Image by Tom Sawyer
Full Picture Photos are assigned to points called "rooms" on plans. Opening a plan and clicking a room delivers a gallery of all photos assigned there. Photos are further tagged by trade and will show up on the appropriate plans in a set.

A new cloud-based construction photo-and- plan managing collaboration service is drawing praise from beta testers who started throwing projects on it within hours of its April 30 release.

"It's brilliantly simple. I can't believe we've been living without it," says architect Oscia Wilson, Boiled Architecture, San Francisco. Now launching a project, Wilson is tagging existing condition shots to plans on Threshold, the new service from San Francisco-based 383 Studio.

The tool is easy to use. Embedded, context-sensitive minivideos walk users through setup. Adam Freeman, 383 Studio COO and a former construction project manager, says extra effort has gone into designing a tool that helps users start up smoothly.

A user begins by naming a project and inviting the team in. The service e-mails links. Users upload plans as PDF files that are sorted into sets. A useful scheme is by floor and, within that, by trade. A light-table utility helps align plans so they overlap accurately.

Photos are then uploaded. When a shot is pinned to a point in the plan, a "room" is created with a click and the image dragged to it. Images are tagged by trade or with custom labels. Items tagged "electrical" show up on electrical plans, "plumbing" on MEP, etc. They show up on multiple plans if several tags are used. Clicking a room shows all photos tagged to that place, in order of upload.

"It's going to take off," predicts Michael Della Rosa, a field engineer at XL Construction, Milpitas, Calif. He is using the service on a project that is just starting, and he expects it to add significant accuracy and efficiency to documentation and collaboration.

Freeman is monitoring feedback as he talks to investors and refines the business plan. The next, already eagerly awaited step is a mobile version. He says the service—free now—will be inexpensive.