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Frequently Asked Questions

LinkMan-E Top Questions

What is LinkMan-E?

BSD LinkMan-E is a linking software product that allows the user to easily create, monitor and modify relationships between various representations of a building design project — as drawn using Autodesk Revit, as specified using BSD SpecLink-E, and, in future, as estimated using BSD CostLink/AE. This linking software is referred to as LinkMan-E or LME.

The LME user interface is a set of "Dashboards," together comprising a monitoring station that permits a project manager to view the status of project development in the linked applications, check for consistency, and identify discrepancies for corrective action. LME also allows the user to "turn on" missing products in SpecLink-E, based on data from Revit. In short, LME is a tool for coordinating the Revit building model (the BIM) with its specifications and (in future) its cost estimate.

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Is LinkMan-E a BIM tool?

In the sense that LME helps coordinate the BIM with the specification prepared using BSD SpecLink-E, LME is a BIM tool.

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Why was LinkMan-E developed?

The building design and construction industry today is abuzz with the prospect of “building information modeling” or BIM, as the future of the industry. The focus and goal is the interoperability of industry software tools to create, maintain and utilize a common set of project information. This interoperability would benefit the industry in many ways, including the elimination or minimization of redundant data entry and substantial improvements to coordination between disciplines. While some interoperability proponents see all this project data as residing in a single repository, BSD believes that a single repository is not necessary, or even desirable in most cases, and has developed LME as an interoperability tool to enable these different software tools to communicate with each other without the necessity of merging their data. The initial implementation of LME links Autodesk Revit to BSD SpecLink-E (for specifications), but future implementations will include other 3-D graphical model software, and ultimately any other software that provides information about the project.

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Does LinkMan-E interface with BIM?

LinkMan-E, in its initial implementation, links Autodesk Revit -- for the 3-D graphical model -- to BSD SpecLink-E, for specifications.

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How is LinkMan-E different from other A/E/C interoperability software?

LinkMan-E is different from other interoperability approaches in three key ways:

  1. The focus of LME is on COORDINATION, not on EXECUTION. That is, while it is possible to generate some of the specifications from the Revit model, LME's design is based on the assumption that as long as more than one person is working on the project, coordination errors will happen. Therefore, LME is designed to provide "views" of both the 3-D model and the specs so the project manager can determine whether they are describing the same things. The "Show Discrepancies" button in each dashboard quickly collapses the view to show only those items that are different in the Revit and SpecLink-E project files, so the user makes the diagnosis, not the software.
  2. LME uses master lists of Assemblies and Products to connect the Revit objects (essentially assemblies) to the SpecLink-E product specs. These master lists are shown on the Assemblies and Products Dashboards and are the key views for coordination. These master lists are organized by UniFormat (Assemblies) and MasterFormat (Products) and can easily be added to by the LME user, to make links to custom Revit objects and to user-added SpecLink-E specs. The master lists form a stable platform for linking to future applications by providing familiar organizational schemes. See Diagram A.
  3. When LME does "generate" the specs, it does so by activating individual paragraphs within the SpecLink-E database, in the same manner as an SLE user would, rather than by replacement of entire files. The LME user chooses which paragraphs to activate, quickly gets a revised view for comparison, and can change the activation decision if it turns out to be wrong. Each time the Revit model or the SLE specification is changed, LME is re-synchronized with them, for further coordination review. Resynchronization never overwrites any user added text or user edits.
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What software packages are compatible with LinkMan-E?
  • LME links to all Autodesk Revit versions beginning with 2011.
  • For specifications, LME links to BSD SpecLink-E.
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Does LinkMan-E use industry standards for its connections?

Yes, it uses Uniformat to organize the Assembly master list in the Assenblies Dashboard, and MasterFormat™ to organize the master products list in the Products Dashboard.

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Are the specs stored in the Revit files?

No. The specifications are stored in BSD SpecLink-E's database, separately from the Revit 3-D model files. LinkMan-E allows the user to review and coordinate both, using the LME interface.

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Will other BIM software be supported in the future?

Yes, depending on demand.

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Who uses or should use LinkMan-E?

Any project personnel who wish to coordinate their work with others may use LME. The project manager probably should use LME, as s/he is likely to be the person who needs to make the decisions about how to resolve discrepancies.

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How is LinkMan-E Used?

The traditional mode of coordination between drawings and specs is to read the drawings, read the spec, and make them match. The same thing goes for coordinating the drawings and cost estimate or coordinating specs and cost estimate. LinkMan-E uses software to match up things and to find things that don't match. The user decides how to resolve the mis-matches and changes the drawings (3-D model) or the specs as required, using the software they reside in. LME also provides an option to change the specs from within LME, rather than having to switch to SLE to do so. See the User Scenarios.

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What are the Assemblies and Products Dashboards and how are they used?

LME uses master lists of Assemblies and Products to connect the Revit objects (essentially assemblies) to the SpecLink-E product specs. These master lists are shown on the Assemblies and Products Dashboards and are the key views for coordination. The dashboards are organized by UniFormat (Assemblies) and MasterFormat (Products). The "Show Discrepancies" buttons in each dashboard quickly collapse the view to show only those items that are different in the Revit and SpecLink-E projects -- the user makes the diagnosis, not the software.See the diagram.

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Can LinkMan-E make the Revit model generate the specification?

