[2019] Planswift 10 Essential Guide: Everything You Need to Know

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What is Planswift?

Planswift is an on-screen digitizing and takeoff system that is suitable for both commercial and residential general contractors and subcontractors in a number of industries. It is mainly used in estimating quantities from electronic plans in addition to the possibility of adding unit costs for the estimated items, which makes it a very powerful and essential tool. The simplicity of the program and its relatively low price as compared with its competitors helped it to be on the top list for many contracting companies throughout the world.

Table of Contents (click for easy navigation)

  1. Introduction to Construction Cost Estimation
  2. Top Features of Planswift 10
  3. Planswift Basics: Knowing Your Software
    1. HomeTab
      1. New Job
      2. Open Job
      3. Print
      4. Navigate
      5. Zoom and Pan
      6. Scale
      7. Dimension
      8. Annotations
      9. New Area Tool
      10. New Linear Tool
      11. New Segment Tool
      12. New Count Tool
      13. Single Click
      14. Send Data
      15. Email Job
    2. Page Tab
      1. Add Pages
      2. Page Rotate and Level Tools
      3. Page Flip Tool
      4. Page Invert and Crop as New Page Tools
      5. Other
    3. Tools Tab
      1. Takeoff Item
      2. Pitch Calculation Tool
      3. Triangulate Calculations Tool
      4. PDF to TIF Converter Tool
      5. Zip SwiftJob Tool
      6. Attach Excel Sheet
      7. Save Screenshot Tool
    4. View
      1. Show/Hide Option Buttons
      2. Font Adjust Buttons
    5. Estimating Tab
      1. Estimate New Folder
      2. Estimate Folder and Item Delete
      3. Estimating Columns Options
      4. Estimate and Templates Refresh Button
      5. Estimate and Templates Column Properties
      6. Copy and Paste Buttons
      7. Estimate and Template Adjust Buttons
    6. Lists
      1. New List
      2. List Delete
      3. List Properties
    7. Templates
      1. Template New Folder or Sub-Folder
      2. Template New Item or Sub-Item
      3. Template New Area or Sub-Item Area
      4. Template New Linear or Sub-Item Linear
      5. Template New Segment or Sub-Item Segment
      6. Template New Count or Sub-Item Count
      7. Template New Assembly or Sub-Item Assembly
      8. Template New Part or Sub-Item Part
      9. Templates Columns Button
      10. Create New Template Tab
      11. Estimate and Templates Column Properties
      12. Estimate and Templates Refresh Button
      13. Export Tab
      14. Import Tabs
      15. Estimate and Template Adjust Buttons
    8. Settings
      1. Data Storage Locations Deleting and Properties
      2. General Settings
      3. Company Information Settings
      4. Keyboard Hotkeys
      5. Interface
      6. Zoom and Pan Options
      7. Annotations Settings
      8. Graphics Settings
      9. Takeoff Tools Settings
      10. Snapping Settings
      11. Notification Settings
      12. Digitizer Tablet Settings
      13. Property Groups
      14. Advanced
    9. Reports
      1. Report Layout
      2. Print Preview
      3. Page Setup
      4. Refresh Data
      5. Export to Excel
      6. Export to HTML
      7. Print Reports
      8. About Reports
      9. Report Formatting
      10. Report Grouping
      11. New Report
    10. Help Tab
    11. Plugins Tab
  4. Pricing
  5. Pros and Cons
  6. Conclusion

Introduction to Construction Cost Estimation with Planswift

Construction cost estimation is the prediction of total cost of a construction project. [1] The accuracy of the estimation process for any construction project is a crucial factor that heavily impacts any construction project. This depends on two major points: Accurately estimating the quantities and properly pricing the estimated items. We will discuss the first point, as the second point is beyond the scope of this article.

For many years people have used manual estimation methods through printing the drawings and plans and measuring the quantities directly from them. This was a tedious and burdensome task in addition to the cost of printing and the increased possibility of human errors during the estimation process.

 After the introduction of CAD programs, estimators were relieved because they did not have to do everything manually, but could use their computer to calculate instead. Although CAD programs have made the estimation process much easier, there were some limitations: You still need to have the plans in the same format and version of the software you are using, which is not always possible. In addition to this, you need to count and record each quantity separately and calculate the total quantities either by hand or through a computer, which increases the time and risk of error. A final disadvantage is that you can never know whether you have included a certain item in your takeoff or not, because you measure the quantity from screen, memorize it and then record it on your own. There is no markup on your plan to verify which items are included in your takeoff. This makes it also harder for other people to review the estimated quantities. These limitations have created a need for on-screen takeoff software programs like Planswift. On-screen takeoff programs are easy to use programs which can estimate quantities from any kind of plans (PDF, JPEG, TIF, etc.) and automatically calculate the quantities that can be exported later to complete your estimate. In addition to this, these programs create a set of drawings with colored markups and a legend, which makes it easier for anyone to make sure items are included in the estimate and the quantities for all of them. We will discuss these steps in the coming sections and explain the main features of Planswift 10 (These steps are applicable to previous versions as well).

Top Features of Planswift 10

The top features that can be found in Planswift 10 are:

  1. Full integration with Microsoft Excel
  2. Planswift is extremely customizable and powerful
  3. More samples and templates that save time and money
  4. Easy to learn, average user takes around 14 days to learn the software.
  5. Around 10 times faster than traditional estimating
  6. It provides accuracy based on the colored markups, if the item is colored, it is counted
  7. You can calculate material and labor for your projects
  8. Top rated customer support
  9. Provides better value for money compared to its competitors
  10. Introduces single click, which enables you to count your areas, linear items, etc. by one click of your mouse.

