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LinkLine: Winter 2014-15

January 2015 Release of BSD SpecLink-E and BSD LinkMan-E

The latest software releases from Building Systems Design include groundbreaking new capabilities that should be greatly beneficial to our customers. One of the most exciting changes in SpecLink-E is a more sophisticated and innovative updating capability for existing projects, which differentiates between edited and unedited text to provide automatic updates for the latter and colored "flags" for the former. The modified updating scheme thus avoids making any changes to the current text in a project while simultaneously alerting the user to possible changes and providing the most up-to-date information for additional decision-making. This new updating approach is described in more detail in a separate article elsewhere in this newsletter.

Another significant change in the SLE software is the ability for BSD to change section titles and numbers without “orphaning” the sections in existing projects, such as office masters. Previously, BSD could change a section title but had to be careful to make corresponding changes in other locations that referenced the section. However, it was not possible to change a section number without converting that section in an existing project into a user section, divorced from future updating.

Why is this new capability even needed? Why would it ever be necessary to change a section title or section number? For one thing, MasterFormat, CSI’s master list of sections and titles, periodically undergoes updates and adjustments. Previously, when MasterFormat changes were made in an existing group of sections, it was extremely difficult or impossible for BSD to quickly follow suit, so some BSD sections were not in full conformance with the latest version of MasterFormat. Another reason for changing a section’s title and/or its MasterFormat number is a significant change in its content. BSD is constantly updating section data, and sometimes this involves substantial additions and other changes to the content of a section. In these circumstances, sometimes a change in section identity is warranted.

This new section ID changing ability not only allows BSD to modify section titles and numbers without converting existing project sections into user-added sections, it also takes care of all cross references automatically. Of course, any new project always includes the latest data installed on the user’s server, including any new section numbers. But now, in existing projects such as an office master, if a user accepts an update to a section number, the new software will automatically convert all other references in the project to the new number. This is a significant achievement, because the database currently includes over 20,000 section cross references. Moving forward, BSD will shortly begin the process of making the necessary adjustments to bring all 700 sections into full conformance with MasterFormat.

Corporate subscribers will now have additional security for their specifications, because the latest versions of SpecLink-E and LinkMan-E include a new login screen that requires a user ID and password. This is another significant improvement, because previously the login identity was established based on the name of the machine from which SLE was accessed. While this was sometimes convenient, the previous scheme prevented someone from leaving a checked out section at the office and later continuing to work on it from home. Under the new security scheme, a user will always have the same identity, regardless of which machine he or she is using. User settings and preferences such as dialog sizes and locations will also follow individual users when they log in on different machines. Another new corporate feature is the ability to “lock” a project, preventing any changes at all, including all marking and updating, until the lock is removed by a person with System Manager status.

The new release includes many other improvements, which are described more fully in the release notes that accompany the software. For example, users can now merge and split cells in a table and can also use numbers as well as letters in user-defined tags. There is also a new tag for proprietary products – PP – and paragraphs so tagged are visible in LinkMan-E.

As always, we expect that the many improvements we have made in the software will benefit our customers in many ways, making their work smoother and more efficient as well as more up-to-date. We welcome feedback and look forward to hearing from you.