Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Publishing your specification - Post 1 of 3 (Microsoft Word)

Our users regularly stress with us the importance of publishing the information within their specifications. Clearly, the content within NBS and the functionality to author the project specification is one of the major workflows in the process. But once the specification is ready, it is then shared with the rest of the design team and then this information flows through to the contractor, sub-contractors and the supply chain.

We have been working on quite a lot of new functionality in this area and this is the first of three blog posts looking at how we now provide users with a greater amount of flexibility in terms of how this information is distributed.

Traditionally specifications have been sent to the printer and distributed as a paper document. However, over recent years, digital PDFs have arguably become the publishing format of choice. Figure 1 shows that in NBS Create there are a wide range of formatting options (content, styles, margins etc...) that can be utilised prior to publishing.
Figure 1 - Send to the printer or publish as PDF directly from the software
In our customer satisfaction surveys, one of the biggest suggestions for improvement was to provide the functionality to export to Microsoft Word. This wasn't so that the document could be issued as a Word file. But it was so that some final 'tweaks' could be applied prior to issuing the final contractual PDF.

We recently introduced this functionality and Figure 2 below shows, once exported to Microsoft Word, that the navigation structure and style options are marked up correctly. The navigation tree is shown to the left - the styles such as Heading 1, Heading 2, Title are displayed to the right.
Figure 2 - Functionality to export to Microsoft Word format
Figure 3 below shows how the styles can be changed to a suite an organisations brand identity. The fonts, the sizes, the colours and the spacing have all been quickly modified.
Figure 3 - A well-structured document that respects the navigation and styles within Microsoft Word
Figures 4 and 5 below show that those used to the more advanced functionality in Microsoft Word can take advantage of this to make the presentation of the specification exactly as required. Examples of this could be reducing the page count by adding columns to the document, reducing the margin and changing the page layout. Other examples could be inserting images or tables or cover sheets to add further clarity to the publication.
Figure 4 - Further post processing can make the specification more compact

Figure 5 - In Word - any of the functionality such as customer header/footers/images/tables may be used to complete the document
This functionality is now available in both NBS Create and NBS Building. To find out more please see the links below:
The second blog post in this series looks at exporting the specification to the open data format COBie:


  1. So instead of adding the export to Word feature, why didn't you fix up Create so it could actually make proper cover sheets, with issue history etc on there! I hate dead end workflows that involve throwaway editing.

  2. Chris,

    Some information below on what functionality is currently available in terms of highlighting revisions on cover sheets in NBS Create: