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Week #8 – ArchiCAD’s Structure: The Navigator, Part 1
8-1. The Project Map and the View Map

ArchiCAD Training (Best Practices Lesson 8-1)

This 20 minute lesson examines the difference between the Project Map and the View Map, the first two icons in the Navigator palette. Users often are unclear and ask me “which one should I work in?” I explain the unique functions of each, and make recommendations for when you should use each one.

The Project Map contains all the Viewpoints in the project, organized into categories or folders such as Stories, Sections, Elevations, Interior Elevations, Worksheets, Details, etc. Note that over the past few years, these structural categories have expanded: for example, Sections and Elevations used to share the same tool and the same group in the Project Map, but as of ArchiCAD 12 now have separate tools and folders.

The View Map contains references to viewpoints from the Project Map, but each one is defined with context settings such as the layer combination, scale, model view options, etc. Each story in the Project Map will be represented by multiple Views in the View Map to set up Floor Plan, Reflected Ceiling Plan, Electrical Plan, and other variations. On the other hand, for several of the categories, there may only be one View for each Viewpoint – for example, each Section viewpoint will only have one View, with specific layers, scale and model view options.

I recommend spending most of your time working on your project using the Views in the View Map, since each time you activate a View you get a reliable result with the viewpoint in the proper context (layers, model view options, etc.). Switch to the Project Map only for specific purposes, such as creating a New Independent Worksheet (or Detail), or jumping from story to story with the current layer settings.

In addition to the reliability and predictability of Views, the View Map has one other major benefit – it can be organized hierarchically in whatever ways you find useful. This allows you to pack a lot of different Views of the project into a structure that can expand as needed but remain compact, legible and easy to navigate.

Please post your comments and questions below.


Thank you for visiting the Best Practices Course website. The video lessons are available for members only. If you are an active member and would like to watch the ArchiCAD training video on this page, please login to the website. If you are not currently a member, please visit the following pages for more information and to sign up for the Best Practices Course, the QuickStart Course or for the Best Practices ArchiCAD Coaching Program. Eric Bobrow, Creator of the Best Practices Course

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ArchiCAD Training: The Project Map and the View Map

Let us know how you feel... (7 comments so far)

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  1. ZhenLiu
    10 months ago

    Hi Eric,

    Thank you for creating this tutorial, I’ve been struggling with the concept of project map and view map since the starting point. Perhaps I’ve been using AutoCAD for too long and I’m used to its format. If people don’t need to use the project map often, why don’t ArchiCAD just combine the two maps somehow to avoid the confusion? sorry if this is a stupid question

    • Eric Bobrow
      9 months ago

      Zhen –
      Please watch the tutorial again. The Project Map is absolutely necessary, since it defines Viewpoints on the project. The View Map elaborates further on these Viewpoints, by recording one or more different versions of these base viewpoints. Each View ALWAYS refers to a viewpoint, and also records the settings or context or style of that view to make a reliable consistent way of looking at it. Some viewpoints (such as the stories) commonly have multiple views associated with them; for example, floor plan, electrical plan, reflected ceiling plan, structural plan, enlarged plan, etc. Other viewpoints (such as sections, elevations, details, interior elevations, etc.) often have only one View, with the appropriate layer combination, model view option, scale, etc.
      The Project Map and View Map are confusing, but absolutely critical to the usage of ArchiCAD. I don’t see how one can combine them, since one is based upon the other.

  2. LilianSeow
    Lilian Seow
    4 years ago

    So, what you say the View Map is what you will see in a drawing sheet for print ?

    • Eric
      4 years ago

      Yes, in general, that’s a good way to think about the Views in the View Map. Whenever you are working on actual drawings that will be printed, there should be a View that defines the context for that drawing – the layers, model view options, scale, etc.

      What you see onscreen will give you a good idea of how things will print. The only thing typically changed in the Drawing on the Layout is to swap out the colorful pens that are useful during design and drafting for a Pen Set that has the main structural information in a solid black (maintaining the line weights).

      Of course, there are other uses for Views – some of these are set up for tasks during the modeling process, in which particular element types are showing that may not be seen in drawings (such as certain Solid Element Operators used to “carve” the model”), and for other contexts that are useful for design, drafting or for creating details.

      The large majority of Views in a project are likely to be ones that will be used to create Drawings on layout sheets; for these Views, your statement / question is quite correct.


      • Hagit Popper
        3 years ago

        Eric, every time I watch your lectures I learn something new.
        That makes me so very grateful and appreciative of your tutorials.
        I have a major dilema though. My saved files are gone missing.
        I have found some saved in another project file (in the “finder”), True another instance of ArchiCad was open on my computer, with the other project working…
        BUT, a saved file with a name to recognise it was created : 1st option as an addition to the name. It is disappeared. Can you suggest a solution? Many thanks
        Hagit Popper

        • Eric Bobrow
          3 years ago

          Hagit –
          I appreciate your kind words about my lectures.
          I am not sure about your current question or problem. When you save a project, ArchiCAD will create or update a file on your hard drive. If you pay attention to the name of the file and where you are saving it (which folder), you can always find it again. Be careful that you are using the File menu > Save command, or IF you use File menu > Save As – that you carefully choose to save as PLN (a standard ArchiCAD project file) rather than any other format (which is available when you do a “Save As…”).
          In the Finder, you can browse for files and use the File menu > Find command (or Command-F) to search for files by name or by other criteria such as the date modified.

  3. ChristopherEllis
    4 years ago


    Very nice overview of the strengths and weaknesses of each. I have been using the project map forever by just setting the layers I wanted, “saving current view” and placing on a layout. A new world has opened up !