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.

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.

Project Names

Projects are generally named after the client's surname. Sometimes we use a property address. Where the clients are partners whose surnames differ, use both names with a hyphen between.

New homes can be called either House or Residence, so 'Smith House' or 'Smith-Jones Residence'.

Addition and renovation projects can be called what they are, so 'Smith Addition' or 'Jones Renovation'. It's wordy to say 'Addition/Renovation'; just use 'Addition'.

The project folder should be called by the client's name. Leave off 'House', etc.

The project file (PLN) should be called by the full project name, 'Smith House.pln' or 'Jones Addition.pln'. The existing conditions file should be called 'Existing Jones.pln'.

If there are multiple projects for a given client, use an arabic numeral when naming subsequent project folders. Or use a more descriptive name, like 'Jones Beach House'.

Project Codes

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

That said, since Archicad filename length is no longer limited (practically), I rarely use a project code and usually opt for the client name at the beginning of the filename.

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.

Folder and File Name Formats

Be clear, brief, and consistent. Use conventional abbreviations. Do what you've done in the past, unless it's bad.

Case and Spaces

Capitalize Words. (Title Case)

Use spaces. Without them, thingsareveryhardtoread. If you must take the spaces out for some reason, UseCamelCaseLikeThis.

ALL CAPS LOOKS LIKE YELLING. It impairs readability. Upper and lower case were invented for a reason. Same goes for notes on the drawings.

OS X and Windows have no practical limit on the length of filenames. Archicad got rid of the 31-character limit in AC11. Use spaces and sensible abbreviations. Filenames should be readable and clear.

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 virtualization, observe the following:

• Use filename extensions. They are required in Windows, but their display is optional in OS X. Windows aside, I think using them improves human-readability of file type.

• Don't use characters that are forbidden in Windows. These are \ / ? : * " > < |

Only the colon is forbidden on OS X, but it's on the Windows list anyway.

Date Formats

MMYY: 0315 = March 2015.
YYYY-MM-DD: 2015-03-17 = March 17, 2015.

The second one is greatly preferred and the only one I use personally. It is unambiguous and unifies the alphabetical and chronological order of a list. It is the official ANSI date format, ISO 8601. It stops the worldsplaining of why the day should come first, silly USA's.

Unfortunately, the date format of changes in the Revision History object in AC18 is fixed on MM/DD/YY.

This hurts my eyes: 031715. (Though the previous decade was worse: When was 110908?)

Avoid the slash and backslash as separators. See Windows above.

General Output Files

This includes PDFs, DWGs, BIMx files, renderings, etc. The format is Project YYYY-MM-DD [name/type/issue].[extension]. Extensions can be hidden in OS X, but showing them is user-friendly. 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.

Output filenames must always have the project name in some form. Don't rely on the enclosing folder to identify the project.

There is still no way to customize the name of a PDF as it is published, in order to add the date to the name automatically. The revisions workflow offers the ability to rename publisher items with autotexts, but not the enclosing item that generates the filename. Our templates include Publisher sets for PDFs, but by necessity the names are generic ('Schematics'). You can save yourself some mental health by changing the name to the project name ('Smith Schematics'). But you still have to add the date in the Finder.

For any filename type, if there are alternates, put the alternate description at the end. Example: Smith YYYY-MM-DD Slate.bimx, Smith YYYY-MM-DD Shingle.bimx.

Viewpoint (Window and Story) Names


Bottom to top:
[Anonymous Story -2]
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. Use the Plan Title object to place titles on all the stories at once, in the same location.

For all other viewpoints, including Sections, Elevations, Interior Elevations, Details, Worksheets, and 3D documents:

• 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. The view name usually comes from the viewpoint name, and the drawing name comes from the view name. You shouldn't usually need to trouble yourself with a custom name on the drawing element or, egad, the drawing title.

Sections and Elevations

The ID should be the approximate sheet number. A2-1, A2-2, A2-3. The sheet number is only there to order the list. IDs can be repeated, and names can be repeated, but ID/name combinations must be unique. 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.

(More on ID/name combo uniqueness. I am looking at a current real project with several junk sections with ID x5 and no name, making them identical. I have no idea where they came from, because if I try to deliberately make a duplicate the ID changes automatically. Treat ID/name uniqueness as a requirement anyway.)

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 Elevation, (ID)A2-1 (name)Right Elevation.

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.

This is a personal preference, but I don't like '@' for location in section names. With its meaning in email and elsewhere online, the symbol no longer reads as an abbreviation, and besides, it's not actually shorter. Use an en dash as above, or the word 'at'.

'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 is confusing and could cause errors when importing views. Never drag-copy or Opt-click an output section/elevation to make a junk section. Use another junk section. (The eyedropper picks up name and ID from sections/elevations, but the ID will be automatically incremented since duplicates aren't allowed. Activating a favorite does not pick up the name and ID, so always double check the name when using favorites.)

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

Interior Elevations

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 can use a zone number autotext. 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 (and IDs). 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. Make sure project north is set correctly.

In the Info Box the autotext name looks like this: <ZoneName> <Orientation>

You can also manually name the whole room set 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. There is a separate cloned folder of the Elevations for this purpose.)


Use detail viewpoints for 'real' details. Use worksheets for non-detail stuff such as the title block.

Like sections and elevations, detail names and IDs can be repeated but the combination must be unique.

Give details a descriptive ID, with a number added to make it unique. Uniqueness isn't required, but it helps sort the list by keeping similar details together. 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.


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, since a typical project doesn't have that many Worksheets. The name should describe the content.

3D Documents

I haven't had enough 3D documents in a project for the list to become hard to manage, so I go with name only. If I ever have dozens of 3D docs, I would use the ID to help sort as with details above.

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.

When you have to create a one-off view, use the name you want to see on the drawing.

Never, ever, use 'Save View and Place on Layout'. The huge majority of views you need already exist in the template, and if you 'need' a new view, it must be created carefully and filed in a logical place in the view map.