Planswift Basics: Knowing Your Software

At the top of the program interface, you can find 11 tabs. We will discuss in this section each tab in detail and display its function as found in PlanSwift 10. After you understand each tab, you will be able to complete your first takeoff.

Home Tab

The home tab has the main tools that help you to do your takeoff. You can start a new job, open and existing job, print jobs, navigate your plans and do your takeoff using the home tab.

New Job

To open a new job, click on the “New” button, and then enter your job details.

The “New Job” window will appear. You can enter the Job/Quote number, description and any notes you would like to include. It is possible also to choose which measurement system you are using (English or metric). This needs to be adjusted at the beginning of the job. Select the storage location for the job data from all the available locations. It is also possible to create a new location through clicking the New Data Storage button.

After the project information are entered, you need to import the project plans. The plans can be imported in any format, but it is highly recommended to convert the plans to TIF format, which is done by default through Planswift. TIF files are easier to navigate and minimize the lag time through navigating between the plans and facilitates the estimation process.

Open Job

You can open an existing job through the “Open” button.

After selecting the location of the stored job, select the job and click “Open Job” to finish and open the job.

Print

To print a drawing or a set of drawings you can click the “Print” button.

Select the required information to print. There are several options to choose from:

  • “Print Image Only”: This option lets you print the plan images without any markup or any additional information.
  • “Print Visible Items”: Through this option you can print the drawing in addition to the Planswift markups.
  • “Print Current View”: If you only need to print the view you are zooming at you can select to print the current view option.

With “Print Image Only” and “Print Visible Items” you can select any page image you want to print. Select the check box for each page you want to print, or “Select All” for all the pages in the job. To start the printing process, click the “Print” button.

Note: Printing to scale is not possible unless the original electronic file is to scale, and the selected print size corresponds to the original file.

The navigation buttons allow you to move backwards and forward in the Pages you are working on.

“Back”-will move you to the page previous to the current page.

“Forward”-will move you to the next page.

The previous and next pages are not always the next in the list. PlanSwift goes by the pages you are viewing. This way you do not need to skip pages you are not using.

Zoom and Pan

The Zoom and Pan window allows you to better view your plans through the following options:

  • “Zoom”: Allows you to select an area on your plans which will be zoomed to fill your screen area.
  • “Zoom to Fit” – Re-sizes the current plan to fit your screen desktop.
  • “Zoom In” – Zooms into the plan centering on the center of your desktop.
  • “Zoom Out” – Zooms out of the plan centering on the center of your desktop.
  • “Pan” – This will allow you to drag your plan across your page.

Scale

The most important step when you start any project, is to adjust your scale. If you miss this step, than your whole estimate is wrong. If a plan image needs rotating or leveling, this needs to be done before the image is scaled. There are two options in scaling the drawings: If the scale it written on the drawing and it is accurately scanned, then you can use the automatic scaling by selecting the lower portion of the button. You need to make sure that the scale is right through measuring several dimensions. This ensures that the scale is set accurately.

In case the scale of the drawing is not known, you need to follow the following steps:

  1. Click on the drawing to scale.
  2. Select a measurement on the drawing to scale, ideally one more than 20 ft long for best precision. It does not make a difference whether the measurement is horizontal or vertical yet for best outcomes doing both will help.
  3. Select the “Scale” catch from the toolbar.
  • Enter the measurement into the Scale Dimension dialog and choose “Ok”
  • Now snap two points on the drawing that compare to the measurement entered. You will need to zoom and choose the focal point of the measurement lines for best precision.
  • Once the drawing has been scaled, an arrow will show up beside the name in the pages window. The arrow will likewise demonstrate the direction that page has been scaled.

Note: In order to guarantee that the scale is properly set, make sure you verify one horizontal dimension and one vertical dimension.

Dimension

 If you need to measure any dimension in Planswift, all what you need to do is to click the “Dimension” button.

It is also possible to customize the line color, text color, font name and height for your dimensions through the “Properties” button. You can also choose the level of precision of the dimensions and if you want to show arrowheads at the ends of your dimension line or not.

To start recording the dimension, select the starting point by left clicking your mouse and then going to the end point and clicking again. Repeat this step to take all the necessary dimensions. After you have completed recording all your dimensions, press the “Digitizer Recorder” button to stop recording dimensions. If you want to remove a dimension, all what you need to do is to click on it and press delete on the computer keyboard.

Annotations

The annotations tools help you make remarks and notes while you are studying your projects. There are several options in the Annotations:

Notes: Through the notes button you can add important notes you find to your drawings. To start adding a note, click on the “Note” button and insert your note on the plan. After placing your note, the “Note Properties” window will appear.

Through this window, you can choose the color of the notes window, transparency, text color, alignment and size in additions to the text alignment. It is possible to tick the Auto size button and the text will be fitted inside the assigned area for the note.

Highlighter: The highlighter tool helps you mark any section or area in the drawings. Pressing the upper half of the highlighter button enables you to highlight any area on your plan, while clicking on the lower half of the button enables you to choose the color of your highlighter.

Overlay: You can place a separate page from your plans onto a page you are viewing through the overlay tab. There are two options available during overlay:

  • Standard Overlay which is useful while comparing two images, this option places the second page on the current page, usually for comparing two images
  • Comparative Overlay, which is very helpful when you want to view revisions made in the plans. This enables you to place the revised plan over the original plans, and the differences are shown in different colors. If you need to add an image to your plans, you can do this through the image icon.

Image:

It is easy to add an image to Planswift. All what you need to do is to select the page you want to add an image to, select the “Image” button to start and select the image you would like to add. You can browse to the image or enter the location. Click “Open” to insert the image. After inserting the image, choose the location of the image through your mouse, which allows you to adjust the size as well. Releasing the mouse button completes the action.

