When managing large projects, you may have thousands of files that you need to access daily. File management is key to ensuring that you’re able to access the files you need when you need them. Even with the most organized file structure, it can be difficult to quickly find and share the files you need. This is especially true when accessing files directly from the field. To help ease this process, you may want to create a digital project dashboard.
 
Dashboards are interactive PDFs with quick links to project documents. You can think of dashboards as comprehensive maps that allow you access to project files. Dashboards are generally created as PDFs, allowing you to share files with the entire project team.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019

In Bluebeam Revu, you can create dashboards by hyperlinking a PDF to project documents. You can also use your dashboard to link to outside information – such as web pages or online manuals. This provides the project team access to all information they need throughout the project’s lifecycle.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of creating a basic project dashboard in Bluebeam Revu. The following examples are from Bluebeam Revu 20. However, the capabilities are available within every version of Revu.


3 Steps for Creating a Dashboard in Bluebeam Revu

There are 3 fundamental steps to creating project dashboard in Bluebeam Revu:

1) Organize Your Files and Folders

Begin by organizing your files and folders within your Windows Explorer or preferred network/cloud drive. A well-structured folder system will enhance the efficiency of linking files within the dashboard. Categorize files based on their type, purpose, or any other relevant criteria. The dashboard we create will use this set folder/file structure.

2) Create the Dashboard Interface and Buttons

Next, you will design the interface and buttons for the dashboard. You can do this in a variety of programs, depending on the complexity of the design. Within Bluebeam Revu, we can create a basic dashboard interface using the standard markup tools. In this step, you will want to create a menu backdrop, headers, and any custom buttons needed.
 

3) Hyperlink Dashboard Elements to Project Files

Finally, you will need to hyperlink all the created dashboard elements to your project files. This allows you to establish connections between your dashboard and the related project data. You can also hyperlink to outside sources, such as URLs.
 
After completing these three steps, you will have a functional digital project dashboard. This interactive PDF menu will allow you and your team to easily access all project files, improving workflow efficiency.
 
Let’s take a closer look into these 3 steps and how they can to perform them within Bluebeam Revu.

Organizing Your Files and Folders

 
Before creating your digital dashboard in Bluebeam Revu, it is crucial to establish a well-organized file structure. This will streamline the linking process and ensure a smooth integration with your dashboard. You will want to consider the following items when creating this structure:
 

User Access

How will your end users be viewing the dashboard? If your company already follows a specific organizational structure, align your computer’s folder structure to match. This will make it easier for users to navigate and locate files within the dashboard. Common organizational structures include grouping files by discipline or file type.
 

Naming Conventions

Create folders within your Windows Explorer based on your chosen organizational structure. Use meaningful and consistent naming conventions for your folders to ensure clarity and ease of access. Make sure to create subfolders as necessary, especially when dealing with many documents of the same file type or discipline.
 

Maintaining Folder Hierarchy

Maintaining the hierarchy of your folders is crucial for your dashboard. Once you link your dashboard to specific documents, it is essential not to move or rename those files within your computer. Any changes to the file location or namie could break the links created in the dashboard. Before creating our dashboard, we will want to make sure our folders and files are set in their location and we won’t need to move them around later.
 

Consider Cloud-Based Options

In Bluebeam Revu, you can also link to documents hosted on cloud databases – such as Studio Projects, SharePoint, and Dropbox. If you choose to use a cloud-based option, you will still want to ensure that you have an established and stable organizational structure.
 
If you choose to use either Studio Projects or another cloud database, you will need to adjust a few preferences within Revu. To make these adjustments, select Revu > Preferences. If you plan on using Studio Projects to host your files, select the Studio tab and deselect the option to Open and save files to Studio from toolbar only. This will allow you to open documents from the Studio Project, rather than having to use the Document Management toolbar.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
If you are planning on using a document management system (other than Projects), select the Interface tab and deselect Open and save files to DMS from toolbar only and Always Show Selection Dialog. This will ensure that you can access your documents from any source – including the links in the dashboard.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019

Folder Hierarchy Example

For the dashboard I’ll be creating in this article, I have my folder/file hierarchy set up in Windows Explorer. First, I have a project folder named with the project’s number – TDM55421. Within this folder, there are subfolders for the different types of files – including Drawings, RFIs, and Specifications.
 
