Each year, when the latest release of Bluebeam Revu comes out, thousands of users rush to update the program, with the hope of being one of the first to discover its new tools and benefits.
But what many may not realise is that, by the time a new Revu release launches, hundreds of other users have already spent many months using the latest version before it hits the market.
These users are part of the Bluebeam Beta Tester programme. Throughout the beta testing process, these beta testers get the opportunity to connect with other users as well as Bluebeam software developers to share suggestions or fixes to be made to the upcoming release of Revu.
“A beta program is a customer research project,” said Ryan Arnold, Bluebeam’s customer validation programme manager, who oversees the company’s beta tester programme. “The idea being that you want to measure the adoption of either a totally new product or an existing product that has new features or a new functionality just before the release window.”
Here’s what it’s like to experience Revu as a beta tester, told from the perspective of former beta testers.
Socialising with other users
Richard McCowan, a technologist with HNTB Corp. based in Kansas City, Missouri, participated in the beta testing group for Revu in 2018. McCowan, however, brought a somewhat different perspective to the beta testing programme.
Unlike most participants, McCowan isn’t an end-user; instead, he works for HNTB’s Delivery Technology Group, which focuses on technology implementation and process development. “But one of the things we focus on is using Bluebeam and Studio for conducting our quality reviews,” McCowan said.
McCowan said that, in addition to joining the portal that includes the new Revu release along with a list of its new functionalities, there’s often specific exercises given for beta testers to work through. “’Hey, we’d like you to do A, B and C, and see how that workflow happens,’” McCowan said, describing the direction from the Bluebeam beta testing team in the portal.
McCowan finds it valuable that users can see other beta testers’ comments and questions in the portal as well as rate them either up or down.
In fact, communicating and collaborating in the beta testing portal with other users is an aspect McCowan said differentiates Bluebeam’s beta testing programme from the others he’s participated in.
More times often than not, other programs have beta testers operating in a vacuum, McCowan said, not knowing the extent to which other beta testers are encountering similar issues. He said being able to see and communicate with other Revu users during the testing process makes it more engaging and educational.
Changing use of Revu
Alex Smith, a structural design engineer with BKBM Engineers based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was also a beta tester for Revu in 2018. He mostly uses Revu to produce annotations for Revit technicians and designers to put into a building’s model.
Smith said he first discovered the beta testing programme after participating in a webinar, which led him to a nearby Bluebeam User Group (BUG), where he met another Bluebeam user who recommended he consider becoming a beta tester.
Like the others featured in this story, Smith had to apply to become a beta tester. “It asks you a handful of questions, mainly about the ways you use Revu,” Smith said.
Once selected, Smith also joined the portal where the beta community engages and submits bugs and suggestions. Smith said he enjoyed the ability to post pictures or videos along with each submission if he needed to show or elaborate further on a problem he encountered.
“It’s very much like a social media post,” Smith said, “where people can comment back and reply.”
Smith said participating in the beta testing programme changed his use of Revu afterwards. “There were definitely little tips and tricks that I took away from the beta program just from communicating within the site on a suggestion post or bug post,” he said. “You’re able to interact with other experienced Bluebeam users who provide insight into workflows or features you may not have known about.”
Smith said he highly recommends other passionate Bluebeam Revu users join the beta tester community. Not only is it a great way for users to have their voice heard in the larger user community, Smith said, but it gives them an avenue to connect with Bluebeam developers, which provides a new and valuable perspective to using the software.
Andrew Veggian, senior quantity surveyor with Hensel Phelps Construction Co. based in Greeley, Colorado, was a beta tester for Revu in 2018. A Revu user for roughly a decade, Veggian said he’s always enjoyed digging deep into the program to learn its inner workings and advanced functionality.
“I don’t remember where, exactly, I found out about the beta testing programme,” said Veggian, who is based in San Jose, California. “But when I found out about it, I decided to sign up and try it out.”
Once he signed up, Veggian was invited to join a web-based portal, where he was provided the ability to download the Revu beta release as well as communicate with Bluebeam software developers and user researchers along with other beta tester users.
This portal is where beta testers report bugs or make suggestions. Every time a beta tester encounters a problem or issue when working with the beta release of Revu, they head into the portal and report it.
But for Veggian, using the beta tester portal wasn’t just interesting as a tool to report bugs or make suggestions. “I actually learned quite a bit by just reading through what everyone else was writing in there as well,” Veggian said.