Migrating PlotMaker Layout Books to ARCHICAD 21

(Migrate from ARCHICAD 8.1/9 and PlotMaker 8.1/9)

This chapter contains detailed information about how to migrate your ARCHICAD 8.1 or ARCHICAD 9 project files and PlotMaker 8.1 or PlotMaker 9 Layout Books into ARCHICAD 21.

Note: In this description, version “9” should be understood as either version 8.1 or version 9.

In version 9, the Project Model is always located in a PLN file, and the layouts in an LBK (Layout Book) file. ARCHICAD 21 (and every ARCHICAD version from 10 up) contains both Model Views and Layouts in an integrated environment in a single file.

Since ARCHICAD 21 Projects can be divided among multiple ARCHICAD PLN files, there are two basic ways to migrate your ARCHICAD 9 Projects and PlotMaker 9 Layout Books to ARCHICAD 21:

1.Create Two Separate Files in ARCHICAD 21: The ARCHICAD 9 Project file should be placed into its own Project File in ARCHICAD 21 (this file would contain only Model Views, plus the default Layout Book), and the PlotMaker 9 Layout Book should be placed into a second, separate Project File in ARCHICAD 21 (this file would contain all Layouts with no Model information).

2.Create a Single File in ARCHICAD 21: If the Project is small enough, both the ARCHICAD 9 Project File (PLN) and the PlotMaker 9 Layout Book (LBK) can be merged into a single file in ARCHICAD 21.

The following sections outline how to carry out both options.

Option 1: Create Two Separate Files in ARCHICAD 21

1.To migrate the ARCHICAD 9 Project File, simply open the PLN file in ARCHICAD 21 and save it. Although there are several settings which can affect how elements are displayed on the Floor Plan, these are all automatically set during the conversion so that the same look is preserved in ARCHICAD as far as possible. Because of new settings in ARCHICAD 21, it is possible that some elements will look slightly different than they did in ARCHICAD 9.

For detailed information, see Converting Model Views to AC21: Floor Plan Display Issues for a detailed list.

2.To migrate the PlotMaker 9 Layout Book, use the File > Open command. In the Dialog, select PlotMaker Layout Book (*.lbk) as File Type and select the desired LBK file. Click the Open button to start opening it.


3.Since Title Types of PlotMaker 9 have become GDL Objects in ARCHICAD 21, the program will convert all Title Types defined in the Layout Book File into Library Objects (GSM Files). ARCHICAD will place these created Library Parts into its Embedded Library; they will be listed in the Library Manager.

Please note that these generated Title Types have become non-parametric GDL Objects in ARCHICAD 21, displaying the same information as the source Title Type in PlotMaker 9. However, if you used default Title Types in PlotMaker 9, you will find the counterparts of these in the ARCHICAD 21 Library and you may change the generated Title Types into parametric ones shipped with ARCHICAD 21.

4.When ARCHICAD is finished converting the Layout Book data, an Information Dialog will alert you to data that could not be converted because of essential differences between the features of ARCHICAD 21 and PlotMaker 9. For more detailed information, press Show Detailed Report in Browser to launch your default web browser containing a fuller explanation of what could not be converted and why, plus what you can do about it.


For example, in PlotMaker 9, you could define custom line weights for each individual drawing element (e.g. Lines, Fills, etc.). In ARCHICAD 21, you can define line weights only for Pens, and all elements using a certain Pen will be drawn using the line weight defined for that Pen. Because of this difference, specific line weights defined in PlotMaker 9 will be converted back to their line weights as specified in the Pens & Colors Dialog of ARCHICAD 21.

Please see Conversion Warnings for a detailed list of conversion warnings.

5.Now your new ARCHICAD 21 Documentation Project File (a file containing only Layout Book information) is ready for use. One Story will be created as default, but no model data will exist in any Model Views. All Layouts will be displayed in the Navigator’s Layout Book.

Option 2: Create Single File in ARCHICAD 21

Use this option for relatively small projects, to merge both the Layout Book from PlotMaker and Project File from ARCHICAD 9 into a single project file in ARCHICAD 21.

