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RE: Building Codes Online?

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I will again also agree that it is great that AISC is able to and has
elected to provide the AISC ASD and LRFD specifications for free, as well
as other specifications and code documents such as the AISC Seismic
provisions and others.

But, I will again remind you that AISC is also a trade organization, which
means that part of their goal is to get us (the designers) as well as
contractors, developers, owners, etc. to use structural steel.  This means
that AISC has ata least one additional source of revenue that many other
organizations (ACI for example...since I am familar with them) do not
have...money from the sale of steel by fabricators, mills, etc. as part of
their member dues to AISC (although not all fabricators, mills, etc are
AISC members).  ACI does not have this source of revenue, thus the
production of things like the ACI 318 code (and other less popular ACI
techinical documents that are still incredibly useful) must paid for from
publication sales, member dues, etc.  While I don't know how much of a
difference this one additional source of income makes, it has to make some
difference.

The end result is that I am sure that ACI (and other organizations) would
just love to give you something for free, but they cannot afford to do
that AND still produce those same publications that you want for free.

You talk about online versions and how they would be so much more less
expensive.  I would suggest that you might be a little naive in this
assertion.  While not having to print out the publication and ship it to
someone will definitely cut some cost, it is not nearly as much as you
seem to think.  Let me offer an example...how much money would you be able
to save your clients if you only provided them structural drawings in
electronic format?  Sure, you save them the cost of printing it and
sending the drawings to them (assuming that are not close enough to just
come pick them up), but you still have the cost of you or someone else
doing the CADD work to get the information on the drawings in a clear
understandable (or not) way as well as checking that what was intended
actually got on the drawings.  What percentage of the "cost" of your
drawings are those tasks that cannot be "dropped"?  I would have to
believe that such cost are significantly more than the ink, paper, and
wear-and-tear on your printer (or some shop's printer).  And keep in mind
that drafting and checking are not really tasks that require an engineer
to do.  There are parallel tasks in publishing things like ACI 318 and
other code documents.  Even though a document may not be printed in
hardcopy, somoene will still have to lay out the electronic publication
because there is no way that you could operate only with the bits and
pieces of what has changed vs. not changed that you would get from the
committee (trust me on this...part of my job at ACI was dealing with these
bits and piecess from the committee and it is NOT easy to track those
changes for the purposes of creating the new version to be printed let
alone to used on a daily basis for design..if you want a small taste try
using the ACI 318-99 with the Concrete International article listing the
changes for the 2002 edition instead of the actual ACI 318-02 to do some
design work and then imagine that all those changes are NOT assembled in
nice logical order that matches the order in the code).  The point is that
there are still many tasks in the creation of the ACI 318 code (and other
codes) that must still occur regardless of whether or not it is printed
into hard copy format that are NOT done by the committee of volunteers,
but rather by non-engineers (and some engineers) who happen to need to
feed their families just like you do so they expect to get paid.  Thus, if
you were to switch to an electronic-only version of ACI 318, you might be
able to cut costs by around $10 to $20, which is about the cost of printing and
shipping...not much considering what you pay now.

One other thing to mention...take a good close look at your copy of the
UBC...you will notice that the concrete provisions ARE the ACI 318
provisions with some modifications.  if you look at the 1997 UBC, the
beginning of Chapter 19, division II states "Copyright by the American
Concrete Institure and reproduced with their consent".  Thus, the main
portion of the concrete provisions of the 1997 UBC are (and have been in
past versions the UBC from what I recall...I cannot lay my grubby hands on
previous version of the UBC at the moment) ACI 318-95.  More than likely
you HAVE paid some moeny to ACI when you bought your UBC, but less than if
you has bought the actual ACI 318 since ICBO "footed the bill" to do the
page layout of the provisions in the UBC and check that everything is
right (or at least close to right).  The different is that now when you
buy the IBC, ICBO/SBBCI/BOCA are not wasting their time and money doing
the page layout for such provisions (and introducing more opportunity for
error) when ACI already does that.  And you will notice that at least in
the 1997 UBC, your _ARE_ referenced to the AISC ASD and LRFD
provisions...they DO NOT reprint them.

To summarize, it would be great to be able to get all these publications
for free (i.e. no direct cost to you or me that we can see), but this will
not happen until there is a fundamental shift in how these organizations
get their revenue.  As it stands right now, if these organizations cannot
recoup their costs through the sales of publications, then they may be
forced into not being able to produce those publications.

HTH,

Scott
Ypsilanti, MI

On Mon, 7 Oct 2002, Structuralist wrote:

> Charlie,
> I think I have praised AISC for being one of the few associations who
> have recognized the needs of professionals in design and have provided
> much of this to them with little or no cost.
> Dennis
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Carter, Charlie [mailto:carter(--nospam--at)aisc.org]
> Sent: Monday, October 07, 2002 6:43 AM
> To: 'seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org'
> Subject: RE: Building Codes Online?
>
>
> >The removal of these provisions created
> >revenue for the industry organizations
> >such as ACI, AISC, MIA and other groups.
> >It increased the cost of practicing engineering
> >for many of us - and with the growth of
> >independent and small firms caused by
> >lay-off's, cut backs and much more
> >- caused a hardship to many.
>
> This is not true for AISC. We give you free electronic access to the
> bulk of our technical information. Visit the Steel Solutions Center at
> www.aisc.org, especially the technical answers FAQ and list of free
> stuff like specifications and codes here:
>
>     http://www.aisc.org/Template.cfm?Section=Free_Downloads
>
> Bill Polhemus is exactly correct. There is a bill to be paid for these.
> But we only charge what we need to for other related value-added
> products to break even overall.
>
> Charlie
>
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