Exact chain link fence estimate
chainlink
Exact wood fence estimate
wood
Exact vinyl / PVC fence estimate
vinyl
Exact ornamental fence estimate
ornamental
Exact wire panel fence estimate
wire panel

  Home  |  Fence Estimate Software  |  Accounting  |  Web Services  |  Customer LoginContact Us  

SDA Video Tutorials


New Version 17
Home
Fence Estimation Software
   Computer Fencing System
   Vinyl Fence Toolbox
   Accounting Interfaces
Import Modules
Web Services
Learning Center
Customer Login
FAQ
Order Forms
Contact Us


 

AFA Business Partner

American Fence Association Business Partner




 

multimedia
Learning Center


Introductory Video (watch first)



= Manual Page (PDF)
= Video Link (Flash)

Email Questions / Comments
Welcome to our new multimedia Learning Center. Please check this page for occasional updates of text and videos.

Table of Contents


Part 1: Getting to Know CFS
A. Introduction
B. Overview of Basic Estimating Operations
C. Details of Basic Estimating Operations
    1. Editing an Estimate
    2. QwikDraw
    3. Saving and Loading Estimates
    4. Saving Standard Specifications
    5. Installation Labor
    6. Estimate without QwikDraw or Standard Specs
    7. Draw Job Sketch
    8. Contact Center and Discount Profiles
D. Using Cash Register for Point-of-Sale
E. Parts Catalog
F. Data Miner

Part 2: Customizing Your CFS
A. System Wide Setup
    1. Basic Setup & Level 1 skills - company address,       sales tax, etc.; inventory and labor records, pricing,       contract, backing up
    2. How to get immediate value from your purchase
      a. Get the Plug & Play modules setup first
    3. Backing Up

B. Setting Up the User Changeable Modules
1. Scratch Builder Setup Recommendations
     a. Getting Started
     b. Two setup approaches
     c. Planning for the Parts Catalog
2. Chainlink Scratch Builder - Quick Setup
     a. Introduction
     b. Entering prices manually
     c. Uploading prices automatically
     d. Quick approach regarding posts
     e. Quick approach regarding chainlink gates
     f. Setup Chainlink Scratch Builder
     g. Residential Chainlink Scratch Builder
 3. Advanced Chainlink Setup and Level 2 Skills
    a. Level 2 Skill - Change Descriptions (Change Names Globally)
    b. Level 2 Skill - Delete Records
    c. Level 2 Skill - Move Records
    d. Level 2 Skill - Copy Records
    e. Level 2 Skill - Add a Record
    f. Pre-Built Chainlink Gates
    g. Pre-cut Chainlink Posts
    h. List concrete as Bags
4. Organize the Master File and Update Category Boundaries
    a. Crunch Records (Consolidate)
    b. Updating Category Boundaries
5. Check Routines in Update Master File
6. Setting up the Wood Scratch Builder
7. Flex Menu Defined
8. Setting up the PVC Fabricator Scratch Builder




Part 1: Getting to Know CFS


Introduction


Below are a series of videos that show you how to operate the program. Our intent is to make it as easy as possible for you to learn how to run CFS and we want you to be aware of all the tools that can maximize your production. When you do your own estimates in CFS, please keep in mind: You can’t hurt anything when doing estimates so go ahead and choose options and click buttons even if you are not sure what the program will do. These videos cover a number of sample jobs to familiarize you with how the Scratch Builders operate and what reports are available in each program.

Overview of Basic Estimating Operations


This first video demonstrates what it will be like to do an estimate once you are familiar with the program. You will also see many automatically generated reports. Do not be concerned if you cannot follow everything in this video. Later videos will examine the various steps in greater detail.
Introductory estimate.

The following videos demonstrate estimating pre-built PVC (for non-fabricators), Ornamental, and Wire Panel jobs. When it comes to the PVC Scratch Builder their can be two different kinds of approaches - one kind of setup is called Pre-built for non-fabricators, and the other kind is for fabricators. It is fairly easy to recognize the difference. Once you have designed and saved your Standard Specification in a fabrication Scratch Builder you can do PVC fabricator estimates just as quickly as with the other Scratch Builders and have fabricator specific reports at your disposal. Gates can be setup as Gate Kits and/or Gate Assemblies. You can also export a Standard Specification design to the Shop Drawing program where you could add information if you desire and then print it with your logo in the footer.

