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Construction Collaboration: PDF Secrets Part 3 – Large Format Drawings and Markups July 28, 2011

Posted by carolhagen in CAD, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging.
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Collaboration on large format construction drawings often has the expectation that all the team players have the same tools. Architects and engineers spend countless hours in AutoCad then share their drawings with the General Contractor. Most smaller GCs have a license of AutoCad just to open these files and make a few annotations. But not everyone on the construction team is fluent in AutoCad nor has a licensed copy. To share details and collaborate the next best thing is make a PDF, but depending upon the PDF software, the drawings may not turn out as detailed as the designer created them. This is a sore spot for Architects and Engineers who are detail oriented. The more you zoom in, the more pixelated they may become. This happens because these PDF programs are not designed to generate Vector PDFs. Bluebeam PDF Revu CAD to the rescue! Cad Drawing conversion to PDF Comparison: Bluebeam vs Competition

Large Format drawings may have sweeping arcs that look like straight lines strung together, not in Bluebeam. The Vector graphics are retained even when you decide to reduce the size of the PDF for emailing. You don’t have to tolerate mediocre PDF conversion any longer!

For AutoCad enthusiasts, Bluebeam speaks your language with the same quick keys for inserting line, text boxes, etc you’re learning curve will be a breeze. Markups are also a snap as you can create tool sets during one markup session, save them and use them again later. A square “cloud” can be colored yellow with a 50% opacity and used over and over again, even changing the shape without having to create it from scratch.

For the non AutoCad user, the multi-click navigation to get to add a text box is eliminated, even if you aren’t familiar with Quick key shortcuts. Bluebeam designed PDF Revu with easy navigation tool bars that are customizable so you can have the cloud, Text box, line, arc, or call out handy. Put them where you want them, or surround the workspace if you like with nav buttons on the top, right or bottom.

Next week I’ll showcase the AutoCad export functions which add flexibility and save time in the the PDF creation process. If you want to experience Bluebeam for yourself, here’s the 30 day trial option.

Have questions? I’m here, yes, to answer Bluebeam questions for you in the AEC industry. If you try the 30 day trial Leave me a commment on your experience.

PDF Editing, Sharepoint and ECM for the AEC Industry February 24, 2011

Posted by carolhagen in CAD, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging, estimating, project management software, records retention, Sharepoint.
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Editing PDFs is a daily occurance in the construction industry. Architects, Engineers and Contractors have standardized on the PDF as the file type to share, email and collaborate on. PDF editing streamlines and helps clearly conveys changes, clarifications and improvements. Everyday PDFs are instrumental in the construction conversation to show mark ups on Microsoft Office documents, interactively draw on tablet PCs and then share these PDFs on Servers. But PDF editing software licensing is expensive and often cumbersome. What the AEC Industry has yearned for is One-Button creation of PDFs from within industry standard product like AutoCad, Revit and SolidWorks, and integration to their Sharepoint or ProjectWise servers. This is deliverable today with Bluebeam.

The PDF solutions Bluebeam provides to Construction Industry Professionals “are designed to improve communication, tracking, and speed. Create PDFs from any CAD or Windows file.” You can “add comments and notes directly to PDFs received from architects or consultants to eliminate extra steps or confusion and improve turnaround time.” With Bluebeam Revu, you can skip the paper process and “simply markup the PDF drawing electronically and send it off in one click from anywhere you have an Internet connection.”

Estimators will also love Bluebeam Revu. With the “built-in measurement tool, onscreen quantity takeoffs are calculated, totaled and stored in a list that can be summarized in Excel for estimates.” Bluebeam is a PDF Editor’s dream and works well for Architects and Engineers from design development through bid and construction. There are toolsets for a variety of designers including:
Landscaping Tools, Kitchen Furniture, Office Furniture, Home Furniture, Windows and Punch Symbols from Bluebeam clients along with extensive toolsets from Bluebeam

What’s missing to Bluebeam is document management which can be done in part on Sharepoint or using tools like Construction Imaging’s Content Archiver in their Enterprise Content Management (ECM) System. Content Archiver is a utility that looks at the directory structure where a document is stored, and sets the indexes or metatags of the document in the customer’s ECM system. It then sets a pointer to the document in the ECM where the original document resided. Many construction firms today are just storing documents on a hard drive where they’ve created a folder for each project. Underneath the project are more folders for RFIs, change orders, pictures, etc. What’s the benefit to doing this? You avoid accidently putting multiple copies of the same document into your ECM system and no one has to manually index the docuemnt again.

