Computer-aided design decision support has proved to be an elusive and intangible project for many researchers as they seek to encapsulate information and knowledge-based systems as useful multifunctional data structures. Definitions of ‘knowledge', ‘information', ‘facts', and ‘data' become semantic footballs in the struggle to identify what designers actually do, and what level of support would suit them best, and how that support might be offered. The Construction Primer is a database-drivable interactive multimedia environment that provides readily updated access to many levels of information aimed to suit students and practitioners alike. This is hardly a novelty in itself. The innovative interface and metadata structures, however, combine with the willingness of national building control legislators, standards authorities, materials producers, building research organisations, and specification services to make the Construction Primer a versatile design decision support vehicle. It is both compatible with most working methodologies while remaining reasonably future-proof. This paper describes the structure of the project and highlights the importance of sound planning and strict adhesion to library-standard metadata protocols as a means to avoid the support becoming too specific or too paradigmatic.
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