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RE: CODES: Electronic Version Should Be Provided

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From: "Jason W. Kilgore" <jkilgore(--nospam--at)>
To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
Subject: RE: CODES: Electronic Version Should Be Provided

Searchable electronic documents are very useful, but nothing will ever
replace paper for usability.  You can make notes, draw sketches, make
corrections, etc., in the margins.  Yes, I know you can also do that with
some electronic documents, but it's just not the same.

Also, (to me at least), it's just plain easier to read a book than a
computer screen.

If I were to purchase the 2003 IBC on a CD, the first thing I'd do is print
it double-sided on paper and stick it in a 3-ring binder (or maybe have
Kinko's do it).

Jason Kilgore
Leigh & O'Kane, LLC
Kansas City, Missouri
> -----Original Message----

[Dennis Wish] __________________________________________________

You haven't kept up with PDF formats. Not only are they easy to read, you
can embellish them with whatever notes and sketches you want - without
marking up the paper and having the ability to change what you have done or
intend to do.
As one who operates as paperless an office as possible, I spend a great deal
of time with electronic codes. One thing that you can do with electronic
documents that you can not with paper is create links to follow the logic in
the code (if one exists) and to link documents that provide explanations for
the code sections. 
The move is to electronic versions of the code and this is a smart move.
However, I think it would serve the community better to offer a pay per use
code that can be used online or downloaded by chapter when you use a section
only a small portion of your time in design. For example, if you design
steel studs once in a three year period (just an example) then you should be
able to pay a per-use fee to access the current code for use rather than
purchase an entire code that sits unused for the rest of the time.
Notice that I am not suggesting a free online source for code use. We did
away with economical code use when we removed the methodology sections for
various materials from the 1989 or possible 1991 Uniform building code.
There was a time, for about $100.00 you could purchase enough of the ACI
318, AISC, AITC and Masonry Codes to design a structure using these
materials without having to spend so much more for the individual codes
removed from the UBC.
This was obviously a reason to create income for ACI, AISC etc., and while I
question the responsible use of this income and its effect upon the
engineering community who is finding it difficult on a smaller office scale
to justify the purchase of a code when competition is forcing our fees down
or threatening to outsource our practice (our competition) to low cost labor
in other countries, the loss of the middle class won't be the only loss we
incur - only those with the income and resources will be allowed to design
structures. One good example is California's move to charge the same fees
for license renewal but to go from a five year renewal time to an annual
renewal rate.
I know some won't agree with this and I am actually in a position to afford
the changes, but others I've seen in my travels are not. For these
practitioners, I intend to be their voice. I remember a time when developers
attempted to outsource engineering to Mexico City and to India in order to
lower the cost of designing tract developments here in Southern California.
It's still a threat as one company has been invited to speak to the
Consulting Structural Engineers Society (CSES) in Los Angeles. I discussed
this with CSES and while giving them my side of the story, invited them to
question the speaker on issues related to quality control and site visits
for observation as well as restitution of disputes in work when dealing with
an International tribunal.
This is all related. Organizations and manufacturing associations who help
to produce code need more money to lobby their changes and to publish the
codes that the ICC creates. Most are hesitant to do the work before
face-to-face meetings at the lowest cost methods of communication and code
creation as they thrive on personal contact. My opinion is that a balance
needs to be reached. Travel expenses are too much for the professional
members to reasonably support and we have already been burdened with the
cost of individual codes rather than a one code book with appropriate
methodologies. What is next and how much will it affect the small office
profits - can we really afford this or should there be a less expensive per
use cost that we can afford and use as needed.
I've come to believe that we must pay for the use of code, but we should not
have to pay for more than we need at any one time. Electronic publication is
the way to go and, Jason, you can embellish it as much as you like if you
have the tools (a full version of Acrobat) as you like, you can not,
however, change what has been published as it is protected from modification
which I do consider a good thing.

Dennis S. Wish, PE

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