Last week we saw the announcement of Archicad 24 from GRAPHISOFT in their Building Together event. For those of you that didn’t get a chance to watch it live, you can watch the videos here.
It has been a few years since I have written a blog post on my top features for a new Archicad release. Honestly, I have been focusing on other business issues. But with my ARCHINTENSIVE event earlier this year and the number of services that I provide for individuals and companies that use Archicad I thought it would be important for me to take the time this year to talk through the new release and my thoughts.
As I have stated in many of my presentations and posts in the past, the first step when opening a new release of Archicad is to go to the resource guide, accessed via the help menu. In the resource guide, there is a section right near the front dedicated to the new features of that release. You need to review each of the new features and rate them specifically to your organisation’s deliverables and workflows to identify which ones are relevant and which ones are not. After undertaking this task you can then begin the process of training, updating your practice’s template and your manuals to take the new features into account.
Now, moving onto Archicad 24, sadly I do not think I have picked a good year to review the new features, as the focus of the majority of the features this year is on Collaboration with Structural Engineers in Archicad. Here in Australia, I don’t see many if any Structural Engineers shifting from Revit to use Archicad unfortunately, so the focus of these features and workflows is of zero value to the majority of Archicad users in Australia. The list of the new features can be found here.
Some of the features, like tracking changes, Multi-discipline Model Hub, are only included in the BIMcloud platform, which is behind a paywall (additional cost per license for access).
There honestly are not a lot of features left to talk about with this release. Especially features that are of use to the sole practitioner or small practice that doesn’t have the technical skill to code or collaborate in 3D with other consultants.
The first top feature, in my opinion, is the Model Comparison feature. This feature enables you to compare two models in either PLN, PLA or Teamwork formats. This feature for me is useful for comparing received models from other consultants (IFC converted into PLN) against their last released model. This is a nice feature because the number of changes that occur throughout the design phase can be hard to keep track of, and by using this approach you can identify changes that have been made. Now it is important to note that in previous releases you could use the "Detect IFC Model Changes" to compare IFC files. In this release, this new feature provides greater functionality. If you don’t collaborate with any other consultants in 3D than this feature, unfortunately, will be of little use to you, unless you have an internal process of saving new PLN files throughout the delivery of your projects, and you want to check changes as they are made.
The next feature is the Issue Management. Noting this is different to Issues that were associated with the Revision Management Feature in previous releases. Issues in the Revision Management feature have been renamed to Transmittal. Issue Management (terminology now aligning with BCF issues) is a powerful feature that just like the model comparison feature is a new powerful feature that replaces the Markup tool. Issues can be created through a variety of different inputs, manually created by users, through the new model checking feature, the new model comparison feature, through BCF import from other model checking platforms, and from PDF mark up like Bluebeam. Having a single "Issue Manager" to monitor against model and layout issues in one place is a huge win for this feature over other tools that focus purely on either 2D layout or 3D model elements separately. This feature should be embraced in any workflow where a person is marking up drawings or someone is reviewing the model and directing changes of a team member.
A small feature but important for people managing information attached to elements in Archicad, The ARCHICAD option set values available as a 'pull-down menu' when exported to Excel feature will provide some assistance for those that use the Import / Export data to Excel feature.
Another small feature that isn’t in the feature list but is one of the many hidden gem features. You can find the hidden gem list here.
4 - Improvement in Attribute Manager!!! Now it isn’t a full-blown feature where you can move multiple attributes at a time, but I will take this small step feature and embrace it to its fullest.
I must give a quick mention of PARAM-O which has been developed as a visual coding interface for users that don’t understand how to code in GDL. I don’t think I will use this much as most elements I create don’t need to be parametric, once created they are normally static objects. (Note this is an experimental feature that is currently only available on PC)
My top feature for Archicad 24 is an experimental feature, that has been in testing since Archicad 23 if you spend time in the Archicad Talk forum! The "JSON/Python API for ARCHICAD" feature enables C++ commands to be written and run in the background to automate several manual processes that users currently face using Archicad day today. Now, this feature is experimental and will expand in its ability to perform tasks in Archicad moving into the future. I am excited by this as this opens up opportunities for Archicad users to obtain the benefits that Revit users have had over the last few years with the Dynamo plugin for automating tasks. The challenge with this feature is the need to understand C++ coding. Over the next few months, I hope to work with some experts in this field to identify potential scripts that can be written to speed up my processes and remove as many manual tasks as possible.
As I said at the start of this post the feature list of Archicad 24 isn’t the best list I have seen. I hope that the investment made by GRAPHISOFT in the Structural integration is worth it, as the features for existing customers this year is lacking and doesn’t present a compelling reason for many users to upgrade. Hopefully, the features for Archicad 25 make up for this lean year, and they address several key features that need completing.