When creating a single PLN file in ARCHICAD 21, you will merge Layout Data into a Project File. In ARCHICAD 21, every Project File must contain both Model Views and a Layout Book as default. This means that the PLN file into which Layout Book data is merged will already contain one or more Layouts, with their own attributes and settings. For this reason, the procedure follows the usual rules of merging, which means that if a particular setting already exists in the receiving file, existing data are used, and are not overwritten by merged data. Therefore, when merging Layout Book data into a PLN file, the following settings of the Layout Book are not merged:

Book settings

Project Info

Grid settings

Default Master Layout setting

Also, Layout-specific settings in the Work Environment of ARCHICAD 21 will not be modified by data of the imported Layout Book.

The program will compare the names of the Attributes and Master Layouts of the merged file and the host ARCHICAD 21 file.

Please note that the program compares only the names (but not content or definition) when checking for matching Attributes/Master Layouts.

If the Attribute or Master Layout names in both files are identical, they will be considered identical by the program, and the existing files in ARCHICAD 21, along with their settings, will be kept.

The structure of the merged Layout Book (its Layouts, Subsets, Master Layouts and placed Drawings) is inserted into the existing Layout Book structure of the ARCHICAD 21 PLN file.

Follow these steps:

1.Open the PlotMaker 9 LBK file in ARCHICAD 21 and save it as an AC 21 PLN file.

2.Open the ARCHICAD 9 PLN file in ARCHICAD 21 and save it as another AC 21 PLN file.

You now have two new ARCHICAD 21 files; these two must now be merged.

3.In the latter active Project File (the one containing model data), use the File > Interoperability > Merge command to merge data from the other saved ARCHICAD 21 file (the one containing Layout Book data). In the appearing dialog box, choose Layout Book to merge Layout Book data of the file into your active Project File. Click the Merge button.


If you open the Organizer from the Navigator, you will see that all Layout Book data has now been merged into the Project File.


Note: You should follow the route specified in this guide, that is, merge the PLN File containing Layout Book data into the PLN File containing Model data, and not the other way around. This is because of the rules of merging, and because Views and certain other data would not come through if you merged the Model data into the file containing Layout Book data.

In case you do not wish to merge the Layout Book in its entirety, only some of its Layouts, do the following:

1.Open the ARCHICAD 21 PLN File containing the Model data.

2.Open the ARCHICAD 21 PLN File containing the Layout Book data.

3.In the PLN file containing Model data, open the Organizer in such a way that you see the Layout Book of both files. In the illustration below, the PLN File containing the Model data is on the right.


4.Using drag-and-drop, move the desired Layouts from the Layout Book PLN file (on the left) into the Model PLN file (on the right).

If you have Drawings placed into the Layout Book PLN which point to the Model PLN as their source, then the Drawing references will automatically switch from external file references to internal references after the Layouts are merged.

Note: Such drawing links will not be redefined as internal references if the name of the source project file has changed since the drawings were placed. In this case, you should select all such drawings in the Drawing Manager and use the Link To button to re-link these Drawings to their source PLN (the renamed project file).

Conversion Warnings

When you migrate a PlotMaker 9 Layout Book file, ARCHICAD 21 may warn you of some project elements that will not be reproduced in ARCHICAD 21, due to changed feature sets.

The following is a list of all warnings that may be displayed by the program during conversion. The warnings displayed always apply to the file currently being converted.

1.Printing/Plotting Publisher sets should be reviewed
Some Print/Plot Options in PlotMaker 9 have no equivalent in ARCHICAD, so these settings need reviewing before Printing/Plotting them.

2.Original output color of Elements drawn or pasted into Layouts has been restored
In PlotMaker 9, in the Book Settings Dialog box, output color of elements on Layouts may be set to grayscale or black. This option has no equivalent in ARCHICAD, so elements will appear in their original color.

3.Fill-related display and output options could not be converted
In PlotMaker 9 you may apply global settings to Fills. These options have no equivalent in ARCHICAD, so they cannot be converted. Therefore, all fills are displayed as defined in the Fill Settings Dialog Box.

