Hi, there Archicad fellas!
This article is a small tribute to an often forgotten tool in Archicad. The tracker!
The tracker is that little box that follows your mouse when you’re performing an action. Is the responsible for letting you write specific values, for example when drawing a wall or a line, and is available in any editable window type.
The tracker displays coordinate values following your mouse movements and gives you dynamic feedback on such values as edited lengths, angles, and hotspot values for GDL Object editing.
By default, the Tracker appears On-demand: that is, only during coordinate input and editing operations. But alternatively, you can choose to display theTracker continuously. This means that the Tracker will follow your cursor even if you are not inputting anything, providing feedback on the cursor position.
To activate it if accidentally was disabled or to temporary turn it off you can press this icon on the menu. The standard shortcut for this is “N”
So, one of our long-time wish for Archicad to implement has been being able to perform simple operations using the tracker. This is an option available in some other cad or 3d software and can make your life a lot easier in certain situations.
You could think, why on earth would you want to do operations using the tracker??
Is very simple, sometimes you want your geometry to follow simple rules that generate odd values. “this wall should cover 2/3 of this given length” or “I want my slab to extend 2 meters from a given distance that I don’t know…” So by adding the possibility of calculating these simple operations to the tracker, those could be done easily! Archicad follows GDL logic so should be possible in theory…
For a long time, I thought this was a missing feature but the truth is that it has been always possible!!! ( Disclaimer, only add and subtract are available)
Digging on the Archicad Forum I found a couple of threads talking about this topic and also the Archicad Help Centre has some information about it.
Inside one of the discussions, that you can check here, I learnt that the tracker and most of the numerical inputs in Archicad use something called the “reverse polish notation” which is according to the Wikipedia, a more efficient way to do these operations, although obviously fewer people are familiar with it. If you want to know more about this language there’s a link to a youtube video that explains few more stuff about this method.
This way to program the operations is the one used by the old HP calculators and probably was inherited from them, when Archicad was first programmed. (This is just my guess).
So what is available using the Tracker:
Type a shortcut (X, Y, Z or D/R or A) to activate the corresponding Tracker field, immediately followed by the value.
For example, X3 or Y-4 will assign values to x,y coordinates or D4 A35 will do for distances and angles.
Adding to or Subtracting from Current Values.
In this case, you want to add some specific value from a reference point. Type + or – after the value. For example, typing x3+ will add 3 to the x value shown in the Tracker box. The same thing will happen with Y, D or A values.
If you don’t add any letter by default will add to the default value which is the Distance. Remember, will add the entered value to the existing value in the tracker.
I found this video from Mr Eric Bobrow, where it explains all these tricks and some more! It worth watching although is explained using imperial units and might be a bit confusing for metric users.
Hope you find these findings useful and I want to use this blog as well to encourage the Archicad developers to enhance the capabilities of the tracker, adding multiplication and division to the available options and perhaps allowing as well the regular notation so most of the people can start enjoying these amazing little tricks.
Thank you so much for reading us! We’ll some come back with more interesting design and Archicad related stuff.
Stay tuned and enjoy the weekend!