For more than 40 years, CMiC has been providing the construction industry with high-quality enterprise software. In order to maintain its competitive edge, the company has had to stay ahead of the curve, and it does this by offering on-premises and cloud services, along with all-encompassing management tools.
In recent years, CMiC made the decision to develop a mobile application to complement its web-based project management tool. According to Director of Product Management Steve Cangiano, this app would “allow construction professionals to view plans, track documents, and enter their employees’ time from the field.”
Creating an app was seen as a natural next step for CMiC. This is because using mobile devices and tablets in the field has become an industry standard, since many of the job’s responsibilities are performed at specific job sites.
Meanwhile, the traditional method of taking notes and filling out forms with pen and paper has been all but replaced with PDFs. This allows companies to enforce better workflows, keep track of documents, reduce waste, and avoid unnecessary travel to and from the office.
So CMiC began exploring how to handle complex PDFs and provide functionality such as annotation capabilities across the platform. As it wasn’t something the company wanted to create itself, CMiC intentionally sought out a PDF viewer and markup tools that could be easily integrated into its system. Construction industry standards like comment callouts and cloudy border annotations were especially important, in order to make integrating CMiC’s paperless solution into its workflows a seamless experience.
View documents, ranging from blueprints and drawings to photos and certificates
Create, fill out, and sign forms
Make and group annotations
Create, track, and respond to RFIs
Search documents and drawings and compare older and newer versions
Send and share documents directly in the app
Take, hyperlink, and send photos
“The electronic delivery of documents, along with the ability to view and annotate quickly and seamlessly enhanced our users’ workflows and made document management easier. No more downloads and uploads when marking up documents.”
In the construction industry, documents are always changing hands, and each new person who deals with a document often alters it in some way. And while CMiC had a workflow in place, it was looking for a way to streamline the process and make it easier for everyone involved.
“Since we are a web-based solution, viewing documents was never an issue. Rather embedded markups were the challenge,” said Ritchie. “So, in most cases, clients were willing to download documents from CMiC, use a third-party tool to mark up the document, and then upload the revision back to CMiC.”
While this worked, there was room for improvement. First CMiC tried using other solutions to build out an embedded viewer, but it still didn’t find the right fit.
“Then mobile took off, and we had to find a viewer and markup tool that worked flawlessly on all platforms — in addition to being feature rich,” Ritchie shared.
Once CMiC identified its use cases, the company started researching how to best provide what its clients needed. Ritchie came across the PSPDFKit framework and was interested in the SDKs tailored for each platform, seeing as CMiC had a need for support in both mobile and web apps. But it was the support for iOS that “drove the decision home” in his mind.
“We were looking for a development partner — both open source and other third-party libraries — that would give us a deep set of tools to allow us to customize viewers’ UI/UX. The depth of PSPDFKit’s features and responsiveness of the UI – it was exactly what we were looking to bring into our application.”
CMiC’s app is a project management tool called CMiC Mobile Field. In addition to being accessible anywhere in real time, it has features that allow its users to see details and make changes to documents that pertain to planning, management, and execution, both onsite and in the office.
Additionally, the app includes functionality that allows users to share synchronized annotations between devices, which is critical for collaborating on construction drawings. This is made possible by using XFDF as the interchange file format. XFDF is an XML-based format for storing PDF annotations and form fields external to a PDF file. PSPDFKit offers similar functionality in the form of Instant and Instant JSON, while also supporting XFDF fully. Together with PSPDFKit’s flexibility and expertise, CMiC built a syncing solution to fit the company’s specific needs. This kind of cooperation is key when relying on a technology partner.
“We found the tool set to be very deep, and it allowed us to take total control of the data moving between our application and PSPDFKit. The quality of the product is extremely high, and we know it will handle just about anything we throw at it.”
Since incorporating PSPDFKit SDKs into the Mobile Field app, workflows at CMiC have been streamlined, which allows for easy collaboration between project stakeholders. Less time is spent on traveling between job sites and the office or doing data entry, which sets projects up for success. And the ease of use of PSPDFKit’s UI means training requirements are minimal.
Furthermore, both employees and customers have reaped the benefits of quicker access to documents and forms, and the use of synchronized, cloud-based annotations provides workers with everything they need to do their job. Plus, PSPDFKit’s consistent updates and rapid pace of new feature development mean that CMiC can continue to improve and add new value to its app, which translates into real dollars saved on its P&L statement, as well as for each of its customers.
“We are dealing with very large and complex PDFs and PSPDFKit handles them extremely well. Additionally, the support staff and responsiveness of PSPDFKit’s leadership team has been extraordinary. They are a pleasure to work with and have allowed us to get the most out of PSPDFKit.”