William Sutherland


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User Pages for
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New User's Survival Guide...

last modified 2nd September 2005 - all topics

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  • Top 3 tips... apart from not panicking...
    my advice to any new user to Allplan would be:
    1 - pay for the basic training - you need to understand concepts and techniques as well as which button to press.
    2 - use the F1 online Help within Allplan - it is context sensitive and mostly very good.
    3 - download all the 'Step by Step' guides you can find.
    Fortunately [August 2005] these can now be downloaded from the Nemetschek UK site free (Note: Internet Explorer browser only).
    Without these guides you will struggle as the manual is just descriptive and offers no techniques. The tutorial that normally comes along with the manual has been around for a while and is quite good for basic concepts.

  • All the symbol library filenames are in German! -
    (not v2003/v2004/v2005)
    If this happens (it did to me once) just exit Allplan. Start the 'Services' application. click on 'Configure' at the top menu, and then 'Language'. The selection box should only offer you 'English'. Click OK and the hard drive will whirr for a while and that's it - fixed.
    Update Dec 2001 - I notice that in recent re-installs - certainly in 16.2a - everything starts up in German including the Services application thus you need to look for 'Konfiguration' in the menu bar of the Services application, then choose 'Sprache' and then (obviously) 'English' - Click 'OK' and then 'Ja' in the next popup and everything will be translated. Why the setup program cannot choose a correct default setting from the Windows system settings is beyond me.
    Update September 2002 - I am told it is something to do with how the licence file is created - it should not happen, but it's easily fixed as above.

  • I can't find basic topics in the Help File index! - Look under 'using...' - strange but true.

  • Where is the OK button (not v2003/v2004/v2005)? - In many Allplan dialogues the green tick mark Green Tick means 'OK' is the OK button and the red cross Red Cross means 'Cancel' is Cancel.
    Update September 2002 - in v17 a double right-click on the pop-up background will now OK the dialog.
    Update May 2003 - in Allplan 2003, Windows compliance proceeds with the demise of the tick and cross to be replaced with the 'OK' and 'Cancel' buttons as per normal Windows™ usage

  • Where are the option buttons in dialogues? - In some Allplan dialogues (i.e the parameter options menus and suchlike that pop-up onscreen) you have to click inside an apparently empty entry within the dialogue in order to activate some tool options. Allplan has a long development history and part of it's charm (trust me) is this idiosyncratic (i.e. non-MS Windows) behaviour.
    Update May 2003 - Allplan 2003 has eleminated much of this but it is still common to have to click within an empty box or on an already depressed button to activate some options - worth bearing in mind when working through the dialog boxes.

  • How do I change the Units to millimetres (or feet)? - The default setup is for metres - the Tutorial for Allplan you will notice is all in metres but generally in the UK we work in millimetres. To change this go to 'Tools->Options->Global' which will present you with a multi-tabbed dialogue. There are lots of interesting options to set here apart from 'Units' including cursor size and colour under the 'Display' tab.
    Note that this does not set the Dimension properties which can be set separately.

  • How do I structure a project? - the 6,000 files (3,000 in v16) available when you start a new project can be a bit daunting. The guidance in the manual is not very helpful but in any event everyone is going to want a slightly different system.
    Update December 2002 - while I set up filesets by floor level I find one of the most useful basic rules is to create a new fileset for every plotted drawing containing only the drawing files for that drawing.
    It only takes seconds to do but it is incredibly useful - especially when you return to the project 6 months later and are trying to remember which file is referenced by a particular plot layout.

  • How do I create a title panel for drawings? - there are probably various ways of doing this - before v16.2 I could not find how to access attributes but whether it has suddenly changed or just made easier to do I do not know... you seem to access them from 'File->Open Project') Anyway for the moment I ended up doing it by drawing a title panel at 1:1 scale and then pulling it in to the layout editor when creating the plot layout.

