Home > Features > Product Review: Graphisoft ArchiCAD 11

It has only been about nine months since we last reviewed ArchiCAD at version 10 and we were excited to review the latest version given some of its new features. While version 11 has plenty of new capabilities, arguably its strongest new features have more to do with 2D technology and 2D-based practice methods than they do with BIM technology.

Specifically, in ArchiCAD 11, Graphisoft is aiming to bolster BIM utilization by helping firms make a smooth transition from the 2D world to the 3D world of BIM (building information technology).

To achieve this ArchiCAD 11 has introduced three major new features specifically aimed at this goal. The first of these, and probably the coolest new feature in this update, is something called Virtual Trace technology. Virtual Trace mimics the process of using trace paper or overlays to help coordinate drawings to the 3D model and vice versa.

Related to this is the new Visual Compare feature, which is aimed more at helping to coordinate unlinked 2D drawings with the 3D model. Thirdly, ArchiCAD 11 has introduced a new tool and view type called the Worksheet, ideal for integrating external drawings (eg: DWG files) into the project. Once brought into the project one can use them with the new Visual Compare feature to help coordinate the documents.

These three new features by themselves add substantial new capabilities with ArchiCAD 11 and we will be spending a good amount of time in this review on them.

Other Key New Features

Responding to feedback from ArchiCAD 10 regarding its new wall profile capabilities, in version 11 Graphisoft added the ability to produce complex geometry profiles in "curved" walls -- something that gets the program closer to advanced modeling capabilities. Another significant new feature is the Interior Elevation tool. This tool creates "un-folded" live interior model views from even complex shaped rooms.

Other key new features target quality control of construction documents. A new feature enables the user to refer to any view from anywhere else in the file. A placed marker can be linked to any other view, such as section views can be referred to other sections. So let's get started and jump into the big new features. Like our recent reviews, in this one we have even more QuickTime movies demonstrating a specific operation. View these fast-loading movies to see ArchiCAD 11 in action.

New Virtual Trace Technology

At the heart of new Virtual Trace technology is a brand new palette called Trace & Reference. One can use either a Viewpoint from the Navigator's Project Map or a View from the Navigator's View Map to set as their reference. You can also use Layouts and their drawings as reference sources. (see QuickTime QT-1 - QT-2).

QuickTime : QT-1 - From the BEK, this movie file shows the plan as a reference above an elevation viewpoint.
QuickTime : QT-2 - Also from the BEK, this movie shows an edit in the plan elevation viewpoint and how to update the reference from the Trace & Reference palette.


Of particular note will be the desire to use the new Worksheets as a reference, particularly with external data. A very common use case would be the external referencing (Xref) of structural engineers' DWG drawings on an independent worksheet.

In our small test file we created an involved curved wall with a complex profile (more on its creation later on). After extracting its profile (see images 01 - 02) we were able to export it out of ArchiCAD 11 easily. One could imagine sending the extracted profile to an engineer, cabinet maker or fabrication house for further design and engineering. In this case it was exported out as a DWG file, but one could easily choose from many other file formats, including PDF and DGN.

01 - We created a conical curved wall, extracted its profile, then edited its profile into a complex shape for extraction onto a new Worksheet.
02 - In this view our complex profile has been created. We then went to Capture Profile of Selection. This profile was placed on a new Worksheet and exported out in DWG format for further engineering/design. See QT-03 next page.

Now imagine on the return, after further advancement, we have an engineered complex wall file. But it has changed in height. Our goal is to use this file to coordinate and alter the model to reflect the engineered design. With ArchiCAD 11 one would use the external reference by creating a new Worksheet. (see QuickTime QT-3). Once we have the new Worksheet (with the final designed wall) inside ArchiCAD 11 we then use the new Virtual Trace and Visual Compare tools to help us coordinate the external designed element with the ArchiCAD 11 model.


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