Details of Basic Estimating Operations


Once you have the standard material needed for a job you can edit the estimate for unusual circumstances.

Learn more about the settings and multi-style capabilities of QwikDraw.

Single style estimates done in QwikDraw and jobs not entered through QwikDraw are saved within the Scratch Builder program that was used to do the estimate. These jobs can be loaded either by using the Search utility on the main menu or by going into the Scratch Builder and choosing Load Job. Multi-style jobs done through QwikDraw can also be loaded with the Search utility on the main menu. However, they cannot be loaded directly in a Scratch Builder. The following video will show you how to go about loading a multi-sylte QwikDraw estimate in QwikDraw and how to get to the Reports Menu of an individual style.

You can always go to Custom Specification to estimate standard or non-standard jobs but we have a way that you can save a Standard Specifications to greatly speed up the estimating of standard situations. Not only does it maximize your production time but it gives the manager a way to standardize specification choices for the people doing estimates.

The program also has a way for standard labor calculations to be setup for various types of fences. Think of these as templates that can be adjusted if necessary in reponse to the environment for the particular job site. We call these templates Labor QwikPics. Learn about them and other aspects of the labor module here.

You can do an estimate without using QwikDraw and without using Standard Specifications. Here's how.

Sometimes you might do your estimate without using QwikDraw to enter the job layout. To see how you can still get an automatic job sketch without QwikDraw and learn more about this module watch Draw Job Sketch.

Contact Center



We recommend setting the default retail price to the highest amount you would ever charge. If you want to offer better prices to certain customers you can discount from retail. You can save customer information with an optional associated Discount Profile in the Contact Center. The manager could setup the discount profiles. If a contact has an associated discount profile no matter who does the estimate the same discounts will automatically be applied.

Cash Register - Point-of-Sale


The program has a point-of-sale module called Cash Register where you can invoice sales. You can easily find previously saved invoices. The format of the body of an invoice, whether inventory automatically gets updated or not, and other options are configured through various settings.(We also offer accounting interfaces that would pick up where this program leaves off.)

Parts Catalog


Having a Parts Catalog, which includes pictures, is quite handy to have in the office for easy referencing of part numbers and prices. You can print the Parts Catalog with the retail price, at cost, at a pricing level specific to a customer, or without prices at all. To print it with a particular customer file's pricing level, go to Change Standard Format, at the "What price do you want to print?" option choose Special and then click Search to find the customer file. The catalog can be printed to paper or to a pdf file.

Whether you choose to change the catalog setup that came with the program or to set it up from scratch you should only do this AFTER you have made changes to the Master File. You can make further changes to the Master File after setting up the catalog but you may need to go back to the catalog setup to adjust it according to whatever those changes were. If you make a lot of changes to the records you may decide that it would be easier to setup the catalog from scratch rather than try to adjust the current setup. There is a way to delete all the existing sections for a catalog setup. This is covered in the manual. This Parts Catalog setup video is a supplement to the manual so you may still need to read the manual (or call us) if you cannot figure out how to do something. Also, you can move records in the Master File and retain your catalog setup if you click Yes to tracking when you go to make the move.

Data Miner


Data Miner can scan your jobs and invoices to mine for information. You can select the range of estimate or invoice files to be accessed by date, by customer and, depending on your file naming conventions, even by salesperson. It can calculate and display inventory totals, labor and taxes for all files searched. It can even list itemized totals of inventory for the entire range of files searched. You could use the inventory usage reports from your invoices for a specified time period or for sold jobs when planning inventory orders.

Data Miner can also calculate total sales, total number of bids and itemized material totals for a particular customer. This could be used to determine which discount level the customer falls into. It also produces contact lists with names, addresses and phone numbers and mailing labels for the selected groups of estimates or invoices.

It can also display each valid address on Google maps, marking each with a stick pin, for geographic analysis. Clicking on the stick pin will display the customer or prospect at that address.

In addition to the many pre-programmed reports, Data Miner also produces CSV (Excel compatible) files with all of the information that has been saved for the range of jobs or invoices produced in CFS. You can then open this data in a spreadsheet and extract and manipulate any portion of this information in any form you would like.

