Half-way through my new mini ArchiCAD Training on Best Practices

Eric BobrowI’ve just created, posted and emailed the fourth installment of my mini-course on the 7 Keys to Best Practices in ArchiCAD: Record Your Design Intent.

I’m finding this an enjoyable process, and getting some really nice feedback. One person wrote to me “If you didn’t exist, someone would have to invent you.” I’m so glad to know I’m filling a need, helping people to learn and use ArchiCAD better.

I’m continuing to collect a lot of my old tutorials from around the web and placing a copy of them onto this site. When I compiled the names and links of everything I’ve published to hand to my outsourcing contractor (who is doing the web HTML pages) even I was impressed at the length of the list. And some of these articles are really, really meaty – we’re talking ten pages or more in Microsoft Word – a hefty body of work.

Speaking of hefty bodies, I’m not getting much exercise these days except occasional walks with our dog by the bird sanctuary or along the railroad track near our home. I’m devoting my time to developing the Best Practices Course, where I’ve compiled 9 weeks of training lessons (about 8 hours of video) and 10 recorded webinars (coaching calls totaling more than 17 hours of detailed question and answer demonstrations).

With the help of several course members, we’re developing a comprehensive course index, tabulating all the topics covered along with the time-stamps, to help people get quick access to the juiciest and most relevant tidbits from this smorgasbord of teaching materials.

You’re more than welcome to take a look at the Best Practices Course – Comprehensive Index. You can search it easily to see what’s been explained so far, and of course (pun intended) it will expand as more course materials are added.

The index is open to all, but you have to be a member of the Best Practices Course to watch the actual ArchiCAD training videos. Maybe it will tempt you to join the course when it reopens registration on May 24…



Two New ArchiCAD Training Series

Almost everyone who uses ArchiCAD would like to use it better, however there are frequently obstacles that get in the way of learning. For a long time, the only ArchiCAD training resources were local; some people were luckier than others in terms of proximity to an experienced teacher. Many had to learn on their own, or got a short introductory training and then were left to their own devices.

There are relatively few printed materials available for learning ArchiCAD. The best known one, in my opinion, is Tom Simmons book Step by Step, which unfortunately hasn’t been updated since ArchiCAD 11. It’s still quite usable, since the basics of ArchiCAD have not changed very much over the past several versions, and remains in print and available from Archvista (Tom’s company), CAD Garage and other online vendors.

With the expansion of computer-based video on the desktop as well as internet resources, there are now many more ways to learn ArchiCAD. Graphisoft has created numerous Interactive Training Guides for their BIM Learning Studio; the Virtual Tutor CD and DVD series by Laszlo Nagy in Australia has 8 or more hours of instruction; many people create videos on YouTube and elsewhere that show little pieces of the puzzle; and there are now several websites and blog sites that provide some online ArchiCAD training and commentary.

The Best Practices Course - ArchiCAD TrainingPersonally, I shifted my focus in October 2010 from selling ArchiCAD to training ArchiCAD users, and have been very busy creating lots of ArchiCAD tutorials, both free and paid. The Best Practices Course was launched in December 2010 to an enthusiastic reception, and has developed a loyal membership of over 280 ArchiCAD users. In the past several months, about 20 hours of training videos (including both curriculum-based lessons and recorded coaching calls) have been created for course members, with much more planned in the near future.

Now I am adding two more training resources intended to fill in some gaps.

I’m creating a mini-training course delivered as a series of emails (and also posted here on this website) that teaches some of the 7 Keys to Best Practices for ArchiCAD in small, convenient “bite-size” pieces.

Sign up for my email list and you’ll get this free mini-course on Best Practices in your Inbox over the next few weeks.

The other new ArchiCAD training is the Best Practices QuickStart Course. This will be a series of 6 modules introducing new users to the tools and methodologies of ArchiCAD with a consciousness of the Best Practices that will serve them over the long term. Each hour-long module will be broken up into three or four smaller video segments to make it very easy to digest.

