ARCHICAD Parametric Favourites.

Archicad GDL library objects are incredibly flexible and great. The standard library included out-of-the-box can handle around 80% of the objects that we need for our projects.  Obviously, sometimes we need to expand the library with some enhanced elements from Sketchup or 3DS for visuals and from time to time we miss some custom GDL functionalities…
The case of our Revit friends are the “families”. They need to build most of their libraries and although they get to customise completely their objects and they are indeed parametric, they lack the amount of flexibility that the Archicad GDL standard objects have. The main difference is that with only one library part, say one window, you can tweak the parameters creating hundreds of options. In the “Revit families” language that will mean at least dozens of different objects.
Being only a “workflow” difference, the fact of having many more objects makes the management of that library more tedious and the person in charge will need to be quite organised to structure and maintain that library.
You can see that I’m a fan of Archicad! But there are always small things that you envy from your neighbour and in this case that is the “instance-like behaviour” of the Revit families.

Let me put an example: Say that in a project you have certain elements that you’re using very often. Could be a certain configuration of a door, with a type of leaf, materials and frame thickness. In Archicad, you can save those configurations as “Favourites”, so you can recall these elements quickly and set up as we like. You can manage these favourites and even save them into your template ready to be used in the next project.
The issue (or at least what I see as that) is that those favourites do not remain attached to their “favourite” condition. Meaning for example, that if we want to override that favourite with different settings, that change won’t be applied to the elements that were that favourite once. So if you want to update all the doors that you placed in your project being the favourite “white internal door” you won’t be able to change it parametrically, because you can’t even select elements by “favourite name”.
The favourite condition doesn’t leave a trace in the elements. On the contrary, in Revit, being these elements less parametric, you can change the “family” and all will be updated at once. But in ArchiCAD, these “families” can recreate hundreds of different elements so we need another layer of information to save this “favouritism” in the objects.
A couple of weeks ago, we were discussing this and other topics from our “wish list” at the office for the occasion of a client’s template file that we are currently preparing and Eugenio, my colleague, came up with a fantastic workaround that works beautifully integrated with the property systems that structures Archicad already.

Using the “property manager” we can create a “favourite” property with the name of the favourite, embedding it into the elements. That can be saved into the template and in the event of needing to change the configuration of the settings of the favourite: for example the materials of our “white internal door” we can, using the “find&select” command, find all the favourite elements all at once and change the specific property, overwriting it for our later use.

This is obviously a workaround but in our opinion could be very useful on a project to be able to select these groups of elements, classified by its “favourite name” in order to help the development of the project and even for scheduling purposes. Ideally, this assignment will be done automatically once you use the “favourites” to create geometry, but at the moment we can use the powerful property manager to hack our workflow!
I hope you find this useful. Please comment and let us know your secret workflows or if testing this out you find any other interesting way.
Stay tuned for the next post!