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Week #2 – Get Organized
2-3. Developing A Template File

ArchiCAD Training (Best Practices Lesson 2-3)

This 19 minute segment is the third and final module for Week #2: Get Organized.

How far can you take a template file? What can you put into it that will help you be more successful, and make it quicker to start on a project and work on it throughout it’s life cycle?

This segment examines the additional information and structures that you can include in your template file using MasterTemplate – a commercial product created by Bobrow Consulting Group.

MasterTemplate is an example of a highly developed project start-up kit that embeds Best Practices into the project structure. The organizational framework of the View Map expands from a simple set of 4 or 5 high level focus areas to an elaborate and intricate system of resources, including dozens of Views for construction documents, modeling and presentation, as well as reference materials and interactive legends of visual favorites. The Layout Book includes Masters for a variety of sheet sizes and types, and subset systems for both large and small projects.

All of the techniques, ideas and approaches used in MasterTemplate can be added to your own template. This training module will give you lots of ideas for how to develop your template further.

For more detailed info on MasterTemplate, please visit www.actemplate.com.

Thank you for visiting the Best Practices Course website. The video lessons are available for members only. If you are an active member and would like to watch the ArchiCAD training video on this page, please login to the website. If you are not currently a member, please visit the following pages for more information and to sign up for the Best Practices Course, the QuickStart Course or for the Best Practices ArchiCAD Coaching Program. Eric Bobrow, Creator of the Best Practices Course
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ArchiCAD Training: Developing A Template File

Let us know how you feel... (30 comments so far)

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  1. TerryMartin
    6 years ago

    Eric, I would like to purchase the Mastertemplate. Is there a deal for members?
    Terry Martin


    • Eric
      6 years ago

      Hi Terry –

      Welcome to the Best Practices Course!

      Yes, as a course member you can get a special discount on MasterTemplate – only $195 instead of $275. These orders are handled manually, so simply send me an email and I’ll take care of it.

      Eric

  2. LilianSeow
    LilianSeow
    6 years ago

    What is Canvas Limits in the View Map/Model ?


    • Eric
      6 years ago

      Hi Lilian –

      Canvas Limits is a View in MasterTemplate that is designed to show the extent of the project, facilitating adjustment of elevation source markers as well as decisions on project scale. It has only a few layers visibile such as exterior walls, site, and elevation markers. It is set for “Fit in Window” so that it will jump the view automatically to show everything.

      This is a view that is particularly useful very early in project design, while you are defining the building footprint and the site boundaries. Later on, you may find it useful for adjusting elevation markers if they are not showing exactly what you need.

      Eric


  3. Hagith Popper
    6 years ago

    This is so clever and clearly explained. Still I am very pleased to own the Master Template you have developed as it saves so much time and all thought about already.


    • Eric
      6 years ago

      Hagit –
      Thanks for your kind words.
      I appreciate that you took the time to post your comment.
      Eric

  4. TimothyBall
    Timothy Ball
    6 years ago

    Really looking forward to seeing how to use the MOD files to create the kit of parts. I think you may have a lot of interest in that use of the programme.


    • Eric
      6 years ago

      I’m going to cover this in week #6 – coming very soon!
      Eric


  5. RJ Dial
    7 years ago

    Eric, an expansion of what you just did here with this video would be ideal over on the ACTemplate site to accompany Master Template. In-depth coverage of why the components are in Master Template and what they could they be used for and when you would use them, and then how to modify if needed without blowing things up. I have to admit, I still overwhelmed by Master Template after 7 years of using more basic views and layouts in AC.

    A similar explanation of modifying Layer Combinations and View Sets and Model Options would be great too. I get frustrated when the first floor plan view is showing the second floor in the 3D view, and for the life of me I can’t figure out what to change so it doesn’t.