4.OLE Drawings could not be converted 
ARCHICAD does not support OLE technology, so OLE drawings within the LBK file cannot be converted properly. (If the OLE drawing was embedded in the LBK file, with no live link to the source application, you will see the drawing, but you cannot update it.) You can identify OLE drawings using the Drawing Manager palette: look for the OLE icon in the Type column. It is recommended to replace these OLE Drawings with PDF files in ARCHICAD 21.

5.Edited drawing Layers are restored
In PlotMaker you could modify the show/hide status of Drawing Layers. This option does not exist in ARCHICAD, so these drawing Layers will be displayed according to their original show/hide status.

6.Text and Markers size changes
In PlotMaker, you could set the size of Texts and Markers to retain their original size even after the Output Scale was modified. (You checked the Fix Size option for Text and Markers in the Drawing Settings dialog box.) This option does not exist in ARCHICAD, so Text and Markers will be resized according to the scale change, just like any other element in the drawing.

7.Custom line weight is restored to pen line weight
In PlotMaker you could assign a custom line weight to lines, circles and splines. In this case the color of the line came from the assigned pen, but the weight was custom set in the element’s settings dialog box. This option does not exist in ARCHICAD, so the line weights of lines, circles or splines will be set to values specified in the Pens & Colors Dialog.

Conversion of Other Attributes/Settings

Layers, Pens, Fills: The ARCHICAD 21 PLN file will inherit the Layers of the LBK Layout Book. The PlotMaker Layer will be renamed to ARCHICAD Layer. Pens and Fills come through unaltered.

Autotext items: All Autotext entries are converted. The name of some of these items will change. The following Autotext items (located in PlotMaker 9’s Book Info Dialog) are now found in the Project Info Dialog of ARCHICAD 21:


Project Name




Postal Code


Project Number


Draftsman (CAD Technician in ARCHICAD 21)

Project Status

Date of Issue




The following Autotext items are also converted. They are available in ARCHICAD 21 while editing a Text Block in either a Model View or on a Layout. Some names have changed. Some no longer apply, so these are converted into their closest match:

Layout Name

Layout Number (Layout ID in ARCHICAD 21)

Subset Name

Subset Number (Subset ID in ARCHICAD 21)

Page Number (Layout Number in ARCHICAD 21)

Number of Pages (Number of Layouts in ARCHICAD 21)

Book Name (File Name in ARCHICAD 21)

Book Path (File Path in ARCHICAD 21)

Drawing Name

Drawing Name with Extension (Drawing Name in ARCHICAD 21)

Drawing Number (Drawing ID in ARCHICAD 21)

Drawing Path (File Path in ARCHICAD 21)

Drawing Scale (Original Scale in ARCHICAD 21)

Output Scale (Drawing Scale in ARCHICAD 21)

AC File Name (File Name in ARCHICAD 21)

AC File Path (File Path in ARCHICAD 21)

Last saved at

Last saved by

Long Date

Short Date


Master Layout: Layout size is defined differently in ARCHICAD 21. In PlotMaker 9 and earlier versions, the size of the Layout means the printable area of the page (the full size of the paper minus margins on all four sides). In ARCHICAD 21, the size of a Layout means the full size of the paper. This change does not affect either the full size of the Layout (printable area + Margins on all four sides) or the sizes of the printable area or any of the Margins. They will be the same as in previous versions; only the names have changed to better approximate real-world practice, where a Layout is the whole paper used for printing/plotting. So Master Layout sizes are converted accordingly. The Grid for Drawing Numbering and Master Layout default come through unaltered.

Layout settings: comes through unaltered.

Subset settings: comes through unaltered.

Book settings: comes through unaltered, except Output Color settings, which does not come through (no equivalent in ARCHICAD 21 - see Warning 2 above).

