ICON AIA image of balaned risk. (Photo courtesy of Bettman Corbis)

The new AIA Contracts Document software doesn’t have a catchy name, but it does have good tools to get the job done.

The product, set for Oct. 15 release by downloading from www.aia.org, is not a new version of its predecessor, 3.0 PLUS, but an entirely new program, says Jim Dinegar, chief operating officer with the American Institute of Architects in Washington, D.C. He calls it "document assembly software."

"Our goal was to provide software that was easy to buy, easy to install and easy to use, as our [current] software was none of these," Dinegar says.

The product is built like dialog-based tax preparation software. An interview gathers data by ask-ing context-sensitive questions. Forms are populated in the background. An always-visible navigation pane shows where the information is going, so users familiar with the forms can see just where they are.


The software is a collaboration tool, too. AIA used an outside developer to create the document assembly engine on a Microsoft Word base. It has the templates for all 80 of the AIA’s copyrighted, standard contract forms and time-tested language. Customers get the forms, but the software also can save draft versions that can be passed around either as Microsoft Word documents, or as locked PDF pages.

Contract parties who don’t have the AIA software can mark up the drafts, which can be brought back into AIA’s tool for finishing. Microsoft Word’s edit tracking tools capture deletions or changes.

When the final document is printed, text that has been modified from AIA’s standard wording is flagged either by strike-outs and highlights within the body, or by margin flags and an additions and deletions report at the end.