  • Save on quit - Unlike most Windows programmes Allplan saves on exiting - this is good because you do not lose any work by accident - although most software will warn you - however, if you are in the habit of 'trying out' a modification to a design and then quitting without saving it, this approach will not work in Allplan.
    The unlimited 'Undo' is brilliant - but only works until you save (there is an 'autosave' option which is enabled by default to '20 steps' - this seems to mean '20 tools used' - the settings for this are in 'Tools->Options->Global->Miscellaneous->Save...'. Also realise that the current active drawing will be saved when you change drawing file, fileset, layout or project or switch to the layout editor.
    Update March 2002 - Undo is unaffected by the 'autosave' feature...

  • I've lost the CAD Navigator menu! - Hold down the 'Ctrl' Key on the keyboard and then press the 'Q' key on the keyboard.
    Update September 2002 - in v17 onward you can make your own 'navigator' by 'Tools->Customise' and assigning the module icons to custom toolbars.

  • How do I backup? - The best method I have found is to go to the Services FT application, 'configure->Backup Device' and then click option 1: 'Save to hard disk (compressed)' and then OK. Another dialogue box will appear offering the choice of directory (but not over the network - although a mapped drive may be possible).
    Thereafter run Services FT, 'Data Backup->Backup->Named Project', select your project and click OK, a command window opens and you can see your files being 'zipped'. There are other options but this is the main way I do backups.

    Update Dec 2001 - I also recommend running the other backup operations to ensure that your symbols, textures and other settings are saved:
    'Data Backup->Backup->Office Standard' and
    'Data Backup->Backup->Privat Local->Full'

    Update April 2002 - I notice that Allplan does not actually backup and restore the 'system state' - rather, it backs up all files containing data and restores those - overwriting the current contents. Thus any new drawing files created after the particular backup being restored are not overwritten with a blank file.. if you see what I mean?
    Makes good sense and saves disk space, but confusing until you realise what is happening.

    How do I transfer a project to a laptop /another PC? - For a single user the simplest method I have found is to use the backup files (see previous item). copy them to the other machine and then restore them - one zip file + one 'inf' file per project - (as below) to a blank project created on the target machine. You may also need to backup and restore the complete 'Office Standard' as mentioned in the previous item.
    Network users may have a different method.
    For large scale transfer of projects you can try copying the entire 'prj' directory across but back everything up first just in case.
    Update January 2003 - A webboard tip
    (Update 2004 - webboard long gone sadly) - export your plot layout as a 'NID' file. I have not tried this yet but apparently it causes all of the project files to be exported - not just the current plot layout - including associated linetypes, hatching etc. if you tick the relevant option. (NID= Nemetschek Internet Document).
    From within the Layout Editor use the 'Create NID File' tool (it's on the left side of the window in a standard setup)
    Update July 2003 - After trying various methods I tend to copy the nem/Allplan/prj folder between PC and laptop installation but backup the office standard and Private Local full (as described above), copy them between machines and then restore them on the new machine.
    Finally on the laptop or destination machine I run the Hotline tool in services called Reorg and select the option to reorganise the Project Manager (don't select Delete!!) . Probably overly fussy but it seems to work.

  • How do I restore? - Be very careful with this. You cannot restore except to a named project. If you have deleted a project for some reason and wish to restore it you must create an empty project first - preferably with a similar name to the project you backed up - from within Allplan FT and then restore to that using Services FT16, 'Data Backup->Named Project' and choose from the list.
    Update Dec 2001 - Check that you are restoring the latest version of the backup - the listings are not always sorted in the correct order - scroll down to the bottom to check.
    (Experienced users do sometimes copy drawing files into a project using Windows explorer but it is not recommended and best left as a last resort)
    Update September 2002 - it does seem to be possible to copy an entire '/prj' directory from one Allplan installation to another and Allplan will recognise it but make sure it is the 'prj' directory from the data folder and not the one from the programme folder. but recommend you run the Hotline tool Reorg and Reorganise Project Manager from within the Services application.

  • How do I delete old backups? - Be extremely careful. Are you sure you really need the space on your hard disk that badly? If so then use Services FT, 'Utilities->Delete Backup', which gives another dialogue box with a list of all the saved projects. Pick your way through the dates on the projects with extreme caution. Note that files saved on the same date have a further number starting at 1. Because of the way the information is presented it is very easy to make a mistake - and once deleted there is no second chance via the 'Recycle bin' within MS Windows. Personally I backup the entire directory containing these compressed backups to a DVDram disk daily along with the main project directory.

