CARMELHILL

Database specifications integration

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Can anyone recommend a good program, or technique, of creating a database of specifications, and then adding individual specs to a word document via simple clicking of checkboxes? Then drag and drop that created document into Chief. I want to enhance and customize my specificatikns but i need a better way. Can thks be done within ms word, or with ms excel, filemaker pro, etc...?

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44 minutes ago, CARMELHILL said:

Can thks be done within ms word, or with ms excel

 

Yes and yes.  Might do a little searching online.  The drop-down lists are quite easy to create and although I know true databases can be inserted and utilized somehow as well, I've never actually worked with those.  Drop-down lists can just be created as their own standalone items in both Word and Excel so I'm not sure the databases would really be necessary (not actually sure how those are even used though).

 

Just as a quick side note, in Word, you'll have to add the Developer tab (Options>Customize Ribbon) to get drop-down list capabilities.  With Excel its a pretty standard operation.

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Drop downs from a list are pretty easy in spreadsheet-you either specify the list (Data, validity in open or libre office) OR using the same tool have the data on a separate sheet and use LOOKUP. That works for any single cell and can be copied and pasted down a column or elsewhere.

IF you need the drop downs to be conditional-that is if you want what can be available in a drop down list to be limited by previous choices it gets complicated. Then the data must be on separate sheets and use need an Array formula with horizontal or vertical lookups in it. I have done that but many years ago so don't remember how. IF it helps I have a template in Open Office with arrays built in. Can get it to you to look over. It will only show you what can be done. It will not work in Excel and won't really show you how to make an array just part of what the formula looks like. Let me know.

 

A straight single file database will work a lot like the first option in spreadsheets. A relational database will do the second though I'm not sure it is any easier than learning arrays. (I've done that but even longer ago than arrays so no help) FWIW both Open Office and Libra Office have a database in the suites. Not as powerful as Filemaker or Access but free.

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Thanks guys. Those might be too complicated for the rookies in my office. I did some searching and will look further into:

MSWord Autotext, Autocorrect, Quickpart Gallery, Building Blocks Organizer

Phrase Expander , Text Expander and Autotext Software

Clipmate

Ditto

Clipboard Fusion

Spartan

Acetext

 

I'll let you know if I find something useful.

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How many paragraphs or items do you think you will need to keep track of.

Is this a construction specification you are talking about?

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Yes. A construction specification. I'm not thrilled with having everything in a single column of text that I subtract from. For the past 15 years I've had all my spec's fit on one sheet of 24 x 36, but I'm starting to get more detailed. I might be heading to a spec book rubber banded to all my plans. Only the very basic bldg code notes will still be put on the plans.

 

I've thought about Masterspec, Spectext, and others, but those are overkill at this point. I'd rather just like to be able to organize my own notes better.

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A while back (years ago) I created a spreadsheet for costing our building jobs.

I used excel at the time and it worked pretty well.

As there were a lot of items that were not included in the final price, we included a filter that would hide all the items that were not used in that pricing sheet.

I would think that something similar could work for your specification.

Yours would be a lot simpler as you would have no need to do calculations - you only need the text.

You could have each paragraph or note stored in a cell in a single column.

You then have another column where you enter a 1 (or any digit) if you want the item in that row to be included.

Maybe it would be possible to use a Tickbox instead of a digit?

I did that spreadsheet in excel when I was using a pc, but I just opened on my mac with Numbers and it still looks OK!

The formula in Numbers is fx IF (Cell # )>0,1,0

So if you enter a digit, that row is included in the final, otherwise it is hidden by the Filter (in Numbers).

 Maybe it would work better using a checkbox rather than a digit.

You can then use a Filter to only display the rows that contain the information you want.

In excel, I had a radio button that would do the hiding and displaying of the information with a single click - but that didn't translate to Numbers, and I can't remember how I got the radio button.

 

As you can see, it is pretty crude as I really didn't know what I was doing, but it did work and we priced many jobs in the millions of dollars using it.

 

PS. I just looked up how to do the radio button.

