November 2011


In This Newsletter

DHI 2011 New York: Follow Up

2012 Development Preview: A Look Inside the Process

New Catalog: Vision Hollow Metal Gets a Major Makeover!

AVAproject Tip: Creating Hardware Specifications using AVAproject - Part 1

Catalog Updates

 U.S. Price Books:

  • ABH
  • ASI
  • Baron
  • Hager
  • K2
  • Kaba-Ilco
  • National Guard
  • Rutherford
  • Yale

 Canadian Price Books:

  • Baillargeon
  • Baron
  • Canaropa
  • Draftseal
  • Rutherford
  • Sargent
  • Yale

DHI 2011 New York: Follow Up

Without a doubt, New York is one of the most vibrant and impressive cities in America. Home to many of the largest and most thriving business in the country, it made an ideal backdrop for our industry’s annual convention. At a time when many companies are looking for signs of economic improvement, nothing fills the bill more perfectly than spending a week in a New York state of mind.

From our viewpoint on the show floor,

a couple of things were readily apparent: First of all, it seems the show was far better attended than its Chicago counterpart last year; but even more importantly than that, there was a tremendous sense of optimism from nearly everyone we spoke to. It seems that many agree that the worst of the economic downturn we’ve all been experiencing is behind us, and a great number of distributors have reported increased construction activity in their home cities.

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to stop and visit with us, both on the show floor and at the Industry Marketplace event. We very much appreciated the opportunity to speak to old clients and new faces alike.

For now, the booth is packed up and stored away until next year. Las Vegas awaits us all!

2012 Development Preview: A Look Inside the Process

No sooner does one year come to a close than our development team must finalize plans for the next year’s offerings. In addition to some exciting new projects, many powerful enhancements to existing products have been planned as well as developed for their 2012 releases.

In order for any software developer to remain in the forefront of their market space, it’s imperative that they place an emphasis on product development that is second to none. AVAware users are all aware of the tremendous innovations and product releases that have been made over the past several years. Annual updates to AVAproject have been so extensive in recent years that we’ve taken to publishing detailed revision overviews to accompany the program’s ever-growing “Getting Started” manual and help documentation.

NOTE: Annual revision overviews are available for download on the AVAware website.

In order to facilitate such extensive product development over the past several years, we have streamlined our development cycle such that a single major product release is made each year. Instead of dribbling out new features as they are created, this unified approach provides for a far more stable product with a minimum amount of inconvenience to users. Rather than constantly updating and having to learn new features, this approach allows users to accomplish all this at once. Perhaps even more importantly, the design team is able to fully develop and test each new feature and the way it interacts with all the others in context of the total package. This schedule combined with an insanely stringent testing process has resulted in AVAware being able to significantly reduce the number of

annual maintenance updates in each of the past two years. Clearly, these recent initiatives have resulted in both feature rich updates and an incredibly stable product.

It seems that every year we say the same thing: “We predict that this year will bring with it the most development work we’ve ever done in a single year.” The good news is that somehow we always seem to make it come true. This year however, that doesn’t seem to say enough. This year will bring with it the most development work we’ve ever done in any three years combined!

Over the course of the year, our sales and support teams exchange notes and present the developers with product enhancement requests based on industry trends and most importantly, feedback from users. From there, the development team takes those suggestions and determines what can be done given the time allowed and manner in which the suggested enhancement fits in with the overall design vision for the software.

Work in the next year’s release begins the day after the current year’s release hits the streets, but at this point in the year, we traditionally “close off” the feature list for the next year’s update. That means that other than unexpected “must-haves”, we now have a clear vision of what the 2012 versions of each of our packages will look like.

Obviously, it’s poor practice to announce product enhancements until

they're actually ready for release. The development process being what it is, one can never be certain about how new features will look and perform until a significant portion of the development process is complete. At times it becomes necessary to postpone planned enhancements, either because of time constraints or because they are shelved in favor or higher priority items. It can be extremely difficult to predict exactly how long the most complex enhancements will take to complete. When creating new and innovative products, the best one can do is forecast timelines based upon experience. As good as we are, no one’s perfect. To their credit, our development team has managed to consistently release annual AVAproject updates within a month of their forecast dates. They’ve managed to do this even given our move in 2009, our extensive infrastructure enhancements in 2010 and the addition of new products in 2011.

