Large Project File Setup


If your project comprises several highly detailed and large buildings with a lot of repetitive elements (e.g. Typical floors, apartments, bathrooms, …) the following file structure is recommended:

This breaks the file up into smaller pieces that are easier to manage.


Elements File

An Elements File is a separate ARCHICAD file that is the source of your Hotlinks and thus the file where you can publish MOD hotlink files. Every group of elements to be exported as a hotlink has its own dedicated storey You can have several Elements Files, however for simplicity limit the number of files you create as much as possible.

Only draw in this file what you’d otherwise have to draw multiple times in the Main File. In case of an apartment type this would include furniture, internal walls, bathrooms, risers, etc.

Exclude everything that you need to control in the Main File, e.g. Zones, slabs, structure, party walls, facades, etc.


CAUTION > When you add stories to the elements file they ALWAYS have to be created on top of existing stories to preserve the Story Index Numbers. This is because this number is maintained in the MOD file and therefore also in the Hotlink in your main file. If this number changes you will have to re-link the hotlink as it otherwise will not update.Unless you keep a reservation range of stories for a specific purpose (e.g. 1 bedroom apartment types on stories 01 to 10, 2 bedroom on stories 11 to 20, etc) there will not be much logic in the stories as displayed in the Navigator’s Project Map.Use Saved Views and View Map Folders to organise the elements file and facilitate navigation.

CAUTION > Story Naming: when saving views in the Elements File omit the Story Index Number from the name of the Saved View, i.e. Instead of “1. 1Bed_Type01” use only “1Bed_Type01”. This keeps your Hotlink Manager List organised by name instead of the unrelated Story Index Number.

TIPIn the elements file pay attention to where the ARCHICAD origin is for every created module – ideally it should consistently be at the bottom right corner (x=0, y=0). In your Main File all placed instances of the hotlinked MOD will grow, rotate and mirror around this point.



MOD files are never to be edited directly. They should be regarded as a passive intermediate between Elements and Main File.


The reason for using MOD files are as follows:

1. Small file size updates quickly.

2. Only updates when necessary. In contrast to when you hotlink to a story of a live file, whenever the file is saved, the Hotlink Manager will think your hotlink needs to be updated. That also makes it easier to track changes.

3. Easy to keep a backup of iterations by having the file backup up via your IT procedure.


Main File

The Main File contains every element you need control over (e.g. Structural or facade elements) and does not qualify (by having enough repetition) to be separated into the Elements File. Of course it does also contains relevant hotlinks.



PMK’s are a leftover from earlier versions of ARCHICAD where the program was split into a modelling and a layout-ing application (previously known as Plotmaker). PMK’s are scaleable and publishable vector based 2D drawings (similar to PDF) but native to ARCHICAD. They can’t be edited and like the MOD file act only as a passive intermediate between two live files.


PMK’s can be placed on layouts just like regular Saved Views. The same advantages apply as listed under the MOD file paragraph.


TIPYou may choose to save PMKs from your DA model, to facilitate a potential redraw (in case your DA file has gotten too messy) when starting Construction Documentation – reference them into a new file and use trace reference to display them where required.


Layout File

As the layout component can take up a very large part of your project’s overall file size it can be worthwhile to split it into a separate file. Especially if your computer has limited RAM installed or has an older processor. An added benefit if you are working in teams is that it prevents non qualified team members from editing, updating or publishing layouts as they would have to deliberately open the layout file.


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