Depending on the number of files within the folders, you may need to create additional subfolders. The Drawings folder, for example, features a series of subfolders for the different types of drawings in the project. You can divide these folders even further as needed. Within the Architectural folder, I have subfolders for different sections of the building.
 
With my files and folders organized, I can use this set structure to begin building the project dashboard.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019

Create the Dashboard Interface and Elements

Once you have your files prepared, you can start creating the interface for the dashboard. A dashboard is generally composed of a backdrop, a header, and a series buttons. Depending on the complexity of your dashboard design, you can create a template in any program you would like to. For example, more complex templates could be made in a design program, such as Adobe Photoshop or Procreate. No matter what program you use, make sure to save the document as a PDF so you can open it in Revu later on.
 
In this demonstration, we will create a dashboard solely in Bluebeam Revu. There is no one single way to design your dashboard – you can have it look any way that you need it to. However, most dashboards will use the same basic elements – such as backgrounds, buttons and pages.
 
We’ll start by creating a simple dashboard using Revu’s basic markup tools.

Create a New PDF

We will start by creating a PDF to use for our dashboard. This will be our dashboard’s home page, but we will add more pages for navigation later on as well. To create a new PDF in Bluebeam Revu, select File > New.

 
You can adjust the size and orientation of the PDF as needed. For ease of access, I’ll set this to 8.5″ x 11” in Landscape orientation.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019

Add a Background

Next, you may want to add a background to the dashboard to customize it. If you need a solid color background, you can add this via a Rectangle markup. Select Tools > Markup > Rectangle and click and drag the cursor from one edge of the page to another. You can then use the Properties toolbar to adjust the rectangle’s properties. For a solid color background, you should add a Fill color and adjust the Line color to match.

Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
You could also choose to add an image as the dashboard’s backdrop. To do this, you need to have the desired image saved to your computer. For my dashboard, I’ll be using an illustration I created for the project. Images can be added using the Image markup tool – by selecting Tools > Markups > Image > From File. I’ll find the image file on my computer and select OK. Then, click and drag the cursor from one edge of the page to another to fit the image to the page. Using the Properties toolbar, you can adjust the image further by cropping or changing the Opacity.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019

Add Headers and Footers

You can also add headers and footers to enhance the interface. These are good for hosting important project information, such as the project name, number, and dashboard version. For these elements, we can add solid Rectangle markups. I’ll create three top level headers and one footer. For each, I’ll select Tools > Markup > Rectangle and click and drag the cursor to create the header size needed. For each rectangle, we will use the Properties toolbar to set a Fill color and set the Line color to match.

Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
You can then add text to these headers by adding a Text Box markup. Before going much further, you may want to turn on Snap to Markup. This option can be found under the View menu. This will cause your markups to automatically snap to other markups in the PDF. For Text Boxes, this option will align the header text with the header that was just created.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
To add a text box, select Tools > Markup > Text Box. Click and drag the cursor to create a box matching the size of the added header. Type in the desired text – such as the Project’s name – and then press ESC. Within the Properties toolbar, you can further adjust the text box as needed by changing the Font type, size, color and style. It’s often a good idea to adjust the text alignment using the Style dropdown. Here, you can select Align Center and Align Middle to place the text in the middle of the text box.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
Do the same thing for the other headers and footers as needed. It’s often a good idea to also add your company’s logo here. This can be added using either an image markup or a stamp, if you have one already created.
 

Create Buttons

The main elements that make up most dashboards are buttons. Buttons create the navigational structure of the dashboard, allowing you to access the project files. The types of buttons you create will depend on your needs within your dashboard. It’s may be useful to create a few different types of buttons.
 
In my dashboard, I’ll be creating three sets of buttons. First, I’ll be creating buttons for quick navigation – allowing users to quickly access the Home page and the Contact page. Then, I’ll be creating a series of Page navigation buttons. These buttons will take users to each page of the dashboard. Lastly, I’ll create the File/Folder buttons, which will allow users to open the files/folders for the project.
 
Buttons can be created using any of the Markup tools in Revu. For my buttons, I’ll be using Image markups and Text Boxes.
 

Quick Navigation Buttons

Quick navigation tools will generally display within a dashboard’s header. They will link to common areas, such as the dashboard’s home page.
 
