Join Jim Rogers for an in-depth discussion in this video The basics of Bluebeam, part of Learn Bluebeam: The Basics.
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- Before we dive in to all of the features that this software has to offer, I want to spend a few minutes talking about the concept and the benefit of using Bluebeam as your default go-to PDF program. Now, this brings us to an important point. At its core, Bluebeam is really just a PDF program. Most of us have all access to PDF file a few times in our careers. Maybe you've used one of the free PDF reader programs that are available like Adobe Reader, or maybe you've even used one of the PDF editing programs like Adobe Acrobat, that allows you to markup and add comments to a PDF document.
However, Bluebeam software really builds on those basic functions by adding toolsets that are specific to and very useful for managing construction projects. Now, this includes features that allow us to view and manipulate large sets of 2D and 3D drawings, tools that allow us to do things like measure and estimate quantities and volumes, and tools that allow us to markup the document in many different ways, including the ability to sketch up new details or add redline markups directly to a set of drawings.
And all of this can be done right from within Bluebeam Revu, without the need for additional software or skills. Even the commenting and markup features can be tailored to work the way we're used to seeing things marked up in the construction industry. Now, let me give you an idea by what I mean by that. Take a look at this mark up tool here on the left. When I select this tool, instead of just highlighting, say, this text on the drawing, or using a pen and drawing a circle around it, I can use this tool, drag a rectangle around my detail, and drag this over here, and say, "Is this correct?" And, with just a few clicks, I end up with a cloud and comment, and a set of documents that's marked up the way we're used to seeing them in the construction industry.
So, while Bluebeam can open up all PDF files regardless of what program created them, all PDF files are not created equal. Markups and comments added to a PDF by users that are using a different software program, should still be visible in Bluebeam, but one of the things that's unique to Bluebeam is its markup log. So, when a PDF file is edited or marked up in Bluebeam Revu, the software tracks those changes in a change log, and I'm going to show you that at the bottom of the screen, by dragging that panel open.
Now, at the bottom of the screen, you'll see that it tracked the fact that I added this cloud, and it tells you who added it, where it's added, it's page three in the document, and I can add comments, in this case, the comment defaults to whatever I typed in that text box. Now, in addition Bluebeam contains some collaboratory features called Bluebeam Studio, that can only be accessed using one of the versions of Bluebeam software. And Studio, I'll show you here on the right side of the screen, by clicking on this panel, gives you some of the collaboratory features and cloud storage features that Bluebeam includes.
Now, even those with the free version of this software, which is called Bluebeam Vu, can view many of these unique features, and the free Vu program also inherits much of the navigation features found in the paid versions of the software. Now, while we're talking about the navigation, and talking about the decision to use Bluebeam as your default PDF software, let's look at some of those navigation features that are common to all the versions of the software. First, as you've seen, Bluebeam contains panels that can be opened and closed on three sides of the screen, to give you access to information and tools.
So, I drag those open, I'm going to drag those closed, and give us a little more room, to view our drawings on the screen. Across the top of the screen, you'll find a tabbed navigation bar, that lets you quickly jump between all of your open PDF files, shown here. Inside the panel on the left, you'll find tools for navigating through your files, by clicking on this icon, up here in the top left, called File Access.
Then, you can use the icons below to switch between viewing your most recent files, opening a file explorer, that lets you find files without leaving Bluebeam, or, I'll show you this feature here, if I close all of my documents, I can use this button, to instantly reopen all of the files from my last session, when I last used Bluebeam. So, clicking that, I open up all those same files that I just had opened.
Really great navigation features. The remaining icons on this navigation pane let me do things like view any bookmarks, shown here, and I can click this icon and actually view thumbnails of each one of the pages contained in this document, in this case, a set of project drawings. Another nice navigation feature is the ability to split the viewing screen and view multiple documents at the same time. Now, you access that feature by clicking on Window, up here, at the top of the screen.
When I click on Window, you notice that I get some options to split vertically, split horizontally, move documents between window panes, or close the splits. So, let me demonstrate how we might use that. In this case, I'm looking at my demolition plan, and I have my drawings open. I want to go ahead and click on Split the screen, and you'll see I'm now looking at same document in two screens. Well, I want to leave the drawings open here, but here, I want to switch to my permit form, so I can get information from my drawing and add it to my permit, and then, I'll also want to go ahead and split the screen horizontally, and now, I want to take a look at my regulations and specifications for this work.
So, that easily and that quickly, I'm looking at three different documents, all at the same time, and I can navigate between them, add markups to each of them, and when I'm done, I can just click on Unsplit a few times, and go back to viewing one screen. Because Bluebeam contains so many features that are common to all of its versions, but not found in other PDF programs, it really does work best if Bluebeam is used as the default PDF software throughout an organization or a project team. So, while Bluebeam may be just another PDF program, it really is tailored to the architecture, engineering and construction industry.
You can use it to open, view and edit any PDF file, created using any other program, but using Bluebeam as your default PDF program, gives you access to all of these toolsets and features, that are built for our industry. Now, in the rest of this chapter, we'll review the three paid versions of Bluebeam Revu, and the free version of the software called, Bluebeam Vu, in order to give you the information you need to determine which version's right for you, and the other people throughout your organization or project team.
Jim Rogers helps you choose the right version of Bluebeam for your company, customize the tools and views, convert files into PDFs, and create PDFs from scratch. In the final chapters, he covers Bluebeam Studio, the cloud components that make it easy to take projects mobile and global.
- Choosing a version of Bluebeam: Vu to eXtreme
- Installing Bluebeam and Bluebeam plugins
- Customizing Bluebeam
- Creating PDFs with Bluebeam Revu
- Converting images
- Editing Bluebeam PDFs
- Searching Bluebeam documents
- Making estimations and takeoffs
- Redlining as-built drawings
- Creating an active punch list
- Setting up a Studio Project or Studio Session