Adam Feigl, CAD Industry expert from Redwood, Australia reviews ARCHLine.XP. The document was made based on the "Gateway to BIM" Webinar Series.

SUMMARY

Prior to using ARCHLine.XP I watched 2 videos, “ARCHLine.XP 2018 Features” & “ARCHLine.XP Gateway to BIM
#1
“, which is a good foundations course and definitely aided me whilst using this new program. I also opened
up an existing project file so I could familiarise myself with the interface and was surprised at the programs
speed whilst navigating in 3D which is class leading in my experience.
In this report I have grouped my findings into the below categories:

  • User Interface
  • General Usage
  • Building Tools (3D)
  • Annotation Tools (2D)
  • Libraries & Objects

What's Outstanding

  • Siting tools (mesh/typography, location setup, north setup, shadow studies)
  • Traditional Building tools (beams, columns, ramps)
  • Annotation tools in depth including controlling line weights. 
  • Library & Objects in depth
  • Layout Setup
  • Sections
  • Construction Details
  • 3D View, I looked into this but didn't product any 3D views as yet.

 

Overall in use ARCHLine.XP felt closer to Revit with the use of automated dimension lines for spacing objects
easily, flipping walls/doors (F5 in ALXP Vs Space Bar in Revit), filtering & selecting objects and editing within
the 3D window was very easy and in some tools easier then 2D again like Revit. However, ARCHLine.XP’s
drawings presentation, material selections, usage of layers & layer combinations and 3D presentation
styles/views are closer in style to ArchiCAD.

I think users of either Revit or ArchiCAD would feel comfortable with ARCHLine.XP quickly but it didn’t feel as
customisable or comprehensive as either Revit or ArchiCAD. I think ARCHLine.XP would be mostly appreciated
by new users to BIM as it’s a far simpler toolset to master whilst offering all the everyday tools needed to
complete projects.

There is scope for further testing and the initial findings for the annotation tools &
libraries/objects within ARCHLine.XP are preliminary only. There would also be value in watching the remaining
“Gateway to BIM” videos to further grasp ARCHLine.XPs feature set.

USER INTERFACE

RIBBON TOOL BAR

This is now common with applications and is a new addition to ARCHLine.XP this year. I found this easy to
navigate during my usage.

PET PALLET

When you click objects a PET pallet comes up, similar to ArchiCAD, however it’s possibly been simplified too
much with everyday options like move, rotate, mirror being hidden within the arrow icon. I do like that the
PET pallet stays next to where you clicked, rather than ArchiCADs moving PET pallet which sometimes is hard
to find or does/doesn’t move as you need it.

VIEWS, FULL SCREEN OR TILED VS TABBED

I also liked the versatility in viewing plans, elevations, 3D windows, etc. as either full screen views or as window
tiles which is similar to Revit, whereas ArchiCAD only offers full views and a tabbed view manager similar to
internet browsers.

TOOL TIPS & SHORTCUTS

I found that the Tool Tips where great and would be extremely important for new users. ArchiCAD doesn’t
offer this at all instead relying on tips through a status bar, however Revit does and they are animated rather
then ARCHLine.XPs static imagery. However one simple thing that I really missed was seeing what shortcuts
were either straight away, or after usually a second of hovering over a toolset. The only way to find a shortcut
was to right-click and hit “Keyboard Shortcut” which opens up a new dialogue box, this is cumbersome and
time consuming initially.

EDITING IN 3D

Editing within the 3D window was great with easy to find nodes to lock onto, very similar to Revit and much
easier then ArchiCADs 3D interface.

GENERAL USAGE

FILE SYSTEM

It seems that everything is saved easily within the one file similar to Revit. I prefer this system over ArchiCAD’s
linked library method as your not going to potentially loose library parts from files you’ve previously worked
on, or transitioned from desktop to laptop for example.

TEMPLATE SETUP / STOREY SETTINGS

I spent the time to setup my file’s storey’s correctly initially however this didn’t transfer to the file I created so
I had to redo this again. I really liked the methodology of the Storey Settings though, as you can control
globally how slabs and walls would intersect one another. This will definitely be a time saver once users
become comfortable with the interface as walls can be setup to automatically:
• Fold over slab edges with there external finishes (render, weatherboards, etc) automatically. This is
semi-automated in Revit where it’s within the walls settings, and completely manual within
ArchiCAD.
• Allow slabs to intersect the wall on higher storey’s. A common example is brick veneer where the
bricks would continue externally but internal studwork would be intersected by the timber floor.
This in theory should make sections & details quicker to complete as well.

SELECTIONS

I like that ARCHLine.XP has adopted the AutoCAD method of selection where if you drag a box rightwards you
have to select the whole object for it to be selected, and leftward to just touch objects for them to be
selected.

Also selecting items that overlap one another is much easier than ArchiCAD as ARCHLine.XP detects what items
are there and you can select these easily through the PET Pallet. ARCHLine.XP also allows you to easily filter
selections similar to Revit but you apply the filter first rather then afterwards in Revit.

COPYING OBJECTS

Copying objects worked well and it was easy to copy/move objects from floor to floor as well. ArchiCADs
implementation is the best however as it’s a simply CTRL-C & CTRL-V as it automatically places objects in the
same position. Both ARCHLine.XP & Revit rely on usage of particular options within either the ribbon/property
bars to complete this action.

OBJECT SNAPPING & HOLDING SHIFT KEY

This works very well, like ArchiCAD which is much better then Revit’s application which makes parallel
snapping more difficult as it doesn’t support the shift key. I find I often use this when I want to align objects
vertically/horizontally that run parallel, so I can maintain my parallel line and still snap to objects above/below
the line I am currently drawing.