Annotations: This is a new feature in Planswift 10, a dedicated Annotations button. This button enables you to add revision clouds, rubber stamps and sticky tabs. Clicking the upper half of the button will add a new annotation, while the lower half allows you to choose from the below options:

  • Revision Clouds: You can configure a new cloud or add a standard revision clouds to your plans.
  • Rubber stamps: This feature allows you to add one of the stamps available in Planswift or configure a new stamp.
  • Sticky tabs: You can add also a sticky tab from the library of Planswift or configure new tab.

New Area Tool

Calculating square foot areas in PlanSwift is simple:

  1. Open a plan image in the PlanSwift software and press the Upper half of the New “Area” button from the Toolbar. This will create a basic area. Selecting the lower half opens a drop-down menu of tools based on the basic area object such as the Joist Tool, roof area, grid tool etc.
  • Choose a color and enter a name for your area. The folder defines where this area belongs (Ground floor, first floor, etc.) . Folders can be created in the estimating tab and will be explained in later sections.
  • Click the “Ok” button. Set points on the outside of the area you wish to use

Choose Stop after the area is completed. The area measurements are reported next to the area’s name underneath the plan image that contains the area. To continue digitizing a different section with the same area press the green button next to the item in the pages list or you can right click on the area and select “New Section”. You can also use the hotkeys to start a new section. The hotkeys will be defined in a later section.

New Linear Tool

If you want to measure a linear item choose the “New Linear” tool. Select “Linear” to open the linear tool box.

After clicking on the “Linear” button, you can define the properties of your line item. You can accept the default or pick the properties you want for you item.

The steps of using the “Linear” tool are summarized below:

  1. After setting the properties select OK button to continue.
  2. Click on the endpoints of you linear item.
  3. If you have by mistake click on a wrong stop, you can undo your action by clicking “CTRL Z” on your keyboard or click on the backspace key.
  4. To end recording you item, press “ESC” key or click on the “Digitizer Record” button.
  5. You can start a new section in same way as described in the area tool.

Clicking on the lower half of the linear button option more options: Single click linear, which enables you to complete your takeoff in one click, wall area where you can give your wall dimensions and use the area in further calculation and the linear cubic yards which can be helpful in calculating concrete or earthworks quantities only using the linear measurement.

New Segment Tool

The “New Segment” tool allows you to create a Segment digitizer. The Segment digitizer draws individual line segments but returns the total linear measurement for that object. This is helpful in case you would like to create a lumber or steel member list for your project.

When you click on the “Segment” icon, the properties window will open where you can adjust the properties of your segment. The measurement steps are similar to linear items.

New Count Tool

The “New Count” tool allows you to create a digitizer Count to mark and count items on the plan, allowing you to quickly total up items on the plan. The information and properties of the item are completed through the properties window. In order to count a new item, all what you need to do is to click on it and it will be counted

Single Click

One interesting feature in Planswift 10 is the “Single Click” tool.

This tool enables you to finish your takeoff in just on click. By clicking on the button, you can choose either to measure Area, linear or count. Planswift inspects the plan and the possible boundaries, and by clicking inside a certain area it suggests the different takeoff options available.

Send Data

This option allows you to choose a certain item and send it directly to the file you are working on.

Email Job

It is easy to send job plans, screenshots or SwiftJob files to people in Planswift.

To email files press the “Email Job” button. A window open where you can toggle between the different options.

In case you are sending plans, just select what you want to email be checking the box in front of the plan. To select all pages in a plan folder, mark the check box for the folder.

After finishing click next to continue.

Complete the Sender / Recipient Information including your name and email address.

To add recipients, you can type their email address in the box and select “Add or choose the name from your contacts or outlook list.

After your files are uploaded, you will receive an email from the sender. If you want to download the files, click on this link or copy and paste it into your browser.

Page Tab

Add Pages

Add Pages Tool allows you to simply add new pages, either from a file or blank. This tool can convert the file format if needed. Select the “Add Pages” button from the pages tab, and then select the type of page you would like to add.

Select the files you want add and make sure that the check box is selected for the files you need.

You can adjust the conversion functions as needed.

Page Rotate and Level Tools

You can change the orientation of pages through the “Page Rotate and level tools.

  • “Rotate Left” – Rotates the page counter-clockwise 90 degrees.
  • “Rotate Right” – Rotates the page 90 degrees. “Rotate 180” – Rotates the page a full 180 degrees.
  • “Level” – Allows you to automatically level the page through selecting two points on a horizontal or vertical line.
  • “Batch Rotate Pages” – PlanSwift will automatically rotate all pages in a job LEFT, RIGHT, or 180.

Page Flip Tool

If you want to flip a page you are working on you can use the flip buttons, which enable you to flip the page either horizontally or vertically.

Page Invert and Crop as New Page Tools

You can update your job pages using “Invert” and “Crop” as New Page Image Tools. Using “Invert” button will let black appears as white and vice versa, while the “Crop as New Page” will create a new page in the project through cropping an image.

Other

The “Set Origin” and “Offset Origin” are new functions which are added in Planswift 10. They enable you to set a grid origin point or an offset from it.

Tools Tab

The tools tab allows you to edit your takeoff items, creating a Swift job, making calculations related to the takeoff requirements in addition to linking an Excel sheet to a job.

Takeoff Item

If you need to edit the orientation of a certain takeoff item, you can use these tools. First of all, click on the takeoff item. The following options are available:

“Rotate Left” – Rotates the takeoff item count-clockwise.

“Rotate Right” – Rotates the takeoff item clockwise.

“Flip Vertically” – Flips the takeoff item so the bottom is now at the top.

“Flip Horizontally” – Flips the takeoff item so the left side is now on the right.

