Home > Features > Product Review: Graphisoft ArchiCAD 10

Visualization and Other Items

ArchiCAD 10 has several new features regarding visualizing your work. It also has some foundational technology improvements in this department as well. For instance, version 10 now uses OpenGL "culling" to improve navigation in 3D views. Culling means that OpenGL calculates in geometry which parts of the 3D model will not be visible in the current frame and ignores those sections in the OpenGL render process.

Secondly, ArchiCAD 10 also supports another OpenGL feature called "occlusion checking" which is similar to culling. Occulsion checking means that OpenGL determines which geometry will be hidden behind other geometry in the current frame and then chooses not to render it. Geometry that is therefore outside the current frame (and thus not visible) and geometry masked by foreground geometry in the current frame are both not rendered in OpenGL, thus speeding up 3D navigation in the program. Both of these features are hardware-accelerated but not all GPU's support Occlusion checking at the hardware level.

So speaking of 3D navigation, ArchiCAD 10 introduces a new 3D game-like navigation feature called 3D Explore Mode. Available only in perspective mode, a user can essentially fly-around the building using a combination of keyboard shortcuts. (see QuickTime movie qt-n01). Our QuickTime movie gives you a sense of this. You can also control the speed in which you move (fly-thru) the project. While we like the main idea of this feature its controls are less than stellar and far from the superior benefits of a hardware 3D navigation device like 3D Connexion's SpaceNavigator (see, Architosh review, SpaceNavigator, 16 Feb 2007).

QuickTime - qt-n01: New game-like 3D Navigation System

ArchiCAD 10's Interactive Element Schedules (such as window schedules) are much enhanced. You can now interact with the model inside the schedule. Since PlotMaker is now integrated into ArchiCAD 10 you can now reserve layouts inside the Navigator as part of the Teamwork file. This adds more flexibility and control to large project implementation.

ArchiCAD 10 introduces Gradient Fills to make your elevations and sections stand out. Both linear and radial fills are available. Project files can now be compressed using ZIP file compression resulting in 25% smaller files. And DWG and DNG files can be opened directly in ArchiCAD 10 which can also export IFC 2x2 files without third party tools.

Lastly, ArchiCAD 10 ships with a fabulous interactive QuickTime-based training guide. Those familiar with Architosh's high standards for application learning are well aware of how much we value "ease-of-use", and Graphisoft deserves large kudos in this department.

Closing Comments and Recommendations

ArchiCAD 10 is a sophisticated and deep program capable of competing with any other BIM or virtual building program on the market including the often over-hyped Autodesk Revit. And unlike Revit, ArchiCAD 10 runs extremely well on Apple Macs -- both PowerPC and Intel in addition to Windows PCs. In all our reviews over the past eight years at Architosh, ArchiCAD 10 had some of the fastest interface elements we've ever seen. We were deeply impressed with how quickly menus sprung to life and how quickly one could implement commands in this application.

Before we get to our favorite new features, this version's updated interface -- including the Navigator -- was found to be a real pleasure. It is nice to see such large and complex palettes handled so elegantly, which is no easy task. Our favorite new feature is likely the pre-selection and Tracker palette capabilities. Especially with the Pet palette's new tools for the new advanced modeling options, these new features make it easy to modify elements whether you are in 2D or 3D.

To be absolutely fair ArchiCAD 10's new modeling capabilities with slanted and complex walls and columns are very nice but it is unfortunate that you are limited to linear walls only. Of course other BIM applications also have similar limits but this is an area where Graphisoft should invest more time to gain an industry lead. The elimination of PlotMaker is also a big improvement as is the Navigator in general. Lastly, we like the new 3D game-like navigation but wish there was a better controller mechanism in the interface itself. In fact, what the program really needs is SpaceNavigator support.

For architects and other AEC professionals on the Mac platform interested in jumping onto the BIM bandwagon, ArchiCAD 10 is easily your most comprehensive best bet. And for Autodesk users wishing they could be given the OS platform freedom they justly deserve -- after all, it is nearly universally the case in the professional creative markets -- they should consider other BIM options by looking at the player in the market who has been setting the bar for BIM for quite some time. --- ANTHONY FRAUSTO-ROBLEDO, Editor-in-Chief.

For more information on Graphisoft's ArchiCAD 10 go to:

Published: 19 March 2007


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