Without giving away too much (we need to leave something to write about in the coming months), the following is a general outline of the releases planned for the first half of 2012. Please keep in mind, this is not intended to be a comprehensive list of features – those will be announced closer to release date. This is intended to be a preview of the general direction that the development team has been, and will be working in.

  AVAproject Fusion

In its first year of release, we expect to be spending a lot of time gathering user feedback and perfecting this exciting new product. In the October 2011 edition of AVAwire, we discussed future development surrounding this product from the perspective of Fusion evolving into a “platform” on which modules can be built and deployed. Fusion’s native file format is a “container” type that allows for virtually unlimited expansion, the creation of supplementary data tables and ability to hold multiple project files.

The primary development efforts moving into 2012 will be focused on perfecting Fusion’s reporting facilities and finalizing work on the Fusion Accounting Interfaces.

  AVAproject 2012

AVAproject has undergone a great deal of development in recent years. The 2012 release will include a number of features in response to user feedback and continue evolution of several features added recently.

The most exciting addition to the product is a data exchange module that will allow access to various file formats that contain BIM and related data. We anticipate an initial release of an AVAproject BIM module very close to the beginning of 2012.

  AVAcad 2012

AVAcad was AVAware’s flagship product, originally released in a DOS version before its redevelopment in Windows shortly thereafter. Over the past several years, product development has almost exclusively focused on developing new features in AVAproject. In 2012, the time has come for AVAcad to catch up to its younger brother.

We have several significant and graphic-intensive enhancements planned for AVAcad; so many in fact that it's quite likely that all the additions we have planned will span updates over the next few years.

New Catalog: Vision Hollow Metal

AVAware has recently added Vision Hollow Metal to our growing list of supported manufacturers.

Located in Woodbridge, Ontario (a suburb of Toronto), Vision Hollow Metal is the newest Canadian hollow metal manufacturer to be added to the AVAware catalog library.

AVAproject users interested in subscribing to the Vision catalog can contact us at, call us directly, or download the catalog order form from our website.

For more information about Vision Hollow Metal products, please visit their website at Gets a Major Makeover! has recently undergone a major redevelopment effort. In addition to some stunning new visual enhancements, many of the public webpages have been streamlined in an effort to create an even richer user experience.

For any company whose business scope goes beyond their immediate geographic area, there is no more important tool in their corporate bag than their website. A company’s website has often been called their “storefront in the global marketplace”. This makes a great deal of sense considering that a company’s website is often the source of new customers’ first impressions and their most convenient means of connecting with them.

This is even more important for companies engaged in the field of technology. For them, their website is so much more than place to research product information and keep abreast

of updates, it is their corporate resume.

For software developers, their website provides a first look at their perspective on design and their attention to the many details that can distinguish from their competition.

Beyond the new visual enhancements and the streamlining of many of the public web pages, there have been two significant areas in which the site has been enhanced:



Expanded Product Information


We’ve added (and will continue to develop) a great deal of new content in

the areas of product information and support resources. The new product pages employ an “accordion” type interface similar to those used in popular information resource sites such as Wikipedia. This modern style of interface allows users to easily navigate an outline view of large information source and selectively drill down into specific areas of interest.

The AVAware development team will diligently update these valuable resource pages as products are created and enhanced. Product information will complemented with support and technical resources aimed at assisting clients’ internal I.T. personnel.



Individual Login Credentials


In 2011, AVAware created a limited set of group policy options that could be set via the User Control Panel within the AVAware website. These options governed the manner in which updates were deployed to users within their company. The next version of this tool will offer a far more comprehensive list of options that will effectively allow administrators to configure AVAware software installations regardless of where they are physically located. The AVAware website will effectively become the center hub of a massive virtual network, connecting companies with all of their remote users. This methodology is similar to that of Apple’s new iCloud service or Microsoft’s Mesh.

To accommodate this new service, a number of significant enhancements to

The Software Settings Options in the Customer Login Area of the AVAware Website

the customer login system have been made. To this point, clients were given login credentials in respect of the company as a whole. Within their company accounts, clients are able to maintain and manage a list of individual users. Moving forward, individuals can have their own login credentials on the AVAware website. Client companies will have the option to designate an “administrative” account that will manage that user list and various rights and permissions of

each member. In addition, administrators will be able to tailor system settings as required for each individual user.

The greatest change however, is in the way the new login system is structured internally. When a user signs into the new website, their sign-in state persists throughout the session and entire website – not just in the customer area. For that matter, the “customer area” has now been replaced by a “Control

Panel” that can be called up in a popup window at any time and from any page on the website.

The final enhancement is the ability to persist the sign-in state across multiple sessions. In the same manner that one can persist a login to Facebook or Google, the same can now be done on Users can now elect to “stay signed in” and avoid having to re-enter their credentials each time they visit the site.

AVAproject Tip: Creating Hardware Specifications using AVAproject - Part 1

The hardware functionality of AVAproject is often overshadowed by some of the more graphic-based features of the software. The fact of the matter is AVAproject contains a host of powerful tools designed to assist specification writers like never before. This ‘tip’ is first in a special series dedicated to hardware and people that specify it.

Quite often, projects are estimated based upon Hardware Schedules provided by the architects or project managers. There are many times however, where the estimator is called upon to create the actual schedule or “specification” from scratch. This task, usually relegated to AHCs or other experienced specification writers, can be dramatically simplified by using some of the advanced features offered by AVAproject.

Once the take-off has been completed, a tremendous amount of the base information upon which the hardware schedule is built has already been entered. From the blueprints, the basic Openings Schedule complete with opening sizes, handing and fire labels forms the basis for the hardware specification. From there, the spec. writer can begin to assign hardware items to the openings.

An Openings Schedule containing only basic takeoff information

NOTE: This article makes reference to options and settings found in the “Hardware Schedule Preferences” dialog located in the “Project” menu.



Create the Structure: Automatically Generate the Framework for the Hardware Schedule


Rather than having to manually group similar openings in headings, AVAproject provides a powerful facility to have this done automatically. This important first step in creating an overall hardware specification would normally take hours in and of itself; once the basic openings take-off has been completed, the framework for what will become the hardware schedule can be generated in seconds!

The Grouping Options in the Hardware Schedule Preferences Dialog

Based upon the “Grouping” options selected and standards set forth by the industry, the system can automatically sort the project’s openings and arrange them into headings. There are a number of opening attributes than can be optionally selected or deselected for consideration in the grouping process. Any attributes that are not selected are disregarded - effectively this means that a difference in that particular aspect of the opening will not cause the opening to be positioned in a separate heading.

As an example, convention states that openings or differing sizes or material should be placed in separate headings. Despite this however, many AHCs will disregard attributes such as these if they don’t affect the hardware being used. Decisions such as this are often a matter of personal preference or the preferences of the client. It’s for this reason that AVAproject has been equipped with an extensive set of options to govern the grouping process; it makes it possible to allow for so many variations in personal preference while still being able to automate the process.

In addition to selectively choosing opening attributes, there are several other options that govern the grouping process. One such option is the very one that makes the automatic generation of a hardware schedule framework possible.

By default, AVAproject only groups openings that have hardware groups assigned to them; the assumption being that if a given opening has no hardware, it doesn’t belong on the hardware schedule. Under the “Inclusions” tab there is an option labelled “Include Openings that do not have assigned hardware groups?”. When this option is selected, all openings are considered and represented in the hardware schedule.

For someone creating a specification from scratch, this offers an ideal starting point to assess the size and scope of the entire project. It also offers an instant count of exactly how many different headings need to be created.

It’s important to remember that the number of headings that the project is divided into is directly related to the number of opening attributes that are considered in the grouping process. The fewer attributes selected for

The Inclusion Options in the Hardware Schedule Preferences Dialog

grouping consideration, the less granular the hardware schedule becomes and hence the fewer the number of different headings.

A Hardware Schedule 'framework' corresponding with the Openings Schedule pictured above

We welcome any questions, comments or suggestions about any topic mentioned in this edition of AVAwire. Please visit our website for more information, or contact us directly at (416) 239-9099.