The ArCADia BIM system has a very useful option of comparing documents, which allows anyone to compare two documents from one project and check in a graphical way what has been changed.
It doesn't matter if any of the files was created earlier or later, but it is important which one will be opened first.
You can call up this option in two ways:
1. Open two projects simultaneously and being in one of them, click the Compare documents option which is located on Mange ribbon, Merge group.
2. Open the first document, turn on the Compare documents option and select the second file to be opened from the compare window.
Below is an example of comparing projects:
Open the first project:
Open the second project.
Already at first glance you can tell they differ in terms of stairs. Now you can either analyse all the dimensions and consecutive walls, or turn on the Compare documents option and the program will show you what has been changed, what has been removed and what has been added.
The program compares two building models, and not two documents in which 2D elements or extra views have been added to the building body.
Switch to the first open project and turn on the Compare documents option.
Because I opened the first document earlier, the Select document for comparison field is filled in. If the document was not open, then it would have to be selected with the Select file button
It must be remembered that you can only compare documents from one file, i.e. its different versions. We cannot compare two independent projects with each other.
After clicking OK, you need to wait a bit, because a new project will be created, which must enter data from both documents. The resulting file is read-only, you cannot modify anything in it. You can check the changes on the view or on the list of changes or check in the properties windows. If you save the compared project, it will be opened later as a flattened file; it will not have the shape of a building.
Since this is a new file, you don't have to worry that any of the compared projects will suffer - they are just copied into the new document.
Above you have the created comparison file.
On the screenshot above, you can see in the Project Manager window that the structure of the building has not been changed. If a level was added or removed, or if it was even modified (name or height), then it would be shown in colours. Meanwhile, all names are in grey, so neither the name nor the height of the level have been changed.
There are two columns in the Document comparison tool window on the left side of the screen:
- left - responsible for the data of the first document, i.e. A,
- right - responsible for data from the second document, i.e. B.
There is also the field Present in A and B – unchanged, which shows data that is identical in both documents. By default, this field is disabled, so the project is greyed out as well. If this option is selected, identical elements will be drawn in the project and the names of levels will be displayed in black in the Project Manager window.
To make it clear, let’s compare level 0 first, and then the next ones. Turn off the remaining levels in the Project Manager window and turn on the 3D preview of only one level, to see the changes quicker.
The changed elements are marked in light blue (cyan), elements that are not in the second document but are in the first are in navy blue, and those that are in the second document and not in the first are in red. The assigned colours are default and can of course be changed.
From the screenshot above, you can see that the stairs have been completely changed, i.e. removed and re-introduced as new. In the second document, a fireplace was added, placed between two pillars separating the kitchen from the living room. A few walls have changed; some have been moved (walls from the toilet side) and some have been shortened. The ramp in front of the garage has also been changed.
The list of comparison results available from the window is longer, but not everything can be read from the view itself, because it does not show the ring beams and lintels. Therefore, it is also a good idea to check the list of results.
If you want to check an element from the list, just click on it, and the drawing view will be automatically centred on that element and additionally it will be selected.
After checking the changes, you can switch to the next level and compare the new and modified elements there.
Here you can see many more changed walls, which was forced by the change of stairs. Practically only the outer walls remained in their places. One of them has even been selected, although it has not changed. Sometimes, however, the wall adjoining the unchanged wall divides it in a different place than before, causing the program to see the difference.
You can also see the differences between the projects in the cross-section. The modified and new elements are also marked here.
The differences between the projects, as mentioned before, are only informative and cannot be incorporated into the project. They show the changed and completely different places of both projects, allowing you to quickly compare two documents from the same source.
In practice, it can be useful mainly when working with industry professionals. Let's say we send a project of a small house to a designer. Theoretically, it is finished and there are only technical corrections left, but there is a client who has just changed his mind about the stairs, because after their valuation by the contractor, they turned out to be too expensive and need to be changed.
The specialist is already designing his part, and he has maybe even finished, when it turns out that he has to start all over again, on a new project. In this situation, the comparison tool comes to the rescue. After previewing the changes, it may turn out that they do not apply to the area designed by him and then he can easily finish the industry project on his version. However, if the changes affect parts of it, the projects must be merged so that you do not have to redo them from scratch.
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