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Week #18 – Complex Projects
18-4. Hotlinked Modules

ArchiCAD Training (Best Practices Lesson 18-4)

This 78 minute ArchiCAD training explains the concept of Hotlinked Modules and shows various applications and options.

Hotlinked Modules (HLM) are references to external files that are placed into an ArchiCAD file. A common use is for repetitive unit design, such as for an office, hotel, classroom, or multi-family housing. One can create the “seed” for the unit, save these elements as a HLM, then place this HLM into the project one or many times, each instance linked to the original seed. When the seed file is changed, the instances can be updated to stay current.

The HLM is referenced from either a MOD (module) or a PLN (standard project) file. When you choose the HLM, you need to specify either MOD or PLN in the file type menu (at the bottom of the dialog); if the desired file appears grey, then double-check if the file type is set appropriately.

Once a HLM is placed, one may drag or rotate it as a whole, or create copies using any standard method (e.g. Drag a Copy, using the Option or CTRL key while dragging, or simply a Copy and Paste, etc.).

IMPORTANT: Groups must be Enabled (i.e. NOT Suspended) to select and drag the HLM. If Groups are Suspended, then even if you select all the elements in the HLM, they will not be movable; and in this case, if you copy them, and paste them somewhere, they will be independent elements rather than another instance of the HLM.

When you select a HLM, you will see that the selected elements have square handles, a visual indication that the elements are referenced to an external source and may not be modified. If you hover over the HLM with the Arrow tool, you will see information about the actual HLM name. Right-click on the HLM (with Groups Enabled) and you will see specific options that allow you to review and change the Hotlink Module Settings, or to Edit the Module in a Separate ArchiCAD instance (which can also be requested in the Hotlink Manager).

Each HLM has a “Master Layer” that allows you to turn off or hide the entire HLM. While individual elements in the HLM retain their layer, and may be hidden or shown using standard Layer management options, this Master Layer gives you control over the entire module. In MasterTemplate, we use this very convenient feature to turn off the Interactive Legends of Visual Favorites when we aren’t working with them.

HLM files can contain one story or multiple stories,. When you place the HLM you can choose to include a single story or a range of stories. In ArchiCAD 17 there are additional options for how structural elements are linked to the stories, allowing a standard HLM to reconfigure and stretch or reduce its height to match the destination story structure, or to retain its original heights for walls, etc.

These multi-story HLM’s are useful when bringing in one or more buildings that have been created in separate PLN’s into a PLN that contains the site model and context. They can also be useful when repeating a stairwell in multiple areas of the building, either in the original orientation, or perhaps rotated or mirrored.

When the external file is revised, and the HLM instances are no longer identical to the reference, one may update them using the File menu > External Content > Hotlink Manager. ArchiCAD will inform you about any HLM files being out of date when you open or save the file, or when you open the Hotlink Manager.

It is possible to change the base elevation or rotation angle of a HLM, or mirror the HLM, using standard commands (Elevate, Rotate, Mirror) or with special options inside the Hotlink Module Settings dialog. Annotation elements such as text and labels have an option to allow their angle to remain fixed, for example at 0 degrees, even when they are part of a rotated or mirrored HLM; the anchor point of the text will determine how this rotation is managed.

Nested HLM’s are very powerful, in that one can have a unit plan repeated multiple times on a floor plate, then the entire floor plate can become a HLM to be placed on multiple stories.

There is an option for each HLM to leave out or ignore nested modules, which is useful when you want to hotlink in a building into the site plan file, then hotlink the site plan back to the building PLN without getting into a circular reference.

HLM elements will show up in schedules just like “native” elements. Walls will clean up to adjoining walls.

NOT SHOWN IN THIS LESSON: When you hotlink a multi-story PLN into another PLN, you may choose which story the base of the HLM will be placed on. There can be an issue when the destination file has different story heights, since although multiple stories can be brought in at the same time, each story will be placed at the same vertical offset in the destination story structure.

Thus if the original project has a 14′ (or 4.5 meter) ground floor, and it is placed into another file with a 10′ (3 meter) ground floor, the ground floor walls will extend up into the next story, and the upper story walls will overlap the lower walls vertically. In this case, one can try placing multiple hotlinks, with each one set to include only a single story. Then the vertical position of the upper story (in this case) can be raised by the appropriate amount (4′ or 1.5 meters) so that these walls are aligned properly and do not overlap the lower ones.

In ArchiCAD 17, there are new options for controlling the wall heights of hotlinked module elements, either retaining the original heights or adjusting them to the new story structure. This may make it easier in some cases, but likely will not handle all situations, so the single story option for HLM placement will still be useful from time to time.

Note that if walls are trimmed or connected to roofs in the source file, and the entire PLN is brought in as a single multi-story HLM, the connections will remain in place. However if the building is brought in as multiple single-story HLM’s, and the roof and walls are on separate stories, they may not retain the original trim or connection relationship. In this case, it may be important to change the home story for the roof to match the walls that are being trimmed, so that they can maintain the trim connection.

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: Hotlinked Modules

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