Sunday, 19 April 2015

NBS Create 1.5 - now available

Last week we released quite a big software release for NBS Create our award winning specification product.
NBS Create

Behind the scenes at NBS, we have been working very hard on NBS Create - many months of hard work have gone into version 1.5. This blog post looks at some of the latest enhancements.

1. Speed and reliability
Just like software programs like Microsoft Excel (.XSLX) or Autodesk Revit (.RVT), NBS Create saves information to a local database file (.SPEX). The user selects where to save the database file and then, if on a LAN or a WAN, the network speed plays a factor in terms of performance.

Our users have told us that this performance is a high priority - on a slower network, how can we make the software as fast as possible? We have spent a lot of time re-factoring the code base to really improve this. We have also changed the way that the information is saved. The user now works on a specification with the information in their machine's memory and then selects when to push this (or discard the changes) into the specification file.

There is, of course, flexibility over auto-save options to give the user more choice. In addition, whenever a process intensive operation takes place the progress bars and feedback have been improved throughout the software.

As always, we have also spent time carefully addressing a number of bugs - and so far on the whole user experience of the software has been very positive. Users of NBS Create 1.4.7 that upgrade to 1.5 over the coming weeks will hopefully be very pleased with these enhancements.
Enhanced performance and feedback when working on a specification
2. Multiple users working on a single specification
With NBS Building (and NBS Specification Manager before that) habit was quite often to leave the specification until late in the project and then for one person to write it in the last few days. With NBS Create, the specification may be started at concept stage and then developed through to a performance specification at the developed design stage prior to evolving into a full specification at the technical design stage.

Developing the specification in a more considered way also lends itself to more than one member of the team contributing to the writing of this document. Ensuring that performance and user feedback is excellent when multiple users are concurrently working on the same specification has been a big priority for our R+D team over recent months. In the example below - the user Stephen is logged on - it is clear from the specification navigator view which of his colleagues (Alan) currently has systems checked out to work on them.
Who is working on what
In NBS Create clauses can be shared. In the example below, the steel pipeline specification is shared by the gas supply system and the heating system. The user 'Stephen' can open the gas supply system for editing, but when this user gets to the steel pipeline specification he can see that his colleague 'Alan' has this open already in the heating system. What is also shown is user notes for this job that can be easily added to the Guidance window to the right of the software.
Ideal for multiple users working on the same specification
3. Easily administer the users on your licence
Not strictly new to the 1.5 release of the software, but one of last year's other enhancements was a major release of the web site to administer the NBS Create licences across a practice. In the first screenshot below, a user has remained logged into NBS Create and has then left office. The administrator can easily log on to the admin site and release the licence seat.

In the second screenshot, it can be seen that the administrator can manage permissions across multiple users in a user friendly interface.
Free licence seats that are taken but not actually in use
Control what each user in your practice has permissions to do
4. Say it once and in the right place
In section 2 of this blog post the steel pipeline specification being references by two parent systems (gas supply and heating system) was considered when two people were writing the specification.

The user then has flexibility on how to publish the specification. They can publish the specification system-by-system and this will repeat the steel pipeline clauses twice in both systems. Alternatively, they can publish the specification by section - this groups common items together by their classification - so all of the pipelines products would be grouped together. Where the user chooses the second of these options, the references to the parent systems are now (optionally) clearly displayed. So this has the benefits of grouping all similar items together - but also understanding the context of where these products are used.
Clear relationships displayed for clause relationships across different sections
5. Built for BIM
At NBS we provide library reference information to be used on projects. So when we consider information modelling - it is more about modelling the information that is then used by our users to design buildings rather than the buildings themselves.

When modelled successfully, it is easy to display relevant information from one service in another. In the screenshots below, the user can quickly find BIM objects when specifying similar items. This makes a much easier workflow for the user and saves time as the specifier can quickly drop these items into their model - or pass to a colleague who is working on the model.
In a few clicks go from NBS Create (Sanitary-ware) to related NBS Plus to linked National BIM Library (Dyson) 
From Ceiling specification to Armstrong Ceiling BIM objects ready to add to model
Additionally, NBS Create Specifications can now not only be generated from our Revit plug-in or the Twyford SpecMaster Online tool - but now also the NBS BIM Toolkit.

This sequence in BIM Toolkit is shown below.
  1. The required systems and corresponding design responsibilities and levels of information are agreed by the project team at the developed design stage of the project.
  2. NBS Create specifications can then be automatically generated for each of the organisations responsible for the work.
  3. The brief for each system entered in the BIM Toolkit comes through into the NBS Create specification to inform the work that needs to take place.

Responsibilities and LOI agreed by the project team in the free-to-use BIM Toolkit
A set of specifications created with the click of a mouse
The brief for each system written in the BIM Toolkit flows through into the systems in NBS Create
So... a whole load of work in total that is making the award-winning NBS Create better and better. Firstly, a big focus on the speed and stability - but then also really making the product work elegantly in a world of digitally connected information.

Finally, if you have a subscription to NBS Create, make sure you get the most out of the products by checking out the support on offer:
...and for those not using NBS Create - please visit our website for more information:

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