    • Michael Grant
      7 years ago

      RJ –
      To show only one story in your 3D View, try the following:
      Open the 3D View showing which shows all stories.
      Goto View > Elements in 3D View > Filter Elements in 3D
      In the dialogue box, reset From Story: 1st Floor To Story: 1st Floor, and hit OK
      If you want to save this setting in the 3D View, then open the Settings for the 3D View and check the box at the bottom: “Redefine Image Settings with Current”

      Now, how did you get your avatar into the mug shot window?!
      michael


      • RJ Dial
        7 years ago

        Michael,
        That’s what I do to work around for now, although the check box is grayed out initially and I have to use the “Get Current Window’s Settings” button at the top first. I don;t know if you have seen Master Template, but there are at least 2 dozen different views there. I think the only way to overcome this I am going to have to become proficient at understand all the components of what makes up “Model View Options” and a “View Setting” and “Clone Folders” and build my own views to relate how I personally design.

        As for the avatar, we need to ask Eric, I was surprised when it popped in there. It is an avatar I use on the web for antique radio restoration, so not sure where Eric’s comments application is grabbing it from.


      • RJ Dial
        7 years ago

        Ah ha! Figured it out from the page source code. Eric’s site is grabbing the avatar based upon your account email address from http://www.gravatar.com Register there (free) and you can have your own avatar of choice pop up here.


        • Michael Grant
          7 years ago

          Nice going on the avatar discovery, RJ — but I’m going to pass on registering on yet another website.

          I purchased the Master Template a couple years ago and found it pretty intense. Personally I prefer to build my own template to my stylistic liking, and so that I know how it works. That’s why I’m excited about my thread below with Eric, and I’ve begun creating that subterranean level for all my goodies from past projects.

          I hope Eric responds to your 3D Views dilemma. Perhaps it has something to do with the external, linked Module file(s). Maybe if you activated another instance of AC and opened the MOD file(s), the check box wouldn’t be grayed out — or you could reset the views from the MOD files themselves. Seems confusing. Eric?


        • Eric
          7 years ago

          Michael and RJ –

          Gravatars (“globally recognized avatars”) are implemented as a standard part of WordPress, the system we are using as the structure of our site. The idea is that you can set up an image to use on multiple sites that you may participate in, and manage it in one place (www.gravatar.com).

          I think it would be great if all of the discussions have these pictures, to make the comments more “personal”, so I will send out an email with instructions for how to register and set up a gravatar.

          I’ve looked into whether there is option to use Facebook avatars (profile pictures), but it seems a little complicated and may not work properly without a lot of work. So I’m going to encourage people to use the gravatar system for now.

          Regarding the 3D views question that RJ posted, I’d need more info to help him. Each View opens up a particular source viewpoint, such as a story or a section, etc. RJ mentions that the “first floor plan view is showing the second floor in the 3D view.” If it is a “first floor plan view” then it shows the first floor / story, plan view. When one chooses to go to 3D, there are many options, including clicking on the 3D window (if it is exposed), selecting it from the Window menu, or using a keyboard shortcut or right-click menu choice. These can all do something different, and it is important to understand this.

          If you click on another viewpoint, such as the 3D Window, then it will be brought to the front, and may regenerate or rebuild based on the current settings from the previously front-most window. This might change the Layers that were previously seen in that window to the active layers or Layer Combination from the previous window.

          If you use a keyboard shortcut or right-click menu choice, there are different options: Show All in 3D, or Show Selection/Marquee in 3D, or simply Show the 3D Window (this is what you get when you click on the 3D Window or use the F3 keyboard shortcut). These are all affected by the Filter Elements in 3D option as well.

          I don’t have time to explain all of this right now, but will make sure to cover this in one of the course modules. I could also potentially focus on something like this in one of the upcoming Q&A conference calls.

          In the meantime, RJ, if you would like my help to figure this out, send me an email or call me and we can schedule a short consulting session. You have a credit of one hour that you can use for anything you wish (one of the bonuses you get for signing up for the course).

          Eric


        • RJ Dial
          7 years ago

          Thanks Eric, no need to to use my one hour on this aspect, I’ll save it for something really important.

          This all boils down to my disdain for the direction Graphisoft keeps taking ArchiCad – complexity at the cost of intuitiveness and ease of use. I have come to hate the concept of MVO’s, which are rather useless if the 2D and 3D windows aren’t synced.
          And as you pointed out the 3D window has so much variability that using these later versions of AC seem to just make me tense and angry nowadays. Gone is the point and click nature of AC8-10. Something as simple as drawing a marque around a plan section and then having it display in the 3D is now a 3 click ordeal.
          Enough ranting on a stormy day, something probably better suited for ArchiTalk. Got a deadline to meet, something that would have been a piece of cake with 8.5, but seems torture in AC13.


