Who needs Auto-PDF?

AECcafe.com has details of a new application that automatically converts online construction data such as RFIs and submittals to downloadable PDF files, “increasing convenience and enhancing security for architects, contractors, owners and developers” (or so claims US-based software vendor Construction Communicator). The news release says the PDF file format “is particularly valuable when traveling, when an Internet connection is not available or when it is more convenient to send an attachment by e-mail than to go online.”

I wonder how popular such a feature will be. Internet access is increasingly widely available (in the UK, for example, 2008 Ofcom figures show two thirds of households have internet access, most of it broadband – while the US figure is apparently even higher); the time taken to log into an online system will probably be about the same as it would be to find the relevant PDF on a laptop; and sending a PDF by email kind of defeats the object of having a centrally-held audit trail detailing all project communications, doesn’t it? I am also not clear how issuing forms as PDFs “enhances security”; it seems to suggest that there is something about the existing online issue process that isn’t secure.

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