Element IDs, Properties and Drawings.

 In BIM, Data, Design, Workflow

Hello everyone,

Today I am going to talk about Element’s IDs and Customised Properties in an ARCHICAD File. Some of you may know already how important these elements are in your model and some of you still don’t see the great potential or maybe don’t know how to use it.

For me, it used to depend on the project. But it is always important to use them properly even if you are working on projects that may not need this type of data as a request. As a good practice, just use them.

In my opinion, the IDs as for many other users I’ve spoken with,  are something to be constantly revised. ARCHICAD assigns IDs in a way that not always follows our intentions. It is always important to set checkpoints during the development of the project and adjust the IDs of the elements.

The ID itself is something that is customisable. Depending on how they are set in our Favourites and how do we use them, it is very common that we end up having a different kind of elements sharing the same IDs and the same type of elements with different IDs. Actually, a great workflow is to check the “Element ID Manager” from time to time.

Here is a link to the Graphisoft’s Help Center where you can learn how to use this tool.

Well, the first thing you need to know is if you want to categorise the different type of elements by ID or you want every element to have a different ID. You can do both actually. I prefer the first approach since every element in ARCHICAD has a Unique ID (Global ID) that is unique in every element. So you can rely on this as the last instance if you need to identify an element from the rest of the model. Global IDs are not beautiful… but they are useful!

I normally try to name with same ID the same type of elements. Or at least what I consider elements of the “same kind” For instance, same windows for me should have the same ID if they are really the same window, same product. This is because later I normally change their ID to the catalogue product name as the project move on. Imagine I have “W 001”, “W 002”, etc… then later they may be called later on “ASS 80 FD.HI” and “ASS 70 FD” for instance.

In my experience, the problem comes when trying to give very Simple IDs to all elements. I’ve always tried to name walls for example as ‘WA XXX” or Slabs “SL XXX”. The reason behind is to be able to keep simple, easy and plain IDs on the Labels of my drawings and on the Schedules. But on the development of a complex project, this may not be possible. You may end up having to give a more complex ID which shows maybe the home story or even some construction feature that gives a bit more of information of what you are talking about.

I ended up calling Walls like “WALL E – BLK – 00 – 01”. “E” stands for Exterior, “BLK” relates to a family of composites, “00” is related to the Home story. May look unnecessary have an ID like this one but it makes more sense later on a more advanced phase of the project also when more parties are involved. Some people don’t like to see “WA 906” or “WA 211” because they don’t see any “criteria” on that name. And here is where the Custom Properties come very handy.

Another good learning about Naming Standards can be found in this great post from Bimblog.house. If you need to follow any specific BIM standards then you should probably name your objects according to those standards. Most of the time I work for private clients so I have in my template my own way of naming.

I mentioned that the reason why I liked simple IDs is because when I have labels in my drawings I try to avoid huge amounts of text that may complicate the understanding of the drawings. Other wise the drawings end up having more text than drawing, well it may happen any way eventually, but I try to keep clear and simple drawings. So instead of try to impose a simple ID to our elements or place complex ID Tags in our drawing why not use a simple Code with Customise properties? Since ARCHICAD 20 came in is even easier..

In this example the ID Tag is showing the ID of the wall. But I want to show something more simple on my drawings. So I create a Property that displays a very simple code that will then lead the Schedule in which I will display all important information of my walls.


First create your property in the property manager.


I created a simple property called “Classification” that later on will be related to my schedule. This property shows a Code that doesn’t make the drawing messy and is clear. When you create the property you select the Data Type called “Option Set” you will be able to provide a list of codes that later on you can choose from. It is a quite organised way of applying the property when you need to use these codes.


When you go into the settings of the “Identification and Property Label” by default it displays the ID of the element.



You can change it to display a Property Value. Then you chose the Property you created.



And there you have a simple and clear Label.



OF course you can do this to display in the drawing whatever kind of Property you create. You can create codes for any kind of value you need.. And the good news is that Schedules can display this new code in all your Items. Later on you even can Map your IFC Properties out of these Customise Properties which is the next level.. But this may be a bit advance for now.

One challenge I’m facing is that I still couldn’t manage to make the Doors, Windows and Skylights show a customise property in their own Marker… But I am still figuring it out how can be done, perhaps through GDL. This is an “ongoing” research.

So the conclusion of this post is that the ID of the elements can be complemented by a simple Set of customise properties in a very easy way. As I said before, BIM is not only for super experts. No need to be afraid of this “Data Revolution”. Every user can use the advantages of the data on their ARCHICAD model.

Finding the best way to display the information you client may need is incredibly powerful. I like clean and good drawings. Even without printing them they are very valuable to communicate information.

I want to give special thanks to Carlos Lopez Figueroa, Jaime Ingram Solís and David Delgado Vendrell for their advice regarding the use of the Element IDs. Is good to know that we are not alone and is always good to ask when you don’t know something or you just want to know other Architects experience..

Hope you find this post useful.

Thanks for reading us!

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