ATLANTA – Building Systems Design, Inc. (BSD) announced a completely new approach to updating the data in its master guide specifications product, BSD SpecLink-E. Instead of replacing the architectural and engineering database each quarter with updated content, BSD now delivers updates automatically via the Internet at a frequency determined by each subscriber. Users can choose to have updates downloaded as frequently as daily – but not less often than quarterly. There is even a new button labeled "Update Master Now" that allows users to get all available updates downloaded and applied to the master database within a matter of minutes.

Because BSD SpecLink-E is based on a relational database instead of word processing, each individual paragraph is part of a separate record and can be edited, deleted, or added to the master database without affecting other content. Project specifications are stored separately and can be visualized as an "overlay" on the master data, so updating the master data does not directly affect projects that are already underway, unless the subscriber wants to incorporate the latest information.

An existing project that would be affected by an update will be automatically compared to the new master data and marked through a color-coding system to indicate the availability of newer data when the file is opened. Users then have the option to ignore the updates, make all updates automatically, or review each potential change and decide whether to accept or reject it. It is also possible to update automatically only certain categories of data – reference standards cited in the specifications and the names of building product manufacturers that have been included. Another innovation allows users to open a project in read-only mode, which eliminates the comparing and marking process. This option, which allows the specifications to be printed but not edited, is appropriate for completed or archived projects for which updating would be unnecessary or misleading.

According to Robert Paul Dean, AIA, FCSI, CCS, president of BSD, "This on-line approach to keeping construction specifications up to date is revolutionary and will help assure our customers that they are producing the very best specifications possible." Dean went on to say, "Competing products using word processing have traditionally sent out replacement files on a quarterly or triannual basis, but since they replace only a handful of files each time, it typically requires six to seven years to completely update the content. BSD SpecLink-E, on the other hand, can update individual paragraphs at any time and typically issues changes to anywhere from 25 to 65 percent of its sections each quarter."

The new on-line data updating scheme is now in place and immediately replaces the prior quarterly release system. Changes to the software have been decoupled from the data updates and will require occasional downloading of automatic software installations on an as-needed basis, which will be announced on the product’s web-based Start Page and on the BSD website.