Face camera in Elevation/Section is enabled, the Tree object will be always displayed as full projection in Elevation or Section Viewport.

    If required the mACT Smart Tree object can easily be adjusted to accommodate additional styles – just let us know.


    Tips & Tricks

    When you enable the Face camera feature in Elevation / Section projection > cardboard intersection line visible

    ARCHICAD 20 is not great at refreshing the mACT Smart Tree in the 3D window after you adjust its settings. To prompt a refresh, open and close the Object Settings Dialogue or reload the Libraries.

    Bundled with mACT22 or available separately for

    only $249.00


  • mACT Universal Label

    The default ARCHICAD Labels have improved from previous versions – however, we found that they still don’t always do what we need them to do.

    So we made our own mACT Universal Label that can read more data and at the same time be graphically adjusted more flexibly, making it the only label you should ever need.

    All regular Label Tool settings are utilised for setting up the Label.

    Use the Text Style panel to adjust the text display properties. It is necessary to switch on the Frame here to make the table or shape outline visible. For label Orientation use the Symbol Label panel

    Custom features are organised under Symbol Label Custom Settings panel.

    The label can display up to 8 rows of data. It can read items such as: ID, Name, Classification and Properties, Volume, Top Surface and Projected Area, Elevation to top or bottom surface, selected Dimensions, Surface, Composite or Building Material.

    Regarding the Surface, Composite or Building Material an option is to split the Material data into material code and material name and use it in different arrangements.

    The Label Style settings allow the mACT Universal Label to change its appearance into various shapes or table form (the standard ARCHICAD selection of shapes or table types is available).

    The Leader lines are stretchable and can also be adjusted with a variety of arrow heads – arrow, full arrow and dot. The graphic style of all these can be fully customised.

    The graphics of the label can be further customised with Graphic Style Override settings or via the Text Style Palette:

    Other options (amongst many others) are to show units or hide the Parameter Name column.

    Another item we find is often requested, is the ability to customise the first row text type in the Table Style mode – so we have included this as well.

    The mACT Universal Label is catering for any type of use, e.g. it can also be sued as a door or window tag:

    And if you are frustrated with zones not appearing in section, you can use slabs instead and use the mACT Universal Label to mimic the Zone Stamp.

    Tips & Tricks

    coming soon…

    Bundled with mACT22 or available separately for

    only $199.00


  • mACT Custom Label

    custom label

    The latest addition to mACT library family is the mACT Custom Label.

    As the name implies this label can be used with any custom made graphics or library part available in the project libraries – it is as simple as to specify the name of any object in the label’s dialog box.

    mACT Custom Label allows for 2 rows of data, with the ability to choose separate text style between the 1st and 2nd row. The displayed text’s location can be adjusted via pet palette and can be oriented in any way independently to the Label itself.
    The label can display various fields such as: ID, Name, Classification and Properties; Surface, Composite or Building Materials;
    It also includes all standard mACT features like Wall Tag behaviour and link to Model View Options…

    If you want to create your own Label shape simply draw the required shape with 2d elements in the plan view, add hotspots and ‘save selection as’ Object with any chosen (but clear) <strong>name</strong>. Next specify the <strong>name</strong> in the mACT Custom Label settings dialog box…

    The mACT Custom Label is available in the latest mACT22_2 update – new mACT customers get this version upon purchase and all existing customers will receive a download link shortly.

  • Expand ARCHICAD

    If you need ARCHICAD to do a little more, we recommend the following (in no particular order):

    Parking Lot Maker (original) by Mark Beauman

    Straßenzug (Street Maker) by Hemo Mooslechner

    ARCHICAD Goodies by Graphisoft

    Grasshopper – ARCHICAD Live Connection by Graphisoft

    Infinite Openings by CADSWIFT

    Caroma Libraries

    AWS Windows (requires registration)

  • ARCHICAD Font Size : points vs mm

    ARCHICAD so far doesn’t adhere to the standard of measuring font size in points.
    Your only option is to enter text size in mm, whether that would be based on paper size (text stays the same size independent of the model scale) or model size (text size “relates” to your model, i.e. 100 mm in your model will always be 100 mm, no matter if you display your model at 1:100 or 1:1).

    ARCHICAD measures the distance from the font base line to the highest point of the font (text on the left is from a placed PDF, text on the right is the matching ARCHICAD text):

    Measuring this we’ve found the approximation of an 8pt font being equal to 2mm font in ARCHICAD.
    Thus we can conclude that (roughly) for every point ARCHICAD counts 0.5 mm, i.e. 10 point font will translate to 2.5mm in ARCHICAD, 12 point to 3mm, etc.

    Note however that this is a rough guide and there can be differences between various fonts. They should be minimal though. In the example below you’ll find Arial’s highest point doesn’t quite reach Helvetica’s.
    Nevertheless we’d recommend setting your favourites to an easy to remember and check whole number rather than one with decimals which would exactly match a font’s size in points.