CONTRABIM 2020 Work Environment Profiles (AC23)

In this video and blog we'll explore the new CONTRABIM Work Profiles, and discuss how presentation and productivity modes can help optimize your efficiency in ARCHICAD.

Well...2020 is off to a great start. 64GB's of RAM in my Lenovo Xeon Mobile Workstation: FAILED :/

Ugh, waiting on a replacement..




As I'm setting up my backup desktop with ARCHICAD 23, I'm reminded just how important it is to backup your Work Environment! It is one of the few settings that can become stuck in your computer if you don't export it and back it up outside the ARCHICAD PLN.

But as I build my work environment for the second time around, I thought I'd share a blog on the topic, and share my profiles with you as well!

If you want to download and test out my profiles, just complete the form and you'll get an email with download link.



Two Profiles (Presentation + Productivity)

Working in ARCHICAD, I often find myself needing two very different views. One, for optimal productivity, the other, a more streamlined visual view to maximize the working space.

Presentation Profile (Maximized View + Essential Tools)

Productivity Profile (Maximized Toolbars for Optimal Efficiency)

Let's take a closer look at how these profiles are developed and saved off. To do this, we'll start at the top in our settings and work our way down.

The Work Environment Schemes

Saving a Work Environment "Profile", saves a combination of  the Scheme Settings for each of these categories, where you can save individual scheme settings, utilized in different profiles. It's always a good idea to save/export and backup the Work Environment Profile from time to time.

  • User Preference Schemes
  • Company Standard Schemes
  • Shortcut Schemes
  • Tool Schemes
  • Workspace Schemes
  • Command Layout Schemes

Saving (Redefining) Changes!!!

Any time you make a change within a scheme, make sure to save the changes. Do this by clicking on the setting you want to update, and redefine. Any time you make a change, a CUSTOM setting will be created automatically, so make sure to update your own!

User Preference Schemes

These settings largely control the functionality of "behind the scene" features of ARCHICAD, including Dialog Boxes and Palettes, Selections, Tracker Inputs, Guides, Rebuild Options, Publisher Settings and more.

I typically only make a few adjustments from the default settings.

Dialog Boxes

  • Hide Locked Layers in Pop-Up Palettes
    • Saves time assigning model elements to layers...
  • Pet Palette Movement
    • I like setting the pet palette to a location (usually in the middle of the view) so I know exactly where to look for it each time. Often i'll work slightly offset from this location so I predict where I'll be clicking next...
    • Text Palette I always like above the text editor, so it doesn't fall behind the text input box.

Input Constraints and guides

  • Guide Angles: I like 15 degrees for a few additional options...

Model Rebuild - Write Reports (for error checking)

    • If I'm working on cleanup activities, I'll check "Write Report" and set to "Full" so I can pinpoint in the report what objects or errors may be occurring.

More Options

  • Assign New Element ID's (NOT!!!)
    • I always disable this setting, as I don't ever want ARCHICAD changing my ID's.
    • Also, I know some ARCHICAD users who hate having the view previews. Turn it off here if it bothers you. 

  • On-Screen Options
    • Show Contours on Favorites and Library Part Previews
      • This one helps with 3D Previews in Objects and Favorites
      • White colored objects may be tough to see in the preview, adding contours can help!

Company Standard Schemes

  • Data Safety - Safe is usually safe enough...
    • Especially for this older computer, I'll save a backup every 5 to try to save some time...
    • Undo Limit - I like to crank this to 50, 99 is the max

Shortcut Schemes

Right now I'm 100% default here, but in the past I've added a few like SPLIT or COPY MULTIPLES...but for now i'm just using defaults.

For new users, I'd recommend to "Show Shortcut List in Browser", print out a copy, and highlight the ones you'll use regularly.

Makes it a nice quick reference and easier way to learn and memorize.

Tool Schemes

The Toolbox

I always prefer having the entire toolbox turned on, including Ductwork, Pipework and Cabling. I often model MEPS, so for me this is essential to have these tools available!

QUICK TIP!  If you don't have the MEPS Modeling License, you can still reference the MEP library and place elements manually (which works really well). For those who havn't tried it I'd recommend seeing what is possible, just download and install the MEP Modeler tool, so you can get the Toolbox Scheme and MEP Library.

Tool Settings Dialog Boxes

I'll usually leave these as default, but if you plan to use the LISTING and Calculation features of ARCHICAD, then you'll want to turn on the settings.

I prefer the Interactive Schedules for my reporting, so I'll leave these off.


Whenever I select an element in 2D or 3D, I'm doing so to check the settings or make an adjustment. To do this, we look to the Info Box, where all the selected parameters are available to us, without having to get into the tool settings.

I have a rule, that my Info Box follows. This way I have the most important settings at the top, and I never have to scroll to the bottom of this list to see my ID or Properties.

  1. Main
  2. Layer (If Available)
  3. ID & Properties
  4. Classifications

Workspace Schemes

The Workspace is the visibility and arrangement of Palettes and Toolbars. This is one of the most important schemes to setup to optimize your work environment.

If you open all the available toolboxes and palettes, and dock the ones you want, and rearrange the others (undocked), then close them, you can save the exact location where they open everytime.

Just go to the Workspace Scheme, and redefine!


Command Layout Schemes

The command layout includes Toolbar Settings and Menus. I typically leave the Menus alone, but it is worth creating some customized Toolbars to maximize your productivity!


CONTRABIM Tools & Profiles

My new favorite toolbar. Quick access to key palettes, background grids & guides, and the option to change profiles quickly.

  • Toolbox (on/off)
  • Info Box (on/off)
  • Navigator (on/off)
  • Trace & Reference (on/off)
  • Quick Layers (on/off)
  • Grids & Background
  • Grid (on/off)
  • Editing Plan (on/off)
  • Ruler (on/off)
  • Guides (on/off)
  • Marquee
  • True Line Weight (on/off)
  • Work Environment Settings
  • Apply Profile


Several of these functions are buried deep into the file menu's, so I like adding them to a quick access toolbar.

  • IFC Project Manager
  • IFC Translators
  • Export Property Values
  • Import Property Values
  • Show/Hide Bluebeam Connection
  • Edit Elements by Stories
  • Relink  Home Story
  • Label Selected Elements
  • Exterior Dimensioning
  • Interior Dimensioning
  • Element ID Manager
  • Update Zones


CONTRABIM Accessories

  • Roof Wizard
  • Roof Toolbar
  • Roof Accessories
  • Slab Accessories
  • Wall Accessories
  • Room Accessories
  • Modify Room Accessories
  • Create Truss
  • Edit Truss
  • Profiler
  • Grid System

3D Visualization

I've taken out few tools from the 3D visualization toolbar (3D window, orbit & reset roll angle)

 and added in the Creative Imaging_Set Texture Origin/Orientation/Reset functions.

A better use of space!

And finally, once you've customized your Work Profile, EXPORT IT!!!



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