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We shall now explore the means to manage project diversity and variants in arKItect. A variant is a subpart of the project; it represents a reduced version of the project or a selection of object instances. Each variant should work independently from the rest of the variants.

You can close the Palette panel, as it is no longer needed. The main tools needed in this section are the Options Manager, the Variants Manager and the Object Options Window. The Options Manager and the Variants Manager can be accessed via Manage Options, Variants, Phases Panel of the Configuration Management Category. They are displayed as two tabs in the same panel window. Click on Options Manager, Variants Manager and Variants Summary buttons to display the corresponding panels.

Let us begin by exploring the existing variants. The Variants drop-down list in Navigation Panel of the Home Category displays the name of the active variant; you can see that no variant has been selected for the moment. Click on the arrowhead to see the list of variants and select the first variant, Automatic drip from the list. There are at the moment no changes in the current diagram view, meaning that all the displayed objects are relevant to the Automatic drip variant.

Now, select the Espresso machine variant. You can see that the Thermal flow object disappears from view: it is not a part of the Espresso machine variant. If you go inside the Heating & transfer system, you can see that only the High pressure heating system is present.

Now go to the last variant, Basic single serve. Instead of High pressure heating system, Low pressure heating system appears in the diagram; however, when you go up one hierarchical level, the Coffee Machine diagram view resembles that of the Espresso machine (the Thermal flow of Automatic drip is not visible).

This demonstration shows that object instances can be filtered from view using the arKItect variant management tools. In this way, it is for instance possible to model several alternative technical solutions (such as High pressure heating system and Low pressure heating system) simultaneously. Afterwards, only the relevant technical solution needs to be displayed for a given variant and the incompatible options can be hidden from view.

The variants management is in practice implemented via two different tools: variants and options. Projects have variants while objects have options. Basically, a variant filters branches of objects in function of the options chosen for object filters. It is thus first necessary to define options before variants can be configured. Afterwards, object instances need to be configured to make the filtering active.

The difference and interlinkages of these components are best explained via a practical example; let us thus define a new variant for the project.

The first step is to go to the Options Manager window.

Several option categories have been defined in the project, namely:

  • Additional filter
  • Coffee refilling
  • Heating principle
  • Keep coffee hot

Under these option category nodes you can see the individual options for each category; for instance, the coffee refilling can be done either in the form of Capsules, Ground coffee or Pods. (Click on the category nodes to see the options underneath.)

Let us now add a new option category: right-click on the Options node and choose Add Option Category. Name this new category Store coffee. Now let us add options to this category. Right-click on Store coffee and choose Add Option. Add two options and name them No storage and Storage.

Now that we have defined our options, we can go to the Variants Management tab. (Click on the Variants Manager tab at bottom of the panel window.)

We can see the three existing variants listed in the window. In addition, when the variant nodes are opened, the option categories and options linked to each variant are displayed using a system of check-boxes. For instance, the Automatic drip is the only variant linked to the Heating option.

As we only just added the Store coffee option category, no variant has yet been linked to this category. Link Automatic drip to the Storage option and the other two variants to the No storage option by checking the corresponding check-boxes.

Let us also define an entirely now variant: right-click on the Variants node and choose Add Variant from the context menu. Name this variant Moka pot. Check the options linked to this variant, namely:

  • Metal filter
  • Ground coffee
  • Low pressure heating system
  • No heating
  • Storage

We have now created a new variant and configured it. In order to display the objects related to this variant, go to the Variants drop-down list in the Navigation Panel of the Home Category and choose Moka pot from the variants list and set the focus on the Coffee Maker object. You can use the Variants Summary panel (Ctrl+Shift+S shortcut) to visualize at a glance the options linked to a given variant.

Some of the objects of the project have already been configured for previously defined options. For instance, we see no thermal flow from the Heating & transfer system to the Storage system as this has been linked to the Heating option.

In order to access the Object option configuration use Object Options button in the Object Panel of the Home Category (or Ctrl+Shift+O shortcut) The Options panel is now displayed at the right-hand side of the user interface.

Click on the Storage system object: the Option panel now displays the name of the object and the list of option categories and option. In order to link this object to the Storage option, check the corresponding check-box in the Option panel. The other options are not relevant for this object and they do not thus need to be touched.

Now, if you change the variant to Basic single serve or Espresso machine you can see that the Storage system is no longer visible for these variants. This is because we created two new options, Storage and No storage, and both these variants are linked to the No storage option. On the other hand, this subsystem is visible for Automatic drip as this variant is linked to Storage.

However, there is still a problem in the Basic single serve and Espresso machine variants: the Poured coffee (matter) and Store coffee (requirement) flows should also be hidden from view. Go to the Options of the flows and link them to the Storage option.

After refreshing the view (F5), these flows should now disappear from view.

You can also explore the configurations of other objects and flows. Return first to the no Variant selected state via the Variants drop down list in the Navigation Panel of the Home Category in order to access all the objects of the projection. For instance, the components of the Brewing and filtering system are each linked to different options. You can see here that an object can be linked to more than one option at once: for instance, the Capsule component is linked to both No filter and Capsule options.

There are also object instances that are not linked to any option such as Water reservoir inside the Coffee Maker system. This container is thus displayed for every variant as no variant filtering mechanism is active.


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