The World Wide Web contains a wealth of information from manufacturers of building products which needs to be gathered and reorganized in order to be used by designers. Currently there is a tendency to develop systems based on database architecture that require large amounts of structured data newly compiled from the sources, and it takes great effort to update the data in the database that changes with time. This process can be supported only by large and expensive organizations. In this paper we discuss the requirements and conceptualize an information system that knows where certain pertinent information is and helps the users to find it by means of a retrieval system based on natural and controlled querying language. Our system also helps the user decide between alternatives and lets him select only some information out of all the data that usually comes in a product’s data sheet. The program further allows the user to download the data and use it in his project. In order to allow the producers of building products to give information according to their own layouts without being forced into a rigid standardized layout, we propose an indexing system based on the application of blind labels (tags) to the existing source code (html) which describes the information about a product that is already on the Internet. The tags are based on the Master Lists and EPIC’s construction-product grouping. Each piece of information indexed by its own tag will be handled by a specialized software that will put it in the right place in our newly developed product data sheet. This mechanism avoids the construction of a centralized database, and replaces the need for it by accessing a series of indexed documents containing indexed information already on the Internet.
Raimondi, A., Salvioni, G. (1998). A construction product browser. In The life-cycle of construction IT innovations. - Technology transfer from research to practice..