Digitize Alternate Items

Digitizing—also known as annotating your plans—is the process by which you are able to calculate the quantities of cost items required in your plans.

You select the cost items to digitize, then use your mouse or stylus to trace over the sheet where you plan to use the cost items to create an annotation that represents the cost item. ProContractor calculates the quantities of cost items based on the scale of the sheet and size of the annotation you created. Digitizing is more accurate at higher levels of magnification. See Zoom on Sheets for information on increasing magnification.

There are a number of takeoff tools that you can use in the process of digitizing your plans. Takeoff tools include the following:



There are digitizing takeoff tools, each represented by a button on the speedbar, that you can use to digitize cost items on your plans. Select the cost item to takeoff from the Alternate panel tab, then either use the default tool selected or select the tool to use from the speedbar.

Use Count to digitize count items, like fire hydrants or manholes. Click the button on the speedbar and then click on the appropriate spot on your plans to add a count item. Click on each additional spot where you want to add the item.

Use Line to digitize a straight line. Click on the button on the speedbar and then click the starting point of the line, move the cursor or stylus to the end point of the line, and click again.

Use Points to digitize several connected straight lines, such as a perimeter. Click the button on the speedbar and click the first point, move the cursor or stylus to each successive point, and click on it.

Use Curve to digitize curved objects. It is best used on objects without any straight segments. Click the button on the speedbar and then click the starting point of the curve, middle point of the curve, and end point of the curve.

Use Trace to digitize straight and/or curved lines. Click the button on the speedbar and then click on the first point, hold the mouse button or press the stylus down, and trace the line to digitize.

There are additional takeoff tools that you can use in conjunction with the tools above to perform takeoff.

Use Measure to count or measure lengths, areas, or volumes for measurements and calculations, without associating the measurement with a cost item. When you click Measure, select the type of measurement you want to take: Count, Length, Area, or Volume. If needed, select the takeoff tool you want to use and takeoff what you want to measure. When you finish the takeoff, you can add a description and send the measurement to the Notepad and/or the Working Total.

Use Highlighter to digitize a highlighted straight line. Click on the button on the speedbar and then click the starting point of the line, move the cursor or stylus to the end point of the line, and click again. You can customize the color, width, and style of the highlight. The default color, width, and style are set on the Estimating Preferences screen.

Use Break in conjunction with Points to insert a break in the lines when taking off a length. This allows you to takeoff multiple sections of the same Points cost item without having to "finish" each individual section. You can also right-click and select Break will digitizing with the Points tool.

Use Add to add additional annotations to an existing cost item. For example, say you have taken off a series of curb runs and later realize that you had forgotten a section. Select an existing annotation for the cost item and click Add. Then take off the remaining sections.

Use Vert in conjunction with Points to takeoff a vertical area. You will need to enter the height of the cost item when you finish the takeoff. You can still use Break with Points and Vert.

Click Undo or press Ctrl+[Z] to undo the previous action. This tool is useful if you click on the wrong point while performing takeoff. Clicking Undo removes the last digitized point, not the entire annotation. You can click Undo multiple times. If you need to remove the entire annotation, press Esc.

Click Redo or press Ctrl+[Y] to redo an action that you undid.

Click Text to add a text object to the sheet. See Add Text Objects for more information.

Click Links to add hyperlinks to your plans. See Add Links for more information.

Click Pitch to add a slope to an annotation. See Add Pitch for more information.

Click Finish to indicate that you are done with the current annotation.

The Alternate panel tab contains a list of the estimate's alternates and the cost items in those alternates. You can digitize cost items from alternates by selecting the cost items in the Alternate panel tab. In addition, you can add alternates, edit existing alternates, and edit cost items in the Alternate panel tab.

Note: The Alternate panel tab in the Takeoff tab does not have the full capability of the Alternates Tab tab, which allows you to manage alternates and include them in the estimate.

If you need to obtain information about a cost item in the Alternate panel tab, hold your mouse over the appropriate item. The hover text displays the reference, type, units, and description. See the screenshot as an example. The cost item type is abbreviated in the hover text.

Note: Type Abbreviations:
  • L – Labor
  • ​​​​E – Equipment
  • ​​​M – Material
  • ​​​S – Subcontractor
  • ​​​A - Assembly​
  • ​​​V - Visual Assembly
  • ​​​O – Other1
  • ​​​P – Other2​​​​
  • Q – Other3
  • R – Other4
  • ​​​​T – Other5
  • ​​​1 – Other6
  • ​​​​2 – Other7
  • ​​​​3 – Other8
  • ​​​4 – Other9
  • ​​​​5 – Other10

You can digitize multiple items at once from the Alternate panel tab. For example, if you have an area on your plans where the perimeter in linear feet defines the square footage of the area, you don't have to perform the takeoff twice to quantify items that would share the same space. Cost items that are digitized together share the same annotation.

Important: When you are digitizing multiple items at one time, it is very important that you select the items in the Alternate panel tab in order of most complex to least complex.

ProContractor follows a hierarchy when calculating quantities for multiple items at the same time, starting with the most complex and progressing to the least. Upon finishing a takeoff item, the quantity displayed is for the highest item in the hierarchy. The hierarchy is:

  1. Volume
  2. Area
  3. Length

You can digitize multiple count items at the same time, but count items must be selected separately from lengths, areas, and volumes. Once you have digitized your plans, you can manage the annotations as needed. For more information on how to adjust, move, format, or delete existing annotations, see Manage Annotations.

To open a job in the Manage Estimates screen, click Estimating > Estimating > Manage Estimates in the All Tasks pane. Then select the job you want to open, and click OK.