        • Eric
          7 years ago

          RJ –
          I’m so glad you have signed up for this course. You will learn about MVO’s, marquee selections and the other enhancements, and why they are so powerful and convenient when used consciously. They will make your work and deadlines easier to accomplish in ArchiCAD 13 than in ArchiCAD 8.1, once you are familiar with them and make them your ally!
          Be patient my friend, and soon you will learn to love these new features…
          Eric


  6. Michael Grant
    7 years ago

    Here’s a comment, not a question:
    I’m glad you mention the third technique, at the beginning of this video, for beginning a new project by using a well developed recent project and then Saving As the new project, then deleting all 3D and 2D elements but leaving the markers in place, as you describe very well.

    This is because there is no systematic way to incorporate various improvements made in a current file (for example newly saved Favorites) into the stored template file, other than following those same precedures above to generate a new .tpl. Yet this new .tpl becomes outdated as soon as we begin improving the next .pln that we’re working on.

    So… for small offices like mine, unless I’m missing something, I believe this third method (of abandoning the template entirely, and Saving As the new project instead) is the best way to ensure continuity as we improve our .pln files as we progress through each project. We of course still want to make those current .pln’s just as nice as our .tpl file would otherwise be.

    (And it still isn’t perfect, in cases where we’re working on multiple projects at the same time, and must therefore decide which .pln will parent the next new project.)

    I confess that I’ve begun MANY new projects with “Use Latest Settings”… and what an entirely useless and frustrating method that has been. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!!


    • RJ Dial
      7 years ago

      For a one man show like myself, the Save As or duplicate the last project is the way to go just for the Continuous Improvement reasons you mentioned. In a larger shop I guess you could have the Standards Manager keep the template current by using Teamwork files from the server now and then…


    • Eric
      7 years ago

      Michael and RJ –
      Thanks for your comments about preferring to use Save As in order to ensure that you’ve got the latest improvements from your most recent project as you start your new project. They have caused me to rethink what to include in this week’s lessons.
      In the next series I will explain some systematic ways to analyze and continually develop your template file. Ultimately, every person can and will choose what is most convenient for them – using a template vs. Save As the latest project under a new name – but I will try to make it as easy as possible for you to get on board the template train!
      Eric


  7. Michael Grant
    7 years ago

    Hi Eric,
    I’m interested in developing my own Interactive Schedules, as you suggest and demonstrate in your Master Template, but I’m unsure where to begin.

    I noticed that your video shows a Worksheet icon in the View Menu for your Interactive Schedule…. Since Worksheets only allow 2D items, how have you placed 3D objects such as wall types etc. in these Interactive Worksheet type of schedules?

    Any other tips on generating this interactive schedule? Such as: I remember your technique for showing the schedule as a Trace, and “fishing” for items you want using the eyedropper through the Trace view, and thus not needing to open the actual Schedule each time to grab a new item…

    Thanks Eric — I’m enjoying the course.


    • Eric
      7 years ago

      Michael –

      I will be covering the topic of Interactive Legends of Visual Favorites in an upcoming lesson.

      There are several “tricks” that we use to create these legends which I will explain. One of them involves using Virtual Trace to show the Legends from a floor plan View as a Trace Reference for a Worksheet – essentially, the Worksheet is empty but you’re seeing the Legend (including 3D elements) in the viewing window as a Reference – and we’re setting it to show in Original Colors rather than a single color as is common.

      Eric


      • Michael Grant
        7 years ago

        Hmm, that’s fascinating. I like that very tricky trick!
        So I understand we’re getting ahead of your program here but if you’d oblige me just a bit further, as I have time now to develop my template further…

        Interesting that the Trace setting remains ON in the saved Worksheet. I tried it out and Trace does indeed stay on, though I”m not sure why, as Trace doesn’t stay on in other normal views.

