Editing Commands
File Maintenance
Creating New Elements
Master Libraries
Formulae Functions & Operators
Filing Utilities
Element Schedules
Room Data
Running Calculix
Worked-Up Data
Vertical Data
Site Layout
General Bill Data



  1. General procedure
  2. The Calculix learning programme
  3. The computer keyboard
  4. Basic keyboard operations
  5. ASCII Characters and the Calculix coding system
  6. Invalid Characters
  7. Menu Options
  8. Add/Edit - generally
  9. Browse - generally 
  10. Copy - generally
  11. Rename - generally
  12. Delete - generally
  13. List - generally
  14. Print Data - generally
  15. Quit/Exit - generally
  16. Selecting Multiple Records
  17. Selecting Menu Options
  18. ESC

General procedure

Calculix assumes that drawings and other relevant information will not be supplied in any particular order and that the data will be entered as and when it is convenient to do so. It is not necessary to set up any particular method of entering data and partial processing of data does not inhibit changes being made if subsequently required. Although partial processing is useful and recommended as a means of containing input errors and of measuring progress, the input data is completely checked when the final documents are produced and no penalties are incurred when making last minute changes.

As detailed in the following pages the Calculix process involves the input of the building information onto four worksheets. It is not a requirement of the system that the surveyor works at the VDU keyboard and he can just as easily complete the worksheets on paper forms, which can then be entered into the computer by the secretarial staff. Similarly subsequent editing can be performed directly on the screen or on print-outs for input at a later date or by different personnel.

It is part of the philosophy of Calculix that the Bill of Quantities evolves as more and more details become available and it is recommended that draft Bills of incomplete data be prepared to cut down on error reports and to measure progress. This is particularly advantageous for new users of the system as it helps the learning process by providing an overview of all parts of the system at an early stage.

This manual is written as if the surveyor will be working from the VDU keyboard, although this is not a requirement of the system.

Calculix is a suite of multi-user computer programs of advanced design written in the "C" programming language.


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The Calculix learning programme

Calculix is a fundamentally different way of approaching the work of the Quantity Surveyor with the aim of integrating the Quantity Surveyor's role with the rest of a CAD based design team.

Although the processes involved are logical, straightforward and based on QS first principles a structured approach to learning will be highly beneficial in quickly getting to grips with the system.

Because the system is comprehensive there is inevitably a chicken-and-egg aspect to the learning process. Individual features can't always be fully appreciated until you have completed a later section.

With this in mind the following learning programme is suggested as a means of quickly assimilating the principal features of the system :

The Computer Keyboard

The Menu system

 The General arrangement of the Worksheets

Abandoning Worksheets
Moving around Worksheets, Inserting and Deleting Data
Saving data

The Calculix Element

Item codes
Auto-code and the Description Library
Quantities and Formulae

The Calculix Room data

Site Layout and the Building Unit
Room data geometry
The contents of a room.
Shell Elements, Adjustments and the Adjustment Code

The Calculix Vertical data


The Bill
Bill Formatting

Advanced Element features

Adders and Item adders


Item adders
Text variables

Other features - Worked-up data, Auto-trad, Pipelines


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The computer keyboard

The very first thing you need to be familiar with is the computer keyboard. This is your link with the computer and every instruction and every piece of data will go to the computer via the keyboard. The operations can be conveniently divided into two parts :

(i) The Basic operation of the Computer Keyboard.

(ii) How Calculix uses the keyboard to handle the various operations required.

At this stage we are only concerned with the Basic Keyboard operations. We will come to the Calculix specific features when we deal with the various sections in Calculix.


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Basic keyboard operations

The Basic Keyboard operations on computers are very similar to those of the typewriter and are just as easy to understand.

You will not need to have advanced keyboard skills but you will need to know your way around the keyboard and be able to recognise the special keys and their functions.

(i) The keyboard includes the familiar "QWERTY" layout providing the upper and lower case letters and the numerals and SPACE character. In connection with these characters you should note the following :

(a) The lower case letter "l" and the upper case letter "O" are not the same characters as the numbers 1 (one) and 0 (zero) and should not be used as convenient alternatives.

(b) The space bar overwrites text with spaces when moving through existing text. The space bar on the typewriter passes over the text and leaves it unchanged.

(c) Most modern computer keyboards have a "REPEAT" feature such that when a key is kept down the appropriate character will be sent to the screen continuously until the key is released. There is a short time-lag before the repeat function comes into operation to distinguish between accidental slow typing and the repeat command.

(ii) As well as the usual typewriter keys a computer keyboard has additional keys for :-

Extra characters,

An extra set of number keys (the auxiliary keypad),

A series of "Function" Keys and

Two special keys which operate in a similar way to the traditional <SHIFT> key to extend the character set when pressed in conjunction with an ordinary key.

<ESC> The Escape Key is combined with one or more characters that follow to create an Escape sequence.