Pitch Calculation Tool

The Pitch tool is a great tool that enables you to find the pitch and angle of a slope.

  1. Select the “Pitch” button.
  2. Click on the first point of the slope you want to measure.
  3. Click on the second point of the slope.

A window will appear with the both the pitch and slope of the line you just made.

To close the box, click the “Ok” Button.

Triangulate Calculations Tool

If you want to measure the angles and side lengths of any triangle you can use the

Triangulate tool.

  1. To use select the “Triangulate” button.
  2. Click on the three points of the triangle you want to measure.
  3. The measurements will automatically be shown.

Also, you can use this tool to find an unknown dimension with two known points. To do this, click on the two known points and the unknown dimension. This will show you how far away the unknown dimension is from the two known points.

PDF to TIF Converter Tool

Sometimes you need to convert more PDF to TIF. You can achieve this through the PDF to TIF converter. Select the “PDF to TIF Converter” button.

  1. Select “Select Folder” to browse to the folder location containing your PDF plan files.
  2. Select the folder then click “Ok” to continue.
  • All PDF files in the selected file location will show.
  •  Press the check box for the files you would like to convert.
  • Choose the folder location.
  • Next you can choose the DPI, which is the indication of the resolution. For most plans 200 DPI and Black & White will work well, but you can change the settings as needed.
  • Select the “Convert” button to start the conversion process.
  • When complete the conversion is completed measure will display and the TIF files will be in the selected location. Click the “Close” button to close this menu.

Zip SwiftJob Tool

In order to import your job to store it or send it to a teammate or a client, use the “Zip SwiftJob” tool.

  1. Click on the “Zip SwiftJob” tool button
  2. Choose the location you want to save the zipped job into.
  3. Select “Save” to start the process. After the job is done the window will close automatically

A SwiftJob will look as follows

       Unzip SwiftJob Tool

To unzip a SwiftJob files onto your computer use the Unzip SwiftJob Tool

  1. Click the “Unzip SwiftJob” button.
  2. Select the SwiftJob file you would to open.
  3. Click the “Open” Button to continue.
  4. Select the Location to store the job and the Job Name.
  5. Click “Ok” and PlanSwift is unzip the SwiftJob file so you can open and use it.

Attach Excel Sheet

You can attach an Excel sheet to a job through clicking the “Attach Excel File to Job” button. All what you need to do is to search for the file that you want to attach, click on the file and then click open.

Planswift provides the ability to live link and update Excel WorkBooks in real-time, initiate and add to PlanSwift takeoffs, navigate easily from Excel takeoff values to PlanSwift takeoff values, assign multiple properties to a single takeoff, export Excel templates from Excel back into PlanSwift, and unlink a job.

Planswift ribbon bar tab shows in Excel once Planswift is installed and Excel is started

Pressing on the connect (green orb) icon connect the excel sheet to Planswift. Once a quantity is changed in Planswift, it is automatically changed in Excel.

Save Screenshot Tool

The Save Screenshot tool allows you to capture and save an image screenshot for later use.

The process is simple: After saving the screenshot, choose the format and location and press Ok after you have finished.

View

Show/Hide Option Buttons

  • “Show Labels” – Displays labels on the page.
  • “Hide Labels” – Hides labels on the page from view.
  • “Show Digitizer Items” – Shows items used by the digitizer.
  • “Hide Digitizer Items” – Hides from view the items used by the digitizer.
  • “Show Overlays” – Displays plan page overlays.
  • “Hide Overlays” – Removed overlay page from view. “Show Dimensions” – Displays dimensions on the page.
  • “Hide Dimensions” – Hides from view dimensions on the page. “Show Notes” – Displays notes on the page.
  • “Hide Notes” – Hides from view notes on the page.

Font Adjust Buttons

These buttons allow you to adjust the font, height, colors and transparency of fonts on your job pages.

  • “Font” – Select the font style you want to use.
  • “Height” – Select the font height.
  • “Font Color” – Select the color the font will be.
  • “Background Color” – Select the color to use as background.
  • “Transparency” – Set the amount of transparency the font will have when available. When done click the “OK” button to activate the settings.

Adjust Labels

Adjust Dimensions

Adjust Notes

Estimating Tab

Estimate New Folder

Folders can be a great way to divide estimating items into meaningful groups.

The “New Folder” button allows you to add a new folder to your estimate, or if you select the lower portion you can add a new sub-folder.

  1. Select the “New Folder” button to begin.
  2. You can update the information about the folder directly on the estimate table by selecting the square you wish.

The “New Item” button allows you to add a new item or material to your estimate. By selecting the bottom portion of the button, you can add a new sub-item

  1. You can update information about the item directly on the estimate table by selecting the cell you want.

Estimate Folder and Item Delete

You can delete a folder using the delete button. The deletion process will delete the folder and all of its contents.

Estimating Columns Options

The “Column” button allows you to update, add and delete columns on your estimating form.

Select the “Column” button to open the Estimate Columns dialog box.

You can make changes or update directly on the form.  Select the item you would like to update and change the information.

To add a column, click on the plus sign, to delete a column click on the x sign, and to close the dialog press on the power button. The following cells need to be filled:

  • Date Type – Select the type of data that will be found in this column.
  • Text – Allows Alphanumeric characters such as letter, numbers, and characters. Number – Allow number to be input into the cell.
  • Check box – Creates the cell as a check box allowing a Yes/No selection. Visible – Do you want the Column to be visible or not visible.
  • Format – Allows you to set how the column contents are formatted and the number of decimal points displayed.

Estimate and Templates Refresh Button

Use the “Refresh” button to refresh the screen and estimating numbers with any updates you may have made.

Estimate and Templates Column Properties

The “Properties” button allows you to change, add, or delete estimate column properties, including adding formulas and advance items.