  • How do I plot a drawing! - Not as simple as tech support thinks for new users. Go here for a failsafe way of plotting.
    Also a note added on using the 'Print' command from the main File menu.
    Update September 2002 - v17 has added a Print Preview tool - it even works from the animation window. As of SR3 however it still does not display layouts properly (not that it matters - the plot margins display in the layout editor anyway)
    Update May 2003 - Allplan v2003.0a has further improvements to the print preview and high resolution saving of bitmaps as well as being able to insert an OLE picture object into a layout (bmp format not jpg).
    Update July 2003 - Just watch your plot profiles - I create and save a Plot profile (there is a button in the layout editor allowing you to save the current setup under a new name) and check the tick box to load it under the 'Settings' tab in the Plot Layouts dialog. Allplan often resets the plotter pen settings if you have changed your printer or reinstalled it.

  • There seem to be a lot of mouse click variations? - The designers of Allplan have put a lot of thought into how to get the best out of the mouse. Click here for a list of mouse and keyboard shortcuts.
    Also you can click on 'Help->Tips for efficient usage....'
    Update September 2002 - in v17 the scroll wheel on an intellimouse will zoom in and out. I also use the Intellimouse software to set up the spare keys as Shift and Ctrl so that Shift and middle click held down enables panning and Ctrl and middle click enables a zoom selection (F6).
    Update May 2003 - Even better, I use a Cherry keypad with 4 programmable keys - model no ML4700 - so that I can input numbers, ESC, Tab, backspace and Enter much more easily with my left hand.

  • I cannot find my project files in Windows Explorer! - ON NO ACCOUNT try moving Allplan project files around using MS Windows Explorer except as a last resort and with expert guidance - simply copying the individual project files back in to the PRJ folder will NOT work as a method of restoring lost projects. Go here for further details.

  • Which project file is what number (not v2004/v2005)? - Allplan saves files with only reference numbers for filenames - to work out which project is stored in which file number, run the Services FT application, 'Service->Hotline tools-> scroll down in the hotline tools list to 'listpro' - highlight it and click OK - you are offered printing to screen, printer or file - choose and click OK to obtain a complete list of projects and their associated file numbers.
    Since v2004 projects are named and can now be identified if viewed using Windows Explorer.

  • Which view can I do what in? - For quite a while I could not see the benefit of the '3D' isometric view - and then I realised that you could select items, snap points and suchlike within both this and the elevation windows. However it takes some experimenting to know when it is appropriate and when it will not work - the system usually stops you doing anything it does not like anyway! In the 'proper' animation window right clicking surfaces allows you to change their properties - which is quite cool but you cannot move anything within this view (pointless anyway I would have thought).
    Update September 2002 - by using the 'brackets' feature by right-clicking with the mouse in a blank area of workspace you can then use the delta point tool from the point assistant toolbar to move in x, y or z and then right click again to complete the command.
    Update May 2003 - Allplan v2003 allows objects to be deformed by stretching in isometric and other views - it subdivides the object to achieve the deformation after asking you if that is what you want.
    Also the point entry has been completely revised - it takes a bit of getting used to but is very clever - it can be turned off from the Tools menu and revert to the old input methods - which were pretty good anyway.
    Allplan v2004 allows the wireframe isometric, or any, view to be moved around just like the animation window view. Clicking on the button on the window toolbar that looks like a banana with an arrow at each end this is the Navigation Mode button.  When active the cursor allows movement around the 3D model as per the animation window controls.  When turned off editing the model is possible and the regular orthoganol views apply in viewports apart from the animation window.

