Monday, 24 February 2020

Following the ISO 19650 series of standards when publishing specifications

The ISO 19650 international series of standards looks at information management using building information modelling. When developing the publishing features within NBS Chorus, these standards have been used as a guiding framework.

Information quality with respect to classification and codes to indicate the status and revision of each published specification is core to these standards:

  • Classification - NBS content is classified to the recognized national standard in each country. With respect to the UK and Australian NBS content, Uniclass 2015 is one such classification system which is an implementation of the ISO 12006-2 framework.
  • Revision code - The revision code for each published specification should be to an agreed standard
  • Status code - A status code system should be agreed to indicate the permitted use of the published specification.

Furthermore, each published specification should be given a human readable ID which is unique and based upon an agreed and documented convention comprised of fields separated by a delimiter. The Publication details window in NBS Chorus allows this information to be captured based on the agreed standard on a particular project as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 - The Publication details window in NBS Chorus
When working to BS EN ISO 19650-2
The BS EN ISO 19650-2 standard includes a National Annex that expands on the basic requirements for those working to UK standards and practices.

The screenshots below show an example of how publication history may develop within NBS Chorus when following the UK BIM Framework guidance.

Figure 2 below shows that by using the Uniclass 2015 classification system, the information within the published specification will be structured to classification system that follows the ISO 12006-2 framework. Consistency in the Suffix codes used (FCS for Floor covering systems for example) can also help with ‘packaging’ similar systems.
Figure 2 - Uniclass 2015 classifications within the specification

Figure 3 below shows how a record of specifications published from NBS Chorus can be viewed in the Publish history tab. In this example, it is worth highlighting some of the fields that have been populated:
  • Number - A unique ID for the published specification that follows the BS EN ISO 19650 standard has been recorded here. The delimiters of the ID LAKR-HAM-43-XX-SP-A-00006 show that this a specification (SP) from the architectural (A) practice Hamil Design (HAM) on the project Lakeside Restaurant (LAKR). When this PDF is then uploaded to the common data environment, this data can be quickly seen by using this naming convention.
  • Status - The status S4, as defined in BS EN ISO 19650, indicates that this particular specification was published for stage approval.
  • Revision - The revision code of P02 shows that this publication is still provisional and it also shows where it is in the sequence of publications.
Figure 3 - A Publish history showing unique ID, Status and Revision codes
Figure 4 shows that when using a consistent coding system, it is then easy to quickly filter a large list of publications to find the information that is needed. For example, this could be all publications of the floor covering systems or all publications that are suitable for stage approval.
Figure 4 - Using the search filter to quickly find published specifications

The UK BIM Framework website has extensive free-to-use guidance to support those working to this series of standards.


When working outside of the UK, there may not be the same guidance available at a national level. There may be great variance between organizations as to how they indicate revision or status codes. It is advised that the project team agree on what these will be and document this in a Project Information Standard so that each team member can consistently publish information which can then be uploaded to the project common data environment.

Doing a quick Google Search - this publication from BrisBIM provides some guidance for working to ISO in Australia from contributors from organizations such as Aecom, Arup, Mott MacDonald, and Woods Bagot.

In Canada, there is a buildingSMART Canada working group developing something similar.

To find out more about NBS Chorus see:

Friday, 21 February 2020

NBS Source - Technical information platform for construction product manufacturers

At the Construction Product Leaders' Summit last week, we launched our new manufacturer product platform, NBS Source. This gave an exclusive sneak preview of our latest NBS development.

A single manufacturer product platform from NBS
Throughout the day there were a number of inspiring speakers. A combination of Government Advisors and leaders from the construction industry. A clear message was presented. The construction industry must become more productive, it must become greener and it must become safer and standardized digitized information and tools will play a big part enabling this.
The potential behind digitising the construction industry

What specifiers need from manufacturers
Since the 1970s, NBS has provided opportunities to construction manufacturers to position their technical data alongside generic specification content. This has grown into a number of websites delivering digital objects, specification clauses, certification, case studies and associated literature.

At the conference, we announced that we were well underway on a major project to enhance both the content quality and also in building a major new platform, NBS Source.
A number of current solutions developed by NBS - being brought into a combined platform
At this blog, I try and dive into the technical details a little more and look 'behind the scenes'. So I'd like to highlight the article below that looks at NBS Source and how it works to align the data to existing and emerging standards.

So please click and read the article below...