Depending on how much information is in the Revit building model, some portion of the specifications can be automatically generated from that data. It would be very unusual for the Revit model to include enough data to complete the specifications. This is simply because the specifications always cover issues that the drawings or 3-D model do not, such as contract administration issues. In addition, a Revit model can be very simple or very detailed and still do its job — Revit users have complete freedom to use Revit any way they wish.

The simpler the model is, the less information LME can retrieve to use for the specifications. For example, the Revit library of objects includes items such as "Generic Wall - 8 Inch". This object consists of the two wall faces and parametric information but no information about what materials it is made of. A Revit user could model an entire building using this wall type, applying colors and patterns to the surfaces, but LME would only know that it was a wall. Because the specifications do not describe walls -- but rather the materials used in the wall — there would be no way to "generate" specifications from such an object. Fortunately, LME has been designed so the user can easily "link" this object to one of the ready-made assemblies in the Assemblies Dashboard — automatically linking the object to the relevant specifications. Alternatively, the user can create a unique assembly in LME and link the Revit object to that assembly.

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LinkMan-E uses the Category, Family, and Type identifications of Revit objects to associate them with LME Assemblies. The Category is the first level title in the Project Browser folder tree below "Families." The Family and Type names are those that show in the Type Properties box (and in the folder tree). [Note: Revit has a few idiosyncrasies in Category naming, making the Revit View in LME not an exact match for the Revit Project Browser view. This limitation does not interfere with linking.]

All the Families and Types in the Revit Architectural 2009 and 2011 Imperial Libraries and the out-of-the-box template files have been "pre-linked" to LME assemblies — except where the.Revit object is too general or sketchy to identify what materials it is made out of. If an Autodesk-provided object is used in a building model as-is — without changing any of the parameters that would force Revit to make a copy — then LME will know about it automatically.

If a custom object is made by duplicating an Autodesk-provided object, the copy must be given a different Type name (Revit's rule). LME will see it but will not "recognize" it. The same goes for custom objects made in other ways -- Revit will not allow duplicate Category/Family/Type identifications. For all custom objects, once the Revit data has been updated in LME, the Revit objects will show in the LME Revit Project view, but without any link to an LME Assembly. To connect the custom Revit object to LME, simply drag-and-drop it to any assembly in the Assemblies Dashboard. If an existing LME Assembly is suitable you can use it, as it is already linked to products and thus the specification. If necessary, you can also quickly build a new LME Assembly for the purpose. Note: It is likely that future versions of LME wil recognize "materials" and other parameters of Revit objects. Revit "materials" and other parameters, particularly user-added parameters, are used a number of different ways depending on the Revit user's practice, making translation into useful data problematic.

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Since SpecLink-E, like most specifications, deals with products instead of assemblies of products, LME includes a master list of generic product names in the Products Dashboard. There is a one-to-one relationship between the products in the Products Dashboard and product paragraphs in the SpecLink-E database. In some cases, where a single generic product could be specified in more than one specification section, the generic product name in the Products Dashboard indicates the specification section that particular product entry applies to. (You can see some of these by placing the cursor at a second level folder in the Products Dashboard and reviewing the alphabetical list of generic product names displayed — the section number appears in parentheses at the end of the generic product name.)

The second thing LME does to link to the specs is to associate a set of generic products with each LME Assembly. In the Assemblies Dashboard, click on an assembly — the products associated with it are displayed in the sub-window at the bottom. This is the way that LME bridges the "gap" between Revit objects — which are usually assemblies of multiple products -- and the individual products that are described in the specifications. See the diagram.

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Can Custom (User-Generated) Specifications Be Linked to LinkMan-E?

Yes, custom specifications sections and paragraphs added to SpecLink-E can be linked to LinkMan-E in the same manner as the SLE master specifications. It's a simple process: 1) "tag" the appropriate paragraph in SLE (usually the paragraph that describes the product), 2) create a new "Product" for it in the LinkMan-E Products dashboard, 3) drag-and-drop from the LinkMan-E SpecLink-E view to link to the new Product, 4) create a new LinkMan-E Assembly, and 5) link the new Product to the new Assembly. Once the new Product, Assembly, and links are created, they will be available to any SpecLink-E project that contains a copy of the custom specification — without having to recreate them for each new project.

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Does LinkMan-E work over a LAN or WAN (wide area network)?


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Does LinkMan-E work over the Internet?

Yes, LME can run over the Internet via a Virtual Private Network (VPN). In addition, there is a web-hosted version of BSD LinkMan-E that is fully integrated with the web-hosted version of BSD SpecLink-E.

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What are the hardware and software requirements?

To run LinkMan-E requires that BSD SpecLink-E also be installed, so the hardware and software requirements of LinkMan-E are the same as for SpecLink-E.

Setup Configurations: Each user runs its own application locally (e.g. SpecLink-E, Revit), with or without a local instance of LinkMan-E. The computer housing Revit must have the LME Revit plug-in installed. SpecLink-E and LinkMan-E are designed to work over VPN’s and wide area networks. This means, for example, that larger firms with multiple offices, or any combination of connected servers whether within one firm or not, can install the SLE server and LME databases at one site, install the Revit plug-in to gather Revit data at a second location, use the SLE client software to prepare specifications in a third office, and review coordination between model and specifications using LME client software at a fourth site.

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How much does LinkMan-E cost?

LinkMan-E is an add-on to BSD SpecLink-E, and it is priced at approximately two-thirds of the cost of the equivalent number of concurrent SpecLink-E users. See the price list.

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