When running Data Miner, it is important to know how to Select Files in groups, individually, or as multiple files that are not next to each other in a folder.

There may be ways you can organize your job files that will enable more accurate and meaningful information to be extracted from them. It will depend on what information you want as to how you will go about this. If you are interested in seeing the quantity of each of the products you sold over the last six months or other time period in order to aid you in deciding how much to order in the future you would probably scan the invoices that fall into that time period. However, if you keep the inventory you stock to a bare minimum you could scan you jobs currently sold but not installed to see what inventory you need in the immediate future to build those jobs. You can reorganize your current files and save future jobs in such a fashion as to meet your needs or could leave the old jobs alone and just concern yourself with going forward from this point. In this first video I suggest you either move or copy files into sub-folders. If you intend to use the Job Status feature, it is important to keep a copy of the files in the root of the JOB folder by copying them rather than moving them into a sub-folder. The Job Status feature does not recognize files in JOB sub-folder. You may need to Organize your Data in order to Use Data Miner effectively.

There are a few NON-recommeded ways you can manipulate prices in CFS that will result in some mined data to not be exactly correct.

a. If you apply Line Item Discounts to a job that you are also bidding at Cost+ a percent, the Discount per line and the Cost Plus Differential (Retail minus the Cost+ amount) will be off.

b. If you apply Line Item Discounts to a job to which you are also applying an overall discount, whether it is buried or displayed separately, the values pertaining to discounts, selling price, and taxes will be off.

Keep in mind, it is the combination of these different pricing approaches that causes the problems so if you don't combine these approaches the problems will be avoided. If the way you manipulate prices does fall into these categories, and you plan to continue using CFS this way, your data may still be in the ball park enough to fulfill your needs depending on how often the above scenarios occur and how large the discounts are. If however, you plan to use specific numbers for official reporting (i.e. taxes) you'll need to look at this more closely. There may be a way to accomplish your goal so please call us for details and advice at 800-544-2536.

Part 2: Customizing Your CFS


A. System Wide Setup


Before you start:


It is important to have a good feel for the Scratch Builders (estimating modules) of the program before you start to customize them. It is highly recommended that you go through the "Getting to Know CFS" videos above. We recommend you work out a game plan before changing things. In order to do this, you need to know what you have compared to what you need.

Introduction:


There are some basic things to know and do in regards to the Master File before customizing the Scratch Builders. You can customize the inventory records and Scratch Builder menus for chain link, wood, fabricated PVC, and fabricated ornamental. The pre-built PVC and pre-built ornamental modules are for prefabricated fencing systems and are manufacturer product specific. They are plug & play modules that only require a discount and markup be entered to be functional. The first group of videos below covers the basics you need to know before attempting any customization. The subsequent tutorials will assume that you know and have done these basics.

1. Basic Setup & Level 1 skills



  1. Record zero (Same window as Update Company Info button)
  2. Searching / Viewing the Master File / Finding a record

  3. Viewing/Printing the Master File

  4. Details of a record – records can be inventory items or labor charges
  5. Pricing
  6. Contract – choosing a format and changing the text
  7. Backing up your data



2. How to get the most value from your investment in the shortest amount of time:


You do not have to setup all aspects of this program before using parts of it. You can implement it in increments thus providing a way for people to get tangible benefits while other areas are being configured. Some of the programs, like Shop Drawing, require no customization at all.

a. Get the Plug & Play modules setup first


Since the pre-built PVC and ornamental modules (for non-fabricators) are self-contained and are not meant to be changed by the user, you can get these modules online in a matter of minutes. Get them ready first even if most of your sales are for other products. As of January 1, 2009 we had pre-built modules for Alumi-Guard, Ameristar, Delgard, Elite, Fortress Iron, Ideal, Jerith, Specrail, Iron World, XCEL, and the lines sold by Master Halco, Merchants Metals, and Jamieson. On the PVC side we had Bufftech, Poly Vinyl Creations, American Quality Vinyl, and the PVC lines sold by Master Halco and Merchants Metals. (We add new lines regularly so please ask us about your supplier if it is not listed here.)

To get one of these modules ready first verify that the list prices are current if you are not sure. If they are not current they might be able to be quickly adjusted by a percentage. Do a spot check and if you can determine the percentage difference you can adjust all the costs in the product line with just a few clicks by going to Change List Price and choosing Entering a percentage to Add to the List Price.

Next, set your pricing factors – markups etc. The usual entries are a discount off list that the supplier gives you and your retail markup or margin. Use Change Pricing Factors to set these factors for an entire group of records all at one time.

If you do an estimate and concrete does not appear in your list of materials and you need it to be then you can set it up to include concrete or contact our support team and we will help you with this. This is all it takes to get one of these modules ready for active use and start collecting on your investment.

3. Backing Up


Please don’t underestimate the importance of backing up. We have had customers loose many, many hours of pricing entry, inventory part customization, parts catalog setup, and other setup lost to their hard drive crashing and also to mud slides, fires, flooding, and more. They either did not have a back up at all or they did not take it offsite or back it up to an offsite location. While you are initially setting up your program we recommend you backup after every two or three hours worth of work or however much you are willing to risk loosing. Later, we recommend you backup daily on a three day rotation

Backing up to another place on your computer, a computer on your network, or a jump drive with our program is very easy and fast. We also offer a secure server you can backup to for an off-site backup option. To use this feature go to Online Support and then Online Backup.

B. Setting Up the User Changeable Modules



1. Scratch Builder Setup Recommendations


a. Getting Started


Concentrate on only one type of fence (i.e. chainlink, wood, etc…) at a time before moving on to another area. You typically get the most bang for your buck setting up Chainlink Scratch Builder first but think about which type of fencing you spend most of your time estimating. These modules require some setup because even though they are setup when you get the program they may not be configured specifically for how you build your fences or with your costs and selling prices.

When you think the Scratch Builder can produce the list of material that is correct for how you build your fences and the prices are correct, do some sample estimates and check them out. Reconcile any discrepancies until you are satisfied and confident of the output. This part of the program could now be put online for daily use. Then you would move on to another module.

b. Two setup approaches


There are two approaches you can take when setting up chain link and wood. The first approach will get it ready for producing estimates faster but will not be as “clean” as the second approach. The second approach takes longer but will be more sophisticated, cleaner, and definitely recommended if you intend to track inventory or implement one of our accounting interfaces. Either approach can be taken with chain link and wood but only the second more thorough approach should be used with the PVC or Ornamental fabricator modules. You might consider using the quick approach in order to get people using and benefitting from that part of the program as soon as possible. And then, in a separate off-line work-in-progress copy of the program (maybe installed on someone’s local hard drive) the second approach could be taken. The Scratch Builder will be temporarily disabled during reconfiguration. After the cleaner data is ready for use, the data files can easily be copied into the online program.

c. Planning for the Parts Catalog


Keep in mind that the parts catalog does not have to contain everything that is in your master file nor do we distribute it that way. You have total control over what is included or not included on the catalog pages. It is usually not necessary to include product lines in your catalog for pre-built PVC and ornamental products. Most suppliers of these products produce their own catalog which can be referenced for part numbers if needed and this part of your catalog would need to be redone every time we send you an updated plug-in.

2. Chainlink Scratch Builder - Quick Setup



a. Introduction


The minimum change necessary for getting accurate estimates is to update the prices in the records. This may be enough to get it online but chances are you will need to go one step further and modify the Scratch Builder menus so they only offer choices of products you offer to your customers because, in most cases, there are more than the necessary inventory items in the Master File and on the menus. However, since the Scratch Builder menus can be modified to exclude unwanted items without deleting them from the Master File, this Quick Setup approach does not include deleting extra items from the Master File.

b. Entering prices manually


You can enter your costs manually by going to Update Master File>Change List Price.

c. Uploading prices automatically


Changing prices in more than just a few records is significant and there is no Undo so I highly recommend you do a backup before proceeding. A backup of just the master and save files would suffice. See the video about backing up if you want help with this.

Before uploading prices it is important to understand the pricing process and to make sure your product categories meet certain requirements.

The program can upload prices from a CSV (comma separated values) file or a PRICING.SDA file. CSV is a format common to numerous programs and one of the file format options in Microsoft Excel. This is a powerful tool because it makes it possible for you to upload prices from virtually any computer file. There are some CSV file formatting requirements. Regarding PRICING.SDA files, this is a file in a specific CFS ready-to-read format produced by many major fencing manufacturers & suppliers that we have worked with so they can send it directly to you for uploading. You can view it with notepad.


Use the Remote Pricing File utility to upload the prices.

You have several choices of what to do about items that don’t get priced.
If you don’t usually sell the item, you could take it off the menu in the scratch builder so no one accidentally chooses it and you could remove it from the parts catalog if it’s in there now. The item would just be sitting in the master file unused and is basically clutter but not doing any real harm.
However, if you intend to use the inventory features in CFS or interface with an accounting program you would need to delete out unneeded records at some point. See the advanced setup videos about how to do that. So deleting the record is another option for what to do with a non-priced item.
If an item that you sell on a regular basis does not price, you can enter the costs manually.
If an item falls into the category of something you infrequently sell and you want to keep it, you could have its cost at zero and have the Q flag in the record.

If you haven’t done a backup yet, now would be a good time.

d. Quick approach regarding posts


The program can handle posts two ways. It can cut posts as needed from full length pipe or it can use what we call pre-cut posts which are posts already cut to the shorter lengths when you buy them. It is easier and faster to setup CFS if you just let it cut the posts as needed. It will multiply the price per foot in the full length pipe record by the number of feet needed for the post and then add on a cutting charge. Even if you buy your posts already cut but aren’t too concerned with tracking inventory just yet, as long as the appropriate per foot price is in the pipe records you can get accurate estimates with it cutting from full lengths. You can manipulate the prices of posts by adjusting the cutting costs. The full length pipe records in the PIPE category are setup, and need to stay setup, as one foot of pipe priced per foot. A common mistake is to add the length of the full piece somewhere in the pipe records. Please avoid this as it will cause operational problems.

e. Quick approach regarding chainlink gates


The Chainlink Scratch Builder can fabricate gates as needed from the various products required to build them or it can use pre-built gates (gates purchased already built) or it can use pre-built frames and add the rest of the gate material to the estimate. It is easier and faster to get the program setup if you just let it build the gates as needed even if you buy them already built. You can adjust the gate prices by changing the gate welding, spray paint for the welds, and fabric stretching labor charges (or the gate adjustment factors found in Update Master File). It is important to make sure that all the materials that go into a gate have the correct prices. You can see the exact material that goes into any particular fabricated gate by creating an estimate in the Chainlink Scratch Builder, going to the Reports Menu, and choosing Print FABRICATED GATE CUT SHEET. If you want to use pre-built gates, see the advanced approach below.

f. Setup Chainlink Scratch Builder


Setup Chainlink Scratch Builder is the routine you run to configure the menu options and the way the fence is built. As you run the setup routine, make sure your menus accommodate for all the different needs for residential AND commercial chainlink. An occasional mistake some people make is to create a setup for each style of fence. There is a feature called Create Standard Specification within each setup that lets you name and save specifications for up to 99 different styles of fence. Normally you will need one galvanized setup and one color setup, or, if your colors are distinguished in the records, you would end up with one galvanized setup, and one for each color.

Ideally everything would fall into place at this point but don’t be surprised if you need to go back to Update Master File to change something and then go back to the setup area. Any loose ends are usually flushed out during this process. You should do some sample jobs in the corresponding Chainlink Scratch Builder to review and/or test what you have done.

Do estimates with and without CFS for a while and compare them until you are confident of the output. When you are ready, this part of the program can be put on line for daily use and you can move on to setting up another area.

To run the setup, go to the Utilities tab (on the main menu), choose Setup Programs and then Setup Chainlink Scratch Builder.

g. Residential Chainlink Scratch Builder



The difference between Residential Scratch Builder and Chainlink Scratch Builder


The Chainlink Scratch Builder is versatile in that you can choose your specifications individually thus making it possible to estimate anything from a 3’ high residential job to a 12’ heavy duty commercial job in the same program. Unlike commercial chainlink jobs where you need that versatility, residential specifications generally stay the same or have limited variation. Therefore, each setup in the residential program consists of three pre-set standard specifications. This approach minimizes the choices the user needs to make and speeds the estimating process.