The Form window allows you to change the name of the column.

To make greater changes select the Advanced button.

In the advanced window you can make any change you would want. You can update information, add formulas, and see when the column was changed.

When done click the “Ok” button to close the window.

Copy and Paste Buttons

These buttons enable you to copy and paste your information. You can the hotkeys to copy and paste as well.

Estimate and Template Adjust Buttons

The “Adjust” buttons enable you to change the level and sub-level of columns in your estimates as following:

  • “Up Arrow” – Moves the selected column up one level.
  • “Down Arrow” – Moves the selected column down one level.
  • “Left Arrow” – Moves the selected column up one sub-level.
  • “Right Arrow” – Moves the selected column down one sub-lev

Lists

New List

You can use Lists to create drop down menus for lists of items you need to enter repetitively (i.e. stud sizes, concrete reinforcement, etc.). The steps are as following:

  1. Select the “New” list button
  2. Select the type of list.
  3. Simple List – You will input the list option.
  4. List from MS Access File Tables – List choices will come from a Microsoft Access database.
  5. ADO Query List – List choices will come from a query list.
  6. Select “Next” to continue.

Simple List

  1. Enter the Name for the List, this is the name you will use in item Properties.
  2. Click “Next” to continue.
  3. Enter the values you want in the drop-down list. Your list will be saved and available to you when you are done entering choices. In case of using formulas, you must check the Parse Formulas box as in the second image.

MS Access File Table

  1. Enter or navigate to the file containing the database.
  2. Click “Next” to continue. All the tables from the database will be made available as a list selection.

ADO Query List

  1. Enter the name you want to use to reference this database, this is the name you will use in properties later.
  2. Enter the Connection String and SQL.
  • Click the “Next” button to complete the database connection.

List Delete

The “Delete” button allows you to delete lists you have made.

List Properties

The list Properties button gives you access to the many property of the selected list.

  1. Select the “Properties” button.
  2. From the list properties window, you can view and change many of the properties of the list. By selecting the List row, you can add, change and delete list choices.
  3. When finished click the “OK” button to close the window.

Templates

Template New Folder or Sub-Folder

Folders are a great way to arrange and organize your information. For instance, you can use folder to organize your project by trade (Architectural, Civil, MEP, etc.) or by Floor (Ground, First, Second, etc.) or both. The creation of a folder is simple:

  1. To create a New Template Folder, select the “New Folder” button. If you would like to create a sub-folder select the lower portion of the button.
  • The “Form” folder option allows you to enter a folder name.
  • When done click the “OK” button to continue, you have created a new folder for your use
  • The “Advanced” folder option allows you to enter, set and update more option.
  • Select the “Advanced” button to open the properties window. Other – Other folder properties grouped together for easy reference. Icon – This is the Icon used to display the folder.
  • Item – Properties related to the folder.
  • Name – This is the descriptive name for the folder. Type – Type of folder.
  • Audit Trail – Properties related to when the folder was created and when it has been updated. Created By – Who created the folder.
  • Time Stamp – Date and Time the Folder was updated.
  • Padlock – Allows you to lock and unlock the contents of that row. Clicking in the lock will change the setting.
  • Light bulb – Indicated if the row is visible or not. Yellow Bulb – Row Visible.
  • Gray Bulb – Row will be invisible.
  1. When done click the “OK” button to continue, you have created a new folder for your use.

Template New Item or Sub-Item

To create a New Template Item, select the “New Item” button. If you would like to create a sub-item select the lower portion of the button.

  1. The “Form” item option allows you to enter an item name.
  2. When done click “OK” button to continue, you have created a new item for your use.
  3. The “Advanced” folder option allows you to enter, set and update more option.
  4. Select the “Advanced” button to open the
  5. When done click the “OK” button to continue, you have created a new item for your use.

Template New Area or Sub-Item Area

If you would like to create an item before you do the takeoff within the template for future use, you click on the “New Area” button.

  1. To create a new area, select the “New Area” button, to create a new sub-item area select the lower portion of the button.
  2. The “Form” properties window allows you to name your area, set the color, fill type and location.
  3. When finished click the “OK” button to continue, you have created a new area for your use.
  • The “Advanced” Area option allows you to enter, set and update more option.
  • Select the “Advanced” button to open the properties window.
  • Estimating – This section allows you to estimate, set formulas and equation for estimating and define other area estimating rules for use later.
  • Item – This section allows you to set general information about the template area including the name and the area type.
  • Other – Under this section you can set some of the action the area will handle.
  • Audit Trail – Properties related to when the folder was created and when it has been updated. Created By – Who created the folder.
  • Time Stamp – Date and Time the Folder was updated.
  • Padlock – Allows you to lock and unlock the contents of that row. Clicking on the lock will change the setting. Light bulb – Indicated if the row is visible or not.
  • Yellow Bulb – Row Visible.
  • Gray Bulb – Row will be invisible.
  • When done click the “OK” button to continue, you have created a New Area for your use.

Template New Linear or Sub-Item Linear

From within the Templates tab you can create linear for use in estimating and takeoff before you need then, or export/import them into jobs. The steps are the same as for the area.

Template New Segment or Sub-Item Segment

From within the Templates tab you can create segment for use in estimating and takeoff before you need then, or export/import them into jobs. The steps are the same as for the area.

Template New Count or Sub-Item Count

From within the Templates tab you can create count for use in estimating and takeoff before you need then, or export/import them into jobs. The steps are the same as for the area. The steps are the same as for the area.

Template New Assembly or Sub-Item Assembly

From within the Templates tab you can create assemblies for use in estimating and takeoff before you need then, or export/import them into jobs.  Assemblies allow you to pre-build all the materials and tools you will need for a specific item, such as concrete slabs.