(CTRL> The Control key is held down at the same time as an ordinary character is typed to send a special Control sequence.

The Escape and Control sequences both send special messages to a computer program to activate a particular feature. In Calculix the most common of these sequences are programmed into the <FUNCTION> keys so that one key stroke will take the place of 2, 3 or 4 strokes. It is not, therefore, necessary to memorise complex key sequences in order to obtain the more sophisticated features of the software.


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ASCII Characters and the Calculix coding system

The Calculix system utilises the standard ASCII character set containing 96 visible characters including numerals, upper and lower case letters, punctuation marks, special characters and the space. All codes of each type are stored in ascending ASCII order.

It should be noted that the "space" character is the lowest visible character in the ASCII set and therefore occurs earlier in the list than all other visible characters. The ASCII character set is shown in Appendix B in case you need to ensure the order of any particular item.

Generally Calculix allows any character to be input but some fields have been restricted to certain characters only in order to assist with validation etc.. The following conventions have been adopted throughout this manual to indicate valid characters within Fields:-

9 Any number
A Any letter in either upper or lower case
X Any character
Q Special fields where only certain specified characters are allowed


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Invalid Characters

A few of the standard characters have special meaning to the computer itself and in order to avoid any possible confusion these characters are not used by the Calculix system. If you try to use one of these Characters the system will tell you that it is an invalid character and ask you to change it for another one. You will not be able to inadvertently use an invalid character.


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Menu Options

Calculix is a Menu driven system in which the operator is given a series of choices to guide him through to the Operation that he requires. The choices are usually self-explanatory but a brief description of each of the most common choices is given below.

You can get a brief rundown of the cascading menu system with accompanying images here


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Add/Edit - generally

This option is used for creating new records and editing existing records. If the input record code corresponds to an existing record code then that record will be displayed ready for editing.

If the input record code has not been used before, then a new record will be created and a blank worksheet will be displayed ready to receive the new data.


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Browse - generally

This option is similar to Add/Edit in that it displays the contents of an existing worksheet, but it does not allow any alterations to be made.


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Copy - generally

It is frequently convenient to copy some existing data and then edit this to suit the current requirements.


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Rename - generally

It may sometimes be necessary to rename data, such as rooms, elements etc. This option copies the data to the new name and deletes the old name.


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Delete - generally

This option enables records to be deleted from the file. Select the appropriate record and press <RETURN>. The screen will ask for confirmation of the instruction to ensure that the record is not accidentally deleted. Press the <END> key to confirm the deletion instruction.


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List - generally

This option will print on the screen all of the record codes together with abbreviated details of each record to enable the user to find a particular record. The user can enter the general details of the codes he wishes to list and the display will commence from that code on. Pressing <RETURN> will display more screens until the end of the file. When the end of the file is encountered the cursor moves back to the record code field for re-input. Leaving the record code blank and pressing <RETURN> will display the file from the beginning. The option can be cancelled at any time by pressing the <ESC> key.


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Print Data - generally

Print-out records of the worksheets can be obtained by selecting the Print option. Most print-outs are designed for 132 column wide paper.


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Quit/Exit - generally

The Quit/Exit option will withdraw the operator to the preceding menu. It performs the same function as the <ESC> key.

Every menu includes a QUIT option but it will normally be easier to retreat through the system using the <ESC> key. A short cut is to type . (full stop). This takes the operator back to the Calculix Contracts Menu.



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Selecting Multiple Records

A number of menu options, e.g. Printing room data, require you to specify which records you want to be processed. The extent of the processing is defined by specifying which record you want to start "From" and which record you want to process "To".

Making NO entries and pressing the <END> key will automatically insert the values FIRST and LAST in the relevant fields and the complete file will be printed.

You can also enter specific codes for the "From" and "To" records and then <END> and only the records contained in the specified group will be printed.

Partial codes may also be entered and will be processed accordingly. If a partial code is entered in the "From" field then the report will start with the first record that occurs on-or-after the piece of code entered. If a partial code is entered in the "To" field the report will end on the last record to contain the piece of code entered. In this way the code doesn't have to conform to any actual data.


From f........ To f........ will print all descriptions that start with "f".
From f........ To g........ will print the complete sections for codes starting "f" and "g".

The same process applies equally to location codes.


Unit 1.... To Unit 1.... will print all rooms in Unit 1.
Unit 1.... To Unit 3.... will print all rooms in both Units 1, 2 and 3.


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Selecting Menu Options

Menu options are selected by typing the first character of the option. Successive menu options can be selected by immediately typing the first character of the next option and in this way a sequence of options can quickly take you straight through the menu system to the appropriate worksheet. The character entered can be in either upper or lower case as preferred.


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The <ESC> command ABANDONS the Current Menu and returns to the Previous Menu. If the current Menu is the Calculix Main Menu then Calculix will terminate and you will return to the computer operating system.


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