The time saving advantages of this module became somewhat obsolete with the introduction of Saving Standard Specifications in Chainlink Scratch Builder. (However, even when using a Standard Specification in Chainlink Scratch Builder, there will be more gate related specs to choose than in Residential Scratch Builder. Nevertheless, the overall decisions to make are greatly reduced.) The easiest way to know the difference between the two programs is to do an estimate in each Scratch Builder to view the differences. Residential Scratch Builder does not allow for rolling or cantilever gates but it can handle some residential fencing needs that Chainlink Scratch Builder cannot.

Do you need Residential Scratch Builder?


Overall, Chainlink Scratch Builder is more comprehensive and versatile than Residential Scratch Builder but there are some things that Residential Scratch Builder can do that Chainlink Scratch Builder cannot. These are:
  1. Include scrolls on fabricated gates
  2. Use bullet caps – otherwise known as 0-way, 1-way, 2-way caps – instead of dome caps and rail ends
  3. Wrap corners
  4. Allows for post anchors on just the line posts and concrete on terminals or anchors on all posts.
  5. Can build gates with gate corners


Setting up the Residential Scratch Builder


If you need any of these features then you need to setup Residential Scratch Builder if it is not currently setup according to your needs. If you do not need any of these features then setting it up is optional and you could do all your chainlink estimates in Chainlink Scratch Builder.

3. Advanced Chainlink Setup & Level 2 skills



Thorough/Advanced Chainlink Scratch Builder Setup:


Doing a thorough setup will result in a cleaner system and may minimize how many times users will need to edit estimates. This is the approach we recommend, and is usually required, if you are intending to track inventory and/or interface to an accounting program. This information is in addition to what was covered in the quick approach so it is necessary to read through the quick approach first. Notice that most of the Advanced Setup is done before running the Setup Scratch Builder program.

a. Change Descriptions - The names of products can be changed globally


You do not need to delete items that are just named something different than what you usually call them. You can quickly rename these records. Some examples are if you refer to 20 weight pipe as SS-20 but it is named CQ-20 or you call loop caps eye tops or visa versa. Use the Change Descriptions utility to rename items. An occassional mistake people make is to delete records of items that are not named what they are used to and then they manually enter new records. Please try to avoid manual entry as much as possible. Not only is it often unnecessary but the chance of introducing errors is greatly increased. As you will see below, often you can copy a similar record and then just change the part that is different.

b. Deleting unnecessary parts


As a guideline, if you sell something less than one time per year and you do not stock it then go ahead and delete it. Rarely sold items can be manually added to an estimate even it is not in the Master File. The easiest way to go about deleting is to first print the list of chain link items, mark what needs to be deleted, and then go to Delete Records and delete them. If you are going to be pricing some of your inventory by running a pricing file you may want to do that now because if it does not price something that you rarely use you may decide to delete it.

Alternatives to deleting:
Remember, for rarely sold items, you can also set the price to zero and enter a Q flag so the program will prompt for a price if anyone tries to estimate or sell it.

You can suppress a record from displaying on a Flex Menu and still have it in the Master File. A Flex Menu is a menu that is "flexible" depending on certain criteria. For example, if the wire menu is set to a Flex Menu, in the Scratch Builder, the program will put all the fabric on the menu for the height of fence that you chose. In this case the program uses all the records in the Wire category in the Master File. In other cases, in the setup routine, the user identifies the first and last record number for items that will list on a Flex menu. You can suppress a record from a Flex menu (even if it meets the criteria) by putting FLEX=N in the non-printing description field of the record. This way, you can keep an item in its logical place in the Master File without it appearing on a menu.

You can also suppress a record from appearing in a Parts Catalog section by putting FLEX=OC (Flex equals Omit from Catalog)in the non-printing description field of that record.

c. Move, Copy, & Add a Record


Now reprint the categories and mark where you notice things need to be added, if any. Be sure to read the Rules of Master File in the manual before adding items. You can copy a like item and just change what is different. We recommend this approach whenever practical in order to save time and reduce the chance of error. (You can add records by loading an empty record, under Edit a Record, and typing in all the information from scratch.) To add a record that is similar to another record, first use Move records to make room where you need it if there does not happen to be an empty slot there already. One of the rules is to keep like items together and to have them listed from smaller to larger so it will not work to just find an empty record somewhere. Neatness is much more important than convenience. If you are adding just one record like adding another tie-wire, use the copy function within a record. If you are going to copy a group of records, for example to add a group of SS-15 pipe to the pipe category, use the Copy Records utility and then Change Descriptions to change what is different.

