FAQs: Learning Curve

What's the best way to get started?

That depends on how you are doing specs right now. In all cases, we recommend starting with one of the model projects: choose the one that is closest to the predominant building type in your practice.

If you're new to specifying or don't have any preferred method, we suggest you jump right in. To get familiar with the contents of the sections, leave open the "Master Notes" (available from the View tab, Panels Group) to browse the explanatory notes for each section.

If you have an established procedure or an existing office master (word processing files), you'll probably need to phase the new process in. It just depends on how much time you have. If not much, you'll need to do a few sections at a time the new way, using your existing procedure for all the others. Because the print formatting is so flexible, you can probably set up a new format that matches your existing format. That way you can gradually become familiar with the contents of the database and adjust them to suit your practice. Then, for each subsequent project, you can copy the last one, taking advantage of your previous work and gradually building up an office master project.

If you have a little more time, you might consider doing a single entire project the new way, customizing the database to your practice at the same time. That could take a little longer than it normally would for a particular project, depending on how much customizing you need to do. However, once you've done one project, all subsequent projects that are reasonably similar will take much less time—and less time than it typically takes you to produce a complete spec in word processing.

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What is a model project?

Every subscription to SpecLink-E comes with a pre-edited model project. This is a project file with specification sections and product options already selected to suit a prototypical project of a particular type. For instance, there is Virtual LEED Platinum School which is the file name for a school project with many sustainability features. This project includes most of the spec sections that would normally be found on a low-rise, steel-framed school building. By using this project as a starting point, a SpecLink-E user can save a lot of time preparing a spec for his project. Model projects do not delete any options, but are "overlays" over the whole SpecLink-E master, so the user can easily select other sections or products from the master database.

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Do you offer training?

We have two one-day SpecLink-E Workshops—Basic and Advanced—designed to get users familiar with the software. In addition to everyday operations such as opening and viewing sections, selecting and modifying text, and printing, the workshop covers importing existing text and creating an office master. Design Criteria and Outline/Short Form users will find the first day useful for software fundamentals.

For workshop scope, dates, cost, and locations, see the Training Services Page.

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Whom should we send to training?

Obviously, the best people to send to training are the ones who will need to know the most about the software the fastest. We recommend that workshop attendees already have some experience using Windows-based programs—especially if they will want to learn about importing text from existing files. We also recommend that the specification writer (architect, engineer, etc.) be the one to attend the class, because the most effective user is the design professional. On the other hand, if many people in the firm will be using the software, it may be desirable to send one person who can then train the others or hold a training class at your location for all your users.

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