Template New Part or Sub-Item Part

Templates Columns Button

The “Columns” button allows you to update, add and delete columns on your estimating form.

  1. Select the “Columns” button to open the Estimate Columns dialog box.

You can make changes or update directly on the form.  Select the item you would like to update and change the information.

To add a column, select the plus (1) then enter your information about the column.

To delete a column, select the column then select the x (2). The column will be removed from the estimating table.

To close the dialog box, select the close button (3).  Your changes will be saved and will take effect. Name – Use this column to give your estimate column a descriptive name.

Date Type – Select the type of data that will be found in this column.

Text – Allows Alphanumeric characters such as letter, numbers, and characters. Number – Allow number to be input into the cell.

Check box – Creates the cell as a check box allowing a Yes/No selection.

Visible – Do you want the Column to be visible or not visible. Show Units – Will display units of measure.

Format – Allows you to set how the column contents are formatted and the number of decimal points displayed.

Create New Template Tab

The “New Tab” button allows you to add tabs to the template desktop. These tabs allow you to organize your assemblies, tool, parts and other items into useful group.  You can also export and import tab between jobs.

  1. Select the “New Tab” button to open a new tab.
  • Enter a name and update the storage location is you want.
  • When you are done click the “Ok” button, your new tab will be available at the top of your desktop.

Estimate and Templates Column Properties (Templates)

You can adjust the columns properties from the properties window after clicking on it.

Estimate and Templates Refresh Button (Templates)

Use the “Refresh” button to refresh the screen and estimating numbers with any updates you may have made.

Export Tab

The Export tab allow you to export tab you have already made from a job to be used later in other jobs.

  1. Select the “Export Tab” to start.
  • Select or navigate to the location you want to export the tab into.
  • Name the tab.
  • Click the “Save” button to finish export the tab.  The window will close automatically when done.

Import Tabs

You can import tabs you have previously exported into any job.

  1. Select the “Import Tab” button.
  2. Here is an example of what a PlanSwift tab file would look like.
  3. Select the tab file you want to import.  You can either enter the information or navigate to the file.
  4. Click the “Open” button to continue.
  5. Select the location to store the tab and enter the name for the tab.
  6. Click “Ok” and the tab will be loaded and available to you.

Estimate and Template Adjust Buttons (Template)

Same as in estimation

Settings

Data Storage Locations Deleting and Properties

You can easily change your data storage properties or delete a location from within the setting tab.

  1. Select “Data Storage” from the list.
  2. To Delete a location, select the location then the “Remove” button.
  3. And to add a new location, click on the “New” button, which will open the “New Storage” window where you can enter a name for the location and choose a destination for that new location.
  4. You can also select a color for the storage.
  • Confirm your choice then the location will be added or deleted.
  • To see the data location properties, select the “Properties” button.
  • You can make some changes from the Advanced Properties Box.
  • When complete click the “OK” button to close the box.  Any changes you have made will take effect at this time.

General Settings

The General Settings page allows you to make several choices about your overall settings in PlanSwift. Select “General” from the list. The check boxes enable you to choose the following options:

  • Open the last job you had open the next time you open PlanSwift.
  • Open to the first page of a job when you open that job in PlanSwift.
  • Open the last view you have open the next time you open that job.
  • Automatically remove the PlanSwift license when you exit the program.
  • Use the proxy settings from Internet Explorer for the network address of the intermediary server that is used between the browser and the Internet.
  • English – Select Display and Entry units is either English or FIS. Metric – Select the default unit of metric measurement mm/cm/m/km. Language – Select the language PlanSwift should display.

Company Information Settings

From the Company Info tab you can enter information specific to you and your company.

You can update your customer number, pin number, user name, and affiliate ID.

Keyboard Hotkeys

Keyboard Hotkeys allow you to make quick one key selections of tasks you do often.

PlanSwift comes with many already set hotkeys however you may update and change then as you like. For some options you may select two different hotkeys.

Interface

The Interface list selection allows you to select several options about the look and feel of PlanSwift.

Color Scheme allows you to pick the colors you prefer, Black, Blue or Silver. When checked shows the Under the Hood Screen Tab. This allows access to some of the internal settings of PlanSwift, although you may need to make changes here it is advisable to work with professionals when “Under the Hood”. You can choose the following options:

  • Show the Types tab in Templates.
  • Show a full screen cursor rather than a smaller one.
  • Display the cross hairs on your plan images.
  • Show large scroll bars rather than smaller ones.
  • Show tool hints.
  • Show digitized information.

Zoom and Pan Options

The Zoom/Pan selection allows you to set option about the Speed and look of Zoom/Pan features.

Annotations Settings

The Annotation Settings allow you to set the default options for your annotations.

  • These defaults can be overridden when selecting them for use in pages.
  • “Default Label Settings” – Allows you to set the default look and feel of labels including font, text height, color and transparency.
  • “Default Note Settings” – Allows you to set the default look and feel of notes including font, text height, color and transparency.
  • “Default Dimension Settings” – Allows you to set the default look and feel of dimensions including font, text height and color.
  • “Default Legend Settings” – Allows you to set the default look and feel of legend including font, color and transparency.

You can choose the following options through ticking the check boxes:

  • Automatically label area for you as you create them.
  • Show plan legend by default, however this can be changed if you prefer.
  • Display values in the legend.
  • Display units in the legend.

The Advanced Properties window allow you to set the details about the Annotations. When complete click the “OK” button to save and close the window.

Graphics Settings

The Graphics settings section allow you to set some default graphic options for all plans.

You can choose the following options:

  • Optimize large black and white images allowing for faster navigation.
  • When checked will show CAD drawing with a black background.
  • When checked will automatically convert colored CAD drawings into black and white plans.
  • When checked will enhance anti-aliasing of your image to allow for a better-quality image.