d. Pre-built gates


If you buy some or all of your gates already built and want the Scratch Builder to use them you can edit the existing gates and/or add new gate records. Because commercial gates have so many variations which can require thousands of gate records you should try to let the program fabricate them as needed and only have it finding pre-built residential gates. There is a special procedure for setting up the program to use pre-built gates that is detailed on or near page 30 of the manual. See the manual Master File chapter, How to Add Pre-Built Gates To The Master File For Scratch Builder And Parts Catalog.

e. Pre-cut posts


If you buy some or all of your posts already cut to length you need to setup the program to use pre-cut posts. This is also detailed in the manual near the pre-built gate directions.

f. Assemblies


You may need to change or add some assemblies to the system. This is done in Additional Pricing Functions. You can use this area for many things, not just assemblies. You can use it to convert cubic yards of concrete to the equivalent amount of bags of pre-mix for your materials list. This video shows how you can turn on a rounding feature that affects all the Scratch Builders. If you have a reason why this does not work for you, you can turn rounding on for specific Scratch Builders. These settings are listed on page 71 of the manual.

4. Organizing the Master File & Updating Category Boundaries


We do recommend that you leave some empty records here and there for future convenience but gaps of hundreds or thousands of records is unnecessary and may slow the program down somewhat. If you are left with large gaps of empty records after making your changes you can close these gaps by either using Move Records or Crunch Records. When making significant changes you will likely need to update the category boundaries. This often happens when making an Advanced Move.

5. Check routines


The program contains some check routines for identifying common errors. These routines are found in Update Master File on the Maintenance tab. You will see under Check MASTER FILE AND SAVE FILES for common errors that you can print the reports if you like.

Running “Setup Chainlink Scratch Builder”
Refer back to the setup of Chainlink Scratch Builder under the Quick Setup directions. Running the setup routine is the same with either approach.

6. Setting up the Wood Scratch Builder


The Level 2 skills demonstrated in the Advanced Chainlink Scratch Builder setup should be used to change the records in the Master File that have to do with wood. The logic used for Changing Descriptions, Moving, Copying, and Deleting records is the same no matter what product you are dealing with. However, the actual setup of the wood scratch builder is quite different from setting up chainlink.

Before running the setup routine, print a list of the wood and wood hardware items for easy referencing. Then go to the Utilities tab> Setup Programs> Setup Wood Scratch Builder. The instructions are on the setup windows. Here is a reference video for Wood Scratch Builder.

7. Flex menus ("flex"ible menu)


First let me explain by defining a non-flex menu. A non-flex menu is created by you defining the record number of the first item to be on a menu, the record number of the second item, etc. It is specifically set and "non-flexible". A different approach is taken with a flex menu. You define the first and last record number of a group of records that the program will pull from to create the menu depending on certain variables. For example, with regards to a flex menu for wood posts, the program looks for the height of the fence somewhere in the Item, Description, Size, or Non-printing Description fields. (We usually put the height in the non-printing description field.) When you are doing an estimate in the Wood Scratch Builder and get to the post menu, the program only displays the posts that have the height of fence you had just chosen for this job. You can have more than one height designated. Throughout this webpage, the videos, and the manual you will see different criteria for use with different flex menus.

8. Setting up the PVC Fabricator Scratch Builder


Their is a step by step description of how to setup your PVC fabricator Scratch Builder in the manual. There is a setup routine at the Utilities tab> Setup Programs> Setup PVC Scratch Builder.

We recommend you customize your menus to your needs before you start saving Standard Specifications. Later, after you have some or all of your Standard Specs saved, if you need to make changes to the menus, this is okay to do. If your change affects how a style was specified you may get notified at some point that the program needed to adjust to the new menu. It will also notify you as to whether further action is required on your part or not.

You can save designs for picket styles and privacy styles. You can setup your Parts Catalog to include your PVC fabricated sections.

Learn how to download your Ameristar prices into the Ameristar specialty estimator here. Ameristar






The best fence software in the fencing industry.
  Home  |  Fence Estimation Solutions  |  Accounting Solutions  |  Web Services  |  Customer Login   Contact Us