A couple of screenshots below show how we structure each construction product data structure against the research and maintained structure behind the NBS Chorus specification clauses. This will ensure that across different manufacturers, the information will be consistent and standardized.
Standardized terminology across manufacturer products

Terminology that has been defined in the construction standards
To keep an eye on what the wider community thought about the launch of NBS Source, view the hashtag #CPLS2020 on Twitter...

...and finally, the illustration below shows how Chorus, CIS and Source all sit together combining specification, standards and products in three connected platforms - all built by NBS.

Find out more about Source at...

PS: As always, it was real pleasure to show off the fantastic work that the team at NBS HQ do when developing our products...
Software demo
Find. Select. Specify

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

NBS Chorus and model integration

Since the launch of NBS Chorus in 2019 one of the features that has received the most positive feedback is the model integration feature.

This blog post looks at seven reasons why those still using keynoting in their design software may want to consider transitioning to the NBS Chorus plug-in.

As of January 2020, this article applies to both Autodesk Revit and Graphisoft ArchiCAD modelling software.

Click on the images below for larger versions.

1. View the project specification from within the modelling software
Probably the biggest advantage of the plug-in is to see the actual clauses from the project specification from the context of the design.
Providing permissions are granted, the spec can be modified from the modelling software. Furthermore, new clauses can be added at the point when corresponding objects are added to the model.
View spec inline
2. View technical guidance from within the modelling software
The benefits of an NBS subscription go beyond the creation of a project specification. It also provides access to thousands of pages of maintained technical guidance and corresponding links to key industry publications. This is now synchronised with what is being clicked on in the model.
Access 1000s of pages of NBS technical guidance
3. View team notes from within the modelling software
The notes feature within NBS Chorus means that those working on the design and specification can share comments alongside the model and specification so that issues that arise can be efficiently resolved.
Capture decisions on projects against the spec
4. See which objects are associated and which ones are not
It is likely that hundreds if not thousands of items are annotated within a large model. A model report is available from the NBS plug-in which clearly shows which objects are Associated and which objects are not. It is also possible to jump to view the object and spec from this page.
View what is linked and what isn't
5. See which associations are broken and get assistance in fixing these
Over time, it is likely that some object associations will break. Clauses or objects may be removed. The type codes may change. In the example below, the type code is 'Type D' for a particular set of doors in the model, it is DRS-004 in the spec. The Chorus plug-in alerts the user to this and gives assistance in fixing this.
Fix any issues that arise as the project develops
6. Link to a single source of truth
When working with files on a file system (such as Keynote TXT file), there can be a problem knowing what the latest version is and whether multiple copies are in exisistence. By linking directly to the live specification in the cloud - designers can know that they always working off the correct, up-to-date information.
A single source of truth in the cloud
7. Many-to-many associations
It is not always the case that there is a one-to-one link between the specification and the model file. The Chorus plug-in allows one model to link to multiple specifications. Equally it allows multiple models to link to the same specification. This gives the project team the flexability to split model and specification the way they want to.
Split your models and specifications as you want to
For those wanting to use keynoting for projects that are in progress. Export to keynote format is not yet available within Chorus - as a manual workaround we would suggest.

Export the specification to MS Word and generate a table of contents that goes three headings deep...
Export to Word
Copy and paste this content to Excel and format the text to suit the keynote file format required.
Copy and paste to Excel
The feature request to generate a keynote export from NBS Chorus has been added to our feature request Support area. This will be considered alongside other requests - so NBS subscribers can comment in the support area. Additional features to the plug-in - or export functionality can be requested here.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

NBS Chorus - Project case studies

NBS Chorus continues to be used more and more now on construction projects around the world. It's been really good this year to hear how it is being used and learn from the experience of the architects and engineers who have been the early-adopters.

We now have a nice case studies page on our website:

In this blog post, I just wanted to highlight two of these below.

1. BDP - Large Multi-disciplinary practice
The BDP case study tells the story of mutli-disciplinary specification across the project team on a new build primary school project in Scotland.
Primary school
The case study is taken from the AU London class from myself and BDP's Alistair Kell. It looks at how specification and model can be developed in parallel from the Developed Design stage of a project through to Technical Design.