Takeoff Tools Settings

The Takeoff Tools setting allows you to set defaults for when you do takeoffs.

It is possible to choose the following

  • Verify your points before recording with the Verify Entry Box.
  • Verify the dimension properties before continuing.

Click “OK” to verify and continue.

Snapping Settings

The Snapping settings allow you to set how and when the snapping feature works on PlanSwift.

Click on the check boxes to enable the following options:

  • Enable all selected snap options.
    • Snap only to points created by the PlanSwift digitizers.
    • Enable PlanSwift to snap to points created in CAD files.
    • Snap to a point but if you hover at that point for a second or two the red snap box will turn green thus locking on that axis.
    • Lock the digitizer on the 90- and 45-degree axis through “Ortho” option.
    • Allow a bit more refinement only snapping to the 90- and 45-degree axis when you are within a few degrees of them.

Notification Settings

The Notification settings allows you to set how you will be alerted of PlanSwift updates.

You can select not to be notified, to always be notified or notified only when recommended updates are available.

You can also check for updated at any time under the HELP tab and Automatic Updates.

Digitizer Tablet Settings

This selection allows you to set your digitizer tablet connection options so PlanSwift can easily connect directly to your digitizer.

Property Groups

This allows you to edit the order that Property Groups appear in an advanced property window view.

Advanced

These options are utilized by Technical Support for trouble shooting purposes.

Reports

Report Layout

The report layout allows you to select the look and content of reports. You can select from predefined reports or create your own.

  1. Allows you to create a New Folder.
  2. Allows you to save the current report layout for later recall.
  3. Allows you to add a new report layout.
  4. Allows you to delete the current report layout.
  5. Allows you to refresh the Report List.
  6. Allows you to edit the properties of the selected Report.

There are several report types:

  • Basic – The simplest of the report layouts show basic icon, name, and digitizer information. Estimate with Markup – Show your estimate numbers along with any markups you may have.
  • Estimate – Customer Copy – Show the same information as the Estimate with Markup but without the markup information for viewing by customers.
  • Request for Quote – Provides the necessary information for other contractors to give you quote on work.
  • By Location – Breaks the report down by location if you are working with multiple location on one report, such as multiple houses or office units.
  • Report View – Provides you will all the information available for the reports.

You can customize these reports or create new report layouts anytime you want.

The “Print Preview” button will allow you to see what your report will look like when printed. See also Page Setup to modify how the page will print.

Page Setup

The “Page Setup” button allows you to set details about the report page layout, such as paper size, orientation, margins and scaling. Specific settings may vary based on your printer manufacture options.

When all is set as you like you can click the “Print” button to print or the “OK” button to close the window.

  • Page Tab – Allows you to set the paper size, source and order pages print in when the plan
  • Margins Tab – Allows you to set the margins around the paper and to select if you want the material centered on the page.
  • Header/Footer Tab – Allows you to add headers and footers to all pages of you printed document.

You can select the font type, color and size, and background color, along with what you want the header or footer to say.

PlanSwift has several useful predefined functions you can add to any part of you footer or header by first selecting the placement of the item then clicking on the function.

  • Scaling Tab – Allows you to set the scaling size of the report.
  • Adjust To – Scales the document to a percentage of original size from 1% and up. Fit To – Scales the pages to fit multiple pages on a single sheet of paper.

Refresh Data

The “Refresh Data” button reloads the data in the reports updating any changes you may have made outside of the reports section.

Export to Excel

PlanSwift has made it easy to export reports to Excel spreadsheets.

  1. Select the “Export to Excel” button.
  2. Enter or browse to the location you want to save the Excel file.
  3. Enter the file name.
  4. Click “Save” to save the file.  The window will close automatically when complete.

Export to HTML

It is simple to export to HTML Format.

  1. Select the “Export to HTML” button.
  2. Enter or browse to the location you want to save the HTML file.
  3. Enter the file name.
  4. Click “Save” to save the file.  The window will close automatically when complete.

Printing report with PlanSwift is simple and fast.

  1. Select the “Print” button to start.
  2. Select the print you want to print to from the drop-down menu. You default printer should be already listed.
  3. Select the Pages you want printed. All – Will print all the pages.
  4. Even – Will print the even numbered pages. Odd – Will print the odd numbered pages.
  5. Select the number of copies you want made.
  6. Select the “Collate Copies” check box if you are printing multiple copies and want the copies collated.
  7. Click “Print” to start the printing process.  The window will close when the task is completed.

About Reports

An important part of PlanSwift is Reports. They help you to show your information in an organized way. In the Reports tabs, you will have a default listing of different reports. Each report is specific to its filter such as the example shown here.

This example explains a filter that is set to filter items that are takeoff or digitizer items only.

The Filter searches through your project and displays the information based on the conditions you set in your filter query. The default Reports in PlanSwift are organized by different types; Takeoff (all digitized items), Material, Labor, Subcontract, Equipment and Other. These are the most common cost categories. You can customize what information is displayed from the items with the Columns. Each column is specific to a certain property such as quantity, units, cost etc. There is no limit to how many columns are present, but the column should be the same name as an item property. To create a new column, simply click on the columns button at the top.

You can also select which columns you would like to be visible within a report.

To create a new Report, first select an already existing Report, and then click on the green plus button under Report Layouts.

Doing this will create an exact copy of that report, and from there you can customize that new report to fit your needs whether by the filter or visible columns.

Report Formatting

To adjust the appearance of your reports, click on the Report Settings button.