Now I hear some novices out there saying if I have PDFs then I can search through my documents and there’s no need to index them. Essentially with that scenario you index by every word in every document. While filing becomes fast, searching for specific documents can become a length chore. Do a Google search on any word and just how many results do you get? You could spend hours with the thousands of results that are returned. Substitute Content Archiver and you can find a document in 3-5 seconds.

Making it easy to capture, distribute, manage and store documents in the construction industry seems challenging, but with the right tools the job becomes a whole lot simpler. We’d encourage feedback and would love to hear from our readers. Please add your thoughts in the comment section and see if we can get a good discussion going.

Does Windows 7 close the Door on XP? October 16, 2009

Posted by carolhagen in exchange2010, windows7.
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An Information Week  report announced “XP’s Day of Reckoning is at Hand“.  After reading the article I waited for research to educate me on not just the hype on Windows 7,  but the pace of expected deployments in this economy.  InformationWeek  came through with their analytics report which I received for free after attending  The Business Case for Windows7 virtual event.   The case for Windows 7 is compelling for AutoCAD users, remote offices and Vista users already.

Most businesses are not aware of what’s in it for them, I’ve compiled a resource list to help the IT staff help explain to the CFO/controller the benefits, improvements, challenges with Windows 7.   You need to share with management some basics like mainstream support ended in April and security updates are it for XP (no bug fixes or enhancements to work with new products).    Communicate with management. Get Testing! Here’s my list of resources in no particular order:

10 Features to Anticipate in Windows 7

No Exchange 2007 on Windows 2008 R2

Top 8 Strategic Points When Weighing Win 7 Adoption

Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor (Can your PC Run Windows 7?)

Microsoft Makes Business case for Windows 7

Windows 7 What’s New Guide (from Dell – techie oriented)

Windows 7 Security Holes Plugged (From eWeek FYI if you’ve been reading old materials)

Intel Wiki on Windows 7, Microsoft ConfigMgr SP2 and Intel’s Vpro Technology (very tech oriented)

You’ll want to have Windows Server 2008 R2 in testing too as that’s where the rubber hits the road with the big benefits of Windows 7 (if you can afford to upgrade to Exchange 2010 simultaneously).  The official release date for Windows 7 is October 22nd.  Good luck and let me know if this info helped you out.

Projecting the future:BIM Focus on Images? Legalities? October 14, 2009

Posted by carolhagen in BIM, Construction Industry - Software.
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Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the hottest construction tool and has been embraced by General Contractors,  Mechanical Contractors Architects, etc.  It has permeated the construction industry.  ConsensusDocs has addressed BIM extensively in their contract documents and large scale complex projects certainly are reaping the rewards of BIM everyday.  So what’s in the future for us now that we have deployed this technology?

How about 3D TVs and Projectors?  I went to lunch with Cheryl Farmer, Director of Client Development with Audio Video Resources and learned that many TVs now have a 3D switch in them, all ready for images  that you can almost touch.  DLP 3D from Texas Instruments has projectors on the market today although performance isn’t quite there yet.  What makes this of value to the construction industry and IT is:

  •  These DLP units use LEDs (they’re Green) 
  •  Can you picture how a 3D projector or TV would enhance your BIM  and CAD models?

The 3D TVs & projectors are hot but there are also some cool gadgets on the horizon in this space too.  Read about the “Thrilling Future Releases We Want Right Now” according to Channel Web.

The future issues also center around legality.  While ConsensusDocs addresses many issues and the 2009 MCAA annual convention discussed “The Legal Aspects of Intelligent Estimating and BIM” I find firms asking telling questions like:   How do I extract all the documents BIM creates and store them in my Enterprise Content Managmeent Repository?  What is the recommended record retention period for BIM?  What are the Best Practices for utilizing BIM to support legal arguments? 

If you have already deployed BIM, you are probably behind the curve in getting a handle around some of these issues.  Part of it has to do with the BIM technology itself. as it stores documents inside the model attached to each object.  Ask me how to effectively capture these into your ECM system…I can help.

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