Despite having access to all the latest and greatest technology tools available in the industry, some contractors are still comfortable with using standard tools like Microsoft Excel. In many ways Excel remains one of the most widely used estimating tools in construction today, and with good reason.

However, for all the comfort and familiarity provided by a tool like Excel, there are limitations. Construction-specific functions related to the estimating process will not be included in Excel. But the good news is certain software companies continue to enhance the Excel offering through custom applications that leverage the core functionality of the technology.

One such company is Vertigraph,, Dallas, Texas, which provides its BidScreen XL products as an Excel add-on to help contractors color code measurements, which are automatically written and stored to any Microsoft Excel workbook cell.

This week the company released its new BidScreen XL Version 6 Takeoff and Estimating Software. This 64-bit takeoff and estimating software application is specifically designed for the construction industry, and focused on users in the heavy/highway space.

According to Erich Schoenkopf, president, Vertigraph, documenting the on-screen measurement directly in Excel with BidScreen XL eliminates the need to flip-flop back and forth between Excel and another takeoff application. With the ability to perform takeoffs directly in Microsoft Excel, users can also expect a concise audit trail tied directly into Excel as well.

The company lists a feature set of enhancements to BidScreen XL Version 6, which includes:

  • Ability to set vertical and horizontal scales when different to measure accurately from cross sections and profile drawings. BidScreen XL Version 6 is now ideal for heavy/highway contractors.
  • New drawing manager clearly administers all of the drawing files added to the Excel workbook.
  • The new expanded style library now has custom count symbols.
  • 64 bit and 32 bit versions are available to operate seamlessly with 64 bit and 32 bit Excel versions.
  • A collection of powerful takeoff and estimating Excel templates for a variety of trades are provided.
  • Bundled with Adobe Acrobat to ensure compatibility with all PDF files
  • Works with all widespread file types including JPG, PDF, TIFF, DWG, DXF, and others.