  • My wall lines plot too thin or thick! - The architectural elements take up the pen current at the time they are created. Set up some sections of wall with everything as you want them (including hatching if necessary) and store them as symbols. Call them back when you need them and double right click on them to create new ones (or just copy them). Watch which drawing file you are placing the new walls in. To change pen colours associated with pen thicknesses look under 'Tools->Defaults'. Check out the options also under 'Tools->Options->Architecture'. To change pens for elements after they are created use 'Edit->Modify Format Properties'. From 16.1 onwards pen colours get 'sticky' and harder to change - I've never figured this out to be honest (!) but it does not seem to cause any problems.
    Update February 2002
    See the item on plotting above - I now set most of my pen colours to be associated with 'harmless' pen widths - e.g. .13 up to .25 with only a couple of pens set to .35 and .5 - this allows more pen colours to be used in modelling without having to assign custom surface colours or textures.
    Update September 2002 - in v17 you can assign different pens to multi-layer (i.e. cavity type) walls.
    Update December2002 - but it does not plot correctly - the inner faces of the cavity wall are still in a thicker pen and overprint the thinner cavity lines at plot time.
    Update May 2003 - cavity pens still do not plot out thinner than outer wall lines.
    Allplan v2004 allow introduces a comprehensive wall properties dialogue but the cavity lines problem persists as far as I know.

  • How do I create sections? - It takes a lot to impress me these days but the first time I created a section, activated it and accidentally pressed the 'animate' button I experienced real 'jaw drop' - the section was animated! - right down to a cut through the window glass - awesome...
    Anyway... on a more mundane level
    just make sure all drawing files you want are visible, go to 'Create->Architecture->Architecture->Define Section', click (in plan view) for the start point of your section line, repeat as often as you wish (say for a staggered section line), hit 'ESC', and the prompt will ask for the viewing direction and depth of the section (a rubber-banded box is on screen to help), click and then the command line asks for a section identifier (A-A or whatever) - and that is it.
    Update May 2003 - In Allplan v2003 you can activate a section directly from a section button on the Animation window just like the regular windows.

    To activate the section line in plan view you need to click on the button in the bottom right hand corner of the plan view window (the middle one of 3) and then click on the section line just drawn. To output a 2D version for plotting you need to click on the 'Hidden line image/Wireframe' tool in the standard toolbar. Similarly if you want hidden line removal you need to press the left button of the three on the bottom right (possibly top right after v16.1) of the plan view window.

  • My walls will not merge together! - If you see a line at wall junctions then there are several explanations. A common one I find is that I have created 2 walls on different drawing files and not noticed. This is easy to do because if you are working in one file (the 'active' one) over a file in 'edit' mode you can double right click on a wall say, in the 'edit' mode file which brings up the 'create new walls' tool. However the new wall you create will be in the 'active' file, not in the same file as the original. Use 'File->Copy/Move elements between files...' to shift the wall to the right file - note that you will have to go into 'File->Open and select...' to turn off the destination file.

    Update February 2002 - since version 16.2 you can use the Copy, Cut & Paste commands via the Windows Clipboard - note that using these tools Allplan always Pastes to the Active drawing file irrespective of where you copied from...
    Update July 2003 - note also that using the clipboard merges all copied objects into one group losing the individual group attributes.

    Other reasons for lines at wall junctions are: different fills or materials for the walls (there is an option between the two choices under 'Tools->Options->Architecture->Junctions 'wall junctions') and ticking the option to 'Show wall junctions' in 'Tools->Options->Architecture->Wall junctions '. Also In multilayer walls make sure the 'priorities' are set correctly from the wall parameters - i.e. don't make them all the same unless you want all layers to merge to each other at junctions. I have further noticed that in 'Tools->Options->Architecture->Creating and Updating' the default setting for 'Archit elements with different bottom levels may intersect' is 'NO'.
    Update February 2002 - watch for this however if you change it to 'YES' as it will cause your overlapping Archit. elements to interact in the animation view - i.e. the object at higher elevation may 'remove' a chunk of the lower object equal to the area of overlap in plan

  • How do I stop walls merging together? - apart from as the previous answer sometimes you can use 'Join walls with line' rather than 'Join walls' - if necessary draw a line to trim to. You can also turn off auto merge altogether but I would not recommend it.

