On Land

Environment Information
At Rill Architects we run ArchiCAD on Mac OS X. If you work at Rill, this is your stuff. If you don't, but you work in ArchiCAD, you may find something interesting. Anybody else, I don't know.

Note: This post has been updated for AC18.

Current naming standards. Still very boring.

These rules aren't set in stone, but if we all stay near the rules we all stay near each other. Like all standards, they work most of the time. When a situation is addressed by the standards, you can save your creativity for the projects.

Folder and File Name formats

Be clear, brief, and consistent. Use conventional abbreviations. Do what you've done in the past, unless it sucks. Do not use colons or slashes. See 'Forbidden Characters' below.

The Project folder structure can be seen in the zTemplate folder on the Hotel, so I won't reproduce it here.

Date Formats:
MMYY: 0104= January 2004.
YYYY-MM-DD: 2004-01-26= January 26, 2004.

Project Files:
New Home PLN: Project.PLN
Addition PLN: Project.PLN
Existing PLN: Existing Project.PLN
Teamwork Project: Project.PLP
Local Draft of TW Project: Project [User Initials].PLC

Archived PDF drawing sets: Project YYYY-MM-DD [name/type/issue].PDF. Name/type/issue is the reason the set was made, and is optional for some sets. Examples: Permit, Construction, Revision 1, Pricing. Official issues such as these must be named.

Schedule in Excel: Something Schedule PROJ.XLS
Proposal in Word: Proposal MMYY PROJ.DOC


For any filename type, if there are alternates, put the alternate description before the project code. Example: VRO YYYY-MM-DD Slate PROJ.MOV, VRO YYYY-MM-DD Shingle PROJ.MOV. For Project files, place it before the extension.

Viewpoint (Window and Story) Names

Stories, bottom to top:
1st Floor (Story number 1)
2nd Floor

These are typical, some projects will vary.

Note: Story names are not used in drawing titles, and plan drawings do not use automatic titles.

For all other viewpoints, including Sections, Elevations, Interior Elevations (11), Details, Worksheets (11):

IDs have nothing to do with output. We use IDs to organize the viewpoint ("window") lists in the Navigator.

Names have everything to do with output. The viewpoint ("window") names end up as the text in the drawing titles on the sheets. Don't put anything in the viewpoint name that you don't want to see on the paper.

Section and Elevation Windows:
Important version note: In AC11 the Section and Elevation tools are separate. The only difference between the tools is the marker, but the Sections and elevations will appear separately in the Navigator.

The ID should be the approximate sheet number. A2-1, A2-2, A2-3. The sheet number is only there to order the list. You can repeat IDs, or make them unique, whatever helps keep your lists straight. Section IDs should contain a code for which direction they face: U, D, L, R for up, down, left, right. We used to put this code in the name instead of the ID, but remember, nothing in the name you don't want on the paper.

Elevation names should refer to which 'side' of the building is being presented: Front, Right, Rear, Left. (In the past we have used compass directions for elevations, but the 'relative' names are clearer.)
Examples: (ID)A2-1 (name)Front, (ID)A2-1 (name)Right.

Section names Should contain the orientation (long or cross). If there are a lot of sections of a given orientation, you can add a word to describe the location (front, rear, center, a room name, or compass direction).
Examples: A2-3D Long Section - Front, A2-5L Cross Section - North.

Wall sections are made with the section tool. The ID starts with A3. The name is simply 'Wall Section', with a location if it helps.
Example: A3-2 Wall Section - Front Bay

"Junk" sections, used just for working on the model, should have the ID x[number].
Example: x1, x56, x317. They don't need names, but name them if you want. It's very important not to have junk sections with the names of real sections; this will be confusing and cause errors when importing views. Never drag-copy or Opt-click an output section/elevation to make a junk section. Use another junk section or the 'Junk Section' favorite.

If you use a section to generate a detail, change the pen of the marker. I use 52. It's often better to move junk sections around rather than make new ones, and you need to know which ones to leave alone.

Interior Elevations:
Important version note: AC11 brings a new viewpoint type, the Interior Elevation. It is rather different from the Section/Elevation tools.

Interior Elevations in AC10:
The ID should be the approximate sheet number. A5-0, A5-1, A5-2. Tip: ID the section makers with the story. A5-0 means a basement room, A5-1 a first floor room, etc.
The name should be a room name plus a compass direction if there are multiple elevations of one room.
Examples: Living Room - North, Bath 2 - West.

Interior Elevations in AC11:
An Interior Elevation is a set of viewpoints associated with one room. The IDs and names can be assigned to the viewpoints using a pattern that keeps them related.

ID: Since the IEs are separated from the Sections and Elevations, the A5 sheet number trick isn't strictly needed any longer. The ID is allowed to be blank, so you could skip the ID and simply have an alphabetical list of room names. Or you can can use the ID to organize the list by story using a number or name for the ID. Or you could stick with the A5-0, A5-1,... method.

