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).