The middle of August 2016 found four MCL team members in sunny San Diego, California. Although the weather was perfect, our MCL team was not there to take in the sun. They were sent to attend the annual Bluebeam eXtreme Conference.
For those unfamiliar with this product, Bluebeam is a PDF review and editing software that includes an intuitive toolbar layout that lends ease to marking up documents, combining and/or rearranging documents, printing pdfs, and sharing documents among as many users as one wishes through its Bluebeam Studio application.
While many of Bluebeam’s PDF document editing capabilities have become general knowledge for those who have replaced Adobe Reader with this arguably superior product, attending the Bluebeam eXtreme Conference unlocked doors to a plethora of other capacities that MCL staff might use Bluebeam to find efficiencies and/or better analyze and share information.
One of the ideas that resonated most after attending the hands-on training sessions, case-study presentations, and forums that filled this 2 ½ day conference, is the potential Bluebeam offers as a tool for collaboration across multiple stakeholders (within and outside of organizations) using Bluebeam Studio. A powerful example presented during the conference was a case study involving a project that required 25 separate utility companies to assist a design/engineering firm with identifying where their utility piping/conduit was located – and in return, helped the utility companies determine what work they would need to carry out in order to make way for the installation of a streetcar.
A user first creates what is referred to as a “session” in Bluebeam Studio – naming this session based upon the project, etc. at hand. From there, the administrator sets up a hierarchy of folders for uploading documents. For example, one might create a folder for each set of drawings that are to be published during the design phase (e.g. schematic design, design development, construction documents, etc.). Once created, the administrator can upload PDFs to that folder that will be shared across all users invited to the session.
How does one become a user?
Each session comes with an identification number that can be distributed to as many team members as needed so that they may join the session and - based upon the permissions granted by the administrator – view, markup, and/or add documents to the session.
What if a team member doesn’t have Bluebeam Revu?
The great news is a stakeholder does not need to have a paid subscription to Bluebeam to participate. A free version of Bluebeam (Bluebeam Vu) can be downloaded by anyone that provides the capability to review and mark up documents in the session.
What makes Bluebeam Studio so powerful?
The short answer is that information can be shared in real time. Studio combines the role of a file share/transfer program (e.g. Newforma) and file storage program (e.g. Dropbox) with a PDF editing software, giving team members the ability to visit one location to view the most up-to-date documents for a project and add their comments in one place. If you have ever been the recipient on an email chain of design comments by a stakeholder group, imagine if everyone had the ability to add their comments on the same, latest version of a document at the same time. With Studio that can be a reality!
Why is this important?
When MCL invests in the continuing education of their employees and stays up to date on software used by the architecture/engineering/construction industry, it helps us do our jobs not only more efficiently, but effectively – which always, ultimately benefits our customers.