For my dashboard, I’ll be creating 3 quick navigation buttons: a Home button, a Contact button, and a Weather button. I’ll be creating these buttons using transparent, vector icons. You can create these in Revu, but you can also find many free vector images online as well. I found a couple icons that I’ll be using, saved to my computer as image files.
 
To add these icons to the dashboard, I’ll add image markups by selecting Tools > Markup > Image > From File. You can adjust the images by moving and resizing them using the control points.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019

Page Navigation Buttons

Next, we are going to start creating the page navigation buttons. You’ll want to have a good idea of what pages your dashboard will need before beginning. After looking through my files, I’ve decided to organize my files by file type. I want to create buttons for each of these file types that navigate to subpages with more details. For example, I would a Drawings button to link to a page drawing subfolders – such as Architectural, Mechanical, and so on.
 
Each of these buttons can be created using a Text Box markup. I’ll start by creating the Drawings button by selecting Tools > Markups > Text Box. I’ll click and drag the cursor to create the desired text box size, enter in the Text and press ESC. Again, we will use the Properties toolbar to adjust the properties – such as setting a Fill color and adjusting the font color, size, and style.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
Once you have one button created, you can create the other 3 buttons via copy/paste. Select the button, right click and select Copy, and then right click and press Paste. Do this until all buttons have been created.
 
Rearrange the buttons on the page, and then double click on the text within the button to change it. Then, you can adjust their alignment selecting them all, right clicking and selecting Alignment > Align Middle. You can also distribute space between them by right clicking and selecting Alignment > Distribute Horizontally.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019

File & Folder Buttons

Next, we are going to add the file/folder navigational buttons. Most of our pages will feature several navigation buttons, following the folder structure we looked at earlier. Here, we will be creating a template page that we will be base the rest of the pages on as we go forward.
 
Within my project folder, I have 9 main folders, each with their own subfolders and data. I want to create a button on the home page for each of these folders to access the data within them. For the of time, we will again create one button and copy and paste it as needed.
 
I’ll do this the same way I created the page navigation buttons. I’ll create a Text Box, enter in the text, adjust the properties, and copy and paste it. I’ll continue this process until I have all needed buttons on the page.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019

Add Pages

After adding the initial interface elements to your dashboard, you will want to add additional pages to the PDF. Each page will relate to a section of the dashboard – such as Drawings, RFIs, and so on.
 
For this dashboard, we will have 6 pages – relating to the Page Navigation Buttons created earlier. We will need a Home page, a Drawings page, a subpage for Architectural Drawings, an RFI page, a Submittals page and a Site Plan Page.
 
Additional pages can be added to the PDF by opening up the Thumbnails panel. Copy and paste the first created page by right clicking on the thumbnail and pressing Copy. Then, right click in the same panel and press Paste. Repeat this process until you have all the pages needed,
 
It’s also a good idea to change the page labels of these pages so we can keep track of what will be on each individual page. Page labels allow you to name the pages of a PDF so they are eacg unique. You can change these page labels by double clicking on the current one – which, by default, will display the page number. I’ll set my page labels to match what the page will be for.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
We now have all the pages we need for our dashboard. Before we start adding links to these pages, we have to customize each page.
 

Customize Individual Pages

For each individual page, you will want to customize the interface as needed. For example, you may want to add or remove buttons and adjust button text. Each page should be customized to display different information. For example, the Drawings page will have buttons linking to different project drawings, while the Submittals page will have buttons linking to the project’s submittals.

 
Pages can be customized with additional information as well. For example, on the Site Plan page, we may want to place a drawing of the building being worked on. Any markup type available within Bluebeam Revu can be added as a dashboard element. I can add Notes, Snapshots, Images, and Shapes to add context to the Dashboard.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
Each page of your dashboard should be unique to share different project data.
 

Link Dashboard Elements

Every object on your dashboard should link to a page, file, folder, or outside resource. This will allow us to use this dashboard as a single navigational host for all project data. Hyperlinks can be created a variety of different ways in Bluebeam Revu. Links can be added to underlying PDF content, text, or directly to markups.

 
In this example, we created buttons using markups and will add links to them. To add a link to a markup, right click on it and select Edit Action. In the Action dialogue box, you can add a link to other dashboard pages, files, or outside resources, such as URLs.
 