  • How do I get arrows on the end of leader lines? - This is not possible automatically in Allplan (!). You need to create a symbol, save it and then attach it to the end of the leader line (just use regular pen lines - don't bother with 'real' leader lines) with the '?' option on the 'Angle' setting on the context tool bar which appears when you load a symbol. This allows you to rotate the 'shaft' of the arrow head after clicking on the end of the line to place the arrow and to snap to the line (using element snap) thus orientating the arrow correctly.
    Update 14.07.01 Download Arrow.zip (5Kb)- Download Arrow Symbol - a 'zipped' arrow symbol complete with white color fill. This was kindly given to me some months ago by the Hotline support team in Bulgaria - their instructions for use are below...
    Update 03.10.01 note no 1:1 symbol 'foil' but I will try to fix this

    Download and unpack the file. After that, in Project Pilot you have to set 'The Path to External Buffer' to the same place.
    Close the Project Pilot.
    Then you will see the arrow in
    Smart Symbol catalogue -> External Path -> Smart Symbol
    or/and in
    Get from Library -> Tagged Symbol -> External Path -> Smart Symbol

    Please note that you have to change the entering angle from 0 (zero) to ? (custom) during the placement of the arrow and fix it to the leader by clicking the left mouse button.

    Sept 2004 - I've got so fed up of waiting for Nemetschek to improve this - and now I doubt if they ever will... - I now tend to use the leader line tool in the text commands and just draw an arrow head manually at the end of the line.  The advantage is that the leader is created as a polyline and so can be moved around or deleted in one operation.
  • How do I check heights? -
    Method 1: in plan view - Right click on the wall or slab or whatever in plan view and choose 'Elevation Spec' from the menu list which appears - ignore all the dialogue boxes that appear and just concentrate on the numbers which have appeared on the end of the cursor. Left click to drop them onto the plan - these numbers are the top and bottom levels of that element in metres. Note that this figure will update and the marker even appears in the elevation view if you look closely.

    Method 2: in the elevation or 3D view - use the 'Measure' tool from the standard toolbar or 'Tools->Measure' and select the 'Coordinates' option (after the first time using the measure tool in a session you will also need to click the green tick mark button to confirm) and then click on the element - the z coordinate gives the height.
    Update 28.08.01 - in v16.2 the Measure tool can now be used in any view - 'Length' takes it's value from the x,y or z value automatically as appropriate to the view you are measuring in. Much better! :)

    Method 3: in the roof modeller context toolbar (which appears always when you start up the roof modeller) there is an attribute box called 'Elv Ln' - short for 'Elevation Line' - the level entered here creates a marker line in all views (very handy in plan) to indicate where that height is. Unfortunately it is created in the same dotted line as the rest of the roof frame and so can be hard to spot - it does not, as far as I know, have any input into the definition of the roof plane being created - it is merely a useful guide which can help with alignment. (see 3D modelling techniques)

  • How do I measure/dimension/plot an elevation? - Make an elevation or section window active - click on 'Hidden line image, Wireframe' on the standard toolbar. A dialogue will open - leave the default and click the green button - select an empty file from the list that appears and a 2D wireframe will be exported (if you want hidden line removal click the left button of the three on the bottom (v16.1 could be top) right of the window before invoking this command). Open this new file - make sure the window is in 'plan' view (button at bottom of the active window) and you should see the elevation or section. You can then use the normal measure and dimension tools - but check the box in dimension properties for 'Elevational Dimensioning' - this allows you to set a base level and then dimension any point relative to that. Watch also that this is now set globally and needs unchecking for normal plan dimensioning.

  • The dimension tools are not working! - If dimensioning is giving zero results check that the 'System Angle' tool has not inadvertently been set to 90 degrees instead of zero. This is easy to do if you have reset the system angle to 'normal' by pointing at a vertical instead of horizontal line.

  • Dimensions are not correct! - Note that you have to set dimension units separately to global units - it's on the second tab of the dimension tool properties - this allows you to have dimensioning in feet and inches on an otherwise metric drawing. Also make sure you read the command prompt so that you click the right things in the right order - generally position first, then points then 'ESC' to finish.

  • How do I use Project Attributes? - Up until v16.2 [July 2001] I could not figure this out - maybe it was not possible or maybe I just did not understand how to do it (quite likely!). Anyway, now you seem to use 'File->Open Project', highlight the project you want or create a new one, click on the button marked 'Select Attributes' which gives you a list to select from (you can probably create your own but I haven't go that far yet), OK out of that and then when you click the button marked 'Settings...' another dialogue appears where you can alter the 'Path Settings' (I leave them set to 'office') and also a button marked 'Assign Attributes...', click this and it brings up yet another dialogue with the attributes chosen away back at the start of this description and (at last) allows entries to be made against them. That's all I know for the moment - I'm still experimenting!

