FM Approvals is working to transform its free web-based Approval Guide (ApprovalGuide.com) into a more user-friendly tool that saves time and delivers useful results faster. The popular online directory (Fig. 1) provides details on more than 60,000 FM Approved products from around the world, including building materials, fire protection systems and electrical equipment.
Some form of the Approval Guide has been published since at least 1897 when a book titled Approved Electrical Fittings was introduced. The Approval Guide was a paper-based publication until 2004 when it was transitioned to a CD-only publication and, in 2008, to an online-only publication.
“We have heard from our customers that searching the Approval Guide can sometimes be a challenge,” notes Adam Houser, FM Approvals business operations manager. “While there are multiple search options, such as by country, certification type, and keywords, it can be frustrating for an inexperienced user to go in and find what they need.”
He says, “It is invisible to our customers right now, but we are working on the back end of the system to convert the current information associated with thousands of FM Approved products into true data that can be searched using a state-of-art search engine. The new Approval Guide website will offer advanced search capabilities and an improved user experience.”
The current Approval Guide (Fig. 2) allows the following types of searches:
Hierarchical: searching in the content tree for each division of the Guide
Parametric: searching within folders of the content tree
Keyword: product, company or text
Certification Type: CPR, ATEX, Canada, etc.
Green Products: using the button on the main search page
New Products: with the button.
Houser adds, “Our work on the new Approval Guide is taking place in tandem with a closely related effort to enhance the user experience for FM Approvals engineers. We want to provide them with more streamlined entry of data related to FM Approved products. The result of all of these efforts is to improve the experience of Approval Guide users, including architects, contractors, consultants, manufacturers, building owners, authorities having jurisdiction and many others.”