In my dashboard, I want the Home icon to be linked to the Home page of the dashboard. I can do this by selecting Jump To > Page 1.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
The Weather icon will be linked to a URL showing the local weather for the project site. I’ll, again, right click on the icon and select Edit Action. This time, I’ll select Hyperlink and type in the desired URL.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
The Specifications button will be linked to the Specifications folder on my computer. In the Edit Action window, I’ll select Open > Folder, and find the select the desired folder from my computer.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
A lightning bolt icon will appear beneath the button, and selecting it will activate the link. Selecting the link to another PDF page will jump to that page in the document. If you select a link to an outside URL, a Web Tab will open in Revu for that page. If you select a link to open a folder or file, the selected folder/file will open within the program as well.
 
I recommend testing links as you place them to make sure they’re going to the right location.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
If you ever need to adjust the link, right click on the markup again and press Edit Action. You’ll then be able to change the markups’ action.
 
It should be noted that the markup itself will not activate the link – that is because the markup is still editable. Once we finish adding all of the links, we can flatten the markups to make them uneditable. This will allow the markup, rather than the action button, to activate the link.
 

Adding Links to the Tool Chest

Once you add a link to a markup, you can choose to save the markup to the Tool Chest for reuse. Markups with actions added to the Tool Chest will have the set actions saved with them. Instead of having to recreate links for each button on each page, we can save and add them from the Tool Chest.

 
Linked markups can be added to the Tool Chest by right clicking on the markup and selecting Add to Tool Chest. I can add this markup to any tool set, but I’ll choose My Tools. Within the Tool Chest panel, I now have access to the Home icon – along with an action indicator, showing that there is a link attached.
 
I can now place this markup on another page and the link will remain as a part of it. This will help us save some time as we are linking elements of the dashboard. We can also use these saved elements for any future project dashboards we may create.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019

Flattening & Locking

The last thing you’ll do to your dashboard before sharing it with others is Flatten or Lock the markups. Currently, all the dashboard markups are unflattened. This means that they can be edited and the attached links are only accessible from the action icon. If you plan to share your dashboard with others, you will either want to flatten or lock your markups.
 
Flattening markups will move the markups from the annotation layer to the underlying PDF content layer. The markups will no longer be able to be selected or edited, and markup data will not be available from the Markups List. Flattening markups with attached links will allow the link to be accessible from any part of the markup.
 
To flatten your markups, select Document > Flatten. While flattening, you can choose to allow for Markup Recovery, which will let you unflatten the your markups in the future if needed.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
Locking markups, on the other hand, will only lock the markup in place. The markups will not be able to be moved or edited, but will still display within the Markups List. The links will only be accessible from the action button.
 
To lock your markups, select all of the markups on the document. The easiest way to do this is by selecting the first markup in the Markups List, selecting SHIFT, and then selecting the last. Right click on the selected markups and press Lock.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
Make sure you either flatten or lock your markups before sharing your dashboard with others.
 

Sharing the Dashboard


With your dashboard complete, you can now share it with other team members. To save the dashboard, select
File > Save As. The document will save as a PDF file, allowing you to easily share it via email, network, or cloud based file sharing systems.
 
You can also save your dashboard as a template within Revu for reuse. For templates, you should save a unflattened and unlinked copy of the dashboard. The dashboard can be unflattened by selecting Document > Unflatten. All actions can be removed by selecting all markups on the page, right clicking and selecting Delete Action.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
Once you have an unflattened and unlinked version of your dashboard, you can save it as a template. Select File > New PDF from Template > Save As Template. Give your template a unique name and save it to your computer. You will now be able to open this template to create additional dashboards in the future.
Open PDF from File Access in Bluebeam Revu 2019
Digital project dashboards offer a powerful solution for file management in large-scale projects. By organizing files into interactive PDFs with quick links, dashboards serve as comprehensive maps that simplify navigation and streamline access to project documents. Within Bluebeam Revu, you can design a unique template, link to project files, and flatten elements to create a cohesive project dashboard. Embrace the power of digital dashboards to enhance file management and boost productivity in your projects.
 
Do you need more assistance in creating dashboards? Taradigm is here to help! Contact us for more information on our dashboard creation and training services.
If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please use the comment section on the bottom of this page, and don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to get more Bluebeam Revu tips & tricks directly in your inbox!

Lauren Hecker is the instructor for the Bluebeam Revu Essentials and Advanced courses. To see her next open enrollment course, please visit our Bluebeam Revu training page. To schedule an onsite or custom course, please contact us!

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