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What specifications software systems are you using?


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hello all, we would like to know what specifications software you are currently using and why.  Specifically, we are asking this within our direct markets right now in the US, UK, Canada and Australia.

 

Thank you so much!

 

Lee Draminski, Partnership Specialist

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We haven't purchased a licence at my new company yet but previously I was using NBS Building. I haven't used anything else but I loved writing specifications in NBS (despite the fact that we had it siloed on a crappy little windows laptop). Comprehensive, always up to date, flexible and easy to use. 

 

We're interested in NBS Chorus but we fit into that category of a small business doing medium-sized projects so we could do with it but it's kind of a big overhead to have when you only need to use it for a month or two a year. Also, as I understand it, while there's a VW plugin that allows you to link clauses to objects in your model, there's no way to link and sync *callouts* to the spec, nor even a keynote export function. I might be wrong there though because that seems like a big omission. We may get a subscription later this year but not if this capability is missing.

Edited by Christiaan
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FileMaker Pro.

Because third parties can’t always be trusted to provide the capabilities and content needed in the landscape industry.

it would be nice if Vectorworks had better database connectivity and the ability for customers like me to link my specs to objects and notation as @Christiaan mentioned.  Currently, I just attach a record to an object with its CSI code and run a report of all the codes in a project.  More experimental than practical at this stage.  I feel sorry for architects and the specs they have to develop in comparison to my industry… it’s a ton of work and prone to error.

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Like Christiaan, I used to use NBS Building, that has now been replaced with Chorus which is too expensive for a couple of months use per year. The small version of Chorus doesn't use Uniclass and is too restricted for the work we get involved in, the medium and large scale versions are difficult to justify the costs for limited use.

So now when we do write specifications, it is manual office standards. 

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UK = NBS 

 

Some have their own specification writers, like Mark Schumann and his SRS system but ultimately that’s based on the NBS.

 

Some have been known to write their own because the NBS is not exacting enough.

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It so happens that I just came of the phone with an NBS salesperson before seeing this thread!

 

Same as others have said, I (in UK) would try out NBS chorus if it were less expensive. It doesn't feel worth it, if I might only need to spec up a couple of projects a year.

 

Therefore I do it 'manually' (and like many people I hate writing specs). Often for small projects it's effectively all contained in notes on the drawing.

 

There are various ways in which the notes manager could be improved for co-ordination with specs. If there were something within VW that would let me create a specification document, and then connect this directly to the notes on drawings, and know that both stayed in sync with each other, I'd likely use it.

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The NBS Chorus plugin for Vectorworks is also only available if you have a Service Select contract.

 

That said, if you use NBS Chorus, you can export a txt file, and use that, with a small amoiunt of modification in Excel, to a Notes Manager Database.  Can send instructions for anyone interested.

 

Similarly, if you use Word, and do things long-hand, using the historic version of the NBS like the ones we used to get on floppy disk...!...I can show you how to extract the information you need to generate the Notes Manager Database.

 

That said, I can whole-heartedly recommend the SRS system from RLB.  It is a system based on abbreviations, rather than specification clauses so that the item annotated has 'DRS-001' next to it rather than 'L10/100 Door', which means that if you change the clause you don't need to go around every drawing and update the note.  If you prefer, you can annotate the item with 'DRS-001' and then have 'DRS-001' listed as a keynote with it's associated NBS clause.

 

Again, we create Notes Manager Database files to enable this in Vectorworks.

Screenshot 2021-07-22 at 11.48.02.png

Screenshot 2021-07-22 at 11.47.09.png

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42 minutes ago, shorter said:

That said, I can whole-heartedly recommend the SRS system from RLB.

Can you explain what that is, exactly, and where I'd find more info, please?

 

(Googling SRS system from RLB doesn't seem to get me anywhere)

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RLB provide a specification consultancy service, or at least did.  The system started life as a service provided by a company called 'Schumann and Smith'.

 

The 'SRS' system is simply a way of annotation drawings with descriptive codes.  The idea being that the code rarely changes and therefore you don't need to chase your tail updating drawings when specification clauses change.  If you change a code on a drawing it is because you have changed the component proposed, but if you were to change stone to brick, for example, the note on the drawing would remain 'EWS-001', but the NBS clause associated to 'EWS-001' would change in the 'SRS database', which is essentially an Excel spreadsheet issued with the tender documentation.  It is a very efficient, if manual, way to annotation drawings, and can also be used with custom property sets and the data tag, or entered into a BIM component in the Classification data fields.  There is currently no way of linking the SRS system to BIM components directly like the NBS Chorus system.  Would be great if there were.