There are many tabs in this window, a number of that aren’t used within PlanSwift. The most tabs that almost all user can edit are the view, Behaviors and styles. The primary tab is that the view tab. This tab permits you to edit what report elements are visible. The subsequent tab is that the Behaviors tab. Here, you will edit how your report can behave. For instance, the method choice possibility can create the report show solely what you’ve got chosen among that report. The increasing choices can automatically expand all sub things that are collapsed in order that they are ready to be seen once written. Underneath the data format Tab, it’s suggested to depart it set at ultra-Flat.

The styles tab is wherever you will edit fonts and color schemes.
Add a title to your Report, click on the Title Properties button at the underside of the window. You will use properties within the Title Properties and Footnote Properties. For instance, to feature the job Name to the report title merely enter [\Job\Name].

Another option for formatting your report is Page Setup. Click on the Page Setup button to open the window wherever you will modify how the Report can print. Such choices include printing the Report portrait or landscape, adjusting margins, headers and footers, Page size and Scaling Report Filters
Report Filters confirm what truly shows up within the report. PlanSwift uses the five typical value categories;
Subcontract, Material, Labor, equipment and other, you’ll produce alternative classes in addition. To edit the filter, click on the customize button within the lower right corner of the screen.

This will bring up the Filter Builder window. Here, you will choose what data you want to filter, the operator for the filter, and the criteria you are filtering for.

You can choose what you would like to filter by clicking the green highlighted words, such as quantity, type, folder etc. This list is generated by what columns you have defined for the report. Then, by clicking the red highlighted word, you can select what operation you want the filter to perform. Finally, by clicking the blue highlighted word, you choose specifically what criteria your filter will follow.

For example, you can set a filter for Quaintly (Qty), is greater than, 100. This filter will show all the items where the Quantity is greater than 100.

At times, you can select more than one operation for the filter.

You can have as many different conditions to your filter as you would like, simply click on the new condition button. Once you have created your filter, click “apply” in order to run the filter. You can save your filter for future use by clicking “Save as”, and you can also view a history of recently used filters by clicking the down arrow next to the filter at the bottom of the screen.

Report Grouping

You have the ability to group your data by the column headings that are visible in your Reports. The Grouping takes place in the light grey bar at the top of the report.

In order to group by a certain criterion, simply click and drag the column heading into the light grey bar. There is no limit to how many columns you have visible in a report. You may edit your columns by clicking on the Columns button.

To add a new column, simply click the green plus button and type in the column name. Be sure to set the correct data type when adding your columns.

By default, each column should match a property name inside your items; this is the only way to yield a result. A formula can also be created for a column by typing it in the Report Columns window. You can group by any column, and you may have as many groupings as you would like. Grouping is a great way to keep Reports clean and organized in order to make the data easily accessible.

New Report

Creating a new custom Report in PlanSwift allows you to view data and information that fits the criteria you need. If you go to the Reports tab now, you will see all of the default reports that PlanSwift offers, as well as any custom reports that you may have created. Select one of the report formats that is closest to what you are looking for, and click the green plus button under Report Layouts. This will open a window where you can rename the new Report you are about to customize. From there start filtering based on what you would like to see. Essentially, Reports have a few key components; Filters, Columns and Grouping. These allow you to edit the report to show what information you need and how it is organized.

Filters search through all of your data and extract information based on the criteria that you set thus reducing the results to only the items you need. Columns will report the property values that are stored on the items you filtered for. Grouping allows you to organize the results in a meaningful way.

Help Tab

The help tab enables you to check for many resources that help you to better understand Planswift. You can also access your account, check your license, and look for updates. The available resources are:

  • Tutorial videos
  • Knowledgebase
  • Webinars/Training
  • Support Chat
  • FAQ
  • User guide
  • System requirements
  • Contact options.
  • Remote Assistance
  • Previous versions.

Plugins Tab

You can expand your Planswift through the use of plugins. Plugins enhance the capabilities of the Planswift’s core utility. There are three plugin types:

  • Shell execute
  • Executable
  • Script Code [2]

Currently there are more than 25 plugins related to the different trades in construction, such as concrete, drywall, electrical, finishes, roofing, etc. You need to purchase each plugin in order to have full access to all its features, but it is possible to try the plugin for free for 14 days.

Pricing

PlanSwift offers a single enterprise pricing plan priced at $995/user. On top of that, it offers licensed support and upgrade program that costs $200 per user every year; and a 3-hour 1-on-1 training program that costs $295 per trainee. [3]

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • PlanSwift gives a high level of user control for the published result of the takeoff. You can modify takeoff colors, add notes, create custom legend (with notes), insert lines, arrows, etc.
  • Easy to use
  • Has many features that not only help in estimation but make the construction process easier (joist tools, rafter tools, etc.)
  • Good customer support

Cons

  • Long loading time for large projects.
  • Price can be expensive for small or medium sized contractors.

Conclusion

Planswift is a powerful tool that helps any contractor or engineer working in the construction industry to save time and money while doing their estimates. It is user friendly, minimizes the errors and makes the estimation process a lot easier.

Bibliography

[1] Adafin, Johnson, Suzanne Wilkinson, James OB. Rotimi, and Henry Odeyinka, “Accuracy in Design Stage Cost Estimating through Risk Contingency Analysis: A Theoretical Exploration,” Construction Research Congress, 2014.
[2] Planswift user guide 10.
[3] “https://reviews.financesonline.com/p/planswift/,” [Online].
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Mark has two main areas of expertise: Construction and mechanical engineering. Construction: Mark has extensive experience in tendering, construction management, estimation, preparation of bills of quantities, planning and many other construction fields. Mechanical: Mark has finished his M.Sc in Mechanical Engineering and is currently doing his PhD in the same field. Mark teaches different solid mechanics courses in the Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University (stress analysis, structural analysis, mechanics, engineering drawing and machine design.)