Barebones ArchiCAD

Graphiosoft are offering a stripped down version of ArchiCAD 11 for way below their normal price, the target market being small architectural firms. On the face of it, it’s a good move because small firms may be able to get by without features like teamwork, markup tools or even a printed manual. However, if you look at the comparison, there are way too many essentials that have been removed. I mean, how can you do without something as basic as rendering (lightworks & sketch rendering have been knocked out), profile manager for making custom wall/column shapes or the ability to open normal ArchiCAD files?

I think, if they tweak the feature set a bit, they might have a winner but in its present form, they’ll get little response.

ArchiCAD Start Edition 2008 v/s ArchiCAD 11

Download GDL Cookbook 3 [PDF]

I could have sworn this page didn’t exist when I searched for such a download some months ago. I’d found some sites selling the book for a few bucks but now the author himself is giving it away.

“The GDL Cookbook 3 is out of print and I am unable to get Cookbook 4 out, so I am providing a free download for the PDF (no print, no edit) copy.”

It’s over 7 years old but still useful today and, hopefully, David Nicholson-Cole will be able to bring out the version 4 soon. I’m waiting to buy it.

Go to :: GDL Cookbook 3

Tiny PDF

It’s not often that you come across a fantastic, non-bloated software that is free even for commercial use but Tiny PDF belongs to this category. At under 600 kilobytes, it’s a tiny download compared to most others and, additionally, doesn’t require the bulky GhostScript libraries to work.

I’ve tested the output against CutePDF Writer (free) and Amyuni PDF Creator v.2.09 (not free but which comes with my edition of ArchiCAD). Amyuni still makes the most compact PDF files but the output from TinyPDF isn’t too far behind and it’s way ahead of CutePDF. Also, don’t forget to get the plugin called PDF Merge from the site and you’ll be able to add to an existing PDF or merge two of them together.

For anyone interested in sharing CAD drawings (or any other document for that matter) with people who don’t have the required software, this is a great tool to have.

Go to :: TinyPDF

Q10 – Text Editor with Spell Check

I never thought I’d actually like a software that has a full black screen with yellow text. Reminds me too much of the bad old DOS days. And yet, there’s something about Q10 that makes me want to use it more and more. Maybe it’s the simplicity, maybe there is less strain on my eyes. Either way, it’s a keeper.

Q10 is a distraction-free text editor

Screenshot of Q10

It doesn’t have the features of metapad – still my text editor of choice – but it is equally fast and has spelling check built-in. It comes with US English (and Spanish, among others) but since it uses the same dictionaries as OpenOffice, so I merely copied the British English files over to the correct location. And I also found a dozen or more spelling errors on this site…

It’s a tiny 400 kilobyte download (without the dictionaries) that doesn’t require to be installed – just unzip it to any location and start writing; run it off a pen-drive if you want. I think this one is going to travel with me on my cellphone; alongside Portable Thunderbird.

It’s semi-crashed on me a couple of times during spell-check – usually after it has encountered an apostrophe.

Go to :: Q10

Energy Design Tools for Architects

UCLA has recently released a new version of a free software called HEED that helps architects in designing energy efficient homes. This supersedes “Solar” which I had tried a few years ago and been totally befuddled by. I’ve just given HEED a spin after downloading the climate data for Bombay (Mumbai) from the EnergyPlus site and I will need time to fiddle with it before I can really make good use of it. However, I can say, even now, that it’s worth getting the hang of. If only it would give us more options for, say, materials and take graphical input from 3D dxf files instead of the primitive graph-paper-like drawing window… That would really make it a killer app.

Another useful tool from the same source is Climate Consultant v.3 – also recently released – which takes raw data (the same as used by HEED) and displays it as charts and graphs. Architects keen on improving the energy efficiency of their designs must try both of them. It may look daunting at first and the choices within HEED are somewhat limited but it still gives a good overall picture.

Go to :: Free Energy Design Tools

Lakhs and Crores in a spreadsheet

Since I exclusively use Libre Office, I had very little hope that this would work for me but it does without a hitch! I was able to create a number format that shows up as 12,34,56,789.00 instead of the western 123,456,789.00. The trick is to use a conditional format. On my system I’ve called it Indian Currency although I understand it’s also used in Thailand:
Go to: David McRitchie’s Excel Pages :: Scroll down to format #37

If you’re an Excel user, you might want to look at this add-in which has additional features:

Edit | 24th July 2014

  1. The link to the addon for Excel is broken
  2. In LibreOffice Calc (or any Open Office derivatives for that matter) when you format the number or currency, set your language to English (India) and you will automatically get lakhs and crores in your spreadsheetClipboarder.2014.07.24-006.


Two tiny programs on this site are excellent for people who have loads of AutoCAD/IntelliCAD drawings on their systems. Sometimes you just want a preview before you open a large file – and the shell extension here works like a charm. Just right-click on the file in windows explorer and a thumbnail pops up in the context menu. There is also a stand-alone dwg explorer that works equally well. Have a look at both screenshots on the website. The downloads are less than 90kb each.

Go to:

Edit | 24th July 2014
Unfortunately, the link is broken

ArchiCAD 10 – finally

AC-10 Splash Screen

The AC-10 Splash Screen

I’ve been waiting for version 10 even since it was released worldwide but for one reason or another, Adroitec delayed the delivery. What surprised me most was the splash screen and what continues to surprise me is that the wonderful Amyuni PDF converter included in the package isn’t installed by default. It’s the best PDF software that I’ve ever come across.

eDrawing Viewer

If you need to send a *.dwg file to someone who doesn’t have AutoCAD loaded on their system, you can download the bloated, official, DWG TrueView from AutoDesk which weighs in at 109 Megabytes. Or, you could go and get eDrawingsViewer which may not have such a wonderful interface but will get your work done perfectly well. It reads almost any version of *.dwg files and supports paper-space too.

Like [[drawing gateway]], this product too is created by SolidWorks who seem to be targeting the leader’s high-priced software in their quest for a share of the market.
~6 Megabytes