Saturday 30 January 2010

Using NBS with AutoCAD, Revit or Microstation

The 2010 releases of NBS Building, Engineering Services and Landscape include new export functionality.

It is now possible to export to Autodesk AutoCAD Architecture and Revit Keynote format. It is also possible to export to Bentley Microstation Keynote format.

This can be done from the Export dialog. Clauses from project specificiations and office standards may be exported.

Fig 1. Exporting the clause information from an NBS project specification. Excluded clauses not relevant to the project are not exported.

Fig 2. The exported database may be edited in Notepad or MS Access to remove clauses that are not required for annotation

Fig 3. The project specific keynotes may be easily attached to elements in the Building Information Model (BIM). Within the CAD software these keynotes allow easy reporting, scheduling and quantities to be generated.

Fig 4. The element now in the BIM model has the NBS keynote as one of its key properties

In the UK the Construction Project Information Committee recommends that CAD models are annotated with the clause numbers and titles from project specifications.


  1. This is a great functionality and has a lot of potential for the future development. It would be nice to have NBS annotator running within BIM software and linked to the project NBS database.



  2. The connection between the NBS specification tools and BIM software is long over due, so the news that this link has been made is a real break through! The potential for reducing errors between spec. and drawings has been dramatically reduced, as well as improving productivity substantially.

    I hope that this functionallity will be roled out across the various BIM software packages and not just confined to Autodesk and Bentley products. A lot of professionals would relish in the opportunity to be able to specify directly within the BIM model, it would be a shame if a large number were to miss out!

  3. @Rahul - Thanks for your comments, we hope it works well for your practice in March/April when released.

    @Nick - The blog post above is specifically about Autodesk and Bentley, but we'll be also making available the API so that any software package could interface with NBS. This could be a CAD package - or even Bills of Quantity software or scheduling software.

  4. It looks like a good start. (!) Not sure how this works with AutoCAD, although I can see how it would link with Revit. At this stage, is it more of an import/export process than a dynamic two-way link?

  5. Stephen

    Does this work only for NBS standard sections?
    We need a similar function for office standard specifications which are not necessarily based on NBS-CAWS standards. We also need to cross reference by keywords [keynotes in your terms] so it would be good to have a user option for numbers, numbers and keywords or just keywords.

    David Pryce

  6. @Rich - the post above highlights the *export* to keynote - this isn't a dynamic two-way link. The dynamic two-way link will be possible through us working with CAD companies to develop add-ons. I'll do a post on the features in our API soon.

    @David - The keynote export works off the clause details in your project specification and office standards. So if you have a specialist clauses they will come through. I'll add your suggestion about the user options to our "to do list".

  7. Stephen,
    This is a great step forward, is this to be included in the next release is so when? I assume that this is only for NBS Building and not Scheduler, it would be useful if the schedule item numbers & description could be made similarly available. Do you have any CAD specific instructions in my case for Bentley Architecture or will I need to contact Bentley?

  8. Alan,

    The Annotator tool will be included in the Building/Engineering/Landscape releases for March/April and the Scheduler release for August.

    I'd suggest looking through the Bentley support literature on keynotes. I can provide you with a keynote files if you email me one of your specifications/office standards/schedules of work.