If you are interested in learning more about producing a fully coordinated set of design and specification information all classified to Uniclass 2015 then check out the story below:

2. David Miller Architects - 10-20 SME architectural practice
The David Miller case story covers similar principles to the BDP story. However, it is nice to view the same approach from a small architectural practice that is delivering on complex projects by leveraging an innovative approach to technology.
Wall details from a housing project
Even in a smaller project team, the need for collaboration and coordination is most definitely there. The above screenshot shows complex wall details generated from a model that are coordinated with the specification information in the NBS Chorus cloud platform.

Watch out for more case studies in 2020. We're hoping to soon have some good stories from practices using Macs/ArchiCAD and clients and contractors who are now seeing the benefit of collaborative cloud specification.

UK BIM Alliance - BS EN ISO 19650 Guidance - Part 2

Earlier in the year I blogged about the UK BIM Alliance's guidance document for the concepts behind the BS EN ISO 19650 standards.

I thought it probably a good thing to do a little post about the part two of this guidance series that was published a month or two ago. Again, this is a free download, and is available below:

19650 guidance - part 2
Whereas the first guide looked at the concepts, this second guide gives some really practical support with respect to the actual process of information management. Some screenshots below, from section 2 of the guide, to give a bit of an overview.

The workflow process as information is developed and approved/authorized 

An agreed naming convention for all information containers that are issued to the team
An agreed approach to revision codes for the information
The first section of a worked example showing how the suitability should be indicated using status codes
Finally, a shout out to the team who worked on this and put in lots of 'volunteer hours' to share knowledge and best practice around this...

Friday, 8 November 2019

CPA and NBS - Product Information Report

This week saw the publication of the CPA and NBS Product Information Report. The report was, in part, a look at the challenges set out in Chapter 7 of the Hackett Report, which relate to communicating construction product information in a clear and unambiguous way.
CPA and NBS report
In terms of what information 'users' of construction product information require, there were some clear requirements:

  • Technical product information to complete the specification
  • Third party certification
  • Suitability information - in particular if the product forms part of a system
  • Currency/availability information
  • Supporting guidance

It was also very clear that users want information digitally. The only significant requirement for 'physical' information was product samples and delivery of in-person CPD. This is a huge change in a decade where printed literature was once common place.

There was also a difference in understanding between what users wanted and what providers thought they wanted.

Focus more on:

  • Making product information more accessible from search engines
  • Making product information more accessible from online product directories

Focus less on:

  • Brochures
  • Sales reps
  • Trade shows
  • Promotion through social media

Clearly, the provision of well-structured, comprehensive and accurate product information is an area the industry must improve on.

However, the report also highlighted industry bad-practice around product substitution. This was found too often to be (a) badly documented and (b) not following approval mechanisms.

Certainly a few things to think about. Some screenshots from the key findings below...
The key information required from provider and user perspectives
Do product substitutions follow an agreed process and get documented

Are product substitutions always approved
How can accurate manufacturer product information be insisted on
Download the report for free below:

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Uniclass 2015 - Resources

At the weekend one or two people on Twitter asked if I could post some of the NBS videos demonstrating how to use Uniclass 2015 so they can use them when explaining classification to others.

So, here are some links to resources that some may find useful.

If you do download them and use them - then please credit NBS ( for use of the content and put a tweet out to help spread the word :)

Short video files showing the concepts:
These have been exported to WMV format so they should work fine when embedded in a Powerpoint. Download below:
- Google Drive Folder containing videos



Explainer article:
In addition to these videos, there is also a good 'What is Uniclass' explainer article from NBS Head of Classification Sarah Delany:
What is Uniclass 2015?

Download the tables:
...and of course there are the classification tables themselves. Download them for free or quickly query them using our online widget at:

Download the tables and play with the widget

Friday, 13 September 2019

Construction Project Information - Old School

I got handed some old project documentation today that was used to help inform the development of the very first National Building Specification in 1973.

This is from 1971 and I assume the original authors of the NBS took lots of 'best practice' examples to look through (such as that below) to standardize a national template structure.

Click on the photographs for a larger version...
Hand written specification from 1971
Think about the physical item, draw it, add the spec code, write the spec, work out the quantities - simple
CI/SfB codes - still used by many for work packages/drawing numbering to this day
Good old BS 1186
As everyone knows, BS 1186 was updated in 1971 and then again in 1990
It's 1971 and we need to invent a product that will bridge the communication gap between designer and contractor
Who needs Revit/ArchiCAD to generate schedules - it was so much more fun in 1971!
...and along came NBS in 1973.

Anyone else with nostaligic items from the past - feel free to send photographs through :)