IFC Properties in Labeling and Scheduling
Following our friend Jared's blog post on the Graphisoft US Blog titled 'Label-insanity! How do I show all the Data?' I thought I’d follow up with a post about how we at BIM6x have started to introduce IFC data into our elements and how we label them with the new labels in ArchiCAD 19, and pull that information out into schedules. Is our method ultimately the very best way to go about this? Well the exact details may need to be tweaked as our understanding of, and as IFC itself matures, but we do know that this method works very well for existing clients. And because of that we want to share it.
Firstly to get the information out of an element you first need to put information in. We could put information into the ‘Parameters for Listing’ parameters that are built right into some element types, but they’re not actually available for all elements types. For example those parameters are available for objects, doors, windows, etc, but not for walls, slabs, roofs, etc. So let’s not use those for now.*
Besides if we were ever to share our models via IFC those parameters don’t export with the model. So instead we’ll create our own custom ‘IFC Properties’ and assign these to any of the elements. These IFC properties can actually be mapped back to those Parameters for Listing, *so if there is a way to use both if you really want to.
So how do we create our own custom IFC Properties? It’s surprisingly easy. In ARCHICAD 19 go to File> File Special> IFC 2x3> IFC Scheme Setup. Just don’t be overwhelmed by the myriad of settings in there. Like a road map, you don’t need to know all the roads you see, just the ones to get you to your next destination, so for now navigate to the (IfcElement) section in the tree in the left pane. With it highlighted, click on the New Property/Classification button as shown below.
An IFC Property has to belong to an IFC Property Set. A bit like a kid belongs to its mother when it’s misbehaving. IFC Property Sets are often referred to as Psets. But anyway let’s create a new IFC Property Set and a new IFC Property both at the same time. Call yours both something simple. In the image below I named my IFC Property Set ‘BIM6X_Specification’ and my IFC Property ‘NEW PROPERTY’. I like to keep them capitalized so they stand out amongst the ones already provided with ARCHICAD. Hit OK and you’ll see it in the list in the center pane. Whooshka.
That’s all there is to it. Make more if you like. Knock yourself out. As you can see I have already added a bunch, so keep an eye out for them as we continue. It should be noted that if you create an IFC Property at a level deeper than IfcElement, such as IfcSlab, then that IFC Property will only be available for slabs, as defined by its Element Classification not necessarily by the slab tool.
But keeping it at the IfcElement levels means that it will be available for all element types. You may want to change this later, but for now keep it like this as it will be easy to manage until you reach the next level in your IFC expertise!
So you’ve create an IFC Property Set and included an IFC Property or two in there. Told you it was easy. But now what? For this example we’ll take a look at a basic bath tub, keeping in mind the same principles can be applied to any type of ARCHICAD element. In the Object Settings dialog, under the Tags and Categories panel, we can add our new IFC Properties by hitting the Manage IFC Properties… button at the very bottom.
Once we do that we enter the Manage IFC Properties dialog, where we should see our new IFC Property Set and our new IFC Properties within it. Simply tick the one(s) you want to use and hit OK.
Now the IFC Property will appear in your Objects Settings, where you can fill out the field with your data.
It’s a great idea to save Favorites of your most commonly used elements so that all of this data is saved along with the geometry and other settings. This will really make things automatic!
But now for the labeling part. The ArchiCAD Library 19 comes with a label called Tags and Categories Label 19. When this label is assigned as an Associative Label to an element it has the functionality to pull out the IFC Properties, after the IFC Properties have been assigned to the elements.
In the Tags and Categories Label 19 set the Select Parameters to Create Sorting, instead of Display All. This will enable you to select standard parameters and any of the IFC Properties that are assigned to the element you are labeling, including your new IFC Properties containing your new data.
To label an element, activate the label tool, then simply hover over the element until it is highlighted then click. The Detailed geometry method offers more flexibility when placing labels than the Standard method and is recommended.
You can also use label Favorites or the eyedropper and syringe Parameter Transfer tools to pick up the properties of the existing labels that have already been set correctly and transfer them to other labels. To label multiple elements of different types, simply select the elements to be labeled then choose Label Selected Elements from the Document> Document Extras menu.
Of course bear in mind that while similar elements may reference the same IFC Properties, the data will need to be filled out uniquely for each unique type:
These labels can completely automate such annotation of details, whether they are 2D or 3D.
But these properties can also be listed in schedules. Pictured below is a typical Plumbing Schedule with IFC Properties and their data.
But let’s add our new IFC Property, which will help you understand how the others got in there to begin with. Open up the Scheme Settings of your Plumbing Schedule or create a new one. Using the Add... button dropdown arrow, select Add IFC Properties. (*The other option to Add Object Parameters refers to the internal parameters mentioned way back up there in the first section.)
This will take you select your new IFC Property as long as it has been assigned to one of the elements that is being scheduled. If you haven’t yet assigned it to one of your elements, then you won’t see it in the following options. So make sure it is assigned to an element and make sure that element meets the criteria to be included in the schedule.
Hit the Add button and it will appear in the Fields panel of your plumbing schedule. From there you can drag it up into place and hit OK.
By default it will appear as a header in your Plumbing Schedule with a name like 'NEW PROPERTY (with your IFC Property Set name)':
But you can simply click on that and rename it. You can also use the Format panel on the left to make it bold or however you like. And since it’s an interactive schedule, you can enter your data into the new property fields right there in the schedule and it will automatically be entered into the element settings.
And here's what it looks like when we export to IFC and open it up in an IFC Viewer like Solibri Model Viewer®:
Hopefully this will kick start your IFC Property labeling and scheduling journey. This form of data management is an important part of your template, so be sure to include it.
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And of course all of this is already set-up for you and ready to go in our BIM6x Template Kits along with a bazillion other cool settings! Check ‘em out if you’re interested!