        More importantly, where do you recommend as the best location to layout our library of 2D and 3D favorite items, which the Trace refers to:
        A) An external mod file? (which I’m not so comfortable with and would require opening it up separately each time we want to add to or modify the Interactive Schedule)
        B) A separate subterranean Story Level below the foundation? (which would always be hidden in the View > Elements in 3D View > Filter Elements in 3D setting for all model views.)
        C) Somewhere else?

        Finally, if your answer is (B), then what’s the benefit of referring to it in your roundabout manner, through a Trace on a Worksheet. Wouldn’t it be better to view that special Story Level as a direct trace reference to that Story Level, and eyedropper the desired items through this trace? This would remove the need to switch back and forth between the model’s Plan View window and the Interactive Schedule Worksheet window.
        Thanks–


        • Eric
          7 years ago

          Each viewpoint in the project has it’s own history and settings for Virtual Trace. So the Worksheet that we use for access to the Legends has Trace turned on, and it will stay on unless and until you turn it off.

          We use approach (A), an external MOD file, which gives us the benefit of being able to turn off the Legend simply by turning off the Master Layer for the Hotlinked Module (HLM) for the Legend. It’s more complicated to set up and to understand, but it’s easier in use.

          Approach (B) – using a dummy story – is what we use in the Start Edition version of MasterTemplate, since the ArchiCAD Start Edition does not include the capability to use Hotlinked Modules. It’s fully functional, and we do use the Filter Elements option for saved Views to turn the Legend off in 3D; and similar vertical limits for each section or elevation marker.

          A is better than B in actual use since you can flip back and forth between two active windows (e.g. the plan and the legend worksheet) rather than having to move to another part of the plan (another story or zoom position) to get to the legend components. It’s MUCH faster that way, going back and forth, since the zoom positions and layer combination can be retained.


        • Michael Grant
          7 years ago

          Thanks for the clear explanation Eric.
          And fair enough, A is much faster than B.
          A third variation then, if we don’t wish to create, link and manage that external MOD file, could be to establish that lower dummy story for the legends, and still refer to it through your same method of a Trace on a Worksheet, no?.


        • Eric
          7 years ago

          Yes, that would work. You’d still need to use the Filter Elements in 3D option to turn off that story in most working 3d views, and vertical limits in sections and elevations – but you CAN use the worksheet and virtual trace with such a setup.

          This is why it’s so much fun to brainstorm – new combinations of ideas can surface…


        • Michael Grant
          7 years ago

          That’s the ticket then, Eric!!
          This is my ideal solution, and again, what a great technique to access the Legends using a trace on a Worksheet.

          Another precaution is not to erase items in the “subterranean warehouse” by error when cleaning out a Saved As [New Project] file using the multiple story Marquee to select and delete. To that end, I’ll place those basement Legend items safely to the left of the Project Origin, as I always keep my project to the right of the Project Origin… and stay away from the multi story marquee to delete.

          Also, for your Interactive Legends we can create various Worksheets, according to general contexts, to further manage the plethora of items (which I’m sure you’ve already done in your template strategy).

          Good to go! Thanks for brainstorming!


  8. Marek Stoklosa
    7 years ago

    Eric,
    The sample project seemed quite intense in layers etc. I could not understand why the architect used a “subterrain” kind of story to show existing condition (did I get it right?). I usually model the existing building, then save it into a separate file, then I copy floor plans and elevations, etc to Worksheets. Then I design the new condition. This gives me an awsom trace and reference for the new, while on a separate file I can always reminise with the Client with the chuckle on how bad the existing condition was. Your Master Template begins to register more and more.


    • Eric
      7 years ago

      Marek –
      Abeer Sweis continues to use a method that she developed many years ago, when ArchiCAD only had Ghost Stories to coordinate this information, before worksheets and Virtual Trace were introduced. Her approach still works, but I think the use of worksheets with virtual trace along with maintaining the as-built existing conditions in a separate file has some advantages, which is why we recommend it and use it in MasterTemplate.
      Eric


  9. James Satzinger
    7 years ago

    Eric,
    We did see a lot of you last week, so I understand the switch to ArchiCAD window views in Week #2. I would however in future weeks like to see a peak of you, maybe in costume, from time to time.
    Jim S


    • Eric
      7 years ago

      OK, I’ll try to make periodic appearances, perhaps in disguise or in costume…just because you asked…