The name should be the room name and direction as in the past. Helpfully, Interior Elevation viewpoints can use autotext in their names. If the IE is associated with a zone, use the 'Zone Name' autotext. Use the 'Orientation' autotext to automatically assign the compass direction to each elevation.

In the Info Box the autotext name looks like this:

You can also manually name the whole room group or an individual elevation.

(For a single wall elevation, you can use the Elevation tool if you like. Don't use a Section, it won't give you the right kind of marker. Be aware that IEs created this way won't appear in the clone folder with the real Interior Elevations. You would need a separate clone of the Elevations, or need to save the views manually.)

Detail Windows:
Important version note: AC11 brings a new viewpoint type, the Worksheet. It is very similar in functionality to the Detail. In our standards, we will use worksheets for all the not-really-a-detail viewpoints, including the Title blocks, Zoning Info, and Vicinity Map.

Detail Windows in AC10:
Detail windows have two main uses: details and other. Other includes title blocks, drawing lists, schedules etc. Detail naming is complicated by the fact that details must have unique IDs, so the sheet number metaphor doesn't work. However, the detail ID field has a limit of 31 characters, and can include spaces, which is pretty generous.

Windows containing detail drawings: Use the ID field for the type, with a number to make it unique. Examples: Eave1, Footing2, Soffit2. The name should be the real name you want to see on the paper.
Examples: (ID)Eave1 (name)Main Eave, Eave2 Shed Eave, Rake1 Dormer Rake, Pilaster1 Foyer Pilaster Plan

Notes and other detail windows: Place an x before the ID. This keeps them clustered together away from the actual drawings. The names need not be presentable, because such drawings don't use automatic titles.
Example: xTitleE Block, xDraw List, xProject Title

Detail Windows in AC11:
Use detail viewpoints for 'real' details. Use worksheets for non-detail stuff such as the title block.
Details must have unique IDs. Give details a descriptive ID, with a number added to make it unique.Examples: Eave1, Footing2, Soffit2. The name should be the real name you want to see on the paper.
Examples: (ID)Eave1 (name)Main Eave; Eave2 Shed Eave; Rake1 Dormer Rake; Pilaster1 Foyer Pilaster Plan

Worksheets in AC11:
Use worksheets for 2D data that isn't really a detail. This includes the Title blocks, Zoning Info, and Vicinity Map. The ID need not be unique, and in fact it can be blank, which I prefer. The name should describe the content, but the name will usually not be seen in output. The AC11 template is set up this way.

View Names: I recommend using cloned folders for output views. With clones, as new windows are created, the views are created automatically. This means you can crank out interior elevations and then drop views in layouts without having to create new views yourself. Clones are set up in the templates for all standard work and output.

Case and Spaces

Capitalize Words. (Title Case)

Use spaces; without them, thingsareveryhardtoread.
If you must take the spaces out, UseCapsLikeThis


OS X and Windows have no practical limit on the length of filenames. Many apps, including Archicad 10 and MS Office, have a limit of 31 regardless of OS. Note: AC11 finally removes the filename length limit.

Windows, and Forbidden Characters

Most peolple use Windows, the Official Operating System of the United States. If there's any chance a folder/file will ever be opened on Windows, by anyone, including in Virtual PC or Parallels, observe the following:

• Use filename extensions. Especially in Office Applications. Windows, because it's stupid, can't find the proper application without the extension. Archicad appends extensions to all files automatically.
• Don't use characters that are forbidden in Windows. These are
/ \ * ? " | < >
• Only the colon, technically, is forbidden on the Mac. The slash is dicey though. Many apps, including those of Graphisoft, Microsoft, and Adobe, forbid the slash. Don't use it.


DO NOT USE dots, slashes, or backslashes (. / \) as separators. See Windows stuff above.

Use dashes, spaces, or nothing.


01 09 03
010903 (but a little hard to read)

For Plot and PDF Archive folders, put the year first as above. This will keep the alphabetized folder in chronological order.

If there is any ambiguity about which number is the year (as there could be for another 8 years or so), use 4-digit years.

Project Codes

For ANY (any) Project-related file, unless the name is spelled out, use the project code at the end of the name, just before the extension.

To refresh, the project code is the first 4 letters of the client name, unless: 1) it's already taken, 2) it makes a bad word, 3) the same client has multiple projects, in which case use the first 3 letters and a number.

With project codes you can quickly find any file containing 'PROJ', even if it's in the wrong place. Not that it ever would be.

Multiple Projects

When naming the project folder, use arabic numerals.

Good: Kernan2
Bad: Kernan II

For sub-projects, use a descriptive term in the folder name. Example: 'Salamander Kennel'.


Labels are a feature of the Finder. They are basically colors. You can change the names, but that doesn't really help. I think it's helpful to label the project folders so we can tell who the primary person is. This is technically optional, and not a big deal, but here's the list:

JAR: Red
JAM: Green
RAR: Blue
DAB: Yellow
ST: Gray
KK: Purple
NT: Orange