Sharing AEC Project Data with Stakeholders through #smarterPDFs

The AEC process spins off many different types of data as a project progresses from the design phase into construction and ends at closeout. Access to this project data is critical to aid in the success of a project. There is a need for a centralized, simple, lightweight, up-to-date and user-friendly interface that all stakeholders can use. A PDF dashboard can act as a launchpad for connecting these users to a project’s data.

So how do you create a Project PDF Dashboards? Surprising easy. Using Bluebeam’s Revu PDF software you can follow these easy steps:

  1. Cartoon out interface – Isolate what information you are trying to share and make a simple sketch of what you want your dashboard to look at. User interface is important. Simplicity goes a long way
  2. Create buttons – Using Revu create ‘text boxes’ to serve as a button. Adding .png icon images (google these as they are plenty and free) to these text boxes helps for easy button identification. ‘Group’ the text button and image together.
  3. Add ‘Edit Actions’ – Here is where the magic happens.
  4. Flatten – Use the Revu command ‘Flatten’ so that your PDF elements lock down and your buttons activate outside of .
  5. Transmit – email off to your project team

But what kind of information can a PDF Dashboard access? Way more then you probably realize. PDFs, image/video media, BIM models, and project management content as low hanging fruit. Anything that has a hyperlink, files stored on a cloud system (think Dropbox, Sharepoint, Bluebeam Studio), or even local .exe files.

Tips and Tricks

  1. Keep the ‘Snap to grid’ setting on. Use the ‘Alignment’ commands as well.
  2. Text label your dashboard with version tracking so you know what version a person is using. I like to make the version number the date.
  3. Store your PDF Dashboard on Dropbox. Provide a way to download the current version of the dashboard to allow the user to auto update. Create an ‘edit action’ with a dropbox link to the hosted version of your dashboard that you keep live.
  4. Dropbox hyperlinks trick – the default dropbox hyperlink ends in “…filename.pdf?dl=0”, note the ending of dl=0. Change that to “…filename.pdf?dl=1” and the file will automatically download.
  5. Test your PDF Dashboard before transmitting. Seriously, click on every button to ensure function. Dashboard credibility is important.
  6. Error reporting feedback. Give an email address to send problems to in the event the content link goes bad.
  7. Templatize the process. Save your buttons.
  8. KEEP IT CURRENT! Update the data in the links behind the scene so the PDF Dashboard stays a valuable resource.

Case studies – See some dashboards in action. These dashboards were created to show the various types of information you can connect to.


The original article can be found here

Myles M Martin AIA LEED AP

Follow me on Twitter @BIM_A_Team
Meetup with me monthly at the 'New Orleans area BIM User Group'

Myles M. Martin


As a LEED-certified Architect, Myles has been a member of the Rozas Ward team for seven years. He attended LSU University for architecture school and worked for several architecture firms after college. He even worked as a contractor to learn the materials and details first-hand. After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Myles returned, putting his skills to work to help rebuild the city.

Committed to keeping Rozas Ward at the forefront of technology, Myles launched the local NOLA Revit user group focusing on BIM software used at the firm. He’s a versatile, hands-on professional who enjoys engaging others and applying his skills and technology to any project, of any size, in any industry.

Myles knew he wanted to be an architect from the time he was creating structures out of Legos as a child. He sees every project as a new challenge and doesn’t ever anticipate getting bored.

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Myles M. Martin