Sparkframe uses a hierarchical system similar to that of a building information model: A project contains several models, and each model contains many elements. People from several disciplines can work together on a single design team per project.
Most views in the Sparkframe app have a "breadcrumb hierarchy" at the top to keep you oriented:
In this example, the underlined "4" indicates the number of conversations with new content awaiting you. "Building 42" is the project, and "B-42 Model" is a model belonging to that project. "Lobby Staircase" is an element within that model, and finally "General Coordination" is the current topic of a converation belonging to that element.
Convos are at the heart of Sparkframe. These are a collection of "notes" made by one or several people, displayed chronologically. And unlike static emails, Sparkframe convos are a real-time view, meaning you'll see people's notes added to the convo as they happen.
(If you're curious, those arrow icons indicate that an element is attached to the note from Adam — probably the staircase element itself.)
We understand that design teams change over the course of a project. That's why convos allow people to come and go as needed; each person "follows" convos that are important to them, when they are important (maybe now, maybe later).
Look for the footprint icons to follow a convo.
By adding a note to a convo, you will automatically start following that convo. Team members can also add each other to a convo.
When a convo has come to an end, or you no longer need to be involved, simply stop following it.
Look for the stop-sign icons to stop following convos.
Just like in the real world, the "topic" of a conversation may change over time. However, keeping an accurate record of a convo's history is critically important for tracking Design Intentions and Decisions (DIDs). This is why Sparkframe convos may change topic fluidly within the flow of notes.
Look under "Options" to change the topic of a convo.
Because your convos are tied to a building information model, each belongs to a unique BIM element. This allows you to select an element and see all convos that belong to that element. And because a convo is made of several notes, each note may also attach a BIM element.
This enables a powerful feature: anyone reading a convo can easily select and see the BIM elements about which the conversation is taking place.
Look for the red arrow icons to select elements.
When you add a note to a convo, you can also assign that note as a task to a team member, including yourself. In this way, you can easily keep tasks categorized within different convos and attach them directly to pertinent BIM elements.
Look for task assignments under "Options."
This is the "main view," where you can see all the convos you are following, tasks that you have given and received, as well as tagged convos (more on that soon).
From you here, you can stop following convos, mark tasks you've given as complete (or delete them), and you can also quickly select elements that have been attached to the latest note of each convo.
If you use Sparkframe with a building information model (such as the Revit 2013 Sparkframe Add-In), you will see information about the model as you use it located at the top of the app.
You can quickly see which project and model you are currently viewing and also the currently selected element. In the example above, "Building 42" is the current project and "B-42 Model" is the model being viewed.
When you select an element, you will have the option to leave a quick note and task attached to that element. This makes communication and task management fluidly linked to the model and easy to do.
Each project can have several tags created by you and your team.
Look for the tag icon to assign tags to convos.
Tags are useful for generally categorizing convos; for example, you may create discipline tags ("arch","structural","mechanical") and then assign them to convos that pertain to each respective discipline.
While this is a flexible and easy way to categorize convos, they are even better by helping you notice convos that should be important to you. Each person can follow any tag that is important to them, and this will make any convo so tagged appear on their Main view — even if they aren't participating in the convo, yet.
For example, a project may have a tag, "Model Coordination," that is followed by each discipline's BIM Manager. At a later time, then, if an architect has a member size conflict with the structural engineer (maybe a beam is too deep), he/she may note the conflict in a convo tagged with "Model Coordination" and assign that note as a task — with the beam element attached — to the structural engineer. Thus, the engineer is notified to attend to the specific problem, and simultaneously all BIM Managers will see the convo on their Main View, so they can help as needed.