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Thomas Wagensommerer

Better User Interface for Levels


I would like to suggest some improvements to levels. The first and most important thing would be a simple list of levels, displayed in the navigation palette. This list should contain all the information belonging to levels.

In this list you should be able to create, edit, copy, paste, duplicate, delete and replace all levels.

All operations regarding levels should be possible from this list view. Especially copy and paste from one story to another.

There should also be a mechanism to export levels to another file. In this case you would simply go to the level list, copy any desired levels and paste them into the other files level list.

In order to move a level from one story to another you would simply drag it in the list, if desired also duplicating it by option-drag.

If you want to get rid of a level you should be able to delete it from the list. In  that case, there would be a dialog similar to the one, when deleting classes. This dialog should allow you to define a replacement level for the one you are about to delete.

Default Levels are nice to have, but not mandatory, because it would be really easy to create a new level.

Step 1: From the popup menu select "Create New Level"

Step 2: Enter Name and Height (relative to story, layer or absolute height)

Step 3: Drag it to the desired layer or story in the list.

Finished. There is no step 4.

There is a mock-up of the level list to illustrate the concept. (Bear with me there are some typing errors.)


When connecting objects to levels pretty much the same list would be displayed in the form of an pop-up menu.


Edited by Thomas Wagensommerer
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I think Stories+Levels is one of those BIM features that is not so easy to understand and to see what the benefits are.
A bit of a hurdle. I may be wrong but think that many still don't use them.
Which can be related to the current way to use these though.

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I've been trying to figure out levels and stories recently and the interface certain hampers this effort. I think there are a lot of issues including the level type button being in the Design Layer tab, and the confusion of layer types and multiple possible level elevations being in a list that you check off.


I think the graphic in the current UI is useful as a confirmation, but the entry method is flawed. What Thomas shows above is a good start.


To me this is a possible workflow/interface:


1. Define the layer elevations (absolute height) in the deign layer dialogue as normal if desired.

2. Create a list of stories

3. Create a list of levels for each story from a default (user-modifiable) list of level names (without elevations or layer affiliation)

4. In the list of levels assign a relative height of each level to the storey, and then assign an existing layer to each level if appropriate.


The layer elevations will then show up and could be modified in the same interface. The absolute levels would then be shown for each level in the UI graphic of the stories.


I think this would be better than the mish mash of dialogue boxes we have now.

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The current user Interface forces you to set all Level Settings BEFORE you create Stories

and better not to change anything later.

And the Auto Layer creation option is confusing in several ways.

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I think storey and absolute heights could be in the same column as the layout has a bit to much white space. 

Still, certainly an improvement on current. 

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I feel that the Level & Storeys is a good concept that may payoff in the long run, but at the moment is too fussy, complex and lacks an innate usability. If the process isn't good at producing simple buildings, it ain't going to work well for complex ones. The simple North American Split Level home for example is an exercise in mental gymnastics if one uses Storeys. 


I think the process would be greatly aided by hiring an outside design firm who specializes in interface design; at the moment it suffers from the general software flaw of design-by-well-intention-engineers rather than designers. 

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Ah yes Stories, Levels, Layers.  In the past I had attempted to understand and implement the use of stories but with much frustration.  So I continue using the old fashioned way;  good old Layers.  I can see the benefits of stories just don't like the usability (which is lacking).

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If you can ignore that annoying Layer thing mixed into that matter,

Stories and Levels are much easier to understand.

Forget about Layers.


Deactivate all Layer auto-creation checkboxes from Default Levels.

Clean all (<therefore) redundant Level duplicates in Default Levels.

Do a sketch of your building section to think about needed levels and where your Stories will be.


- First set your Default Levels and their heights.

- Then create your Stories at their heights.

(Do an extra one above and below you stories if you will need to "Level above/below" access later)

- Create your Layers manually and link them manually to their Story in settings.

Edited by zoomer

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