30 March 2021 | by

Planning for NBS Create retirement

From experience of working with many NBS Create customers, NBS can recommend a set of key steps to consider as the retirement of NBS Create software approaches and, where necessary, to transfer existing specification content into NBS Chorus

  • Consider all the project specifications developed using NBS Create. Which of these projects are still active?
    • Completed projects can be published and PDFs/MS Word outputs archived in your internal project management systems for future reference.
  • For active projects, what is the current work stage (e.g. across the RIBA Plan of Work) for each project and its specification information?
    • Is the project very early stage with text-based outline descriptions? This type of information is relatively easy to copy across to a new specification in NBS Chorus.
    • Is the project paused/postponed and unlikely to continue?
    • Is the project post-tender, so the specification is fairly static with only minor alterations permitted for the remainder of the project?
    • Is the project in the construction phase, or nearing completion on site?
  • For the projects that remain, what is the scope and size of each specification? How many systems are required, and how much manufacturer product information? This exercise will help you to assess the scale of work that might be involved in transferring information to NBS Chorus.
  • Which projects are linked to model information with NBS plug-ins? Which contain specification references used as drawing annotations / keynotes, or in related schedules and other documentation? Transferring content from NBS Create into NBS Chorus involves a change of classification code which will require decisions about how the specification is referenced in drawn and model information.

Once the amount of work has been estimated, test out the import route in NBS Chorus – perhaps with the shortest or easiest specification in the set - and review how much information is imported automatically, what information is not imported, and what other data from your NBS Create specification you may need to edit or add manually in NBS Chorus.

Then, it will be important to prioritize the import work ahead around project deadlines and other commitments, and to schedule the time and resource to ensure that the most critical projects are transferred as required and that all active work is imported completely by June 2021, when editing in NBS Create will no longer be possible.

In parallel, all new projects should be started in NBS Chorus. 

Importing NBS Create specifications into NBS Chorus

It is possible to use NBS Chorus to import NBS Create specifications – and detailed Support guides are available. In NBS Chorus, select ‘Add Specification’, choose Uniclass 2015 Work Sections from the content libraries list, then click on the link below “Do you want to import an NBS Create file?” 

You can import NBS Create .spex files up to 300MB, once all the update notifications in NBS Create have been actioned, otherwise you’ll receive an email indicating that the import was not successful. Based on user feedback, we are currently investigating whether we relax this rule and provide a warning that clauses not up to date with NBS on import will not receive updates.

The NBS code classification used in Create – based on an early version of Uniclass 2 – is not available to classify new content in NBS Chorus. Because the classification of the content is different, NBS Chorus does mapping work in the background to restructure the NBS Create content into new homes within the NBS Chorus Uniclass 2015-based specification clauses. As the import mapping progresses, you can continue to work in NBS Chorus. You’ll receive an email when the import has been successfully completed. 


For items like user-created clauses in NBS Create, these are imported into the specification using the original Create clause codes. Some content will not be imported from your NBS Create file, and the email attachment you’ll receive after running the import will contain descriptions of this data. You may choose to manually add some of this information into your NBS Chorus project, or to publish it separately.  

Using Uniclass 2015 with imported specifications

Some existing projects will continue in design and construction beyond June 2021, so one option is to start using NBS Chorus and adopt Uniclass 2015 codes via the NBS Chorus import route – keeping the information up to date using NBS guidance and product information. Depending on the project stage, the user could import the NBS Create specification where it could be managed, exported or published as a separate ‘document’ and when new content is required this could be written in NBS Chorus using Uniclass 2015 codes. 
This involves changing the classification midway through the project and updating information across the documentation. However, it may not be suitable to convert content into Uniclass 2015, as you may have contractual requirements or client/contractor preference to receive the information in NBS codes used in NBS Create. 
Equally, some projects will also have cross-references from drawings, schedules, and objects. These references may have been made manually or using NBS plug-ins. It may not be feasible due to time or resource constraints to reassociate model or drawing references to use Uniclass 2015 (NBS Chorus) references instead, and this may be confusing for contractors using the data.

If the specification is imported into NBS Chorus, the Excel spreadsheet attached to the import email will show which clauses were successfully imported along with the relevant NBS codes mapped to the Uniclass 2015 content. 

Exporting specifications to Microsoft Word

So, an alternative approach is to export the content from NBS Create into Microsoft Word and continue managing the well-structured specification data using NBS Create codes. If not many publications or issues of the specification remain in the project, when publication or export is required, the user could manage the editing process in Word. The NBS Create export provides headings against the structured data, which aids navigation, searching, and cross-referencing.
One option would be to have NBS Chorus open to view updates and keep Word specifications up to date by cross-referencing against NBS guidance and product information. The specification can also be built up in Word by copying new clauses from NBS Chorus. 
When searching for NBS codes not in your original specification information, these mappings are also contained in the Uniclass 2015 Systems and Products table downloads in Excel format, available from the NBS Uniclass 2015 page.

Coming soon – retaining NBS Create codes on import

Based on customer feedback, NBS intends to add an additional option to the import workflow, which will retain the NBS Create codes when the specification is imported into NBS Chorus. This removes the need to manually add or change cross-references used on drawings, schedules, or related documentation. 
After a successful import, the Create codes will be respected in NBS Chorus, and will also continue to synchronise with NBS guidance (although the guidance will show Uniclass 2015 references.) Published documents generated from the imported specification clauses will respect the structure and ordering of the NBS Create codes.
Note that new clauses added to your specification in NBS Chorus will use the Uniclass 2015 classifications, and the Chorus search engine will not provide results using NBS Create codes.

As above, importing NBS Create content into NBS Chorus today will convert the clauses to Uniclass 2015 classifications, but NBS aim to release this additional option prior to the retirement of NBS Create in June 2021.

Accessing NBS Create content after June 2021

The retirement of NBS Create in June 2021 will mean that the editing functionality is no longer available in the software. You will not be able edit or change the content of specifications using NBS Create after June so consideration will be needed as to which option outlined in this article is chosen. In addition, the manufacturer product information or NBS guidance will no longer be accessible from within Create. However, it will still be possible to use the ‘Read only’ functionality to view and read NBS Create files for reference purposes. Users will also be able to export to PDF and export to Word from NBS Create and import .spex files into NBS Chorus. 

We encourage you to transfer as much of your existing content as possible to the Chorus platform, to benefit from the many features NBS cloud-based technologies can add to your processes, and to allow you to continue to use and reference this information in future. Further information: