Thursday, 24 December 2009

Searching NBS

The enhancements for the 2010 NBS Building, Engineering Services and Landscape software include a new search function that allows the user to search NBS libraries and also office standards and specifications.

Fig 1. The NBS work section and prelims libraries can be searched. Items may be previewed and then used to create a project specification

Fig 2. User specifications and office standards may also be searched. Items found may be previewed and opened for editing

I asked our Technical Team what are the most common items that users cannot find in NBS. Here is the list below. The new search tool will make it very easy to find these items and add them to your project spec.
  • Line marking
  • Road marking
  • Fire stop pipe sleeves
  • Steel frame systems
  • Fascias and soffits
  • Underslab insulation
  • Fall arrest systems

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

2010 Software now with Beta Testers

The NBS Beta Testers now have their preview version of the 2010 software. This will be with customers in March 2010. I'll blog more about each of the enhancements in detail over the coming months, but for now here are some screenshots as tasters...

1. Searching and previewing the clause content of specifications, office standards and NBS libraries:

2. The NBS Annotator, allowing clause references to be easily added to CAD models and schedules:

3. Printing and publishing improvements such as highlighting of revised clauses in the printed document:

4. The ability to add a tender summary and then work with these costs through the construction phase

5. Seamless links to The Construction Information Service - no need to enter username and password each time:

6. Interoperability so that a single project specification can be produced with prelims, building fabric, landscape and engineering work sections:

Update 13 April 2010 - This 2010 software is now being dispatched to all customers. Please note that the interopability work did not make it into this release. However all of the other features did. Interopability will be considered for a future release.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Design and Build Contract Administration

The main improvement for the 2009 release of NBS Contract Administrator is the inclusion of the forms for use on the JCT 05 Design and Build Contract.

The forms for this contract have been one of the most requested enhancements to the product over the last few years from users. This now means that NBS Contract Administrator can be used on more projects and there will be also maybe be some new converts to the product who work mainly on Design and Build projects.

The new software has been designed in a way that allows the relevant Design and Build forms to be used whether working on behalf of the employer or on behalf of the contractor. This means that unlike the other contract administration forms – where the forms themselves don’t change, but the person issuing them does – users will be presented with a different set of forms depending on which role is selected.

Friday, 11 September 2009

NBS and CAD - The Plan

One of the things most designers would really like from NBS is the ability to easily access their clause numbers and titles from NBS project specifications for annotation purposes.

At NBS we have been working on this through 2009 following a very encouraging customer focus group meeting in January.

We recognise that it is a big challenge to fully integrate the CAD model and the specification. However, an outline of the short term plan is detailed in this post. This functionality will be ready for the 2010 releases of NBS Building, Engineering Services and Landscape in March. NBS Scheduler users will get this functionality in April.

1. NBS Annotator Windows Application
This will be a standalone application that will be included free with all NBS desktop products. It will have the following functionality:
  • Open any NBS-based project specifications/schedules of work to select clause numbers and titles for annotation purposes
  • Fix NBS Annotator as the top-most application so it remains above your CAD window
  • Quickly copy and paste annotations from your project specification into your CAD model
  • Search, find and open the referenced clause within the project specification
  • View and browse NBS guidance and NBS Plus content (subject to subscription).

2. NBS Annotator component for .Net/COM developers
This software tool kit will allow third party CAD packages to integrate NBS Annotator into their software. NBS will provide this free to the industry. This will extend NBS Annotator functionality as follows:
  • "One click" addition of annotations to your CAD model
  • Navigate from annotation within your CAD model to a clause in an NBS specification
  • Reporting of the status of annotations to ensure that all annotations are up to date.

3. NBS Annotator component for Windows API developers
This will be a similar tool kit to the above but will allow third-party CAD packages that cannot use .Net/COM to work with the NBS component.

4. Export to AutoDesk and Bentley Keynote format
It will be possible to export a project specification clause list from all NBS specification software for use with AutoDesk AutoCAD and Revit Keynote format.

NBS Beta Testers will see these proposals, prototypes and will have a chance to comment from October 2009.

Developers who would like advance documentation on the NBS Annotator component should email

Stay tuned to this blog for further details nearer release time. For further reading on best practice for annotating drawings/models in the UK seeCPIC's CPI conventions (see - under 2.2.3 Annotation of drawings/ Specification references).

Friday, 21 August 2009

Manufacturer Information within NBS

The NBS Plus manufacturer information within NBS Building has undergone a major transformation in the last 18 months. There are now around 20,000 product specifications from over 500 manufacturers available to add into your specifications with just one click.

Not only has the quantity of products now available increased, the depth of information to help you select a suitable product has increased too, and now includes access to high quality images of products and clear indications of third party approval stamps such as Kitemarks and Agrément Certificates.

To access NBS Plus manufacturer and product information as part of your NBS Building subscription, simply click on the Manufacturers' panel below the NBS Guidance window when using the software.

The manufacturers' data is automatically filtered, to only display manufacturers who provide products relevant to what you are specifying at the time. For example, if you are specifying natural stone slabs, then only manufacturers of natural stone slab products will be displayed for you to select.

To specify a product from a selected manufacturer, browse to it and then simply click the "add" button. The product is then automatically added to your project as a concise specification clause. The drop-down options are then tailored to the product selected, allowing you to complete that specification clause swiftly and accurately.

Increasing access to construction product information when using the software

A more recent improvement to the NBS Plus information includes linking to electronic product catalogues hosted in

Where available, electronic catalogues are displayed against their associated products, so that you can easily access additional product information direct from the manufacturer:

When you click on a catalogue, the software will take you to the manufacturer's product information, which can be downloaded as a PDF for reference:

This latest development to the software makes it easier to download relevant product catalogues, find out more about a specific product, and record manufacturers' literature against your project specification.

A manufacturer's third party approval certificates are also displayed within their information, as are links to their online CPD material, providing a full view of all a manufacturer's services.