Drawing settings: all settings come through (Title is converted into GDL Object), except for Attributes Update Rules, which have no equivalent in ARCHICAD 21. Layer changes are not carried through (see Warning 5 above). If the Text and Markers option in PlotMaker has been set to Fix Size, Warning 6 above is displayed. If a placed Drawing had its own Pen Set, the same Pen Set will be created in ARCHICAD 21 and the Drawing will continue using it. The Output Scale setting will be converted into Drawing Scale.

Note: In ARCHICAD 21, Drawing Scale is the scale of the Drawing on the Layout, which will be output, while “Original Scale” is that of the Drawing’s source view.

If several Drawings in PlotMaker 9 used the same Pen Set, ARCHICAD 21 will create only one Pen Set for all the Drawings. This Pen Set will have the same name as the first converted Drawing which uses this Pen Set, but all the converted Drawings which used it in PlotMaker 9 will use it in ARCHICAD 21.

Grids: come through unaltered.

Project Preferences: Working Units, Mouse Constraints, Publisher preferences, Uniform Pens and Colors setting, Miscellaneous settings come through. (Since there is no Uniform Pens and Color settings checkbox in ARCHICAD 21, this means in effect that all Drawings will refer to the same Pen Set). If cache data was stored in the Layout File in PlotMaker 9 (the option is in Preferences > Cache Folder), the Drawings will be stored in the Project File in ARCHICAD 21 (see Drawings placed on Layout below). Custom line weights do not come through (no equivalent in ARCHICAD 21 - see Warning 7 above).

Drawings placed on Layouts: In PlotMaker 9, Project links are saved with the Layout Book File (Preferences > Cache Folder > Include Cache in Layout Book). By default, external links (e.g. PMK files, bitmap files) are not saved with the Layout Book File.

If a Drawing was saved with the Layout in PlotMaker 9 (Include all linked files checkbox of the Save as Dialog in PlotMaker 9 is checked), the Drawing generated from it in ARCHICAD 21 will be set to be a manual-update Drawing, and will be saved with the ARCHICAD 21 Project File (the Store Drawing in the Project file checkbox will be checked in the Drawing Settings Dialog).

If a Drawing was not saved with the Layout in PlotMaker 9 (Include all linked files checkbox of the Save as Dialog in PlotMaker 9 is not checked), the Drawing generated from it in ARCHICAD 21 will be set to be an auto-update Drawing, and will not be saved with the ARCHICAD 21 Project File (the Store Drawing in the Project file checkbox will not be checked in the Drawing Settings Dialog).

Drawing Status

It is recommended that you perform an update of all placed Drawings after opening or merging a PlotMaker 9 LBK file in ARCHICAD 21.

Background: The modification status checking of Drawings is significantly enhanced in ARCHICAD 21, compared to PlotMaker 9. In PlotMaker 9, the program monitored the last modification date of the Drawings’ source files. If the last modification date of the file had changed, the program assumed that all Drawings coming from that file would need updating.

In contrast, ARCHICAD 21 can monitor the modification status of each Drawing with a PLN source separately.

When opening a PlotMaker 9 LBK file in ARCHICAD 21, a transitional state exists: the LBK file does not contain all information necessary for ARCHICAD 21 to decide the modification status of Drawings in the Layout Book file. (This transition state can cause Drawings with “OK” status in PlotMaker to have “Modified” status in ARCHICAD.)

In this case, the status checking will be performed according to the old method (which assumes all drawings from a modified PLN source require updating). Only after the first update performed in ARCHICAD 21 will the status checking mechanism run on the drawing level instead of the file level.

Drawing Name and Drawing ID

Not all Drawing Names and Drawing IDs coming from a PlotMaker 9 LBK file will have their exact equivalent when opened in ARCHICAD 21. Therefore it is recommended to review Drawing Names and Drawing IDs to make sure everything came through correctly.

For checking Drawing Names/IDs and updating Drawings, it is highly recommended to use the Drawing Manager of ARCHICAD 21, which has many customizable columns listing information about Drawings.

Background: In PlotMaker 9, the Drawing Name was always the same as the name of the View from which it was created. In ARCHICAD 21, a View Name consists of two parts: View Name and View ID. For this reason, Drawing Name can be either “View Name” or “View Name + View ID” (or Custom).

