The Magic of Parameter Transfer

December 15, 2010 – ArchiCAD Video Tip by Eric Bobrow

In this 11 minute video tip, I show how to use parameter transfer in a variety of ways. Some of them may be familiar, while others may surprise you! Some are so sweet that they seem almost magical!

The eyedropper picks up the settings of an element such as a wall, window, door or object, and sets the active tool to that element type. You are then able to draw or place new elements just like the one you referred to. The eyedropper has a button in the Tool palette, and also can be invoked by use of a keyboard shortcut – hold down the Option key (Mac) or ALT key (PC) and your cursor will turn into an eyedropper.

The syringe “injects” the settings of the relevant tool into whatever element you click on, transforming it into a clone of the earlier element. It has a button in the Tool palette, and a keyboard shortcut as well – hold down Option-Command (Mac) or ALT-CTRL (PC) and you’ll see the cursor become a syringe.

A very special use of the syringe was introduced in ArchiCAD 9, and it is a hidden gem that many users are unaware of.

When in any library part dialog box (e.g. door, window, object, etc.) if you click on a different library element it will usually be loaded with the default settings for that part (these are set up by the author). This is good in general, since you start out with a usable configuration of all the parameters, and can then either place the part directly or modify the parameters as you wish.

However, when switching a selected element to a different library part, this can be very inefficient – all of the “style” of the original part gets replaced with the default settings, and it may take quite a bit of effort to recreate the settings to keep the style. For example, the materials, sizes, panel type, and other parameters may need to be adjusted to make the new part look similar to the earlier one.

HOWEVER – if you use the syringe tool, by holding down the Option-Command keys (Mac) or ALT-CTRL keys (PC) before and during the click in which you select a new or different library part, you will transfer all of the available matching parameter values to the new part. That way, it will immediately “look like” the earlier part, and you will have much less work in many cases – simply changing the size or an occasional incidental parameter as the context requires.

You may use this “parameter transfer within the library part dialog” method in several different contexts:

  • when switching an element from one library part type to another (e.g. from a casement window to a different type)
  • before placing a new element (to retain the style of other existing elements – simply eyedrop one before opening the dialog)
  • when updating a project to use a new or different library – simply select elements one by one or in groups (of identical parts), then use the syringe inside the library part dialog to switch to the equivalent version of the part in the new library; repeat until done!

If you have never used this feature, be prepared for a very pleasant surprise – it will help you a lot! Even if you have used all of these methods before, I hope you enjoy this short presentation and find it useful.

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Thanks for watching!