Home > Features > Product Review: Graphisoft ArchiCAD 11

Other New Features

ArchiCAD 11 features a new internal PDF engine, though Windows users will likely appreciate this updated capability more than Mac users. Graphisoft informs us that since ArchiCAD 10 the Mac version has been using the excellent PDF infrastructure built into the Mac OS X operating system. However, even on the Mac side users should experience improvements due to the internal PDF engine within ArchiCAD 11.

What are these improvements?

Better fills, especially within curved elements, and better font output are all part of the mix in ArchiCAD 11. Fundamentally the pathway to PDF output is similar to the previous version. There are two ways to PDF output. Option one is you save contents of the active window as a PDF file by Save-As > PDF. Option two is you produce PDF output from the Publisher section of the Navigator palette (see images 08-09).

O8 - From the Organizer on the publisher side you can publish your Layouts layouts to different file document formats. Note that you can generate mixtures of format types.
O9 - As you can see from this image both Autodesk and Bentley's file formats are supported, in addition to Adobe PDF and Apple's QuickTime image system options.

Speaking of file format compatibility, ArchiCAD 11 supports the latest AutoCAD 2007 file format (import/export). ArchiCAD 11 also can handle XREF's during import and export, preserving the link and allowing Xref administration within ArchiCAD.

ArchiCAD 11 is naturally up-to-date with IAI IFC protocol compliance supporting 1.5.1, 2.0, 2x2 and 2x3 formats.

Final Features

ArchiCAD 11 features a very desirable Google Earth Connection plugin. However, due to Mac API issues on Google's side, this functionality is not available for the Mac version of ArchiCAD 11. Too bad because this feature allows bi-directional download (to ArchiCAD) and upload (to Google Earth Warehouse) all within the program. Also, ArchiCAD 11 has been tuned additionally for performance. New Macs (and Windows PCs) contain more dual-core processors and while ArchiCAD 11 is not fully multi-threaded, not even close, some of the newest functions are and include such things as placing PDF files as drawings, file saving with compression and of course LightWorks rendering engine items.

Additionally, ArchiCAD 11 offers smaller refinements that will be appreciated by existing users in particular. These include new methods to help architects align drawing elements across multiple layouts and the ability to consolidate linework and fills. These beneficial features allow architects to clean up messy DWG drawings, in particular, or independent details.

Pen Sets can now be saved with and applied to all project views and given custom names. This will enable more flexibility and aesthetic control over the presentation of drawing information whether on screen or on print. ArchiCAD 11 offers quick access to your saved pen sets via multiple settings palettes.

There are minor interface improvements that will be appreciated by veterans of the program. The section and elevation tools are now seperated in the toolbox, thus they can have different default settings. Similarly, section and elevation views are now divided in the Navigator, to help the drawing organization of large projects.

Finally, ArchiCAD 11 now features an "automatic" update option that detects the availability of new program and library hotfixes.

Closing Comments

As far an an update goes ArchiCAD 11 makes many refined improvements to tools it already had and addresses weaknesses it never should have introduced in the first place (eg: canted and complex profile walls—in ArchiCAD 10—limited to only linear walls). However, this update in ArchiCAD 11 does introduce not one but two killer new features. I tend to think of these two new killer features in ArchiCAD 11 as equal to Apple's introduction of "Expose" in Tiger and "Time Machine" in Leopard. In other words, ArchiCAD 11's new "Virtual Trace" and "Visual Compare" are BIG new features! Both are designed to simulate old-world ways of working that make intuitive sense and are practical. And the tool itself is extremely elegant at its first pass.

Clearly folks will be excited to know they can create curved complex profile walls now but the next best new feature is the new Worksheets and what you can do with them, especially in use with Visual Compare. Being able to drop in DWG detail drawings and then modify and coordinate model data in profile is a huge win for ArchiCAD 11 users. Lastly, Graphisoft's interactive training materials are in a league by themselves. And its BEK (BIM Experience Kit) is wonderful and utilizes a great Frank Lloyd Wright house. (see images 10 - 11).

10 - Graphisoft's Interactive Training system embeds an intelligent QuickTime movie player inside the ArchiCAD 11 interface so you can watch/learn and "do" yourself at your own pace.
11 - The BIM Experience Kit (BEK) focuses interactive training using Frank Lloyd Wright's Massaro House, recently built from original documents transformed thru. ArchiCAD.

Graphisoft continues to make passionate and aspirant strides in maintaining its innovative leadership in BIM (building information modeling) technologies. Now as a subsidiary of the German software giant, Nemetschek AG, the company has even better resources behind it. Flanked on both sides are sister CAD/BIM products ALLPLAN 2008 and VectorWorks Architect 2008. And it also takes advantage of sister company, MAXON, one of the superpowers in the 3D suite world. This is all good news for ArchiCAD 11 users. In the future we'd like to see file-compatibility support between ArchiCAD 11 and VectorWorks at the Navigator Publisher level. Why not encourage those that need to take advantage of advanced 2D capabilities -- that if they must draft, than draft using sister product VectorWorks rather than Autodesk's more expensive, and not nearly as talented, AutoCAD. In fact, the investigative possibilities between these two products are definitely enticing -- just as enticing as MaxonForm, the ArchiCAD dovetail with MAXON's advanced modeling technology in CINEMA 4D (C4D). Additionally on the modeling front it would be nice to see simpler more interactive modeling and more capabilities with advanced forms, without utilizing MaxonForm. Think SketchUp capabilities.

Our recommendation to ArchiCAD 10 users is easy. This is a must upgrade. ArchiCAD 11's new Virtual Trace technologies are too killer to ignore. And if you do complex geometry in your design work than you need the new modeling support for curved walls. For Mac and Windows users ArchiCAD 11 is a force to be reckoned with in the architectural CAD world. For users wondering about CAD on the Mac platform, know this: ArchiCAD 11 sets the bar high and at the same time offers key technologies nobody else has that make the transition from 2D CAD to the world of 3D BIM easier. --- ANTHONY FRAUSTO-ROBLEDO, EIC.


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Published: 21 Dec 2007


Home > Features > Product Review: Graphisoft ArchiCAD 11




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