In PlotMaker 9, the value of Drawing ID (which was called Drawing Number in PlotMaker 9), could come from the Layout or from the ARCHICAD Viewpoint, or it could be set to a custom value. In ARCHICAD 21, the ARCHICAD Viewpoint option is not available. Instead, the View ID value is used.

Library Objects

When merging an LBK file into ARCHICAD 21, all elements placed on Layouts, including library parts, are merged. However, the libraries used by the merged project are not automatically loaded into the ARCHICAD 21 project. Thus, if after a merge you find that any library parts (such as Drawing Titles) are missing, you should load any missing libraries to resolve the problem.

Converting Model Views to AC21: Floor Plan Display Issues

ARCHICAD 21 offers more sophisticated Display Options for elements than ARCHICAD 9, but predefined settings will ensure that files migrated from ARCHICAD 9 will have compatible displays in ARCHICAD 21.

While display options have changed since ARCHICAD 9 (they are now called Model View Options and (for Fills) Graphic Override Rules), the following information should help you recreate the same display in ARCHICAD 21 for migrated projects.

Door/Window Display Options

In ARCHICAD 21, options for Doors and Windows are set separately in Document > Model View > Model View Options, Options for Construction Elements Panel, giving you more flexibility in displaying model views:

If you choose the Show On Plans radio button, but leave the with Markers checkbox unchecked, it will achieve the same result as the Show on Plans option in ARCHICAD 9.

If you choose the Show On Plans radio button, and check the with Markers checkbox, it will achieve the same result as the Show with Dim. option in ARCHICAD 9.

If you choose the Show Opening Only radio button, but leave the with Contours checkbox unchecked, it will achieve the same result as the Hide on Plan options in ARCHICAD 9.

If you choose the Show Opening Only radio button, and check the with Contours checkbox, it will achieve the same result as the Reflected Ceiling options in ARCHICAD  9.

The Hide on Floor Plan radio button is a new choice: it means that Doors/Windows will not be shown on the Floor Plan at all, just as if there were no Doors/Windows in Walls. In Section, Elevation, and Interior Elevation, the Door/Window hole will be visible.

Fill-Related Overrides

Set Fill-related overrides at Document > Graphic Overrides > Graphic Override Rules.

Regarding the display of Cut Fills, you will notice that there is no option to set Bitmap Patterns. A bitmap display is available for on-screen display only: Bitmap or Vectorial is set globally using the Vectorial Hatching option at View > On-Screen View Options.

Your project will be automatically migrated to use predefined Graphic Override Rules which largely replicate your Fill settings in ARCHICAD 9.

To adjust these settings, note the following:

For Fill Type, Fill Pen, Fill Background Pen: Click one or more icons to the right of the control to choose which category (Drafting Fill, Cover Fill, Cut Fill) should be affected by the override.


If Cut Fills are chosen for override:

Check Show Skin Separators to achieve the same result as the Separators Only option in ARCHICAD 9.

Use Cover Fills - Solid Foreground to achieve the same result as the Solid w/o Separation Lines option in ARCHICAD 9.

If the Drafting Fills category is enabled:

Use All Drafting Fills - Solid to achieve the same result as the Solid option in ARCHICAD 9.

If the Cover Fills category is enabled:

Use All Cover Fills - Solid Foreground to replicate the Solid option in ARCHICAD 9.

To adjust Zone Fill display, review the predefined Graphic Override Rules for Zone Fills at Document > Graphic Overrides > Graphic Override Rules.

All Zone Fills - Transparent: This replicates the None option in ARCHICAD 9.

All Zone Fills - Solid Category: This replicates the Category Color option in ARCHICAD 9.

All Zone Fills - Solid Background: This replicates the Solid Background Colored Fill option in ARCHICAD 9.

All Zone Fills - Category Background: This replicates the Fill Pattern on Category option in ARCHICAD 9.

All Zone Fills - No Background: This replicates the Fill Pattern Only option in ARCHICAD 9.