Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Making the complex that little bit easier...

Large, hi-tech projects are rarely easy and straightforward. They often require detailed planning and the sub-division of tasks, their sequencing, consultant inputs, reviews etc... so that the end goals are achieved.

The development of the CodeBook GUI over the last year reflects this and the user experience has been simplified, based on roles. The CodeBook software has grown organically exponentially over it's life and around a year ago the development team took the opportunity to rethink, modernise and streamline the GUI.

Those that have been using CodeBook for a while, will remember the old layout and where each function was located. For new users this could take a while to learn and get used to in v10, whereas within v11 CBI have introduced "the ribbon", large icons and grouped together tasks based on workflows which make it much easier to find the function you need and navigate around the system.

When I first looked at v11 it took me a while to understand the layout and why things were arranged in the way they are, but when I started thinking in terms of roles it made a lot of sense.

The Home Tab is aimed at your general users, that are involved in developing rooms. You can navigate around your project through the Properties section, choosing whether to view Sectors, departments, floors, rooms, room data etc... which appear in the "main window". You can switch between these views quickly and easily too from within the main window, or from the ribbon.

The Room Linking section allows you to create or remove links, synch rooms etc... based on what you have selected within the main window. The FFE section currently shows Library Viewer and Attached Files and it is at this point that I want to draw your attention to the "local window" which runs along the left hand side, next to the main window.

The local navigation and main window work together when you are in related views - i.e. if you're in a room based view in both local + main, or FFE view within both local and main. In the example shown however, I have an FFE local view and room based main window, which means I can navigate around both quickly, but also drag and drop components from my local navigation into my equipment list in the main window - adding them to the equipment list.

Those of you with a keen eye will have noticed that the ribbon has slightly changed too, to reflect what I am now working on - i.e. FFE and I now have a Placement Section available, which allows me to insert equipment into my CAD/BIM model.

This adaptive GUI is fantastic in my opinion as it keeps things generalised where they should be and more detailed when you need them to be, rather than having every option presented to you all the time.

The Synchronise commands require you to have CAD/BIM open and Reporting enables you to create reports, or generate views/drawings depending on the CAD/BIM system you are using.

So most general users can now carry out 100% of their work all from within the Home tab!

In addition to general users, or room loaders as I sometimes call them, we have a couple of other types of users to consider - the template builders and administrators.

Template builders are able to generate Room Data Templates, Room Type Templates, Edit Equipment, Unions and Assemblies all from the Build Tab. Again the dynamic GUI will adapt and some additional options become available depending on what is happening within your local navigation or main window.

Administrators have several tabs to work with, first is Load, which enables you to import rooms and FFE from Excel, Revit, ADB, HFBS or wherever the brief data has come from.

Next is the Output tab, which contains features like creating Image and Revision databases and exporting data to A.N. other system.

Then Manage, which contains more advanced functions such as batch updating info, merging databases, creating shuttle databases, the placement matrix etc...

The penultimate tab is called Database and this allows you to compact & repair your database, query database types - yes it happens, sometimes people rename bizzarely / accidentally so knowing if a database is a project, equipment or room data is useful! If you are using the SQL server version, this is managed from here and likewise the mobile server.

The last tab Mode simply shows the current user mode selected, i.e. what Graphics Tool you are working with and the User Interface, i.e. Administrator, Project Manager or Team Member. You can switch between modes without having to close and restart CodeBook which can be useful on occasion.

So General Users = HOME
Template Builders = BUILD
Administrator = the rest

You could almost state that the tabs get increasingly more complex as you journey to the right and that individual capability is measured by how many tabs to the right you know... but that's just silly.

Make it happen.