Although a Checkbox may work better.

"Go to Developer Tab –> Controls –> Insert –> Form Controls –> Option Button. ... 

Hover the mouse anywhere in the worksheet. ... 

Congratulations! ... 

In the Format Control dialogue box, in the Control tab, make the following changes: ... 

Click OK."

 

Thinking about this, if your needs are somewhat simple, you could probably do something directly in Chief using Notes and a Note Schedule.

Create notes of a certain Type and then use the same type Note Schedule that will only include that Type of note.

It means that you would need open the Note and change it's type so that it could be either included or excluded in the same type Note Schedule. 

Using Note Type Management, you can customise the Type of Notes to make additional Note Types in addition to Chief's OOB ones.

 

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I use Word. Text formatting and editing is easy. I have a master document that gets "copied" for each new job and I edit as necessary, then export to PDF for publishing. Making use of the "hidden" font attribute allows me to keep text without it being displayed or included in the TOC; "unhiding" allows me to include it at a later point in the job if necessary.

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On 12/7/2019 at 8:06 AM, CARMELHILL said:

via simple clicking of checkboxes?

 

Did you change the wording of your original post?  I could have sworn that it originally referred to using drop-down lists. 

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31 minutes ago, Alaskan_Son said:

 

Did you change the wording of your original post?  I could have sworn that it originally referred to using drop-down lists. 

 

No. I would prefer checkboxes in the database that sends items directly to the created spec book document. But it doesn't look like I'll easily be ableto get somethign like this. 

1 hour ago, rlackore said:

I use Word. Text formatting and editing is easy. I have a master document that gets "copied" for each new job and I edit as necessary, then export to PDF for publishing. Making use of the "hidden" font attribute allows me to keep text without it being displayed or included in the TOC; "unhiding" allows me to include it at a later point in the job if necessary.

That's what I've been doing for 19 years, but it feels clunky and tedious. 

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16 minutes ago, CARMELHILL said:

No. I would prefer checkboxes in the database that sends items directly to the created spec book document. But it doesn't look like I'll easily be ableto get somethign like this. 

 

That's weird.  My whole first post was typed up for drop-down lists and Mark's post was as well.  I guess we both just mis-read?  Anyway, check boxes are a different animal entirely.  If you're trying to place tick marks in check boxes that auto fill a form, then this is possible too (in both MS Word and Excel), but in both cases you would have to work with macros and learn to do some minor coding.  By the way, the same could essentially be done right in Chief, but again...it would require utilizing custom macros. 

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42 minutes ago, CARMELHILL said:

I would prefer checkboxes in the database that sends items directly to the created spec book document. But it doesn't look like I'll easily be ableto get somethign like this.

You would only need a database if you wanted to collect multiple items of text on a single line IOW text A = text b = text c all on one line or in one cell. In that case things like Clipmate won't help (been using Clipmate for a few decades-great, powerful, can get complicated but the simple things it does are invaluable)

IF what you want is to select single fields of text-text box a, new line, text box b....

then something like Glen's suggestion is the simplest and easiest way to go-can ever be simpler than he mentions and you really don't need radio buttons or text boxes (forms get complicated)

Here are screen shots of a simple two column listing using an Auto-filter.

  • First column you can use any single letter-typed or pasted or from drop down (note at least in oo the drop down will auto poplulate no need to create data validity for this) YOu could make it a little harder using a word (included)
  • Second column is the text you will want
  • both columns are selected and defined as a range, auto filter placed on top (it helps if the first row of the columns is defined as headers and not included in you output)
  • Auto filter only shows rows where the cell in  first column ares not empty; print range is set to only the second column

image.thumb.png.58e4d5e67fa1ff6a3b5f27d9749413ac.pngimage.thumb.png.62cd9aeec44f07ebacb72f53552e936d.pngimage.thumb.png.88568b080c2dc5c8e17d373cf4404b9f.png

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Mark,

Thanks for making that sound simple.

Your example is pretty much what I was describing.

It has been a few years since I played with all this and am now on a mac, so things are a little different.

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