 

In some offices we created a drawing, with the SRS codes, and NBS clauses listed and called it 'Technical Reference Sheet' or 'T-Sheet' for short, and gave it drawing number '000'.

 

It also contained all the markers used on the drawings, etc; a sort of guide to the annotation on the drawings, so things like 'overhead' lines we defined, but also how a concrete boardmark was annotated.

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We've been using Uniclass 2015 for our callout numbering (e.g. Pr_25_57_06_56/100 Rockwool Hardrock Multi-fix (DD) tapered insulation boards to specialist design.) but it really doesn't make for easy scanning of notes so I'm considering changing it.

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We've been using FileMaker Pro to create an in-house database of products but linking it directly to anything in VW is proving to be a challenge. Each of our products has a serial number that we would like to link to objects in VW but we are at a loss of how to do so reliably - we've tried ODBC before but as one VW staffer mentioned to us recently that can be a brittle connection. In addition to the serial number our system has a three letter code for each section of the North American MasterFormat System (as that is easier to read than a bunch of section numbers), followed by a number for the object in that section for that project: say DHW-01 for a door handle for a particular project. The number changes depending on the project but the serial number (a 6 digit number) does not. It would be great to use data tags to extract the information from an object but it is difficult to make links to the extent we would like; even for symbols there does not appear to be a way to assign a serial number to the symbol that is persistent across all instances of the symbol, which is needed to make a link to an outside database. I am curious about the use of VWs Database Manager for this. I would like more information on @shorter s exporting and importing routines if he is willing to share.

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Lee, for technical Specifications we use BSD SpecLink Cloud which is fast and easy to use. My understanding is that it is giant data base for just about every conceivable object in buildings, infrastructure and site work projects. It is based on 2016 CSI MasterFormat CSI, (and CSC) divisions. I like it because it is continuously updated by BSD spec writers to show current products, standards by all the testing agencies and manufacturer trade organizations. It works by selecting the sections relevant to your project and clicking to hide or show individual paragraphs that are all interconnected. I reference the CSI spec section on our drawings--not on every note but mainly on general notes and legends. It would be great to tie VWA's data base with SpecLink's data base somehow. Maybe through VW materials for construction materials and PIO for manufactured items, or IFC? They advertise a tie-in with Revit. But, I have not investigated how that works. Is this what you are asking about? Linking objects and materials to the technical specification could become really complex especially for something like a wall style that is made of so many different elements/spec sections.

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On 7/22/2021 at 5:54 PM, David Poiron said:

We've been using FileMaker Pro to create an in-house database of products but linking it directly to anything in VW is proving to be a challenge. Each of our products has a serial number that we would like to link to objects in VW but we are at a loss of how to do so reliably - we've tried ODBC before but as one VW staffer mentioned to us recently that can be a brittle connection. In addition to the serial number our system has a three letter code for each section of the North American MasterFormat System (as that is easier to read than a bunch of section numbers), followed by a number for the object in that section for that project: say DHW-01 for a door handle for a particular project. The number changes depending on the project but the serial number (a 6 digit number) does not. It would be great to use data tags to extract the information from an object but it is difficult to make links to the extent we would like; even for symbols there does not appear to be a way to assign a serial number to the symbol that is persistent across all instances of the symbol, which is needed to make a link to an outside database. I am curious about the use of VWs Database Manager for this. I would like more information on @shorter s exporting and importing routines if he is willing to share.

Are you using FileMaker to generate the specification? FM is great for setting up tables. You can set up a table that exports to vw.  We used to do that in one office until they Revit. A button in FileMaker to ‘export to vectorworks’. 
 

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At present we use Filemaker to create all the records and organize them by section number for a particular project and then export that to 24"x36" PDF, which we then reference in Vectorworks. Vectorworks worksheets are not nearly as adaptable graphically as tables are in Filemaker. We do think there is benefit to link the two but there are a number of missing workflows in Vectorworks it seems to make this work for our needs.

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