Monday, May 8, 2017

ArchiCAD 21 – New Stair Tool

Sorry Graphisoft, I can’t get enthusiastic about your new stair tool.
Not just because Andrew Watson (from a place even less known than Palmerston North, NZ – and that means a truly tiny dot on the map of NZ) has created a pretty serviceable stair tool some 15+ years ago and Cadimage had spent over a decade in promoting it and selling it to the ArchiCAD-users’ world, but because, while the stakes are so high in the industry of what way (if any) it should be heading to get out of the dark ages, you could/should be doing some really groovy stuff in showing the way.
Yet, you launch a ‘stair tool’.
I mean, really?
How about a pen -colour manager or layer selector or text aligning tool?
I said it before, and not just once: repackage your product, call it an ‘all encompassing, constructing BIM tool’ and you’ll do more good to the industry than any type of new tool development.
Get out of this comfort zone of “we are the architects’ tool’’ and the ‘designed by architects for architects’, once maybe cool but now extremely dated mantra, and attack the industry head on.
Show us, your party faithful that have stuck with you for 1, 2 even 3 decades, that you still know how to spin the wheels in the industry and will not be relegated to the lower ranks of solution-providers that craft entire road shows around pitiful improvements on previous releases.  
Show us, and the world what you truly are made from!

I know, you do not listen to me, you have never, not over the years.
I know, you do not care about the personal investment of many (like me) that mastered your tools to exceptional levels at high personal price.
You may care a bit (but probably not enough) about the investment companies made into purchasing your tools and shaping their own workflows around it over year (if not decades).
But you should care about the future of your own product as its development, marketing and generally placing on the market is seriously getting off the track, even in ‘safe’ countries like your (and my) ‘own Hungary.

My dear, beloved, ArchiCAD and Graphisoft. Please wake up!
Promoting a stair as the central innovation for this year, really?


  1. Just a few thoughts Zolna; first, I don't disagree. The stair tool is a solution for a problem I never had, namely because I've always built my ARCHICAD stairs from model primitives. No tool is flexible enough for all situations. I have a long list of "small" improvements I would like to see in ARCHICAD, some things that seem half finished that should be seen through to a final polished product. That being said, this stair tool is great. The addition of the railing tool is amazing. These two tools give a flexibility and intuitiveness that may have me actually using them on projects in the future. All respect to Cadimage, I use a lot of their tools, but I would rather have an all in one solution, rather than dealing with tech support from two companies on two continents.

  2. Hi Patrick,
    Thanks for your comment. My outcry is not really about the quality of the new tool (that may be absolutely wonderful) nor the need to have it developed, but is more of a ‘big picture thing’.
    Of missed strategic opportunities from GS sides and crashed hopes from mine – that the company that I loyally backed for close to 30 years (and do not confuse constructive criticism with lack of loyalty) is still not getting it and has missed yet another launch of a new ‘Revision’ to do something ‘real’ to reclaim industry leadership.
    I guess I could come up with hundreds of fancy parallels for the situation, but to stay with a simple/cheesy one, it is like finding another cool, but not essential digital-gadget under my Christmas tree while for years and years I have been yearning for a Pony.
    Maybe am just getting old and would not know what to do with a Pony. Maybe GS knows that?

  3. Zolna, I share your desire for something big to happen in digital design and construction. Without getting into the weeds of debating the merits of each feature or tool, I think the big challenge for Graphisoft (and even Autodesk) is how tiny the architectural software market is compared to how much work needs to be done to affect change on a large scale. There is enough money to keep plugging along, delivering valuable incremental improvements, but not enough to disrupt the system.

  4. @Zolna, I'm more inclined about the notion that you're pointing out more than the improvements themselves, for instance I feel the same when ever I create GDL objects, especially when I´m capable of detecting the huge potential it has, and until now it's under utilised be manufacturers.

  5. Also as an architect, and proud of that, I agree with this Zolna Murray sentence: "Get out of this comfort zone of “we are the architects’ tool’’ and the ‘designed by architects for architects’, once maybe cool but now extremely dated mantra, and attack the industry head on."

    During decades, this "slogan" maybe was a market "virtue". But nowadays industry of BIM and construction requires a wider vision, easing the approach of this amazing software to many different professionals the better.

    For example. Why have we keep on modeling as a Compact/closed composite a "wall" when the construction reality is Contractors need to model individually, by skins/parts. We need to apply the same IFC scheme properties to each skin/part as we already do with the host, unfortunately so far.

    Architects are more than designers in an early stage.

    Although that, the NEW STAIRS TOOL improve our workflow. So, thank you!

  6. Grasshopper connection seems to me has te potencial to be the Next Big step, the "Game changer feature", but still not sure if Graphisoft has understand the potential of the tool, as long as they are leaving underdeveloped the one of the proclaimed "bidirectionality". In my perspective data management is the key factor, much more than algorithmic geometry generation.

    By the way, I presume that i'll get in love with railing tool, much more versatile than stair toor, or this simple lovely "randomnes" feature of Multiply command. Both of them just geometry generation tools though...

  7. "Get out of this comfort zone of “we are the architects’ tool’’ and the ‘designed by architects for architects’"
    Totally agree with that.

    However, this tool was almost a means of redemption to so many years of abandonment to a very old request among users.
    GS led the programming group to a border of the comfort zone.
    Certainly users already have managed several means to survive without a flexible stair tool. But I believe that the work they developed gives the way for new tools. The railing tool could easily become a tool for roads, for example. I hope they develop such tools, since designing the environment for a project remains a challenge.
    I'm not so excited, but I recognize that the effort was great.

  8. Some people that have seen both tools (stairs anf railings)say they are great, specially the railings. Im more excited about the ability to edit my curtain walls in all views though.

    I completely agree with the "architects for architects" stuff. I know its not like this at graphisoft since they are programming wizards, but just the thought of an architect roaming around near the source code of my preferred tool makes me cringe.

    And now we are at it, how about changing the name from Archicad (which is one syllable too long) to something shorter like ArchCad or Arcad, which is actually what i say whenever anyone asks me which software i use. Archicad sounds too obvious now; Even if i sometimes feel the urge to, i dont go around jumping while yelling "hey im an architect, i do archidesigns with my archifriends and i use archicad"

  9. Hi Zolna, hope you're well. I'd highlight another (dark) side of the new stair tool. This tool has been developed for unique, bespoke design stairs, for which will be great without fail. But where are the multistory staircases, projects with repeated stair cores. They seem to be the lost child of ArchiCAD new tool. Workarounds probably can be found, but workarounds are rarely straightforward solutions, not easy to communicate in a large practice. Graphisoft should take more focus on balanced development, considering all project scales' requirements.

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