FAQs: Using in Your Office

Can my people just red-mark sections and have someone else do the computer work?

Yes, that is a possible method. However, it's more efficient for the person who knows what products are in the project to use the software directly.

If you want to have a word processing person perform the editing, first print a "Master Text Copy" of the section. This is a copy that shows all the text in the master and all the choices that need to be made, plus the notes to the editor. (If you'll be editing your office master print a "Draft Copy" instead.) Then the spec writer (architect, engineer, etc.) will mark up the copy, indicating which text should be in and which should be out, which of the exclusive multiple choices are correct, and how to fill in blanks. Then the word processing person will make the section match the markup.

On the other hand, if the spec writer does the editing using the software the steps of printing, red-marking, and matching up are eliminated. In addition, the built-in links will do much of the editing automatically. Especially good typing skills are not necessary and the software takes care of the formatting.

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Can I pre-edit the sections so everyone in my office knows what to specify?

Yes, definitely. If more than one person will be preparing specs using SpecLink-E, that is the most efficient way to operate. Remember that even though you pre-select text, add new text, and make modifications to the master text, the original master text is always there for use if it is needed for a particular project. Pre-editing the sections is a way to make an office master. Two other ways to increase your efficiency and accuracy are adding notes that explain which choices to make and which products not to use and adding links.

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Our firm does many similar projects; why wouldn't we just copy word processing files?

You can certainly continue to do that. However, SpecLink-E has productivity advantages even when projects are very similar. As you probably realize, even though your projects are similar they usually have enough differences that you can't re-use a previous project spec without modifying it. In particular, a subsequent project may need materials or equipment that were not required on the previous project--those specifications are not included in the copy of the previous project files. This is a particular liability of re-using word processing files but not when re-using a previous SpecLink-E project specification because no master text is ever deleted and user-added text can simply be de-selected to omit it from the current project.

In fact, re-using the last best project that most closely matches the current project is the most efficient method of using SpecLink-E and is completely safe. The entire master database is always presented to the user, regardless of how it was edited for the previous project, so the tendency to overlook necessary provisions is greatly reduced. If you do only one project at a time, the last project is actually your best office master project, containing all the things you had researched and all the modifications to the text you prefer.

For new users, the "model projects" we offer are the equivalent of the last best project. Each one can be used as the starting point for a similar project type, saving a lot of time in spec preparation.

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Can I make an office master?

Yes. In fact, the office master concept is even more powerful in SpecLink-E than in word processing. Your office master is actually a SpecLink-E project file, overlaying the master database. You don't change the master but instead you make your changes and section selections in the overlay. Once you have an office master project, you simply copy it to a new file name to use it for specific projects. The new project now has all the sections and customized text that the office master did PLUS all the other sections in the master database.

Your office master can be used to store all the experience your firm gains with each new project. You can add notes to inform the next user, giving instructions and recording problems, at any specification paragraph. You can add your preferred manufacturers for products you commonly specify. You can pre-select sections that you use all the time, and you can pre-select text within those sections so each subsequent user doesn't have to "re-invent the wheel." Finally, you can add more links to the sections to improve your efficiency.

You can make an office master in a concerted effort over a short period of time, or you can build it up by copying sections from each new project into a single master project.

You can make a single office master or several, perhaps for different project types. For more suggestions, read the chapter in the User Manual on creating an office master.

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Can I use my existing office master files with this software?

Yes, you certainly can.

Your office master undoubtedly has many sections for which there is no corresponding section in BSD's master database--all these can be easily imported and linked.

On the other hand, it is very likely that SpecLink-E includes a master section corresponding to many of your office master sections--simply because SpecLink-E includes the most commonly specified products. Before you decide to use your text instead of the built-in master text, consider this. What we think you really want to do is make an "office master project" that embodies all your firm's preferences and common practices and takes advantage of the productivity features of our software. The sections in BSD's master database are already there, with fully researched data and links. We suggest that you'll get a better result by tailoring the master sections to suit your purpose, rather than reinventing them or replacing them with possibly out-of-date information.

In addition, to get the full benefit of our software's productivity features, you'll need to add a lot of links to your imported sections--links that already exist in the master data.

One more point--the sections in the master database are kept up-to-date by BSD, but your imported sections are not.

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Do I have to do all my specs using this software?

No, that's not at all necessary. If you need to maintain an existing system, perhaps section files edited via word processing, there is no reason you can't do that. It may be desirable to do so, either until you build the equivalent of all your existing sections in SpecLink-E, or indefinitely.

Because of SpecLink-E's very flexible print formatting feature, you can set up a format in SpecLink-E that matches the format of your word processing files. Then whenever you print a section from SpecLink-E, it will match the others done in word processing.

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Can we include sections produced by our consultants?

There are three considerations regarding sections produced outside this software:

    • Printing in the same format:
    • If your consultant is a subscriber, they can quickly set up the same format in their project before printing.

If your consultant is not a subscriber, they'll need to coordinate their word processing page format with you just as if you were also using word processing.

    • Receiving and archiving the actual electronic files:
    • If your consultant is a subscriber, you can make a consolidated project file by importing sections from one project file to another. However, for archiving purposes, exporting to RTF is better -- the project files are more "frozen." You can also keep the SpecLink-E project file for re-use on future project.

If your consultant is not a subscriber, you could convert their word processing files to RTF and import into your SpecLink-E project file, but that would probably not be time well-spent. Just export your project to RTF as if you were archiving and make a consolidated set of RTF files.

  • Making a consolidated Table of Contents: There are several ways to do this.

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What kind of support do subscribers get?

Free telephone support at (800) 266-7732, toll-free, or (404) 365-9226, is available to all subscribers. In addition, you can send e-mail BSD Support by clicking here.

Feel free to ask questions about both software and data issues. Our specification writers are also available to discuss specification tactics as well as answer your questions about what's in SpecLink-E and where. We love feedback!

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