  • How do I incorporate landscape elements? - You can do a lot with the basic 3D modelling tools in Allplan however for serious cut and fill operations etc. you really need to buy the scary DTM (digital terrain modeller) module (some licences may come with this included - if you are lucky -I don't think I have ever parted with so much cash just to add one icon to a toolbar! It is a 'must-have' in the long run though. Bit of a 'sledgehammer to crack a nut' on my small projects.)
    Update May 2003 - Allplan v2003 has made life easier by allowing rectangular objects to be pulled around a bit. However I find that the most useful tool is hidden away in 'Tools->Select Quicksketch Mode'
    With this tool set to the 'Cut 3D' option you can hold down Alt and then use Left click and drag with the mouse to freehand slice bits off 3D elements. Note that for this to work you need to convert any Slabs or other Architectural elements to dumb 3D objects using 'Create->Bonus Tools->3D Modelling->Convert Elements' - this tool is so useful I have dragged its icon into a custom palette - in fact all my favourite tools are in custom palettes.

  • My bitmaps plot all stripey! - My guess is that bitmaps are turned into lines for plotting from Allplan/plot layout and this can lead to interference patterns. I usually print bitmaps separately (e.g. images of the rendered model) however Plandesign FT v2.5a which has recently appeared in the English version can handle the mix of vector and bitmaps. This is a Nemetschek product aimed at presentation work - a bit like Corel Draw! for Architects :)
    Update April 2002 - It is possible to obtain quite good results mixing bitmaps with plotted output. Use the 'get from library' tool while in the layout editor and 'Bitmap element' - the trick seems to be choosing a good combination of scaled input (as offered by Allplan once you have navigated to the directory containing your bitmap - jpg seems a good choice, even though tif is the default in the 'files of type' box) and original resolution. I am told there is a way of checking this mathematically but I have not got round to studying it yet and usually trust to luck(!) - 800 x 600 seems to work most of the time.
    When plotting I find it a good idea to set the plotter output options to 'plot in computer' or 'avoid out of memory' in the 'advanced' properties settings - even a small image can exhaust the average plotters memory.
    Update May 2003 - Hallelujah! :-) In Allplan v2003 you can use 'Insert' to place 'Objects' in a plot layout (does not seem to work for me in drawings but it should). These are a limited sort of OLE object. Thus for bitmaps it only works for bmp (Windows bitmap format) files. However it is quick to refresh onscreen, looks OK when zoomed in (but poor when viewing the whole drawing) but it prints very well. At last you can mix all those saved bitmaps views from the animation window with regular vector (line) output.

  • Strange things are happening onscreen! - First, be assured that Allplan FT is extremely stable as CAD programs go:
    If things look OK in plan but elements are disappearing in a 3D view try 'Modify->Architecture->Restore 3D View' and then double right-click within a blank bit of the plan view drawing to update the entire drawing file.
    If the problem is rafters or roof beams that are part disappearing or have holes in them from trying out different arrangements then try 'Modify->Architecture->Rafter Design->Update' and double right-click within an empty area in the plan view to update the entire drawing file.
    If circles and shaded areas in construction line colour are appearing in plan view then you have a corrupted 3D architectural element. This can happen when messing around with openings or stretching 3D elements. If you have not saved the drawing recently it may be possible to 'Undo' far enough back for the highlighting to disappear. If not then it is best to try deleting 3D elements and rebuild them from scratch.
    In all cases as a precaution I usually exit Allplan, start the Services FT application and use 'Service->hotline tools->cleanup'. When you restart Allplan you will have to 'Open Project' to get back to the job you were working on.

  • My PC has crashed! - Very unusual with Allplan in my experience but new users (myself included) will usually manage to press some weird combination of commands that may cause a crash. (I am assuming you are running Windows 2000 (NT4 and XP are similar) and are moderately familier with the jargon of using a PC)
    Go here for some recommendations
    on what to do if stuck (Windows 2000 only - although some of the principles are still applicable to XP Pro)

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