GENERAL USAGE - CONTINUED

AUTO DIMENSION LINES

Dimension lines popup automatically for walls/doors/windows like Revit so you can simply put in an offset
dimension and the doors shift accordingly. This makes drafting much much faster and ArchiCAD doesn’t offer
this at present.

TRACE REFERENCE PLANS

This was easy to apply within plan view, however the reference is quite faint which would make it harder to
use on larger projects that are quite busy. The trace reference was also a global option similar to ArchiCAD,
however Revit offers view specific trace references which makes details on lower/upper floors a breeze where
you can just turn on a trace reference and leave it on to complete the detail.

3D VISUAL STYLES

This offered familiar options for me and was very intuitive, the best feature here was the ability to underlay a
floor plan within the 3D window which can’t be done easily in either Revit or ArchiCAD. This is a nice
presentation style however I am not sure if I would use it that often.

I did find that moving the 3D section box more difficult as it was free flowing, usually you can hold shift in
other programs for rotation for example to constrain limits to 90° increments which would make this much
easier. In my example I was simply trying to move the 3D cut out from a vertical to a horizontal plan at 90°.

CREATING 3D VIEWS

This is very simple and great that you get a live preview of the perspective you're looking at before saving it, this
is a far better tool then Revit but not as simple as ArchiCADs method of being able to walk through your model
and being able to save any 3D view based on your current window without the need of a camera.

UNCLOSED LOOPS

One little niggling point is that to finish working with unclosed loops you had to hit enter on the keyboard
rather then a single or double click of the mouse. This will affect delivery time slightly and was a little
surprising initially as this is unique to ARCHLine.XP.

TEMPORARY HIDES

I need to investigate this further in ARCHLine.XP to see how it handles isolation & temporary hides. This is one
of the best features in Revit, where you have the ability to “Hurry Hide” HH or “Hurry Isolate” HI to quickly
work or check details in 3D, you then “Hide Return” HR to bring your model back to normal. This is a huge
time saver compared to ArchiCAD which has it’s own isolation methods which ultimately aren’t as successful
as Revits implementation.

BUILDING TOOLS (3D)

WALLS

Would be good to have Australian composite walls built into software as the existing wall types wouldn’t be
used at all. Creating a new wall type was familiar to other programs but it wasn’t as obvious how to copy from
a similar type to make a new style so I copied over an existing one instead.

I always use composite walls and I couldn’t select the outside line in ARCHLine.XP. The video made this look
simple but they were only using a 1 layer wall in this example. For the composite wall I could only select the
inside, middle or other side of my stud wall, but not the outside masonry wall. I always create walls based on
either external or internal wall measurements independent of structure style so this was frustrating.
Also, whilst cycling through the wall line input options the ghost wall disappears and you need to move the
mouse again to check which line method your using, external, center or internal.

DOORS/WINDOWS

The in-built library is very good and offers most types of doors and windows that I would use daily. This is far
better then Revit’s implementation of families and possibly as extensive as ArchiCADs offering. I did find that
using the architrave options not as flexible as ArchiCAD.
I also liked that you could easily place windows/doors to the left, right or centre of walls by hitting F5 to cycle
between each.

ROOF

This is phenomenal and class leading. I’ve never seen anything this accurate and easy to complete, the auto
generated complex roof system forms a completed roof included complex frame & ridge tiles instantly and
offers a large variety of roof styles. However, unlike the video, I couldn’t get the walls to cut to the roof so I
could only get them sitting below/above the roof.

STAIRS & BALUSTRADES

The stair tool was simple to use and again would be great for first time users, but I didn’t know how to adjust
the going/riser ratio which wasn’t editable, it would have been nice to have locking options like the other
settings for this. Also, in my opinion it would be easier if all the settings were unlocked initially as I was trying
to increase my going size and it wouldn’t allow me to do this until I unlocked the stairs length which I usually
work out as I am drawing up the stair, not before. I did like the automatic cut-out slab feature within the stair
options too.

Balustrades were easier to use then the stair tool and it’s great that the handrails can be selected
automatically within the stair tool, however this implementation was only and on/off option so I couldn’t
control the height or baluster spacing which is crucial within BCA regulations. Overall it felt less developed
compared to Revit & ArchiCAD. Working through offsets & heights were cumbersome whilst adjusting the
ready made library Balustrades looked limiting and difficult.

ANNOTATION TOOLS (2D)

HATCH STYLES

There weren’t as many hatches to choose from and again I would normally use different styles in Australia.
Also it wasn’t intuitive to create new hatch styles or to even edit an existing hatch. Also, I couldn’t manage to
apply surface hatches to slabs which is how I normally apply hatches in Revit & ArchiCAD.

DIMENSIONS

This is another area were ARCHLine.XP excels by generating all dimensions at one time, this includes separate
dimension lines for:
• The whole wall
• To include external window/door penetrations
• Internal wall dimensions.
In my opinion this is class leading and a far quicker method then both Revit & ArchiCAD.

LIBRARIES & OBJECTS

MATERIALS LIBRARY

This is much more user friendly to use on the outset as materials are grouped by usage and are displayed with
a large graphical preview thumbnail. Whereas both Revit ArchiCADs materials are in one large list together
and don’t offer good previews of their finishes at all. There seemed to be more useful materials that came as
default to ARCHLine.XP and this would be much easier to use for first time users to CAD software.

 

© Adam Feigl 2018

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