For a limited time, the QuickStart Course will be included as a free bonus with the Best Practices Course, which reopens registration on May 24. I’m working on it right now, and expect to complete it over the next 6 weeks.

ArchiCAD Tutorials

I’m continuing to create free ArchiCAD tutorials for my YouTube channel, a process I greatly enjoy. My latest one is focused on creating “Material Schemes” – sets of material definitions that you can swap in and out on the fly while working alone or with a client.

This question came up recently in one of the coaching calls that I do with members of the Best Practices Course. “How can I save different versions of the materials for a project, so that I can switch quickly between them?”

I came up with a clever way to use Attribute Manager that makes this very easy. It’s so quick, you can swap materials virtually instantly while you sit with your client. Watch this and see how you can do it.


If you like my tutorials, please consider signing up for the only ArchiCAD training focused on the best practices for using the software. The Best Practices Course is a 27 week series of lessons that will help you optimize the way you work with ArchiCAD.

My exclusive interview with archiCADmonkey…

I’m excited to share with you some interesting news: I was interviewed by Apollo Spiliotis, also known as archiCADmonkey. He’s just posted the 42 minute audio clip on his blog at www.archicadmonkey.com.

The interview was pretty wide-ranging, including some bits about the history and evolution of ArchiCAD (you know I go WAY back to almost prehistoric times with ArchiCAD), my thoughts on how to achieve more efficient workflows, my previous career as a professional dancer, and the origins and philosophy of MasterTemplate.

Apollo commented about some of the things he’s learned from my video tutorials, and we discussed my teaching style and approach. In the interview I also talk about the upcoming launch of the Best Practices Course, and the wonders of connecting with people digitally from across the globe.

Apollo is a pretty interesting fellow himself. He’s a young designer based in Greece, but who has lived in the U.S. and the U.K. for much of his life. He’s built up a lively website with articles and podcasts about a lot of technology stuff, mainly built around ArchiCAD and Artlantis but with increasing forays into other realms. HIs podcasts on Youtube and Vimeo have accumulated over 160,000 views, and he’s even created his own iPhone app called archiCADmonkey – search for it on the iTunes store!

His interview with me will be available on his website and also through his archiCADmonkey iPhone app.

Please check out the interview, and tell your friends about it. I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to your comments and feedback.

Bumps in the Road

Oh, this brave new world…

I’ve been learning so much about communicating with the new Web 2.0 and 3.0 tools and social media. It is now possible to connect with people from all over the world based on common interests. Entire new business models are emerging, and I am actively studying and trying to take advantage of some of the new possibilities. It’s very exciting and liberating!

However, sometimes there are bumps in the road. Last week I posted a notice on ArchiCAD-Talk about a free ArchiCAD video tutorial I created that showed how to streamline the layer popup palette. I titled it provocatively Simplify Your Life, in an attempt to garner interest, and to make a metaphor. If you use certain ArchiCAD settings to streamline elements in your work environment, your (work) life will get a little simpler to manage, and by extension, you’ll be more efficient and perhaps a bit less stressed as you try to meet deadlines.

One of the respected members of that forum disagreed with my suggestion, and went beyond a simple statement of his preferences. He wrote “what (large) companies have you implemented this in and whose lives have you simplified? I’d like to hear from them…” I felt challenged, called-out, and responded vigorously. I went too far.

Although there were posts from two others who supported my idea, my reaction – to not only defend what I taught in that tutorial, but to list in great detail my background and accomplishments, along with quotes from ArchiCAD users who liked the video – overstepped the bounds in that forum.

There is a wonderful ethos on ArchiCAD Talk – a sense of community, one that values mutual assistance and active discussion of ideas. There are several hundred users who regularly post, and it is a lively place. When I pushed back in the way that I did, there were some that felt like I was only there to promote my commercial offerings (the Best Practice Course, etc.). Suddenly, I wasn’t seen as a member of the community, but as an interloper. Today I posted an apology, for I have truly learned from this experience.

Live and learn!
That’s my motto for today…